Thingamajig – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:01:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Thingamajig Theatre Company http://www.pagosasun.com/thingamajig-theatre-company/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:00:54 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190275

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the professional actors from Thingamajig Theatre Company performed staged readings of two original plays written by Pagosa Springs students Chance Hurt and Amelie Heinecke as part of its month-long 2019 Playwrights Festival. Shown from left are (back row) Laura Moore, Laura Kelly, Alexandria Bates and Simon Mitchell; (second row) festival director Melissa Firlit, Hurt, Melissa Melendez and Rosa Julia Campbell; (front row) Heinecke, Jessi Miller and Christina Norris.

]]>
Second-grade student Amelie Heinicke’s play selected for Youth Playwright Festival http://www.pagosasun.com/second-grade-student-amelie-heinickes-play-selected-for-youth-playwright-festival/ Fri, 25 Oct 2019 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189842

Photo courtesy Alison Beach
Amelie Heinicke’s play, “The Adventure of Samantha,” has been selected for th 2019 Youth Playwrights Festival with Thingamajig Theatre Company.

By Alison Beach
Special to The PREVIEW
Pagosa Peak Open School is proud to announce that our very own Amelie Heinicke’s play, “The Adventure of Samantha,” has been selected for the 2019 Youth Playwrights Festival with Thingamajig Theatre Company.
Heinicke is a second-grade student of Ms. Robyn’s second-/third grade-class at PPOS and her play will be workshopped by a professional team at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.
Heinicke will have the opportunity to work with one professional playwright that is in town for the festival, along with professional actors and a director.
Her play will be performed on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Admission is free and we hope to see you there to support Heinicke’s play.

]]>
Thingamajig’s Playwrights Festival to feature new works from award-winning playwrights http://www.pagosasun.com/thingamajigs-playwrights-festival-to-feature-new-works-from-award-winning-playwrights/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189115

Heidi Kraay

Jay Koepke

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company’s 2019 Playwrights Festival this year will feature new works — still in development — by two award-winning playwrights, Heidi Kraay and Jay Koepke.
Under the guidance of internationally known director Melissa Firlit, the nearly three-week-long festival will also present short plays by Pagosa teens in a special reading on Oct. 26, as well as three weekends of Jaclyn Backhaus’ 2015 play “Men on Boats.” A crew of professional actors from around the U.S. will be assisting the playwrights in their script development.
“Men on Boats” opened last weekend, while the exploration of two original plays by Kraay (“See in the Dark”) and Koepke (“After Owen”) began on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts with an initial public reading of the fledgling works.
Tickets for the 2019 festival include the opportunity to watch the development of these two new plays; visit pagosacenter.org for tickets or call 731-SHOW (7469). Tickets can also be purchased as part of winter 2019-2020 season tickets.
Kraay was a top finalist at the Women Playwrights’ Initiative with her play “Cloudmelt”; a finalist at Creede Repertory Theatre’s Headwaters Festival with “How to Hide Your Monster”; and has had her work supported by grants from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Alexa Rose Foundation, and the Boise City Department of Arts and History. She teaches at Boise State University.
Her new play, “See in the Dark,” portrays a time in the indefinite future, with the arrival of a young girl in Juneau, Alaska — now a struggling and desolate village — where the surviving community embraces her as their new hope until a boy shows up with brutal accusations. Set in Alaska after all the glaciers have melted and the ice fields have vanished, “See in the Dark” presents a mythic look at the value of compassion over suspicion.
Koepke has seen his past work staged in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Pittsburgh, and has been a finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Contest and the New Jersey Playwrights Contest, and has twice been a semifinalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He also works as a photographer and talent agent in Chicago.
“After Owen” tells the story of David, who finds himself suddenly widowed and alone before the age of 30, after the death of his celebrity chef husband, Owen. But Owen’s spirit won’t let David rest until he has finished repairing Owen’s relationships with his ex-wife and child. By asking us to suspend our disbelief, “After Owen” leads us to deeper truths about growing up, fortitude and forgiveness as David takes ownership of his new life.
The festival will also present readings of past award-winning plays by the two playwrights, including Koepke’s “Adrift” and “The Oak Tree,” and Kraay’s “How to Hide Your Monster.” You can learn more about these additional plays at pagosacenter.com.
Firlit writes: “If you participated in the festival last year, we’re glad to have you back. If you are new to these events, we are so pleased you are joining us. Developing and workshopping new plays is a process, and a very sacred journey … During this year’s festival, we will be working to hone and strengthen the pieces that are in residency. We look forward to you, the audience, watching the progress each play makes …
“Journey is an appropriate word for the festival, the act of traveling from one place to another. In this collaborative journey with the playwrights, we hope that where we end up is different than where we start … It takes a village to get a play where it’s going.
“We are embarking on the journey together.”

