Theater news: Vintage completes $1 million purchase

Photo by John Moore

 

By John Moore

The 11-year-old Vintage Theatre has completed the nearly $1 million purchase of its new home in Aurora, and immediately announced plans to expand its programming, performance spaces and collaborations with other local companies.

Vintage has purchased the 190-seat theater complex at 1468 Dayton St., originally opened in 2008 as the Shadow Theatre and most recently known as the Dayton Street Theatre, from Cornerstone Equity of Aurora. Vintage took occupancy in April, and is currently offering “The Inspector General” on a mainstage theater that is about to get some company.

The two-part epic “The Cider House Rules,” playing on alternating nights, will christen an accompanying new 70-seat studio theater on Sept. 7. The new space has been carved out of what used to be backstage rehearsal and banquet rooms. Artistic director and co-founder Craig Bond also plans to offer live, late-night cabaret entertainment on a new raised stage in the theater’s existing lobby. A liquor license hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.  Comedy and live music programming begins there Aug. 24.

Bond said having both mainstage and studio theaters will allow Vintage to offer live theater virtually every weekend of the year. Toward that end, he has aligned with two nascent companies — TEA, or Theatre Esprit Asia, and the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre. TEA is a collective of local actors that formed out of Vintage’s recent staging of “The Joy Luck Club.” TEA will debut at Vintage in October with the first of two planned annual offerings, while Nicki Runge’s RMDT, which uses deaf actors and voice interpreters, will take residency at Vintage in October with its staging of Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s).”

Vintage solidified its artistic reputation with quality productions like “Angels in America,” “Equus” and a four-star “Avenue Q” at its 60-seat home at 17th Avenue and Vine Street. But not only has the capacity of its primary performance space now tripled, the company’s monthy expenses have quadrupled — from $2,000 at its former home to $8,000 in mortgage and utilities alone.

And growth has come at a great personal cost as well: Last month, the board voted to part ways with general manager and company co-founder Deb Laureta, saving the company about $2,400 a month. Bond has taken on Laureta’s duties on a unpaid basis. Assuming her place as the public face of the company for more than a decade will be more difficult.

“It  was such a hard decision,” said Bond, who has worked side-by-side with Laureta since the day the company opened  in 2002. “But we couldn’t figure out any other way of keeping her on staff and keeping the doors open.”

That’s how precarious this whole deal is. “We have had to pinch pennies in every way,” Bond admitted.

Bond and his board (now led by Scott Lasher) are risking everything the company has built in the hope that it can survive and thrive in a space where both the Shadow and the Afterthought Theatre companies could not. Just to purchase the building, Vintage also had to assume the remaining $200,000 of a fully forgivable $250,000 construction loan the city of Aurora extended to Shadow to get the theater built in the first place, in exchange for a guarantees that Shadow would bring at least 12,000 people a year into the fledgling Aurora Arts District.

But after Shadow fell more than $60,000 behind in rent, Cornerstone president Doug Adams was forced to evict a company he at one time served as its guardian angel — one reason Adams wanted out of the theater landlord business. “They really wanted to sell,” Bond said. But as one more act of good faith, Adams helped cover Vintage’s cost of building the studio theater. Adams sees Vintage as, finally, the right partner in a much larger goal of helping to turn that area of East Colfax Avenue into a thriving arts district.

“They are a good partner,” Adams said. “And if they succeed, we get to benefit, too, because we have a lot of properties nearby.”

The lobby of the Vintage will continue to serve as a rotating arts gallery, and Vintage will fully participate in the new monthly “Art on the Fax” walk every second Friday through September.

Bond said his company’s all-or-nothing gamble was made possible only by the runaway success of last year’s critical and popular hit, “Avenue Q” (which will be restaged next year at the nearby Aurora Fox; see more about that below). That sold-out run left Vintage with a whopping $40,000 surplus. “That’s the most we’ve ever had in the bank,” said Bond, who had to commit $37,000 of that as down payment on the new space.

It’s enough to make anyone lose sleep, but Bond says he is actually at great peace with his company’s bold new direction. He recently left his job at Colorado Ballet, which has allowed him to focus on Vintage theater business while being a stay-at-home dad for his two sons, adopted with husband and fellow board member David Bond-Trimble.

“I am actually sleeping better now than I have in a long time,” said Bond.

He thinks Vintage will survive because the company offers a greater sheer volume of theater than any local troupe shy of the Denver Center Theatre Company, and, so far, his loyal audience  has proven willing to make the move 5 miles to the east.

“Our audience has migrated with us,” said Bond, who will announce at least 10 new 2013 offerings at Vintage’s gala opening slated for Sept. 14. Expect big musicals like “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” to be offered on the mainstage, with the more intimate works in the new studio space.

“I’ve always been the risk-taker on the artistic side,” Bond said. “And the success of productions like ‘Angels in America’ have given me confidence to not only take some big business risks as well, but to cast a wider net and bring all kinds of diversity of programming to our audience.”

