Former Parker mayor back in the spotlight

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David Casiano was destined for the spotlight.

Having spent eight years as Parker’s mayor and another two as a town council member, Casiano has served as orator, decision-maker and, at times, referee. But it’s the drama of the stage that has beckoned him since his teen years in New York.

Casiano’s post-political life has him under his preferred spotlight; it’s where he is most comfortable. Within months of leaving office last December, he announced that he was starting his own theater production company, Café La Papa. Casiano quickly formed partnerships with the Parker Arts Council and director Amy Smith, and starred in “The Zoo Story.”

He also sat down with Elaine Mariner, a maven of the local theater scene and cultural director for the Town of Parker, and together they decided to create the “Off-PACE Theater District,” a place where more intimate plays can thrive. PACE refers to the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, a 530-seat venue that hosts larger, multi-actor productions on its main stage.

The “Off-PACE Theater District,” a take on the off-Broadway area in New York City, enables community groups, like the Parker Arts Council, to fill a niche for smaller shows at the Mainstreet Center and Parker Library.

“They require minimal sets, but we want them to be thought-provoking productions and we want to have the audience become part of what we’re doing on stage,” he says.

Casiano is the star of “Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned,” a one-man production about the famed labor attorney, at Deep Space Workplace and Events Center on Pikes Peak Drive. It will continue its run at 7 p.m. Oct. 19, and pick up again Nov. 2 and Nov. 9 for two added shows.

Casiano spent three months preparing for the role, researching Darrow’s manner of speaking and attire by reading books and watching a poor-quality video. When asked about parallels between actor and subject, Casiano says he shares the passion that Darrow demonstrated when defending his clients. The former mayor was well known for digging his heels in and delivering emotional speeches during discussions on topics near to his heart.

Casiano has been especially active with kids and teens, helping found an organization called Youth for Parker and teaching at Lutheran High School in Parker. His role as mentor is far from over: Casiano is again passing his skills to the next generation of great actors by teaching classes through Café La Papa and the Parker Arts Council, which recently elected him chairman of the board.

Casiano, now 64 years old and a supervisor at Comcast, says the transition back into theater has been easy. He dabbled in a few plays while serving as mayor, and has gone full bore since striking out on his own.

“I said, ‘What is it now I would truly like to accomplish? So, this was it,” he says, before ending in typical Casiano fashion. “What am I going to do, sit around and do nothing?”