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The Denver Post - Curious Theater gave "Papa Jack" stirring tribute in May

Curious Theater gave "Papa Jack" stirring tribute in May

By John Moore
Denver Post Theater Critic

Sunday, August 17, 2008

 

"Papa Jack Weil" addresses the crowd at Curious Theatre's "Denver Stories" on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)

"Papa Jack" Weil at a fundraiser for Curious Theatre on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)

Denver icon "Papa Jack" Weil, who died Wednesday at 107, was honored May 21 at Curious Theatre's annual fundraiser, "Denver Stories." The company assigns a playwright to a local celebrity, and the resulting 10-minute plays are then performed by some of Denver's best actors.

Steven Cole Hughes, whose latest play, "Billy Hell," premieres Aug. 29 at the Creede Repertory Theatre, was assigned to Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear and believed to be the oldest working CEO in America before his death.

Hughes' "107 Short Plays About Papa Jack Weil" had fun with the difficulty in finding an actor to play a 107-year-old (that job went to Michael Morgan, 70-something years too young for the role), and telling such

Michael Morgan and Rhonda Brown perform "107 Short Plays About Papa Jack Weil" at a fundraiser for Curious Theatre on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)a sweeping life story in 10 minutes. The cast also included Erik Sandvold and Rhonda Brown.

"He was a genuine American original, and he will be missed by his friends, which has to be about a million people," said Hughes.

That's because Weil talked to every person who came into his store "for as long as he possibly could," Hughes said, "and by the time they left, they were best friends."

Curious founder Chip Walton said Hughes' script was "the best play ever written for this event." When the performance was over, Weil rose from the house and addressed the audience.

"Once Jack starts to tell a story, it's hard to get him to stop," Walton said. "You're kind of a captive audience." Until his grandson got up and said, "Papa Jack: Your 15 minutes of fame are up," which drew a standing ovation —— for both.

"The purpose of 'Denver Stories' is to honor those individuals who have done the most for Denver, and I can't imagine anyone more interesting or exciting than Jack," Walton said. "He was one of a kind, a fellow Hoosier, and lived a life full and amazing."

To read Steven Cole Hughes' entire 10-minute play about Jack Weil, click here

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