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First News Spring 2005

Trinidad ... Regaining its Reputation as a Theatre Town

   Again this summer the hills are alive with the sounds of… LIVE THEATRE! The Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre Company (SCRT) is returning to Trinidad for its third season. Founded in 2003 by Fred and Harriet Vaugeois in partnership with Trinidad State Junior College, the theatre company brings a troupe of actors, designers, technicians, and student apprentices to the Massari Performing Arts Center on the campus of Trinidad State Junior College with three plays scheduled to run all summer long on a rotating basis. It’s a wonderful entertainment idea when out-of-town guests arrive, and season tickets are available too.

   This season the repertory theatre is implementing an ambitious plan by establishing a new board of directors, comprised of local business owners and community members, expanding its base of sponsors, creating more children’s programming, and a new mission — to eventually become a nationally recognized professional theatre based in southern Colorado. When the SCRT was first conceived, then TSJC President Frank Armijo and the Vaugeoises had three primary objectives in mind: to develop a theatre program that contributes to the local economic base, to expand educational opportunities in theatre, and to provide quality entertainment. After two years those goals were met at a modest level as attendance increased 25% each year, and over half of the audiences were from out of town. Educational opportunities currently include a highly successful children’s theatre workshop, an intensive college academy, and recruitment of theatre majors to develop a curriculum at the college level.

   This year's goals are to heighten awareness and appreciation for the performing arts in the region, cultivate participation among community members, expand involvement for children and students, and cooperate with regional organizations to further promote the area’s performing cultural arts.

   As for future ambitions, SCRT hopes to establish a home base in the historic downtown district of Trinidad with enough space to accommodate existing programs and encourage more community members to participate. By developing additional talent SCRT hopes to offer live theatre and touring groups year round as well as introduce theatre workshops into area schools.

   The 2005 theatre season opens June 17 with the American classic comedy Harvey by Mary Chase. Beginning July 1 add the hilarious farce Noises Off by Michael Frayn; and starting July 15 a third show, Over the River and Through the Woods, a new comedy by Joe DiPietro, opens. Plays run Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning June 17 through August 26, evenings at 7:30, Sundays at 2:30 in the Massari Performing Arts Center on the campus of Trinidad State Junior College.


Hey Dude, Where’s your Couch?

As Suzanne “Sam” de St. Jean likes to say, “You know you work in community theatre when your sofa spends more time on stage for productions than in your home.” That’s an example of what La Veta’s Francisco Center for the Performing Arts is all about. Volunteers are players, directors, coordinators, and set designers.

They also handle lighting, media relations, printing tickets, handbills, box office duties, and clean up. These people give their time endlessly. The Francisco Center for the Performing Arts is a non-profit organization that offers a wide variety of music, theatre, dance and other events. Proceeds from productions go toward the theatre’s building renovation fund and operating expenses. The purpose of the organization is to provide a place to highlight local talent and showcase special event performances of other entertainment and theatre groups.

Some of the Spanish Peaks Players

Their historic venue was originally a Presbyterian Church built in 1892. The Presbyterians donated the structure to the town of La Veta in the early 70’s for use by the Francisco Fort Museum. It’s now under the management of the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts. Over the years, many talented groups have called this stage home. The Spoon River Players, then the Fort Francisco Players and currently the Spanish Peaks Players, perform there. In addition, the second Friday of each month the La Veta Public Library sponsors a film at 7:00 p.m in the theatre. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. Selections are quality films generally not seen in mainstream movie theatres such as award-winning art and foreign films. Special refreshments are provided by The Sisters, a group of young ladies who provide community service. Proceeds from their sales go into their scholarship fund.
Come for fun, relaxation, the history, shopping, mingling with friends and of course, come to the theater. For more information on La Veta, go to or call (719) 742-6110.

Raton’s Shuler Theater Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

The Shuler Theater officially opened its doors April 27, 1915 with a touring show presentation of the popular musical comedy of the day, The Red Rose. A cast and orchestra of over 60 people, with tons of scenery and costumes transported from the railroad station by horse–drawn wagons delighted a capacity crowd of over 700 patrons. Dr. and Mrs. J.J. Shuler and their two daughters sat in one of two boxes for which they paid $50. Dr. Shuler, also Raton’s mayor, was principally responsible for establishing the auditorium and the entire city hall, fire station, police station and jail — all housed in the same building.  Trinidad architect William Rapp was commissioned to design the building. The interior was to conform to the classic European opera house formula. Interior decorations were designed by F. Mayer and were an approximation of 18th century rococo style.

   When Dr. Shuler died in 1919, city council renamed the City Auditorium to The Shuler Auditorium. The Shuler thrived during the 1920’s and 1930’s but fell into disrepair by the 1950’s when live entertainment gave way to movies. Many regretted the loss but none more than Miss Evlyn Shuler, daughter of Dr. Shuler. She, along with the Federated Women’s Clubs of Raton, arranged for a touring company, the Kaleidoscope Players, produced and directed by Bill Fegan, to present a show during the summer of 1962. The following year they returned to Raton and presented a full season of shows, and in the summer of 1964 they moved their entire operation to the Shuler. During the next ten years the Kaleidoscope Players were named the official state theater for New Mexico. By 1976 a Bi-Centennial Grant was awarded and under the direction of Kaleidoscope designer, Ken Sandelin, the entire theater was renovated, repainted and restored to its original grandeur. The Women’s Clubs took on the project of providing new seats in 1968 and in 1988.

   Today, the theater is in constant use by the Raton Arts Council with touring shows and by the Raton Schools with concerts and plays, and also by the 38- year-old Raton Choral Society. Local groups such as the Raton School of Dance and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce present their shows in the popular auditorium. The theater is open weekdays for tours conducted by the Shuler Restoration Commission.

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