Lumberjacks in Love is a play about five hardy lumberjacks living in the forest who revel in the fact that they are the only men for miles around… until a mail-order bride enters their camp and a mistaken identity, cross-dressing, musical performances and many hijinks took place. It’s a production that Theatreworks artistic director Caitlin Lowans has been hoping to bring to the Ent Center for years. Fred Alley and James Kaplan originally wrote the comedy for Wisconsin’s Northern Sky Theater in 1996 and Lowans directed it for the first time outside of Boston a decade ago, but he thought it would be great for a listeners in Colorado.
In March 2020, Lowans announced that it was on the Theaterworks production slate for the 2020-2021 season… but then, well, the world changed. Now that pandemic restrictions are more relaxed, he will finally direct the play, and he and music director Jerry McCauley II took time to talk to Indy during early rehearsals.
Lowans like it Lumberjacks because it’s a story about ordinary people that doesn’t punch them in the way that other theatrical productions might. “It’s a really fun play that celebrates those who work with their hands, finding community in each other,” Lowans said. He approached McCauley last spring Lumberjacks not only to serve as music director, where he took callbacks remotely on Zoom, but also to be onstage playing cast member “Muskrat”.
The biggest challenge Lowans and McCauley faced in adapting the play for the Ent Center was creating a band from the entire cast. The original show featured one or two musicians, but Lowans wanted every cast member to love music, too. “You have to find six actors who can act, who can sing, who can dance and who can play everything from the upright bass to the harmonica and the washboard.” But the Lumberjacks the cast is not only diverse in talent. McCauley, an Asian American-Pacific Islander, beamed when she explained that half the cast were people of color. “If you’re looking for inclusion and diversity, this is a fantastic production for that.”
Dominating the stage is a massive turntable set piece that resembles the inside and outside of a lumberjack’s log cabin. It features a doorway through which actor Sammie Joe Kinnett slowly wanders, hiding in a large wooden barrel. They were still figuring out how big the crack was in the barrel so he could see where he was going. These rehearsals are all about building the important muscle memory needed to execute the show. Not only must Kinnett get through that door in one piece, in one barrel, he must laugh, sing, act and dance with his fellow actors. “We build shows in three weeks,” McCauley said. “There is magic in speed. We all carve out time and space in our lives to do this thing together.”
For Loans, Lumberjacks is a bright, funny reason for people to return to the theater. “I think audiences are really excited,” he said.
“Everyone is working with joy, with breath, with intention, with storytelling and hopefully helping the audience feel something new or something deeper than they expected to feel in this funny little comic about loggers in the forest,” McCauley said.
Pikes Peak Bigfoot Benefit Hike
Many people search for Bigfoot alone, but what if you don’t have to be alone? What if you could join other curious seekers on a benefit hike that also supports Friends of the Peak in their work to maintain the trails on Pikes Peak? Organizers say, “Think of it as an Easter egg hunt, Where’s Waldo, geocaching, but with a hairy twist.” The goal is to find Bigfoot (you’ll get hints upon registration), but you’ll also have a chance to win some not-so-scary prizes. It’s September 24, 8:30 am to 2:30 pm; meet at 5089 Pikes Peak Highway, Cascade. For tickets and more information, see tinyurl.com/BigfootHike.
Art All Around studio tour
Need inspiration? Want to connect with local artists? Then check out the inaugural Art All Around “artist-driven studio tour,” Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 am to 4 pm “Open to all artists and free to visitors! Join us on this tour, meet Colorado Springs’ talented artists, see what they’re up to, check out their studios and leave feeling inspired… and maybe with a little something for your wall. Visit CSArtAllAround.com more information and a map of the studio.