The Elitch Theatre has been a vital part of Colorado’s cultural landscape since its inception in 1891. Having the honor of being Colorado’s first cultural center, the Elitch Theatre was home to the oldest summer stock theatre in America and hosted the screening of Colorado’s first moving picture in 1896. Many pioneers and famous faces of the theatre industry such as Grace Kelly, Douglas Fairbanks and Edward G. Robinson, to name a few, passed through this iconic American playhouse at one point in their career. One early star, nicknamed “Tony”, was 11 years old when she debuted on the famous Elitch stage. This Denver girl grew up to be famous Broadway producer, Antoinette Perry, namesake of the “Tony Awards”.
The Elitch Theatre’s founder, Mary Elitch, has an incredible history all her own as the world’s first female zookeeper and the first woman to own a theatre in the United States. Though she never had her own, Mary Elitch loved children and offered many programs at her park, often at no cost, to attract them. Mary created a school of drama, dance and art. She provided a special place where children could explore their talents in acting, enroll in ballet and ballroom lessons and learn to paint.
The Elitch Theatre delighted Denver audiences for 100 years, with the last production occurring in 1991. Subsequently, this historic and iconic Denver landmark has fallen into disrepair. In 2002, a group of concerned citizens created the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation. This 501(c)3 non-profit organization was created for the express purpose of restoring the theatre and creating sustainable programming.
Many, many actors graced the Elitch Theatre’s stage over the years. To see the list, click here