The Spark Blog

COVID Safe Theater

March 8, 2021

By: Dillon Kenyon

March 2020. Words that evoke a gut reaction in many. It was the start of a year of uncertainty, loss, great change, and for many, no theater. 

With a bit of trepidation, I have been scrolling through my social media memories from this week last year:  “How to wash your hands for 20 seconds”, “Grocery Shelves Empty!”,  photos of me sitting shoulder to shoulder with friends in the audience of a high school theater production. 

Woah, how things have changed since then! I remember hugging actors as they exited the stage that night, enjoying the energy of a hundred people all in one room. These memories bring up such mixed feelings now. Oh, how I have missed packed houses and the excitement of the cast crammed backstage. But at the same time, a little anxiety starts to invade my thoughts. How good was the ventilation??! Did we use hand sanitizer after touching? Thank goodness they didn’t breathe on me!  After a year of social distancing, mask-wearing and so much collective trauma,  there will be lasting effects. This week marks a whole year since the pandemic began.

Last March, I vividly remember where I was when the text came from my kids’ school saying that schools were closed. I vividly remember the feelings that came with writing the email to our Matilda cast saying we had to stop rehearsals. That was so hard. The sadness of canceling shows was so painful for every theater community across the world. Our beloved craft silenced. We all mourned. The fear that started to creep into our world at that time was overwhelming. I am so glad we are on the other side. 

We have all experienced so much loss and yet learned so much. 

At The Spark, we decided that this pandemic was our time to ramp up our safety and infrastructure! And we did! We didn’t let a minute go to waste.  We felt very strongly that given the right tools and planning -if any group of people could successfully create a safe environment- we could! We, theater people, are creative problem-solvers just by the nature of what we do. We put on 6 shows during 2020 all COVID free! We are so proud of this. While we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel now, we know we can not stop our precautions. We wanted to share with you how we make our space safe.  We plan to continue to do this for as long as needed. 

Linked here are our specific COVID precautions at The Spark. But before you read those, we must give credit to our physical space. We are very lucky at The Spark to be able to operate as an open-air theater! Our funky garage doors have served a HUGE purpose this year! We perform and rehearse in the open no matter the weather! Our open-air venue provides for a well-ventilated and safe theater! 

Here’s to March 2021! May we bring to the stage what we learned from this past year!

Theater in the Time of Covid

March 4, 2021

How The Spark handles COVID! Our fabulous dance captain and now Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach @_claire.leon_ made this TickTock video to explain! Check it out! #thesparkboulder #covid_19 #theater #bouldercolorado #safetyfirst #makingitwork

Meet The Masters: #7 Kevin Gralewski

June 18, 2020

Art is everywhere, in marketing, definitely so. This Saturday @ 11am MDT, we have a Senior Manager from Disney's Creative Team leading us through the fascinating world of graphic design!

Meet The Masters: #6 A.C. Ward

June 9, 2020

This Saturday @ 11am MDT, we have indie author A.C. Ward talking with us about indie publishing. Join us to learn the inside scoop of becoming a self-published author.

Meet The Masters: #4 Katy Williams

May 26, 2020

SATURDAY May 30th @ 11am Katy Williams is leading us in Basics of Breath - With Socks?! We'll be learning the basic elements of puppetry using an inanimate object and building a very simple sock puppet. So gather your materials from around the house: scarf or piece of fabric, old sock or cereal box, plus decor felt, googley eyes, markers, pipe cleaners, feathers, etc.

Meet The Masters: #3 Adryon de Leon

May 20, 2020

SATURDAY May 23rd @ 11am Adyron de Leon leads us through a songwriting and vocals workshop. Join us!

Meet The Masters: #2 Sydney Suter

May 11, 2020

Teaching MastersClass LIVE on May 16th! From San Deigo, CA - performer, teaching artist, physicality master Sydney Suter! Gather the household and dress to move for this one.

Meet The Masters: #1 Meghan Fitzmartin

April 30, 2020

Teaching MastersClass LIVE on May 9th! From Hollywood, CA - writer for the television series Supernatural, we are ecstatic to introduce Meghan Fitzmartin!

NYC Actor and Guest Performer in 42nd Street Interview

April 21, 2019

Nathaniel will be joining us this summer in 42nd Street as Billy Lawlor. Not only does Nathaniel have experience performing for America's oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre, The Muny, but he also brings a joy and daring to performance that is rare to find. Work with Nathaniel and find out for yourself in 42nd Street this summer. 

