"Twice a year, we want you to set aside your normal Saturday-night plans, pick a show and support your local artists," says Gloria Shanstrom, vice president of the guild, whose mission is to promote and support live theater in Colorado. "Leave Blockbuster alone for the night. They've got plenty of money."
More than twenty productions in the metro Denver area will offer customers an incentive, ranging from a free dessert at the Country Dinner Playhouse production of Arsenic and Old Lace to a buy-one-ticket-get-one-free deal for Paper Cat Theater's Beach Bop a Go-Go at the Buntport Theater. Discounts are also offered for I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre, as well as for the Denver Center Theatre Company's Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver.
Shanstrom believes that fear is the major factor stopping most people from attending a dramatic production. "I think theater can be an intimidating experience for a lot of people, and we want to diffuse that," she says. "We leave the ball gowns and tuxedos for the galas. You don't have to dress up for this. It's okay to go comfortably."
If you absolutely can't make it this time, the guild plans to offer discounts again next fall. Organizers, who hope to broaden their audience base with the campaign, say TheatreNight Out is modeled after the First Friday open-house concept already in place at local art galleries. "For a state that most people don't necessarily equate with a high volume of art, [Colorado] does an amazing amount of theater," Shanstrom says. According to the Theatre Guild, between September 2001 and June 2002, over 230 live theatrical performances will have been staged across the state.
"We think it's a marvelous community," Shanstrom concludes. "Come in with an open mind, and you'll have a wonderful evening."