Aurora Fox pivots to streaming May 9 with reimagined ‘Play On!’ musical Shakespeare show

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Pictured: Laura Jo Trexler. Photo provided by The Aurora Fox.

AURORA | While it may be curtains for stages across the metroplex for the foreseeable future, the crew at The Aurora Fox is endeavoring to beam a bevy of live theater right into your living room this weekend.

The East Colfax theater is slated to host a live-streamed performance of “Play On! A Musical Romp Through Shakespeare’s Women,” the one-woman brainchild of Littleton native Laura Jo Trexler, 7 p.m. May 9. The live performance staged from Trexler’s home will be the Aurora theater’s first live-streamed theater experience — producers did however stream a concert earlier this spring — since the Fox abruptly shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“We closed March 13, four hours before we were opening, ‘For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday’ and four hours before our closing weekend of ‘Secrets of the Universe and Other Songs,’ and the next Tuesday we were supposed to start ‘Freaky Friday’ rehearsals,” Fox Executive Producer Helen Murray said. “Then it was like ‘boom!’ Stop.”

Since then, the theater has turned to digital offerings, including a ‘meet the artists’ video series, and preparing contingency plans for its upcoming 36th season, which is still currently scheduled to roll forward this fall. The theater’s Little Foxes annual summer drama camp is also still currently a go.

But Trexler’s celebrated show — examining more than a dozen of the Bard’s most famous, and infamous, female characters  — was a natural fit for the current pandemic-stricken world, Murray said, as Shakespearean works are no strangers to pandemics. Theaters closed for extended stints multiple times due to the bubonic plague during Uncle Bill’s heyday, forcing actors to tote their talents via cavalcades that traversed the countryside.

“We can’t caravan out to the country, but we’re finding our own ways to take the art to the people,” Murray said.

Trexler’s original show, which received numerous accolades following a world premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2018, is designed to breathe punchy life and perspective into the likes of Gertrude, Juliet and Lady Macbeth through song. The 45-minute dose of reimagined history features a kaleidoscope of original Trexler piano tunes.

And while Murray concedes that streamed theater performances are no substitute for live stage shows, she said the Fox will likely continue such offerings after social distancing guidelines are lifted in an attempt to reduce the sometimes pricey barriers to entry that come with expensive ticket stubs.

“Virtual programming democratizes the arts in a way that I wish we could see more of,” she said. “It might be the invitation we need for many people who would much more readily click a button to experience something.”

“Play On! A Musical Romp Through Shakespeare’s Women”

7 p.m. May 9 and available via video following the performance. Streamed on The Aurora Fox Facebook page and aurorafoxartscenter.org. Free. Visit the Fox website for more information.