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Author: Sabine Kortals

Sandoes have the Bard in their Boulder blood

Anne Sandoe may be the only actor in the world who has been cast to play age-appropriate Shakespearean roles from the time she was 6 and into her 60s.

She is the daughter of James Sandoe, who directed the first-ever play on Boulder’s famed Mary Rippon Amphitheatre in 1944. James Sandoe became a legendary figure at both the Colorado and Oregon Shakespeare festivals — and he took his wife and four children along for the whole theatrical ride.

Sam and Anne Sandoe, both familiar and familial members of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 acting company, now have 41 seasons between them. There are part of Boulder’s first family of theatre — a royal lineage that goes back 71 years.

For Anne, it all began when her father, who was a regular director in Oregon from 1948-68, cast her to appear in Henry VI, Part Two. She was 6.

“We used to get carted up to Ashland every summer starting in 1954,” she said. “And if they ever needed children in the shows, they would use us.”

The first roles Anne really remembers playing were in Henry VI, Part Three, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when she was 8. “I got murdered on stage as Rutland (York’s son), and then I played Mustard-seed (the littlest fairy) in Midsummer,” she said. “It was very exciting.” Her castmates included older sister Jill, who was 12, and brother John, who played a 14-year-old Puck. Sam was still swaddling.

James Sandoe was a University of Colorado professor, librarian, bibliographer and Shakespearean scholar who founded the CU International Film Series in 1941. He also had an interesting side passion: He was a renowned reviewer of mystery novels for the Chicago Sun-Times and New York Herald Tribune.

The Sandoe patriarch was asked to direct a play at CU in the summer of 1944, but because the Navy had taken over the University Theatre for the war effort back in 1939, Sandoe decided to try staging Romeo and Juliet in the newly built Mary Rippon. That began an annual tradition that became formalized when his friend, English professor Jack Crouch, officially founded the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1958.

James Sandoe directed nine seasons for Colorado Shakes between 1961 and 1973. There were seasons when he would direct two shows in the same summer, while acting in others alongside his children.

James Sandoe. “And while Jim Symons has directed the most Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions,” said Sam Sandoe, “no one has directed more productions of Shakespeare’s plays on the Mary Rippon stage than Dad. After 70 years, nobody has broken that record.”

The Sandoes clearly have the Bard in their Boulder blood.

“It’s just the way we grew up,” Anne Sandoe said. “Instead of going to camp in the summer, we went to Shakespeare. There are lots of people who are more well-read about Shakespeare than I. I have just been around it a lot more than most.”

Those Sandoe veins share pumping space with the University of Colorado. Like their father, Sam and Anne are longtime employees of the school. Anne has headed the Leeds School of Business’ MBA program for the past 13 years. Sam has logged nearly 20 years in the Office of Strategic Media Relations.

Read John Moore’s interview with the Sandoe siblings in its entirety (and see the slideshow) at Denver Centerstage.