It's been in the works for a while, but Impulse Theater is finally parting ways with its home within the Wynkoop Brewing Company, where the performance space has been located for more than two decades. The long-running improv spot isn't calling it quits; it's looking for a new location. And in a series of shows this weekend, it will close its Wynkoop chapter and prepare for a new one.
"The last thing I want to do is put any kind of spin on it, like, this is going to be the last chance you're going to have to see Impulse," says company owner John Bauers. "Because there is no way that we're not going to find another space and that we're not going to come off of this hiatus. This isn't farewell, Impulse -- it's farewell, Wynkoop."
Impulse's transition out of the basement of the Wynkoop began back in 2010, when the brewery decided to expand into the space. The theater has been on a month-to-month lease since then. Before Impulse settled into this basement spot, the company moved several times, Bauers points out, so change is nothing new. The LoDo location was the theater's longest-running home, but will by no means be its last.
"I'm prepared to look for a new space for up to six months -- having a boatload of money available to you opens up a ton of options, but somewhere our boat got lost," Bauers says with a laugh. "We're looking at probably a two-mile radius from where we are now, and that encompasses a lot of areas of the city -- Uptown, South Broadway, Golden Triangle, Highland. All of those would be viable options for me."
He says the Wynkoop has been a good partner for the last two decades, but there were definite downsides to the location. For instance, a basement with ten-foot ceilings and giant wooden pillars blocking views of the stage didn't do the show justice. Plus, Impulse could never come to an agreement with the neighborhood design regulations, which prevented the theater from putting a sign on the building to let visitors know it existed.
"We're definitely a destination location right now -- meaning, when people go out for the the night, their intent is to go see us. We're in LoDo right now and that's great, but as far as our business goes, it hasn't done a lot to help us. People don't come down to LoDo and barhop and then go, let's stop and see this show. In fact, that kind of business -- walk-up business -- is like 2 percent of our ticket sales. The other 98 percent is either people who have bought their tickets in advance or people who have been to the show before. We've taken a hiatus before, so it's not unprecedented. Our audience is so loyal and so great, but I don't want to wait too long, especially for the actors' sake. "
LoDo has come a long way since Impulse took up residence in the area almost 22 yars ago, Bauers notes. "When we first started, LoDo was not what it is now," he says. "LoDo was kind of a scary place, so when we moved to there we lost some of our client base, at least at first. We used to tell people, 'Get downtown any way you're most comfortable, find 18th Street -- 18th Street is a one-way street, so you can't go the wrong way -- and drive until you see a building with lights on.' That's how we used to tell people how to get to the show."
How times change: Not only is the Wynkoop losing Impulse, but 18th Street is about to go two-way. Impulse's new space will ideally have great visibility, access to restaurants and bars, and be a place where the theater can build a whole new audience, while keeping its longtime patronage intact.
The shows coming up this weekend will have the usual improv antics, but they will definitely be special for the theater's regulars -- and especially the cast. "It is really kind of hard to mess with the show, as far as changing something for a special event goes," says Bauers. "We do what we do and we do it really well. The shows themselves will come off the way we always do performances. I think more than anything, it will be an emotional weekend for me and some of the people who have been in the cast for twelve, thirteen, fourteen years. Our location at the Wynkoop is kind of like home. That part will be difficult."
This weekend's cast will be comprised of six veteran performers, who together have more than 8,500 Impulse Theater improv performances under their collective belt. "I honestly believe that this cast that we have does improv on a higher level than I have seen anywhere in the country," says Bauers.
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Tickets for the last shows in the LoDo location are going fast, so advance purchase is recommended. Impulse Theater's final Wynkoop send-off begins with an 8 p.m. show Thursday, January 30; there will also be shows at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the Impulse Theater website or call the box office at 303-297-2111.