Colorado's small theaters have a meeting of the minds

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A group of local theater owners, actors and the newly-minted president of the Colorado Theatre Guild met at Denver's Dangerous Theatre Sunday night to share ideas on how to work together to share resources and information. This wasn't an official Colorado Theatre Guild meeting, but rather a gathering inspired by several recent depressing developments in the theater community, including the closing of Paragon and the loss of John Moore as a full-time theater writer at the Denver Post.

And, of course, there was plenty of talking about how to how to get more butts-in-seats at performances.

Representatives of the Aurora Fox Arts Center,73rd Avenue Playhouse, And Toto Too Theatre Company, StageDoor Theatre, Boulder's Upstart Crow Studio, Firehouse Theatre Company, Vintage Theatre, Equinox Theatre Company, Byers-Evans House Theatre Company and Voodoo Comedy Playhouse were in attendance, along with two actors, Brandon Palmer and Russ Nielsen.

Winnie Wenglewick, owner of Denver's Dangerous Theatre, kicked things off by saying that "smaller theaters work better together," while she intertwined her fingers to demonstrate.

Craig Bond, who in January was elected president of the Colorado Theatre Guild, said the 33-year-old organization is currently updating its website to provide more information in an easier format that will work for both theater professionals and audience members looking for productions to attend. With Bond was Deb Flomberg of Equinox Theatre Company, who works for the outfit doing the website redesign; she explained that the work will take a few months, which means the time is right to give the CTG feedback on the project.

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Winnie Wenglewick
The Colorado Theatre Guild has board meetings at noon on the third Tuesday of every month, and they're open to anyone who's interested. The group has just one fulltime employee, Gloria Shanstrom, and she's often overloaded with work, Bond said, so the seven board members are always looking for more people to get involved and help. "When you imagine great cities, you imagine great theater," he noted.

"We should teach audiences that there is great small theater in this city," said Wenglewick. Available resources for doing that include posting discount ticket offers on Denver.org's 2-4-1 Tix, participating in Denver Arts Week, and using the CTG's Facebook page. While the website is under construction, Wenglewick offered to create a "Monday Memo" for theater professionals to keep everyone in touch.

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Those in attendance all lamented the "hole left" in consistent theater reviews with by Moore's departure from the Post. "It's frustrating," said Wenglewick. "We all send press releases, but how do we get attention from the media with a limited pool of critics who all go see the same shows?"

Some of the possibilities for more press? A "Theater Preview Weekend" combined event that they could pitch to Visit Denver, as well as industry-night performances. Wenglewick also offered to look into a shared ad space project. "It's a good opportunity," she said. "People coming to Denver will see that."


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