]]>
Tickets for ‘Men on Boats,’ Playwrights Festival on sale now http://www.pagosasun.com/tickets-for-men-on-boats-playwrights-festival-on-sale-now/ Thu, 10 Oct 2019 22:05:13 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179676

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson
The female cast of “Men on Boats” present an unorthodox version of the 1869 John Wesley Powell Expedition down the Colorado River as part of Thingamajig Theatre Company’s 2019 Playwrights Festival at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts Oct. 11-27. The festival will also feature new works in progress by playwrights Heidi Kraay and Jay Koepke.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Veteran Thingamajig Theatre Company director Melissa Firlit is helming the 2019 Playwrights Festival at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts (PSCA) to kick off the 2019-2020 winter season — the ninth season for Pagosa’s professional theater company.
The festival will feature new plays by up-and-coming playwrights Jay Koepke and Heidi Kraay, as well as a fully-produced, 10-actor staging of a true-life but totally contemporary adventure story that winds its way down the uncharted Colorado River in 1869.
“Men on Boats” by playwright Jaclyn Backhaus opens tomorrow night, Friday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m., to present an unusual portrayal of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 scientific exploration of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. In Backhaus’ original script from 2015, the 10 men who set out from Green River, Wyo., to survey the river are played by actors identifying as “female” — lending sometimes humorous, sometimes revealing, insights into a true story adventure.
The show plays through Oct. 27 in the PSCA Black Box theater.
“The story is told seriously,” explained Thingamajig Artistic Director Tim Moore, “but it makes occasional contemporary references — a ‘wink and a nod’ sort of thing — for the audience to enjoy. But the acting is played straight, just as if the female actors were the men, themselves.”
“Men on Boats” is a fully produced show — in contrast to the fledgling plays that will be “under construction” during the 2019 Playwrights Festival this month, also hosted at PSCA.
This year, the festival will explore new plays by Koepke and Kraay. The festival audience is invited to watch the unfolding development of the plays as they are explored by Thingamajig’s professional actors under the guidance of Firlit.
The featured plays include “After Owen” by Koepke and “See in the Dark” by Kraay. The first reading of the featured plays is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, with final readings on Sunday, Oct. 20, and Thursday, Oct. 24. The festival will also feature works in progress by Pagosa Springs youth on Oct. 26, and readings of three additional new plays by Koepke and Kraay on Oct. 17 and 23.
Tickets for the 2019 Playwrights Festival include admission to all of the above-mentioned events.
“See in the Dark” by Kraay tells a futuristic story of a young girl showing up in Juneau, Alaska — now a struggling and desolate village — where the surviving community embraces her as their new hope — until a boy is found hunting her down with brutal accusations. Set in Alaska after all the glaciers have melted and the ice fields have vanished and nothing is recognizable, “See in the Dark” presents a mythic look at the value of compassion over suspicion.
In Koepke’s new work in progress, “After Owen,” recently married David loses his celebrity chef husband and finds himself widowed and alone before the age of 30. Meanwhile, Owen’s spirit won’t let David rest until he has finished repairing Owen’s relationships with his ex-wife and child. By asking us to suspend our disbelief, “After Owen” leads us to deeper truths about growing up, fortitude and forgiveness as David takes ownership of his new life.
Tim Moore said, “The thing we do with the Playwrights Festival, which is obviously new works that are being read and tested, and presented in a staged reading format — we’re anchoring that with a fully-fleshed out newer play. Last year, we featured Dennis Elkins’ play, ‘Box,’ which just so happened to not require any set — it was a fully realized play, but all Dennis needed was a cardboard box. This year, with ‘Men on Boats,’ we have a full production with 10 actors on stage. So ‘Men on Boats’ anchors the festival and everything else during the Festival are works in progress.”
Tickets for “Men on Boats” and for the 2019 Playwrights Festival can be purchased, individually or as part of a winter season ticket package, on the PSCA website, pagosacenter.org, or by calling 731-SHOW (7469).

