During the past two months, 17 adults, teenagers and adolescents in South Routt have caught a bug: the acting bug.
This weekend, their passion for the theater will pay off when the South Routt Community Drama Club brings a production of "Kiss Me Kate" to audiences.
The musical tells the story of a group of actors who are putting on their own production of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," and so really is a "play within a play," assistant director Barbi Bonfiglio said.
Although the South Routt drama group has had only about eight weeks to prepare, Bonfiglio said everyone is "ready to go."
And hopefully, Bonfiglio said, audiences are ready to go along for the theatrical ride.
"For a little bit, you get to go someplace else," Bonfiglio said, referring to what it's like to watch a production. "Life is hard, and it's nice to go someplace else for a little bit and take a two-hour vacation."
That chance to step into fantasy is one of the appeals of theater and contributes to what Bonfiglio calls the "acting bug."
A second draw is the applause that comes at the end of the show, Bonfiglio said. But most important, she said, is the sense of gratification actors and stagehands receive for doing their best.
"When you've done the very best you can and given every bit of yourself -- whether that's actual perfection or not ... there's a certain inner pride that goes with that," Bonfiglio said.
Bonfiglio was bit by the bug years ago when she first started taking dance lessons at age 5. With an amateur opera singer for a mother and a jazz lover for a father, Bonfiglio was exposed to a range of music, theatre and dance as a child. She went on to receive a bachelor of arts degree in modern dance, with a minor in stage lighting. She then spent several years dancing with companies in New York.
Working with South Routt residents on theater productions, Bonfiglio has had the chance to see some first-timers learn the craft.
"There's definitely a group of kids who have been involved and have sort of caught the bug," Bonfiglio said. "You never know who's going to really catch (it)."
The drama group is committed to giving area youths the chance to take part in theater, Bonfiglio said. The group has put on two other productions -- the Sound of Music and Cowgirls -- since its inception in 2000, and in both, drama club members encouraged youths to try out for parts and backstage positions.
Bonfiglio's four daughters are involved in this weekend's performance.
Chelsea Bonfiglio, 14, is in the chorus, and plays a doorman and a servant. She said she loves being able to act in front of an audience, hanging out with her friends and helping to make something that people can enjoy.
"I just like the satisfaction you get from knowing that maybe you made someone's day better," Chelsea Bonfiglio said. "You see the smiles on their faces, and know they maybe really enjoyed it."
Even if area youths and adults don't want to get in the spotlight, there are ways for them to get involved, said Beate Cole, president of the drama club.
"No matter where your passions are, the theater has something to offer," Cole said. Even if people just want to build something or lift heavy equipment, she said, theater has opportunities for them, too.
Cole said the club's success has been because of the talent of South Routt residents and the support of the community.
"There's a lot of appreciation," Cole said. "The response has just been phenomenal. Everywhere I go, people have been like, 'I saw you in that play, you were great.'"
Barbi Bonfiglio agreed, and said that the community has appreciated what the group brings.
"I do it mostly for the community," Bonfiglio said. "I think it's very important as a society to keep the arts in our schools, in our lives. ... It rounds you out as a human being."