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The Phamaly Theatre Company performs Annie in 2017. Photo courtesy of Michael Ensminger Photography

Phamaly Theatre Company Opens Doors for Actors with Disabilities

The group will celebrate its 30th season with a run of Chicago from August 1 to 25.

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In 1999, during the Phamaly Theatre Company’s run of Side Show, actress Kathleen Traylor performed in the musical in front of its creator, Bill Russell. The Tony Award–nominated playwright was so moved by her portrayal of the conjoined twin Daisy that he left the theater in tears. That career-defining moment likely wouldn’t have happened if Traylor and four others hadn’t founded Phamaly 30 years ago. At the time, the thespians say they often were denied roles in Denver productions because of their disabilities. Frustrated, they applied for a Colorado Arts and Humanities grant and used the $3,300 to start a troupe for differently abled artists. Since then, Phamaly has provided stage time to around 270 actors in nearly 70 plays. “Wheelchairs don’t go away, canes don’t go away,” Phamaly’s managing director, Sasha Hutchings, says. “The difference is that people get more comfortable.” Phamaly’s 30th-anniversary season continues this month with Chicago (August 1 to 25) at the Studio Loft at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Traylor will play the dangerous murderess, Annie, providing the talented actress yet another opportunity to kill.

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