Whether they’re tossed aside carelessly or discarded maliciously, some pieces of history just get lost.
Like the story of Florence Molloy and Mabel MacLeay, who came to Boulder after World War I and started a taxi service out of the Boulderado Hotel. With impeccable driving records and the lowest rates in town, the women were wildly successful — but once the men got back from the war, they essentially ran the Molloy-MacLeay taxicab company out of town.
These and other lesser known characters from the Centennial State’s history are the subjects of the album Discount Ghost Stories: Colorado. With music and lyrics written by Alexander Sage Oyen (Diva: Live from Hell, OUTLAWS), the collection of 15 folk-rock show tunes originated in an innovative theatrical production of the same name, presented last summer by Local Theater Company.
On Monday, Dec. 21 — the winter solstice — Local Theater Company will host a virtual listening party for the recently recorded album as a part of its Living Room Local Series, featuring performances and interviews with Front Range favorites and Broadway performers including Erik Fellenstein (Indecent, DCPA), Raymond J. Lee (Groundhog Day, Broadway), Maggie McKenna (Dear Evan Hansen, first national tour), Jakob Reinhardt, Oyen, George Salazar (Be More Chill, Broadway) and more. The Living Room Local audience will also get the chance to participate in a variety of games and a winter solstice ritual.
“At Local, we’re very much interested in adding to and expanding the American story,” says Pesha Rudnick, Local’s founding artistic director. “And when we initially started exploring this particular project, we kept asking the question, who had been left out of Colorado history?”
There were people like Clara Brown (“probably the most well-known, lesser-known character,” Rudnick concedes), a former enslaved woman from Virginia who became one of Colorado’s first black pioneers and successful entrepreneurs.
There’s Look Young, a 28-year-old Chinese immigrant who was beaten and hanged during an anti-Chinese riot that broke out in Denver’s Chinatown (“Hop Alley” was in what is now LoDo) on Oct. 31, 1880. For years Young was misidentified as Sing Lee.
Clifford Griffin, a miner in Silver Plume, took his own life after his fiancée unexpectedly passed away on the eve of their wedding. Legend has it, Griffin would play violin on the front steps of his cabin to honor his dearly departed.
Blending the sounds of early 20th century pop music with contemporary Top 40 genres and soaring Broadway sensibilities, Discount Ghost Stories playfully brings these forgotten stories to life.
Local’s Associate Artistic Director Nick Chase says the listening party will have “a little more of a party vibe to it” than the theatrical showing last year, “and that’s intentional.”
“This is a chance for us to hear these amazing songs, and then also acknowledge that this has been a really challenging year,” Chase says. “And it being the winter solstice, it’s the longest side of the year, but it’s also the point at which the Northern hemisphere begins to tip toward the sun and longer days are ahead. And we’re hopeful that is a metaphor for what we as human beings will experience the coming year.”