Theater: Play puts men under study

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The differences between men and women have long been known, but it’s not very often those differences are set to music.

“Nimroddes (Men): An Educational Musical Comedy for Women” does just that.

The musical is based on the book “Nimroddes (Men): A Field Guide for Women,” written and illustrated by Arvada residents LaRonna DeBraak and Lorry Pearson. DeBraak wrote the play script and lyrics as well.

“The play is about a couple of women who decide in high school that their major in college is going to be the study of the human male species,” DeBraak said. “They decide, even though it will take them 30 years to finish a PhD and actually learn about the male species, that they’re going to go for it.”

DeBraak and Pearson play the two women — Ronnie and Lorry — from their time in high school through years of research to become a serious research scientist and a mad scientist co-conducting seminars together about the purpose of the male species, as they call them, the Nimroddes.

In the play, the characters discover and discuss 10 of the 36 types of men mentioned in the book — the chickity, the dimwit, the fudknuckle, the wackadoodle, the gadget, the lumuc, the straight-lace, the master-lie, the gigolo and flamfidant.

“I went through the history of different men I dated and people I know that Lorry dated and has been married to and decided, ‘My goodness, there’s a lot of material,’ so I just started categorizing them all out like a field guide,” DeBraak said.

The idea for the play came to DeBraak in the middle of the night, she said, as a way to help Pearson, her friend of more than 30 years, heal after a tragedy.

Six years ago, Pearson’s daughter died following a drug overdose and Pearson became depressed.

“I had always been an artist,” Pearson said. “I didn’t pick up a brush, I couldn’t pick up a pencil. I didn’t do anything. That’s why (LaRonna) asked that night what we can do for something together and that’s when I started painting again.”

Working together on the book, and now the play, helped Pearson heal, and it also helped both women reflect on their own lives and relationships.

“Writing it was good therapy because you start realizing the relationships you’ve been in, good or bad, you learn something from every single of them that helps you grow and develop as a person,” DeBraak said.

DeBraak and Pearson said they hope the play will help others as well.

“I think by seeing it and realizing relationships are all about growth, once you look at it that way, it’s empowering, it really is,” DeBraak said. “You realize how resilient you are, how strong you are and it helps you become a better person when you actually evaluate your own life.”

The evaluation of the male species, though, doesn’t come without some humor and laughter as Ronnie and Lorry spend their lives trying to figure out and classify the - quite possibly infinite - number of Nimroddes.

“Normally when you see things that are comedies, they’re not that funny,” Pearson said. “But when we say this is a comedy, it’s really, really funny. You can’t make the audience laugh, but you can allow them the privilege of laughing, and that’s what we’re doing here. We’re letting them go hysterically mad with laughter.”

Between laughs, the audience will hear 15 songs that will make them want to sing and dance, DeBraak said.

Though “Nimroddes” is an educational comedy musical for women, men can enjoy it too.

“A lot of men have read the play and they’ve all recognized their friends in it, and some actually said they noticed part of themselves in it,” DeBraak said. “I can’t see men not thinking it’s funny because they’ll see themselves and others in it.”

“Nimroddes” premiered at the Arvada Festival Playhouse, 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., July 12.

“Nimroddes (Men): An Educational Musical Comedy for Women” is showing at 7 p.m. Friday, July 19 and 26 and Saturday, July 20 and 27 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 21 and 28.

Tickets are $18 for Friday and Saturday shows and $15 for Sunday matinees. Tickets are available online at www.Nimroddes.eventbrite.com or at the Festival Playhouse.

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