Company Ink
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Company Ink

Band Comedy Cabaret


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"Bible Belt: Company Ink bites the apple in Ciao Eden!"

By Susan Froyd
Published: June 28, 2007
Kim Franco thinks big. Or, as it turns out, bigger than she thought: In the eight months that the former Cabaret Diosa songstress Franco and her Company Ink creative compadres spent shaping their new musical comedy, Ciao Eden!, the two-hour biblical-burlesque romp has taken on a life of its own. The show's running the show, with formidable assistance from co-author and producer Franco — who plays Eve in the updated tale of original sin — as well as musical director Brain Schey, director Casey Collins and co-star Liza Oxnard, cast as Serena the Snake. And audiences will have a chance to pronounce "Thumbs up!" when Eden debuts this weekend during three performances at the Dairy Center for the Arts.

"I'd never written or produced a play before, and I didn't know people don't do that in only eight months," Franco notes almost breathlessly, caught up in the show's psychic dynamism, an inherent "magic" that's left her cast feeling as if the red carpet's already been rolled out. But even an elated Franco knows it's a long path to Broadway: Her long-range plans include relentless fundraising, a tour and maybe more.

In theory, Eden's old-fashioned modernity — the production utilizes circusy, vaudevillian elements and a hot live band — is what makes it hip, and not unlike the Oz story in Wicked, the Adam and Eve yarn's an already-good story that can certainly be improved upon. "It's definitely not your King James version," Franco says of her fresh take. "Come get the real story!"
- Westword Magazine

"Image Magazine: Stage Advice"

wordplay: Billy Schear

Glitter-coated muses, homoerotic overtones, and flesh-colored leotards serve to remind me just how fun Bible study could be, if only a subtle bit of interpretational drama was injected into it.

Upon entering the theater, one is greeted by a large metal tree with three young ladies napping in the shimmering braches, on top of a stage littered with passed out folk singers. I thought to myself: “Grand! This is exactly the way I pictured the Garden of Eden when reading about it in Sunday school.” Upon the dimming of the lights, the minstrels rose from their slumber and began sleepily playing their instruments. Initially, this stirred up some negative feelings, unexplainable save for my innate fear of Boulder musicians. It was a delight, however, that the band turned out to be talented and it was all the more enjoyable when the lights went up and they blended into the backstage area, remaining there as the house band throughout the duration of the show.

Somewhat of a Biblical cabaret, “Ciao Eden” follows the story of Adam and Eve as they stylistically explore one another’s sexuality like a couple of clumsy teenagers. They timidly flirt with one another throughout most of the first act before, as one might guess, they eat from the tree of knowledge and embark on one of those journeys into self-awareness that fortunately leads to a silhouette sex show that’s pretty close to hilarious. Despite how pedantic the idea might sound, the enthusiasm of the actors really helps in selling this musical. The all around level of performance is quite impressive, each and every actor, including those in the background, exuding a large share of adorableness that made it impossible not to smile and pay undivided attention. And Brian Shey’s musical compositions appropriately capture the mood of each and every scene quite perfectly.

The songs helped the story along, in so far as a catchy upbeat play nearly demands its performers burst out into song when simple dialogue can’t cut it. The singing was handled well by a cadre of silk tonsiled vocalists, making it quite easy on the ears. Lyrically, the songs were pretty hip too. I suppose they’d to be to have a large portion of the audience singing the jams from the first act out loud in the lobby during intermission.

Casey Collins’ direction of the living tree, muses and interpretive dancers culminates into a surprisingly coherent tale, and Liza Oxnard’s portrayal of Serena the infamous serpent is just as entrancing as it’s meant to be. The homosexually suggestive banter between her and Eve is reminiscent of a Pee-wee Herman stand-up special on the surface, perhaps a bit risqué but mostly innocent and cute. However, bubbling beneath is a certain sinister quality that is difficult to isolate, an analogy that also seems to fit the play as a whole. Only one question remains unanswered--on a stage with so many bare feet running around, how did they address the problem of foot fungus?
- Image Magazine

"Young theater company tries to give new life to an old, old story"

By Tyera Eulberg
Friday, June 29, 2007

Adam, Eve, the Garden, the Fall—the Biblical story of the birth of humanity has been retold for thousands of years. And as anyone in a Shakespeare production will tell you, it’s not easy to impress with a story everyone already knows. Nevertheless, Company Ink tries to make the Creation story new again through energy and sheer force of will.

