Denver is a town of many theatrical opportunities. Audiences can attend the next big tour coming through the Denver Center, or pick up a season subscription to their favorite smaller company. What I find to be the most exciting element of this theatre community, though, is the large number of new and emerging efforts to spread the love of the arts. ALoFT Theatre Company is one such company hitting the scene with their first show this summer.
Bad Habits is a comedy by Terrence McNally, split into two acts, each centering around a separate – and very unique – medical treatment facility, intended to cure people of their “bad habits.” Founding member of the company, Tami LoSasso says, “It’s about two separate retreats where people go to cure themselves of their vices. At the first one, [Dunelawn], the doctor is a marriage counselor. He helps married couples work through their issues, and his philosophy in helping people is to let them fully indulge in whatever their weakness is. In act two, in Ravenswood, it’s basically the exact opposite. People check themselves in and the doctor believes in drugging them out of their desires and temptations.” LoSasso tells us, “Acts one and two can be performed independently of each other, but we are choosing to do both. I think together, it gives the audience a fuller experience and can leave more contemplative about human nature and how we deal with our issues.”
Director Guillermo Gomez explains about the characters in the show, “Everyone is going to Dunelawn or Ravenswood to get better and get rid of their vices, but they’re just replaced with a serum, replacing one bad habit with another.” Technical director Tim Campbell informs us, “Everyone will be able to relate to at least one thing. It’s relatable because it points out human flaws, but at the same time, it turns around and makes fun of them.”
The first act of the play takes place at Dunelawn a marriage couples’ retreat run by a man named Doctor Pepper. Actor Michael Greening plays the role, saying “Dr. Pepper insists that the lake they front is the only thing they have in common. He refers to Ravenswood as the tenth circle.” He goes on to say, “Dr. Pepper tends to lay his vices on all the patients. He definitely believes in drinking, smoking, sex; and so when the patients come in, if they aren’t already imbibing that vice, he promotes it.”
Ravenswood is an individual patient treatment retreat, run by Doctor Toynbee. Played by Nick Schmid, this doctor believes in sedating his patients in order to eliminate their habitual tendencies. He administers a serum to each of his patients by injection in order to bring them all down to a slow, dreary level. Schmid says, “It was fun for me to see the duality in the different approaches to medicine.”
Actor Austin Hill explains, “A lot of the fun of acting in the show is just bouncing off everyone’s goofiness. These are some of the crazier parts I’ve played in a long time and those are the most fun plays, I think. There’s definitely a character for everybody here. One of the most wonderful things about this show is the fantastic characters. They’re so extreme and I think everyone is going to have a favorite, but no single person is going to ‘steal the show;’ and the audience is going to laugh: guaranteed.”
LoSasso tells us, “I think humor is found in the extremes of truth, and in that we would like the audience to walk away with a better understanding that we’re all human.” This show is bound to entertain, while at the same time giving us “an easy way to look at our own faults because the show is a mirror to society,” as Campbell puts it.
Come support ALoFT Theatre Company, opening Terrence McNally’s Bad Habits on Friday, August 3 and playing through August 25. Purchase tickets at https://tix6.seatyourself.biz/webstore/webstore.html?domain=aloft&event=.