2015 True West Award: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th season

by John Moore | Dec 03, 2015
Photo from 'August: Osage County,' featuring a ferocious performance by Diana Dresser,  by John Gary Brown.

Photo from 'August: Osage County,' featuring a ferocious performance by Diana Dresser,  by John Gary Brown.

2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

​Today’s recipient:
Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season

Today’s presenter: Stephen Weitz, co-founder, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company


There is an art to how the best theatre companies craft their seasons, and the one Creede Repertory Theatre painted for its 50th was a masterpiece.

The entire summer in Creede was a celebration of Colorado’s sixth-oldest theatre company, located 250 miles southwest of Denver, and its colorful history. There were block parties, bonfires and no shortage of whiskey toasts to warm those chilly summer nights in the San Juan Mountains. But it was all supported by a masterful array of programming that tested the company’s creative capacity like never before.

creede quoteThis was Creede's biggest and most challenging season to date. The slate included something for everyone: American classics both old (Guys and Dolls and Our Town) and new (a searing August: Osage County). There was a world premiere in Ghost Light (a 50th anniversary commission by Nagle Jackson); and the confectionery romance Good on Paper. Artistic Director Jessica Jackson also brought back Pants on Fire – a completely made-up musical for young audiences; and the late-night improv comedy Boomtown. The company's young-audience outreach production, ¡Viva Agua!, played to more than 23,000 students. 

The three biggest productions required 16 (or more) actors each, which is unheard of in these economically challenged times. The entire repertory company was made up of only 22 actors. So they clearly earned their keep. And their whiskey. 

The Creede Repertory Theatre is the largest employer in Mineral County, generating more than $4 million a year. The company operates two theatres on Main Street, drawing nearly 22,000 theatregoers each summer, primarily hunters and other tourists from northern Texas and New Mexico.

The company’s selection for a 2015 True West Award was made by guest picker Stephen Weitz, co-founder of the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and a first-time Creede director this past summer for Good on Paper. Weitz just directed both Tribes and The SantaLand Diaries for the Denver Center. Like thousands before him, Weitz found the discovery of such high-quality theatre in such a remote area to be magical.

“So many theatres give lip service to the importance of the relationship between the cultural institution and the community it engages with,” Weitz said. "Creede Repertory Theatre is truly the heartbeat of its community, and that is the foundation for its success. Creede Rep is Creede – and vice versa.”

The company gives Denver audiences a taste of Creede each fall by bringing one show down from 9,000 feet to the comparative flatlands of the mile-high metro area. This year, the Arvada Center hosted an October run of Good on Paper. If only Creede could have instead toured August: Osage County along with its astonishingly effective studio staging of Our Town for audiences here to experience in true repertory style. They would then have a fuller sense of what it takes to pull off those two monsters back to back, using many of the same performers in both shows.

There were other Denver Center connections galore this past summer in Creede. August: Osage Country was directed by Christy Montour-Larson (Shadowlands), and Ghost Light by Nagle Jackson (Bernice/Butterfly, Scapin). The acting company included Anne F. Butler and Diana Dresser (Jackie and Me) in the tour-de-force mother-daughter roles of August: Osage County. Butler is a graduate of the Denver Center’s former National Theatre Conservatory masters degree program, as were castmates John DiAntonio and Caitlin Wise. Mehry Eslaminia performed in Appoggiatura and is presently in A Christmas Carol.

Jim Hunt, Emily Van Fleet and Brian Kusic were among the established Denver-area actors also performing in Creede. Logan Ernstthal starred in an emotionally affecting Our Town. And anchoring it all, as usual, was Creede stalwart Christy Brandt, who completed her 41st season with the company.  

Our Town by the Creede Repertory Theatre. Photo by John Gary Brown

"Our Town" by the Creede Repertory Theatre. Photo by John Gary Brown.


ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — as well as additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from around the state over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS TO DATE
Day 1: 
Rachel D. Graham
Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
Day 4: Laurence Curry
Day 5: Bernie Cardell
Day 6: Susan Lyles
Day 7: John Jurcheck​
Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
Day 11: Shauna Johnson
Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
Day 14: Keith Ewer
Day 15: Allison Watrous
Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
Day 18: Emma Messenger
Day 19: Shannon McKinney
Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
Day 22: Scott Beyette
Day 23: Augustus Truhn
Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
Day 29: Mark Collins
Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
Bonus: Donald R. Seawell

Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Creede Rep:
Interview: Tracy Letts on the origin of the poison in August: Osage County
Creede Rep at 50: An economic engine and a crucible for new plays
Creede Rep to celebrate 50th birthday with a nod to past, future
Wild man Paul Stone puts a familiar face on ALS
John Wells comes home to talk Meryl Streep and August: Osage County

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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