Trip Planner:   Cripple Creek  /  The Butte Theater

The Butte Theater, Cripple Creek

#5 of 18 in Things to do in Cripple Creek
Theater · Concert / Show
The Butte Theater has a rich and layered history in the beautiful town of Cripple Creek.

The “Butte Concert and Beer Hall” premiered in 1896, when proprietors Halbekann & Hertz featured nightly entertainment with a Ladies’ Vienna Orchestra. Some time later the theater re-premiered as the Butte Opera House under the management of D.R. McArthur. Within two years, numerous clubs and lodges were sponsoring parties and benefits at the Butte on a regular basis.

The opera house experienced limited success, and over the next several years underwent a series of makeovers; first it was transformed into the Butte Hall Dancing Academy, followed by The Watt Brothers Furniture Company, back to a theater (this time under the name Teller Hall,) on to a skating rink, a secondhand store, a weapons cache (the space was then called The Armory,) an auto garage, and eventually fell into disuse, mainly a storage facility for the fire department located below.

Early in 1999, the City of Cripple Creek brushed aside some of the dust and saw a lost jewel hidden amongst the rubble. The City began extensive renovations to refurbish the Butte with fresh paint, Victorian-era wallpaper, and period chandeliers. A 1,350-square foot stage spans the main room, with seating for 184 guests.

The tradition of presenting classic Victorian melodrama in Cripple Creek dates back to the late 1940s. In 1946, Wayne and Dorothy Mackin purchased the Imperial Hotel and began producing original melodramas in the basement of the hotel. They called their theater The Gold Bar Room. For 60-plus years the Mackins and their acting company, The Imperial Players, performed to summer crowds. In the early 1990s the last Imperial show was performed as the Imperial became a casino and the Gold Bar Room closed.

After a few dark years, the traditional Cripple Creek Melodrama was granted a new lease on life. When final renovations were completed on the Butte Theater in 2000, the summer melodrama moved to its new home. Now in a brand-new theater, the melodrama was conceived and produced not by Wayne and Dorothy Mackin, but by their son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Bonnie Mackin. Later, Stacy Mackin – the third generation of Mackins to produce melodrama in Cripple Creek – took over production.

In 2007, Thin Air Theatre Company emerged as the resident professional company, to carry on the tradition of melodrama and bring additional shows to the Butte. TATC is now in its eleventh season. The melodrama is a fun-filled family outing with professional actors, stunning hand-painted sets, and period costumes. Audiences can boo at villains and cheer for heroes in this traditional form of melodrama, just as audiences have in Cripple Creek since the 1940s.

Today, The Butte Theater Foundation, the City of Cripple Creek and Thin Air Theatre Company work together to bring you a profession theatre and community events in this beautiful and historic stage.
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The Butte Theater reviews

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181 reviews
  • The Haunting at the Old Homestead was absolutely a joy to see. The talent was fantastic and the storyline was excellent. There were so many twists that it had a person wondering and excited to see.....  more »
  • Fantastic little theater and a GREAT Show. Such an incredible value to see these actors shine. This was a last minute decision - so glad we made it!  more »
  • We came here spur of the moment to see Almost, Maine and was pleasantly surprised by how kind the staff was. The actors were amazing and the show was great! The bar staff was great and made delicious margaritas.
  • The staff is so friendly, theater was so clean, and drinks are great and very reasonably priced. Sound system was incredible. And the show - just, WOW. Even got to meet some of the actor and actresses after the show. Thankful to have this professional theater in our local area! Rocky Horror was incredible. Can't wait for the Holiday show! Thank you all so much!

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