TELLURIDE THEATRE: BURLESQUE

Everything’s coming up Sasha.

We are talking about the one and only Ms. Cucciniello, artistic director of the (relatively) newly formed Telluride Theatre. The nonprofit is the platform that will allow Sasha and partner Colin Sullivan, executive director, to enhance the region’s dramatic landscape big time.

Sasha and Colin hit the ground running right after the merger between the Telluride Repertory Theatre and Sasha’s SquidShow was announced in November 2011. To date, the company has produced three exciting theatre happenings: “Barry,” a play for the young and young at heart (December); “Alice Underground,”  another original play, this one written by Colin, about the life of Lewis Carroll, nee, Charles Dodgson (February); and a spring musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” (March).

Not bad for a warm-up. And the dynamic duo have only just begun.

Plans for this summer include another fundraiser, “Cabaret,” another original SquidShow production, and Shakespeare in the Park.

And that’s not all. The ACTions tour brings theatre to remote communities throughout the Southwest.

To nurture and support theatre in the Telluride region, Telluride Theatre needs our support. How can we help? Become a member like us and attend fundraisers such as the upcoming “Burlesque” at the historic Sheridan Opera House. Or both. Better both.

The cast of “Burlesque” evolves out of a class at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. Last year, about 12 ladies attended. This year, the number doubled to just under 25. Ah Haa bills the course this way:

“Join artistic director Sasha Cucciniello of SquidShow Theatre and Melissa Sumpter of Durango’s Sat Fire Circus, as they take you on a three-week journey into the world of burlesque dancing and performance. At the close of the class, students will be given the opportunity to show off their skills during a live variety show on the stage of the Sheridan Opera House!”

And that time is now.

Who are the women who plan to push their personal envelopes – and hips – in front the whole town? Why do they so wholeheartedly embrace The Full Monty? Read on for some answers:

“To experience a greater camaraderie with other women… and to overcome some self-imposed and societal dissonances, in regards to feminine sensuality and sexuality vs. female intelligence and assertiveness. I’m learning to allow both sides to coexist harmoniously,”  said Jennifer Dewey.

“This is my second year in ‘Burlesque’ class with Sasha and Melissa. With a full plate and so not much free time, it still felt necessary to fit this performance into my life. It is magical to spend time with so many creative women and develop such a fantastically entertaining, diverse and comical collection of routines with them. All the work we put in to make this show so great is as much for us as it is for the audience. Burlesque is so rejuvenating!,” said Meghann McCormick.

“I signed up for Burlesque at the urging of a good friend who is a veteran from last year’s performance! She talked about how empowering and fun the experience had been for her, and I could think of no better way to pass the chilly weeknights of January and February than practicing dramatic dance moves and making costumes with other Telluride ladies. I’m new to this town, so I thought: ‘What the hell!  Sounds fun.’ I have almost no dance or theater experience (excluding a few middle school musicals which I’d just as soon forget about), so I thought the Burlesque performance would be a fun goal to set for myself!  Sasha and Melissa have created a very supportive and lighthearted space for the students to discover our Burlesque identities. At first I didn’t plan on performing, but I’m learning to claim the performance as a creative expression of my own sexuality. For me, performing will be the ultimate challenge and excitement, but I feel safe and celebrated in our little Burlesque circle!,” explained Emily Robinson.

“I am back for a second round with Burlesque. Last year cracked me open. Sasha and Melissa created a beautiful, sacred space that allowed each of us to reach within and discover a hidden piece of ourselves, a part just dying to come out. I discovered I had confidence, self awareness, strength, and beauty. And that’s just the short list. Funny or serious, each and every routine celebrates the woman within. As it turns out, burlesque for all of us is not about stripping. It’s about the joy of individual expression in a safe, accepting environment. That’s what is celebrated on stage. That’s what the audience responds to. And that’s why I am back for more,” Lauren Metzger.

Listen to this interview (done in November 2011 at the launch of Telluride Theatre) with Sasha and Colin.

Event is two nights: Friday, March 30 & Saturday, March 31. Get your tickets now.

Note:  “Burlesque” is adult entertainment. No one under the age of 21 admitted.

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