The Denver Victorian Playhouse comes alive with 
The Denver Victorian Playhouse comes alive with Prairie.

Take a Bow

SUN, 9/11

You may have done a double take last fall while driving along 14th Street past the gutted Auditorium Theatre, wondering why it was suddenly reduced to a shell filled with giant construction cranes. Then you remembered checking a ballot box in support of a bond issue two years before, thinking, "Isn't it nice that they want to give money to something besides sports!"

Well, that act allowed the city to give the formerly homeless 22-year-old Opera Colorado and Colorado Ballet a new, high-tech room. And this weekend, the public will finally get to take a gander at what that $25 million bond bought, when the renovated Quigg Newton Denver Municipal Auditorium opens, along with its showstopper venue, the new Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

After the swells and serious opera fans absorb Saturday night's sold-out gala opening, regular folks slosh in on Sunday (Mayor Hickenlooper cuts the ribbon at noon). Commoners can check out all the fancy hardware during a backstage tour and sample the cushy seating, improved sightlines and acoustics during free performances by the opera and ballet companies. The Colorado Children's Chorale, the Denver Brass and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra will also help christen the Caulkins. For information, call 303-640-2637. -- Michelle Baldwin

The New Vic
The Denver Victorian Playhouse rises again.
FRI, 9/9

Actor/director Wade Wood's day job is as an air traffic controller. "I didn't think I had enough stress in my life," he says, laughing, "so I thought I might as well buy a theater."

The venue he chose was the Denver Victorian Playhouse, a 75-seater located in the basement of a house built in northwest Denver's Harkness Heights neighborhood circa 1911. Over the decades, the space has operated under a variety of names -- the Gaslight Theatre and the Bungalow Theatre among them -- but it was out of operation for four years before Wood purchased it this spring.

Fortunately, the theater was in relatively good shape, and after some new paint and carpeting and an upgrade of the lighting system, DVP is ready for its close-up. First on the bill is The Voice of the Prairie, a play by John Olive that Wood describes as "a piece of Americana about the early days of radio, with some nice humor in it." More laughs are on the agenda for later this year, when Wood will stage Christopher Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, which he boasts is "wrong in so many ways." But with other companies lining up to use the room, he doesn't want to limit himself to a single genre. "I personally like shows with no socially redeeming value whatsoever," he jokes, "but we'll be doing a variety of different things."

Prairie hits the Vic, 4201 Hooker Street, at 7:30 p.m. tonight and continues weekends through October 16; tickets are $20, $18 for seniors and students. Call 303-433-4343 for reservations. -- Michael Roberts


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