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Venue Theatre set to open in Conifer

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New venture designed to provide performance education

By Sara Miller

William Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage,” and in the case of the 285 Corridor, the newest stage will be at the Venue Theatre in the Conifer Town Center. Set to open its doors in August, the Venue Theatre Company is the newest arts education program in the mountain community and is dedicated to musical theater education and performance for mountain area youths.

The Venue is the brainchild of Nelson Conway and a dedicated group of parents, educators, choreographers and musicians in the Conifer/Evergreen area. Conway retired in 2007 from a 25-year career teaching music and drama. He opened the Conifer High School music department in 1996 and directed an array of musical theater productions during his 10-year tenure. Since retirement, Conway has worked at StageDoor Theatre in Conifer, directing more than 20 middle school and high school productions.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to open a theater focused specifically on education and performance, where students can learn all aspects of theater and musical arts,” says Conway.

The Venue has established a volunteer board of directors with nine community members. The board also has four appointed student members who will participate in board meetings on a rotational basis to ensure adequate student representation in the Venue’s decision-making process.

“The group of people who have come together to make this happen are all dedicated to finding the extraordinary abilities that are in all of our youth and developing those abilities. An experience in theater education can help our children become well-rounded, creative, and more productive adult citizens,” says Conway.

The Venue will begin classes in August with auditions for its high school production of “Hairspray.” Auditions are scheduled for Aug. 13, 14 and 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are hoping to hold auditions in our new space, but interested students should check the Venue website for last minute location details,” says Conway.

Renovation on the Venue Theatre new space is scheduled to begin in the next three to five weeks. The Venue will take over three storefronts in the Conifer Town Center between Great Clips and Harmony Nails. The final product will be a 4,200-square-foot theater that seats up to 150 people. The stage will have a sprung floor, sometimes referred to as a floating floor. Sprung dance floors help absorb shock and prevent injuries. The Venue’s floor will accommodate the needs of student dancers and will also provide a place for classes such as Zumba provided by community groups that might want to rent space.

“Our ideal construction schedule consists of four to five weeks of work. My expectation is that we will have a fully functioning theater by late-October or early-November,” says Conway.

Construction dust will not prevent classes from starting at the Venue. Along with the fall high school production of “Hairspray,” middle school students will begin work on a production of “The Little Mermaid,” and elementary students will start rehearsals for “The Aristocats.” The high school company will also rehearse for its spring show, “Sweeney Todd.” High school and middle school direction will be provided by Conway with choreography by Maryjean Fowler. Elementary direction will be provided by Joni Havens.

“We have a dynamic and growing cultural scene up here in the mountains,” says Conway. “There are a lot of young families with students looking for opportunities to get involved in theater education. We are excited that the Venue will provide another place for students to pursue those interests.”

Registration is open online for all fall classes at the Venue. Interested families can find out more information by calling 720-432-4452 or visiting the website at www.thevenuetheatre.com.