Monday, January 4, 2010

On my way home from the office last week I remembered that the generous folks at Z Cuisine's on West 30th Avenue just east of Wyandotte near Tejon were hosting a night for The Elitch Theatre. All the monies for the event went to the interior rehabilitation of the theatre, the longest running summer stock theatre in the United States.

I have meany happy memories of Elitch's and the Theatre. The Gurtler family allowed Holy Family High to put their spring musicals on at the historic theatre. Our musical director loved Gilbert and Sullivan and there is a troop trudging across the boards at various stages in Denver still polishing up the handles on the big front door. "If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it," Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, opening lines.

When in College at Regis, I was lucky enough to be hired as a stage hand with Local 7, International Association of Stage and Theatrical Employees which had the contract with the theatre to set up the productions. The Actors were all in the union as well. It was a "union house" according to the buzz among my fellow stage hands. Once a scene was set, my colleagues would go for a beer between scenes at the Tracadero not far from the stage door. I stayed to watch the actors and the play. I thought I was in paradise, to be paid to watch great actors performing the summer stock listings at the theatre. "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," Jacques, Act II scene 7, As you Like It.

Most of the actors stayed with families in the neighborhood and I remember Grace Kelly living with a family (The Coleman's) a block from me on Raleigh Street. And one weekday morning she sat in the front pew at the mass which we students attended weekly. My fellow students tell me that I stood transfixed like someone experiencing a vision of the Blessed Virgin herself. My gaze was rudely interrupted by one of the nuns who finally came up the aisle and angrily said to me: "Dennis, it's time to kneel. You can talk to Miss Kelly after the mass." I think of Sonnet 116, :Love's not Time's fool..."

Some say the old theatre is haunted by Mary, Grace, Fairbanks, We don't really know which one is haunting. But as long as the building stands they will have a place to bother us with costumed appearences and stage whispers. I never saw any, but some of the old stage hands said they did.

The Historic Elitch Theatre Foundation will be hosting lots of other wine and foie de canard on crackers events for the theatre. If you wish to contribute before then, send you donations to 3927 West 32nd Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80212. "We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep," Shakespeare. So send in your donation before you can only haunt the old theatre.

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