Colorado Theatre History

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Colorado Chautauqua was a summer program featuring a troupe of performers and artists that traveled to Colorado towns. Colorado Chautauqua was produced by the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities.

The Chautauqua circuit flourished during the 1920s until 1933 across the United States - entertaining people with lecturers and silent movies in a tent. This website album focuses on the Chautauqua program in Colorado that started in 1969 touring Colorado towns. The original small tour grew into a much bigger concern. Beginning in 1972 Colorado Chautauqua rolled into towns during the summer months as a giant FREE performing arts festival. The traveling festival desended upon towns bringing all the requisite excitement with it -- erecting a hard-to-miss giant pink circus tent in a local park, with smaller auxiliary tents set up nearby to accommodate free workshops and demonstrations with visual artisans (painters, quilters, stained glass makers, wood carvers, and more) as well as performing artists. As you may well imagine, in many towns, the people in attendance had never been exposed to live entertainment! Some of the professional performance groups included: Rene Heredia's Flamenco Fantasy, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Jamie Turner (the world's greatest saw player), Vintage Motion Pictures (with Hank Troy and Al Miller), and Rosewood Canyon (popular band) -  just one example of many music groups who toured with Chautauqua. There was also the Chautauqua Apprentice Company who traveled with the tour - performing plays, melodramas, children's theatre plays, and musical theatre medleys as well as teaching workshops. Apprentice company members not only performed, but were also the labor - setting up and breaking down the tents. The largest Colorado Chautauqua tour happened in 1976 as part of Colorado's Bi-Centennial celebration.