ESTES PARK, Colo. — Estes Park has a unique way for residents to help the community, while being entertained at the same time. There is an annual melodrama in town that involves townspeople, a bit of history, and a lot of puns.
This year’s production is called "Estes Park: A Dedicated Town or Who’s in Charge Here?"
7Everyday Hero Rich Mitchell has been the playwright for the last six years.
"He is a brilliant writer, especially if you like puns," said Michael Moore, pastor at the Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies.
Pastor Moore plays the villain in the play, Rusty Cannon. And Mitchell plays the marshal, Clint Westwood.
"The idea for the plays was actually an idea started by Ginger and Ivan Wilkinson," said Mitchell.
"I think it started because we wanted to do something for the community," said Wilkinson.
The melodramas are put on by Back Pew Productions at the Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies in Estes Park.
"Are they historically accurate? I have no reason to believe they are not," laughed Mitchell.
The original productions celebrate Estes Park, and pokes fun at some of the town’s controversies.
The often sell-out crowds get into the spirit by occasionally throwing popcorn at the actors. It is all in good, family fun, but the motivation behind the plays is serious business. All the proceeds help the community.
"Thanks to Rich this year four charities will benefit. One is Crossroads Ministry of Estes Park, which is my privilege to direct. There’s also Life Long Learning of Estes valley, which is a preschool. The Habitat for Humanity of the Saint Vrain Valley also benefits, as does the Estes Valley Restorative Justice Project," said Rev. Dr. Tim McLemore, Exec. Dir., Crossroads Ministry.
"We raised a little over $6,400 this year," said Mitchell.
Over the last eleven years the productions have provided more than $55,000 to charities.
"I think that’s pretty awesome that what we are doing helps the community so much," said actress Bailey Burke.
Townspeople age 10 to retirement have parts in the plays, which provides a unique inter-generational experience for everyone involved.
"I have done three plays with these girls now. They feel like my grandchildren," said actor Ron Ball.
But it is Rich Mitchell’s turn of phrase that brings everything together. Enough that the town of Estes recognized him recently. March 24 of this year was proclaimed Rich Mitchell Appreciation Day.
Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30 to 7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on 7NEWS. Follow Mitch on Facebook and Twitter. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.