“Native” exploring what it means to be a Coloradan

Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer
Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

It is theater season folks, and you don’t have to go far because there’s lots of good theater happening right here in Northern Colorado. This past weekend I saw “Native,” in its first week at Nonesuch Theater in Fort Collins. Haven’t been there? Nonesuch is located at 216 Pine Street, just off College Avenue between Walnut and Jefferson.

It was my first trip to Nonesuch, and this 49-seat theater is a real gem. The small lobby has a concession stand serving snacks, beer and wine. Three arches lead into the theater where the seating is arranged on an incline so there’s not a bad seat in the house.

I am a true fan of small theaters. Live theater is naturally intimate, and to watch it in a small theater adds to the overall atmosphere and makes me truly feel a part of the show.

In dialogue and song, “Native” comically explores what it means to be a Coloradoan. I attended the play with three girlfriends. Two of our group members are natives of Colorado, and two of us are transplants from the West Coast. After ordering snacks and glasses of wine, we found seats and settled in for the show.

The play was written by Nick Turner and Troy Schuh, neither are Colorado natives, but both have a good sense of humor. Turner is CEO of the Candlelight Dinner Theater in Johnstown and owner of Nonesuch. His wife, Gina Shuh-Turner is one of the stars of “Native.” The other three cast members are Mark Johnson, Camilla Johnson and Shane Curtiss Miller.

The play is a series of individual sketches performed by the four actors. Most of the sketches poke fun at Colorado stereotypes, those we embrace and those we dispute. There are sketches about Bronco obsession, our love/hate relationship with the great outdoors, the differences between natives and non-native, our predisposition to run red lights and so on and so forth. And of course, there’s mention of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

There were lots of laughs and nodding of heads throughout the play. Not every sketch was a homerun, but much of the script resonated with the audience. I had several favorite songs, including “What’s the Matter with Greeley” and a melody dedicated to John Elway that brought me to tears.

Before the play started, Nick Turner had informed the audience they were still rewriting some parts of the script and were seeking audience feedback (because the play was still officially in “preview” week, tickets were discounted).

After “Native” I had the chance to talk to the writers and actors and shared with them some of our group’s thoughts on the play. It was fun to be able to comment, especially on a play of this nature, being based on such a subjective topic. I’m not sure if they will implement any of our ideas, which included adding more difficult trivia to the “Are you Smarter than a Colorado Native” sketch, but it was still fun to chat with them.

“Native” is a great play to see with a group of friends or family, although the subject matter will probably go right over the heads of most children. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.nonesuchtheater.com.

HeidiTown Tips:

The Nonesuch is running a special deal with Rustic Oven, which includes a ticket to the show and dinner for $29.95 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets at Nonesuch are normally $20 to $29.50.

Don’t underestimate the fun of giving gift cards for live theater as Christmas presents. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, especially if you get to tag along to the play.


  1. Great review, especially since I’ve been curious about this theater for some time. I’m not a true native because I couldn’t convince my parents to move here until I was about 3, but I take embarrassing pride in our state and would probably love this show. I agree, small live theater is such a joy that I spend the first hour sitting there wondering why I don’t do it more often! Thanks, Heidi.


  2. It’s great that you get out and support this kind of thing. Reminds me that I’m overdue for a small theater show myself…
    P.S. Love the “insider tips” thing at the end of the post. That’s what’s up.


  3. I really hate to say this because I too am a lover of small theater. This is one of the worst shows I have ever seen. It bills itself as exploring the differences between natives and transplants. Unfortunately the skits were drawn out far too long and usually stretched a very subtle joke way too far. Other than the elway skit, it didn’t really explore topics that make Colorado unique. Lots of states have traffic problems, rapidly changing weather, mountains, rocky mountain oysters, snow. The writing was really subpar. The skits were not funny and there was no continuity. I’m still trying to figure out why the “when you love a place enough” song was in the play. This play could be good but it would take some serious reworking. The play doesn’t know if it is a comedy, drama, or broadway musical and it shows. I would be surprised if it plays longer than a few weeks.


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