Magic Circle Turns 60 — Our Story

By Lisa Rediger

[October 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

I am a fifth generation Montrose native and have managed Montrose’s own community theatre, Magic Circle Players, for 13 years. My story begins in Montrose and at Magic Circle Theatre.

My maternal grandmother, Maggie, was the first one to introduce me to musicals; I remember twirling around her kitchen, singing “Shall We Dance?” from The King and I. My Mom was cast in the 1962 production of I Remember Mama, and my Grandma Bunny took me to see my first Magic Circle Production, in 1984. My husband, four of our six children, and I have been active in Magic Circle for 15 years.

Magic Circle Players’ story began in the summer of 1959 when Bette Dustin Spiro convinced a group of friends to put on a play. Bette named the newly minted, “Magic Circle Players,” because her philosophy was that a playwright, cast, crew, and audience form a circle and create the magic of theatre.

The Armory, on Townsend and 12th, was the inaugural home of Magic Circle Players. Howitzers were pushed to the far walls and covered with flats, and Bette directed most of the productions until 1966, when she moved to Denver. The fledgling theatre group continued to thrive under volunteers who rose to the challenge of keeping their community theatre alive.

In 1974, after years of performing at the Armory, Arcadia Dance Hall, and the Junior High School, Magic Circle Players moved to its current location at 420 South 12th Street. Through an extensive fundraising campaign and the efforts of volunteers, a permanent home was built by Walker & Krill (local contractors). In 2013, the Board of Governors launched a capital campaign and hired the same contractors to build an addition. The project was completed with hundreds of volunteer hours.

Volunteers still power Magic Circle Players, and we credit our longevity and success to our volunteers. Our leading actors are drama camp volunteers; our patrons serve on the season selection committee; our board members build sets; our playwrights costume shows; our seamstresses direct shows; our tech crews act; our accountant will usher—for the love of theatre, we do what it takes for the show to go on!

Magic Circle added a Youth Theatre program in 2001. Every summer, we present a show for our young audiences, keeping ticket costs low so that families can attend. Our popular Drama Camps are held annually, in June, and give young actors the opportunity to audition, learn theatre skills, and rehearse and perform an original play for an audience. Each fall, we give students the joy of a live theatre experience when our Travel Show visits the local elementary schools.

Big name, well-known musicals are the most popular and most profitable, often playing to sold-out audiences. In 2015, we extended the Mary Poppins run in response to musical lovers, making tickets available to those who had been unable to see the show.

Each season, we make an effort to produce varied offerings; for example, our production of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, The Rabbit Hole, explored a family’s process of death, loss, and grief. Some guests were so touched by this production, that they confided their own stories of loss.

Theatre is intended to entertain, but also has the capacity to touch emotion, to challenge us, and to make us think.

Magic Circle Players is among the oldest community theatres in Colorado. We recognize that we thrive through the generous support of corporate sponsors, patrons, and season ticket holders. With the constant support of our community, we are proud to be celebrating 60 years of live theatre in Montrose. It has been our privilege to entertain, educate, engage, and involve our community in quality live theatre. Thank you for attending our productions and for donating generously so we continue to grow and thrive. We look forward to another 60 years’ of excellence in community theatre. Come play with us!