“I’m gonna be a celebrity! That means somebody everyone knows,” declares Marcelina Chavira as Roxie Hart in the Thingamajig Theatre Company’s rendition of “Chicago.”
Every summer, several theatres across Colorado put on stock productions in the hopes that fans of the performing arts will come see them.
Thingamajig is no different in the sense that they are staging repertory shows, “Chicago” and “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”
What sets them apart, however is the support they have received from the community (and their actors!) in order to make this an incredibly productive season. This company has only been open for roughly a year, and they have put on more productions than any other theatre company in all of Colorado for the past year.
This is the first year that Tim and Laura Moore have run not only one, but two musicals in repetition at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, and the shows could not be more different from each other.
The first to premier was “Chicago,” which includes a cast of almost 20 members. “Chicago” tells the tale of a young redheaded woman named Roxie Hart in the 1920s who is convicted for the murder of her squeeze, Fred Casely. Instead of seeking redemption, Roxie sets out to become famous through her trial as fans and reporters are eager to follow her every move.
Ammon Swofford, a student at Fort Lewis College who will once again don the role of Mary Sunshine in this production as he did in 2009, commented on the whole experience.
“I think it’s been a blast having this opportunity to work with a great cast and being in this show again. At first I thought it would be the same as the last, but no show is the same because you have different directors, different choreographers, and even though I was cast in the same role, it has been a very different, amazing experience.”
The character Mary Sunshine is upbeat and very optimistic, singing that, “there’s a little bit of good in everyone.”
“I think the song is one of the most fun parts for me,” said Swofford. “When I performed the role previously, the director decided to cut it, but now that I have the chance to sing it, it has helped me tremendously. I’ve had a chance to explore the character further in the song. It’s a ton of fun.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum is “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” which runs every other week in repetition with “Chicago.” Based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Shultz, this musical is about a young boy named Charlie Brown who always seems to get the short end of the stick. He and his schoolyard pals go about their everyday lives flying kites, playing baseball and deciding on new philosophies, small snippets of day-to-day life.
While “Chicago’s” target audience consists of a more mature demographic, “Charlie Brown” is a show that all ages will appreciate. Although the differences between these two shows may be staggering, the level of energy is all the same, along with a majority of the cast members. “Charlie Brown” consists of a cast of six people, five of whom are in the “Chicago” production.
Billy Pinto is one of the performers who has taken on two very different characters in both shows.
Billy has been kept very busy, changing from a naive mechanic who’s supporting his wife through her murder trial to a child whose mental capacity is well beyond that of an average elementary school attendee.
“Getting into character can be difficult, on one hand there’s Linus in Charlie Brown who’s more two-dimensional so it can be hard to assume him. Then there’s Amos Hart in Chicago who’s a little more relatable, just kind of a pathetic man who’s sort of a pushover. He’s easier for me to find,” said Pinto.
All the hard work and determination put forth by those involved has paid off, as they have been able to keep both musicals fresh for each performance and have gotten the chance to work in a professional setting for the summer.
“With Thingamajig being a new company, they have really impressed me with their showmanship and season selection. They operate in a manner that’s both very professional and yet very welcoming. For me, they’ve presented a lot of great opportunities as actor and intern and through the kid’s camp as counselor and choreographer,” said Ammon.
If you would like to get a chance to view one of these shows, “Chicago” will run from July 25-29 and Aug. 8-12. “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will run from Aug. 1-5. Tickets for both shows are $20 with advance purchase or $25 at the door — children under 12 are only $10 for Charlie Brown. For tickets and show information visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.
Mike Moran is a senior at Fort Lewis College in Durango studying theatre. He is originally from Denver, but has fallen in love with the Southwest, having spent the past six years here.