BWW Spotlights: Meet the New and Talented Reviewers for BWW-Denver - Colin Roybal and Chris Arneson!
Tell us about your background in theatre.
Colin - I studied theatre and got my Bachelor's in Theatre at University of Denver. I have worked as an actor, dancer, singer, designer, director, choreographer, music director, musician, and producer in Denver for the past 15 years.
Chris - I started performing in community theatre in Wyoming when I was young, and it just stuck. I took classes in school but focused more on journalism in college. After I graduated, I was able to tackle it again and haven't stopped since. For several summers, I was the hero in Cheyenne Frontier Days' Old Fashioned Melodrama (living a childhood dream) but I mostly performed in musicals. I moved to Denver in 2012 for a job with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and have loved delving into this amazing community.
What is your favorite show/role?
Colin - I would say that these differ. My favorite show is Little Shop of Horrors. I've done it 5 times, and have played Seymour, The one-man ensemble, directed it, music directed it and been an ensemble member. I love the show. I'd do it a thousand more times. My favorite role, however, is the Lead Player in Pippin. I've never gotten to play it for the show, but I hold out the hope that I will someday.
Chris - When I moved to Denver, I was really fortunate to be cast in a production of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"-I was obsessed with it when it was on Broadway. Doing that show changed me as an actor. (There's even a John Moore-produced documentary about it.http://youtu.be/n_eDV6K_kS8) When I was in Wyoming, I played Bud Frump in "How to Succeed..." and had the most amazing time doing it. Also, "Evil Dead: The Musical" was a blast. I wish I could do that every year.
What is the most challenging show or role that you have had?
Colin - When i played Paul in A CHORUS LINE, it was quite a challenge for me. not only the 10 minute monologue where i had to stand and emote with my hands in my pockets, but the music and choreography from the original broadway production (which we did, to the detail) were VERY difficult.
Chris - My last show in Wyoming I played Christopher Wren in Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," directed by a guy who visited from London. I'm a musical fella, so plays (especially dramatic ones) aren't something I'm used to. Throw in a British accent, manic behavior and working alongside some of the most respected actors in my community...and I was terrified. It turned out to be one of my proudest theatrical accomplishments.
Is there a show that you have always wanted to direct or perform in?
Colin - There are dozens that i want to direct very much. I have a wide variety of shows that interest me from a creative standpoint. For an acting desire, i would definitely love to play Leo in Parade.
Chris - Everyone who knows me knows my obsession with "Spring Awakening" is deep. I've accepted that I'm probably too old to do the roles I'd like in that show, but I think directing it in about a decade would be brilliant. I'd love to see what I could bring to it.
As a critic/reviewer - what are the top 3 things you look for in a show?
Colin - I look for a connection to something emotional in the characters or a character in the show. I have to genuinely like at least one character in a show for it to be worthwhile. For a musical, and as a musician, i appreciate the effort to refine the ensemble bits of musicals. So often a director focuses on his strongest leads, but ignores the nuances and intrigue of a chorus, even if it is small or seldom used in the show. Also, I pay close attention to the technical elements of a production. I'm also a designer (set and lights) and I appreciate the fine details that these artists add to a production, even if its subtle.
Chris - 1 - Creativity. Especially when a show has been done so many times before. But even when it's a brand new work, I want to be able to see how you found solutions to problems, how you utilized your space, what your specific actors brought to the roles. Just please don't be boring. Take risks.
2 - Passion. Even as an audience member, that's something you can feel; even if the show totally sucks, I want to sense everyone put their all into it. One blasé actor/moment can kill a show for me.
3 - Talent, honestly. I love getting lost in a really good performance. As a performer, I love when someone gives me a master class on stage. I want to see a performance that's so impressive that the review almost writes itself.
Is there a show that you unexpected fell in love with.....what drew you to it?
Colin - Carrie the Musical. Initially it was my Moby Dick. It was an impossible challenge to take the show that was rated one of the absolute worst atrocities ever to happen on Broadway and make it something beautiful. When i got to direct the revamped 2012 incarnation of the show for Equinox, I fell in love with the beauty and the heart of the story. Not a horror flick at all, but a beautiful tragedy, and quite topical when thrown in amidst all the "stop Hate" and anti-bullying campaigns around the same time. I identified with the characters and the message of the show, and fell in love with the music and spectacle that came with it.
Chris - When I used to visit New York, I loved taking chances on Off-Broadway shows. When I lost the Hair lotto, I bought a last-minute rush ticket to "The Toxic Avenger" and my mind exploded. I need a company in Denver to produce that show immediately.
What do you like to do for fun outside of theatre?
Colin - In both those additional hours in my week, I love to explore Denver and its many local breweries, restaurants, and attractions.
Chris - Honestly, not much of my life is outside of theatre...haha. I love escaping to the mountains. Biking around the city. I'm a graphic designer, so doing those projects when I can. Being with my friends fuels me. But some days, just give me a Netflix binge.
If you were locked in a room with one actor for a day - who would it be nationally and locally and why?
Colin - If I was in a room with one actor nationally, it would have to be Bette Midler. I know she's not the typical broadway name you would think about, but she has played some pretty amazing roles, and has managed to reinvent herself every decade to stay on top of the current talent. Plus, I bet she's a real hoot to be around. As for the local actors, I've had the pleasure of working with many of Denver's best. I can say that a day with Shahara Ray locked in a room might be pretty kooky.
Chris - Just put me in a room with Gavin Creel and don't ask questions.
Locally...I love every chance I get to see my entire BBAJ family. Not sure a day would be enough.
And other projects are you working on now that era can look forward to?
Colin - I'm currently directing "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" with Equinox Theatre Company. It's a regional premier and its pretty darn fun. I'm also excited for two shows i get to direct next season for Equinox: Urinetown, the musical, and Bonnie & Clyde the musical.
Chris - Currently I'm rehearsing two shows-"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" with Equinox at The Bug (Nov. 7-29) and "Miss Saigon" with Vintage (Dec. 5-Feb 1). I'm part of The Wit Theatre Company, and we're producing "The Rocky Horror Show" at the Crossroads Theater in Five Points (Oct. 31-Nov. 1).
PICTURED ABOVE: Colin Roybal and Chris Arneson
From This Author Michael Mulhern