By: Curious Theatre Company On: August 24, 2016 In: Curious & Curiouser Blog Comments: 0

by Katie Maltais, Curious Theatre Company

Hinshaw_GerReeLongtime theatre fans in Denver are not strangers to the name GerRee Hinshaw, but if you’re a more recent transplant (like me), you might not know who the heck that is… or why Curious is so excited to see her on our stage.

GerRee was a regular performer at a number of this town’s top venues for years. Then in 2006, she started her “accidental career” in marketing and decided to do just one show per year. That year was the last time GerRee was on the Curious stage, in The War Anthology. In 2008, she performed in DNC Mediamocrocy with Listen Productions at Buntport Theater and then took a hiatus.

For eight years.

Trying to have a child turned into having a child. Her marketing career took over ever-increasing chunks of time. And the hiatus grew longer. GerRee continued to do what she calls “bite-sized projects” – staged readings, MC for Freak Train, and even appearing in Curious’ fundraising event Denver Stories. But mainstage productions came to a halt.

Until March of this year, when she got a call. Chip Walton, Curious’ Producing Artistic Director, was sitting around with a group of folks brainstorming casting for the role of Yaz, which appears both in Water by the Spoonful and The Happiest Song Plays Last. Early auditions and out-of-town calls hadn’t yielded the perfect actor for this critical role and the team was racking their brains, considering people they “weren’t allowed to have” and someone brought up GerRee. Dubious that she would consider it, but excited by the prospect, Chip called GerRee.

A two-show commitment was definitely not “bite-sized” but the project was too good to not consider. With plenty of time to work out the logistics with her family and day job, GerRee wanted to at least think about it. She read the script and she was hooked.

“It was one of those moments where you’re like ‘oh my gosh, someone just gave me a dream role’,” said GerRee. She was on an out of town work trip when she read Quiara Alegría Hudes’s remarkable scripts and became “thrilled and sick to my stomach with fear at the same time.” This was not a role for her to get her feet wet and dip back into acting – it’s two shows with a strong, established character.

Luckily, it was a character GerRee connected with instantly; she came in to read for the role and everyone was thrilled.

It’s no wonder the role fit her so well, GerRee shared, “There is so much (in this play) about family that resonated with me. In the Latino culture, family is epic – goes straight through all the generations. There is such a tie. I just recognized it right away. That friendship between the cousins is so familiar. It’s a story I was interested in telling.”

A veteran of the stage, GerRee was especially excited that her character’s connection was between family rather than romantic. “I’m so tired of watching love stories on stage. (Water by the Spoonful) is cool because it’s a main male and female with a lot of love, but not romantic. It’s a ‘love that will get you through when everything is falling apart’ kind of story.”

GerRee says it’s “so great” to come back to the stage, and especially because her return is at Curious. “I’ve gone all these miles and miles and came back to the same spot. In a really good way. Like coming home.”

It’s been a challenge, figuring out the balance of her young son and husband, full time career, and acting. She often leaves rehearsal to go to a diner to have focused time to work on her lines late at night. But, she’s “tired doing the things you want to be doing” which is invigorating and exciting.

Welcome back to the stage, GerRee! I, for one, am thrilled you broke the hiatus for this role.