‘Aspen Soap’ pops into town’s bubble

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado
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The Hudson Reed Ensemble turned a warped lens on the community Saturday in the pilot of “The Aspen Soap,” a series of vignettes about life in town.Felicity Huffman, star of “Desperate Housewives” and an Academy Award nominee in 2006 for “Transamerica,” made a cameo appearance in Saturday’s premiere alongside her mother, Grace.The stories in “The Aspen Soap” spring from life here – in fact, the piece is the amalgam of videotaped improv skits from a one-month Hudson Reed Ensemble workshop – and the show features some recognizable characters and typical Aspen scenarios: A downwardly mobile therapist with a penchant for spanking; an eccentric mayoral candidate campaigning on doggie diapers for pooches trotting up Housewife Hill (Smuggler Mine); a Valium-gulping, neurotic mom juggling cell phones; the barkeep of the Blue Moon bemoaning the loss of the Aspen lifestyle and Wintersköl gone commercial; and the shock when a young woman working multiple jobs and living in “crackerbox” employee unit with her boyfriend finds out she’s pregnant.

You might even recognize yourself in the roster.At moments the dialogue is fast and furious, with belly laughs here and there, and the rough edges and recognizable characters from town lend to the flavor.Since the company’s 2005 debut with a performance of “The Crucible,” director Kent Reed said, the goal has been to push the envelope, and he promises more episodes in the ongoing soap opera. He even offered the audience a cliffhanger hook, asking one and all to come to the next episode and find out what the young woman does about her unborn child and how the eccentric therapist fares.The show opens to audiences at the Aspen High School’s Black Box Theater for three more shows: 7:30 p.m. April 6-8. Tickets are $20.

“I love community theater,” Huffman said in a question-and-answer session after the production. It gives people a chance to see people they know in roles they couldn’t imagine, she said: “You get to play.” Huffman, who attended the Aspen Community School, said her mother was the one who came to her early plays when there were “10 people in the play and two in the audience.” Huffman’s nephew Joe Trautman plays a movie concessionaire in the show.

Huffman answered questions about her career, told of her first break – replacing Madonna in a Broadway show – and how actors plan their acceptance speech at the Oscars from the get-go. She told how her struggles in real-life motherhood qualified her for her role in “Desperate Housewives.”Huffman said she recently bought a house in Aspen along with her husband, actor William H. Macy, and plans to spend more time in town.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is


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