The ticket for local theatre in Montrose

A sense of foreboding gripped me as I entered the darkened room. A single pistol shot rang out. Gripping my chest as my legs buckled, I tumbled forward, sprawling on an oriental rug. A woman began to scream hysterically. The lights came up to reveal my friend still holding a smoking revolver. Rising to my knees, I began to chuckle, then to laugh out loud. So did the relieved audience just beyond the footlights. Thus began another performance by the Magic Circle Players.

How did I become a hapless victim in the comedy The Gazebo? Simple. Like every other actor in a 57-year parade of performers, set builders, directors, and support staff, I volunteered. All of us with the theatre bug do what we do because we love the immediacy of live theatre. We also love presenting a very high quality product to a very appreciative audience for a very reasonable ticket price.

Regular patrons and visitors alike frequently gush about how amazed they are by the superb acting, singing, and dancing in the productions presented in a community of this size. It’s possible because every Magic Circle presentation represents thousands of hours of volunteer efforts to polish each drama, musical, or comedy to big-city perfection. It’s a legacy of which Montrose can be proud.

Amateur theatrical efforts in Montrose began as early as 1919, but it took the vision and commitment of Bette Dustin Spiro, a relocated Chicago radio actress, to drive the roots of legitimate theatre deep into the soil of the Western Slope. In 1959, she convinced a group of friends to put on a play — Green Grow the Lilacs — followed by another and another. To date more than 250 shows have been staged!

Spiro named the group based on her philosophy that magic is created when a circle of playwright, director, cast, crew, and audience comes together. The earliest productions were held in a garage, a junior high school gym, a power company building, even the local National Guard armory. Sets were flimsy, costumes and props were scrounged wherever they could be found, and stage lights were cobbled together using light bulbs placed inside coffee cans.

After an extensive fundraising campaign, Bette Spiro’s dream of a permanent home for theatre in Montrose became a reality in 1974. The City of Montrose dug the foundation, Walker and Krill Buildings, Inc., sold the theatre building at cost, and volunteers provided the labor to build the Magic Circle Players Community Theatre at 420 S 12th St. Patrons “bought” the privilege of having their names imprinted on the backs of folding director’s chairs. As the years passed, better seats, remodels, equipment upgrades, and additions have improved the theatre’s efficiency. Magic Circle owns the 226-seat theatre building; it pays $1 per year rent on the land.

The theatre building is rarely “dark” — something is always going on inside. In addition to auditions, set building, rehearsals, and productions of five mainstage events between September and May each season, Magic Circle also conducts two weeks of Drama Camp for youngsters from third grade to junior high, opens its stage to an annual production or two of the Montrose High School Drama Department, and conducts its own Theatre for Children On Stage show with special appeal to children. Additionally, a Theatre for Children Travel Show visits local elementary schools in the autumn, delivering to many children their first taste of live theatre.

Wondering about that “very reasonable ticket price?” Take a look at the pricing structure outlined at No matter what your age, a season ticket for all five shows costs less than a single live-theater ticket on the Denver side of Colorado, and a single main-stage performance ticket at Magic Circle can be had for a greenback portrait of Andrew Jackson.

Magic Circle concludes its 2016-2017 season with the light-hearted comedy Never Too Late in January, the classic The Importance of Being Earnest in March, and the musical Guys and Dolls in May. For information about these and the 2017-2018 season’s plays (available in April 2017), call 970.249.7838 or visit