In the Spotlife: Jane Shirley of 'Santa's Big Red Sack'

Jane Shirley
Michael O’Shea, Derek Hartman, Jeff Kosloski and Jane Shirley in the Avenue Theater’s ‘Santa’s Big Red Sack.’ Photo by Steve Hirsch.

(The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)


She plays multiple characters in the Avenue Theater’s ‘Santa’s Big Red Sack,’ a holiday tradition that began when Shirley and her husband, Dave, opened the Rattlebrain Comedy Theater (now Lannie’s) in 2002. ‘Santa’s Big Red Sack’ runs through Dec. 24.

  • Jane Shirley Quote Hometown: Norman, Okla.
  • Home now: Denver
  • High school: Norman
  • College: BFA from Oklahoma State University and masters degree from the University of Northern Colorado
  • What have you done for us lately? I played multiple characters in the Avenue Theater’s Motherhood Out Loud.
  • What’s next? I will be playing Lonely 2 in Oddville – opening at the Avenue Theater next spring.
  • What is Santa’s Big Red Sack all about? The absurdities that are all around us during the holiday season and the love and joy that abounds when you just give in to the silliness of it all.     .
  • Tell us about the challenge of jumping into Santa’s Big Red Sack: The actors handle all props and set changes in this show. I play 11 different characters, so I have to be very organized about costume changes and props placement. I am not an organized person. So that’s a challenge.
  • What do you love most about the challenge? I love getting to do original work, and I love creating with an ensemble. We first opened Santa in 2002, and every year we create new things. I also love it when people who come to the show let me know that they saw us do improv at Governor’s Park or first saw us when we opened the Clocktower. It makes me feel old, but I still love it.
  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I was a high-school principal for 10 years and had the opportunity to create my dream school – the kind of school I wish I could have attended. It’s still going strong and remains one of the coolest schools on the planet. 
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? If we really want improve our communities and solve the world’s most complex challenges, then we need to change our thinking about the purpose of education. Currently, we have a school system designed to sort kids and one which disenfranchises some of our most talented and creative youth. We have a definition of success that stems from a narrow set of metrics that no one even cares about in the real world. Let’s instead demand schools that nurture curiosity and insist that kids create things, replacing standardized tests with original work. If we can turn our schools into creative communities, then we’ll be graduating students who are truly prepared to lead us into a better future.

 Jane Shirley. Photo by Steve Hirsch

The cast of ‘Santa’s Big Red Sack. Photo by Steve Hirsch.

Santa’s Big Red Sack: Ticket information
• Written by ensemble
• Through Dec. 24
• Presented by the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Ave.
• Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, and 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24
• Tickets $27.50
• Info: Call 303-321-5925 or go to the avenue’s home page

Cast list:

• Jane Shirley
• Michael O’Shea
• Jeff Kosloski
• Derek Hartman

More ‘In the Spotlife’ profiles:
Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West’s theMumblings
Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too’s Lost Creatures
Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ Constellations
Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse’s God of Carnage
Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center’s Tartuffe

Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre’s Hand to God
Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre’sThe Crucible
Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage’s Mid-Life 2
Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center’s The Firestorm
Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre’s The Firestorm
Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro’s El Sol Que Tu Eres
Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Ripcord
Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages’ Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver’s Johnny Got His Gun
Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center’s Sister Act
Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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