Ciao Eden! follows Adam and Eve from their days of innocence in the Garden of Eden on a loud and lascivious journey to the end of their paradise when they taste the apples of the Tree of Knowledge. Company Ink recalls its traditions as a cabaret-style troupe, structuring this first-ever theatrical musical like a revue. Song and dance alternate with dialog and action.

The music frequently departs from the typical Broadway style—the most memorable pieces are a gypsy waltz and West African drumming. Kim Franco is capable—she plays Eve and is Company Ink’s headlining vocalist, as she was for the late, lamented Cabaret Diosa. But the jazz number by Serena the Snake (our original temptress and villain, played by Liza Oxnard) really enlivens the first act.

With minimalist costumes and sets, and a steel Tree of Life and Knowledge, Company Ink strives to update Eden in our gritty modern era. The Tree succeeds—green-clad Serena winds herself into the framework, evoking both a convincing snake and a trap ready to spring shut. Otherwise, “modern” means garish. The extremely loud sound system and writhing dancers give Ciao Eden! all the subtlety of a circus tent.

On the one hand, the production doesn’t take itself too seriously, offering up groan-worthy one-liners as well as a vigorous shadow-play sex scene after the First Couple eat from the Tree of Life. Yet the dark, heavy scenes as Eve learns about fear, pain and anger, plus several minutes of Eve crying onstage, suggest that Company Ink means it to be very somber indeed.

Then, even the most archetypal characters flip-flop. The Snake, for example, is hissing and hostile one moment and Eve’s caring confidante the next. Meanwhile, the esoteric Muses mystify more than inspire (like Serena in the play, I too wondered what the Muses were supposed to do). The result is a mish-mash of tones and themes, leaving the audience perplexed as to how to feel. Should we feel sorry for Eve? Are we proud of her self-actualization? Or should we feel trapped and uncomfortable about the fatalism of it all? I almost miss the rigid “Good and Evil” moral pronouncements of the Biblical version.

Yet Adam and Eve are ultimately the same Adam and Eve we’ve always known. “Man,” enters with a primal roar, focusing on the “biggest and juiciest” fruit. “Woman” sins, forcing Adam to eat the apple too. Company Ink tells us the same familiar story. But with in-your-face enthusiasm and one jazzy little orchestra, the young cast of Ciao Eden! certainly makes you listen.
- Boulder Magazine

"2006 Best of Denver"

White Christmas Holiday Revue
St. Julien Hotel
"There's something magically Christmasy about standing out in the snow and pushing your nose against the glass of a ritzy hotel to see satin-clad girls crooning retro Irving Berlin classics by the fire. In this wonderland setting, former Cabaret Diosa dancing girl Kim Franco and her crack troupe of old compadres performed live in the lobby of the boutique-y St. Julien on Sunday evenings during last year's holiday season. The '40s-era extravaganza was inspired, and admission was free. It is a wonderful life." - Westword Magazine

"Cabaret Diosa's Kim Franco debuts new musical at the Dairy Center"

By Mark Collins
Friday June 22, 2007

It's been eight months since Kim Franco led a mambo line on stage at the Boulder Theater. But that doesn't mean the former frontwoman for Cabaret Diosa has been taking a break from singing, dancing and writing.

Since Boulder's favorite party band played its final gig just before last Halloween, Franco has been reaching back to her roots — musical theater.

She starred in a musical revue with a holiday theme in December at the St. Julien Hotel. Now Franco and several of her cohorts — under the production group Company Ink — have co-written a musical called "Ciao Eden!," which receives its premiere Friday at Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts.

The musical is a twist on the Adam and Eve story from the Bible. Franco plays Eve, the woman who, against God's wishes, eats an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. The musical, which promises to be steamy and funny, decadent and danceable, also reflects Franco's life, she said.

"The idea sprang from my experience of moving to Boulder from Houston," Franco said. "I had a staunch Catholic, very conservative upbringing in Houston. And I moved here and experienced an awakening much like Eve experiences."

In this version of the Adam and Eve story, Adam is sympathetic to Eve's desire to explore what's beyond the boundaries in the Garden. And, Franco said, God is not the angry deity portrayed in the Old Testament.

"Above everything, it's a comedy — much like my life," she said.

Franco acted in musicals at Houston's Theatre Under The Stars when she was a child. Later, she earned a degree in audio engineering from Sam Houston State. She was living in Houston when she heard about an audition for a Latin-flavored dance band in the exotic locale of Boulder, Colorado. That was in 1996.

