Paragon Theatre closes its season with a sure thing, then heads to RiNo for another

Beginning Saturday, Paragon member and executive director Michael Stricker joins co-founder Warren Sherrill and Emily Paton-Davies in the troupe's production of Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, the last show of its present season, as well as the last to be performed in a sublet venue (in this case, the Kim Robards dance space). That's right: After ten years of roaming Denver theater and dance spaces, Paragon will be settling into its own home, sweet home in the RiNo District when it debuts its next season in early 2012. But more on that later.

In the meantime, Stricker says, a Butterworth vehicle is a great way for Paragon to end a season. "He's been a favorite of ours from the very beginning. We've produced almost every play he's written." Butterworth, he adds, writes just the kind of play Paragon prefers, with a "smaller cast of people stuck in a room trying to get what they want." And Parlour Song, he continues, is "funny, dark and also touching, and diffused with [Butterworth's] sense of wit and danger." Set in the dreary English suburbs, it's a small story that Stricker says is about "people communicating and not the larger social issues." Its universality is expressed, in other words, in personal ways that get right into the audience members' hearts, and that's the kind of intimate impact Paragon likes to make.

Then, after Parlour Song closes at the end of October, the company will take a break to put the finishing touches on its new digs at 2810 Larimer Street, a cheerful-looking building that's been home to various businesses, including a restaurant and a caterer. They still need to install seats (they plan to seat 99), take out some sinks and freshen up the place a bit, but Stricker says it's basically going to be an easy move-in and a "fantastic space," with a bar, a fireplace and a spacious lobby.

"Paragon has always operated under a sublease to another arts organization," Stricker says. "That did well for the first ten years, but as part of our business plan, we needed to get into our own space and finally control the whole product, from the parking lot all the way through the front door." And that's exactly how things will be next February, when Paragon breaks in the space with a rethought staging of Strindberg's Miss Julie to begin its eleventh season. "It'll be an updated, sexy version," Stricker teases. Kind of like Paragon, itself.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd