e h t s e v o L enry
By Michelle Venus
OpenStage Theatre & Company
This year, the Colorado Theatre Guild shined a spotlight on Fort Collins and awarded OpenStage Theatre & Company with 13 nominations, resulting in four Henry Awards.
And these were the big dog awards: Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and—the most prestigious honor of the Henry Awards— Outstanding Season. It’s the first time a Northern Colorado company has received the coveted title. The Henry Awards are presented each year to honor achievements in acting, directing, design, and technical theatre. Named for longtime Denver producer and Colorado Theatre Guild co-founder Henry Lowenstein, the Henrys have been recognizing the hard (and stellar) work of Colorado’s theatre scene since 2006. Fort Collins theatre has been recognized by the Henry Awards in the past. Jonathan Farwell and Rebecca Spafford, among others, have received Henrys for acting and costume design, respectively. This year, though, along with the 13 nominations garnered by OpenStage, MidTown Arts Center and Bas Bleu received a total of eight combined nominations. It was a big year for Northern Colorado theatre, and deservedly so. As the region has grown, so has the theatre scene—and it’s making its mark. All In the Family Family. It’s a word used often in the theatre community, and one that Denise Freestone, who along with her husband Bruce founded OpenStage, refers to frequently when talking about the people who
Denise and Bruce Freestone then and now.
make up Northern Colorado’s longest running theatre company. The upcoming season is their 45th. So it’s no surprise that August: Osage County, written by Pulitzer prize winner Tracy Letts, was last season’s scene stealer and winner of two Henrys. “It’s about a dysfunctional family living on the plains of Oklahoma,” explains Sydney Parks Smith, who played Barbara Weston-Fordham, the family’s oldest daughter. “Dad disappears and all the sisters come back with their respective husbands and boyfriends and children, only to discover that he (dad) has, in fact, committed suicide. What follows next is drunkenness, laughter, and a whole lot of pain and secrets. Many secrets.” Sydney read August: Osage County about eight years ago and was tremendously impressed with Letts’ ability “as a man to have such a thorough understanding of 40-something women and the bullsh*t they have to put up with,” she says. “Every single woman in [the play] is so juicy.” It took Sydney several passes to get Denise to agree to include August: Osage County in a season. As OpenStage’s artistic director, Denise looks for a continuous theme that runs through a season, connecting the productions like a great playlist. For a long time, August: Osage County just wasn't one of the songs on the mix tape. STYLEMEDIA.COM