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Thingamajig Theatre Company halfway through ambitious season

Photo courtesy Elly Osmera
The ensemble case of “Sister Act” performs a number. “Sister Act” is one of four Broadway shows currently being produced by the Thingamajig Theatre Company.

By Simon Fuger
Special to The PREVIEW

In its sixth season, with nearly 60 productions under its belt, the Thingamajig Theatre Company in residence at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts (PSCA), is halfway through its most ambitious summer program yet.

Dubbed “Broadway in the Mountains,” this summer’s theater productions include “Aida,” “Hairspray,” “Sister Act” and “Big River.” These productions in their original Broadway runs amassed a total of 24 Tony awards or nominations, the theater’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Calling it Broadway in the Mountains is, however, a bit of a misnomer; the reality is that if you went to Broadway at any time in its history, you could not have seen all of these productions in the same year, let alone the same week. All four are playing in repertory and most weeks you could literally see all four.

Having four plays running at the same time is almost unheard of in the theater world. It puts a tremendous strain on the actors, the support staff and theater management, which is why it is rarely done. It also means that the lead actors in one show may just be part of the ensemble in the other shows, their talents not showcased in support of the production and their fellow performers.

If you have attended a performance by the Thingamajig Theatre Company, you know how highly professional it is. Every year the theater recruits professional actors from all over the country and, in some cases, the world. Many of these actors have not performed together before. This is a conscious decision on the part of Tim Moore, the artistic director, and Laura Moore, co-founder of the theater.

“We want to find the best actors for the pieces we have selected and not pick shows that we know will suit some of our great actors that we have used in the past,” said Tim Moore. “It would be very easy to stay in our comfort zone and just draw on our experience with actors and directors we have employed in the past, but we want to constantly explore new approaches and challenge ourselves. This is what keeps theater fresh.”

Once you have seen a production at PSCA by the Thingamajig Theatre Company, you will be less inclined to want to see a production on Broadway, the West End of London or nearly any place else. For a start, the quality of the shows is superb, but, secondly, the intimacy of the space at PSCA is unparalleled. You feel the play in a way that is not possible in a larger theater. It is all around you and, in many cases, all 28 actors are on stage at the same time.

When you can experience world-class theater this way, why would you ever go back to a huge auditorium where you might be lucky to sit in the 30th row and pay five times as much? We are indeed spoiled to have such highly professional theater in our midst.

The summer of great musicals are as follows.

‘Aida’

“Aida,” set in the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs and their war with the neighboring Nubians. With music by Elton John (“The Lion King”) and Lyricist Tim Rice (“Evita,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”), it tells the epic story of the power of love to overcome even the greatest of odds, in this case a war between two nations. In an ending reminiscent of “Romeo and Juliet” and other great love stories, love triumphs but at a great cost.

“Aida” is rated PG-13 with performances on July 28 and Aug. 4, 9, 12, 17, 20 and 25. Evening performances start at 7 p.m., or 2 p.m. for matinees. Check the theater website, www.pagosacenter.org, for times for each performance.

‘Hairspray’

“Hairspray,” set in Baltimore in the 1960s, is a delightful musical romp with the ever optimistic but socially challenged Tracy Turnblad leading the way in breaking down social and racial stereotypes through dance and music. Change is in the air. If you have seen the movie, you will love this live production even more.

“Hairspray” is rated PG-13 with performances on July 29 and Aug. 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23 and 26. Evening performances start at 7 p.m., or 2 p.m. for matinees. Check the theater website, www.pagosacenter.org, for times for each performance.

‘Big River’

“Big River” is based on Mark Twain’s classic “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Set in the 1840s, Huck sets off with Jim, a runaway slave, to explore the mighty Mississippi. In the process, they meet up with an assortment of savory and not-so-savory characters. With music by Roger Miller (“King of the Road”) augmented by exceptional dance, you feel like you are in the middle of Huck’s adventure in the time of slavery.

“Big River” is rated PG with performances July 27 and 30, and Aug. 3, 6, 11, 16, 19, 24 and 27. Evening performances start at 7 p.m. or 2 p.m. for matinees. Check the theater website, www.pagosacenter.org, for times for each performance.

‘Sister Act’

“Sister Act,” based loosely on the 1992 film, “Disco Diva,” Delores van Cartier finds herself in protective custody in a convent after she witnesses a murder and is the state’s key witness. Soon, the irrepressible Delores stirs things up at the convent introducing new music to the sisters and breaking the old habits, much to the dismay of the Mother Superior. With a great musical score by Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast” and “Little Mermaid”), this show will have you dancing in the isles.

“Sister Act” is rated PG-13 with performances Aug. 2, 5, 10, 13, 18, 23 and 26. Evening performances start at 7 p.m. or 2 p.m. for matinees. Check the theater website, www.pagosacenter.org, for times for each performance.

More information

For more information on the summer shows or to purchase tickets, visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-7469.

The Thingamajig Theatre Company is a 501(c)3 nonprofit professional theater company producing quality professional theater year-round as well as kids camps and shows and other events for the community.

It is one of only a few Colorado-based theater companies that operates year-round and produces around 10 productions per year.

This story was posted on July 28, 2017.