Longmont Theatre Company is celebrating their fiftieth anniversary in 2007. A long history devoted to bringing entertainment and culture to Longmont and its surrounding communities.
The Longmont Theater Company was created in 1957 as a fund raising effort for The Longmont Community Hospital. The Hospital Auxiliary wanted to raise money for Longmont's new hospital but they wanted to have fun doing it as well as involving as many people as possible to maximize community support. They decided to put on a show.
In the spring of 1957 the idea of a local community theater company originated in the form of The Potpourri Players. Betty Tripp Hottel and Gen McMahen were credited with suggesting the idea. Gen had a long-standing interest in the theater; however, the group had very little experience with producing a show. Undaunted, they recruited people who did have theater experience to get their fund raising project off the ground. Tom Kiteley, Roger Tracy, Annette Menzel, Susan Mackie, Al James and Marie Stratman, to name a few, brought their considerable talents in set construction, directing and producing to make their first season a success. The Potpourri Players were very proud to be able to allow the Hospital Auxiliary to turn over a check for $1500 to the hospital.
In 1969, the Potpourri Players ventured out on their own as all the funds were raised and the hospital was completed. The Potpourri Players were now solely focused on becoming a non profit 501(c) 3 community theater organization.
The Potpourri Players were willing to perform almost anywhere. In the beginning, they did not have a theater space they could call their own. The first two plays were performed at the Main Street School, formerly the Longmont Junior High School. The third play was performed at Roosevelt Park Auditorium. Then, they moved to the Dickens's Opera House, The Moose Lodge, Longmont Senior High School Auditorium and The Elk's Club. The Junior High Auditorium became available and The Potpourri Players went to work on renovations of the auditorium and settled in for a while. It looked as though they had found a home.
In the 1980's Potpourri Players were presented with the challenge of finding yet another home as The Junior High Auditorium was not longer available to them. But as the saying goes "When one door closes another one opens" The Trojan Theater at 513 Main Street in Downtown Longmont was up for sale. The Potpourri Players couldn't imagine a better home. The original owners of the theater, the Richard Klein Family, were very supportive and sold the theater to the company at a price that met their budget.
The Trojan Theater was a beautiful Art Deco movie house that was well known and loved in Longmont. The Potpourri Players renovated the movie house to accommodate the needs of a performing arts theater while maintaining the unique Art Deco aesthetic. The Players were very proud to have a permanent place to perform and many hours of fund raising, community support and plain old elbow grease went into renovating the historic movie theater transforming it to the performing arts center it is today.
Finally, The Potpourri Players were no longer nomads producing shows in schools, community halls and anywhere they could find a suitable space to perform. The purchase and renovation of their permanent home also motivated the theater company to further formalize the organization. The Potpourri Players became The Longmont Theater Company in 1991.
Today, LTC presents five main stage productions and is the home of its own Dramatic Arts Academy for school aged students. The Dramatic Arts Academy also presents two Children's Theater shows per year.
During the season, a One Act Play is taken to the Colorado Community Theater Coalition Competition. LTC has won multiple Colorado Community Theater Coalition Awards. As recently as 2006, LTC placed second over all Colorado community theaters for their presentation of " Laundry and Bourbon" directed expertly by Scott Dunn. Each year, the CCTC competition is held in different locales across Colorado. LTC has been an active participant in the CCTC competitions since their first entry in 1995.
A Taste of Shakespeare is the education outreach arm of the Longmont Theatre Company. It is a rich program that brings the works of Shakespeare to the community since 1993. Taste is a traveling troupe that offers free full-length plays across the Front Range. A Taste of Shakespeare offers education through free workshops known as Shakeshops. These workshops are typically held from September through May and focuses on the actor and their relationship to Shakespeare's words. Last season, A Taste Of Shakespeare brought " Much Ado About Nothing" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the community with a bit of a twist. "Much Ado" with a pirate theme and "Midsummer" was set in the Louisiana bayou. Over recent years, A Taste of Shakespeare has presented; "King Lear", "The Tempest", "Macbeth" and "As You Like It" to name a few. A Taste of Shakespeare is a vital LTC program that educates while keeping the beauty of theater's classical alive and relevant.
In the early years, Potpourri Players developed their own awards ceremonies for each season. The first awards being dubbed the Hammus Alabamus, which was given to the actor and actress in a major role that season. The Hammus Alabamus award was voted on by a three-person committee and was offered in the form of a small ceramic pig. May the biggest ham win! Some honored at that time were Mary Simonsen, Fannie Cook, Gen McMahen, Harriett Amicarella, Roger Tracy and Steve Patrick in the 1950's and 1960's. Jack Stalley, Chuck Saxton, Jamie Farr, Dennis Karr, Marian Bennett, Danny Baker, Rick Schenker, Sue Dole in the 1970's.
In the late 1970's, as the Company became more sophisticated, they decided to honor outstanding achievements in a wider variety of categories and with their own version of the Tony Awards. The Theater Arts Recognition Awards, or TARA Awards were created. The TARA Awards was a production in itself. The event is carefully organized and presented at the end of each season. Awards are given to outstanding achievement in Acting, Directing and Technical Achievements. The TARA Awards are also a wonderful way to celebrate a successful season of theater and, of course, see old friends.
