Keith Rabin, Jr., of Gravity Defied Theatre talks economics and f-bombs
The founders of Gravity Defied Theatre had their work cut out for them when they founded the troupe in 2008. In addition to facing the standard pitfalls and challenges of starting a new theater company, founders Keith Rabin, Jr., and Danny Harrigan had to carve out a viable niche in Denver theater scene as the local and national economy crumbled. With help from the Rocky Mountain Arts Association and responsive patrons, the company has succeeded despite the economic downturn; Gravity Defied is wrapping up its second season with a production of [title of show] at the Aurora Fox theater and has already announced titles for its third season. Westword caught up with Rabin to discuss the troupe's unlikely success, the company's unique theatrical mission and the founders' love for f-bombs.
Danny Harrigan and Keith Rabin Jr... what.
Westword (A.H. Goldstein): Can you give a brief history of the Gravity Defied Theatre company?
Keith Rabin, Jr.: We started in 2008. Me and Danny [Harrigan] had just finished working at the Carousel Dinner Theater; we were living in Fort Collins at the time. We were wanting to do something different. I said, "Why don't we just start our own theater company?" He was like, "Why don't we?" From that point on, I just started doing the leg work and here we are.
We moved to Denver, and we were part of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus at the time. We had proposed to the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Arts Association our idea of putting this together. That was in January of 2009. Then that summer we were doing our inaugural show.
WW: Starting this out, did you have an artistic mission in mind? Was there a particular type of theater that you wanted to offer that was absent in the Denver scene?
KR: We wanted to do theater where we were going to be doing shows that nobody else really wanted to touch. For example, a little bit more risqué type of shows, definitely stuff that nobody has been beating the hell out of. We wanted to make sure that our shows were fresh, that theaters have not been doing them ... at least for two years, just so that it's always something new for the community.
WW: How do the shows that you've selected in the past two years align with that creative mission?
KR: We opened our inaugural season with Bare: The Musical, which was a regional premiere. I had known about this show for quite some time and had loved the style of music and the story of it, being gay-themed. A lot of people didn't really know about the show itself; I think it's trying to get back on Broadway right now.
It takes place in a Catholic high school, and the story revolves around two characters, Peter and Jason. They're roommates who have fallen in love. They quickly get to a point where one of the characters, Peter, wants to not hide their love anymore. Jason, being a popular student and also having parents that wouldn't be necessary very agreeable to the situation, he kind of breaks it off with Peter and starts seeing this girl named Ivy. He ends up getting her pregnant. Suddenly it all comes out about Peter and Jason's relationship, and Jason ends up committing suicide, overdosing on GHB during a school play of "Romeo and Juliet." It's a sad story, but it's kind of a rock opera as well. It has a great message and story.
It being the inaugural show for the Gravity Defied Theatre and the Rocky Mountain Arts Association's first theatrical program, we thought it was the best thing to open up with.
We wanted to also make sure that we included some titles that were not so not-family-friendly. That's why we did "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" next. Then we came into this season, an entire season full of regional premieres: a new work by Jonathan VanDyke called "Totally Electric," and "The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa this summer and now closing this season with [title of show]."