A FLAME DOUSED: Ignite Theatre to shutter by month’s end

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AURORA | The theater company that brought Aurora a bevy of big-name musicals, including “Rent,” “American Idiot,” and — most recently — “The Wiz,” is closing up shop at the end of the month, directors for Ignite Theatre announced this weekend.

A musical production arm of Lucent Performing Arts, Ignite’s final show will be “The Wiz,” which opened on the Aurora Fox Arts Center Main Stage Friday night and runs through Jan. 29, according to a Monday morning statement released on behalf of Ignite.

Will Adams, the company’s co-founder and executive producer, originally broke the news about Ignite’s conclusion before the opening night performance Jan. 7, according to a report published by the news source tied to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

“Eight years and 31 productions later, Ignite Theatre has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of actors, directors, designers and musicians, and many thousands of audience members,” Adams said in a statement. “We’ve created a difference in the Denver-area theatre community.”

Adams in 2009 co-founded Ignite, originally named Gravity Defied Theatre, along with Keith Rabin Jr. and Reace Daniel. The company’s first production was “bare: the musical.”

In the news release, Ignite pointed to changes at the Aurora Fox, the company’s long-time creative home, and an overburdened board of directors as reasons for its quietus.

Rabin, Ignite’s artistic director, announced last summer he would at the end of January be leaving the company he helped found.

“As I quickly near the end of my time in the Denver theatre community, and as Ignite Theatre slowly dims its flame until the next spark of creativity lights it I can only say that I’ve met some of the most amazing, loving and supportive people who took us to where we are today,” Rabin said in a statement.

Several members of the local theater community championed Ignite’s past success.

“It’s the end of a great run for them,” said Charlie Packard, executive director of the Aurora Fox. “This is not a tragic thing, this is a lifecycle thing.”

Packard said Ignite’s bold musical selections helped serve an audience segment that was not regularly satiated with the Fox’s seasonal choices. He added that Ignite’s flight from the Aurora Cultural Arts District will create a temporary programming gap which will need to be addressed.

“They were filling a niche for audiences that the Fox isn’t really filling, and it’s not really Vintage’s niche either,” Packard said. “So I need to rethink some of my selections and efforts to make sure that we’re finding that newer, younger audience that really responded to Ignite’s selections.

“There isn’t really another theater company comparable to Ignite, working at Ignite’s level. But we’ll be making some new contacts and seeing who’s out there,” he added.

Ignite’s parent venture, Lucent Performing Arts, will remain active to pursue future programs, “such as educational workshops, guerrilla theatre or remounts of past productions,” according to a press statement.