Q. When did you first encounter performance? What hooked you?

A. "So I actually was a little bit of a late bloomer. When I was younger I participated in a few small acting/modeling events for kids but never started pursuing the actual career until I started doing theater and show choir in high school. As a kid growing up, sports were a big chapter in my life. As I got older I started to notice how well I could dance I was invited to audition for the summer musical early high school. Dancing has always been something that has come very natural to me. I started performing in front of crowds in high school for numerous events such as assembly, talent shows and especially in show choir. The first show I ever did was The Wizard of Oz. Since then, I have absolutely been hooked!"

Q. What has been your favorite performance experience? 

A. "So far, my favorite performance experience has been performing on stage at The Muny in St. Louis. The Muny is well known for being one of the largest outdoor theatres in the country.  I performed in The Wiz, so the style of dance was right down my alley.  Contemporary, hip hop, and tap are my strongest styles. Camille A. Brown is such a great choreographer so representing her work on stage was really an amazing experience. also performing for 50,000 seats is near a bad thing I would say."

Q. What has been your most challenging performance experience?

A. "So far my most challenging experience has been was in I was in the play "A Nightingale for W.E.B. Dubois" by playwright and poet Femi Osofisan. In the show I had to play former president Osaygeyfo Kwame Nkrumah. The most challenging part of portraying a former president was playing an age far older than mine. I also had to speak with a Ghanaian Accent, which made it easier to get into character but always had me thinking and processing information through how I spoke. There was no dancing in the show so you can imagine I had to think of everything but dancing the entire time. What I do as a career keeps me learning and always discovering new parts of storytelling whether that be through song, acting or dance."

Q. What do you do to prepare for auditions?

A. "Normally when I am preparing for an audition I am constantly going over my material before the actual audition itself. Preparation is key to having a great audition, even if you don't book the role you know that you gave your best in the room toasts what truly matters. It helps to really go into the space and not have to worry about whether or not your material is good to go or can you just have a relaxing and enjoying time during your piece. I always think to myself before an audition, whoever is in the room wants me to do a great job too."

Q. What is your favorite part about performing?

A. "My favorite part about performing is that no matter how many times I sing the same song or piece it will never be the exact same as before. Being able to temporarily live in a new world to me is the best part about performing. Seeing the audience enjoying themselves or to be completely immersed into a live performance is the coolest thing about this job. It never gets old."

Q. If you had any advice for yourself as a budding performer what would it be?

A. "To myself I would say, never give up. This is not the easiest profession but the best thing you can do is try. I can be hard on myself at times when it comes to my work when in reality there is always an upside or a way to work around something. It would also tell myself to let people stand in the way or hold you back. Your greatest opponent can be self doubt. Positivity and faith can go miles."

Do you want to work with Nathaniel J. Washington? Then register now for 42nd Street!

Garage Sale!

April 16, 2019

Hey Friends!! 

Looking for a way to get rid of that spring cleaning? Give your unwanted goods to us! We will sell them at our Garage Sale on April 27th! We are taking donations during the week. Check out the flyer for details! 

Thanks for supporting the Spark! 

Cabaret Nights

April 1, 2019

We are excited to continue this Spark tradition at Aperitivo Restaurant on April 12 at 6:30pm.

Join us for an evening of Broadway songs and camaraderie! No cover cost! 

Special guest performers Jennie Naser, Will Callahan and our own Terri Schafer will be in town to perform and bring the night to life! 

Jennie Nasser is a Kent State University alum originally from Ohio and moved to New York City

to pursue her love of performing. She has traveled across the country performing in various

theatre shows. She also toured internationally as a lead soloist, singing aboard Aida Cruiseline;

she performed for audiences in Germany and the Canary Island. NYC: An American Hero

(Gallery Players) Selected regional credits: Annette in Saturday Night Fever (Broadway Palm),

Maggie in A Chorus Line (Cumberland County Playhouse), Katharine McGowan in Titanic

(Akron Civic Theatre) Lead Woman in World Goes Round (Porthouse Theatre), Mary Poppins

(Cumberland County Playhouse). She is very excited to be playing Belle In Beauty and the

Beast this summer at The Broadway Palm.

