Steamboat brings in inflatable theater

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— Fred Garbo had to go.

He was helping construct a sugar shack for famed author Stephen King on Wednesday — having built one himself and the builders being behind.

He was apologetic for leaving, but Mr. King likes syrup on his pancakes or at least needed a sugar shack to say he had one.

“I haven’t met him yet,” Garbo said.

Building might be No. 15 on Garbo’s talents. He’s worked on Broadway. He was Barkley the Dog on “Sesame Street.” He’s traveled the world performing, a love that grew from watching the Marx Brothers as a child.

But what’s Garbo’s greatest love?

Inflatable theater.

It’s an idea he came up with after more than 30 years ago packing a parachute after a sky dive. The bright colors, material and ability to travel gave him an idea.

A theater, with inflatable characters designed for all audiences.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “You see it, and it makes people laugh. Adults can’t figure out how it’s done. A guy didn’t know what to call it. But it’s big enough. It’s theater. It has ballet dancers. I thought of an acrobat and tumbler doing a cartwheel, and people couldn’t figure out if I was up or down.”

So with it was born the Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co. The group plays at 7 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Saturday at the Chief Theater. Tickets cost is $10 at www.chieftheater.org or $15 at the door.

“It’s inflatable theater,” Garbo said. “It’s where animations and inventions are made.”

The act began as a one-of-a-kind performance, but Garbo admits that imitations soon followed. Still, the act is unique and nothing that Steamboat has seen.

Inflatables fill the stage. It’s part ballet, part improv but something new for most people.

Garbo met Chief Executive Director Scott Parker years ago and did a show at the Steamboat Mountain Theater. The two kept in touch, and Parker reached out to bring the unique show back.

The show also will be a reunion with Steamboat’s We’re Not Clowns coming together and performing again. The juggling troupe, formed in 1999, hasn’t been together since May 2007.

“Moving back to Steamboat Springs and getting to perform with We’re Not Clowns is a dream come true,” Parker said. “I have missed the juggling, camaraderie and spontaneous hilarity that we produce when we are onstage together.”

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

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