One-woman show roller-coaster ride of ‘Bad Dates’ |

One-woman show roller-coaster ride of ‘Bad Dates’

Kristin Carlson
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelly Ketzenbarger takes the stage in “Bad Dates,” a one-woman comedy at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus Sept. 20-23 that explores the ups and downs of stepping into the dangerous arena of modern love. The play is presented in association with the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, which presented Ketzenbarger in the same role last January (in photo). Photo Christopher Alleman, Lake Dillon Theatre Company, January 2012.

Theresa Rebeck’s “Bad Dates,” a poignant comedy about a single mom who braves the world of modern dating, armed only with her high-heeled shoes, opens Thursday at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley.

The one-woman play has a one-weekend run, closing after the Sunday matinee.

“It’s a fun piece,” said Kelly Ketzenbarger, who first performed the show through the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. in January.

“The show offers a lot of laughter, but it’s dramatic, too. Anyone who has ever been on a bad date will be able to relate. The woman I play goes through a range of emotions and personal growth and insight that are both funny and heartbreaking,” Ketzenbarger said.

The contemporary piece is essentially a monologue delivered to the audience, a setup that Ketzenbarger described as challenging at first. During a particularly nerve-racking dress rehearsal, she struggled to make eye contact with specific audience members.

“It was easier to look at chairs instead of people in the beginning,” she admitted.

Ketzenbarger credits Joshua Blanchard, executive director at Lake Dillon Theatre, who staged and directed the show for both venues (Lake Dillon and Colorado Mountain College), with giving her the courage she needed to immerse herself in a solo performance.

“One of my greatest joys is working with other actors, and in this show, it’s just me,” said Ketzenbarger. “I was terrified of learning all the lines and of trying to carry a show by myself. But Josh, who is just an amazing director, really encouraged me to trust myself, which was an absolute revelation for me as an actor.”

Ketzenbarger’s second realization was that she wasn’t actually alone. Blanchard’s direction emphasized the crucial role the audience plays in the performance of a one-person piece.

He reminded Ketzenbarger that she wasn’t just addressing a room; she was talking to real people who had experienced real jolts and disappointments of their own.

“The audiences in January were amazingly supportive,” she said. “I felt like I was talking to a group of old friends.”

Ketzenbarger, wife of the head of Colorado Mountain College’s theater program, Gary Ketzenbarger, is also tackling a new role offstage this semester, as a first-year CMC nursing student.

“It was time for a career change,” she said, “and CMC has a great program.

“As a student, I feel both comfortable and challenged,” she said. “It’s intense, but the program is also nicely structured to help us stay on track. They make it easy for us to focus on learning.”

Ketzenbarger said the rewards of performing a one-person show outweigh the challenges.

“This has turned out to be a wonderful experience in so many ways,” she said. “The sense of accomplishment when I leave the stage is enormous. I’m really lucky to have found the right piece and the right director at the right time and in the right place.”

Now, if only her character could find Mister Right. Luckily for the audience, Ketzenbarger’s endless boxes of high-heeled shoes and hapless series of bad dates promise to deliver an entertaining evening of theater.

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