About the Denver Center for the Performing Arts

admin May 1, 2011 0

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a non-profit organization dedicated to training students in the performing arts as well as supplying the general public with great acting and interesting plays. As of today, the Center boasts of more than three hundred and twenty productions. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has also been awarded the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, thirteen years ago in 1998. As with every non-profit organization, the first step towards making the Denver Centre for the Performing Arts a reality was a philanthropist, the owner of the Denver Post. This dream was shared by actress Helen G. Bonfils and a Wall Street lawyer, Donald R. Seawell, who was also a Broadway producer.

It was the actress, Helen Bonfils, co-owner of The Denver Post, who built the theatre on Colfax Avenue. The theatre was named after her after being dubbed the name Bonfils Theatre. The theatre was built in the 1950s and it was a community theatre where she and her friends performed.

However, Helen Bonfils was a woman with a dream and she soon felt that Denver needed more than just a small community theatre. It was here that Seawell came into play. He was asked to get up a professional acting company to perform in the Bonfils Theatre. However, Seawell felt that he needed the great director, Tyrone Guthrie, the creator of the Minneapolis Guthrie Theatre, to come to Denver to create the company and direct it.

However, the plans for the new theatre next to the old Bonfils one came to an abrupt halt when Guthrie suddenly died. The run of so-called bad luck continued as poor Helen was now so ill that she was permanently hospitalized. And to make matters worse, a mean stockholder in the Denver Post was battling for ownership.

Of course this took priority and Helen asked Seawell to fight this legal battle for her. Sadly, Helen Bonfils died before the battle was won so only Seawell was left as the Chairman and Publisher of the Denver Post. However, Seawell wanted to construct a memorandum for this brave woman with her dream, so when he saw the abandoned Denver Municipal Center, he thought that was just the place to build a Performing Arts Center in her honor. He wasted no time in asking the great architect Kevin Roche to make his sketching on paper a solid reality.

That is how today, we can have the full use the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and that is how this useful center was born – through the determination of one brave woman and the tenacity of a smart lawyer.

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