2015 True West Award: Laurence Curry

by John Moore | Dec 04, 2015
True West Award Laurence Curry
Laurence Curry in Curious Theatre's 'Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.


2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

​Today’s recipient:
Actor, teacher and choreographer Laurence Curry

Today’s presenter: Senior Arts Journalist John Moore


As an actor, dancer, choreographer or teaching artist, Laurence Curry shatters creative boundaries wherever he sees them. Bounding about on a stage, he’s as much spirit animal as performer. True West Award Laurence Curry

This year, Curry played Oshoosi Size in two chapters of Curious Theatre’s magnum trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays, by MacArthur Genius playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. In the current Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet (running through Dec. 19), Curry’s primary task is to embody an incantation - an alluring and sensual physical specimen that torments a 16-year-old black boy who is coming of age in deep Louisiana. Oshoosi dances and chants in a steady rain, coaxing the boy out of his dreams and into his intended life. The audience was as mesmerized as Marcus.

But perhaps Curry’s most impressive work was his choreography for Denver School of the Arts, which just became one of the first high schools in the nation to take on the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Spring Awakening. It's one of the few Broadway shows that does not offer schools a softened-down "student edition." If you are going to do it, you are going to do it the way it was written for Broadway.

Spring Awakening
adapts Frank Wedekind’s banned 1891 German play that shows the tragic consequences when teens go through a repressive adolescence in the complete absence of real information about the human body. The first act culminates in an essential moment of sexual climax between two naïve, partly naked teenagers. It was imperative that Curry and Director Shawn Hann be true to the carnal nature of this consequential moment, but it had to be more suggested than overtly shown because student actors are mostly minors, after all, and there are laws against such things.

“We are a high-school production,” said Hann, "and the sex scene did not need to be in the face of the audience.”

And yet somehow Curry conjured a tasteful movement solution that, if possible, was even more evocative than Broadway. Curry positioned the primary couple so that they lay side-by-side, but with heads facing toes. That way, when they simulated the physical sexual act, they were effectively isolated from each other. And yet, moving together, they created a stage picture of a single butterfly flapping its wings in perfect unison. It wasn’t just problem-solving. It was Curry painting a moving canvas with human bodies. And in such a way that no one could be reasonably offended.

Laurence Curry Quote

“Laurence’s intent to use dance to help tell the story dominated all of his choreography,” Hann said. “The audience applauded this decision, and many said it was more powerful letting the imagination fill in the blanks.”

DCPA Theatre Company audiences got a taste of Curry’s style in 2014 when he served as movement coach for Lord of the Flies. There he combined primal, guttural chanting with rhythmic movement to communicate the transition of the shipwrecked schoolboys into savages.

Curry is a former Teaching Artist for DCPA Education and a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His effect on DSA students is infectious, Hann said. “His positivity is catching. His love for telling a story is copied by his actors. And his love of sharing something special with an audience is contagious. Our cast and crew were inspired every day Laurence was in our presence.”

Audiences will next see Curry in the DCPA Theatre Company’s LBJ drama All the Way. He will plays James Harris alongside his Marcus castmate Cajardo Lindsey as Bob Moses. All the Way is Robert Shenkkan’s Tony-winning play tracing the first volatile year of the LBJ presidency.

See him now: Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet
Presented by Curious Theatre Company through Dec. 19 at 1080 Acoma St. Call 303-623-0524 or go to curioustheatre.org.


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​
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

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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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