CMU to premiere three shows during summer season

Local actors Juli Jacobson, left, Lee Borden and Diane Anglim are cast members for the contemporary comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” which is part of Colorado Mesa University’s Mesa Repertory Theatre. The summertime Mesa Repertory Theatre will offer three very different shows featuring both university students and three community actors.

Colorado Mesa University’s department of theatre arts will present its third season of the Mesa Repertory Theatre in June with regional premieres of three very different shows.

The musical “Ordinary Days,” by Adam Gwon, focuses on main character Deb, who “loses her most precious possession — the notes to her graduate thesis” and sets off “a chain of events that turns the ordinary days of four New Yorkers into something extraordinary. ... ‘Ordinary Days’ is an original musical about growing up and enjoying the view,” according to a summary from the university.

This show will be at 7:30 p.m., June 14, June 18, June 20, June 26 and June 28. There is a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, June 22.

The contemporary comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” the 2013 Tony Award Winner for Best Play from Christopher Durang is another show making its Grand Valley debut.

Featuring both university students and three community actors — Diane Anglim, Lee Borden and Juli Jacobson — this “comedic riff on some of Anton Chekov’s most time-tested themes tells the story of step-siblings Vanya and Sonia. Although they have never left the confines of their childhood home — a rambling farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania — they have witnessed from afar the glamorous exploits of their sister, Masha, a famous movie actress,” said in a CMU summary of the play. “A surprise visit from Masha and her 20-something boy toy Spike throws the normally quiet household into utter upheaval…”

Show times will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 13, June 19, June 21, June 25 and June 27. Matinees will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 15, and June 29.

Tickets for each show cost $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and university faculty/staff or $7 for students. All shows will be performed in the Mesa Experimental Theatre at Moss Performing Arts Center.

In advance of their appearances in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Melinda Mawdsley talked to Anglim, a graduate of Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in theater; Borden, who attended Mesa College in the early-1980s; and Jacobson, a 1993 Mesa State College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in musical theater performance.

Mawdsley: What attracted you to this play?

Jacobson: It won the Tony for best play last year. I love the play. It’s hysterical, and my character is quite the character.

Borden: I think (CMU lecturer of musical theatre) Jeremy Franklin told me about the show, and he just loved the script. The character I play is so different from anything I’ve ever done before. It’s just a fantastic character.

Jacobson (to Borden): And you are so good.

Borden (to Jacobson): You’re a doll.

Anglim: I love Christopher Durang. I love Chekov as opposed to everyone else in the world. Also, the opportunity to do a really good script in a really good place. This is a very different character for me, too.

Mawdsley: Tell me who your character is and a little bit about him or her.

Jacobson: I play Masha. She is a demanding, egotistical global celebrity.

Borden (to Jacobson): No, your character.

Jacobson (to Borden): Oh, shutup.

Borden: I play Vanya. He’s slightly more than middle-aged who hasn’t really had a life. He hasn’t done anything except help his adopted sister take of their sick, aging parents. He’s looking back on life, and he’s bitter about it.

Anglim: I play Sonia. Vanya and Sonia are very much alike. She constantly says, “I’ve never lived,” but she never does anything to make that happen. She’s stuck. It’s so totally opposite of me.

Mawdsley: How has it been working alongside college students?

Borden: Coming in as the experienced actors, you don’t quite know how they will react to you. All three of the students are great. I’ve been really impressed with how well and easily they take direction. Every single one listens to (director) Tim (Pinnow.)

Mawdsley: OK. Why should people come see this show?

Anglim: I think you’ll have a great time. Second, I think they will see something that will trigger an emotion in them and see a new way of looking at their own lives.

Anglim and Jacobson: Because Lee’s in it. 

Borden: (Shaking his head and smiling.)

The final show in the MRT season is “Stories From the Southwest” for young audiences. The show from Ruth Cantrell features a collection of tales about the region written in 1997.

Tickets cost $5 for all ages.

The shows will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 14, June 20–21 and June 27–28.


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