2018 True West Awards Into the Woods. Phamaly Catamounts

2018 True West Awards: Into the Woods

2018 True West Awards Into the Woods. Phamaly Catamounts


Two productions that explored new theatrical terrain

Both Phamaly Theatre Company and The Catamounts, in partnership with the Denver dance troupe Control Group Productions, went figuratively and literally into the woods this past summer, challenging their own creative limits and thrilling audiences in very different ways. Phamaly, which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities, stages an annual large-scale Broadway musical at the Denver Center, and for Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Director Christy Montour-Larson assembled the deepest ensemble in the company’s nearly 30-year history. It was a joy for longtime audiences to see virtually every recent female lead back and performing together in Into the Woods, a musical with a superhuman score that Phamaly simply would not have had the bench to pull off even a few years ago. There was Artistic Director Regan Linton (Man of La Mancha); Jenna Bainbridge (Evita); Lyndsay Palmer (Cabaret), and Juliet Villa (Urinetown) alongside longtime company favorite Lucy Roucis. The men included a who’s who of returning and new talents. The result was the musical Phamaly strives for each year and almost always accomplishes – but never before to this degree of artistic success. This Into the Woods was simply one of the most realized productions of the year on any Colorado stage, period. And the attendance of 6,045 was a record for Phamaly in the Space Theatre and second-highest in its history. Phamaly also set an improved example for its own community, making $1 tickets available two hours before every performance and offering personal captioning devices to audiences. The company also hosted classes for members for company members to learn American Sign Language.

Find all of the announced 2018 True West Awards to date

Meanwhile, The Catamounts took the growing trend of immersive theatre experiences to a whole new environment: The South Mesa Trailhead in Eldorado Springs, where adventurous theatregoers were bussed from the perfectly named Wild Woods Brewery not knowing what to expect. They were then guided by 10 performers on a journey that loosely tied the Greek myth of Persephone to urgent looming present-day cataclysms such as climate change. Rausch’s title is derived from German philosophy, describing the intoxication and loss of self we feel in the face of the power of nature. Because the performance took place outside, co-director Amanda Berg Wilson and her team had to adapt to changing weather and tear out props and stereo speakers for each of 14 performances that were seen by about 600 audience members, each ending in a community banquet. This new effort grew out of the work Wilson and Control Group Artistic Director Patrick Mueller honed in Off-Center’s 2016 immersive spectacle Sweet & Lucky for the Denver Center. “I think we ultimately did something incredibly risk-taking and unprecedented – which is what we set out to do,” Wilson said. “And for many of those who saw it, Rausch was a moving and completely unexpected experience.”

Phamaly Theatre Company’s Into the Woods
Presented in the Denver Center’s Space Theatre

He said it: Jeffrey Parker, who played Cinderella’s Prince: “If you have a disability, a lot of companies try to hide it. You become a pariah if you are sick or if you have to ask for something. But Phamaly sees everyone as their authentic selves representing who they are as artists with their disabilities — and that was beautiful and empowering to me. I see the governing spirit between Phamaly and its audiences as a kind of “radical honesty.”

Cast and creatives:

  • Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
  • Choreography by Debbie and Ronni Stark
  • Music Direction by Mac Merchant
  • Stage Manager: Paul Behrhorst
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Zach Madison, Jane Stewart
  • Cinderella: Jenna Bainbridge
  • Jack: Adam Johnson
  • Jack’s Mother: Amber Marsh
  • The Baker: MacGregor Arney
  • The Baker’s Wife: Regan Linton
  • Cinderella’s Stepmother: Maggie Whittum
  • Florinda: Esha Mehta
  • Lucinda: Rachel Graham
  • Little Red Ridinghood: Kirsten Lang
  • The Witch: Erin Schneider
  • Cinderella’s Mother: Juliet Villa
  • Mysterious Man: Lucy Roucis
  • Wolf: Trenton Schindele
  • Rapunzel: Lyndsay Palmer
  • Rapunzel’s Prince: Jeremy Palmer
  • Cinderella’s Prince: Jeff Parker
  • Steward: Daniel Traylor
  • Narrator: Albert Tharpe III
  • Giant’s Wife/Granny: Laurice Quinn
  • Milky White: Molly Nash
  • Cinderella’s Father: Phillip Lomeo
  • Snow White: Miranda Ireland
  • Sleeping Beauty: Shannon Sauer
  • Ensemble: Maria Ciobanu, Carson Hanna, Vianca Marez, Aloukika Patro and Riley Tuttle

Read more: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton

Into the Woods. Phamaly. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

The cast of Phamaly’s ‘Into the Woods.’ Photo by Michael Ensminger.

The Catamounts’ Rausch
Presented at the South Mesa Trailhead in Eldorado Springs:

Rausch Sexton McGrath. Photo by John Moore

Sexton McGrath, as Narcissus, enjoyed toying with audience members and encouraged vainglorious selfies. Photo by John Moore.

Critics corner:Rausch is unique. The experience is engaging through and through, from the camaraderie that begins to build between bar patrons at Wild Woods who realize they are about to board a bus going God-knows-where to a folksie sing-a-long of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” to smearing clay on your face with Persephone and snapping selfies with Narcissus. It’s wild and weird and fun and surely Nietzche would approve.” Caitlin Rockett, Boulder Weekly

Cast and creatives:

  • Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson and Patrick Mueller
  • Created by Amanda Berg Wilson, Patrick Mueller, and the Ensemble
  • Ensemble: Joan Bruemmer-Holden, Betty Hart, Chelsea Frye, Tara Kelso, Laura Lounge, Sexton McGrath, Jason Maxwell, Patrick Mueller, Rachel Seiger and Cameron Varner
  • Costume Design by Steffani Day
  • Food and Beverage Design by Lauren Shepard
  • Lighting Design by Sean Mallary
  • Production by McPherson Horle
  • Scenic Design by Justin Hicks
  • Sound Design by Brian Freeland
  • Stage Management by Kristin Fernandez with Catlin Anne Seavey and Makaiah Clark

About The True West Awards: ’30 Days, 30 Bouquets’

The True West Awards, now in their 18th 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 2018 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter