The Phamaly Theatre Company has been going strong in Denver for more than two decades, producing shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and this season's The Fantasticks, which just wrapped up a run at the Arvada Center. Now the company has a chance to take its talent out of Colorado for the first time — all the way to Osaka, Japan, for a performance at the "Big-I" International Communication Center for Persons with Disabilities. But they need a little help to get there.
Founded in 1989, Phamaly has been giving the space and support that actors with disabilities need to go far with their craft, creating an entire company around the notion that it's not just able-bodied folks who belong on stage — it's everyone. This Sunday, March 8, Phamaly will host its first Karaoke on the Rocks, a community education event that will raise money so that the thespians can travel, and also help fund year-round programs. "We like to be able to engage the community with what we do and obviously we are a performing arts organization, so karaoke plays into that," says Phamaly's Tamara Arredondo.
While this karaoke night is all about fun, it will also have a definite competitive edge. The troupe has brought in some heavy-hitters in the Denver arts community as judges — musicians Ian Cooke, Hazel Miller and Jonny 5 of the Flobots, as well as longtime arts critic and champion of local theater John Moore — to decide who will take home the prizes. Host and local television talking head Chris Parente will be handing out $250 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place; there will also be a chance for singers both professional and novice to score a hundred bucks in the "audience favorite" category.
In addition to helping fund Phamaly's upcoming trip to Japan, the night's proceeds will benefit the company's professional theater productions and ongoing education programs. Throughout the year, Phamaly partners with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to offer free acting classes for adults with disabilities. It also runs a theater program that visits area schools — the company is currently touring a production of Rapunzel — that includes talkback sessions between actors and students. It's part of Phamaly's wider mission of increasing its visibility and also encouraging understanding of the disabled community's role in the larger world. "Just because there are disabilities doesn't mean a person can't contribute; it doesn't mean a person isn't talented. We want to show that people with disabilities have lots of ability," says Arredondo.
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Phamaly Theatre Company's First Annual Karaoke on the Rocks benefit hits the stage at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at Ogden Street South. Pre-competition open karaoke slots start at 5 p.m. and are first-come-first-served for those interested in performing but not competing. Tickets are $10 at the door regardless of whether you're coming to perform or just watch the show; Ogden Street South will be offering food and drink specials, donating a portion of those sales to Phamaly as well. For more information on the fundraiser, visit the Karaoke on the Rocks website; for more on Phamaly, visit the company's website.
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