As I prepared for the opening night of Million Dollar Quartet recently, I did something I had not done in 19 years – I checked the weather report. It has been so long since I’ve thought about the weather as a part of my process! We get spoiled working in an indoor theatre where variables such as weather don’t matter – we know exactly what to expect. This past year has been a steady stream of never knowing what to expect, and I’m so grateful that I had my Arvada Center family to weather the storm with me.
The cast of Million Dollar Quartet, photo by Leslie Simon
The pandemic gave us a chance to innovate and adapt, trying new ideas at a time when “how we usually do things” was downright impossible. More importantly, the past year gave me time to reflect on the past. If you had told me a year ago that we would be back producing musicals outside in our amphitheatre, I would have never believed you. Yet here we are. It’s been 19 years since I produced a musical in this unique space, and I’m honored and delighted that we were able to not only bring musical theatre back to the Center, but to also revisit our roots.
I’ve been at the Center for a long time and while I have seen a lot of changes over that time, I’ve never seen us shut down and cancel our programming. Things were hard to grasp at first- what do we do with no theatre? As safety guidelines started to loosen, I completed pages and pages of safety worksheets from Actors’ Equity Association. Our first priority was to create an atmosphere that kept our actors, crew, and audiences safe – as we waited to hear if Million Dollar Quartet was a go, we knew that with every day that passed, we were taking even more of a risk.
We took a chance, and I’m so happy we did. Shortly after we became the first theatre in our region to receive approval for indoor theatre with Small Mouth Sounds, we were also approved to produce Million Dollar Quartet in our Outdoor Amphitheatre. We chose to produce this rock’n’roll musical outdoors so that we could properly distance a larger audience, and in doing so, we are paying an homage to our early days of theatre under the stars. The pandemic was the biggest challenge the Center had faced in 45 years, but we knew that not only did we have to create, we had to do it in the high-quality way that you have come to expect. We had to do it right.
As the first guitar chords strummed out on opening night and I watched faces light up again, I felt a deep gratitude for everyone who supported the Center during this tumultuous time. From the crew working in overdrive to produce a big musical in a short timeframe to our donors and supporters who helped us keep our heads above the water financially during a time when we couldn’t sell tickets. Everyone not only showed up, but doubled down. As I look forward to next year, I feel invigorated. My faith in the work we do and the people we do it for is steadfast, and I can’t wait to continue this journey with all of you.
We are on a positive path – back toward full houses and sold out shows again. But we have a long way to go. The past year and a half has left a mark on all of us in the arts – we’ve come to realize the value of theatre in our lives and how we can move forward again. I know that the Arvada Center is a place that means the world to me and so many others, and I know that we can count on your support to help us bounce back better than ever before.
Thank you for your continued support – see you at the theatre!
Producing Artistic Director of Musical Theatre