Preview, Theatre

Local Boy Makes Really Good

By Mare Trevathan

Despite the title, “Annapurna,” Sharr White’s two-hander opening as a regional premiere at the Boulder Ensemble Theater Company (or BETC) on January 31, is set in an isolated trailer on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Kate Gleason and Chris Kendall

Kate Gleason and Chris Kendall

And it’s written by an alumnus of Boulder’s Fairview High School.

“My mother, and most of my family on her side live either in Longmont or Boulder, as does my 96 year old grandmother,”  says the playwright, who has had two plays on Broadway within the past year.

“Sharr’s mother is one of our subscribers,” says Stephen Weitz, BETC’s Producing Ensemble Director.

Now in his early 40’s, Sharr White has been called a late bloomer.  He spent 13 years dedicatedly writing each day before he finally landed a professional production (at the Humana Festival in ‘96).

Now he’s on fire.

White’s play “The Other Place” had a Broadway run in 2012 starring Laurie Metcalf and directed by the legendary Joe Mantello. (BETC also produced it last year.) “The Snow Geese,” which just closed on Broadway December 15, was helmed by renowned director Daniel Sullivan and starred Mary-Louise Parker. “Annapurna” transfers off-Broadway this April with real life couple Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”).  (The two starred in the Los Angeles production in 2013.)

“I first read ‘The Other Place’ after the success of the off-Broadway production,” Weitz says. “ I loved it right away.  We were very fortunate to get the rights before they moved the production to Broadway.  It was only after the fact that I discovered Sharr had gone to high school in Boulder and still had family in the area.”

Rebecca Ramaly Weitz is pulling herself away from her son in order to direct “Annapurna.” It’s her first time back at the helm of a show since his birth 1-1/2 years ago. “He’ll be fine, I’m sure, though I’ll miss him tons. But the moment I finished reading ‘Annapurna,’ I knew BETC had to do it, and that I had to direct it.”

It’s an intimate play.  There are two actors, one close setting, and a fair amount of nudity.

“As a writer,” says White, “‘Annapurna’ was very much about the challenges and pleasures of just having two characters in a single room. It’s something that’s incredibly challenging to work on, but also very rewarding.”

Emma (Kate Gleason), 20 years estranged from her husband Ulysses (Chris Kendall), tracks him down in his remote trailer for a big face off. Says Gleason,“This is a love that no amount of recrimination can erase.”

Kate Gleason and Chris Kendall

Kate Gleason and Chris Kendall

“There are those people we have in our lives,” says Ramaly Weitz, “with whom we may not speak for months, or years…when you reconnect, you can just slip right back into the same rhythm. No need for general pleasantries, generic niceties. What a relief. But there’s a certain volatility there as well.”

“In the Book of Love, it would be hard to find a more baffling, screwed-up chapter than Emma and Ulysses,” says Kendall.

“Let’s put these two in a room together and like, see what happens,” the actor says.

The director echoes that feeling about her cast. “Kate and Chris are a formidable pairing.” (Gleason’s credits include Broadway runs of “The Pillowman” and “Noises Off.” Kendall has an armload of acting awards from the Denver area media.) “They are incredibly smart and passionate actors, both with a inner softness to them. And they have great chemistry together. So we’re not starting on the first square of the game board.“

Here’s betting Sharr White’s mom will be proud.

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of “Annapurna” by Sharr White performs at the Dairy Center for the Arts (26th and Walnut Street in Boulder) January 31st – February 16th, 2014.  Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 4:00 pm. For tickets call 303- 444-7328 or visit

Further information:

Annapurna at BETC

Annapurna at BETC





Tags: , , , , ,

About bhamilton


No comments yet.

Add your response