On the move: Coming season for Colfax Arts District promises plenty in way of arts, culture


Summer temperatures may still be blazing, but the cooler and more cultural months of fall aren’t so far away.

The final weeks of August and first weeks of September are more than the end of summer vacation for schoolchildren and a relief from 90-degree days. That stretch is also the unofficial kickoff to theater, dance and concert seasons across Aurora and the rest of the metro area. With less than two months until the area’s best and brightest artists, actors and musicians start formally offering their wares to audiences, we thought we’d get an early start on planning. Here are some of the best bets for the coming months in terms of local culture. An interesting sidenote: we focused on events in Aurora, a testimony to just how far this burg has come in terms of its
artistic offerings.

That much is clear in the coming season from the city’s oldest theater company. The Aurora Fox theater’s 2014-15 stretch, formally titled “The Storytellers,” includes two regional premieres. The schedule is set to kick off with the musical “Once On This Island” from Sept. 12 to Oct. 5. The children’s comedy “Red Ranger Came Calling” will run from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. The regional premiere of the musical “Big Fish,” which Packard has called the centrepiece of the season, will run from Feb. 27 to March 22, and the regional premiere of the drama “She Kills Monsters” will wrap up the season from April 24 to May 16.

“I did see (‘Big Fish’) in New York, and even though it was a mess to some extent, it was still deeply moving to me and to the audience. I’ve never seen such an emotional audience at a Broadway show,” Packard said earlier this year, adding that the Broadway production didn’t do proper justice to the narrative structure of the show. Not surprisingly, that structure has a lot to do with the art of storytelling. “It wasn’t written for Broadway; it was written for us,” Packard insisted.

Those flagship productions will come along with two add-on shows, productions that are not part of the regular season package. The comedy “Fully Committed” will run in the Fox studio theater from Nov. 21 to Dec. 28 and the regional premiere of the drama “Beets” by local playwright Rick Padden is scheduled from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8.

Those will come along with new productions throughout the year by resident company Ignite Theatre. The Ignite troupe is set to produce the well-known musical “Rent” in August.

Just around the corner, the Vintage Theatre on Dayton Street in the Aurora Cultural Arts District has its own big plans for the fall. The troupe has revealed an ambitious schedule for the season; thanks to the theater’s simultaneous operation of the main Nickelson Auditorium and the Bond Trimble black box space, the Vintage will offer a constantly revolving selection of shows.

That kicks off in August with a production of “Mack and Mabel,” followed by “I Do! I Do!” in September, “Harold and Maude” in October and the musical “Miss Saigon” in December.

These stage offerings will coincide with one of the biggest transformations to hit the area along East Colfax in recent memory. The entire look of the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Florence Street is set to change with the construction of a new performing arts space to house the Kim Robards Dance Studio.

In less than a year, the empty retail space that dominates the busy intersection will  reopen as the newest anchor of the Aurora Cultural Arts District. Nicknamed “The People’s Building” by city planners, the former furniture store will relaunch as the new home for the Kim Robards Dance studio. Construction plans for the 13,000-square-foot arts center include a 160-seat main theater, studios, dressing rooms, office space and a smaller, black-box theater. A new restaurant and an expanded parking lot are also part of the early designs for the complex.

“That whole block is going to change tremendously,” said Kim Robards in June, who now runs her studio out of a smaller space on the other side of Colfax. “I’m just so excited for what it will bring to the community

Robards’ old space will host the studio’s season until the new facility opens in January or February. That lineup is set to include several new works choreographed by Robards and set to a wide variety of orchestral music.