If there is one thing you can be sure of in Colorado, it is that there is a surprise around every corner. It could be that the state is one of the world’s premier sites for dinosaur trails, it might be that the highest sand dunes in North America are here, or perhaps that the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado have in their midsts a treasure trove of board-treading thespians and all the talented technical staff needed to bring big budget Broadway musicals to life in the Rockies
Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater
Founded in 1966 as The Troupe of American College Players, theater came and went from Grand Lake over the years until 1995 when it returned for good. More changes came over the next 15 years until a new theater space opened in 2011 after fundraising efforts brought in over $5 million.
Today the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre uses only professional actors with the addition of some college students that study theater. They hold auditions in Denver, Memphis, Chicago and New York to find the 25 actors and 25 supporting professionals for the summer season. Those auditions sometimes unearth talent that goes on to star on Broadway and beyond.
This summer season, the RMRT will put on “Sister Act,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Always...Patsy Cline” and “Disaster!” The summer season at RMRT runs from June to September and is on a repertory schedule.
For New Years Eve, the theater puts on a special alumni show for which they pull from past actors.
Creede Repertory Theatre
The Creede Repertory Theatre have a year-round staff of just eight people, but in the summer that number swells to almost 100 when seasonal staff - actors, directors, designers, production staff, auxiliary education staff and patron services staff - join the team for the summer season. Casting calls are put out in November and the rest of the winter is spent gathering the summer company from all over the US.
While the CRT brings in all kinds of people from all over the country, there are some stalwarts. Actor Christy Brandt is one of them, having acted with the company for over 40 years. She will be one of the leads in “Ripcord” this year, and she will be joined by local Annie Butler who will take the lead opposite Brandt in the play.
Visitors to the CRT come from across the US (indeed they have had visitors from just about every state in the Union at one time or another), but it is particularly popular with surrounding areas and states.
The CRT had an impressive 125 shows in 2018, but not content with that, they will have over 130 in 2019 including performances of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Ripcord,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Hazardous Materials” as well as Boomtown Improv Comedy and The KID Show.
This year, the season opens on May 31 with a season poster unveiling, a party in the lobby, and the premiere of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
Lake Dillon Theatre Company
This year is a milestone for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, but it is also celebrating its second full season in the beautiful Silverthorne Performing Arts Center.
At nearly 16,000 square feet, it is the largest new construction theater in the state. The complex is home to numerous public indoor and outdoor spaces that will be utilized for all kinds of events such as summer music and theater performances. The spaces will also be available for hire for weddings and community programs. The indoor lobby will host art exhibitions and short preperformance programs.
The $9 million project is a result of a public/private partnership between the Town of Silverthorne and the Lake Dillon Theatre Company and it is the latest project in Silverthorne’s strategic vision to further establish the town as a vibrant cultural hub.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the LDTC has announced an impressive lineup of shows with the theme “connection.” The season will kick-off on March 15 with a production of “The Cake,” a new comedy from the Emmy-winning writer of NBC’s “This is Us,” Bekah Brunstetter and continues with “Tell Me On A Sunday,” “Mama Mia!” and “Every Brilliant Thing.”
Thingamajig Theatre, a nonprofit company in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, also brings in professionals from across the country for their Broadway in the Mountain Summer Season which runs from May to mid-September. Casting calls are conducted in Denver, New York City and Memphis, and professional performers descend on the small town to take part in a variety of five repertory musicals including “Mamma Mia,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Jekyll and Hyde” for 2019.
Thingamajig also offers educational opportunities for children through classes and camps and it holds a variety of plays and musicals throughout the rest of the year, too.
The Thingamawhos is an educational program for teens that offers them the chance to work alongside professionals to learn the ropes.
Thingamajig’s summer season runs between May and Sept.15 and starts with “Ring of Fire” and will be followed by “Mama Mia.”
On top of the theaters that make up the Colorado Mountain Theater Tour route, there are dozens of other theater production companies West of 105. Below is a small sampling of them. Stay tuned as we cover more amazing community theaters in Colorado.
