In Telluride: How to Eat Like a Child
Anyone who is a fan of humor likely knows of, and recently mourned the passing of, the comedic writer Nora Ephron. Yet Ephron wasn’t the only one in the family with a gift for trenchant humor: her sister, Delia, not only collaborated with her on You’ve Got Mail and Love, Lies and What I Wore, she wrote (solo) The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and Michael. She also produced a best-selling advice manual called How to Eat Like a Child, which has been adapted for the stage as a musical. The revue will be performed this Friday night by the Telluride Middle School.
Drama teacher Angela Watkins has never been shy about handing her young thespians grown up material. Each year, she directs a Shakespeare play for fifth graders, and over the years, that play has often been one of the Bard’s great tragedies. Eat Like a Child, too, was originally written from an adult’s point-of-view, based on an older person’s memories of childhood. This intrigued Watkins, who read the script, and then watched the play being performed and sung on YouTube. “Our spring musical is for older kids, and it’s harder – Jesus Christ Superstar,” she explained. “I wanted to give the younger kids something to perform.” The play is full of gags, a colorful set, and goofy props befitting grades 4 to 6, but it also features the trademark “wry, knowing, subversive” Ephron humor, Watkins said. Kids can be geniuses at figuring out how to get what they want, and the play’s songs celebrate that in tunes like “How to Stay Home From School” (flu, mumps, stomach ache or possibly all three), “How to Understand Parents” (“We’ll see” means “no,” “Not now” means “no,” “Ask your father” means “no”) and “How to Act After Being Sent to Your Room” (“With nothing but my private stereo media center to keep me distracted, I think they overreacted”). Her young actors are having a blast, and so is Watkins. The play is very funny, she said. “The humor can be dark and sinister. But I love that.”
Sorry, Wrong Chimney! in Montrose
Meanwhile, in Montrose, there is theatrical comedy of the less-subversive variety. Magic Circle Player’s holiday production, Sorry, Wrong Chimney! opens this weekend. It’s a rollicking comedy centered on the misadventures of one David Tuttle, who is moonlighting as a department store Santa so he can buy his wife a fur coat for Christmas. “It’s a departure from the way I usually pick comedies. I’ve usually seen it,” said the play’s director, Dick Shannon. This one he hadn’t seen, but a colleague whose taste he trusts “sees a lot of plays” and brought it to his attention. Maybe that’s a good omen. The colleague saw the production in Phoenix, the city in which Chimney was first produced (it debuted in 1989 at the Metro Playhouse Dinner Theatre). And it premiered in almost exactly the same time of year as Shannon’s version: early November. The script “bends credibility, but it’s still plausible,” Shannon said. Events onstage “could happen.” Shannon is working with a very experienced cast, every one of whom has been in several other plays and/or has also directed. His most recent cast was a smash: in October, Shannon directed “Broadway Comes to Montrose,” a revue of show tunes that played at the Pavilion for one performance only. More than 300 patrons were in attendance. Chimney plays Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday matinees, through the end of the month. Tickets are available at the box office. To reserve, call 970/249-7838.
High Ground in Ridgway
The freshly-refurbished Sherbino Theatre’s film series continues apace. Its latest offering, the documentary High Ground, plays this Friday at 7 p.m. and stars Chad Jukes. Jukes lives in Ridgway, but it is his tour in the High Himalaya, and before that, in his deployment overseas, that is the real star of the show. The New York Times has referred to the breathtaking scenery and searing confessions of Jukes’ and his fellow wounded warriors as therapy from a mountaintop. “Whether displaying suck-it-up-stoicism or hanging-by-a-threat fragility, these diverse men and women vividly convey the profound personal transformations their deployment has wrought,” wrote the paper’s critic, Jeannette Catsoulis.
Jukes joined the Army Reserves in high school in Logan, UT; he was deployed to Afghanistan (where he lost a foot) after just one semester at Utah State. He calls himself “a dirtbag climber,” who learned to ice climb at the 2008 Gimps On Ice Festival in Ouray after returning home. Jukes went on to climb Bridalveil Falls above Telluride with Erik Weihenmayer, the blind climber who scaled Everest in May 2001. Weihenmayer told Jukes he wanted to do a 10-year anniversary expedition to the Himalayas, this time with a group of wounded vets. They enlisted the services of filmmaker Michael Brown, an accomplished mountaineer in his own right, who directed the documentary on Weihenmayer’s Everest climb. With the same team of guides from 10 years before, the group climbed Lobuche East (20,075’), six miles from the summit of Everest. For all their bravery and stoicism on the mountain – and before that, on the field of battle – it is the vets’ inward journey, in the battlefield of the mind, that resonates here. Director Brown, Catsoulis writes, “digs below the adventure itself to reveal the gaping holes in our veteran care. Doing so, he translates a collage of experiences – some desperate, some hopeful, all tragic – into a first-person commentary on the malign reverberations of war.” Jukes will be at the Sherbino to participate in a question-and-answer session following the film.