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Thin Air Theatre Company says farewell to the Butte Theater with its final production: Angel of the Christmas Mine


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Angel of Christmas, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 p.m.; - Saturdays-Sundays, 1 p.m., though Dec. 30, - CHRIS ARMBRISTER
  • Chris Armbrister
  • Angel of Christmas, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 1 p.m., though Dec. 30,
Eleven years ago, the city of Cripple Creek committed to promoting artistic and cultural programming in its Butte Theater, contracting with Thin Air Theatre Company to produce professional theatrical performances in this small mountain town.

Now, TATC will say sayonara to the Butte Theater and, possibly, to Cripple Creek, with one final production: Angel of the Christmas Mine.

Chris Armbrister, Thin Air’s artistic producing director, cites a difference in artistic perspective as the reason for the company’s split with the Butte Theater. He says the theater’s board receives funding from the city, but TATC does not. Ultimately, the board chooses what to do with that funding, and they have rejected TATC’s proposal for next year.

He says: “We’ve got a group of wonderful, very smart business people who are on that board. What has happened over the last couple of years is a difference in artistic opinions on the best way to proceed with the professional program.”

While this does not mean that Butte Theater will cease putting on theatrical productions, it does mean that TATC will not be involved, and will have to plan for their own future.

“We do not plan to just sit back,” Armbrister says. “We have to find another relationship that we can cultivate, and another home. Someone who has those facilities, [so] we can work together to bring quality theater to them.”

Which, sadly, may mean leaving the town that TATC loves. Armbrister has lived in Cripple Creek since 1991, and he has contributed to many of TATC’s more locally focused works. He co-wrote A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol with playwright Chris Sorensen — a production they’ve staged multiple times over the last 11 years — and has helped produce dozens of Sorensen’s other plays, such as Angel of the Christmas Mine.

This play, like many of Sorenson’s works, takes place in Cripple Creek, telling the story of three men trapped in a mine on Christmas Eve. Armbrister says it is one of Sorensen’s most beautiful pieces, adding: “It tells the story of the passion of a people, and once you’ve spent enough time in Cripple Creek, [you see] the passion and drive of the people of the Rocky Mountains.”

Armbrister says passion is what makes Cripple Creek and TATC special, along with “the people who have come in and the people we have worked with along the way. I don’t want to lose that passion.”

TATC will continue on in whatever form they can, through pop-up productions at different venues or through potential new partnerships, but until then don’t miss their curtain call at the Butte Theater, running through Dec. 31.


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