A look at life with two plays in one | SummitDaily.com

A look at life with two plays in one

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkLake Dillon Theatre starts its winter season with "Three Tall Women," about aging.

DILLON – “Three Tall Women” presents two plays in one.The first hour portrays a sick and forgetful old woman (actress Diane Gadomski) and her two caretakers. Barbara Morgan plays the older, experienced caretaker who alternates between slightly abusive and genuinely compassionate, while Melissa Rae Brown plays the 20-something forced through the legal system to attend to the old woman’s needs.Gadomski opens the production with a stellar depiction of a 92-year-old woman whose vanity causes her to lie about her age – by one year. Throughout the first half, Gadomski convincingly bounces between pride and frailty. Her confidence soars as she talks about riding horses, then she crumbles when she has to urinate, loses her train of thought or talks about a difficult sexual experience.Morgan conveys the same strength she did in the Backstage Theatre’s production of “Wit,” where she played a cancer patient. Her alternating cynical attitude and humanitarian nature create a complex character.Brown convincingly plays the sympathetic 20-something who strives to bring order and accuracy to the old woman’s stories. The first half places the audience in the bedroom of an aging woman. We listen to her, feel for her, laugh with her and frankly, get slightly tired of her stories. However, playwright Edward Albee, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for best drama with “Three Tall Women,” knew exactly when to infuse the dialogue with humor or pain to maintain a viewer’s interest.

A compelling memory playAt the end of the first half, the elderly woman has a stroke, which allows the production to switch gears and become a memory play, where the action takes place in the stroke victim’s imagination.Gadomski remains as the old woman, but Morgan transforms into the 52-year-old version of the old woman, and Brown becomes the 26-year-old version, who hears how her life will unfold. The audience learns how the woman lost her virginity, married, had a son (Joshua Blanchard), dealt with her parents’ death and ultimately became the woman she is.The pace of the second half moves faster than the first, because the dramatic stories are more immediate and perhaps more accessible to a universal audience.The emotional toll on audience and actorsIt’s nearly impossible to walk out of “Three Tall Women” unshaken and not contemplating the inevitably of death and its implications. The actors, who have rehearsed it for five weeks, have been especially touched by the production.”At my age, I see how some people haven’t faced the inevitability,” Gadomski said. “You either accept it or fight it. (The play) has shown me the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.”Brown related to her character, who’s also 26, because she wonders what’s in store for her future.”It’s like coming to that crossroads in a time in my life where everything’s unsure, so it makes it a little scary,” Brown said. “It makes me not want to look back and think, ‘What did I miss’ or ‘What did I not do.’ I hope at (old) age I can look back and think ‘Yes, I have lived quite a life.'”

The characters reminded Morgan to cherish relationships, she said.”Everyone who has seen the show or read the script say they see themselves or their mothers,” Gadomski said. “Everybody comes away with an association of somebody in the show.””It’s not gender specific,” Brown said. “It shows life stages.”Theater gets a faceliftAt the beginning of last year, Lake Dillon Theatre productions had longer intermissions to accommodate the line of people waiting for the single bathroom. But that changed last fall.The company built two new bathrooms, a dressing room (before actors used – that’s right – the single bathroom to change) and a new lighting booth. In March, it moved artistic director Chris Alleman’s office from the lobby to the back of the building, creating more space.For the last month, a construction crew has renovated the lobby, which lends more ambiance with tones of purple and blue. A bar sits in one corner, the ticket booth in the other.A new lighting grid, installed a week ago, provides directors with more freedom.”It gives us almost 100 percent complete flexibility to decide where the set is going to be,” Alleman said.

For example, the last show of the season will be a theater-in-the-round, with the set in the middle of the audience.New theater seats, with arm rests and cushy backs and bottoms, debut today with “Three Tall Women.”Alleman has found “parents” through the adopt-a-chair program for about half of the 65 chairs he purchased. For $150, arts supporters can have a name plate on the arm rest of a chair.The renovation costs totaled $110,000 – $90,000 of which the Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts has raised throughout the last three years, Alleman said. A grant of $20,000 from the Gates (rubber) foundation in Denver completed the balance.”It’s becoming a more functional theater after each production,” Alleman said. “The things we’re adding just make it more practical and professional.” Alleman plans to complete a storage shed for props in the next six weeks, and next spring he will add landscaping. He’ll also install a large marquee above the door as well as two other signs to make the theater more visible.Longer-term projects include upgrading lighting and sound systems.”We’re making sure we’re always growing with the quality of the productions we do – in every aspect,” Alleman said.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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