2017 True West Award: Brandon Case

by John Moore | Dec 09, 2017
True West Award 2017 Brandon Case

2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

Day 9: Brandon Case

Aurora Fox
Technical Director
Scenic Designer

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

Brandon Case’s current program bio is far more revealing than most. In it, the Aurora Fox’s Technical Director and resident Scenic Designer describes himself as “skinny as a pencil, smart as a whip and possibly the scariest man currently living.”

And who’s going to argue with that?

Wait, what’s that, you say? He’s quoting the Wes Anderson movie Fantastic Mr. Fox? Well that works, too. Because if you ask anyone how the Aurora Fox just pulled through the most challenging year in its 33-year history, they will pretty much say it was The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Brandon Case Softball True West Awards After longtime Executive Director Charles Packard resigned in May, Case and Production Manager Jen Orf stepped up and led the remaining staff through a transition that is now in its seventh month.

“Brandon stepped up when they were down with more time, more hours and more leadership,” said director, actor and former Fox employee Robert Michael Sanders. “It would have been really easy for him to roll over and wait to see what the coming changes would bring. But instead he took over. And he refused to let anything take away from the quality of the work that they were doing.”

Patron Services manager Beau Bisson puts it this way: “If theatre were a dodge-ball game — as it often feels like — Brandon would always be my first pick as a teammate. When he’s around, you get this sense that everything will work out. Because when things hit the fan, you want Brandon Case to be there.”

A short list of Case’s job duties this year includes overseeing the building facilities and all its sound and light equipment. Because the Fox is owned by the city of Aurora, Case also supervised departmental budgets, schedules and hiring, all while navigating the additional layer of municipal oversight.

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Case is the rare Technical Director who also doubles as resident Scenic Designer. And in 2017, he brought five wildly different worlds to vivid life on the Fox’s main stage: Myth, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, the current Hi-Hat Hattie and Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing for the Little Foxes children’s troupe.

And he gets around. This very month, Case has three theatrical designs in theatres across the metro area: The Fox’s Hi-Hat Hattie (through Dec. 23), The Edge Theatre’s Resolutions (through Dec. 31) and he made significant contributions to Lone Tree Arts Center’s Home for the Holidays (through Dec. 17).

Case is a Littleton native who was home-schooled and just kind of appeared at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center in 2006 offering to help out as a set-builder and sound operator. He was hired full-time by the Aurora Fox in 2011 and has since become known for creating all types of scenery and props using many forms of carpentry, metalwork, mechanics and automation.

In that aforementioned Aurora Fox program bio, Case also claims to be “married to the prettiest girl in town” — and that’s not a line cribbed from a Wes Anderson movie. That would be Rae Leigh Case, an actor and costume designer currently appearing in the Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (through Dec. 23).

A Brandon Case Myth True West Awards 400And what she wants you to know is that Case hand-crafts and hand-paints virtually his entire scenic designs, down to the crown molding now framing the Hi-Hat Hattie opera-hall set. The “skull mound” in She Kills Monsters? The cool steam-punk look for Jekyll and Hyde? The wilderness campfire in Myth? “He doesn’t go on eBay or to thrift stores to find that stuff,” she said. “Brandon makes all of that himself, no matter how many hours it takes.”

(Pictured at right: 'Myth' at the Aurora Fox. Photo by Christine Fisk.)

This past April, Case took on one of the great scenic challenges of his career: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is a journey across the Australian outback on an oversized tour bus that, in real life, would never even remotely fit on the Aurora Fox stage. Case went out and found the bus, chopped it down to a manageable size and then added all of the requisite lights, paint and glitter. And he did virtually all of that work by himself (with some help from his brother). Just take a look at the time-lapse video below:

Time-lapse video of 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' Scenic Designer (and Aurora Fox Technical Director) Brandon Case pulling an all-nighter to assemble the bus. All by himself.

“Theaters the size of the Aurora Fox often have an entire scenic department," Rae Leigh Case said. “But at the Fox, it’s usually it’s just Brandon and one other dude he hires." 

Brandon Case Hi Hat Hattie True West AwardsBisson says Case is equal parts artist and craftsman. “It seems cliché to say that he continually surprises me with his work, but truly, he continually surprises me with his work,” he said. “He’s like the John Napier of The Aurora Fox. Or MacGyver. Or both.”

And aside from being a meticulous artist, Bisson said, Case happens to be not the scariest man currently living. Instead, “he’s funny, a great listener and deeply passionate about The Aurora Fox.” Qualities that came in most handy in 2017. “This year, I would add backstage counselor and peacekeeper," Bisson said.

He was, for lack of any better way to put it: The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

“I try to make it as known as possible,” his wife says, “that Brandon’s abilities go so beyond far beyond what people know of so far. I think he is going to change the face of set design in this theatre community."

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

Brandon Case: 2017 Scenic Designs

  • Myth, Aurora Fox
  • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Aurora Fox
  • Company, Aurora Fox
  • Hi-Hat Hattie, Aurora Fox
  • Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing, Aurora Fox children’s theatre
  • Resolutions, Edge Theatre
  • Home for the Holidays (contributed), Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Also: Technical Director of the Aurora Fox’s Chinglish

ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

A look back at the history of the True West Awards

The 2017 True West Awards

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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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