Art News

Raised on Ronstadt Blends Music and Memories in Enchanting New Play

GerRee Hinshaw has idolized Linda Ronstadt her whole life.
GerRee Hinshaw has idolized Linda Ronstadt her whole life. Michael Ensminger Photography
Ever since she was a little girl, GerRee Hinshaw idolized Linda Ronstadt and found inspiration in her songs. “I’ve always had Linda in my life because my mother loved her," Hinshaw explains. "It played in my earliest memories and ran throughout my childhood.” Now Hinshaw is blending those memories and music in her new play, Raised on Ronstadt, which opens at eTown Hall on Friday, October 20, and runs through November 6.

Hinshaw is a cultural staple in the area. She’s performed with the LIDA Project, Stories on Stage, Buntport Theater, Curious Theatre and Colorado Children's Theater, and she hosts the variety show Freak Train at the Bug Theatre every month. “I've been attracted to new work,” she says. “As an actor, I’ve loved being able to support a playwright in the genesis of what their play will become, but I’d never been a playwright myself."

Hinshaw had originally proposed the project last year to Stories on Stage as “an evening of memoir and songs. I would read segments of Linda’s memoir, Simple Dreams, sing her songs, maybe share a quick anecdote about my family, and repeat.” Artistic director Anthony Powell agreed to help produce a filmed staging at the Nomad Playhouse in Boulder, but suggested that she focus more on her own stories rather than Ronstadt's.

“If it hadn’t been for his suggestion, this show would never have happened,” Hinshaw says.

After Hinshaw streamed the show to a virtual Nomad audience last March, Pesha Rudnick, founding artistic director of Local Theater Company, called Hinshaw to discuss the performance. When they met, Rudnick asked Hinshaw: “Don’t you want to perform this piece for [a live] audience?”

Hinshaw and Rudnick decided to re-stage the work, this time produced by Local Theater Company and performed at eTown Hall. For the new production, Hinshaw reworked the script, replacing most of the lines from Ronstadt’s memoir with tales from her own life story.

Those personal stories are brought to life with music. A live three-piece band, made up of jazz guitarist Joe Mazza, mariachi guitarist Mari Meza-Burgos, and pianist and music director Scott Martin, helps transport the audience into Hinshaw’s past. Director Dee Covington describes the complete work as “a memory play through GerRee’s life. Music is the frame, and each song takes GerRee to different places in her memories.”

The play investigates the influences in our lives, and how we can often find our passions by listening to others' perspectives. “Age has allowed me the time to comprehend how remarkable my family was,” Hinshaw reflects. “I appreciate my parents and understand my childhood in a totally different way as a 46-year-old woman with my own children than I did when I was younger.”

Hinshaw says she felt incredibly safe with the entire team, which was crucial. Acting in a play that you’ve written about your life is “a vulnerable experience,” she says. “I’m writing my own story, and I’ve just been so appreciative that other people have been taking the work home with them and focusing on how to make it better.”

"There is going to be something for everyone," says Meza-Burgos. "Whether Linda Ronstadt was a part of your childhood memories or not, everyone will think about their own Linda Ronstadt or go back to a place where music or a person impacted them in their life. Music is universal, so there will be something that everyone can relate to.”

Raised on Ronstadt, Friday, October 20, through November 6; eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder. Tickets start at $12; get them here.
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