You may be surprised at the diversity of our local performing arts scene, with theater companies offering everything from large-scale musical productions to experimental theater pieces on intimate stages. Add a wealth of dance, comedy, poetry and storytelling, and you'll always have the opportunity to fill your weekend calendar.
- David Shaver
- Springs Ensemble Theatre
The Fine Arts Center easily offers the biggest production value in the Springs, staging well-loved shows that boast staggeringly beautiful sets and incredible local and national talent. With this season's mainstage plays like Intimate Apparel and award-winning musicals like Fun Home blowing minds across the state, plus small-stage performances and shows for children and families, the FAC hits home runs across the board. Last year, they won a slew of Henry Awards (the most prestigious theater awards in Colorado), and we expect that's not the last of their well-deserved recognition. Mainstage opening Wednesdays are pay-what-you-can night, and all tickets are only $20 on second through fourth Wednesdays.
Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave.
Big news for TheatreWorks this year: January saw the opening of the Ent Center for the Arts, UCCS' new multi-purpose venue. And what a venue! TheatreWorks, the professional company attached to the university, packed up and moved their Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater to the Ent Center, which boasts new features like a trapdoor, multi-level stages and more flexibility with seating. February's production of Oklahoma! — the first in the new space — opened to rousing applause, and we can only expect more great things from this company, which has offered quality theater for 43 years. Also, don't miss TheatreWorks' yearly summer Shakespeare production at Rock Ledge Ranch.
1626 S. Tejon St.
The Millibo Art Theatre celebrates its Sweet 16 in 2018 with another season of innovative and exciting new theater. This season has offered shows from Dario Fo's classic Accidental Death of an Anarchist to brand new touring solo shows ranging from political satire to shadow puppetry. The MAT is always doing something a little out of the ordinary, and often writing or producing original work like March's Royal Buckskin, written and performed by co-artistic director Jim Jackson. Be sure to catch at least one of their cabarets (summer's Circus of the Night is our favorite) and their monthly kids shows, which promise puppets, clowns, talking mice and more.
- Jeff Kearney
For a small theater, SET produces some incredible work. Once you find yourself seated in front of one of their immersive sets — such as that of 2017's Afterlife, which transformed the theater into a beach house — you forget the constraints of the stage. Not to mention, SET recruits some of the best local talent, putting on daring shows with a respectful tenderness that's palpable even in their comedies. If you want a hell of a bang for your buck ($10 to $15 a ticket), SET is the place to go.
2109 Templeton Gap Road
It's hard to come by good representation for marginalized groups onstage, but Funky makes that representation a vital part of their mission. In addition to committing to a Season of the Female Playwright (which wraps up this spring), Funky founded the [Spectrum]: LGBT New Play Festival, and frequently stages shows like January's The Bigot, which directly addresses issues of racism and homophobia. Add in a thrifty crew that makes the most of their set and costuming, and you've got a hidden gem in the Springs' performing arts community.
We're grateful a company like Counterweight Theatre Lab exists in Colorado Springs, as experimental theater is just as vital to the performing arts as any Broadway musical. A unique production of Macbeth in October saw actors rotating parts and the whole production rotating locations, proving that Counterweight is prone to thinking outside the box (and the traditional stage).
- Courtesy THEATREdART
TDA impressed the pants off us in 2017 with a production of Angels in America, a two-part, six-hour tour de force. And while Angels may be one of their more ambitious pieces, matter stands that the folks at TDA are always pushing boundaries. In addition to creating Theatregasm, an annual festival of locally written short plays, they also present a wealth of sensitive and timely shows, sometimes in collaboration with other local companies.
Speaking of experimental theater, we can't discount the contribution of Star Bar Players to our local theater scene. Star Bar is always doing something different. 2017's White Rabbit Red Rabbit provided a sense of mystery thanks to its secret script (secret even to the actor performing it), with philosophical implications that may have gone over most of the audience's heads. But whether or not we "got it" isn't really the point. The point is that Star Bar makes us think — it's a company that explores humanity in each of its productions.