History

In early 1973 a group of young actors gathered after rehearsal at a local watering hole called the Star Bar (just north of where Chinook Bookstore used to be on Tejon, across from Acacia Park) to deplore their artistic condition. The church where they were mounting a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible had objected to the playwright’s language and asked that certain portions be stricken from the script. Eventually, according to founding member Stephen Pino, one of them – he, James Bohnen, Les Baird, Cynthia Hodell, Spencer Stuart or Deni Blakemore, (Mr. Pino can’t recall whom) spoke up: “What are we doing? Just sitting here complaining? If we don’t step up and form a company that gives us what we need then we’re just d!psh!ts.”

The mandate was clear. And so the Star Bar Players were born. Bohnen and Baird, avid fans of the New Yorker, made Star Bar’s official date of establishment February 21, 1973 in commemoration of their favorite magazine’s original publication date: February 21, 1925.  The earliest productions took place in the summer of ’73, says Bohnen, who went on to found and, until 2011, serve as artistic director of Chicago’s acclaimed Remy Bumppo theatre, “…in Acacia Park, Soda Springs Park, and other places. We did three different ‘evenings’ (although all performances were in the afternoon [Pino: “…until someone left a box full of fresnels on the edge of the stage one day, and we actually had lights!”]): one was two Shakespeare cuttings, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; another was two Moliere farces, The Miser and The Doctor in Spite of Himself; the third (which was memorably horrid, and infrequently performed) was a group of short plays and pantomimes. It was all done with no money and a bit of exciting ambition.”

Star Bar became an integral part of the Springs’ cultural landscape and has come to hold the distinction of being the oldest theatre company in the area. We’ve gone through countless incarnations in the last four decades, always with excellence in mind. Now we’ve come full circle, returned to our roots, rebooting in 2009 after a season in mothballs with little more than that same exciting ambition. After more than twenty years of comfortable ensconcement at our beloved Lon Chaney theatre we became a gypsy company again, working first in a garage-turned-workshop and later a dance studio before spending three seasons at 128 N. Nevada, around the corner from Acacia Park, a stone’s throw from where it all began. In March 2014 we found ourselves homeless once again and went dark for just under a year. Since October 2014, we’ve partnered with the Cottonwood Center for the Arts – still downtown, where we belong. We’re proud of our past and excited about the future; we hope you’ll be a part of it.

1999: God Help Us, Everyone: Star Bar Players send up Scrooge
2000: Still Alive and Wilde: Lady Windermere’s Fan
2000: Star Bar Players raise the bar with a kingly Lear
2000: Star Bar’s ‘Crimes’ is community theatre at its best
2001: Arsenic Good Recipe for Comedy
2001: Stark, Raving Witticisms: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
2001: Star Bar Players show they’re up to ‘Night Must Fall’
Darkness on the Edge of Essex: Night Must Fall
2001: Snappy screwball comedy Lend Me a Tenor uplifts, prevails
2001: Two by Two: Star Bar Players focus on the family
2002: Strong chemistry, telling psychology in Lost in Yonkers
2002: The Holdup
2003: Bus Stop
2003: ‘Proof’ Star Bar does good work
2003: Gazette review: Epic Proportions
Star Bar Players are up for a job of ‘Epic Proportions’
2004:  Star Bar Players stage classic British mystery
Star Bar Players make a killing with Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians’
2004: The Family at Twilight: Painting Churches
2004: Dinner gives audiences food for thought, reflection: Dinner with Friends
2005: Star Bar production of ‘Rappaport’ stresses play’s humanity
2005: The Merry Wives of Windsor
2005: Star Bar Players reign supreme with ‘Rainmaker’
2005: Beyond ‘Bewitched’
‘Bell, Book’ casts spell on audience
2006: Rush to Star Bar’s ‘Later Life’ – you may not get a second chance
2006: Acting, set, dancing all shine during ‘Lughnasa’
2006: Night and her Stars: Quiz show drama big win for Star Bar
2007: Five Women Wearing the Same Dress: Star Bar dresses ‘Women’ for success
2007: ‘Hay Fever’ a funny clash of theatre and regular folk
‘Fever’ cast’s energy spills into audience
2007: Star Bar’s Jon Smith: man remembered as a gentle giant
2007: ‘Heidi Chronicles’ remains relevant after 19 years
Review: Expect emotional insight, not happily ever after, from ‘Heidi’
Colorado Culture Cast profiles The Heidi Chronicles
2008: Star Bar Players ‘Scapin’ won’t be the same twice
Overflowing energy, silliness makes ‘Scapin’ a lengthy treat
2008: Star Bar’s ‘Murder’ borrows from Hitchcock
‘Green Meadows’ lays bare intense emotions
2008: Rabbit Hole: Cast deals deftly with heart-wrenching play
September, 2008: Show is over for Star Bar Players