"I flew out here on a whim and thought why not? I'll take a ski trip, do this audition and (if it doesn't work out) it was a great vacation,'" she said. "I ended up moving out here two weeks after my audition."

Over the next decade, Cabaret Diosa rode the retro-swing and new-Latin music wave from coast to coast, making a name as much for the spectacle the band created in its live shows as its music.

"Ciao Eden!" has allowed Franco to rub shoulders with a number of local performing artists she'd long admired, but never had the time to work with. That includes Liza Oxnard (Zuba and The Liza Band), who co-wrote some of the songs, sings and plays guitar in the show; and multi-octave vocalist Casey Collins, who sings and serves as stage director.

Brian Schey is the main composer and musical director for "Ciao Eden!" It's not uncommon for a musical to sample a range of styles in its score, but "Ciao Eden!" pushes that to the extreme, Schey said.

It's set in the Garden of Eden, but the music reaches near and far. It includes Middle-Eastern, electronica, ragtime, tango, barroom two-beat, circus macabre waltz, 1940s big band, klezmer and West African beats.

Schey drew on Boulder's rich base of musicians in putting together the show's nine-piece band.

"We're going to have a blowout at the end after our bows where we go out into the audience and have a huge drum circle," Schey said. "There are so many amazing drummers that have studied these different styles in Boulder. This is where we're strong. Boulder's not strong with the rock 'n' roll, but Boulder's really strong with all these people in African dance and drumming."

Following the debut in Boulder, Company Ink plans to use Cabaret Diosa contacts in Colorado and New Mexico and take "Ciao Eden!" on a 14-city tour over the next year and a half. If all goes as planned, Franco wants to stage it in Chicago and Los Angeles, and eventually New York City.

Contact Camera Theater Critic Mark Collins at 303-473-1369 or - Daily Camera

"Franco's Follies: Have a White Christmas at the St. Julien Hotel"

by Susan Froyd

Anyone familiar with the polished, vampy, retro shtick of the late Cabaret Diosa won't be suprised to know that Kim Franco, who sang and danced with the ensemble, is right back in the thick of it this holiday season with her own Company Ink show band. A Boulder all-star aggregate featuring former Franco bandmates and more, the troupe will present the St. Julien Hotel Holiday Revue, a classy 1940s-style show in the equally classy hotel lobby.
"I've always had an affection for '40s music and fashions, so I really wanted to put something together that would also fit in well with the elegance of the St. Julien," Franco says of the spur-of-the-moment venture, which debuts tonight at 5pm and continues with performances on Sunday evenings through Christmas Eve. Along with the timeless songs of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins, the extravaganza includes lots of big dance numbers, four-part a capella singing, lush-life period costuming and consummate musicianship all around - and, to boot, it's free. That's right: You don't pay a dime to enjoy the show. "I see it as this fantastical glamourous thing that will pull people- literally- in from the street," Franco enthuses.
We'll be there. How about you? - Westword Magazine


The "Ciao Eden!" video trailer, audio trailer, and three .mp3 tracks are available for promotional purposes.



Company Ink, a captivating performance collective specializing in tailored thematic shows and original musical theater, presents the world premiere of their first full length original musical “Ciao Eden!” Inspired by her decade long tenure performing nationally and internationally with Cabaret Diosa, Kim Franco stars in this intrepid, risqué and comical production on tour throughout Colorado in 2008.

Daring, steamy and hilarious “Ciao Eden!” is a modern day revival of the tale of Adam and Eve. This musical comedy features Eve on her quest towards self-awareness. Witness as she tastes of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, embarking on an expansive odyssey of hilarity and humanity.

From opium den burlesque to circus macabre, from gypsy klesmer to West African high-life, “Ciao Eden!” showcases an all-star live band, under the direction of Composer and Musical Director Brian Schey. Employing revolutionary theatrical techniques including 360-degree video projection, “Ciao Eden!” will have audiences dancing in the aisles and demanding clothing optional zones across the globe.

In addition to Franco’s spirited portrayal of Eve, nationally recognized performance artist Liza Oxnard of Zuba and The Liza Band brings an endearing twist to the shrewd and scintillating character Serena, The Snake. Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards nominee Casey Collins offers his sublime multi-octave voice and exceptional theatrical direction to make this production a dazzling psychoacoustic journey of the senses.

Join Company Ink for the re-telling of the world’s most ancient love story, “Ciao Eden!”.