Phamaly Theatre's holiday production bringing smiles to audience and actors alike

DENVER -- From The Nutcracker to A Christmas Carol many family holiday traditions surround the theater.

And this season, Denver’s Phamaly Theater hopes to tap into that with their production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.

Phamaly starts with PH because the name once stood for Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League. Now, it's just Phamaly Theatre Company.

“It’s one of those things where you sit and go, ‘How do I make any individual actor shine?’” said Paul Dwyer who is directing his second production for Phamaly.

Dwyer said it’s easy to spot some of the challenges the actors who are part of the Phamaly Theater Company face, but others aren’t as noticeable.

“There are different challenges with the actors,” said Dwyer. “When we first cast a show we talk about what each individual actor’s needs will be and we make sure that we are not going to challenge them to where physically they can’t handle it, but we also have to challenge them to make sure they can get to the next step in their performing career.”

Laurice Quinn is a disabled veteran who joined Phamaly in 2009. Tiny Tim is her seventh production, and the only time she’s ever played five roles in a single show.

She has to wear a brace on her knee when she performs due to a degenerative joint disease.

And then there are the sunglasses.

“If I’m under the lights or if the lighting is too bright for me you may see me on stage during a performance with sunglasses,” Quinn said. “I may have to wear sunglasses that day because I may have seizure activity.”

It’s not just the lighting that can bring on seizures.

“One of the challenges for me is I wear robes for this production as a ghost,” Quinn said. “So sometimes the robes for me will be really hot and I get overheated and sometimes when I get overheated that can -- for me -- can bring on a seizure and that for me can be a challenge.”

Acting has become Laurice’s savior since leaving the military.

“Being in the military you have to be strong, you have to be independent,” she said. “But when you find out you can’t do what you did, sometimes you lose a sense of self. I discovered a bigger sense of self when I discovered this company. It showed me that I could be something else, I could do something else.”

As much fun as she has on the stage, Laurice said the real joy comes in from what the audience takes away from the performance.

“I want them to enjoy it. I want them to have a good time.”

Phamaly Theatre Company’s production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol is running through Dec. 18 at the Courtyard Theatre in the King Center on the Auraria campus. Follow the link to their website for show times and ticket information.

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