Fred and Harriet's Opus
By Ed Hockett and Judy Lee
December 29, 2010

On Sunday, December 12, The Southern Colorado Repertory Theater, or SCRT as we know it, held a recognition event to honor Fred and Harriet Vaugeois on their retirement from the theater company they had founded.  Christmas season was in the air, so a merry time was assured.  The spaghetti luncheon supplied by Fran Monteleone was served generously, so there could be no complaints about quality or quantity of food.  The celebratory performances arranged by Trinidad's virtuosa-in-residence, Allison England-Sam, included solo and group performances by her and recent company members of the SCRT.  Their performances were marvelous treats.  When the attendees filed out from Sebastiani Gym, many, who were already more than satisfied with the spaghetti alone, exclaimed that this was the best $10.00 they had ever spent.  Truly it was a magnificent event.

We sat mesmerized, fully enjoying the performances by talents that never cease to amaze us.  We felt something was missing, even though there was no imperfect aspect to the celebration, and each performer rendered proper homage to the impact the Vaugeois duo had in the development of their careers.  We just felt that more was owed to Fred and Harriet.

Let's be honest for a moment.  How many of you out there acted, made costumes, advertised, built sets, served on a stage crew, provided props, struck sets, moved sets, stored sets, sold tickets, played music, baked brownies, ushered, were a barista, set up/took down for Galas, or attended a Vaugeois production?  That's what I thought . . . a great number of you.  I remember Brett Bolton ruefully lamenting after he yet again agreed to perform a major role in a Vaugeois production that, "You just can't say 'no' to Harriet Vaugeois when she asks for help."  We all can say the same thing.

There is no question that Fred and Harriet brought talent and theater productions to town.  That, however, is not where it ended.  They brought theater into our lives.  Indeed, they thrilled us with SCRT productions they directed, with plays they created to benefit local groups such as the Fisher Peak Volunteer Fire Department, and with their own performances, such as the two-person play they did to benefit the Trinidad Arts Council.  In addition, though, they also brought us on and back stage to see and feel the inner workings of theater.

Unquestionably the performers that celebrated Fred and Harriet deserved their place on stage.  Still, wouldn't it have been great to see an on-stage representation of any one of a number of local ushers escorting the Smiths and Alreds to their seats to laugh and sing along with actors in the 1942 Radio Hour and Pump Boys and Dinettes as Stan Obrey hawked raffle tickets?  Wouldn't it have been fun to see a performance of Dennis and Nancy Scott serving Joyce Wolff's brownies to Francie Purswell-Montoya and Sue Downs at intermission as they thoughtfully discussed what they had seen in Sylvia and Over the River?  How about letting some random community members, a ragtag bunch of Intro to Theater students, and some faculty, one of whom who really couldn't even dramatically portray a dead body, come together to present excerpts of plays?  Wouldn't it be entertaining to see Harry Ritchie one more time loudly proclaim to the audience that he had forgotten his line?  Well . . . in retrospect, I guess none of this would have been as entertaining as the performers at the celebration, but had this happened, the audience in attendance would have had a clearer idea of just how many people have been impacted by Fred and Harriet.

Fred and Harriet have created quite an Opus in Trinidad.  Their impact has been profound, not only on the professional actors and technicians who gave us polished performances at the SCRT, but also on the "common folk" of Trinidad who learned about theater performances and came to appreciate them.  We have a feeling that as long as they have oxygen in their thespian lungs, their opus may not be finished.  At this point, though, they have enriched many lives with their knowledge of theater and we thank them for us being all the better for it.