]]>
Thingamajig Theatre Company’s ‘Men on Boats’ to open Oct. 11 http://www.pagosasun.com/thingamajig-theatre-companys-men-on-boats-to-open-oct-11/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179219

Photo courtesy National Park Service
The wooden boats from the Powell Expedition, the scientific excursion that first mapped the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869. Thingamajig Theatre Company will be presenting an unusual version of this history with its production of Jaclyn Barkhaus’ “Men on Boats,” opening Friday, Oct. 11, and playing through Oct. 27 at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
The name “Powell” is familiar to residents in southwestern Colorado as part of the designation for Lake Powell, the 161,000-acre reservoir created by the Glenn Canyon Dam. And most have probably heard of the Powell Expedition — the first scientific excursion through the Grand Canyon.
On May 24, 1869, American naturalist John Wesley Powell led a team of adventurers on a voyage down the Green and Colorado rivers, including the first recorded passage of white men through the full length of the Grand Canyon. The journey began in Wyoming and lasted three months, concluding at the confluence of the Colorado and Virgin Rivers in present-day Nevada. The company included seasoned mountain men and war veterans who Powell had recruited on his way from Illinois to Wyoming. A classic account of the expedition was published by Powell in 1875 as “Report on the Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries.”
A century and a half later, in 2015, playwright Jaclyn Backhaus and director Will Davis brought “Men on Boats” to the stage for the Summerworks theater festival in Toronto, Canada — a rather unusual version of the story, with a cast of 10 women portraying Powell and the nine masculine men who accompanied him on the 1869 expedition.
The characters include the officious Dunn, who not so secretly feels he should be the team leader; Sumner, a Civil War veteran who dreams of finding a tree to climb and sleep in for days; and Old Shady, Powell’s slightly simple-minded brother.
This month, Thingamajig Theatre Company kicks off the 2019-2020 winter season by launching its own production of Backhaus’ “Men on Boats” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. The show, directed by Thingamajig veteran Melissa Firlit, opens on Friday, Oct. 11, and plays through Oct. 27.
“There’s a lot of movement in the play — especially when the boats are on the water — and that’s attractive to me as a director,” said Firlit. “And I’m also attracted by the chance to tell the audience an historical story.
“And parts of it are really funny.”
Backhaus based the play on Powell’s journal, so the situations are things that actually happened during the 1869 expedition.
Said Firlit, “This was the first government-sponsored exploration of the Grand Canyon, and part of the irony is that the crew is constantly reminded that Native Americans had done this trip many times before.”
Each crew member has his reasons for making the trip and those various reasons are not always compatible. Given the personality conflicts and the physical dangers, we find ourselves wondering how many of the original crew of 10 will arrive finally at the Virgin River.
“The story of the expedition has traditionally been told by men,” offered Thingamajig Artistic Director Tim Moore. “And the playwright thought it would be interesting to tell the story with new voices. And that’s one of Melissa’s strengths as a director — she’s really great at tapping into the new voices in contemporary theater. She’s the first person I thought of to put together a piece like this.”
Although the actors are all female, they portray the male adventurers in a straight-ahead fashion, which naturally lends itself to a sometimes humorous, sometimes delicate, twist on the historical story.
Theater critic Ben Brantley wrote in his 2015 review of the original Toronto production: “‘Men on Boats’ starts from the realization that we can never recreate exactly how it was. This play’s perspective is that of a contemporary reader filtering accounts of another age through her own latter-day sensibility.”
“It’s a fast-paced show,” said Firlit, “and it’s entertaining to watch women embody another gender, struggling with dire circumstances — life and death circumstances — during a very different period of America’s history, but speaking with contemporary voices … to explore the need to conquer.”
Tickets to “Men on Boats” can be included in your 2019-2020 season ticket purchase or as individual tickets, both available at https://pagosacenter.org or by calling the box office at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts at 731-SHOW (7469).

