Monday, August 24, 2009

“The Hills are Alive with the Sound of…Musical Theater!”by John Alexander Madison August 24, 2009

Forty-two years ago, the last and greatest Rodgers and Hammerstein stage production brought music to the “hills” of Colorado, just one mile from the western gate to Rocky Mountain National Park. The year was 1967, when the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater (RMRT) launched its inaugural summer season with “The Sound of Music,” “A Thousand Clowns,” and “Gold in the Hills,” in the cozy Town of Grand Lake.

Each year, RMRT continues to delight audiences from across the nation with more sold out performances than not. The 2009 summer season featured a combined 57 live theatrical productions of “Brigadoon,” “Pirates of Penzance,” and “All Shook Up,” plus eight Youth Theater Educational Workshops.

The summer season ended last Saturday evening with the 17th performance of the season of “All Shook Up” (super-starring Dylan Paul and Chelsea Barker and a host of other exceptional talent), about which Jeff Duke writes: “Audiences have taken to the pairing of familiar popular music with a story that creates a whole new way to experience a beloved artist’s songbook. In All Shook Up, writer Joe Dipietro took it one step further by also using great playwright William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for the inspiration of his 1950’s era story. The combination of this classic story and the iconic Elvis Pressley music hits the right mark for a little old-fashioned lust and unrequited love. And, among all the toe-tapping, hip-swiveling and heart-pounding music there is still a nice message to take home—Love is a whole lot easier to find when we just embrace who we really are!”

Year after year, the acting is superb, Broadway quality and continues to amaze (cast and guest artists); the artistic and production staffs are as professional as you will find; the musicians are second to none (including the popular and animated Erin Crabb, who brings the ivories alive like Billy Joel, Elton John could only imagine); and the Board of Trustees continues to be the bed rock of the company.

From the Board: “We possess a diversity of life experiences, talents, skills, knowledge and backgrounds coupled with a love of theater---particularly this theater----along with a willingness to do whatever it takes to enhance and improve the level of theater excellence Rocky Mountain Theater has attained.”

So what’s not to love about the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater?
Well, just one thing, the physical facilities. Through the generosity and support of the Town of Grand Lake RMRT borrows space in Grand Lake’s Town Hall which, for theater purposes, leaves something to be desired.

That’s why, just over one year ago, RMRT launched its “Raise the Curtain – A New Stage for RMRT” campaign. The phase one goal was to raise $4 million for a new theater with 300 stadium-tiered seats to accommodate the 100 people turned away every day of the season…in addition to a stage which is double the size of their current space and off-stage areas which will triple the size of the current theater.

So along with the sadness of last Saturday’s summer season-ending performance of “All Shook Up” the job of announcing the current status of the capital campaign fell to the President of the Board of Trustees and Capital Campaign Chair, Judy Jensen. Not unlike every performance of yet another successful season, the sold out and enthusiastic audience including part-time resident and television superstar Tim Allen, was not disappointed. Ms. Jensen announced that the $4 million fund-raising goal has been met and construction of the new theater would begin in March 2010, with a planned opening for the 2011 season!

It’s quite clear that Colorado’s Premiere Summer Musical Company, the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater, is alive and well. After 42 years,145 productions, and countless performances it’s safe to say that the RMRT is here to stay.

This is not the end of the story.
If you are thinking “Had I known about the capital campaign I would have gladly contributed,” it’s not too late! Fund raising for Phase 2, which will build a boardwalk, a lobby, a rehearsal room and dressing rooms, is now underway. If you are one of the ten thousand patrons who enjoyed a performance at RMRT this season you understand why I am so passionate about RMRT. If you have not been there, treat yourself to something special by planning a trip to the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater sooner than later.

For additional information about RMRT go to: or call (970) 627-5087.

EPILOGUE It’s also not too late to enjoy yet another production at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater this year. The 2009 season continues on Friday, August 28th with opening night of another great musical “The Andrews Brothers,” starring Dylan Paul, Christina Myers, Mark Kuroski, and Scott Rad Brown. Fifteen additional performances will take place through closing night, September 26th. To order tickets call the RMRT Ticket Office: (970) 627-3421.

Shame on me for not mentioning the other great artists who performed this season; and shame on you if you have not yet visited the “Gem of the Rockies” (the Town of Grand Lake) to enjoy an outstanding performance of live musical theater at RMRT.

I would like to acknowledge and thank Carol Wolfe (Executive Director), Michael Querio, Chad Scott, Sally Scott, Jeffrey Duke, Jesus Perez, Matt Raftery, Jennifer Kemp Lupp, Clark Ausloos, Elisa Alexander, Lauren Bieber, Kent Barrett, Kent Homchik, Cat Johnson, Suzanne Mann, Matthew Meienberg, Jessica Paddock, Christen Turner, and Kat Wrozek for your dedication and excellence.

And, in closing, I’d like to recognize the other 2009 cast members, not previously mentioned, who also deserve to see their names in lights on Broadway one day: Sarah Louise Anderson, Jack Allen Bartholet, Ronen Bay, Alyson Bloom, Anna Danielson, Kathleen Campbell Gibson, the always versatile Josh Kellman, Zach Mason, Katharine McEnery, Jack Sweeney, and William Travis Taylor.

May your futures be as bright as the lights on opening night in the new Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater.

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