Midtown Arts Center finds its new home…at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

In a joint agreement with Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center will cease operations in its current facility. Image courtesy of davindisign.com

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Gloria Shanstrom

Midtown Arts Center, formerly Carousel Dinner Theatre, has been serving Broadway-style entertainment to Northern Colorado since 1991. In 2010, the business moved from its original location growing its space from 7,500 sq ft to its current 22,000 sq ft facility at 3750 Mason Street, Fort Collins, Colorado. In January of 2018 the facility that houses Midtown Arts Center was sold to Housing Catalyst of Fort Collins with plans for a multi-million dollar renovation to provide permanent/supportive low-income housing to the Fort Collins area. The search began to find a new facility that included possibilities such as renovating existing “big-box” spaces and a full ground-start new build.

In a joint agreement with Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center, as of September 1, 2019, will cease operations in its current facility allowing its patrons and legacy to become part of the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse family.

Kurt Terrio, Producer/President of Midtown Arts Center, cites the changing landscape of Northern Colorado (including the rapid growth of communities along the northern I-25 corridor such as Johnstown, Windsor, Loveland, Wellington, Firestone, Greeley and others) as redefining what’s now geographically central in Northern Colorado compared to the inception of Carousel Dinner Theatre in 1991.

Terrio: “The determining factor for me, in the quest for a new building, was that I realized I was trying to recreate something that already existed on a larger scale a mere 15 minutes down the road. Candlelight (Dinner Playhouse) with its newly improved kitchen, set-building facilities, ample parking, 350-seat auditorium, and 10-year history of also providing professional Broadway-style entertainment seemed like the perfect choice for a centralized, accessible and permanent home for Broadway theater in the Northern Colorado area.

Terrio also cites the supportive, yet challenging atmosphere of having two large professional dinner theaters in such close-proximity. “Having two successful professional dinner theaters in a Northern Colorado population area that is a fraction of the size of a metropolitan area is almost miraculous. It’s lightning in a bottle… a true testament of support for the arts in Northern Colorado.” Terrio recalls he and Candlelight owner Dave Clark being interviewed earlier this Spring by an author who is devoting an entire chapter to this phenomenon in an upcoming book about regional theaters across the United States. “That being said, of course Dave and I would agree there have been challenges as we are constantly splitting our audiences, talent pool, and show titles. At some point, I think both businesses felt stifled and unable to fully grow to a level that competes with the larger Denver-Metro theaters who often usurp us for the blockbuster/newer show bookings.” Clark adds, “Focusing audience and resources into one major Northern Colorado musical theatre center benefits both sets of patrons and helps to solidify our efforts as not only a top Colorado theatre, but on a national-scale as well.

Both businesses will continue to operate independently through August 31, 2019 and then merge audiences for Candlelight’s 2019-2020 season. Midtown Arts Center audiences will have the opportunity to renew their next year’s season tickets for future dinner/show seasons at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

Midtown Arts Center is now showing West Side Story through November 11, 2018, followed by world-premiere Heart of the Holiday; Dames at Sea, My Way (A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra), My Fair Lady, and Matilda the Musical

Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is now showing the blockbuster Disney’s Mary Poppins also showing through November 11th, followed by Scrooge! The Musical, Nunsense, Motones vs. Jerseys, Oliver, and Disney’s Tarzan.

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