Thunder River Theatre Company started 23 years ago and has been at its current location for the last 13. It offers four productions in its main season as well as an annual production geared towards a younger audience.
After a successful first half of the 2018-19 season with “Equus” and “Kimberly Akimbo,” the second half of the season, from Feb. 21 to June 29, will feature “Of Mice and Men” and “Tribes.”
In March the TRTC will also present Consensual Improv and a “Cabaret Performance Workshop” with the former being in the style of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and the latter being performed by workshop participants. Also in March, the company will head to the Collective Snowmass, a new community hub at the heart of Snowmass Base Village, to perform a cabaret production called “A Day of Sky.” The TRTC will host its annual gala on May 4 at the Orchard in Carbondale.
The group also reaches out to the community in several ways. One outreach effort to the Hispanic community are the Dia de Los Muertos performances.
Originally founded as the Theatre Under the Jerome (because it was housed in the basement of the historic Hotel Jerome), the group eventually left due to renovation work. Eventually, permission was given to use a small plot of land used as a snow dump by the Rio Grande Trail. A second-hand circus tent was purchased and erected during the summer months, and the Aspen Theatre Company was essentially born. In 2005, the company became Theatre Aspen and the rest is history.
This year, Theatre Aspen will kick off its summer season with the Tony Award-winning musical “Guys and Dolls” which will be directed by Tony Award-nominee Hunter Foster who returns to Theatre Aspen for his second summer. “Little Shop of Horrors” and “God of Carnage” will also feature this summer.
Theatre Aspen’s Summer Conservatory will also present a student production of “The Wizard of Oz.” All Theatre Aspen productions take place in the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park.
Formed in 2011 as the result of a merger between the Telluride Repertory Theater and the SquidShow Theater, the former being known for community productions of existing plays while the latter was known for more avant-garde work, Telluride Theatre has since become an innovative nonprofit model that aims to grow Telluride into a recognized destination for theater.
The company is proud of many of its achievements, among them that it pays most of its artists, but another thing that they are also rightly proud of are the efforts to keep ticket prices low so as to be as accessible as possible. Some tickets are given away while they max out at around $25 with fundraising events being understandably more.
Each year, the season in Telluride starts in March, and this year there will be six main stage productions. Opening March 6 with “Since I Dreamed,” an original production that is part theater, part dance and part installation art and running through March 15, it is, they say, “unlike anything you have ever dreamed.”
Then there is a burlesque show at the end of March which also happens to be
the group’s biggest fundraiser. The event takes place at the historic Sheridan Opera House where they first had burlesque in the early 1900s.
July sees the Midsummer Night’s Gala, a secret party with a secret location that includes a performance and an auction with food and drinks, as well as Shakespeare in the Park which takes place on the stage at the Town Park. This season it is the “Tempest.”
Telluride Theatre doesn’t have a permanent venue, instead they utilize several venues around town including the Palm Theater, the Sheridan Opera House and the Town Hall Stage.
Crested Butte Mountain Theatre
Born in the summer of 1972 by an enthusiastic group of people who wanted their community to provide some of its own culture, “Dark of the Moon” was the first performance of Crested Butte Mountain Theatre and it was played out against the backdrop of a full moon rising from behind Crested Butte Mountain. In the intervening period, CBMT has survived and thrived, and although they have added state of the art lighting in a newly-designed theater, that original enthusiasm is still the main driving force.
In the 40 year history of the company they have produced over 200 plays and each one has been centered in the community. In fact, the CBMT does as much as it can to encourage as many people as possible to get involved, whether that be as an actor, writer, director, dancer, artist, musician or technician.
Through its Arts in Education Program, CBMT is committed to bringing Crested Butte’s next generation into the theater. Youth theater programs are aimed at exposing children to a wide range of ideas and experiences while ensuring future participation in the theater both on and off the stage.
This season will see the CBMT once again put on a raft of shows including the Teens on Stage production of “She Kills Monsters” and the Ten Minute Play Festival.
Find this article in the Spring 2019 issue here