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Buntport does Titus from a van

Macbeth has a body count of five, Hamlet totals out at eight, but with a whopping 14 dead, Shakespeare's biggest bloodbath occurs in the epic Titus Andronicus.

Set in ancient Rome, Shakespeare's first tragedy is a convoluted tale of betrayal and revenge. Its most remarked-upon feature is the dish that Titus, the returned Roman general, serves Tamara Queen of the Goths: a pie filled with parts of her mutilated sons.

The Buntport Theater will try to camp this 400-year-old death-fest up a notch by transforming the tragedy into a musical with hillbillified costumes. The seven-member collaborative came to the decision partly for utilitarian reasons.

According to company member Brian Colonna, The Buntport received an old van as a donation, but it turned out to be too expensive to insure. So they decided to use it as a prop. It followed (logically?) that music wafting from the van's stereo system would ... well, let's just say they decided to make Titus into a musical and use the van as the central prop. As such, the Titus soundtrack will feature a combination of original music and lip-synched shtick from the likes of Bobby Darrin and Britney Spears (i.e., "Oops I Did it Again" after one of the many murders), all of which is piped out of the van's stereo system.

The Buntport Theater is a Denver-based company composed of Colorado College graduates who are quickly gaining a reputation for producing some of the best original theater in the state. Its productions are entirely collaborative with each member pitching in on writing, directing and producing.

Colonna says the company became interested in Titus due to the inherent challenge of lightening up a play that is usually performed with the utmost solemnity.

"I think it played as a kind of slasher film for people at the time," said Colonna, who's sure to add that the company has made provisions for blood to squirt all over the McHugh Commons plaza.

Fine Arts Center fans of Broadway leftovers take heed: This is no Damn Yankees. It's just damn bloody.

-- John Dicker

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