Boulder’s dinner theater is getting ready to shut its doors for the last time after pandemic hardships and its building getting sold

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An exhibit in the lobby of the BDT Stage building showcases the more than 40 years the company has operate in its space.

It’s the last curtain call for one of Boulder’s longest-standing theater companies.

Formerly called Boulder's Dinner Theatre, BDT Stage has a proud 44-year history of successful shows and crowd-pleasing dinners. Founded in 1977, it has been a popular fixture in Boulder. Now, the group’s home has reportedly been sold for $5.5 million. 

During the pandemic, long-time producing artistic director Michael J. Duran stepped down, and Seamus McDonough took the helm.

"My father was the original employee in the building in 1977,” McDonough said. “So I have literally, I was born here, in 1985 and then I started working here in 1999 as a busser and then I started stage managing. I have been here ever since and stage-managed until just about, a year and a half ago.”

Like many businesses, BDT Stage had to make some tough adjustments to survive the impact of COVID Shutdowns and faced new realities when it reopened, including moving where their sets were created. 

“When COVID shut us down, we tried a bunch of different things and this was still when Michael was still in charge and, and I was his assistant. We tried doing parking lot concerts. We tried streaming all of that sort of stuff,” McDonough said. “But once we got to the fall of 2020, we just, we couldn't do anything outside the streaming wasn't being profitable enough for us to do.”

Courtesy BDT Stage
Cast members of the BDT Stage's staging of "The SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical" pose.

All the difficult decisions, and changing rehearsal schedules, allowed BDT Stage to program a season with most of the regular audience favorite performers.

But we did also have to change up what our rehearsal schedule was.” McDonough said. “We used to be rehearsing during the day and doing shows at night, while people have day jobs now. So we had to switch up things to be rehearsing at night on off nights where we're not having shows."

Many of the actors appeared in several productions each year, becoming favorites of long-time patrons.

McDonough said "We still have, you know, Bob Hoppe, we have Wayne Kennedy. We have Alicia Myers, all of those people.

When the owners announced the sale of the building, they were able to plan for a final year for BDT Stage. That includes this summer's family show "The SpongeBob Musical

"It's a super fun show for kids because they know the characters, even people who are my age, know the characters — the cartoon came out in 1999."

The songs are all written by major music stars.

"We have John Legend, Panic at the Disco, Plain White Ts, Cindy Lauper, Aerosmith. I mean, every single one is a pop song."

As of right now, McDonough said nothing has changed with plans for the current season, and there isn't a hard closing date. But he also said BDT Stage officials aren’t planning on reopening at a different location.

"That's what we want to make sure of with this, us going out, is absolutely just a celebratory thing and not something sad. You know, I think it's a Winnie The Pooh adage:‘Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.’"

The SpongeBob SquarePants Musical plays the BDT Stage through September 3.