Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
A lot of elements make up a great musical: a tuneful, clever libretto; fabulous singing and dancing; expensive tech. But The Full Monty, directed by Scott Beyette, wins hands down for pure heart, daring and soul — as well as talent and skill, of course. Set in Buffalo, the musical follows a group of desperate, out-of-work guys who decide to make some money and win back the respect of their wives by staging a strip show. They may not have impressive biceps, gorgeously defined abs or sinuous dance moves, they figure, but they do have the essential equipment. The terrific cast at Boulder's Dinner Theatre let it all hang out emotionally as well as physically, which took a lot of guts in a venue so small that audience members could reach out and touch flesh at any moment. It was a perfect choice of material when so many are facing hard times, executed with passion, intelligence and style.
This book club has everything: great titles, a dynamic facilitator, interesting company all deeply engaged in relating works of literature to their life experiences. The only hitch is you have to be in prison to join. Ex-librarian Karen Lausa's largely volunteer effort to bring serious books into the Colorado Department of Corrections, which began with a group of lifers at Limon in 2012, has expanded to several other facilities, demonstrating that incarcerated men and women, adults and juveniles are all hungry for a good story — and a chance to reflect on what it can teach them about their own wrong turns and possible paths to redemption.
Founding troupe member Evan Weissman has been missing from the Buntport stage for a while. "It's like breaking away from family," he says. "Even if you want to, you can't, and I don't want to." So it was a joy to witness his return as Alec the Amazing and All Powerful in this season's terrific revival of Jugged Rabbit Stew. Alec is a magician filled with delusions of grandeur but unable to perform a single trick, since the real magic lies in the paws of his angry and vicious white rabbit, Snowball — who has actually magicked away Alec's right arm. Alec doesn't seem to mind, however. He's filled with bouncy joie de vivre, along with inexplicable love for nasty Snowball, a love he celebrates in a full-throated song about "That Special Hare." Perhaps it was Weissman's delight at being back on stage that made him perform with such fizz and brio. Whatever it was, bravo, Alec!
We've seen Cajardo Lindsey playing thoughtful, temperate people for a few years now and doing it very well, but before he appeared in Curious Theatre Company's The Brothers Size, we'd never understood the man's sheer power as an actor. In this myth- and dream-saturated story, Lindsey played Orgun, owner of an auto shop. His younger brother, Oshoosi, had just been released from prison, and Orgun expected him to enter the same trade, but Oshoosi preferred to laze in bed and fantasize about freedom, car rides and pussy. In the Yoruba tradition, Orgun is a blacksmith, and Cajardo, beating metal into submission, towered over the evening, terrifying in his anger, heartbreaking in his grief, both human and larger than human, and sometimes — like the play itself — wonderfully and unexpectedly funny.
Seth Caikowski has played sidekicks and leading men, dignified figures and cartoonish clowns. In Boulder's Dinner Theatre's The Full Monty, he got to display another aspect of his versatility as working-class Jerry, tough-minded and humorous, but emotionally vulnerable in his relationship with his young son and ex-wife. Since this is a musical about regular guys putting on a clumsy strip act, the dancing can't look too professional — but it should still be an audience-pleaser. Caikowski handled this contradiction with skill, athletically light on his feet without appearing dancer-trained. And he imbued the entire role with dignity and strength.