"Denver Stories" is a genius marketing move: Every May, Curious Theatre Company picks four local celebs (or what passes for a celeb in this town), has a local playwright create a short play about them, and then produces all four on one evening that turns into a giant fundraising event.
The result has been a loving, literary look at some of the people who really shaped this town. Last year, for example, Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranchwear, then 107 and the oldest still-working CEO in the country, got the Curious treatment in a sweet and smart series of vignettes. Jack A. was in the audience, and he took on where the play left off, sharing a few more stories. The memories are particularly poignant, because he passed away three months later.
Last night was the fourth incarnation of "Denver Stories," with Lannie Garrett, Sandy Tannenbaum, Reggie Rivers and Bill Ritter -- yes, the governor of Colorado -- as the stars of the show.
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The Ritter piece followed him from his days as a teenaged farm boy with food stamps on the table at home, laying down pipe to pay for school, to the 41st governor of Colorado, returning to the same spot to dedicate a new wind-farm project. It was charming, but the best moment came when the real Ritter took the stage and noted how his mother, who raised a dozen kids on her own, was in the audience -- and, more than eighty years ago, had lived at Ninth and Acoma, just two blocks from the Acoma Center, the old church that fundraising events like "Denver Stories" had allowed Curious to buy last year.
One more fundraising gambit: the auctions after each play, which in Ritter's case, included "Beer with the governor."
The show must go on.