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Mr. Spacky ... The Man Who Was Continuously Followed By Wolves

[The following review appeared in the Denver Post on Thursday, March 31st.]

A rag-tag band of musicians appears in the lobby and leads the audience up the stairs into the cozy chapel for the performance, but the characters and message more closely align with something from a twisted, Tim Burton version of a fairy tale than anything from a morality play.

Joan Bruemmer as Mrs. Dumont, Meridith C. Grundei as Edwina, Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky, and Sonia Justl as Elizabeth
Joan Bruemmer as Mrs. Dumont,
Meridith C. Grundei as Edwina,
Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky,
and Sonia Justl as Elizabeth
Photo: Emily Schwartz
Yes, the minister for this rite, Mr. Spacky (Verl Hite), is connected with the spirit world, but in his case his visions are of wolves intent on making a meal of him. He has been engaged by Mrs. Dumont (Joan Bruemmer) to preside over the wedding of her brother, George, to Miss Elizabeth Lyonn (Sonia Justl).

From the top, our antennae are raised by Mrs. Dumont's abrasiveness toward Elizabeth and her servants (the band members), but that is only the tip of the insidious iceberg that encases her heart. Bruemmer's vampish, tongue-in-cheek, opening number is delight, setting up the ghoulish humor woven throughout the proceedings.

Joan Bruemmer as Mrs. Dumont, Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky, and Sonia Justl as Elizabeth
Joan Bruemmer as Mrs. Dumont,
Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky,
and Sonia Justl as Elizabeth
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Elizabeth remains polite, despite the rough early going, but is sorely tested when Mr. Spacky rushes in, just ahead of his imaginary demons. If Elizabeth is Alice in a fractured version of Wonderland, and Mrs. Dumont the Queen of Hearts, then Mr. Spacky is surely the Mad Hatter. Hite fits the bill to a T, not only physically, with the gray top hat and tussled hair, but in his crackpot demeanor and eccentric bent.

Just when it seems that Elizabeth has enough of the senseless tea party, she is ushered away by Edwina (Meridith C. Grundei), Mrs. Dumont's daughter of sorts, a desperately needy undead wisp, who sees Elizabeth as the playmate of her dreams. Grundei's quirky cut up is a laugh a minute, topped by some spiffy dance moves that more than justify her tutu-like get up.

Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky
Verl Hite as Mr. Spacky
Photo: Emily Schwartz
While Edwina and Elizabeth preen each other in front of the upstairs vanity, we are let in on a few secrets by Mrs. Dumont and Mr. Spacky, the latter who then regales us with a ditty that would feel right at home in Burton's Sweeney Todd, replete with three zombie brides (Jessica Dow, Hallie Packard, and Lexi Schwartz), regarding whose presence we'll not say more.

At the critical moment, the audience is asked to vote for either the happy or gruesome ending. Perhaps it was the irrepressibly cheery Boulder audience voting for the happy ending that skewed the experience, but despite Justl's hot finishing number the plot twist didn't live up to its eccentric build up. We're left to wonder whether a more cynical crowd or a stronger choice from the playwright would have satisfied our macabre expectations.

The Catamounts' Mr. Spacky ... The Man Who Was Continuously Followed By Wolves runs through April 16th. 720-468-0487 or www.thecatamounts.org www.thecatamounts.organd click: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/159224.

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