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That's a wrap: Shakespeare in the Park series has final curtain call for the summer

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By Deborah Swearingen

In the hours before the final performance of this season’s Shakespeare in the Park series, actors run in and out of the backstage dressing room at Clement Park’s Grant Amphitheater. The cast perfected their makeup, put on their costumes, ran lines and prepared for the evening’s show before gathering for a pre-show pep talk.

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Behind the scenes, there’s a lot that goes into a play, and Foothills Theatre Company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” was no different.

“Really, it’s all of these pieces put together, and it’s all of the actors and the technicians and the director and the stage manager working together to create this,” said Carolyn Jordan of Denver, an ensemble member. “Without one of those pieces, it just wouldn’t be the same.

“It’s a great experience of just working with others and coming together to create something beautiful,” she added.

The Shakespeare in Clement Park series — in its fourth season — wrapped up last Saturday. The event was free, and several hundred community members brought blankets, chairs and picnic dinners to enjoy the final performance.

Moments before the play began, the cast circled together and prepared to take the stage for the final time. There was a sense of gratitude but also a bittersweet feeling, knowing the production soon would come to an end. There was also a sense of pride.

Stage manager Selena Naumoff of Littleton echoed Jordan’s sentiment, reiterating how much work goes into each production.

“A lot of people might come to the show and think, ‘Boy, they memorized those lines well,’” she said. “There’s so much more than memorization in places. We dig so deep into the characters, into the relationships between the characters, into the relationships to the location.”

Plus, acting in an outdoor amphitheater comes with added challenges. The cast must face the elements and learn creative ways to transition between scenes.

“Working in an outdoor amphitheater one disadvantage is that we can’t really do a blackout to change any scenes because it’s daylight,” Jordan said. “We do all the scene changes and help create some of those magical moments that we can’t hide in darkness.”

“The Tempest” is a comedic play that tells the story of King Alonso of Naples and his entourage as they sail home for Italy after attending his daughter’s wedding in Tunis, Africa. Members of the crew encounter a violent storm that leaves them stranded on an island with a magician named Prospera.

“In this show what is very interesting is I’m playing a part that was written for a man, and I’m doing it as a woman,” said actress Deborah Curtis of Littleton, who plays Prospera.

The story is one of redemption and forgiveness. Unlike “Hamlet,” where the characters seek revenge, Curtis said, the characters in this Shakespeare play seek forgiveness.

As a longtime actress, Curtis loves the opportunity to perform Shakespeare.

“It’s just not done very often,” she said. “With my classical training, it’s the pinnacle.”