Helping to stage fun and off-the-wall shows for Equinox Theatre Company (including the current Evil Dead: The Musical, known for its ever-popular bloody front-row “spatter-zone” seating) isn’t enough to keep Deb Flomberg busy: The actress, director, producer, writer and PR queen is also a booster of the theater community at large, serving as vice-president of the Colorado Theatre Guild and doing it all with a smile on her face and with her sense of humor intact. We invited Flomberg to script her hopes and dreams via the 100CC questionnaire; here’s her turn in the spotlight.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Deb Flomberg: Mel Brooks. Hands down, one of the best comedic writers in history. I grew up listening to bits like the "2,000 Year Old Man" and watching movies like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Recently, I was lucky enough to get to direct the Vintage Theatre production of Young Frankenstein, and it still remains one of the best theatrical memories of my life. Brooks’s comedic style is something that always resonated with me, even when I was too young to understand most of the jokes. I would see my dad laughing and just know that it was funny. Then, as I got older and grew to appreciate his humor, he became one of my heroes. Along the same lines, I’d throw in Carol Burnett and Tim Conway, for many of the same reasons. With everything going on in the world today, we need the “silly” as part of our everyday lives.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I’m interested by so many things and so many projects and so many people. If you’re taking risks, following your passions and being creative, then I’m interested. Everyone has a passion for something, whether you’re in theater and you enjoy acting or you play an instrument or you like to knit. There is something that drives you, and if you’re willing to follow your passions, to never give up on your dreams, no matter how old you are, then you’re someone I want to know.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I hate to call out one kind of art, because to someone, it’s important. So in that respect, all art is important. However, I will say that I’d like to see more theater companies in Colorado take more risks. No matter how much we complain and how much people talk about it, year after year we see the same five theaters doing the same ten shows over and over again. There are hundreds and thousands of scripts out there, just waiting to be discovered. Take a risk. Try something new. Last year, we had four companies present West Side Story at basically the same time. The year before it was The Drowsy Chaperone. Before that it was Spamalot or Shrek or I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. I think if theater companies did a better job of defining their niche audience, then this wouldn’t happen as much. There is room for everyone; we just need to figure out what we do best and focus on that. I think we’ve done a great job of that at Equinox, where we’re known for shows like Evil Dead, Reefer Madness, Bat Boy, Debbie Does Dallas and other cult classic/campy musicals. We’ve found our niche, and we look for projects that our audiences will love.
What's your day job?
Most of my time is spent writing for CBS Local, Yellow Scene Magazine or AXS.com. I also do a lot of marketing for a variety of theater companies in town, including Vintage Theatre, Equinox Theatre and the Bug Theatre. So for the bulk of my living, it’s doing what I love every day. You can’t beat that.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Despite wanting to swim through money like Scrooge McDuck, I would end up building my dream theater space. A large, beautiful proscenium theater with all the bells and whistles, plus classrooms and rehearsal space. Maybe a coffee shop out front so we can keep some income coming in, even if the theater is dark. I’d like to offer free or low-cost rehearsal space for all the struggling small companies out there and a moderately priced performance space so that more companies could find a home. I’d also donate a giant portion to the Bug Theatre, as it’s truly the most special theater and unique space in town.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Love it. Denver is my home. I’m a native, and though I’ve traveled a bit, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I’ve watched the creative scene in Denver grow exponentially over the past decade, and I’m proud to be even a small part of that growth. As more theater companies pop up, more are finding their unique niche, and more of the general public is discovering the beauty of live theater. I truly believe we’re on the precipice of something in the artistic community here. With all the growth comes more art and culture; it’s up to us to make sure the growth is handled correctly and that we don’t collapse under the weight of it.
What's the one thing that Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I’d really like to see more support for our smaller nonprofits. SCFD is wonderful and needs to be continued. Colorado Creative Industries is amazing and needs to continue as well. However, there is a limit to how much support they can provide. Denver needs to step up and embrace the ninety-plus small theaters that are spread all over the metro area. [They aren't all] centrally located, like New York, so it makes it a bigger challenge, but if we could create things like New York’s TKTS program or Chicago’s Hot Tix program, it would be a big step.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many people I admire in Colorado that it’s tough to narrow it down to just one. I love Christy Montour-Larson’s work at Curious Theatre and admire her as a strong female director. I admire Susan Lyles for her work with And Toto Too Theatre Company, a company that promotes women playwrights. I admire Alex Weimer and the Bug Theatre, for creating a totally unique safe haven for people to be creative and to explore their artistic sides. Really, I admire anyone who provides opportunities to burgeoning artists.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Right now, I’ve got Evil Dead: The Musical running through July 16. Then I’ll be producing Equinox Theatre’s regional premiere of The Toxic Avenger Musical. I’m also directing Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka at Vintage Theatre in September, and then I’ll be returning to the stage for the eighth year as Karen in the Bug Theatre’s production of Night of the Living Dead. After that, I’m directing a short piece for Lost and Found Productions’ 4 Xmas, and I’ll be producing again for Equinox’s world premiere of One Death, Please? It’s going to be a busy year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing actors and directors recently. Look for Holly Dalton, an actress who has worked with Equinox quite a bit recently and is supremely talented. She’s going to be getting a lot of work in town soon. Also keep an eye out for Christian Munck. He wrote the world premiere that Equinox Theatre Company will be presenting in November called One Death, Please?, and it’s a brilliant play that shines a light on many important issues while also keeping it light and funny.
Learn more about Equinox Theatre Company on its website and on Facebook. Keep up with the regional theater scene at the Colorado Theatre Guild website.