Denver’s theater scene is vibrant and diverse, but not many companies are harnessing creativity like Phamaly Theatre Company, which works entirely with people with disabilities to bring unique theatrical experiences to audiences.
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WHERE: Denver Performing Arts Complex
Speer Blvd. and Arapahoe St.
WHEN: July 15 - Aug. 6
Friday and Saturday - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday - 2 p.m.
COST: $28 - $37
INFORMATION: 303-365-0005 or www.phamaly.org/annie
“For individuals with disabilities, it often seemed like the theatrical community was not open to them,” said Regan Linton, artistic director with the company. “When you see a Phamaly show, you’re in for something different.”
This summer, Phamaly is bringing the classic musical “Annie,” to the Stage Theatre, at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, from July 15 through Aug. 6. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Broadway debut, “Annie,” is codirected by Linton and Steve Wilson. When approaching a production as beloved as “Annie,” Linton said he wanted to highlight the lead’s hope and resiliency — two things many people are struggling with in the current political climate.
“A lot of people are familiar with ‘Annie,’ and love the songs, but we wanted to change the focus a little,” he added. “The true heart of this story is love and connection.”
Not only does every person in the 36-role cast have some kind of disability, but Phamaly reached out to local animal shelters and humane societies to find dogs with disabilities to perform in the show. Linton said they were able to find two — Daisy, who is an amputee, and Sonny, who is blind.
“The way we see it, disabilities are just another human characteristic, and they can be an asset in the creative process,” he said. “All our actors are extremely talented, and totally themselves.”
Wheat Ridge resident JoDee Hambright, who plays Mrs. Greer and several chorus roles, was a part of two productions at Wheat Ridge High School, and has been in several other Phamaly productions.
“I like having multiple roles to develop characters for it makes being in the chorus much more dynamic,” Hambright, who is visually impaired, said. “It really keeps you on your toes when you have to transition from a prim and proper house keeper to someone struggling in the Great Depression.”
Lakewood resident Charlie Snow spent some time on stage in high school, but it’s been many years since his last role. However, he heard about Phamaly and became interested in participating again.
“I’m playing several small roles throughout the show,” Snow, who has a neuropathic disorder, said. “I’ve always loved singing and it’s lots of fun for this community to come together for the show.”
Both Hambright and Snow highlighted the joy of performing with their friends, and building a theater community where all are welcome.
“I can’t get over how amazing it is for people with disabilities to have a space to showcase their talents and create their own community and that I am a part of it,” Hambright said.
“To have the opportunity to create with others isn’t something we do much in our everyday lives and for me it is a great gift.”
For Snow, the meaning of “Annie,” is one he hopes audiences take with them.
“The story says that we’re OK, that we’re all going to be OK,” he said. “Like the song says, tomorrow is always a day away.”
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