Update: Holly Bartges, local theater critic, moves on to her next act

There will be a memorial for longtime Denver critic Holly Bartges at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 at Boulder's Dinner Theatre, 5501 Arapahoe Street in Boulder. "We will sing, hoist a glass and talk of all things Holly," promises Colorado Theatre Guild director Gloria Shanstrom, who notes that there will be a cash bar and desserts available for purchase.

Here's our original piece posted on February 23:

Holly Bartges, who reviewed plays in the area for well over a decade, passed away this week. With her red hair and glossy fingernails, she was a familiar figure to Denver theatergoers -- though no one seemed to know exactly how long she'd been reviewing, or much about her background. She lived alone, and on Sunday, under hospice care for her ailing heart, she celebrated her birthday with a handful of friends. Brian Norber of Boulder's Dinner Theatre brought her a chocolate cake decorated with white chocolate comedy and tragedy masks; Colorado Theatre Guild director Gloria Shanstrom pulled up Facebook on her phone -- since Bartges was unable to reach her own computer -- to read her the dozens of birthday wishes she'd received.

"She was alert and downright perky," Shanstrom says. "She was stunned when everybody got there -- jaw-dropping stunned. After we got past the 'how you feeling' stuff, we just talked. We talked about objects around her house: She had a lot of theater memorabilia, a lot of swag."

Bartges wrote for a number of small print publications, and eventually created a website for her reviews and musings, Colorado Backstage. "She loved theater," says Shanstrom. "She loved actors. Her enthusiasm for what she was doing could not have been greater."

The theater community loved her too, flooding her Facebook page with thoughts, memories and expressions of gratitude over the last two days. "We need more like her," wrote actor Paul Page.

Director Terry Dood: "You were a great friend to the theatre community and an absolute original."

Actor-director Nick Sugar commented, "A beautiful journey ends and another begins."

"Paint those nails bright purple tonight and save us all a good seat in the house!" wrote actor Ronni Gallup.

And from Chris Wiger, one-time publicity director for the Denver Center: "Dear God, if all of heaven is a stage ... Holly wants better lighting!"

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