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The Show Must Go On

After a 16-Month Closure, Local Theatre Company Reopens With Outdoor Performance

There’s something to be said about the power of in-person performances rather than watching actors on a screen, especially during a time when we are looking for human connection. After a 16-month hiatus caused by the pandemic, Boulder’s Local Theatre Company (LTC) is back with its first in-person performance.  

For the last 10 years, Boulder-based LTC has been home to hundreds of local artists. In addition to performances, the company hosts annual labs developing new plays from inception to final curtain call.

The theatre group reopened on June 24 with “Discount Ghost Stories: Songs from the Rockies,” a play developed through LTC’s Local Labs in 2019. Put on by 27 professional musicians, actors and designers; this book was co-written by Rob Wright and Pesha Rudnick with original music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen.

“Discount Ghost Stories” shares true stories about Colorado’s past with an emphasis on rarely heard anecdotes. The show is interwoven with haunting and hopeful stories ranging from a formerly enslaved mother searching for her daughter to a businessman murdered by an anti-Chinese mob in the late 1880s. The show also features pop, funk and bluegrass tunes. “The heart of the show is the music, and that will always be the star,” says Pesha, founding artistic director of LTC. “Music is sort of the entryway into anything emotional—it just brings us together.”

While the show sheds light on underrepresented communities in the Centennial State, it also highlights LTC’s mission to discover and develop new American plays. “Discount Ghost Stories” premiered in 2019, but Pesha says guests are in for a treat this year as the show has been reimagined.

“The last time we performed [this play], it was almost like a campfire,” she says. “We got people really close in proximity to people, and it just felt like you’re sitting around a campfire telling these ghost stores. This production is much more like a song cycle or concert.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions with live performances, social distancing between guests and performers will be required in addition to masks.  

Pesha and her team put a lot of thought into reopening with “Discounted Ghost Stories.” After more than a year apart and the recent King Soopers shooting, this performance aims to help the audience and performers reflect on both the painful and celebratory things in their lives, Pesha says.

“Given what our community has been through, it felt like a very appropriate show to sort of travel through the grief and then emerge with a lot of optimism and hope,” she says. “And this show, in particular, encapsulates all of these things pretty beautifully.”

Performances will take place until July 15 at the historic Boulder Bandshell, an outdoor venue originally designed as a place for people to gather. Sensory relaxed and American Sign Language performances are scheduled for July 13. Before attending a performance with your family, friends and loved ones, Pesha recommends listening to the musical’s soundtrack, which was recorded last year during the pandemic. The soundtrack is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.

"Boulder is an entrepreneurial community that supports new and upcoming artists, performers and writers. That's what local does. We are so focused on new work, and I have found that we have the best audiences in Colorado for new work." — Pesha Rudnick

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