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Piknik Theatre returns, providing both comedy and hope

New Zealand actors Cian Elyse White and Adrian Hooke perform roles in the 2014 Piknik Theatre productions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Botanica." (File photo)

Piknik Theatre will return to Steamboat Springs this weekend with two shows: a comedic adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and an adaptation of a book by British artist Charlie Mackesy titled “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.”

The shows will take place on alternating nights on the lawn at the Yampa River Botanic Park, beginning at 6 p.m., and they will be “picnic-length” performances, or about an hour each.

These shows mark the first performances for Piknik Theatre, a popular summer event in Steamboat, since 2019.



“This is a great opportunity to have theater do what it does best: tell a good story, in person, with real human bodies,” said Stuart Handloff, executive director of the organization. “This is the only live theater in town right now, and it’s a great chance for our locals and visitors to be able to see quality work in a beautiful outdoor environment.”

Stuart Handloff, center, is pictured at a rehearsal for a previous Piknik Theatre production of "Much Ado About Nothing." (File photo)

Piknik Theatre combines local talent with professional actors from around the country. This year, three local actors and five professionals will perform.



Larry Moore is a local actor who has been with the organization for three years. He will have two roles in the production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” playing Friar Francis and the sexton. According to Moore, the production came together in just three weeks, with all of the actors working together on everything from costumes, memorizing lines, adapting scripts and rehearsing.

“Working together with the professional actors makes it particularly fun for me, because it’s often the same people in the plays, and you kind of get to know them and have a relationship,” he explained. “These people are so accomplished. It’s really fun for me to be able to be on the same stage as them.”

This year, one of the professional actors is Denver-based Sydnee Fullmer, who wrote and directed the Charlie Mackesy show. She chose it after admiring his illustrations on his uplifting Instagram feed and subsequently reading his book, “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.”

William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" and "The Chosen One" were brought to a past Piknik Theatre Festival. (File photo)

“I wanted to do a show that had a message of hope, love, community and friendship,” Fullmer said. “The first thing that popped into my head was Charlie’s book.”

She adapted the book, which is a nonlinear narrative in the form of a series of phrases and images.

“The most difficult part was trying to generate a narrative while still doing justice to the characters and phrases,” she said. “Putting everything together was difficult, but I think we came up with something really sweet and pure. It will be great for anyone who needs a little bit of hope, love and wholesomeness in their lives.”

Attendees are invited to bring blankets or chairs to sit on the lawn and enjoy the show with a picnic dinner. Both shows will run for two weeks, on alternating days from Sunday to Thursday.

Keta Keta Roth plays the part of Prospero during a rehearsal in 2019 of Piknik Theatre Festival's production of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest.” (File photo)

Beginning Sunday, “Much Ado About Nothing” will run Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, and “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” will be performed Monday and Wednesday.

Aug. 1 will start the second week of performances with “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” performed Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, and “Much Ado About Nothing” performed Monday and Wednesday.

In the event of rain, performances will not be rescheduled; guests are encouraged to check Piknik Theatre’s social media for last minute information on whether the show will take place if the weather looks to be inclement. All performances are free and family friendly.

Felix Preval plays the part of Dogberry during a rehearsal for the play “Much Ado About Nothing” for a past Piknik Theatre. (File photo)

“Theater is the coming together to share air with the possibility that something truly extraordinary will occur,” Handloff said. “We’ve got eight actors that are capable of providing that.”


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