Coming year will see new stage, guest companies at Vintage Theatre


AURORA | The future of the Vintage Theatre company will depend in large part on creative collaboration.

Since moving into its new digs on Dayton Street in Aurora nearly six months ago, the company has already set an ambitious pace, mounting three full productions in addition to hosting guest shows by sister companies.

That stride is only likely to ramp up in the coming months, according to Vintage Artistic Director Craig Bond. With the completion of a new, black-box theater in the wings of the building at 1468 Dayton Street, the troupe will be able to manage a schedule that will include a constant flow of shows in the next 12 months.

That lineup is set to include shows from a new pair of guest companies, Bond said. Theatre Esprit Asia, an Asian-American troupe formed by actors from the Vintage’s production of “The Joy Luck Club,” will stage three productions in 2013. “Sworded Tails and Spirit Treks,” “Dust Storm” and “99 Histories” will all be part of the inaugural season by the company created by actresses Tria Xiong and Maria Cheng.

What’s more, the Aurora theater will host shows by the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre, a troupe directed by Nicki Runge. Runge starred in the Community College of Aurora’s 2010 production of “Romeo and Juliet,” a staging that translated Shakespeare’s lines into American Sign Language and converted the imagery, characters and metaphors into hand gestures.

The RMDT will stage a production of “Some Girls” in October, followed by “Eight Reindeer” in December and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” next year.

“Vintage is strengthening artistic partnerships to offer these fledgling companies,” Bond said. “We’re trying to work with some lovely new companies and get more people through the door.”

Bond admits that the theater’s board has faced some tough decisions since the company moved from its former home on East 17th Avenue to the former Shadow Theatre building in Original Aurora, which had carried the moniker of the Dayton Street Theatre since 2011.

The expiration of the building’s liquor license and its pending renewal have meant a weekly loss of $400 in anticipated revenue, Bond explained. The theater’s production of the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” didn’t sell tickets as it should have, he said, adding that the stress of making the $8,000 monthly mortgage payment meant letting Debbie Lauretta, the theater’s sole full-time employee, earlier this summer.

“We are keeping our head above water right now. When your mortgage payment goes from $2,000 to $8,000 a month … it’s a daunting task, with the same programming amount, to hit that,” Bond said. “It takes a lot to manage a theater company and keep it going.”

The opening of the new black-box theater and the inclusion of the new companies at the building will help drive a year-round schedule at the theater on Dayton Street.

“Right now, we’ve been cranking a show every two weeks,” Bond said. “Next year, we close on a Sunday and we’re opening on that following Friday five days later. Your revenue potential goes higher. That’s the great news for Vintage. It eases up the pressure and it keeps the revenue going at a higher rate.”