All the world’s a stage: Lake Dillon Theatre Company performs ‘25th Anniversary Cabaret’ retrospective
IF YOU GO
What: ‘25th Anniversary Cabaret’
When: Feb. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 6:30.
Where: The Silverthorne Performing Arts Center’s Flex Theater, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Cost: Tickets range from $14.50 to $31.50. Visit LakeDillonTheatre.org to purchase.
The old theater no longer exists. The company isn’t based in Dillon. Yet there’s still a quarter of a century of history worth celebrating because Chris Alleman values people over places.
“The organization to me is not the building that we are in,” said Alleman, artistic director for Lake Dillon Theatre Company. “We could get kicked out of this building or the building could get burned down and we can go into a storefront. We might have more challenges, but the passion for the organization that our volunteers, our board members, our staff members have are really what drives the organization, not the bricks and mortars that we’re in.”
Originally called Black Coffee Theater and founded by Linnie Singer and Betty Jo Knapp in 1994, the community theater focused on youth education and original melodramas. It was then folded into the Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts, which helped Dillon raise money for the original amphitheater, and became Lake Dillon Theatre Company.
Up until 2015 the group was housed in Dillon’s 120-year-old town hall that used to sit on the bottom of Lake Dillon. The old theater and their new home at the 14,000-square-foot Silverthorne Performing Arts Center couldn’t be any more different.
“It’s like comparing apples and cows,” said Alleman, laughing.
“It was two feet narrower on one end compared to the other end. The walls were slightly skewed in. It didn’t have the greatest heat. Our pipes froze at least once a year in that building. Our lobby was like the size of the bathrooms in our new building. It was really tiny.”
However, Alleman, who has been with the company since October of 2002 at all of its locations, enjoyed the intimacy it provided.
“It was cute, quaint and had character. Our audience really enjoyed it, but we had grown out of that building by 2010.”
Along with more space for theatergoers and crew, the $9 million complex allows for Alleman to easily craft more professional productions. Alleman’s first budget in 2002 was about $140,000 for the year, including his own salary as the only full-time employee. Next year’s budget is $1.9 million and pays for a total of 10 full-time staff members.
The schedule has grown over the years as well as the troupe. Seasons have remained full with roughly nine productions a year but the frequency of shows has increased. In the early 2000s a show would run for four weeks yet only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. By 2011 shows occurred Tuesday through Sunday.
“I love that building, it was where I first started here and has that special place, but I don’t miss the building at all. We’re in such a better place now and it has allowed us to do so much more in the organization than we could ever do before.”
Life is a cabaret
To celebrate the anniversary, Lake Dillon Theatre Company produced a cabaret medley spanning 30 different musicals previously put on by the company. Following Thursday’s premiere, the performances continue throughout the weekend with songs from titles such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Chicago,” “The Who’s Tommy,” “Big River,” “Rock of Ages,” “Ring of Fire,” “Sister Act” — which was the first musical staged at the Silverthorne Pavilion Arts Center — and more.
Video tributes made by previous performers will interstitially play during the retrospective, making it a chance for the audience, cast and crew to reconnect with the roots of the organization as well as draw in new fans.
Returning to the stage to reprise some of their roles are nine actors: David Berry (“Sister Act”), Brittney Jeffery (“Noises Off”), Melanie Beck (“The Who’s Tommy”), Ben Whitmore (“Ring Of Fire”), Nina Waters (“Big River”), Emily Dennis (“Rock of Ages”), Frank Sansone (“Xanadu”) and Sharon Kay White (“The Underpants”).
“We wanted to kick off the year with celebrating where we started,” Alleman said. “For us it’s about continuing what we’ve always done and push that mission. … We’ve hit some of these musicals before when we did other cabarets but never in a style like we’re doing this time.”
As for possibilities for the 30th anniversary or goals for the next 25 years, Alleman doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. The finishing of the new complex was a major milestone so he still wishes to settle in and get a handle on it all.
“We haven’t even been in this facility for two full years yet so we’re still just trying to figure out what that new norm looks like for the organization because it is so drastically different than before.”
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