Curtain closes on CFWT

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By Diane Wengler

The Colorado Festival of World Theatre, an event that brought international stars, producers and directors to the Pikes Peak region for the past five years, has fallen victim to the recession.

The sad news was given to a group of board members, staff and supporters attending a “wake” for the festival at the Peppertree Restaurant.

Unable to secure the money needed for this year’s festival, Suzy Bassani, president and producing arts director, and the board decided the show couldn’t go on.

“Every day something comes up with the arts that reminds me we just couldn’t have made it,” Bassani said.  “We raised a lot of money to bring it and everyone loved it.  If we had another two years, it wouldn’t have gone away.”

Although $270,000 had been pledged for this year’s festival, Bassani said she “just couldn’t risk putting our board into debt and have them pay (a potential deficit) out of our own pockets.”

“We had never been in a better financial position, and then the financial crisis hit,” she said.

The festival attracted theater luminaries, including Broadway stars and theatre greats Lynn Redgrave, Brian Murray, Zoe Caldwell, Marin Mazzie, Donna McKechnie, Sir Peter Shaffer, Stephen Sondheim, Joseph Mydell and Prunella Scales; and international stars such as Valerio Festi (whose troupe performed Angels of Light on the Broadmoor golf course), Piccolo Teatro and Collapuppets of Milan. 

Director Lonnie Price and musical director Paul Gemignani collaborated with Sondheim for the world premiere of “Beautiful Girls.” 

There to celebrate the festival and mourn its demise were stalwart supporters and financial “angels” Jerry Dickman, chairman of the board, and his wife Patty; Tim Hoiles; Jon Medved and his wife, Becky; co-founder Carol Sturman and her husband, Eddie; Pino Bassani; company manager Tim Muldrew; Patty Reed, whose many hats included assistant to the producing director, operations manager, volunteer coordinator, internship coordinator and grant writer; and business manager Bobby Zanca;  

Bassani said she hated to lose the Donald Sewell Award, which this year was going to honor Charlie Chaplin’s family, who has carried on his acting genius; and the Antoinette Perry Society, honoring local people who give to the arts.