Curtains Up Pagosa celebrates its 30th year of performing arts

Photo courtesy Dale Johnson
The 2003 production of “A Wonderful Life” included Bill Nobles, one of the first performers for what was then known as Pagosa Springs Music Boosters (now Curtains Up Pagosa). Here, Nobles is with his angels.

By Dale Johnson
Special to The PREVIEW
Our first show in 1989 was called “Radio Hour” and included music of the 1930s and 1940s. We put it on in the old junior high gymnasium with a large cast, some great music and a pair of grandparents (Russ and Carol Boosted) telling stories, showing photographs and playing music of their era. We had solos, duets, trios, ensembles and some big production numbers.
The second show was music of the 1950s and 1960s (same gymnasium) with Elvis (Bill Nobles) and trios and solos, etc. We next had the Country Western Jamboree held in the Catholic Parish Hall.
Then Nancy Mead, Dave Krueger, Lisa Hartley and Joan Hageman got together at Krueger’s house and brainstormed “Twisted Fairy Tales” (off the record, a little wine helped). We each took a different style of music and a fairy tale, wrote music or borrowed it, wrote scripts, cast our segments and put it on at the Lodge. Mead did a version of “The Billy Goat Gruff,” Krueger did a version of “The Three Little Pigs,” Hartley did a version of “The Stepsister’s Lament” and Hageman got to do “Rapunzel, the Opera.”
Our first major musical was “Brigadoon,” done in the sanctuary of the Methodist Church. We painted the walls of the choir loft and bell choir loft (actually with drops), built a rope and pulley and pole system (not unlike flag poles) to pull up back drops, built big trees to place all around the church and by this time, Herman Hageman had developed a computer based X-10 lighting system with only two light trees and a laptop computer to control everything. We had full orchestra and a TV backstage camera so the backstage chorus could see the cues for their backstage music.
This was our most successful production and after one performance, David Mitchell (owner and editor of The SUN), said, “Do you know what you’ve done here?” He went on to say that Music Boosters had given Pagosa Springs the “Gift of a lifetime” and that he was “stunned with the talent of so many in such a small place.”
After that, the newspaper was (and still is) our strongest ally and helped promote our scholarship program and shows and goals and ambitions. It was a very exciting time for all of us.
After “Brigadoon.” we did a “Christmas Fantasy,” a gospel concert, sponsored a Fort Lewis faculty concert and held “Pianorama” to raise money through pledges and the concert for the new grand piano for the high school. We also brought in the Alpine Ballet, followed by the Aspen Ballet, followed by the David Taylor Dance Theatre. Our next show was “The Music Man”, done in the sanctuary of the Methodist Church. Then we did “Godspell” in the sanctuary of Community Bible Church, followed by “The Good Doctor,” performed in the old Sears building.
Next came the bond election and Music Boosters campaigned hard. A couple of us were on the bond committee and the vote was going to be with an auditorium or without.
We gave presentations to the board, sought public opinion and went out on the streets, literally, to get the public informed. We were up until the last vote was counted and, for the first time, a school bond election won the first time around — not only won, but by a margin of 2 to 1. We got the auditorium.
The high school asked Music Boosters to put on the first show in the auditorium and we picked a teenage show, “Bye Bye Birdie” with both teens and adults. Our crowds just grew and grew, as did our scholarship fund and the extra things we could do for the schools and the community.
Following “Birdie” we did a Gershwin revue, “S’wonderful,” and “Forever Plaid,” which we took to the SW Theatre Festival. Then came “Nunsense,” followed by “Rhythmania” with Tony Osana and the Queen City Jazz Band. The next show was “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Since “Fiddler” in 2001, Music Boosters has performed “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Nunsense II,” “The Mousetrap,” “A Wonderful Life,” “The Hills Are Alive …,” “A Magical Madrigal Dinner” and “Oklahoma!”
Spring 2006 brought “Lily, the Felons Daughter,” an old-fashioned melodrama. For summer 2006, we staged “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in July and a reprise of “Lily” in August. Fall brought a new adventure, and a fundraiser, “Hallo-Swing,” an evening of ’40s-style big band swing music. Christmastime found “Nuncrackers” on the schedule.
The 2007-2008 season opened with a reprise of the community based “Kaleidoscope II,” a musical revue highlighting the talents of many of Music Boosters regulars as well as several newcomers. The summer musical featured a family favorite “The Sound of Music.” Our holiday venture was a new rendition of “A “Magical Madrigal Dinner.”
The summer of 2008 brought us the magnificent classic “Oliver!” while we selected Stephen Sondheim’s endearing and challenging “Into The Woods” for our 2008 holiday production, a striking and hauntingly beautiful performance.
We brought the zany nuns out again for a summer 2009 showing of “Meshuggah-Nuns.” 2009 was our 20th anniversary celebration; we ended the year with an original production, “The Beat Goes On: Music Boosters Across The Decades,” which showcased over 50 musical selections previously performed, and brought together 55 actors of all ages from the Music Boosters family.
2010 brought us the summer of “Annie,” a Broadway classic, followed by the Plaid series holiday show, “Forever Plaid, Plaid Tidings.” In 2011, we presented the ambitious and well-known “South Pacific” followed by our original revue, “Hollydaze,” that winter. We opted for the beautiful “Cinderella” in the summer of 2012, and in contrast, performed the mysterious and beautiful “Man of La Mancha.”
Our summer 2013 production of the challenging “Pippin” helped us explore new song genres, while the following winter we had fun with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” 2014 represented the presentation of the spectacular “Jesus Christ Superstar,” one of our finest productions, followed by the light-hearted “Beehive — the ’60s Musical” later in the year.
2014 represented our 25th anniversary celebration. We also created a new name to more accurately reflect our work in our schools and community — Curtains Up Pagosa.
In 2015, we tackled the ambitious “Shrek the Musical” to sold-out crowds and great reviews. The winter of 2015 we brought back a favorite Broadway review called “Hollydaze Too” featuring a cast of veterans and newcomers and a wide variety of song selections. We had been waiting for the right time to bring back “Fiddler on the Roof,” first performed in 2001 just days after the 9/11 tragedy, and 2016 provided the right opportunity to perform this timeless and poignant story. In the winter of 2016, we opted for the lighthearted “Charlie Brown Christmas,” a delightful production for all ages. We jumped in to a contemporary and hysterical musical comedy in the summer of 2017 with “Sister Act” followed by the popular “Elf” the stage musical, a huge success.
2018 proved to be a banner year as we took on the challenging, haunting and powerful ‘Children of Eden.” Our winter show in 2018 was “Nutcracker the Musical,” a first ever collaboration between CUP and local dance students, a production that included over 100 performers.
2019 is our 30th year of bringing shows of excellence, partnering with our schools and mentoring young people in Pagosa.

This story was posted on February 8, 2019.