With the opening of Baldpate’s Keythedral Theater 2013 summer series , it seems fitting to feature our “Key to the Curtain”. This unique key was donated in 1929 by Melville Burke, the then head of the Elitch Gardens Players.
Although for Coloradans today Elitch Gardens is synonymous with amusement
park, when it first opened in Denver in 1890, it was primarily a botanic
garden, zoological park, and cultural center. Two years later the Elitch family
opened the Elitch Theatre. This summer stock theatre, the oldest in America,
entertained audiences for one hundred years. It was renowned for the talent
that performed on its stage, including Grace Kelly, Cecil B. DeMille, Lana
Turner, Mickey Rooney, and Antoinette “Tony” Perry—the namesake of the “Tony
Awards.” Some of these actors you can see in Charles Mace’s
photography collection in The Baldpate’s dining room, as well as in the Inn’s
|The laughing face on the key’s bow represents the comedy face of the Greek theatre masks, and the “E” that is the bit of the key signifies the Elitch Gardens Players.|
|Mace's photograph of Lana Turner|
During the time Melville Burke was the troupe’s director in the 1920s, the Players often pranked new actors by asking them to find the “key to the curtain.” Since curtains have no keys, this request was a fool’s errand. That is, until Melville Burke requested the prop department make a key to be added to The Baldpate Inn Key Collection.
Near the end of the twentieth century, the Gardens’ popularity waivered. While the park’s new location in downtown Denver was purchased by Premier Parks, Inc. in 1994 and transformed into today’s Elitch Gardens, the Elitch Theatre was revived by the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation. This non-profit organization’s goal is to renovate the theatre and return it to its former renown.
Here at The Baldpate Inn, our Keythedral Theater is in no danger of shutting down or being abandoned for an amusement park! This season our theatre will feature productions by Encore! Encore! and The Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies with the stage version of Seven Keys to Baldpate and Marriage is Murder, respectively:
Doors open for Seven Keys performs at 6 p.m. on June 28th and July 5th, as well as at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 29th and July 6th.
Marriage is Murder, by Nick Hall, performs August 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, and 18th. Doors open at 6 p.m., as well as at 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays.
Come by to enjoy the Inn’s connection to early Colorado theatre and, most especially, to enjoy our own summer stock performances at our Keythedral Theater.
Key Room Museum Curator