Allison Plean: From the cheap seats
April 13, 2006
There’s a different kind of theater in Steamboat Springs. It’s blue-collar comedy that feels like a waitress’s revenge for having to spend the past five months serving tourists.
Steamboat scriptwriters have mastered the art of parody. And judging from the laughter I heard sitting in the cheap seats during the weekend’s “Spinal Pirate” show, Steamboat likes to laugh at itself.
Ski Town Productions and Cabaret are local shows written by and for locals. If you haven’t noticed the increasing number of Hummers, Realtors and “big boxes” in town, you may miss some of the punch lines. They will remind you how easy it is to lose your girlfriend, trick tourists and risk your career for a powder day.
These shows are targeted at the 20- to 40-something population that has fallen in love with Steamboat. Theater is an outlet in which we find laughter in the hard work and the sacrifices we make to survive here.
Soon after I moved here, I was invited to be a part of the writing team for Ski Town Productions. Mostly I just sat on the floor of Brian Harvey’s living room and didn’t say a single word or write anything down.
I had no idea why they were laughing.
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I had not lived here long enough to know that a plane bound for Yampa Valley Regional Airport instead landed in Craig and was stuck there for several days. I certainly would not have thought to use that incident to write a parody called “Y.V.R.A.” to the tune of “Y.M.C.A.”
I had not yet felt the frustration of having to share my winter wonderland with tourists. I would not have thought of writing a skit about a group called “B.R.A.T.S.” — Being Rude Around Tourists — to come up with funny schemes to evict visitors.
I did not know the extent to which the “six-to-one ratio” affected the male population of Steamboat. Apparently it’s enough to write a skit about a blue ball aerobics class and sing a song about having a sausage party.
I wasn’t laughing in Brian Harvey’s living room because I didn’t know Steamboat’s inside jokes.
Like many resort towns, Steamboat is far enough from the rest of the world to create a very tight-knit community. Theater has the power to bring people together to recognize what we have in common and to build an identity that most of us can relate to.
Having lived here now for almost five years and having acted in the past two “Cabarets,” I have developed the Steamboat sense of humor. I have witnessed how our lifestyle seeps into all aspects of our business and social lives.
Even Steamboat locals’ tardiness translates to the stage. In my two Cabarets, we never ran the show all the way through until we were in front of a live audience.
We live in a town where amateurs like me are openly invited on stage — and it’s perfectly acceptable to laugh once up there. There is no way to keep a straight face when someone cracks a hairless fox joke while you’re trying to recite a line.
Steamboat may be 1,900 miles off Broadway, but it has its own style and characters that the hardworking local can relate to.