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Cowboys, call girls and King Lear; Lucky 20 Productions adapts Shakespeare

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Lucky 20 Productions is a three-year-old Denver theater company, and tonight, its members will debut The Travesty of Lear, an update to the classic Shakespearean story.

Samantha McDermott, originally from New York, has been involved in theater her entire life. Along with her mother Jeri Franco, they started Lucky 20 and opened up the Betsy Stage, to adapt Shakespearean works for today's world.

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"What we do is Shakespeare, because people know Shakespeare," she says. But in a couple of years, they plan to branch out to lesser-known playwrights. "We started out with Shakespeare, so people would know who we are, what we do, what were about and that our shows are accessible and understandable."

Theater is actually in the family's genes, going back to McDermott's great grandmother who was a playwright. Her grandmother performed in the Westchester Children's Players, a New York group that performed for underprivileged youth.

Adapting Lear -- the third play she has done -- came pretty easy for McDermott, her mother and Kim Franco. "It really wrote itself," she says.

Before they knew it they had struck comic gold, with it's updated location and wording. "We set it in the old West, in a saloon. Our king became a saloon owner and our three princesses of course became prostitutes," she continues.

The story is one of love, loyalty and greed as Lear figures out how to divide his "kingdom," amongst his three favorite prostitutes, which turns into a "Rip-roaring time good time, laughs all the way through," says McDermott.

The Travesty of Lear premiers Friday, November 8, at 8 p.m., at the Betsy Theater, 1133 South Huron Street.

It runs Thursdays through Sundays until January 25. All performances are free, but donations are accepted. Seating is limited, and reservations are required by calling 720-328-5294. Get more info here.


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