Latest original Simpich production reflects puppeteer's love of the circus
Featuring three new marionette characters and a reworking of others, “Tinker Yorkinee Spree's Fantabulous Suitcase Circus” is running from July 18 to Sept. 9.
“It's the first time in 14 years I've made actual new marionettes,” theater founder/writer/puppeteer David Simpich said in a recent interview. “It's fun to do that.”
Opened in 2009 by Simpich and his family, the theater is in the Simpich Showcase building at 2413 W. Colorado Ave.
“Suitcase Circus” is staged a bit differently from Simpich's previous productions. It's his first performance intended for all ages, is shorter in length (45 to 50 minutes) and puts the puppeteer “right in front of the audience” instead of on a stage, he explained.
Simpich himself is one of the characters, a tinker/clown who wants to use his yorkshire terriers for a “a circus type of thing, but that doesn't work at all” until the arrival of a “mysteriously tiny ringmaster,” he summarized.
Simpich had been thinking about writing a circus-related script for a number of years, based on happy childhood memories of joining his family for the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Baily “Greatest Show on Earth” when it would come to Colorado Springs each June.
He had previously written a piece called “The Stained Glass Circus,” but "it was more about art” and intended for older audiences, Simpich said. More recently, he began developing his idea of a circus story for all ages - especially after it became evident that Ringling Brothers would be shutting down (the last show was May 21, 2017).
Ringling's end “was a wake-up call,” Simpich said. “I thought it [the big-top circus] was something that would always be there.” Now, with his new production, “I'm trying in a little way to uphold the tradition of the circus, the thing that sparks the imagination about it.”
The Simpich name in Colorado Avenue's 2400 block dates back to 1978, when David's dad Bob and mother Jan (who passed away in 2014), bought the building for their popular Simpich Character Dolls manufacturing enterprise.
In the 1980s, David started scripting his one-man acts and building marionette characters for them. Among these are his adaptations of “The Secret Garden,” “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol.”
For many years, he toured the country with his shows. Three years after his parents retired in 2006, David and his wife Debby (now the Simpich Showcase manager) renovated the building to house the 70-seat Simpich Theatre, a museum of Simpich dolls and a gallery that features Bob's and Jan's paintings.
In the theater, David presents about five of his shows a year - one for each season, plus Christmas.
Admission to “Suitcase Circus” is $10.50 in advance, or $10 at the door. For dates and times or to make reservations, call the Simpich box office at 465-2492 or go to simpich.com.
Westside Pioneer article