THE MINUTES – Written by Tracy Letts; Directed by Missy Moore. Produced by Thunder River Theatre Company (67 Promenade, Carbondale) through November 26. Tickets for future productions are available at 970-918-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com.
Since Thunder River’s production of THE MINUTES is having its final performance on the day this is being written, more than talking about the actual production, I want to tell you a little about the theatre company itself and what a joy it was to attend this production. We’ve all been hearing about the good work that Thunder River has been turning out for the last few years, earning Henry’s for productions and actors. The skeptic in me wanted to know how a tiny mountain town could find the talent to do all this great work. So, I investigated.
As it turns out, Carbondale is not that small a town. Providing a home base for over 6500 villagers, many of whom work in the neighboring towns of Aspen and Glenwood Springs, the theatre company there has an inspiring history. Founded in 1995, for the first eleven years of its existence, it didn’t have its own home but trucked costumes and props all over the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond to perform in other venues. Finally, on New Years Eve in 2005, they were able, with the overwhelming support of the entire community, to open their own beautiful new facility that was paid in full by grants and donations. This is no small community theatre; this is a full-blown professional theatre that actors from Denver and other Front Range theatres are beginning to discover as a great place to work.
Under the leadership of former Denver actress and director Missy Moore, their seasons have been edgy, educational and enlightening. Missy is the younger daughter of the legendary Moore family of entertainers that includes father Bob (who was in the show), mother Wendy (sadly who has left us to appear in heavenly productions) and sister Mandy (choreographer extraordinaire of LA LA LAND among others – who can ever forget that incredible traffic jam scene choreography for the first song in the movie!). So, it is no wonder that Missy is fearless in her confidence to be able to bring slightly controversial scripts to life in her theatre and know that her community will follow wherever she leads.
As an example, the current 2023-24 season, in addition to the just finished THE MINUTES about a contentious city council in a town that has long lauded a historic faux hero with feet of clay, also presented RABBIT HOLE, a heartbreaking drama about a family facing unthinkable grief in the aftermath of the accidental death of a child. Upcoming in February, ENDGAME, Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece about three members of a family and their servant, all caught in misery of their own making. This will be followed in June by POTUS, OR BEHIND EVERY GREAT DUMBASS ARE SEVEN WOMEN TRYING TO KEEP HIM ALIVE about an unnamed President who makes a career-ending remark in front of the press and his coalition of women who are trying to save him from himself. Hmmmmm ……
THE MINUTES was incredibly good; the acting crisp and precise, the emotional underbelly well expressed, the pacing swift and authentic. It could stand side by side with the recent production at Curious Theatre in Denver and hold its own. A Q&A after the performance happily revealed the back stories of various characters and the actors’ personal solutions to the mysteries in the script – all of which proved very enlightening in understanding this comically difficult piece. It was evident that the director and cast had worked together to unravel the plot and find the answers to the questions posed by Lett’s writing. The technical aspects of the production were first-rate and professional. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and weekend adventure.
I HIGHLY recommend a stop to enjoy this jewel of a theatre on your next trip to the mountains. Looking for something to do? Meander on over to Carbondale and take in a play. Going skiing in Aspen or Vail? Take a side trip and enjoy a show when you come down off the mountain. You will be not be sorry.