]]>
Thingamajig Theatre Company closes out season http://www.pagosasun.com/thingamajig-theatre-company-closes-out-season/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 22:25:42 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=177663

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson
The Thingamajig Theatre production of “Ring of Fire” celebrates the many sides of American recording artist Johnny Cash — including his family’s religious heritage — at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. The final performances of the summer production take place this weekend. The five-member cast of singers and musicians are, from left, Allie Tamburello, Rayshaughn Armant, Tommy Paduano, Steven Sitzman and Nick Abbott.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company closes out its extended 2019 Broadway in the Mountains summer season this weekend with four final performances of “Ring of Fire” — a musical celebration of singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, and a career that stretched from Cash’s first hit record in 1955 to his final studio album in 2002.
The final performances of “Ring of Fire” will take place tonight, Thursday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, closing with a family-friendly 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on Sept. 15. Tickets are available online at pagosacenter.org or by calling 731-SHOW (7469).
The show features five actors/singers from the summer season repertory company — Rayshaughn Armant, Allie Tamburello, Nick Abbott, Tommy Paduano and Steven Sitzman — who are all instrumentalists and who perform live selections from Cash’s long recording career. The show is directed by noted Colorado theater artist Christopher Willard.
As they prepared for their final weekend, the five musicians offered some thoughts about performing Cash’s music on the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts stage this summer, beginning with rehearsals last April.
Tamburello is the sole female in the cast, so she sings on behalf of numerous women in Cash’s life.
“I think my favorite song of the show is the final song: ‘Hey, Porter.’”
“Hey, Porter” appeared as the B side of the very first Johnny Cash record in 1955, opposite his radio hit, “Cry, Cry, Cry.”
Tamburello said, “It’s really special to me, because every time we do the show, it’s a journey that we take from start to finish, and it’s like a roller coaster. It’s a roller coaster to perform, and it’s also like this wild ride that we’ve been on since we got here in April. And that song is like the bow on the present, every single night.”
Abbott sings many of the leads during the show, and serves as the shows narrator, although — in the general spirit of the production — he makes no attempt to “imitate” Cash.
“‘Why Me, Lord’ is the song that comes right before ‘Hey, Porter’ and I think that’s the song that’s the most fulfilling for me to sink my teeth into, because [Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash] has just passed away and so it’s really emotional. Maybe the most emotional moment in the show for my character.
“There are other emotional moments in the show, of course, but for me ‘Why Me, Lord’ is the emotional climax. I don’t know; I’m religious and I just really connect with that moment, right before we go into ‘Hey, Porter.’”
Paduano is the show’s bass player, covering upright and electric bass.
“My favorite is ‘Daddy Sang Bass.’ It’s one of the parts in the show — that whole section at the beginning of the show, where we represent Cash’s family — it just feels very much like a real family, when we all sing together during the beginning. And ‘Daddy Sang Bass’ is the climax of that. It’s the song in the show that I first grew to really love … It’s such a switch from the tragedy we just came out of, where we’re celebrating as a family …”
Lead guitarist Sitzman agreed.
“My favorite moment is also with ‘Daddy Sang Bass.’ It’s the first moment in the show when we’re all, like, jubilating together (laughs) … if that’s the word I want to use … We’re holding each other up, and … I don’t know what it is; there’s a special feeling about it. It’s like, here we are, we’re a family. Let’s play!”
Guitarist Armant is the youngest member of the cast.
“One of the telling things for me, as an actor — to know that we were entering on something very special, and I mean that affectionately — is that we would record tracks of ourselves to rehearse with, and things like that. And the director allowed us to take more control of the rehearsal process. Those kinds of things were really necessary, because we needed to do things our own way. Bring our own personalities into the process …”
Thingamajig’s “Ring of Fire” soars through Johnny Cash’s iconic music and will leave you humming “I’ve Been Everywhere” and “I Walk the Line” for days to come. You’ll laugh along with “A Boy Named Sue” and struggle to not sing along with “Folsom Prison Blues.”
To get tickets to “Ring of Fire,” visit pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW (7469).
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.

]]>
Friends of the Thingamajig Theatre Farewell Party http://www.pagosasun.com/friends-of-the-thingamajig-theatre-farewell-party/ Sun, 08 Sep 2019 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176912

Photos courtesy Simon Fuger

The Friends of the Thingamajig Theatre hosted a farewell party for the cast and crew. The farewell party punctuated an incredibly successful summer theater season at the Pagosa Center for the Arts. It was a wonderful send off for the incredibly hard working cast and crew, who came from all over America. Members of the cast joined with the band on many songs and there was plenty of dancing by all.

