Ed Reinhardt Singing in Local Musical Production

Ed Reinhardt played football for Colorado before a devastating injury suffered during a game at Oregon in 1984. Ed is currently singing and acting in a theater production of the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in Denver.

Sitting on a couch in the backstage hallway of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Ed Reinhardt doesn't say much, though his eyes reveal he's listening to the conversation and understanding.

When the subject of singing comes up, however, Ed's smile brightens and he bursts into a song about a father rushing to see his boy's baseball game called "Heroes." He doesn't stop there. It's as if he's been wanting in on the conversation, and now it's his turn to add his two cents. He breaks out a verse from the title song to the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles."

Later that night, Ed and 26 castmates will run through a pick-up rehearsal for the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which is playing at the DCPA's Space Theatre through July 31.

For those unfamiliar with Ed's story, he was a member of former CU coach Bill McCartney's legendary 1983 recruiting class. Along with Eric McCarty, Jon Embree, Barry Helton, Curt Koch, David Tate, Sam Smith and a handful of others, Ed was a star football player in the state of Colorado who eschewed offers to play at big-time programs elsewhere and instead came to CU. The class laid the foundation for the remarkable turnaround the program experienced in the 1980s.

In 1984, Ed, a towering 6-foot-7 tight end, started the fall with a bang, hauling in 10 receptions against Michigan State. The following Saturday, Sept. 15, 1984, Ed suffered a severe brain injury on a routine tackle by two Oregon Ducks players when his head hit the turf. The collision caused a blood vessel in the front left of his brain to burst, and Ed spent the next 62 days in a coma.

Ed Reinhardt, 40, a former Colorado Buffalo is performing in the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." (Courtesy PHAMALy)

The gripping details of Ed and his remarkable family's ordeal have been well documented in media stories since that day. And Ed's father, Ed Sr., has written a powerful testimonial book, titled "You're OK, Kid!" that give further insight into those harrowing days in Eugene, Ore. Mostly, though, Ed Sr.'s book details his own search for connection with his father, a man who had deserted his family when Ed Sr. was 9 years old. Ed Sr. writes with honesty — nothing is sugarcoated — and I encourage everyone to follow the link at the end of this page to read more about the book and about Ed Jr.'s recovery.

These days, the two Eds form an inspirational speaking team — Team Reinhardt. They travel and speak to groups "who want to turn obstacles in life into opportunities for growth." Ed Sr. — a natural storyteller — talks about his relationship with his father and about how he found peace with him via the tragedy his son endured. Ed Jr. sings his heart out.

"No way did we ever think what we'd be doing what we're doing today — traveling and talking and singing," Ed Sr. says.

Ed Jr.'s injury affected the part of Ed's brain that involves speaking. Ed's sharp intellect is intact; he can understand what is transpiring around him. But he struggles with responding verbally. Remarkably, the part of Ed's brain that controls singing wasn't harmed. He discovered during a therapy session soon after he emerged from the coma that he could still carry a tune. Words and notes flow out of him better than most when he breaks into song.

Some of Ed's favorite songs to sing are "Love Without End," "Thank God For Kids" and the comedy tune "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda."

Most recently Team Reinhardt has been making its way to the DCPA for rehearsals and performances in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. (Webber also wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats.") It's produced by the Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League (PHAMALy). The company has been in Denver for 16 years, and each of the actors in the show lives with a disability — cerebral palsy, blindness, bipolar disorder, among them.

The show opened July 22. I saw the performance the following night. For those who don't know, I have a background in theater and have seen roughly 500 plays in my life, often as a theater critic. PHAMALy's "Joseph" is among the best productions I've ever witnessed.

Leonard Barrett Jr. as the Narrator in PHAMALy's "Joseph." (Courtesy PHAMALy)

While the actors live with disabilities, it's their abilities that are on full display in the uplifting musical. It's taken from the Old Testament story about Joseph, whose brothers grew jealous of their father's love for him and sold him into slavery.

PHAMALy's version of the two-hour musical is performed brilliantly. The show, with its themes of hope, forgiveness and overcoming obstacles, is always entertaining, and, in moments, just plain stunning. Ed has a small ensemble role, and sings with the chorus on most of the numbers. He also plays an Ismailite, and has a line he proudly says in the play. (Follow some of the links to reviews below to read more about the musical.)

Each night, the Eds take the light rail train from Littleton, where they live, to the theater in downtown Denver. Ed Sr. helps out backstage with costume changes for one of the blind actors who has a big role in the play.

Three of Eds four brothers (he also has a sister who graduated from CU) played Division I football. Ed Jr. still follows the Buffs, and the Reinhardts make it to a couple of games a year.

As our conversation comes to a close at the theater, I ask Ed about the Buffs. His smile beams as wide as when he's singing, and he lets me know he'll be following them closely this fall.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 31, also 7:30 p.m. July 25
WHERE: PHAMALy, Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 13th and Curtis streets, Denver,
COST: $25
CONTACT: (303) 893-4100 or www.phamaly.org

Link to Reviews of show Ed is in:

Daily Camera Review: Camera

Denver Post Review: Post

Colorado Backstage Review: Colorado Backstage

Link to Team Reinhardt home page, including stories about Ed's injury and recovery and the book "You're OK, Kid!": www.YoureOKKid.com

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