In the Spotlife: Jessica Robblee of ‘Siren Song’

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

MEET JESSICA ROBBLEE

Captain Cruelboots in Buntport Theater for All Ages’ ‘Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey.’ (Also Gretel/Clarice in the DCPA Theatre Company’s ‘Frankenstein.’)

  • Hometown: Highland Falls, N.Y. (My dyed-in-the-wool Army dad was then a professor at West Point.)
  • Home now: Denver
  • High School: Camp Zama High School, a U.S. Army post located about 25 miles southwest of Tokyo; and Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga.
  • College: B.A. in Theatre and English from Davidson (N.C) College masters degree in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Lurleen Wallace, Muriel Humphrey and a secretary in the DCPA Theatre Company’s All the Way (Denver Center). I also acted as a maid and carried what is known in the business as “a bed taco.” Later in the summer, I played a ghost in John Moore’s New York International Fringe Festival entry, Waiting for Obama.
  • What’s coming up next? I am also in the DCPA Theatre Company’s new production of Frankenstein, in which I play a Tom-Waits-esque whore and a know-it-all servant. It opens Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 30.
  • What is Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey all about? It’s Buntport Theater for All Ages’ newest Saturday afternoon monthly comedy series, following Trunks and Duck Duck Dupe! Siren Song tells the tale of gods and mortals grappling for greatness in the face of pirates, sea beasts and all the mysteries of sailing into the unknown … all told as ridiculously as possible. In broad strokes, it is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, with each episode more specifically based on an audience-suggested song. We open the series on Oct. 8 with Episode 1, which is based on Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
  • Most challenging aspect for you as an actor: Siren Song is actually a challenge for me as an actor, writer, director, set-builder, promoter and talent scout. I love that about it. I get to try out ideas on all levels of the production and learn and experiment like crazy.  I am part of of it all, as is the tradition at Buntport. We collaborate on all things to make original shows. Filling a blank canvas each month is like eating a king-sized Snickers bar of creativity. It’s delicious … and it’s a lot.
  • What do you love most about this artistic community? That it is supportive and collaborative. It takes work and time and love to create art, and people go out of their way to support each other’s efforts. This city is exploding with population, and I hope that all of these artistic collaborations — be they theatrical, musical, dance or visual art — will become a focal part of our city’s identity.
  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I have a sordid past with the song “Tiny Dancer.” One cold winter’s night, I was at a cool RiNo coffee shop with a piano in it. I asked the smiley barista if people often played the piano when they came in, and she said only occasionally. Then she said it was her dream for someone to sit down and start playing “Tiny Dancer.” I instantly thought, “I can make that happen for her. That dream is within my power.” And so I lined up my friend Tony Shawcross to play the piano and some of my actor friends (John and Kate Kissingford, Rhaetia Hanscum and others) to help. I worked it out with the coffee-shop owner the best day for us all to “happen” to arrive one morning and make this barista’s dream into a reality.  The owner told us the barista’s birthday was on a date that was coming up. It was perfect. On the barista’s birthday, Tony would happen to start playing “Tiny Dancer” on the piano, and then casual coffee-shop customers would stand up and sing parts of the song, full-out, culminating in a big, choral singalong. Afterward, everyone would go back to coffee as usual. Weird. Fun. A dream come true. The big day came … but the piano man wasn’t there. It was newly Daylight Savings Time, and he must have been confused. The rest of us casually waited, diligently acting like strangers. Tony finally arrived, and all was in place. He began playing, and we sang our parts with passion and aplomb. During the song, the barista — whom I noticed right away had changed her hair or something — started slamming the espresso machine and making the noisiest lattes in the world throughout the impromptu performance. She focused fiercely on her job. She looked away from the music. She seemed mortified.When the song was over, the feeling in the room was half-wonderful, half-bizarre.  I went to the coffee-shop owner and discovered the girl I had talked to had not changed her hair. She had changed jobs. She didn’t work at the coffee shop anymore. But the owner thought it was a great idea for us to go ahead and do this whole-singing-happening thing for the other barista, whose birthday really was that day.  So yes, this giant team of theatre people collectively ruined a random barista’s birthday … and we did it with passion and aplomb.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I think people who do important jobs should be respected and well-paid — meaning, anyone who educates children, serves children and shapes children’s minds on any level should be respected and well-paid.

Buntport Theatre for All Ages’ Siren Song: Ticket information
• Written by ensemble, with Charles Wefso
• Oct. 8-May 13, 2017
• At 717 Lipan St.
• Performances: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month
• Tickets $7 online or $8 at the door
• Info: 720-946-1388

Cast List:
Jessica Robblee
Mitch Slevc
Jack Wefso
Episode 1 Guest Stars: Hannah Duggan, Michelle Moore, Stuart Sanks and Chris Woolf

More ‘In the Spotlife’ profiles:
Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage’s Mid-Life 2
Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro’s El Sol Que Tu Eres
Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center’s Tartuffe
Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West’s theMumblings
Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ Constellations
Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse’s God of Carnage
Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center’s Sister Act
Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Ripcord

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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