Cripple Creek’s Butte Theater To Get “Funky”

Council Approves $270,000 Annual Contract With Springs-Based Company

Rick Langenberg

Cripple Creek’s top-rated Butte Theater is going funky–at least by name identification for their forthcoming professional season.

After months of speculation, the city council last week opted for a more regional direction for the summer, fall and winter theatrical shows at the Butte. More specifically, the elected leaders unanimously  approved a nearly $270,000  annual contract, plus housing and some marketing expenses, with the Colorado-Springs-based Funky Little Theater Company, which has served the Pikes Peak region for nearly 10 years.  This will set the stage for five shows during the professional season, which starts in June.

This contract, follows the previous exit of the Thin Air Theatre Company, which has done shows at the Butte for 10-plus years.

City Theater Manager Zack Sztanyo touted the Funky Little Theater Company (FLTC) as a good choice for Cripple Creek’s needs for its highly touted 2023 season. “This is our best option,” said Sztanyo. He cited the success FLTC hasa achieved, capped by a variety of Best Of awards by the Colorado Springs Independent and Gazette newspapers and drama accolades.

In their website, FLTC described their performances as bridging the gap between community and professional shows. They have done a plethora of shows in the Pikes Peak region.

Based on the agreement made with the council, FLTC will do five major shows, including a classic melodrama, a musical, fall and  Christmas performances and a one-night cabaret.  The total production price tag is $264,000, with the city also  pitching in with housing and some marketing expenses.

In the meantime, the Butte will feature a slew of community shows, as part of an agreement reached with the Friends of the Butte.

The coming year will become a new theatrical venture of sorts. Sztanyo enters his second year in running the theater, assuming the reins formerly held by Mel Moser, regarded as a local theatrical legend. And this marks the first time the city in some time has crafted a deal with another theater company for their professional shows.

The Butte has set high standards and was voted as the premiere spot for local entertainment during the recent Best of 2023 contest, hosted by TMJ.

City Park Improvements, Outdoor Recreation and  Housing Updates

In other city council news,  Cripple Creek Parks and Recreation Director Connie Dodrill gave an update about their new $642,500 grant for a major sidewalk project, inside the city park.  This grant was a big plus for the city, as it requires no local match. The funding will be provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

With city finances getting tested, Dodrill was praised for landing this grant.

The council last week approved a detailed contract agreement for the sidewalk grant with the state, which outline the specific expectations and requirements. The construction for the new sidewalks is slated for 2024, but the design work will occur this year.

In other recreation news, the city will hold a big summit at the Wildwood Casino on March 22 and March 23 on outdoor recreation and main street development. Cripple Creek has been described as an outdoor recreation mecca in the making, but one that needs a more solid community action plan. The southern Teller regions has been cited for its potential with ATV, mountain biking and hiking trails, unparalleled open views and its often forgotten unrivaled adventure park.

 One of the main goals of the workshop is to set the footwork for a community action plan.  For those wishing to attend, visit the city’s website.

In other reports, City Administrator Frank Salvato told the council more progress is occurring on the grant front, with the city’s bid for $10 million in developing better infrastructure to open the door for more housing. As far as the latter-mentioned goal, the administrator said a few key staffers and himself took a recent trip to Buena  Vista to get a first-hand tour of a plant that develops manufactured homes. He cited the speed in which these quality units could get developed. “It is kind of like a Toyota factory,” remarked Salvato.

The council also last week fielded a variety of public comments, running the gamut from concerns about stressing the city’s visionary goals at every meeting; to praising the police department regarding a recent bomb scare; to outlining the advantages cited by a possible marijuana entrepreneur who also wants to add a café.