Aurora’s Fox: Top-Quality Theater

Some 65 years ago, Aurora, Colorado’s, Quonset hut-style Fox Theatre opened with the Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire film, “Claudia and David.” Its stepped stadium seating area at the rear was unusual at the time, but it was welcome, as it is today, for the venue’s stage shows and concerts. Built by architect Charles Dunwoody Strong, the theater held 673 seats.

Completely renovated in 1985, today’s Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., is still going strong. It’s at the center of the East End Arts District of Aurora and now holds 245 seats, along with rehearsal and scenery shop facilities.

It houses the Aurora Fox Theatre Company, a professional company acclaimed for its eclectic, high-quality offerings; the Aurora Fox Studio Theatre, a 75-seat black-box theater providing cutting-edge works and dedicated to showcasing emerging actors and playwrights; and the Aurora Fox Children’s Theatre Company, which produces the Little Foxes Summer Theatre annually. The Fox is owned and operated by Aurora’s Cultural Services Division, and receives funding as well from metro Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

Charles Packard, executive producer at the Fox, seeks out stories about unique American cultures, he says. “What makes the Fox different is our thoughtful programming, our friendly nature and our ongoing commitment to bringing you into the process and connecting you with the magic both onstage and behind the scenes.”

For each production, the Fox has a lobby display of photos, drawings and models that depict the process of creating the show being presented. There is also a “talk-back” session during which the audience can interact with the actors, directors and designers of the theater and each production.

For the theater’s 27th season, it has a rich offering, as follows:

• “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop” is a staged concert reading and new musical based upon the Coretta Scott King award-winning book, inspired by the culture and mood of the late-1920s through the 1960s in rural Arkansas near the Mississippi Delta.

• During the summer, the Fox shows off its Little Foxes Children’s Theatre program, which will present “Babe, the Sheep Pig,” by David Wood. Shows run from June 21 to July 21, Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Fox runs classes on site and at other locations for children of elementary, middle school and high school ages. Contact Lisa Mumpton, director, at 303-739-1973 for more information.

• “Rashomon,” a 12th century Japanese crime drama about the quest for justice and the complexities of human nature, will play Sept. 9 through Oct. 9. This world of honor, intrigue and deception was also made into a classic film in Japan.

• “Escanaba” will make its regional premiere Nov. 18 and continue through Dec. 18. Written by Jeff Daniels, this Christmas special is a mystical tale replete with quirky characters. Focusing on two hunting buddies in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s full of surprises.

• PHAMALY’s “The Elephant Man” runs from Jan. 12 through Feb. 5, 2012, depicting the true story of John Merrick, known as “the Elephant Man,” in his role as a carnival attraction. This poignant story deals with exploitation versus charity and science versus religion.

• “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” will make its regional premiere Jan. 27 and continue until Feb. 19, 2012. This compassionate play by Pulitzer Prize-winning Lynn Nottage is told by 17-year-old Ernestine about an African-American family from the Deep South that moves to Brooklyn in 1950.

• “Xanadu,” a fun and romantic adventure based on the 1980 cult classic film, plays from March 2 through April 1, 2012.

• “Amateur Night at the Big Heart” closes out the season from April 20 through May 13, 2012. Based on a rural bar and its community of colorful characters on a particular Saturday night, this is a rollicking good time for all, no matter what your taste in music.

If You Go

The Aurora Fox
9900 E. Colfax Ave.
Aurora, Colorado 80010

Irene Middleman Thomas is a freelance writer who lives in Aurora, Colorado.