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Cast and crew of "The Other Place"

From left, front row, Brad Moore, Kelly Ketzenbarger, Brittany Bays, Brittany McDermott and Jesse Monsalve; middle row, Brendan Cochran, Shannon Kittelsen and Evan Piccolo; and back row, Gary Ketzenbarger, Hadley Hiebert, Mike Monroney and Kris Shechter recently returned from the national American Association of Community Theatre Festival, where they ranked among the top community theater companies in the United States. Photo Lucas Turner

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Sopris Theatre Company at Colorado Mountain College recently went on the road to discover that they are producing some of the best community theater in the country right here, for Roaring Fork Valley audiences.

The company returned in June from AACTFest 2019, the biannual American Association of Community Theatre competition, held this year in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At this national festival they performed Sharr White’s one-act drama “The Other Place,” alongside 11 other top community theater companies from the across the United States and the U.S. military overseas.

“It was a terrific festival with many amazing companies,” said Brad Moore, CMC Spring Valley theater operations manager.

Among strong competition, Sopris Theatre Company was one of four companies nominated for Overall Outstanding Production. Additionally, two cast members also earned awards. Festival judges awarded Brittany Bays with Outstanding Achievement in a Supporting Role. Kelly Ketzenbarger received a National Award of Excellence for Acting.

Sopris Theatre’s cast and crew also received a National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Theatrical Moment for the final scene of “The Other Place.”

“We are very proud of our awards and to have ranked in the top few for outstanding overall production,” said Moore.

Long road to ‘The Other Place’

Sopris Theatre Company first performed “The Other Place” last summer at the Colorado Theatre Festival held in Salida. There they took first place show, three outstanding achievement awards and one excellence award.

Sopris Theatre Company’s strong performance in Salida allowed them to compete at the AACTFest 2019 in Gettysburg, joining award-winning companies from 10 regions throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Last fall, the company performed “The Other Place” at CMC Spring Valley, in the same format as when presenting the play for theatrical competition. And last winter the cast and crew presented the play at the Wheeler Opera House.

Both the Colorado Theatre Festival and AACTFest competitions judge every aspect of a performance, from acting to set design. Within a strict time frame, competing theater companies must set up their stage in front of the judges and audience, perform the production and strike the set – and all while being intensely critiqued.

Sopris Theatre cast, crew, alumni score at home

Sopris Theatre former and current members

Current and former Sopris Theatre Company members received recognition at the 2019 Colorado Theatre Festival in Glenwood Springs in June. Photo Brad Moore

Once the company returned home, both current and former Sopris Theatre Company members placed well at the 2019 Colorado Theatre Festival, held this year in Glenwood Springs June 27-30. Sopris Theatre Company won another round of dramatic arts honors for “Amateurs,” the company’s new production.

Current Sopris Theatre Company members JD Miller received Outstanding Achievement in Acting and Ciara Morrison earned Outstanding Achievement in Set Design for “Amateurs.”

Former Sopris Theatre Company members who are now with the Magic Circle Players in Montrose also received awards for their production of “Sylvia.” Jaime Walsh and Chris Walsh both received Excellence in Theatre for Acting awards, and the Magic Circle Players won the Excellence in Theatre for Ensemble Costuming and the People’s Choice award. All four of these award winners are recent theater graduates of Colorado Mountain College.

Sopris Theatre Company also won the Techtinabulation award, a word not found in the dictionary but one that Moore describes as a high compliment.

“I am proud of this award as it is awarded by the festival stage manager at her discretion to a theater for which the company, and most significantly the crew, demonstrates the true spirit of cooperation and a sense of knowing their craft,” Moore explained. “In other words, a joy to have in the festival.”

Sopris Theatre Company will open its 2019-20 season Oct. 18-27 with “Hope and Gravity” by Michael Hollinger. Directed by Brad Moore, it’s a comic and tragic play about how lives are affected after an elevator crashes in a major city. For information, including season tickets and more, contact Moore at 970-947-8187 or bmoore@coloradomtn.edu. More at coloradomtn.edu/theatre.