Steamboat Chief Theater celebrates year anniversary |

Steamboat Chief Theater celebrates year anniversary

Luke Graham

— It doesn't seem like so long ago that Scott Parker sat in a chair, freshly minted as new executive director for the Chief Theater in downtown.

Parker was exuberant, rattling off ideas and goals for the cultural community center.

A short nine months later, Parker sat in the front row of the theater with the same vibrancy.

If Year 1 could bring 200 plus shows — from comedy, music, community theater and documentaries — what could Year 2 have in store?

"I knew it could be that," Parker said. "A one-stop shop for theater, music and art. But I'm blown away at how fast it happened."

The Chief Theater will have a one year anniversary party at 6 p.m. Friday. The cost is $20 online at or $25 at the door.

Recommended Stories For You

The event will feature food, door prizes, drink specials, a silent auction and music from the Worried Men.

The Chief also will unveil its Chief Theater Membership Package that will allow people to pre-order tickets to certain shows, get 2-for-1 drinks and rent out the Chief at a discounted rate.

Of course, the real celebration is what the Chief has become in the last year-plus.

The Chief was purchased by the nonprofit Friends of the Chief for $1.45 million in October 2012. The first show at the venue was in February 2013 when 20 local performers presented the "The Vagina Monologues."

Some of the early events included local band Chamberlin Birch and Colorado Mountain College open mic nights.

The first real rock show was Austin, Texas, rockers Uncle Lucius in March 2013.

The venue has since hosted Christmas parties, fundraisers, movie screenings, plays and parties.

"I thought it would take a year to get it consistently packed," Parker said. "It took the town way less than that."

Parker said he thinks part of the success has been the Chief's ability to appeal to a broad range of audiences.

On one week it might be a classical show, then the next one would be geared for a much younger crowd.

Parker said he was never apprehensive about the Chief's prospects. He said he knew early when the documentary "Girl Rising," which tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries, written by nine writers and narrated by nine renowned actresses, played the theater would be a success.

The documentary sold out two shows and a third was added.

"Right then I knew if we had the right programming the town would support it," he said.

Parker said in April that including free events, 10,000 people came through the door since Nov. 1, with about 7,500 as paying customers.

"It filled a niche that has been lacking," said Tracy Barnett, the executive director for Mainstreet Steamboat and board member for the Chief. "It has now become an anchor for downtown."

The Chief recently has matched the first $110,000 of a $150,000 matching grant from a Steamboat couple. Parker said with the help of another potential donor, the funds would be used to remove the upright column from the middle of the Chief's seating area by November.

As Parker sat in the Chief on Tuesday, he said he was more excited about Year 2 than the first year. He's already planning on adding different mediums — standup comedy, magic shows and dueling pianos — in the next few months.

"You have to prove you're a viable asset to the community," Parker said. "The only way to is to book it with a consistent, diverse group of people with shows that are well attended. The fact we've been open for a year speaks volumes to what the people of this town think of this place."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

Highlights from the first year of the Chief Theater

Largest event: Missed the Boat CD release party

Quickest to sell out: “The Summit” documentary screening

First show booked: Vagina Monologues

Strangest show: Internet Cat Festival

Go back to article