There are quite a few different approaches to take when it comes to Christmas plays, and Lakewood’s Benchmark Theatre decided to embrace the warmth and humor of the season with its regional premiere of E.P. Dowdall’s “Parfumerie.”
“Benchmark has not yet tackled a true holiday show,” said Haley Johnson, producing artistic director at the theater. “We thought it was time to challenge ourselves and our growing audience with a traditional, period, romantic comedy which is not anything we’ve attempted before.”
“Parfumerie” which is also the final production of the 2019 season, runs through Sunday, Dec. 21 at The Bench at 40West, 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood’s 40West Arts District. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. There will be half-priced performances on Thursday, Dec. 5, 12 and 19.
Directed by Rachel Rogers, the show is the inspiration for Jimmy Stewart’s “The Shop Around the Corner,” the rom-com, “You’ve Got Mail,” and the musical, “She Loves Me.” Right before Christmas, George Horvath is fired after he’s mistakenly suspected to be the lover of his unfaithful wife. George is already having romance problems, when he discovers the stranger he has fallen in love with through a secret correspondence is Amalia Balash, a colleague he constantly argues with.
The story focuses on the interplay between two people who seem incredibly different, but actually share the same heart. And in its exploration of darker subjects, the show is reminiscent of another famous Christmas story - “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“Under the romantic comedy veneer, there are many themes running throughout this show that are just as relatable to today’s audiences as they were then - family, fidelity, workplace romance, depression and financial struggle,” Johnson said. “Benchmark strives to tell stories that are challenging and that every member of the audience can find a relatable theme or character in.”
Despite being a show that’s been around for so long, Johnson said there’s a special kind of excitement in being the first to bring “Parfumerie“ to a Denver-metro stage. She said it’s a great chance for local artists to collaborate on a project that is fresh and new.
“This is an opportunity to return to the nostalgia and sparkling sheen of those popular 1930s and 1940s romantic comedies,” she said. “It’s set during the holidays, so it still has a warmth and seasonal charm, but it’s focused on the characters and their intersecting stories rather than the holidays themselves. It hasn’t been done regionally before, so we’re thrilled to be bringing it to the Denver Metro.”
For tickets and information, visit www.benchmarktheatre.com.
A different kind of ‘Christmas Carol’
“A Christmas Carol” is a story populated with a large cast of characters, as only Charles Dickens could dream up. But in telling their own version for Miners Alley Playhouse, Josh Hartwell and Len Matheo decided a big story didn’t need a lot of actors.
Their version of the show, which runs at Miners Alley, 1224 Washington Ave.., Ste. 200, in Golden, through Monday, Dec. 23, uses only five actors to tell the famous story. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 1 and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The five actors use simple props, physicality and imagination to bring audiences into the world of Ebenezer Scrooge. To see a take like no other, visit www.minersalley.com.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week - Robert Glasper Trio at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
There’s a pretty solid chance that Robert Glasper is your favorite rapper’s favorite pianist. He’s worked with everyone from Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West to Q-Tip and J Dilla. His jazz bonafides are just as strong, and the way he fuses the genres makes him one incredibly in demand musician.
Glasper is on the road with his trio and will be stopping by Denver. The performance will be at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton St. in Denver.
Visit www.cervantesmasterpiece.com for tickets and information.
Offerman brings the optimism to the Paramount
Nick Offerman has one of the best all-time laughs in the history of all-time laughs. But if that fact alone isn’t enough to earn him your appreciation, he’s also an enormously talented writer, comedian, actor, musician and woodworker. His live performances aren’t quite stand-up comedy - there’s often an element of theater or music added to proceedings.
He’ll be bringing his new All Rise tour to the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place in Denver, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12.
Offerman’s aim is often to restore some faith in humanity, so it’s the perfect show to catch this holiday season. Tickets can be secured at www.altitudetickets.com.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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