For info, 303-839-1361 or www.vintagetheatre.com

 

Denver lands “Starcatcher” launch

Denver has been chosen to be the coveted launch city for Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” national tour in August 2013. To read our full report on Denver Center Attractions’ 2013-14 season:

http://johnmooretravel.blogspot.com/2012/08/broadway-series-in-denver-theres-lot-to.html

 

“The Book of Mormon” plans return visit

The Aug. 14 launch of the first national tour of “The Book of Mormon” is one of the biggest theatrical events ever to hit Denver. But the shine over being chosen as the coveted host city was dimmed considerably when the show’s New York producers later announced Denver would get only three weeks of performances, while Los Angeles would get four months and Chicago would get its very own permanent company. Denver tickets sold out almost instantly, leaving tens of thousands of grumbling potential customers. But the  show’s producers threw Denver a make-up bone last week with a perfectly timed announcement: With the din over ticket unavailability growing louder and louder as the Denver opening nears, it was announced that the “Mormon” tour will return to Denver next October. Second-chance seats will go onsale early next year.

 

Follow “The Book of Mormon” on Twitter

Was Casa Bonita ready for “The Book of Mormon”?

Dozens of “Mormon” cast and crew have descended on Denver, and they brought their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts with them in preparation for the Aug. 14 opening night at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. To follow all cast members with one click, just subscribe to this Twitter list I created called “Book of Mormon Tour.” The actors are providing fans all kinds of fun insights, including photos they are snapping backstage and all around our fair town, like the one on the right. (Last night was a company field trip to the kitschy theme-park restaurant Casa Bonita, which inspired an episode of “South Park” by the “Mormon” creators.) Star Gavin Creel recently came across the public art project outside the Denver Public Library showing a horse standing on an overgrown chair.


Ignite bringing “Avenue Q” back

Ignite Theatre, currently staging the first local production of “Spring Awakening,” has announced its 2013 season, including “Cabaret,” “La Cage Aux Folles” and “West Side Story,” all at the Aurora Fox. The biggest news: Ignite will, in effect, host a remount of Vintage Theatre’s four-star “Avenue Q” from Sept. 4-Nov. 3, 2013. That staging will  involve all original cast members and director Bernie Cardell. Check the full list of upcoming Ignite productions here http://www.denverpost.com/theater/ci_5001863

 

Other recent theater news: *Running Lines video podcast: Creede Rep says goodbye to artistic director Maurice Lamee: http://youtu.be/_lqICm4Ef-4

*Former Theatre On Broadway to become Matthew Morris hair and skincare salon:  http://johnmooretravel.blogspot.com/2012/07/theater-news-theatre-on-broadway-to.html

*Denver theater producer Robert Garner was a man for all ages: http://johnmooretravel.blogspot.com/2012/07/denver-producer-robert-garner-was-man.html

 

This week’s theater openings

  • Aug. 9-19, 2012: Theater Company of Lafayette’s “Comic Con con Comedy”
  •  Aug. 10-Sept. 2, 2012: The Edge’s “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them”
  • (Lakewood)
  •  Aug. 10-25, 2012: Inspire Creative’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (at the PACE Center, Parker)
  • Aug. 10-26, 2012: Theatre ‘d Art’s “Theatregasm = 6” (Colorado Springs)
  • Aug. 10-18, 2012: Aurora Fox’s “Mekong Joe”
  • Aug. 10-Sept. 9, 2012: The Curtain Playhouse’s “The Music Man”
  • Aug. 10-17, 2012: Adams Mystery Playhouse’s “Red Hot Murder”

 

This week’s theater closings:

  • Through Aug. 5, 2012: Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Noises Off” (Boulder)
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: PHAMALy’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (at the Denver Center’s Space Theatre)
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: Evergreen Players’ “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: Silhouette Theatre Company’s “Jailbait,” at the John Hand Theater
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: Thingamajig’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (Pagosa Springs)
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: Platte Valley Players’ “Of Mice and Men” (Brighton)
  •  Through Aug. 5, 2012: Arvada Festival Playhouse’s “Altar Egos”
  •  Through Aug. 8, 2012: Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Twelfth Night” (Boulder)
  •  Through Aug. 8, 2012: Creede Repertory Theatre’s “Mrs. Mannerly” (at Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre)
  •  Through Aug. 9, 2012: Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Treasure Island” (Boulder)
  •  Through Aug. 11, 2012: National touring production of “Jersey Boys,” at the Buell Theatre
  •  Through Aug. 11, 2012: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre Company’s “Fox on the Fairway” (Trinidad)
  •  Through Aug. 11, 2012: Mo Productions’ Murder Mystery Theatre’s “Will & Grace: Who Killed Stan?” (Sedalia)
  •  Through Aug. 12, 2012: Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Women of Will,” Parts 1-5 (Boulder)
  •  Through Aug. 12, 2012: Thingamajig’s “Chicago” (Pagosa Springs)


All upcoming theater openings by opening date:

http://www.denverpost.com/theater/ci_5001857