Steamboat Springs Steamboat Community Players received firsthand exposure to the community support for the arts that is alive and well.
With an unexpected yet gracious hand from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the actors can showcase their original children's play "Yo Yowzers!" as part of the Summer Theater Festival free of charge for children.
Director Matt Murphy hoped to allow children into the play for $5 instead of the adult ticket price of $10. With the expenses the Seventh Street Playhouse would lose in cutting the price, Murphy decided to write a grant to the foundation for $880, their estimated losses.
Surprisingly, the foundation graciously doubled the grant to $1,760 to allow children in for free.
"Do you like the kids, 'cause they're going to be everywhere," Murphy said laughing. "Obviously this is something that the community is behind."
In another grant from the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Murphy said he's impressed with the dedicated support for the arts in Steamboat.
And while "Yo Yowzers!" is an original play devised by Steamboat Community Players especially for children, the cast and crew require that children be accompanied by an adult.
"Yo Yowzers!" a play that both children and adults can enjoy acquired its name when young actor Keaton Covillo's fear of spiders caused him to jump off the stage and scream something similar to "Yo Yowzers!"
The cast was sitting around the stage pondering a name children would enjoy. It was about the fifth rehearsal they had for the play, and thanks to Covillo, "Yo Yowzers!" not only became the title, but the words and the people have an integral part in the play.
But it was during May and June when the four cast members researched a topic suitable and understandable for children.
Instead of looking through books and browsing the Internet, Rusty DeLucia and Nina Rogers went straight to the source for a children's play children.
DeLucia, a middle school English and theater teacher, and Rogers picked the children's brains on the theme, "How do Children Understand Compromise?"
After talking with youngsters, the topic for the play developed into a children's play without a good and evil plot and without a villain.
The most interesting aspect of the play is the gap between an adult's idea of compromise and a child's idea.
"There were a lot of things I hadn't thought about. We got their point of view," Rogers said. "We wanted to get away from the good and evil formula."
From that point, the four cast members and Murphy threw in a hodgepodge of their own ideas and came up with a play representative of a child's playfulness and an adult's wisdom.
The play begins with three adult characters that begin to tell a story of a shy young boy and compromise. However, they cease to continue the story when a young boy enters and brings new energy to the stage. The trio named Yo Yowzers! want to tell the story of compromise, but because the boy does not yet know of compromise, he has to tell his own story.
"He's a nonplayer in a player's space," Rogers said.
An invisible wall is put up to create an obstacle in order for the boy to learn a lesson about compromise.
He tries to slam through the wall, chip away at the wall and even Yo Yowzers! do a chant, sing a song and act for the wall to destroy it.
The boy needs to get out from behind the wall because it's his grandmother's 90th birthday and she is sick. There may not be much time until she dies, so the boy doesn't want to miss this special day.
In Act II, the four cast members fall asleep and hope the wall will disappear then. When they awake, the wall continues to remain standing, but they have a brilliant realization.
When the adult trio and the boy work together to destruct the wall, they notice that the wall becomes softer. When they stop working together, the wall hardens.
DeLucia said the show is constantly evolving and the script changes from time to time. However, the actors said they feel it's right where they want it.
The chant is a calming ritual, the song is called "My Eyes," and the acted scene is of Prometheus, which is referred to as Pro.
The boy plays around with the words in different orders hoping the wall will fall. Finally he understands that Calm, Pro, My Eyes creates a mimicking sound to Com-Pro-Mise.
"The key to success is to compromise," Murphy said. "It's to listen to each others' ideas and go along. It's a self-reflective process."
"Working together is a moral in there somewhere," Rogers said. "It's been a lot of fun and interesting."
Finally, the wall breaks down and the boy has the opportunity to be with his family as well as the trio of Yo Yowzers! that helped him tell his own story of compromise.
"Without compromise, we could never have produced this play," Covillo said. "I always wanted to be a part of the Community Players at the Seventh Street Playhouse. I never thought I would ever work with such an outstanding cast."
"Everyone gets to say 'Yo Yowzers!' once. That's the way we wanted to end it," Murphy said of having all the children in the audience on stage.