]]>
Thingamajig’s ‘Ring of Fire’ continues until Sept. 15 http://www.pagosasun.com/thingamajigs-ring-of-fire-continues-until-sept-15/ Thu, 05 Sep 2019 21:00:33 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176949

Photo courtesy Jeff Laydon

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company’s 2019 Broadway in the Mountains summer season hosted the final performances for three of its main stage musical productions this past weekend at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, but Artistic Director Tim Moore made the decision this year to run one of the outstanding summer season productions into Pagosa’s “shoulder season.”
Thingamajig’s “Ring of Fire” will continue playing through Sunday, Sept. 15, with performances offered Thursday through Sunday each week.
“Ring of Fire” celebrates the music of one of America’s most popular singer songwriters, Johnny Cash. The show does not, however, attempt to portray The Man in Black directly. Instead, the contours of Cash’s life and art can be seen through narratives woven by his music. The story — told through Cash’s songs — develops an earnest dialogue about home and family, the people you love, and what holds people together in the face of tough times.
Cash was born Feb. 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Ark., grew up with music as an integral part of his household, and began to write songs and play guitar at age 12. After his graduation from high school in 1950, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving with the Air Force Security Service in Landsberg, Germany, where he organized his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians. Following his discharge from the Air Force in 1954, he auditioned for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records and with a couple of mechanics, Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins, formed a trio known as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. The three friends recorded hit songs such as “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Throughout the late the 1950s and into the 1960s, Cash continued to produce hit records. His songs “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” “I Got Stripes,” “Understand Your Man” and “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” all hit near the top of the record charts. In 1963, Cash recorded one of the biggest hits of his long career, “Ring of Fire” — a song written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore and recorded by the Carter family in 1962 and by Cash in 1963.
Despite Cash’s success on the charts, he struggled throughout his career with drug and alcohol abuse. Following his divorce from Vivian Liberto in 1967, he moved to Nashville in 1967 and worked with Carter, who helped Cash overcome his drug addiction. The two went on to marry in 1968 and produced top-charting duets, including “Jackson,” “Long-Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man” and “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”
Although he suffered from complications from diabetes, Cash continued to write and record, earning a Grammy for best contemporary folk album, “American Recordings” in 1994, another Grammy for best country album, “Unchained,” in 1997, and a Grammy for the best male country vocal performance for his cover of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man” in 2000.
Johnny Cash lost his wife June Carter Cash to heart failure in May 2003. He passed away a few months later, on Sept. 12, 2003.
The group of five singers, actors, and musicians that make up Thingamjig’s “Ring of Fire” cast are multitalented artists from around the country. Thingamajig audiences might spot a favorite from the years past: Steven Sitzman, who appeared in such Thingamajig productions as “Sister Act,” “Big River” and “West Side Story.” The other four performers are new this year to the Thingamajig stage: Rayshaughn Armant, Allie Tamburello, Nick Abbott and Tommy Paduano.
This talented group of artists will be singing and playing a variety of instruments to bring Johnny Cash’s musical legacy to life right before your eyes. “Ring of Fire” soars through his iconic music and will leave you humming “I’ve Been Everywhere” and “I Walk the Line” for days to come. You’ll laugh along with “A Boy Named Sue” and struggle to not sing along with “Folsom Prison Blues.”
To get tickets to “Ring of Fire,” visit pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW (7469).
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.

]]>
Final weekend for four Broadway in the Mountains shows http://www.pagosasun.com/final-weekend-for-four-broadway-in-the-mountains-shows/ Fri, 30 Aug 2019 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176534

