Sopris Theatre Company (STC) premiered the first production of its 2022-23 season, John Olive’s “The Voice of the Prairie.” But, there’s still time to catch the show, which is set to run again Oct. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and Oct.16 at 2 p.m. at the New Space Theatre at Colorado Mountain College’s (CMC) Spring Valley campus.
The John Olive production spans time, between 1895 and 1923, in the American Midwest as the art of storytelling through the radio makes its way West. It tells the story of Davey Quinn as he navigates life through the different stages of the rapidly changing country. The story is told in flash-forwards and flashbacks and is traditionally performed with three actors playing several different roles throughout. The company, however, has decided to go with eight actors with some still doubling up on roles.
STC added live music to this production, not entirely common for the company — with the exception of musicals, of course.
“It’s been really fun and in many ways pretty organic. It’s been one of those situations where, you know, I had some interesting ideas walking into it, [but] as we all sat down and really started working on it, this whole new feeling evolved. That became a real ensemble,” director Brad Moore told the Sopris Sun.
“I had this vision as a director, but then we all played into that vision and contributed. It then became my job to sit back and say, ‘Okay, well this helps us tell the story…or this doesn’t quite fit with other elements that we’re presenting in the show,’” Moore said, reciting his ponderings.
“We spent a lot of time doing table work…to really understand what the story was about and how to tell it. It’s really been a fun and fascinating process,” he added.
Thomas Cochran plays Poppy — the main character, Davey’s, grand uncle. Wyatt Tulk plays young Davey Quinn and Joshua Adamson plays Quinn 28 years down the road. Courtney Lindgren plays the role of Frankie. Bostyn Elswick appears as Frances Reed and a few other characters. Scott Elmore plays the radio salesman, Leon Schwab.
New to the New Space stage are Delven Bourne, who plays the father of Frankie — among other roles — and Dayra Loya Palacios who plays a jailer and a newspaper vendor.
“It’s been a delightful show — very comfortable and homey,” said Moore. “There’s some really wonderful and funny moments…there’s also just endearing, charming moments. I think what sets it apart from past productions is…the audience’s experience coming in. The audience is very much part of what goes on on stage.”
He continued to explain how audiences have been warm and receptive to the production, with members exclaiming how fun it has been to see “wonderful exploration of memories” being brought to life.
“It is one of those pieces that makes you think, ‘it’s not as straightforward as you think it might be.’” Still, “People really have been getting what is going on and the interesting pairing of some of the characters,” Moore said.
STC will run “The One Act Play That Goes Wrong,” by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Nov. 18 through Dec. 4 (also to be performed at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Jan. 27 and 28). Then, the company is to perform the musical “Frankenstein, Monster or Man” (April 7-23, 2023) with music by Carol Weiss, bringing Weiss to STC to help bring the production to life. The season will close with student production workshops in which CMC’s theater students present their very own original works.
“I think it’s a fun and interesting season. There’s humor in all of the shows. There’s some real depth in ‘The Voice of the Prairie’ and in ‘Frankenstein,’” added Moore. “There’s a little bit of something for everybody to watch and to walk away with.”
For updates on what STC is up to, be sure to check out their Facebook page. For tickets to any of the shows, visit www.coloradomtn.edu/theater or call the box office at 970-947-8177.