Creede Repertory Theatre
With the decline of the silver mines in the 1960s, Creede needed a new source of income. In 1966, the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) met with pastor Jim Livingston and brainstormed about how to secure an attraction for summer visitors with the hope of stimulating business activity. Pastor Livingston loved theatre and, out of that love, a vision for Creede was born. They agreed to bring performances to the old opera/movie house. But to have performances, they needed performers, which were hard to find in the mining community. Still determined, they mailed letters to various universities, hoping that some excited students would answer the call to help build a summer theatre. One of those letters was posted on a bulletin board at the University of Kansas. Steve Grossman, a theatre student, saw the letter, took it down, and answered it. It was the only response the Jaycees received.
Under the direction of 19-year-old Steve Grossman, twelve students drove from KU to Creede. The Jaycees joined with them and with $32 in the bank, they mounted the first season. The twelve tireless students all performed in the shows, built the scenery, sewed the costumes, found or made props, lit the stage, and sold tickets for $1.00. The opening show, Mr. Roberts, electrified the Creede audience and received an enthusiastic standing ovation. Most people in that audience had never seen live theatre. The KU students went on to open four more plays over the next four weeks – The Bat, Our Town, The Rainmaker, and Born Yesterday – and run them all in repertory.
Now in our 56th season, the three keystones of the founding company remain: a repertory schedule, a meaningful variety of plays, and the creation of an ensemble.
We are now a nationally recognized theatre serving over 20,000 patrons during our summer season and 37,000 young people through our educational outreach programs.
Visitors and theatre practitioners alike have made their pilgrimages to Creede for its majestic beauty and the artistry of CRT.
The economic dreams of the Jaycess have been realized, as well. With the closing of the Homestake Mine in 1985, CRT became Mineral County’s largest summer employer growing from a company of 12 to over 100 company members in the past half-decade. Today CRT has an annual economic impact of nearly $3 million locally and over $4 million to the state of Colorado.
What is Repertory?
The rotating repertory schedule is one of the most exciting and challenging ways to present a season of plays. It allows a visitor to Creede to see five different plays in one week. CRT dedicates itself to a variety of plays in one season.
The CRT Mainstage started life in the 1930s as a movie house. Later, it became The Creede Opera House, where owner and loveable eccentric, Carl Helfin, staged melodramas. It had been shuttered for a few years before its rebirth in 1966.
In its history as the home of CRT, it has been through fires, floods, and renovations. Floors have been added, spaces transformed, and some company members swear the third floor is haunted. Today, it houses our 230-seat proscenium stage, Helfin rehearsal hall, staff offices, box office, gift shop, concessions, costume shop, costume inventory, and countless odd nooks and crannies.
The Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre
CRT opened the Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre (“the Ruth”) in 2011 with the generosity of the Humphreys Brown family, numerous private donors, foundations, and state and federal support.
The Ruth can seat up to 199 people in a range of formats from thrust to in-the-round. It is an intimate and accessible space equipped with climate control allowing for year-round use, providing a much-needed space for Creede community events.
About Ruth Humphreys Brown
The life of Ruth Humphreys Brown was varied, full of generosity, and never dull. It was defined by her love of family, friends, and her appreciation for the outdoors – in particular Wagon Wheel Gap, where she spent her summers. She was born Nov 11, 1921, the daughter of A.E. and Ruth Boettcher Humphreys of Denver and was a theatre major at Finch College in New York City. In 1943, she was accepted into the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots program. In 2010, she and her fellow WASPs received the Congressional Gold Medal for service during World War II.
She returned to Aspen after the War, where she lived until her marriage to DRC Brown, a founder and president of the Aspen Ski Corporation. The famed Ruthie’s Run on Aspen Mountain was named in honor of her efforts to find a better way down the mountain for intermediate skiers. She and DRC lived on a ranch in Carbondale and raised their family there – spending part of their summers and some Christmases in Creede. During her many years in the Roaring Fork Valley, Ruth helped start the Tri County Medical Center, the Brown Ice Palace, the Aspen Recovery Unit, the Bold Ski program for blind skiers, and the first Outward Bound Program in the U.S.
The Humphreys family has long ties to the town of Creede. Ruth’s grandfather, A.E. Humphreys was involved in mining, oil, and manufacturing. In the 1890s, his mining interests took him to Creede during the silver boom and he was there during the time of Nicholas Creede. Then, in the early 1920s, Ruth’s grandfather built a summer mountain retreat above Wagon Wheel Gap that remains an important gathering place for generations of family and friends.
Awards & Recognitions
Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards
Best New Play, Hazardous Materials by Beth Kander
Developed as part of CRT’s Headwaters New Play Program
Outstanding Regional Theatre Award
True West Awards
Outstanding 50th Season
August 8, 2015
Creede Repertory Theatre Day
August 31, 2019
Creede Repertory Theatre Day
August 31, 2020
Creede Repertory Theatre Day