Thunder River garners 10 Henry Award nods and launches first virtual production

Thunder River Theatre Company’s "A View from the Bridge" is nominated for three Henry Awards.
Courtesy photo


What: ‘The Pink Unicorn’

Where: YouTube

When: June 12-27

How much: $10-$20

Tickets:; 970-963-8200

There have been few bright spots for Colorado theater companies during the coronavirus pandemic, as spring shows were canceled statewide and theaters remain dark.

But Carbondale’s Thunder River Theatre Company has reason to celebrate: the small but ambitious company has earned 10 Henry Award nominations from the Colorado Theatre Guild for its shortened 2019-20 season.

The annual awards, honoring the best of Colorado live theater, announced nominees June 3.

“Theater is a vital reminder of our shared humanity, which is more important now than ever during these very dark times,” Thunder River executive artistic director Corey Simpson said following news of the nominations. “We will continue searching for creative and fun ways to uplift everyone, especially those whose voices are frequently missing or overlooked. Our hearts are broken for our family of artists and fellow theaters struggling to get through these times.”

Thunder River’s nominations include local theater stalwart Bob Moore for Outstanding Actor in a Play for “A Walk in the Woods,” which also earned an Outstanding Ensemble Performance nomination. Sonya Meyer was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for the December production of “The Doyle and Debbie Show.” The company’s technical team earned seven nominations for three shows.

Thunder River has historically earned acclaim from Henry Judges, including winning the 2012 prize for Outstanding Regional Theatre and taking home seven awards in the past three years. This year it is the only Aspen-area company nominated for Henry Awards.

Tn technical categories, competing among companies with budgets under $500,000, “A Walk in the Woods” earned nods for Jennifer Schiller’s costume design while “A View From the Bridge” was nominated for Outstanding lighting, scenic and sound design — all three by Thunder River technical director Sean Jeffries. “The Doyle and Debbie Show” is also nominated in those three categories, Jeffries for lighting and sound, Colin Tugwell for scenic design.

With his five nominations for the 2019-20 season, Jeffries has now been nominated 13 times during his four seasons at Thunder River.

“I’m continually humbled to be included among such talent that permeates throughout the state at all, much less to be formally recognized,” Jeffries said.

Normally bestowed in a ceremony on the Front Range, the Henry Awards will be hosted online on Sunday, July 26. The guild is not giving its Outstanding Season award this year, as the spring season was cut short due to the pandemic. A total of 157 shows competed for honors in the 2019-20 season, down from 206 the previous year.

The nominations come as Thunder River distinguishes itself as a leader and innovator in the virtual space for the Aspen arts community. It launched a free online video platform, ThunderStream, in the days after stay-home orders went into effect and was the first local nonprofit to host a virtual fundraising gala this spring. On June 12, the theater will open a ticketed virtual production of Elise Forier Elie’s “The Pink Unicorn,” a one-person show filmed in the theater for an online audience.

It stars Missy Moore, a Carbondale native based in Los Angeles, who last year won the Henry for Outstanding Actress in a Play for Denver’s And Toto Too production of “The Pink Unicorn.” The show closes the 2019-20 season, replacing the eight-actor play “Into the Breeches.”

“Missy’s performance is breathtaking and we cannot wait for audiences to see this,” Simpson said.

Aspen Times Weekly

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