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Theatrical throwdown 

Springs theater companies vie for your loyalty

Our mission was to capture, in just a couple sentences, what makes a theater company unique. Given all the variables — mission, attitude and history to name a few — it's a nearly impossible task.

Which is why rather than do it ourselves, we asked representatives of each of the major theater companies in town to do it for us. Sure, call us lazy. But if these folks are in the business of designing whole new worlds — making theatergoers believe they're in Shakespearean England, or 1920s New York City — they should be able to paint pretty vivid self-portraits, right?

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org

Approximate shows per year: 12

Theater company est. 1988

Warren Epstein, media relations and community outreach manager: "When I go someplace new, to a new city let's say, you know what I look for? I look for the arts district — for where the excitement is. We are a complete arts district under one roof: theater, art and classes. This is really a dynamic facility." The FAC brings nationally renowned plays and musicals to the Springs with big set design, elaborate special effects and costuming, and established directors and actors. Its efforts have paid off even in risky productions, such as Reefer Madness: The Musical, which sold out most of its early 2015 dates. Look for 4000 Miles through April 12, and Guys and Dolls from May 21 to June 14.

Millibo Art Theatre

1626 S. Tejon St., themat.org

Approx. shows per year: 15

Est. 2001

Jim Jackson, co-founder: "We're the only theater in town dedicated to doing new and original works on a professional level. Our plays either come from an in-house source, or we bring in the authors of the plays to help with the production. We are a theater for people who love theater. We even have circus, cabarets, and allow people to do improv." The MAT stages serious stories, like March's adventure drama K2, but also events about playwriting itself, such as April's Six Women Playwriting Festival, and kids' shows.

Springs Ensemble Theatre

1903 E. Cache la Poudre St., springsensembletheatre.org

Approx. shows per year: 4-6

Est. 2010

Jillmarie Peterson, secretary of the board of directors: "We are a true ensemble, and a democracy. Every play is voted on by our membership. ... Our actors don't work exclusively with us — they come from all over [the theater community] and collaborate with SET. Every member has a hand in every production, from the acting to the stage assembly and production." SET's mission statement emphasizes "diverse stories" exploring problems and choices "central to the human condition." Find A Late Snow (April 9 to 26) by Jane Chambers, Circle Mirror Transformation (Aug. 13 to 30) by Annie Baker, and Lonesome Hollow (Oct. 15 to Nov. 1) by Lee Blessing.

Star Bar Players

427 E. Colorado Ave., David Lord Theater at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, starbarplayers.org

Approx. shows per year: 4

Est. 1973

Alysabeth Clements Mosley, artistic director/media and public relations: "The oldest theater company in the Springs, we put on everything from American classics like Virginia Woolf and Waiting for Godot, to Shakespeare, new works, and to out-on-a-limb freak-fests like Bug or Killer Joe. Excellent, exciting, intimate-space theater with great intermission snacks." It's worth noting that Star Bar's home theater (which is shared by THEATREdART), in the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, is the newest venue in town. Look for Neil Simon's classic Barefoot in the Park in June.

THEATREdART

427 E. Colorado Ave., David Lord Theater at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, theatredart.org

Approx. shows per year: 6

Est. 2003

Kala Roquemore, marketing and media relationships director: "THEATREdART has forged on for eight seasons with volunteers, aficionados, romantics and weirdo misfits committed to exposing the region to experimental art on the stage. We strive to produce thought-provoking original work as well as adaptations through collaboration with local playwrights, directors, actors and designers. Our productions range from the wildly provocative to satirical vulgarity." (See, we told you they'd be better at this than we would.) This year, TdA takes up Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space (July 17 to Aug. 2), the film version of which has long been considered the worst movie ever made, and caps things off with an adaptation of Crime and Punishment (Nov. 6 to 22).

TheatreWorks

3955 Regent Circle, Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, theatreworkscs.org

Approx. shows per year: 10

Est. 1975

Caitlin Green, development director: "TheatreWorks is a professional theater company that has been producing classic and new plays in the Pikes Peak region for 40 years. We make excellent theater, in intimate spaces, with artists from across the country for audiences from across the state." The 2015-2016 season is a big one for TW, as it'll be celebrating its 40th anniversary, so the lineup should be memorable. But before then, you can check out The Liar, a work of legendary French dramatist Pierre Corneille (April 23 to May 10), adapted by David Ives. And keep up with the Prologue Series, a collaboration with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to organize public talks. In the past six months alone, it's brought drag legend Charles Busch and New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley to town.

While you've now met the heavy hitters locally, be aware that they're hardly alone. Funky Little Theater Company (funkylittletheater.org) and Black Box Theatre (blackboxdrama.com) have popped up in the past five years or so; the former seeks out contemporary works, especially in black drama, deaf culture and LGBTQ theater; the latter stages all kinds of plays while serving as something of a training ground for aspiring locals.

On the outskirts of the Pikes Peak region are three well-respected groups: the Damon Runyon Repertory (runyontheater.org) and Steel City Theatre Company (sctcpueblo.com) in Pueblo, and the Thin Air Theatre Company (thinairtheatre.com) in Cripple Creek. Also look out for a burgeoning community theater group in Fountain. And if you seek straight-up camp, Manitou Springs' Iron Springs Chateau (ironspringschateau.com) can't be beat.

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