STRAIGHT TALK WITH AURORA FOX, BDT STAGE, CHERRY CREEK THEATRE AND MISFITS THEATER
Laura Jo Trexler's performance of 'Play On! A Musical Romp with Shakespeare’s Women!' can be seen on the Aurora Fox's Facebook page.
Welcome back to "Straight Talk," our ongoing series with artistic leaders from the local theatre community about the unique challenges they face during this unprecedented time.
By John Moore, Senior Arts Journalist
Because people can’t come to the Aurora Fox, the Aurora Fox is exploring new ways to go to its audiences. For the past seven weeks, the Aurora Fox has created various pieces of innovative virtual content, including two live, original performances: Laura Jo Trexler’s one-woman show, “Play On! A Musical Romp with Shakespeare’s Women!” and a concert by Los Angeles-based recording artists Eli Pafumi of the band RitaRita and Mollie Jane Greenspan of the band Milk.
In addition, Executive Producer Helen R. Murray is hosting a series of video interviews featuring artists from this past season, including Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee. Several other recent Aurora Fox actors have recorded short performances as well.
“Since we launched our virtual content campaign in mid-March, our collection of videos has been viewed nearly 11,000 times, in some cases by people who have never seen an Aurora Fox live production,” Murray said.
The company has canceled its two mainstage productions of “Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday” and Disney’s “Freaky Friday, The Musical.” But the Fox will soon debut a virtual cabaret series every other Saturday in June at 7 p.m., featuring artists performing on the “Peter Pan” set.
“Restrictions are loosening up in the city of Aurora. Core staff members have returned to the theatre, and next week, we are inviting a few artists back, too,” Murray said. “We have developed safety protocols that allow us to bring in solo performers who will have no physical contact with anyone else at the Fox."
The Fox has not yet publicly announced its 36th season. That was supposed to happen at its since-canceled annual gala. But it is now changing what it had originally planned to accommodate the new safety measures anyway.
Losing “For Peter Pan,” “Freaky Friday” and the gala deprived the company of an estimated $95,000 in revenue.
“We will open only after the allowable, safe crowd size has increased to at least 50 people,” Murray said. “Our 250-seat theatre would allow for between 50 and 90 patrons, with each party separated by a minimum of 6 feet. New technology already developed by our ticketing software company will help us ensure and maintain appropriate social distancing in our auditorium.”
Operating at less than half-capacity will ensure that our revenue shortfall will continue into next season, too,” said Murray. “If you’re able to do so and you’d like to help us overcome the economic hardships we’re facing, we are gratefully accepting your donation."
'The safety protocols are so that we live. The stories we share are so that we live well, with connection and humanity.' – Helen R. Murray
BDT Stage closed March 14, just one day after opening “Ragtime,” a massive undertaking that revisited the greatest undertaking in the theatre’s 40-plus history. But that one performance was videotaped, and now Producing Artistic Director Michael J. Duran is looking to stream that performance as soon as he can hammer out details with the show’s licensing company.
“We're also looking at streaming ‘Disenchanted,’ ” said Duran, referring to the hit musical comedy that takes a more subversive look at Disney’s iconic princesses.
Looking forward, Duran is still exploring the logistical possibilities of offering a drive-in presentation of a live show going on inside the theatre (originally floated as “The Sound of Music”) with a simulcast projected onto the sides of the building to audiences watching in their cars. “But I’m not sure that will make sense financially, and the technical hurdles may make that difficult," Duran said. "We're waiting for the city of Boulder to come back to us with guidelines for setting up a stage and speakers in our parking lot to do a show with outdoor seating.”
The idea would require gatherings of more than 50 people, which might not be allowed in Boulder before July – if then.
“We have lots of ideas, but it's all up to COVID-19, the state and the city of Boulder,” Duran said. “We will be making final decisions for the changes in our upcoming season and announce that soon.”
Cherry Creek Theatre is a small, professional theatre company that presents three widely spaced plays throughout each year in the Mizel Arts and Culture Center’s boutique Pluss Theatre. So, in a way, it is more fortunate than other companies in that, to date, it only has had to cancel one planned production, “Grace & Glorie.” Its next play is not scheduled until October, “Jest a Second!”
“Cherry Creek Theatre, like many theaters today, is not quite sure what the future holds for us,” said Artistic Producer Susie Snodgrass. “However, we believe that theatre will come back strong, albeit perhaps in a new and different format for the immediate future. We miss our patrons and the personal contact we have with them, and we are cautiously optimistic about ‘Jest a Second!'
"Over the summer, we'll announce our 2021 season and, fingers crossed, that will kick off in January. There are good and exciting things coming from Cherry Creek Theatre."
Misfits, a small Boulder collective “created for all those who have ever felt on the fringe, misunderstood or like your light just shines a little too bright,” was just one week into presenting “Macbeth” with an all-female and non-binary cast at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We are moving forward," said Director Emily Tuckman. But when remains undetermined. “We had planned to remount the show starting on July 25 at the Deviant Spirits Distillery, but I feel in my gut that it won’t be safe to do indoor theater by late July, so I’m looking into outdoor options.
“We may open up the one wall at Deviant Spirits – half the space is a 15-foot, garage-like door that can remain open. We also are looking into Boulder County community spaces we might be able to perform in. We are committed to requiring our audience to wear masks, and for parties who are not related to sit 6 feet apart. We are going to have to re-block the entire show because this show was very physical and I want my actors to be protected. But we do plan to re-mount when it feels safe to do so.”
Tomorrow: Straight Talk with artistic leaders from four more Colorado theatre companies
Contact John Moore at email@example.com
MORE STRAIGHT TALK
• Straight Talk with the Denver Center, Jesters Dinner Theatre, Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Germinal Stage-Denver READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Local Theater Company, Theatre 29, The Source and Equinox READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Su Teatro, Vintage, Breckenridge Backstage and Counterweight Theatre Lab READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Aurora Fox, BDT Stage, Cherry Creek Theatre and Misfits Theater READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Creede Rep, Town Hall, Candlelight and Theatre Company of Lafayette READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Phamaly, Buntport, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Rod Lansberry, Arvada Center Artistic Director of Plays. READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Lynne Collins, Arvada Center Artistic Director of Plays. READ IT HERE
• Straight Talk with Philip C. Sneed, Arvada Center President and CEO. READ IT HERE
• Survey: Most theatregoers aren't coming back anytime soon. READ IT HERE
• COVID-19's toll on Colorado theatre: 224 productions and counting. READ IT HERE