Just ask the Boomtown Players, the local theater group. Ask how much they want a REAL stage with theater lighting, dressing rooms, etc., and watch their faces light up with anticipation. We have a lot of potential for great entertainment in the works right here.
But, then, Rifle has always been a good audience for theater. The school district has put on some truly magnificent plays and musicals and will continue to do so. In "ancient" times, there were the Dilettante Players (a subsidiary of the Bookcliffs Arts Council, who mostly raised funds for the arts at Rifle High School), the melodrama group at the United Methodist Presbyterian Church, and I'm sure I'm missing others equally as deserving. When you think how much talent has always resided in this community, it is a shame we haven't had the facilities they deserve all along.
The old high school/administration building/Colorado Mountain College/now Grand River Student Health Clinic had a decent stage with dressing rooms (including a shower and other facilities), but the theater hall was still a gymnasium floor. It worked well enough, but was not dedicated to the purpose of theater and was repurposed years ago. The New Ute Events Center will be able to provide that dedicated facility for drama, comedy, musicals, any theater productions.
The auditorium at the high school has definitely seen its share of productions. Not only the school district, but many other groups have performed there, often filling the auditorium to capacity. It has been used and appreciated over the years, but it would transform the experience of performers and audience alike to have a back stage with dressing rooms, state-of-the-art lighting, sound, acoustics and flexible and comfortable seating. The New Ute is designed to accommodate all of these amenities.
So, let's support our local talent by providing them with a performance space that affords them the opportunity to reach their potential and affords the rest of us a comfortable space in which to be entertained.
Show your support for the New Ute Events Center. In the words of an old theater device, "If you want Tinkerbell to survive, we need to hear your applause."
Elizabeth Stuver is a board member of the New Ute Theatre Society. For information about the events center project, call (970) 414-0834 or go online to utetheater.com. Mailing address is P.O. Box 907, Rifle, CO 81650.