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Conversations with the Inspiring Colorado ACTS Cindy Troup

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colorado ACTS Cindy Troup.

Cindy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We started in 1997 when three friends with nine children under the age of six (one with Down’s Syndrome) got together and started doing Children’s Theatre at Colorado Christian University. We grew successful and CCU gave us seed money (we called it “Go-Away” money) because we were using so much of their theater space. Our initial focus was on Home School students because, altho they were given many educational opportunities, they didn’t have as many artistic options. A home school mom can do pretty much everything, but trying to put on a full-scale production wasn’t possible. We grew from the beginning at a fairly consistent pace offering classes both during the day and in the evening with a wide mix of home school and public or private school students. We have moved to bigger spaces and been asked to move as we grew. We were based out of Highlands Methodist Church for a number of years, then out of First Baptist Church (across from the Capitol), then into a Co-op with a Jefferson County Charter School (Two Roads) and then eight years ago, moved into what we thought was a permanent space in Arvada on Ralston Road, but after three years there, City of Arvada booted us to make room for a Walmart. We then moved into Wheat ridge down the road from the big MedVed Chevrolet. We have been there for more than five years and have just signed another five years. This is the statement from a newsletter that just went out to our 400 families this spring “History At This Location.

During our five years here (including this summer), we have produced and had students, alumni and adults perform in more than 125 productions. That includes five full teenage Musicals, five Friends and Family Musicals, 15 Community Shows (think Murder Mysteries and Dinner Theatre), 20 Exclusively Home School Classes, and more than 20 After School Classes plus Creative Drama, Dance, and Acting classes. Usually, we offer 8-10 One-Week Summer Class/Productions. Our Outreach Players have performed for more than 8000 (that isn’t a typo!) Elementary School Students and Seniors. Our Shining Stars classes during the summer have served close to 100 Special Needs Actors and Actresses. We also offer “Off-site” classes to Home School Co-Ops and After School Drama Clubs, typically for 50-100 during a school year. Honestly, we could offer more if we had the teachers! We hope to make classes and performance opportunities available to more students during the next five years.”

One of our founding mothers left ten years ago to pursue other interests, one is still involved working with our special needs students (Leah Nixon) and I am the other. I work as a teacher/director and do the majority of the technical coordinating of lights and set. We have thousands of costumes that we use and rent and three storage units off-site that contain chairs, tables, fabric, and miscellaneous “theatre stuff” (Sarcophagus, thrones, jail cells, couches, cannons, etc.). You can go to the web page for some of this info as well.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The constant moving has meant that our families and audiences have to find and follow us. We also have to move all that stuff mentioned before and that can be difficult. For example, we have probably 60 bins of fabric and 1000 hanging dresses, plus just trying to keep track of where we put things in a new space. Organization and a cheerful attitude are pretty much the keys to success. Advice would include “just do it”… you really can’t plan for it, you just have to do your best and laugh as you go. Ask for help and take it from anyone that offers. For me, I work to a level of excellence that is as high as possible and that keeps me happy that I am doing good work. Doing something that you enjoy is the key to getting you through all the stuff that really isn’t fun. I also have the support of a very involved family. Without a husband that was a full-time parent, not just a babysitter, it wouldn’t have been possible. What made it possible for me to follow and work on my dream and keep my creative side moving was having a co-parent who truly cooked, cleaned and helped cheerfully with homework and transportation and all the parental duties that make a family work. He isn’t an artist, he works an old fashioned hard job to pay the bills and often was the only parent home while I was working on a show. I may be the Executive Director, but it wouldn’t have happened for me to have a family (four kids) and a career without his support.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Colorado Actors Company and Theater School story. Tell us more about it.
We do children’s theatre, after-school classes, outreach performances, dinner theatre, and community theatre. I direct 2 full-scale musicals, 3-6 full teen productions, and usually 2-4 adult community theatre shows. I write shows when the idea catches me and occasionally perform (Nunsense or a murderous mother) I usually teach 1-2 after school classes. Since we have 25 or so performances at the theater school during a 12 month year, I am usually coordinating the different shows and making sure that they are kept coordinated with benches and scenery. I like to paint and with my oldest daughter Nelicia, we do most of the stage painting… everything from basic solid to wild and festive! We are a Christian based school and we are proud to be welcoming and have students from all sorts of backgrounds working together on a common desire to do great theatre. I think I am most proud of shows that are like our “lights of Hope” Description: In the darkest hours of World War Two, Sister Matylda Getter, Mother Provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary at the Warsaw Catholic Orphanage meets Irena Sendler who is bringing a new child to the orphanage. Their discussion leads to the “presentation” by the children of their favorite stories, thoughts, and memories of the Jewish Celebration of Lights known as Hanukkah. This taught our students who were unfamiliar with the Hanukkah tradition and also brought in from history a time when Catholic and Jewish women worked together to save the lives of children.
It is fun to do 1950’s sock hop or Aladdin (with 6 Genies!) but the more meaningful ones are the ones I am most proud of. Part of what sets us apart is just how long we have been around and doing good work. when an audience member sees a production of ours of “Annie” and says it was as good as what they saw at the DCPA… I know they aren’t talking about the technical production or even the literal perfection of voices, but they are drawn to the enthusiasm and joy that the students are sharing with their audiences. Our choreographers and Musical Directors push the students to a higher level of excellence than they think is possible. We pride ourselves on no “dumbing it down” but pushing the students to do their best. And the audiences respond to that.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
Honestly, I think a woman can do anything she sets her mind to. If you look at the obstacles or challenges, you aren’t looking past them to see what you want to do. You have to make your opportunities. We have to do our best, be frustrated, rant and rave and then move on to doing your best. I think if you go with the theory that women are more in-tune with their emotions, then that gives us a leg up because we are already dealing with things rationally and intelligently, so if you add in emotional insight and passion, you have everything you need for success.

Pricing:

  • we keep our prices at about $5 per contact hour (a bit higher sometimes) that means a show that rehearses for 10 weeks, 2 hours per class that equals $100 for a class, it really doesn’t get any better than that AND WE PROVIDE COSTUME!!!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 11455 w. i-70 Frontage Road North
    Wheatridge, Co 80033
  • Website: coloradoacts.org
  • Phone: 303 456 6772
  • Email: mirandatroup@yahoo.com or coloradoacts@yahoo.com
  • Facebook: our office lady could tell you

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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