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Painting the town ‘Red’

By Tim Moore
Special to The PREVIEW

Beginning May 16, Thingamajig Theatre Company concludes its 2013-2014 winter season with the multiple Tony Award-winning play (including Best Play) by John Logan, “Red.”

Directed by Melissa Firlit and featuring Dennis Elkins as impressionist painter Rothko and Craig Dolezel, an eager young apprentice, Ken, “Red” is an “…intense and exciting two-character bio-drama …” (Ben Brantley, New York Times).

“Red” is set in the New York studio of artist Mark Rothko, who is known for paintings that seem to pulsate with a life force of their own.

It’s the 1950s and Rothko is working on a commissioned series of paintings for the new Four Seasons restaurant and his recently hired assistant is rapidly learning about the uncompromising aesthetic of his new boss. Though Rothko feels the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, he tells his assistant, “There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend … one day the black will swallow the red.”

Brantley said, “… as much as any stage work I can think of, ‘Red’ captures the dynamic relationship of an artist and his creations …”

John Lahr of The New Yorker said “Red” is a “… scintillating discourse about Rothko and modern art … withering and dangerous; it’s an achievement to suggest Rothko’s obsession for both the madness and the grandeur of a great artist playing for keeps.”

Thingamajig Theatre Company has brought in an all-star cast and production team for their final presentation. Director Melissa Firlit studied theater at the University of Hartford and the National Theatre Institute before earning her MFA in theater direction at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. A freelance director in New York, Firlit makes her Colorado debut for Thingamajig Theatre this May.

Dennis Elkins, the actor portraying Rothko, is currently the theater department chair at Fort Lewis College. Dr. Elkins holds a Ph.D. in theater from the University of Colorado and has recently performed with the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, as well the Colorado and Utah Shakespeare Festivals.

Craig Dolezel (Ken) is no stranger to the Thingamajig stage. The recent MFA graduate (Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University), has been seen as Joey in the Colorado premiere of “A Steady Rain,” George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live radio Play,” and Stevie in the regional premiere of “Good People” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

Thingamajig Theatre Company, presents, “Red” by John Logan, opening May 16 at 6 p.m. Other performances May 17-June 1, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets $20-$25 (advance/at the door). For tickets and information, please visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW (7469).

Playing this summer at PSCA: “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Les Miserables” and “A Chorus Line” June-August 2014, Wednesdays through Saturday at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

For tickets and information, visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.

This story was posted on May 1, 2014.