Denver Victorian Playhouse

admin May 15, 2011 0

After a century of producing plays, the Denver Victorian Playhouse or Denver Vic closed in April when the home where the theatre was located was sold.  Since 1911, the famous house in northern Denver has hosted many different live performances.

The story of how the Vic got its start is almost as unique as the Vic itself.  The story starts in the late 1800’s when a man named George Swartz moved to Colorado to seek relief from the symptoms of tuberculosis. As part of his therapy, he began to read Shakespeare aloud.  In the evenings, his family would gather to hear him read.  Eventually, the group began to grow in size.  In fact, when Mr. Swartz built a bungalow home on Hooker Street he decided to put a theater in the basement in order to give his growing audience a place to sit. When the house was finished in 1911, the basement theater had an orchestra pit, terraced seating, and benches along the wall.  According to community folklore, George Swartz , along with his family and friends, was the first person west of the Mississippi to perform all of the plays written by Shakespeare.

After George’s death in 1937, the home was a meeting place for various community groups until Paul Willet opened a theater in the late 1950’s.  In 2005, Wade Wood and his wife Lorraine took over the theater and renamed it the Denver Victorian Playhouse.

Sadly, that era is now over as the house was purchased by a buyer intending to turn it into a residential home.  One of the conditions of the sale of the house was that owner Wade Wood had to rip out the theater’s 76 seats.  In addition, all theater equipment had to be removed.  Wade Wood says that he plans to hold an estate sale to sell the lighting equipment, props, stage sets, and the antique furniture including the theatre seats.

The last event held at the Denver Vic was a staged reading of Michael Griffith’s work called “The Seagull King”.  The reading was held on April 7th and April 8th at 7:30 pm.  All of the tickets were just $5.  Michael Griffith is a noted Australian playwright.

Before that, theater goers attended a show called “The Field” which was written by John B. Keane.  This play featured some of Denver’s most talented actors including Jim Hunt, Paige L. Larson, Josh Hartwell, Brian Landis Folkins and Steven Kramer.  The play was directed by Rita Broderick.

The Denver Vic produced many different shows over the years including Educating Rita, Out of Order, A Tuna Christmas, and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

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