Will Callahan. Will’s so excited to be performing, and celebrating with you all! Will is best known for playing Pippin in

the 2017 Broadway National Tour which he was nominated for a Broadway World Award for.

Regionally he’s done Saturday Night Fever(Double J/Tony US) Footloose(Ren) Peter and the

Starcatcher (Peter) Cabaret (Emcee) The Vandal (Robert) and John Tartaglia's Reusable The

Musical. Will toured internationally with Scooby Doo LIVE as Shaggy, and has done voice over

work for Warner Brothers. Will is a graduate from the Professional Performing Arts School in

NYC, and has revived two National Youth Theater Awards for playing Billy Flynn in Chicago

and Cornelius in Hello, Dolly. He’s also a professional puppeteer, and co-writer/director of

Drunk Musicals in NYC. Follow him on Instagram @will_callahan

Upcoming Event: Open House

March 28, 2019

The Spark begins our move-in process this Sunday, March 31st. We'll start by installing sprung floors, getting the theatre painted, and moving in some gifted furniture. After months of anticipation and preparation we can't wait to start making some magic in this building. We have been so grateful to work with our sponsor Arcadea Architecture on this project. After many planning sessions, changes, and inspirations, we have a plan that's ready to submit to the city for permitting. And although interior construction won't be fully completed until May, we are just too darn excited to show everyone our new home... we can't hold it in any longer! So, we're hosting an Open House as part of Boulder Arts Week to invite parents, students, artists, and community members to see what The Spark is all about. This is a chance to meet co-founders Dillon Kenyon and Marla Schulz, as well as tour the facility, and see renderings of what the space will look like once completed. On top of all that awesome, there will be food and drinks through donation.

We hope this will be an opportunity to begin sharing a special space with the community. As much as it is our home, it's your home too.

Join us Saturday, April 6th between 3:30-6:00 pm as we celebrate move in, and the people who contribute to the art of Boulder.

Address: 4847 Pearl St. Suite B4 Boulder, CO 80301

Interview with Professional Guest Artist: Tanya Deleon

March 6, 2019

A Chicago native, Tanya now lives in NYC working professionally as an actress and a singer. She'll be joining our production of Fame: The Musical this summer in the role of  Serena Katz, and we couldn't be more excited to have her spirit and talent in this production. Read below to find out what we mean!

Q.When did you first encounter performance? What hooked you?

A. I first encountered performance as a kindergartner at our elementary school. My mom enlisted me to the Mexican folkloric Dance group and I participated in the program for 6 years. What really hooked me into musical theater was when I did Into The Woods in high school with the worst corn- yellow wig you could imagine. I heard Sondheim and from then on was stunned that we could sing and tell a story at the same time!

Q. What has been your favorite performance experience?

A. My favorite performance experience has been when I did In The Heights Salgado Productions at Axelrod. It was the first show where I saw people that looked like me and sang like me portrayed in a positive light. So when I got the chance to do it, I did it with a full heart and lots of gratitude.

Q. What has been your most challenging performance experience?

A. My most challenging performance experience was when I worked on a cruise ship. Doing a show for 6 months straight without any covers/swings is challenging during a normal contract; now add 10ft waves and sea sickness and that makes it a tad more difficult. Throughout this contract, I learned a lot about how far I could push myself as well as how to listen to my body.

Q.What do you do to prepare for auditions?

A. I visit my vocal coach, Deric Rosenblatt and bring in whatever song(s) that would showcase me the most to show the casting directors how I fit within their season. In my lesson, we work through what story I want to tell and how to make it as honest as possible so that I can bring the team on the journey with me.

Q. What is your favorite part about performing?

A. My favorite part about performing is the rehearsal process. That is where I learn so much and when I get to play and discover the most. It's also very challenging, but man, when you nail that choreo in the room after failing at it for two hours---woooh is that such a rush of adrenaline!

Q. If you had any advice for yourself as a budding performer what would it be?

A. Don't try to be like anyone else. You are so special and no one can do you better than you. The casting directors don't want to see you be or sound like someone on the cast recording, if they did, they would just hire that person or listen to the album. Trust that who you are is enough and have fun in the room. Those 2 minutes that you have in the room are the 2 minutes that you get to perform that day so enjoy them!

Do you want to perform and learn with Tanya this summer? Register now for Fame: The Musical.