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BEACON Senior News - Colorado Springs

It's never the same show twice at Funky Little Theater

Aug 21, 2023 12:41PM ● By Rhonda Wray

Springs native Chris Medina, artistic director of Funky Little Theater, recalled standing in the cramped and dingy space of its first venue and thinking, “This is a funky little theater!” With a nod to Tone Loc’s 1989 rap containing his surname, “Funky Cold Medina,” the fledgling theatre company had its name.

The company brought shows as diverse as the hilarious “Spamalot,” heart-tugging “Steel Magnolias” and the tragicomedy “August: Osage County” to Springs theatergoers in its decade of existence.

Funky bounced from venue to venue: a now-defunct dance studio by the old Colorado Springs Senior Center on Hancock, plus locations on Templeton Gap and Pecan Street. 2019 was a good year. The company had just become a nonprofit. Then COVID hit. 

After the shutdown of live theater lifted, Westside Community Center (WCC) accommodated Funky’s performances until the center changed ownership to the city. Funky was once again seeking a stage. Then the historic Butte Theater in Cripple Creek called.

Funky launched an ambitious summer season with a musical, a melodrama and a children’s play.

“Now we’re on the other side of it, and the audiences loved the shows,” he said. 

Medina acknowledged that some seniors aren’t interested in driving an hour to Cripple Creek, but they’ll  drive to Denver for a show. 

“’Get your butt to the Butte’ is my new slogan,” he said. 

He encouraged people to make a day trip of it: grab lunch, watch a matinee, then be home for dinner. He hopes they’ll say, “That was worth the drive.”

But Funky isn’t leaving Westside behind. 

“We’re ready to sign a lease. The Westside Community Center will still officially be our home base,” Medina assured. 

When Funky moved to WCC, Medina began to seek ways to cast more women of a certain age, since there’s tremendous talent but few roles. He also considered the shows an older audience would enjoy and staged productions of “Nunsense” and “Moon Over Buffalo.”

“It’s us trying to fit into the niche we’ve been given,” Medina affirmed, noting that typically around 50% of any audience is seniors 

Upcoming shows include a one-night-only engagement of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at Westside on September 21 and “The Play That Went Wrong” and “The Christmas Cricket of Cripple Creek” at the Butte.

“You get credit for the wins, but then the losses, they’re all mine,” Medina said, of running Funky. But the “rich world” of theater keeps him there, hopefully into his senior years.

The Butte has a tradition of giving one of the fire hats decorating their lobby to anyone who has seen the same show five times. Medina has given several away.

“To me, that means we’re doing something right,” he said. 

For tickets and upcoming show information, call the Funky Box Office at 719-654-3312 or visit FunkyLittleTheater.org