Rediscover Lake Dillon Theatre Co. with ‘Memory House’
New season will be first full, indoor schedule since pandemic began
Lake Dillon Theatre Co. wants to reintroduce the community to its titular art form. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, it will have a full program set indoors at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center.
The theme of the season is rediscovery, as each show deals with characters finding something pivotal like hope, worth and sisterhood. It’s also an opportunity for patrons to rediscover the theater itself as it moves back into a form of normalcy.
Staff and guests must be vaccinated, and the company still follows union guidelines for COVID-19 testing, but the mask mandate was recently dropped. Artistic Director Chris Alleman said a survey of attendees signaled that one-third wanted to keep the mask mandate, one-third wanted to get rid of it and one-third had no preference. To accommodate all levels of comfort, performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays will require masks.
“You follow the science as much as you can,” Alleman said. “You follow what other organizations are doing, and we feel that with our organization … it’s the right next step.”
The season kicks off Friday, March 11, as people rediscover family in “Memory House” in the Henry Studio Theatre, which Alleman said hasn’t been used since 2019. It is followed by “Tomás and the Library Lady” on March 22 and “The Crossword Play” on May 27. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is the first musical of the season starting June 17, and it will be accompanied by “Man of La Mancha” on July 1. The two musicals will rotate days so that visitors will be able to see both in a single weekend.
“Man of La Mancha” was originally supposed to hit the stage in 2020 until the coronavirus pandemic shut the theater down. It is the only returning show from that year — not counting the annual Holiday Follies variety show coming Dec. 9. Alleman said “Man of La Mancha” usually has a cast of 24 to 26 people, but this production will be scaled down and intimate. It will instead be made up of 12 actor-musicians playing their own instruments on stage.
“You’ll see actors on stage carrying their guitars or carrying their fiddle or violin or sitting down with their cello,” Alleman said. “It’s going to be really cool.”
“Mala” is next on July 29. The one-woman show will be at the complex’s Hadly Lab Theater, a small space that fits roughly 45 people. Alleman thinks the theater hasn’t been used since 2018. It is proceeded by “The Revolutionists” Sept. 2 and “Walk on By” Nov. 18.
What: “Memory House”
When: Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 27
Where: Silverthorne Performing Arts Center’s Henry Studio Theatre, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Cost: Tickets start at $42 for adults and $25 for students. Visit LakeDillonTheatre.org to purchase.
A goal for this season is gender parity, meaning that half the shows are written by women, half of the shows’ directors will be women and half of the production team will be women. Alleman read scripts last year with this in mind and chose Kathleen Tolan’s “Memory House” to start.
The play came out in 2005, yet current events have made it timely. It deals with a mother and daughter — adopted from Russia — coming to terms with their relationship. The character-driven story unfolds in real time as the daughter tries to finish a college essay with the mom baking an actual pie on stage.
“During these events, we discover a lot of things about the two characters and how their struggles have actually made them more connected with each other,” Alleman said. “It just felt like the right story to do with these two trying to reconnect and rediscover who they are, just like we’re all kind of doing coming out of the pandemic.”
Playing the mother is Kelly Ketzenbarger. Ketzenbarger was a regular performer with Lake Dillon in the early 2000s, and this is her first time performing in general and with the company in about a decade. A nurse in Glenwood Springs, her first show with the group was Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame” that she did with her husband.
Beckett was the author of the first play she ever performed in, too. Her father was in the theater department at University of Colorado and cast her in “Waiting for Godot.” She was 10 at the time and became hooked.
“I love how you have this play on paper and see it come alive onstage,” Ketzenbarger said. “… It’s just such a magical experience. … I’ve seen a handful of shows that have truly transported me, and its something I’ve never felt with TV or movies.”
A mother herself, Ketzenbarger said it’s been easy to get into character. Yet baking a pie in real time in sync with line delivery was a challenge. Ketzenbarger enjoys baking, but this was her first time making a pie, too.
“She’s not this professional baker where the pie has to look amazing. … It gives me a little bit of a cushion there,” Ketzenbarger said, laughing.
Her daughter is played by Kinsey Lahn. Lahn grew up in San Diego and knew Associate Artistic Director Melissa Livingston from her time in California. Livingston reached out to Lahn last summer and invited her to teach youth programs. Lahn fell in love with Summit County and has stayed, growing beyond her teaching role.
“Memory House” will be her first time acting with Lake Dillon. Like Ketzenbarger, she loves telling stories and recalled her time as a prospective student applying to colleges. And with her character being adopted from Russia, Lahn has been able to learn from her partner, who is also adopted from Russia. She’s become more aware of struggles of adoption since meeting them.
“It’s uncanny to get to tell a story that’s really close to someone I care about,” Lahn said.
Because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the play is an educational opportunity about adoptions and Lake Dillon hosts a prologue before each show for the cast and crew to dive a little deeper into the topic.
Education is also a focal point for “Tomás and the Library Lady.” The show is a dual language production that’s part of a new after-school program that started at Silverthorne Elementary School in January. Lake Dillon Theatre Co. will be busing hundreds of elementary school, middle school, Peak School and home-school students to the shows for free.
The company did something similar about 12 years ago with “Alicia en el Pais de las Maravillas,” or “Alice in Wonderland,” but the program has essentially be on hiatus ever since.
One-half of the play about the son of migrant farm workers falling in love with books is in Spanish while the other half is in English. The story is based on the book by Pat Mora and was adapted by José Cruz González. Alleman said they worked with González to increase the amount of Spanish in the script. There will be four, free public performances as well that only require online reservations.
“It’s providing a really huge service to the community,” Alleman said. “It’s more than just theater after school. This is about really trying to impact our language learners, our workforce families who need this after school care.”
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