Blow Out Your Birthday Candles, Paragon!

It’s been more than ten years since the evening I spent in heated conversation with a small group of theatrical dreamers. Actor/Director, Warren Sherrill, had just dragged me back onto […]

June 16, 2011 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

It’s been more than ten years since the evening I spent in heated conversation with a small group of theatrical dreamers. Actor/Director, Warren Sherrill, had just dragged me back onto the boards, directing me in a production of “Marvin’s Room” at the Denver Civic where I was blessed to share the stage with the lovely, talented and wittily acerbic Carolyn Valentine. That’s what put me in the room. The first meeting took place around a dining room table in southeast Denver; me, Warren, Lisa Rucker (Moon for the Misbegotten), and if I had more memory I’d recall who else was there (apologies, it’s been ten years;). Michael Stricker and Barbra Andrews were en route from Chicago after a bit of time working with Steppenwolf, but their praises were sung loud and clear. The result of this and subsequent meetings was what we now know at the Paragon Theatre Ensemble.
From a dining room table, to a dream, Paragon has built one of Denver’s premiere theater companies, growing their work season after season, maturing into perhaps the most consistent mid-sized company in Denver. When they began, our theater scene was quite different. Stalwarts of the day have closed, upstarts who planted seeds were blown away as many well intentioned theater groups found the artistic soil far too rocky to take firm root.
Paragon began with a clear vision, a modest business plan, and a high work ethic, then set out to produce quality theater which allowed them to carve out a niche for themselves in Denver theater. They saw a need and the over-filled it. The level of talent in the acting and producing company and the detailed professionalism in their planning and rehearsal process, the careful way they’ve cultivated their acting and directing pool have put the fun and the function into the dysfunctional family that is a theatre company.
Paragon is the only Denver company to present staged readings of works by Colorado/Wyoming playwrights in their Trench series, and they go a step further by considering these plays for full production. Two of my scripts, (w)hole, Saints & Hysterics, have been produced by Paragon through this process, as well as a play by Ellen K Graham. It takes guts to produce new works; it takes balls to produce new work by local playwrights.
Paragon has continued to build momentum by offering a blend of classic plays and edgy new pieces. Over the past few seasons, they’ve included a Equity guest artist contract in their season, bringing Denver Center fav, Sam Gregory, some of the most delicious roles. Hopefully the Equity idea will continue and expand.
On Saturday the 25th, Paragon will be holding their 10th Anniversary with a ‘gala’ (love that word) celebration at the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Part presentation, part profit, and all party, that’s my take on what the night will bring. Perhaps the hardest working, most fun to play with group of theater artists in the metro area, the Galleria may be the place to be come Saturday night.
Personally, I plan on moving from that dining room table straight up to the bar in celebration of a great decade of theatre. I’m a sucker for a success story. Hats off to you, Paragon Theatre Ensemble, congratulations on a decade of great work. Now put your lips together and blow~
tickets available at www.paragontheatre.org


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