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Returning To The Stage: DCPA Prepares For First Indoor, Live Performance Since COVID

DENVER (CBS4) – For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting an indoor, ticketed live performance at the Denver Performing Arts Complex Wednesday night. "Improvised Shakespeare," a comical and interactive show spearheaded by five actors, will be the first live performance at the DCPA since early 2020.

Ahead of their opening night performance the cast of Improvised Shakespeare invited CBS4's Dillon Thomas to the stage for a discussion on their monumental return to the stage.

(credit: CBS)

Walking in the Garner Galleria brought back a unique feeling for those fond of the performing arts. The dark theater has remained empty with the Improvised Shakespeare set on the stage since the start of the pandemic.

Now dusted off and lit with bright stage lights, the cast said they were thrilled to be the last out and the first back.

"It is really funny to see this set still here after a year and a half," said Joey Bland, one of the cast members.

Bland, Tim Sniffen, Brendan Dowling, Blaine Swen and Josh Logan make up the cast. The comical team fuels off their show off of the crowd. Nothing is scripted and audience interaction makes every show unique.

The team said they felt out of place when the pandemic shut down their Denver performance in 2020.

"It just ended. And then we had to leave. So, to be able to come back and finish it is great. It is really satisfying," Sniffen said.

The cast first thought they would return to the stage after a quick hiatus.

"I thought, 'Man, they are going to send us home and bring us back in four months. And we will probably be the first ones to use this space again.' None of us could have expected how long we have been gone," Bland said.

(credit: CBS)

The DCPA recently announced they would require all ticketholders 12 and older to bring proof of vaccination. All guests over the age of two-year-old will be required to wear a mask.

The cast, which has performed in other cities since vaccinations were released, said they have not had issues with audiences following guidelines.

"It feels good to finish something we feel got caught off a little early," Swen said.

"I had a flood of memories moving around the bushes (on the set), coming through the curtain, opening the door. All of those doors," Logan said.

Unlike some shows, like audience-favorite Hamilton, Improvised Shakespeare couldn't take their act to the screen during the pandemic. As a performance which feeds off of audience interactions, the cast said they were thrilled to once again interact with Coloradans.

"That's what makes us a more exciting night than Hamilton," Sniffen said as his fellow cast members laughed. "But, with our work, it is improvised. We need people there. We love people there."

Improvised Shakespeare will be in Denver through Oct. 31.

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