Ellie opens her doors to laughter

February 13, 2013 by: Dan Rowland

You would be forgiven for thinking an opera house is an unlikely place to find yourself giggling uncontrollably, but then again, maybe you need to change your perception of what goes on at an opera house.

I would bet my vocal chords that some notable thinker once said something along the lines of “Every great city must have a great opera house.” Regardless of who said it and when, it’s true, and Denver has that criterion nailed with its lovely Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

The Ellie is one of our fair city’s most beautiful and historically significant buildings. But what makes it special to me is the diversity and quality of performances that play there. Sure, it hosts operas – Romeo and Juliet will be killing themselves (while singing!) there on Friday night and again on Sunday afternoon – but it also hosts ballet, musicals, speeches and comedy.

Twice in the last six months I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some of the Ellie’s finer features – it’s a world-class acoustical hall designed in the lyric style, with three tiers of curving balconies, uninterrupted sight lines from every seat onto a deep and wide stage, sleek staircases, and flying bridges that pull patrons into the hall – before being reduced to a convulsing, laughing-to-tears, barely-able-to-breathe mess.

First it was The Book of Mormon, the internationally acclaimed musical written in large part by Colorado natives and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The show is currently packing other auditoriums around the country, but one can hope that the Ellie will be hosting our favorite musical missionaries again soon.

Next was comedian Lewis Black, noted Daily Show contributor, political commentator, author and crankpot. Lew pointed out the Ellie’s grandeur before reminding us that the key difference between our two major political parties is that one is dumb while the other is stupid.

While I’m not sure exactly when the next hilarious performance at the Ellie will have me choking on my gin and tonic, I’m certain there will be many, and I hope you will join me there.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in the aforementioned historical significance of our local opera house and want to learn more about its beautiful architecture, check out Doors Open Denver April 13-14. The free event allows you to tour the spectacular Denver buildings you see every day but may never have entered. If you haven’t experienced the Ellie up close, don’t miss this opportunity.

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