Some early TARA Award winners included Best Play; "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", Best Director; Steve Simpson, Best Actor; Arnold Turner, Best Actress; Sue Dole, Best Supporting Actor; Brad Handley, Best Supporting Actress; Marian Bennett, Best Producer; Carol Kiteley, Best Make Up; Angie Minici, Best Costume Design; Velma Simpson, Best Lighting; Jim Randazzo, Best Set Design; Steve Gunn, Best Props; Sandy Newcomb The Most Recent TARA awards went to the following; Best Play, I Hate Hamlet; Best Director, Micah Abrams and Elizabeth Dunn; Best Actor, Jim Porter; Best Actress, Stacy Cappo; Best Supporting Actor, Dennis King; Best Supporting Actress, Marion Bennett and Cara Brostrom; Best Actor Musical, John Riggs; Best Actress Musical, Tara Sosna; Best Producer, Jan Davison and Beryl Worland; Best Hair/Make Up, Jennifer Finley; Best Costume Design, Judy Ernst; Best Lighting, Doug Stillings; Best Set Design, Jackie Aves; Best Props, Debi Stevenson; Best Choreographer, Heather Robillard; Best Musical Director, Art Ortega and Jennifer Gaydosh.
It is evident that the success of LTC belongs to the community both in its participants and its patrons. I am a very new member of the LTC family and had the privilege of working with some of LTC's most cherished and devoted contributors. To mention all of LTC's valuable members would fill volumes, so instead will highlight a few names that have appeared over and over again in my research of the theater. My apologies to anyone I have missed.
Gen McMahen, Vivian Fausset, Betty Tripp Hottel, Tom Kiteley, Roger Tracy, Annette Menzel, Susan Mackie, Al James, Marie Stratman, Anne Matlack, Jo Vosacek, Bob Barker, Rich Schenker, Kryste Johnson, Arnold Turner, Dennis Karr, John Miller, Cindy Pierpont, Gary Helmers, Renee Arena, Charles Frodsham, Lillian Hall, Carol Kiteley, Dick Leavitt, Dan Baker, Cleta Fenton, Rod Ahlberg, John Meyer, Fannie Cook, Steve Simpson, Bill Schwenn, Charles Saxton, Patti Taylor, Mike Kuettner, Janice Berger, Sue Dole, Pam Eicher, Anita Kratzer, Barbara Merrell, Jim Randazzo, Steve Russell, Lynne Saunders, Leona Heimbecher, Angie Minici, Art Glitzner, Mary Simonsen, Harriet Amicarelli, Steve Patrick, Jack Stalley, Jamie Farr, Danny Baker, Rick Schencker, Chuck O'Brien, Lloyd Jones, Steve Rundlett, Diane Gilliam, Gretchen Fowler, Rhonda Booth, Kay Hultgren, Jeanne Parr, Kenny Christensen, Ann Eastep Bair, Dick Barnes, Ted Neiswanger, Sue Peterson, Julie Marino, Clayton Timms, Mike Romero, Liana Huey, Karen Borkowski, Sarah Freeman, Mike Curtis, Debbie Zarich, David Ambroson, Stephane Roscoe, Nigel Aves, Bob Buckley, Tom Anderson, Sarah Krom, Beth Anderson, Ann Lehman, Tom Lewis, Sarah Lee McGroaty, Mike Stedman, Sharon Kirby-Cole, Greg Adams, Vicki Bliss, Bob Woolsey, Kurt Keilbach, Jerry Routt, Lloyd Norton, Sharon Sheets, Peter Johnson, Jim Carver, Steve Carver, Bek Aves, Richard Honey, Dan Wright, Sheri Davis, Elizabeth Dunn, Micah Abrams, Steve Rausch, John Thornberry, Kylin Alderman, Elizabeth Meehan, Kim Gillman, Jennifer Scheidies, Bunk Hess, Jennifer Gaydosh, Art Ortega, Bob Coombes, Jason Prinz, Mike Zarich, Andy Ernst, Judy Ernst, Jackie Aves, Doug Stillings, Jennifer Finley, Debi Stevenson, Heather Frost, Heather Robillard, Jan Davison, Len and Beryl Worland, Dennis King, Cara Brostrom, Craig Shimek, Aimee Woods, Jim Porter, Stacy Cappo, John Riggs, Peter Muller, Ricky Lee Landrum, Scott Dunn, Chris Porter, Chris Parr, Nina Davis, Le Donahue, Andrew Ernst, Brian Ernst, Barb White, John White, Dan Kushmaul, Tracy Hagemann, David LaFont, Jesse Weber, Rose Chamberlain, John Thone, Shannon Zimmerman, Sarah Krom, and many others.
There are two people who helped considerably with the content for this 50th Anniversary Tribute. Many of you know them from their work on the stage and behind the scenes. Their involvement with LTC is an example of the work and commitment that has been supplied by many to make LTC successful for half a century.
Marion Bennett has been with LTC since its days as the Potpourri Players. She was a member of the board from 1977 to 1982. Her gift for acting is award winning in such shows as "Lost In Yonkers" " I Hate Hamlet", " Dearly Departed" and " Cat On a Hot Tin Roof". LTC audiences have enjoyed her work for many years. Her devotion to the Longmont Theater Company is the foundation of why LTC is still a thriving theater company 50 years after its inception.
Brie Michaels also started her association with LTC as a Potpourri Player. Brie was the outstanding director of "Noises Off", "Dearly Departed", "The Diary of Anne Frank", "Jesus Chris Superstar" and many others over the years. She has also provided us with wonderful performances in such plays as "A Street Car Named Desire", One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Veronica's Room". Brie's multiple talents for directing and acting have been delighting LTC audiences for many years as well. Her considerable contributions to LTC are to be recognized and celebrated.
The fact that Marion and Brie have been involved with LTC for so long is not only a tribute to their commitment but also a testimony to the theater and its commitment to bring quality entertainment to Colorado through the arts. We applaud you Longmont Theater Company. Congratulations on your 50th Season of Theater and to all the Marion Bennett's and Brie Michaels' that have given their hearts and souls to bring you here.