Unique Aspen theater closes after 33 years | SummitDaily.com
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Unique Aspen theater closes after 33 years

CHAD ABRAHAMpitkin county correspondent

ASPEN – Stage 3 Theatres in Aspen has closed due to sale, ending a 33-year run of films that spanned everything from children’s fare to raucous porn screenings.Theater manager David Nolan said he’s helped line up new jobs for the eight full- and part-time workers.George Carisch, the building’s former owner, was unavailable for comment, but his assistant, Nancy Gawreluk, said the buyer is American Health Care Real Estate Partners. The deal has not been finalized yet, she said. Attempts to contact the building’s new owner were unsuccessful, and it’s unclear what will happen to the three-screen venue on Main Street. Nolan said he doesn’t know what the new owners will do with the space.Alan Bush of Aspen said melancholy employees told him about the closing when he and his family went to the movies Sunday. They also told him the building may be used for live music.The theater’s loss made him feel horrible, Bush said.”This is a really significant event in the community and a very sad one,” he said.Bush mentioned the potential loss of three theaters at the six-screen Isis, which may be redeveloped with retail.”It’s a sad sign of the changing of Aspen from a community that people can live in to a second-homeowner town, not even a tourist town,” he said. “Tourists like to go to the movies as well.”The Stage 3 building opened in 1973 with one screen and 600 seats, and was called The Playhouse, Aspenite Jon Busch remembered.”I’m sorry to see it go as a movie theater,” he said. “We’ve been very lucky in Aspen to have such a wide range of choices.”In the 1970s, those choices included adult films that were shown monthly.”It was just a big joke,” Busch said. “Everybody would go in there and make wise-ass comments to go along with the film. People would bring whoopee cushions in.”Just total insanity.”Nolan, who said he will be transferred by the theater’s operator, Carmike Cinemas, agreed with Busch.”This theater’s been a lot of things. It goes back a long, long time,” he said.Nolan said finding new jobs for his employees was the most important aspect of the closing. He had warned them for some time about the theater’s impending closure.”We have found positions for just about everybody” at different theaters in the valley and in other, non-theater work, Nolan said. “No employee here is left jobless.”Chad Abraham can be contacted at chad@aspentimes.com.


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