Photo courtesy Jeff Laydon
Thingamajig Theatre Company celebrates the mysteries of love with its summer 2019 production of the Broadway musical hit, “Mamma Mia!” playing its final performances this weekend at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company’s 2019 Broadway in the Mountains summer repertory season approaches its dramatic finale this weekend, with five exciting musicals playing in rotation tonight through Sunday at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. The productions include “Ring of Fire,” “Mamma Mia!,” “The Who’s Tommy,” “Jekyll and Hyde, the Musical” and “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland JR.”
This is the final weekend for three of the four Broadway musicals, as sung and performed by Thingamajig’s professional acting company from all across the U.S., from Portland to Phoenix to New Orleans to New York. But “Ring of Fire” — a musical retelling of the Johnny Cash story — will continue through Sept. 15, playing Thursdays through Sundays.
‘Mamma Mia!’
The family-friendly pop musical “Mamma Mia!” give two final performances this weekend — tonight, Thursday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. and a matinee on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 2 p.m.
“Mamma Mia!” is the hilarious romantic comedy musical featuring music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame. This heartwarming musical tells the story of Sophie Sheridan as she prepares for her wedding by inviting three former love interests of her mother in the hopes of figuring out which is her father. With iconic songs such as “Super Trouper,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Mamma Mia,” you will be struggling not to jump up and dance in the aisle. All of the music in “Mamma Mia!” will have you dancing in your seat and singing your favorite ABBA tune for days.
‘The Who’s Tommy’
“The Who’s Tommy” plays its final show on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. at Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.
Based on the iconic 1969 rock concept album, “The Who’s Tommy” is an exhilarating story of hope, healing and the human spirit. After witnessing the accidental murder of his mother’s lover by his father, Tommy is traumatized into a catatonic state and, as the boy grows, he suffers abuse at the hands of his sadistic relatives and neighbors.
As an adolescent, he’s discovered to have an uncanny knack for playing pinball and, when his mother finally breaks through his catatonia, he becomes an international pinball superstar — and the next Messiah?
The Pagosa Springs production of the rock opera will feature the 16 members of Thingamajig’s summer repertory company, plus special appearances by Gabriel Gonzales (as the 4-year-old Tommy) and Christian Gonzales (as the 10-year-old Tommy).
‘Jekyll and Hyde, The Musical’
The final showing of “Jekyll and Hyde, the Musical” is set for tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m.
The Thingamajig Theatre’s production of “Jekyll and Hyde, The Musical” unfolded under the guidance of three Thingamajig veterans: Director Melissa Firlit, Musical Director Boni McIntyre, and Choreographer Pia Wyatt. The production features Perry Davis Harper as Jekyll/Hyde, with Bailey Claffey and Samantha Luck as his conflicting romantic interests.
“Jekyll and Hyde is a story that we all sort of take for granted; we all know something about it. But I don’t think we’ve truly explored it …” said Firlit. “The music has such a feeling of movement and propels the story forward. The show feels epic, in many ways, just because of the music behind it. So if you think you know the story — you should come see the musical …”
‘Ring of Fire’
“Ring of Fire” — playing this Saturday at 2 p.m. and continuing through Sept. 15 — celebrates the music of one of America’s most popular singer songwriters, Johnny Cash. The show does not attempt to portray The Man in Black directly, but instead presents a sung narrative of Cash’s life and art. The story develops an earnest dialogue about home and family, the people you love and what holds people together in the face of tough times. A cast of five performers — Steven Sitzman, Rayshaughn Armant, Allie Tamburello, Nick Abbott and Tommy Paduano — sing and play a variety of instruments to bring Cash’s musical legacy to life right before your eyes.
More information
For information on how to donate, purchase tickets and get further show information, please visit pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW (7469).
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.

]]>
Perry Davis Harper: From ‘Les Mis’ star to head of a Thingamajig acting family dynasty http://www.pagosasun.com/perry-davis-harper-from-les-mis-star-to-head-of-a-thingamajig-acting-family-dynasty/ Mon, 26 Aug 2019 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176006

Photo courtesy Carole Howard
Perry Davis Harper poses with his wife, Amy, and their five children at the Parelli Ranch in June at the Friends of Thingamajig Theatre’s welcome event for the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts summer cast. Left to right are Nanny Nicole, Daniel, Gabriel, Ariana, Christian, Amelia, Cooper and Perry. Perry first performed in Pagosa as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” in 2014. Now they both have starring roles in the theater’s summer musicals and have moved to Pagosa Springs full time.

By Carole Howard
Special to The PREVIEW
When Perry Davis Harper first performed at Thingamajig Theatre in 2014 in the starring role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” audiences at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts were mesmerized by his stage presence and powerful voice.
Five summers later, Harper is back in Pagosa playing the title roles in “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical,” another production that is an ideal platform for his amazing voice. This time, he brought his wife, Amelia (Amy to her family and friends), an accomplished actor in her own right and one of the stars of “Mamma Mia,” and their five children, two of whom are warming the hearts of everyone in the theater as they play the young Tommy at different ages in “The Who’s Tommy.”
Are they the start of Thingamajig’s own acting family dynasty? If yes, it will be a local dynasty, as the Harpers have moved to Pagosa full-time.
The story of how they met, married and moved to Pagosa could make a romantic musical.
After performing several times at Thingamajig in a variety of roles, and traveling the U.S. for both operatic and musical theater roles, Perry got a full-time job in Branson, Mo., at the Sight and Sound Theatre, which specializes in producing Bible stories for the stage. There he met Amy, who had acted with Sight and Sound for 10 years.

