‘Kimberly Akimbo’ enters a different world

Suttle experiences life with rare disease

Linda Suttle of Littleton will play the lead role in “Kimberly Akimbo” at the Bug Theatre, Jan. 24-Feb. 15.
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Accomplished playwright David Lindsey-Abaire is recognized for his ability to lead his audiences into the minds of the somewhat quirky personalities he creates. Kimberly Akimbo is one of those: she is a teen-aged girl afflicted with progeria syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disease that makes the body age prematurely.

Akimbo has to deal with normal teen ups and downs, a 70-year-old body and in addition, a wildly dysfunctional family and young love. Linda Suttle says it’s a dream role for her — one of several in her sights as a mature actor.

Suttle, who grew up in Littleton — attending East Elementary School, Euclid Middle School and Arapahoe High School — has worked for the Littleton Police Department by day for 27 years as Victims Services Coordinator, which means she has frequent insights into personalities that function at different levels.

“It’s a demanding job,” she said, “trying to help crime victims, stay on top of what’s out there, meeting with colleagues…” Evenings and weekends, however, have often been focused on theater — as actor and director.

One has to conclude that her interpersonal skills contribute to her ability to bring Lindsey-Abaire’s unique character to the stage, under the direction of Equinox Theatre Company’s Deb Flomberg.

Despite Kimberly’s messy family, with a con-artist aunt, alcoholic father and hypochondriac mother, Kimberly slowly gains control of her life — but she’s dying. Sixteen is as long as people usually live with this disease.

“It’s a long time since I’ve really loved a character — it’s heartbreaking,” Suttle said.
Suttle said her first step in finding out what it’s like to be a 16-year-old girl today was to go to the mall and observe mannerisms: “they all have sleeves pulled over their hands, play with their hair and are constantly on their phones,” she said.

She is excited about the skills of her fellow cast members — some are new acquaintances.

“The play is beautifully written — a perky, fun show,” she said.

Her next theater project will be directing “Lobby Hero” at the Vintage Theatre, an exciting challenge.

If you go:

“Kimberly Akimbo” produced by Equinox Theatre Company, plays at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St. in Denver's Highlands, from Jan. 24 to Feb. 15, including a special “spend Valentine's Day with Kim” performance that will include champagne and chocolates. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets: $22, $20 advance: EquinoxTheatreDenver.com, 720-984-0781.
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