CREEDE — The Creede Repertory Theatre finished its 2022 season during Labor Day weekend and though the season presented some challenges, the theatre is still thankful for a successful run.
“Everything about this summer was extreme. It was our welcome back season and I do think that it really lived up to that,” said Creede Repertory Theatre Director John DiAntonio.
The season kicked off Memorial Day weekend with two major productions opening and the theatre also welcomed patrons back to the in-house theatre for the first time in two years.
“We were welcoming audiences back into both theatres. When we opened that first weekend, on the Main Stage, it had been something like 1,050 days since we had last performed in there. It was an absurdly high number, so it was really beautiful and magical. Especially those first audiences were like, wow, I’ve missed this; this feeling,” he said.
It was moments like this that pulled the theatre through the 2022 season. The emotion behind opening both theatres, welcoming audiences and supporters back with open arms and pulling out all the stops for a season of top-of-the-line shows made for an epic season even though there were hiccups along the way.
“The press coverage we received with the New York Times coming back for a second year, that and other press and word of mouth brought about 1,000 new people to the theatre this year which was a really exciting number. Our overall numbers were just shy of pre-pandemic numbers and that was what we really needed,” DiAntonio said.
DiAntonio also said that being able to host the 20th anniversary of the KiD Show was momentous.
“We did it, we made it 20 years, so that was very special. It was also the fact that it was returners of KiD Shows past that wrote the play. It was very special,” he said.
The theatre was also able to offer free childcare to their company and staff members, which was a huge benefit to many parents that worked through the season.
“I think there were 10 to 12 children under the age of 5 and so many parents were so grateful,” DiAntonio said. “Typically, when you have children in the theatre world, your career is on pause for x number of years, so that was also very special and challenging. As I said before, everything was very extreme this year.”
DiAntonio explained that the entire season, extremes and all, came down to the fact that the shows were amazing.
“The return to storytelling was wonderful and amazing,” he said. “The four main shows that we were able to put up were just phenomenal. ‘Steel Magnolias’ alone was very emotional and magical. Audiences went through the gamut of emotions and doing so in a room with 150 other people is special.”
Just after the Fourth of July celebrations, the theatre had to close for a few weeks due to COVID cases among the company and staff.
“We found ourselves in a 10-day pause despite our best efforts was stressful,” he said. “I won’t sugar coat that. It was hard on everyone, but we were really lucky. The town really stepped up and helped when we needed to isolate folks. The number of community members that stood up and offered guest rooms or apartments, it was amazing and moving. We are very appreciative.”
Due to the need to close during that time, the theatre had to make another difficult decision and chose not to open “The Royal” but was able to fill the additional time with other productions and musical shows.
“We rallied. That was what we had to do and what we have had to do the last two years. Props to the staff here,” DiAntonio said. “They’re tough and they’re workers and in those tough times you can divide, or you can come together, and we came together. I was so impressed with the core team who got the brunt of the hard decision and pivoting throughout the season.”
Overall, the season was a success and now that the main part of summer is over, the theatre plans to switch gears and focus on some shows to fill the gaps during the fall and winter months.
DiAntonio stated that there will be a “Bootown” production at the end of October and more Boomtown productions near the holiday season. The theatre will be announcing their 2023 season plans in coming weeks.