A determined diva: Local actor and singer Kelly Renoux performs for the first time since cancer diagnosis
SILVERTHORNE — One year ago, Kelly Renoux received life-altering news. Having the BRCA2 gene mutation, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after her mother was diagnosed only eight months prior.
“So she and I went through treatments almost in tandem,” Renoux said.
Now, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation and two surgeries — with another scheduled in January — later, Renoux returns to her lifelong passion: the theater. Next week, she’ll perform a selection of her favorite musical numbers at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center in “Divas and Duets” for Lake Dillon Theatre Co.’s Signature Concerts series.
What: “Divas and Duets”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9. Both shows are sold out so a third has been added at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10.
Where: Silverthorne Performing Arts Center’s Henry Studio Theater, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Cost: Tickets range from $24.50 to $41.50. Visit lakedillontheatre.org or call 970-513-9386 to purchase.
While not the first signature cabaret or concert she’s done for the company, nor the first with having creative control, it might be her favorite yet.
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“There’s not a single song that I don’t enjoy singing in this,” Renoux said.
Renoux grew up in Monument and has been performing as an actor and singer practically her entire life. She majored in business marketing and minored in theater at Colorado State University, where she met her husband, 9News journalist Matt Renoux, in the theater department. Their passion has been passed down to the next generation with their daughter, Sonnett.
“Our daughter, she’s 10 and goes to Frisco Elementary, is well-versed and I think has already done 10 shows in the 10 years she’s been on the planet,” she said. “She’s performed more at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center than I have.”
That’s no small feat, considering Renoux has been at the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. longer than current Artistic Director Christopher Alleman and Executive Director Joshua Blanchard. When the Renoux family moved to Summit County for Matt’s job in 1999, she started working with the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. and Breckenridge Backstage Theatre almost immediately. As a mezzo-soprano, she’s performed at the Riverwalk Center in “Oliver” and “Brigadoon” with Backstage Theatre and as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” Rita in “Lucky Stiff,” Diana in “Lend Me a Tenor” and Patsy Cline in “Always … Patsy Cline” with Lake Dillon.
Like Alleman and Blanchard, she had the joy of working at Lake Dillon Theatre Co.’s old space when the productions took place in Dillon.
“We didn’t have dressing rooms,” Renoux said. “We didn’t have a box office. We had one bathroom, so we had to sneak across the street to the town hall to use the restroom. It was definitely very small.”
Yet that intimacy has bonded the colleagues. When she was in “I Love You Because,” she loved the fact that Alleman, Blanchard, current Technical Director Ben Whitmore and her made up roughly half the cast.
“It’s been great. (Alleman and Blanchard) are our best friends and godparents to our child, and we’re godparents to their child,” Renoux said. “It’s a cool community.”
Given the character of the industry, though, working in theater isn’t her full-time job. Renoux has been an employee of Copper Mountain Resort since arriving in Summit and is the director of employee experience at the resort. While some actors might be dismayed, Renoux sees it as the best of both worlds.
“It’s just a passion and a hobby,” she said. “I never wanted to do it as a full-time career because I do like stability. I don’t like having to find a new job every few months, and that’s the nature of theater. Shows close regularly.”
In fact, she often jokes that her theater skills have helped her more in life than her business degree. With public speaking, stage presence and empathy, “it’s amazing how much translates into the business world.”
Being able to revisit some of those past roles is exciting for Renoux, who draws inspiration from the classical actresses in movie musicals of the ’30s and ’40s, like Vivian Leigh and Doris Day. Yet along with performing Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” and Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” the two-act show features 22 other songs from powerful divas in the rock, country, pop and show tune genres.
Audience members can expect to hear the inspiring “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman,” the heartbreaking “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret” and the ballad “Dear Theodosia” from “Hamilton: An American Musical,” in addition to ABBA’s “Fernando” and Carrie Underwood’s “Crazy Dreams.” In between, Renoux will introduce the material and share stories as she talk about the icons who performed them.
“If someone is being dragged to theater, there’s still something they might relate to and have some fun with,” Renoux said. “The divas are all over the place. It can be someone that’s a Hollywood actress right now. It could be someone that’s a country western star. It could be a folk singer from the ’70s. I put together a mix, and it worked out really well.”
Four of those songs will be duets. Renoux was mum on the specifics of who will be joining her, wanting to keep it a surprise for the show, but she did give out some hints.
“Some are people I’ve worked with over the past 15 years and some might be a little bit closer to home,” she said. “The duets will have some fun, comedic pieces that people won’t be expecting.”
Providing the accompaniment on piano will be musical director Wayne Shuker, who is coming back from New York after recently playing Paul in the company’s production of “Barefoot in the Park.”
“I’ve always had a passion for making music, which even led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music education,” Shuker said in a news release. “I’ve been lucky enough to get to play on stage, but when I’m in between gigs, I spend a lot of my time teaching voice lessons and accompanying in New York. I’m thrilled to get the chance to make my professional music directing debut in a place that always makes me feel welcome.”
One person she did name, however, is her mom, who will be in the audience. The pair is both happy and healthy.
“To be able to come back and do something that I’m so passionate about, and not have health things in the way, is just amazing,” Renoux said. “It just reconfirms what’s important in life and doing things that you truly love, and this is one of them.”
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