Photo courtesy Perry Davis Harper
Perry Davis Harper, one of the most popular actors to perform on the Thingamajig Theatre Company stage, returned to the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts this summer with his wife, Amelia, and their five children. Perry married Amy in Branson, Mo., three years ago this week, with her four children as their attendants: Left to right are Ariana, Gabriel, Daniel and Christian. A year later, Perry and Amy added son Cooper to their family. Now they have moved to Pagosa Springs full time.

Their love affair never missed a beat, even though Amy came with four little children: Christian, now 9; Daniel, 8; Gabriel, 6; and Ana, 4. Perry and Amy married in 2016 with the kids as their ceremony attendants and soon they were calling Perry “Dad.” A year later, Perry and Amy added son Cooper to their family.
With Perry and Amy’s impressive theatrical pedigrees, it’s no surprise that acting, singing and dancing are a vital part of Harper family life. The parents’ resumes are stellar, and Christian also has credits, having played two parts in Branson.
So, it seemed only natural this summer that Christian play the part of young Tommy at age 10. When he grows up, he wants to be either an actor, singer or chef — and, with his talents, maybe he could handle all three. He loves helping his parents practice their lines. Brother Gabriel, who just graduated from kindergarten, plays Tommy at age 4, his first stage role. Both Christian and Gabe also had roles in the kids’ camp show “Aladdin Kids.”
Not to be left out, son Daniel and daughter Ana helped distribute programs and conversed with arriving audience members at opening nights of this summer’s wonderful Broadway musicals at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Daniel wants to be a baseball player when he grows up. Ana loves to dress up and wear fancy shoes, so you have to wonder if we’ll see her on the stage in the future.
Thingamajig co-founder and artistic director Tim Moore is one of Perry’s greatest fans.
“When I first auditioned Perry in 2014, I knew he was something extraordinary. Not only is he a once-in-a-lifetime vocalist, but more important, he was actively seeking ‘community’ and meaningful artistic endeavors,” Moore said. “Perry is one of those unique performers you meet who you instantly want on your team. He inspires greatness with his commitment to excellence, is an amazing collaborative partner, and cares deeply about the work and the people he’s surrounded by. I can’t imagine this summer without him.”
Almost from the moment Perry first met Amy, he told her about his love for Pagosa — the warm and welcoming people in our community, the spectacular scenery, the outdoor lifestyle including golf, and,of course, Thingamajig and its enthusiastic patrons. Now they have achieved their goal of moving here permanently.
Perry has founded a youth conservatory at Thingamajig to introduce youngsters ages 8-18 to all aspects of the theater and has been hired to teach music and performing arts at the Pagosa Peak Open School, our local charter school. He also has launched a video production company for communications via video and social media. He already has several local business clients, one being Laura Moore, co-founder and executive director of Thingamajig.
She hired Perry to create a comedic four-video series in praise of Seeds of Learning as part of her participation in the Dancing with the Pagosa Stars fundraising event for the school last month and it won first place.
Meanwhile, Amy will be working at the theater and the whole family will have performing opportunities at Thingamajig. They are living in the old actors’ house.
“From the moment we got here, everyone loved Pagosa,” Perry said of his new family. “The kids have made so many friends already. Even before Amy and I made the commitment, they were asking us, ‘Are we moving here?’ So we know we’ve made the right decision.”
Added Amy, “Visiting Pagosa Springs has been an experience for our family to remember. Now moving here brings more joy to our home.”
Tim pointed out that this summer, Perry “brings down the house more than once with his show-stopping numbers and he’s worth the price of admission alone.”
As if that were not enough, there’s the added benefit of his new family to the Thingamajig stage.
“Then add in all our amazing performers this year, it might be the best summer yet in terms of raw talent. I love these performers,” Tim said.
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.

]]>