The Breckenridge Backstage Theatre (BBT) presents Billy Elliot The Musical (BETM) for six performances at the Riverwalk Center, from August 25 to September 3, 2017.
In 1976, the Backstage Theatre was incorporated as Summit County’s first non-profit, and moved into a 74-seat theatre on the second floor of the Sterling Building (still located on the corner of Ski Hill Road and Main Street). According to The Rocky Mountain News, the stage had “barely enough room to fit a Volkswagen”, but the group nevertheless produced a year-round schedule of large-cast musicals, mysteries, and melodramas.
The early Backstage years were a time of innovation and growth. In 1976, Backstage began a ten-year series of children’s theatre workshops and productions, designed to encourage imagination, self-confidence, and a sense of showmanship by offering Summit County children, aged 9-14, an opportunity to learn the basics of stage technique. The program was recognized as one of the best in the state, and was funded by the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
After presenting its shows in various places over the years, including a couple of decades at the Village at Breckenridge, with an assist from The Town of Breckenridge, a new Breckenridge Theatre was opened in December of 2002 in a renovated restaurant. In 2004, an extension was completed to the structure, which provided dressing rooms and storage space for the company. In 2012, the Backstage Theatre officially changed its name to the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre (BBT) and in 2013 it hired Mark Lineaweaver as its first Executive Director. Soon after, the town council approved a $2.55 million renovation of the Breckenridge Theatre. When construction on the building began in spring 2015, as in its early days, the Backstage once again traveled around Breckenridge and Summit County performing live theatre in different venues.
As BBT eagerly awaited its newly improved venue, it focused on developing its children’s education program and created the Student Theatrical Enrichment Program (STEP), an opportunity for young performing artists to perform their own Broadway musical. The program debuted in 2015 with 44 students, three shows and 900 patrons and has grown to 66 students, five shows and 2200 patrons in only three years. Popularity in the program has also increased the demand for summer camps. Student summer camp enrollment has increased from 40 to 125 over the same period.
In June 2016, BBT launched the newly renovated Breckenridge Theatre with a seating capacity of 137, a brand new bar and lobby space, a stage house, and new dressing rooms.
For its larger shows, however, BBT utilizes the larger venue of the Riverwalk Center with its 770 seats and larger stage. And that’s where BETM is being presented. It began rehearsals in June, with tech week August 20-24.
BETM is being directed by BBT’s Artistic Director Christopher Willard who feels “Billy Elliot is more relevant today than it ever has been as a story about a community in crisis, a politically shifting country, a lingering state of inequality, and the need for people to support and invest in their own diversity.”
Willard has cast a local Colorado boy as Billy, 14-year-old Lucas Moir, who began rehearsals shortly after winning the role, and has been honing his skills as Billy for the past eight months.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the BBT cast, just click on the Cast Information button.
Credit: Most photos in this article are by Michael Ascher.