- Aug. 25, 2022
CREEDE, Colo. — Last summer, I stumbled onto one of the most singular — and joyful — experiences of my life: a small community, high in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, that has been sustaining a thriving professional theater company since 1966. And I did not even see the regular version of Creede Repertory Theater — because of the pandemic, it had put on a smaller season of down-to-basic productions on a makeshift outdoor stage.
Not only were the people uncommonly nice and the shows good, but here was a place where theater was an integral part of the civic fabric. As soon as I left, I dreamed of returning.
So there I was last month, on vacation. I wanted to introduce the region to my spouse, but I was also curious to see a normal season, done indoors and in repertory (meaning that the resident acting company alternates shows). And I was really looking forward to seeing Creede Rep’s reigning divas, Christy Brandt and Anne F. Butler, do “Steel Magnolias.” (Brandt’s first season was in 1973, and this is Butler’s 19th season.)
We came really close to that plan tanking.
On July 18, I received an email from the theater informing me that all performances had been canceled because of a coronavirus outbreak. The shows would “return in full swing on Tuesday, July 26” — just two days before our arrival. Admittedly, my stress level was nothing compared to what those on the ground were experiencing.
“I’m glad I’m not in charge,” Brandt said when I caught up with her in Creede. “Especially this summer.”
Ironically, the very thing that has kept Creede Rep going for decades also helped fuel the Covid surge: “This company is founded on everybody working together,” Kate Berry, the associate artistic director, said. “This becomes your community and your friendship circle.”
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