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By Rick Artis
Special to The PREVIEW
We recently had the opportunity to gain some insights into Pagosa Springs theater from one of our local treasures, Elizabeth Claire Baldwin.
What brought you to Pagosa Springs?
“My 1997 Honda Civic brought me here to visit my mom who had moved to Pagosa Springs two years prior. I came to visit for Christmas in 2001 and never left.”
Pagosa theater buffs have seen you appear in a myriad of shows. Give us an overview of some of the things you’ve done around town.
“The first show I performed in town was ‘You Can’t Take it With You,’ when CUPS (Curtains Up Pagosa) was the Music Boosters. That show was a lot of fun. Since then, I have been involved in numerous shows with all of the community theaters such as Springs Theatre Company, StageStruck Productions and Music Boosters, local churches and Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. From melodramas to comedies, I have enjoyed participating in the wide range of entertainment our community has to offer.”
Most local actors act for the love of the stage. What do you do when you’re not in a production?
“I am usually juggling two to four jobs for the love of living in Pagosa. I am currently an aide at the elementary school and making jewelry.”
When did the theater bug bite and what were your early days on stage like?
“My first stage performance was when I was 10 in a show called ‘Lucky, Lucky Hudson And the 12th Street Gang.’ I played the detective and the culprit. From there, I knew the stage was where I wanted to be.
“My parents provided me with the amazing opportunity to attend Arts Magnet in Dallas, Texas, where I specialized in studying all aspects of theater while still acquiring all of my high school credits. It was a performing and visual arts high school. I was surrounded by artists and genuinely creative people. I took acting classes that helped me understand character studies, focus, project and, most importantly, observe.
“I took makeup classes that taught me to age 50 years or look like I was from another planet. I took costume study, design and construction classes. I also took stage construction classes where we designed and built sets. I also took melodrama classes where my final exam involved juggling.
“Other classes included play writing, improvisation, English dialect, old age and directing. Every day that goes by, I am grateful for those experiences.”
Of all of your work so far, what is your favorite show/character?
“That’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is. I love them all for their hilarious insights, challenges and tender moments.”
How do you prepare for a show?
“If you mean the entire show, I spend the amount of time needed to feel confident with the memorization. Sometimes I will have a friend run lines with me. When it comes to a tough monologue, I have been known to repeat it out loud, record it and listen to it and also re-write it line by line to plant it in my brain … if you mean right before a performance, I review any tricky spots, visualize a happy laughing crowd and, of course, focus and give thanks for the talents given to me and the opportunity to share them with others.”
What do you see in the future for theater in Pagosa?
“I am one of those people who believe anything is possible. I see even more growth for theater in Pagosa. Given the vision and support, Pagosa has shown immense interest in all forms of entertainment.”
You have done several productions with Springs Theatre Company/StageStruck Productions. What would you like to see in its future?
“StageStruck Productions has unlimited potential and it seems they could continue to add variety to the theatrical community with original plays, variety shows, comedic improv and, hopefully, educational opportunities for those wanting to learn more about the magic of the performing arts.”
What would like to see in your theater future? Do you ever feel the desire to branch out into writing or directing or producing?
“Yes. It is a natural progression to attempt writing and directing, but I’m even more excited to teach about theater and educate.”
Monday, July 28, and the last three Mondays in August, StageStruck will present a brand new melodrama, “It’s All or Nothing or Twenty-One and No Beau in Sight.” As with any good melodrama, there will be plenty of opportunities to cheer the hero and boo the villain.
Doors open at 6 p.m. in anticipation of a 6:30 p.m. curtain. Concession snacks will be available beforehand and during intermission. Family friendly ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.
Each Wednesday in August, guests are invited to play along and solve a murder mystery. “Girl’s Night Out” will test the audience’s sleuthing ability as the murder takes place during dinner at A Taste of Tuscany restaurant.
A three-course meal will be served during the performance. Again, doors open at 6 p.m. with a 6:30 p.m. curtain. All seats for this evening’s entertainment are $30, and advance purchase is required with ticket purchase for each performance ceasing early in the morning on the day of each the shows.
Mark your calendars for the final two remaining “Swinging Sundays,” this Sunday, July 27, and Aug. 31. Under the direction of Bill Gottschalk, Pagosa Springs’ only big band, Pagosa Swings, will delight audiences and dancers alike with music from the ‘20s through the ‘80s.
Doors open at 1:30 p.m. The music begins at 2 p.m. All tickets are $10. Concession snacks will be available.
StageStruck Productions’ pavilion tent is erected on the grounds of Canyon Crest Lodge, located at 580 Yeoman Drive, near the end of Trails Boulevard. For those unfamiliar with how to find the property, detailed directions are available at springstheatrecompany.org/CanyonCrestMap.htm.
Colorado evenings can become quite cool. Jackets or layered clothing is recommended.
Tickets for all performances are available through PayPal on the Springs Theatre Company website (SpringsTheatreCompany.org/Tickets.htm). For additional information, please call 946-1262.