#2: GerRee Hinshaw
If you’ve ever been to Freak Train at the Bug Theatre, you know about GerRee Hinshaw, whose sparkling patter as host keeps things moving as performers are given five minutes to try things out in front of an audience. But being charming on stage isn’t the end-all and be-all of Hinshaw’s career. She’s also an accomplished actor and all-around performer who’s earned credits with a long list of Denver’s most creative theater ensembles. Later in September, she’ll play the lead as John Wesley Powell with Boulder’s Catamounts in Men on Boats, a tweaked history of Powell’s Colorado River expedition played by a cast of women portraying men on the rugged adventure. Explore the world through Hinshaw’s eyes and voice as she answers the 100CC questionnaire.
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Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
GerRee Hinshaw: Coffee and the stolen moments in the morning, when humans haven't started making all their noises yet. Quiet room, quiet house, quiet street...I don't necessarily need silence to work well, but there's something about the feeling of being the only one awake, watching and hearing the world come to life, that makes me feel like anything is possible.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
John Wesley Powell, so I could get to know him more before I play him on stage soon. And my maternal and paternal grandmothers, as kids. I'm curious about what kind of girl children they were, growing up in Texas, one a child of the ’20s, one a child of the ’40s. They were both bright lights in my life, and I've always been curious how bright their lights were before the challenges of the Depression, loss of children, sexism, racism, began to dim them — or did those challenges make their lights brighter?
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
Best thing: Really great butts.
Worst thing: So-so abs.
What advice would you give a young hopeful in your field?
I think I've decided that innate talent is almost not a useful thing. I guess my advice would be, hang out with really amazing people and just feed off of them like some kind of gross leech. Or if that's not your thing, fan the flames of your bravery and curiosity, and those two things will invite the kinds of experiences that really shape the artist you are for the better.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as a performer?
Every month at Freak Train, at least one person feels compelled to walk up to me after the show to tell me that it made them feel so much better or more alive, or just happier. I like knowing we've created a room that does that for people. Also, I once sang a Fado song, a cappella, while standing on one foot and painting my belly.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
Was I supposed to have a list? This may be my problem. I've always want to sing in a band that includes an upright bass, a cello and a mandolin.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I think you can love Denver and leave to explore other places. I know so many who live elsewhere but "hub" in Denver. With the development boom and the housing crisis, it's difficult for so many to stay. It's not just the affordability factor, but also the notion that the city is somehow becoming a shinier, less artsy, more fartsy version of itself. But I'm an optimist who believes we will find a way to thrive — and put people in office who want to involve its people in drawing a more complete picture of a healthy city.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Are you trying to get me unfriended, irl? No way am I answering this question. Seriously, my controversially non-controversial answer is Evan Weissman. He has done something with his artistic and civic inclinations in Warm Cookies of the Revolution that I find to be nothing short of genius.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Men on Boats is coming up with the Catamounts and opens September 22 at the Dairy Center for the Arts (details below). Kicking the tires on a collaboration with superwomen Mare Trevathan and Shubrha Raje. Doing some narration for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, for their kids’ series in October. Back for the annual Making Merry show for Stories on Stage in December. And, of course, every last Monday of the month, I'll see you at Freak Train.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
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Check out the project Bite Size, conceived by my amazing friend Meridith Grundei. It'll bring five micro-plays and some truly exciting Colorado theater-makers together in what promises to be one awesome experience. Charlie Miller's Off-Center programming through the Denver Center is producing it, and it'll be performed at BookBar on Tennyson Street in northwest Denver. I'll be in the audience with you!
See GerRee Hinshaw as John Wesley Powell in Men on Boats, opening on Saturday, September 22, at 7 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, and running through October 13. Admission varies for show-only performances and performances that include a community dinner or special cocktails. Find showtimes and tickets online.
Hinshaw hosts Freak Train at 8 p.m. on the last Monday of every month at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. Admission is $5 at the door.