Production asks audiences to ‘Give a Bleep’ for local nonprofits
Actors prepare four nights of biting satire
Annette Velarde learned something important when she attended a lecture by American public radio host Ira Glass a few years ago.
“Someone asked him how he knew what would be interesting to his audience and he said, ‘We never consider what’s interesting to the audience. We only consider what’s interesting to us,’” Velarde told The Park Record. “I realized that is the most valued position any writer can take, because what I’m doing is sharing with you what I think.”
The thing Velarde shares is “Giving a Bleep: The Show,” an annual musical farce that is the main fundraiser for her nonprofit Giving a Bleep, which raises money for nonprofits in the greater Park City area.
This year’s performance will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 3-4, at the Prospector Conference Center Theater, 2200 Sidewinder Drive.
Velarde, the executive director of Giving a Bleep, said she doesn’t have to look too far to find fodder for her satirical production, which contains mature language and themes.
Last year’s production focused on Donald Trump’s rise to the Presidency, and this year’s show will focus on Trump, but also touch on the local mayoral elections.
“I don’t know, I think many of us in Park City expected the run for Park City mayor would be far more interesting than what it’s turning out to be,” she said with a laugh. “I mean it’s so low key.”
So Velarde made an executive decision to rely more on her Trump card.
“When it comes to national politics, all I do is look at what I call ‘the spotlight,’” she said. “These are things that most people can identify and remember.”
One of these spotlights is former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who praised Trump for his ‘honesty and courage’ when the President accused the media of mischaracterizing white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Velarde decided to write Duke into the musical.
“Even though David Duke has probably never met Donald Trump, in the play he becomes one of his closest advisors,” Velarde said. “He embodies a lot of the people who, in real life, are constantly around Trump. He’s very identifiable.”
As with every satirical production, Velarde knows there is a fine line between fun and bad taste. She also knows that line is like a moving target.
“When I have written comedy, I have always considered myself unsuccessful at pushing the limits if nobody walks out,” she confessed. “When one or two people walk out of the play, then I know I hit the right things.”
That said, Velarde realizes the line has shifted as she has grown older. So to give her some guidance, she relies on her cast.
“The language that is used in comedy that has changed over the years,” she said. “When I was younger, Don Rickles was considered the guy who pushed the edge, but now, there is not any late-night comedian that doesn’t feature at least a dozen bleeps in the YouTube bits they put out. So, I lightened up on that and let the cast decide what the appropriate language should be.”
“Giving a Bleep: the Show” raises funds for nonprofits when people buy tickets here.
“They can choose which day they want to attend and determine what organization they want their money to benefit,” she said. “We’ve given local organizations as well as the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. We are able to donate to any nonprofit that has a documented 501 (c3).”
Also, ticket-buyers can name their own price for their tickets.
“We don’t want people to stay home because they can’t afford to come,” Velarde said. “Giving a Bleep: The Show” rehearsals started the week after Labor Day, and half the cast this year are new to the show.
“Every year we have cast members who have been with us from the start, but each year, we get people in the audience who want to join us the next year,” she said. “Regardless everyone gets included in our tight core.”
The sentiment reflects the show’s main theme, “We Are Family,” inspired by the 1979 disco anthem by Sister Sledge.
“We had two Salt Lake actors who were involved with our first show six years ago, and they send us invitations to what they’re doing and we sent them invitations to what we’re doing,” Velarde said. “For us, this was a great way to develop a group of eclectic friends that crosses ages, backgrounds and such.
“Being in this production is challenging. And we all went through it together, and we were able to benefit a lot of people. That, in and of itself, gives them a sense of loyalty to one another. These are the most satisfying friendships I can think of to have.”
Velarde said she wouldn’t keep producing the show if it wasn’t fun.
“That’s my manifesto,” she said. “It can only go on if we, the cast and I, have a great time. And hopefully the people who come will have a great time as well.”
“Giving a Bleep: The Show,” an original local musical comedy, will run four nights, Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 3-4, at 8 p.m. at the Prospector Conference Center Theater, 2200 Sidewinder Drive. The show contains mature language and themes. Ticket buyers may select their own price and the nonprofit the money will benefit. To purchase tickets, visit this website.
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