A sure sign of an arts loving community is community theater.
The kind of theater where your friends, neighbors or co-workers get cast into random roles, whether they have years of stage experience or haven’t been on a stage since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. The Durango Arts Center, fortunately for us, celebrates community theater.
I’ve been friends with Durango Herald Arts and Entertainment editor Ted Holteen for years, and it’s not uncommon for me to kill some time in his living room. It was, however, uncommon for me to one day hear him declare, while I was killing said time, “I’m going to an audition for a play.”
Ted is one of those mentioned above whose last foray into the theater was decades ago, when he sang “Parents are People” from “Free to be You and Me” in a 5th-grade school play in 1979. Holteen’s community theater debut will be in Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite,” opening tonight at the Arts Center and playing every Friday through August.
When Holteen heard “Plaza Suite” director Theresa Carson being interviewed on local radio, he got word to her that he wanted to be in a play. She encouraged him to audition, and he did.
“The rehearsal schedule fit my schedule. The performance schedule fit my schedule,” Holteen said. “And I am quite a ham, and I like to be up on stage and acting and things like that, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll throw my hat in the ring and now I’ve caught the acting bug. I’m expecting a lucrative career from this point forward.”
“Plaza Suite” is a play in three acts set in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Each act takes place in Suite 719 at three different times of the year and features a couple involved in a comedic premise. Acting with Holteen, who plays smooth talking Hollywood producer Jesse Kiplinger, is Tiffany Silva as Muriel Tate, Kiplinger’s naïve high school sweetheart. Theirs is the second act, called “Visitor from Hollywood.” The first act is “Visitor from Mamaroneck, starring Donna Dominick, Stephen Bowers, Sarah Syverson or Jessica Fairchild (alternating performances), Geoff Johnson and Holteen. The third act is “Visitor from Forest Hills,” starring Syverson/Fairchild, Johnson, Adam Sowards and Silva.
The challenges Holteen faces, as someone who is an amateur actor at best, is remembering his lines. “I have 34 pages of dialogue I have to memorize. I haven’t tried to do that. Ever,” Holteen said.
And while it’s hard to take Holteen seriously, no matter what kind of conversation you have with him, it’s easy to tell that he genuinely has been “bitten by the bug” as he claims. For someone who regularly tries to get on game shows such as “Jeopardy” or “Who Wants to be A Millionaire,” I wouldn’t doubt that Holteen will continue to pursue some form of stage art.
“I’m hoping Hollywood is the next stop. Looking to land maybe a sitcom role,” Holteen said. “We’ll see. I just don’t know where it goes from here.”
Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.