Community 'wandering minstrels' take the stage

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The set is purposely spare, with just a few risers that act as the stage and one or two easily removed props. There are no elaborately constructed walls like the ones the Steamboat Community Players used to build at the Seventh Street Playhouse because the stage has to be torn down and stored at the end of every night.

"We're like wandering minstrels," actor Rusty deLucia said. "Any money we had, we ran out of because we have to pay rent on a storage trailer. This is a performance, but it's also a plea for us. We've been without a home now for two years."

This weekend's production of "An Evening of One Acts" represents a new era of conviction for the Steamboat Community Players. Since they moved out of the crumbling Seventh Street Playhouse two years ago, their productions have been few and far between.

"It's like trying to keep a soul alive without a body," Nina Rogers said.

This year, they promise that this will be the first of many regular productions, even if they have to perform in people's living rooms or in city parks. (Which isn't to say they are ending their plea for a new performance and rehearsal space.)

"Theater is my life," deLucia said. "I can't let this go away."

The "Evening of One Acts" features eight one-act plays, most of them about 10 minutes long. The first half of the night, before intermission, is a family-friendly performance, and children are welcome. Parental discretion is advised for the second half because of the mature humor involved in the skits.

All of the directors are long-time Steamboat Community Player veterans, and the night's offerings vary from Shel Silverstein's satiric snaps at authority to John Wooten's funny one act, "The Role of Della."

In "The Role of Della," Rogers plays a nice girl who auditions for a demanding director, played by Rusty deLucia.

"She puts me through the hoops," Rogers said. "And I get to do some ridiculous things."

The play has a surprise ending, which you must buy a ticket to learn, Rogers said.

"'The Role of Della' is hilarious," de Lucia said. "What's interesting is to watch how one character becomes the other. They switch places and this all happens in 10 minutes."

Seth Bograd chose to direct two Shel Silverstein pieces, "No Dogs Allowed" and "All Cotton."

"Both of these plays are typical of Silverstein's authority versus rebel style," Bograd said. In "No Dogs Allowed" the main character, Mrs. Q, played by Rusty deLucia, is relaxing on the beach at an exclusive club. A sign clearly reads, "No dogs allowed." The manager of the club, played by Todd Danielson, is convinced that Mr. Q, hidden under several towels, is actually a dog. The exchange is fast and choreographed as Mrs. Q thinks up all sorts of reasons to explain her husband's hairy face, black nose and barking.

"It's not at all like 'The Giving Tree,'" Bograd said.

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