Stephen Weitz has been on a pretty public roll these past few years. The co-founder of the 10-year-old Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company just directed Tribes and The SantaLand Diaries back-to-back at his second artistic home, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, his own rising company back in Boulder has been picking up four-star reviews like so many coins in a fountain, most recently for the Chekhov variation Stupid F##king Bird and, last month, for John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romance Outside Mullingar.
In 2012, Weitz was named the True West Theatre Person of the Year. But he would be the first to insist that the driving force behind his theatre company, his family and pretty much his whole life is his wife, Rebecca Remaly.
When the pair started BETC (colloquially known as “Betsy”) in 2006, their artistic plan was noble. The mission: “To present profound theatrical stories that inspire our audiences and enrich our community.” And in 2009, Remaly figured out a foolproof, slightly ignoble way to pay for it: By staging an annual production of The SantaLand Diaries, which just completed its sixth sold-out holiday run and third as co-production with the DCPA. Remaly directed the inaugural production that started it all.
Remaly is also an accomplished director who has been authoritatively delivering one solid regional premiere after another for BETC. She has helmed 17 titles over the past decade, and two in 2015: The Aliens and Outside Mullingar. One is a deliberately slow-motion tale following two wayward young men who spend their days in the alley behind a coffee shop talking music and Bukowski. The other is the old-fashioned romantic tale of a pair of stubborn, middle-aged Irish introverts who decide to take a chance on late love.
Broadway reviewers were largely ambivalent about Shanley’s unexpectedly sentimental turn after his searing Doubt, but Remaly’s staging of Mullingar struck a deep chord with audiences and critics alike. If it’s true that directing is about 90 percent casting, then Remaly hit Mullingar about 90 percent out of the ballpark when she cast Chris Kendall, Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Timothy McCracken and Colorado Theatre Guild Life Achievement winner Billie McBride. The Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow called what that foursome presented “spellbinding.”
But of perhaps even greater importance to BETC’s success has been Remaly’s contributions as Managing Director. With Remaly managing the business side of the operation, BETC’s annual operating budget has steadily climbed over the past three seasons from $285,000 to $350,000 to $420,000. Back in 2006, it was $12,000. That represents a growth of 3,400 percent.