There are so many reasons that people love Denver. The 300+ days of sunshine a year, the proximity to the mountains, the healthy and adventurous lifestyle– but as a former professional dancer, the reason that is closest to my own heart is the thriving Denver theatre scene.
Most people are aware of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex (DCPA), but they may not be aware that it is the largest performing arts facility in the WORLD under one roof! It hosts the nation’s largest non-profit theatre organization and is home to the Buell Theatre – the nation’s highest grossing theatre under 3,000 seats. Not too shabby!
The DCPA is the jewel in the crown of the Denver Theatre scene, comprising: The Buell Theatre (capacity 2,880); The Ellie Caulkins Opera House (capacity 2,200); The Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex – the Stage Theatre (750), the Space Theatre (550), the Ricketson Theatre (250) and the Jones Theatre (200); the Garner Galleria Theatre (210); the Boettcher Concert Hall (2,679) -home of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra; and the Conservatory Theatre (185) adjacent to the complex. Wow! Pretty impressive stuff – all thanks to forward thinking of Helen Bonfils and Donald Seawell.
The Buell Theatre holds special appeal to me because I played there with Riverdance- The Show on a national tour. I came for two weeks, fell in love with what Denver had to offer and never left! That was April 2001. Now when I watch shows at the Buell Theatre (including a recent tour of Riverdance) I cannot help but picture myself backstage and in the wings! Beautiful memories. In fact, when one of my former students graced the stage in Riverdance I couldn’t keep the emotion in check! To say that the Buell is a magical place is an understatement.
While the DCPA may be the main focus of live theatre in the Denver theatre scene, it is by no means the only available theatrical outlet! There are plenty of amazing theatre venues in and around the city:
One of my particular favorites in the Denver theatre scene! Located on 1080 Acoma Street, Denver, 80204 in a refurbished church, the 200+ seat theatre is beautiful both inside and out. The organization’s mission is “to engage the community in important contemporary issues through provocative modern theatre.” I am a season ticket holder and I believe the work there is not only thought-provoking but excellently produced. Absolutely recommended and well worth the trip!
Located at 1486 Dayton St, Aurora CO 80010 – on the border of Denver and Aurora or D’Aurora as it is affectionately known 😉 is another marvelous little theatre. Their tagline is “intimate stages, bold performances” and in my opinion, generally lives up to the tagline. The venue boasts 3 performance spaces: Jeffrey Nickelson Auditiorium (145 seats), the Bond Trimble Theatre (67 Seats) and a lobby raised stage area (60 seats).
The John Hand Theater
The John Hand Theater on the CFU Lowry Campus www.johnhandtheater.com is home to two theatre companies: the Firehouse Theatre Company – www.firehousetheatercompany.com and the Spotlight Theatre Company – www.thisisspotlight.com I have only seen work performed by the Spotlight Theatre Company in this 89+ seater theatre but it was most enjoyable.
The Lakewood Cultural Center
Another great theatre space! I’ve seen a couple of fantastic dance performances at this surprisingly intimate theatre. Worth checking out!
The Newman Center for the Performing Arts
Last, but certainly not least is the stunning Newman Center on the University of Denver campus located at 2344 East Iliff Avenue, Denver 80210. I had the distinct pleasure of producing my own show (www.IrishDanceTheatre.com) in December 2016 and staging it at the Gates Concert Hall in this spectacular facility. With over 500 performances each year, this venue has productions that you certainly do not want to miss!
The above are theatres I have attended performances at and loved, but the list of what’s still out there absolutely goes on! For a more comprehensive list or more information, please visit http://www.denver.org/events/theatre/ or www.coloradotheatreguild.org . Are there other Denver Metro area theatres that you’d like to see make this list? I want to know, so that I can check them out! In the meantime, break a leg on your theatrical journey!