Curtains up on new stage at Vintage

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Staff from the Vintage Theatre in Aurora say about $5,000 in construction to the building’s main stage will result in bigger set designs and more elaborate productions.

Construction crews have lowered the stage in the theater’s 147-seat Nickelson Auditorium by 3 feet, opening the space for taller sets and freeing the wings for musicians. The original stage was part of the design when the building opened in 2008 as the Shadow Theatre.

According to Vintage Theatre Artistic Director Craig Bond, the lower stage will help lighting and sound in the main auditorium. The added space will offer designers, directors and actors more freedom when it comes to staging large-scale productions like the musical “Young Frankenstein,” set to premiere Dec. 20.

“My lighting designers are thrilled,” Bond said. “They’re saying, ‘Now we don’t have to cook the actors.’ They got another 3 feet of throw off it, which is really cool.”

The change to the main auditorium is the latest project by the Vintage since the troupe moved into the building nearly two years ago. Bond and his crew refit studio space to build a small black-box theater in 2012, and they redesigned the front lobby of the building to include a small cabaret stage.

“Now we’re adding food service for additional revenue for this show,” Bond said, pointing to a new menu provided by Copacabana Grill catering company set to launch with the premiere of “Young Frankenstein.” “We’re going to try it for the whole run and see how it goes. Hopefully, this will feed into the cabaret. I’d love to get people to stick around and eat something.”

Along with including guest companies in the Vintage Theatre’s regular season, the construction projects and service expansions have all been part of a push to put a definitive stamp on the building.

“I feel like we’re finally moved in with this construction,” Bond said. “Now, every area of the building has been touched by us.”

Bond is hoping all of those pushes will translate into bigger crowds. The Vintage lost about 2,000 annual audience members when it moved from its old digs on 17th Street in Denver to Aurora, Bond said, and the theater is working to rebuild its base. The push found traction with the commercial and critical success of “RFK” last year.

The troupe is looking for a similar degree of success with “Young Frankenstein,” a musical based on the classic film written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. Directed by Vintage vet and Equinox Theatre Company co-founder Deb Flomberg, the show is set to run until February. Along with an advertising push, Vintage staff is hoping the pop culture currency of the show will draw new crowds.

When they show up to the theater, those audiences are set to find a stage with more space and a higher ceiling.

“It was really all about making my designers happy,” Bond said. “They were so excited to have more room to design as well as be able to keep it intimate.”

Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at 720-449-9707 or [email protected]