Monday, April 2, 2007

Denver Victorian Playhouse

During the 1880s, many people migrated from Europe and the East Coast seeking a cure for tuberculosis. At first, they came in search of riches from the gold and silver mines of Colorado, but some noticed an added benefit, a change in their health. The curative air of the Rockies proved beneficial for those suffering from tuberculosis; asthma and other breathing ailments. As letters were sent home singing the praises of the clean, mountain air, people migrated by the thousands to Colorado.

George Swartz arrived in Colorado in the late 1880s seeking relief from his tubercular lungs. He was a lover of the arts particularly Shakespeare’s works which he read aloud in the evenings as part of his treatment plan. Swartz, his family and friends loved these evenings together so much that when he built his house on Hooker Street in Denver, he designed a theatre in the basement complete with orchestra pit (now covered) and a miniature proscenium. Along the top of the stage is a decorated frieze that is particularly attractive and I wondered if it was original.

It is rumored that during his lifetime, Swartz was able to present all of Shakespeare’s works at his personal theatre – an accomplishment that no other theatre west of the Mississippi has been able to claim.

Today, the theatre and the actors still have that “up close and personal” relationship with the audience. This week’s presentation of “No Sex Please (We’re British)" was carefully performed on the small stage much to the delight of the enthusiastic audience. Refreshments were served during the intermission and many people took their drinks to the verandah, mingled with other members of the audience and discussed the actors’ performances.

From April 20th to June 3rd the playhouse will be featuring Dead Man Walking.