About the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts

La Veta, Colorado's Theater

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Peggy10-Cropped.jpg

Peggy Arnold-Hoobler (Treasurer)

Peggy Arnold-Hoobler, a seasoned veteran of the stage, possesses theatre credits far too numerous to list on this page! In addition to being the founder and an active member of the FCPA Show Choir, Peggy is well-known locally from her utterly unforgettable turn as “Louise Seger” in the June 2014 sell-out musical Always. . .Patsy Cline, which she also directed.

Rae-Current Bio.jpg

Rae Drury

The FCPA’s favorite “mop lady” Rae Drury became involved with the theatre in 2011 after moving “home” to LaVeta that year. She has now served on the FCPA board of directors for a number of years. 

Mitzi-Current Bio.jpg

Mitzi Keairns

Mitzi Keairns, a true LaVeta native and one of its most recognized residents, graduated from LaVeta High School and from the University of Northern Colorado then departed Colorado for points east. 

Di-Current Bio.jpg

Di Sortore
(Vice President)

Di Sortore has been active in music and theater for a really, really, really long time. More recent theater offerings include the role of “Yente” in Fiddler on the Roof, stage managing productions of Greater Tuna and playing keyboards for The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. 

Image by Andy HYD

Ellen Wyland

Ellen Wyland White is yet another local resident who can legitimately claim LaVeta Native status. A talented fabric artist who works for well-known local quilters Ricky Tims and Justin Shults, Ellen is perhaps best known for her American tribal belly-dancing artistry, an activity she’s been enjoying for years. 

Shane7-Cropped, Current Bio.JPG

Shane Clouse

Shane Clouse first became involved in the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts shortly after he and wife Sher moved to LaVeta in 1996 and has been on the theatre’s Board of Directors for an impressive 21 years! 

Bruce-Current Bio.jpg

Bruce Johnson (President)

Atlanta native Bruce S. Johnson spent nearly every summer of his life in Cuchara until moving here permanently several years ago. Bruce is best (and, most likely, will be forever) known for his memorable portrayal of “Greg” in 2015’s summer comedy Sylvia.

20211228_145940.jpg

 Ashley Vandagriff

Ashley Proctor-Vandagriff comes to FCPA with decades of experience in the dance industry. Ashley has numerous Teacher Excellence, National Championship Titles, Technique and Choreography accolades to her name, and her students have even more.

Maria-Current Bio #2.jpg

Maria Wyland

Maria Wyland was born and raised on Long Island, New York, but nearly qualifies as a LaVeta “native” after 36 years in town. Local theatre audiences may remember her starring role as the recently deceased (but hard to forget) “Maria Rosetti” in Death by Dessert, “Louise the Cat Burglar” in Happy Hollandaise, the hapless “Monica” in the spring 2011 production of Oprah Made Me Do It and the cash-strapped bistro owner "Maria Mangiate" in the FCPA's dinner theatre production of Whack Whack . . . Or Say Goodbye, Mob Style! at Sammie's in LaVeta. 

 
 

A LITTLE HISTORY OF A LITTLE THEATER
IN LA VETA, COLORADO

The building now known as the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts was originally a Presbyterian Church built in 1892 on land donated by Colonel John Francisco and Mrs. P.Q. McComb. The Church, a stately white wooden building on Francisco Street, was built by William H. Adamson at a cost of $1,200. Initially it contained two rooms, a 38' x 40' audience room and a second 16' by 22' room. In 1893, the Church boasted a membership of 35 souls.

In the early 1970's the Presbyterians signed the structure over to the town of La Veta for use by the Francisco Fort Museum. Today it is managed by the Francisco Center  for the Performing Arts. Over the years, several talented troupes of actors and entertainers have called this stage home, beginning in 1975 with the formation of the Spoon River Players, which later became the Fort Francisco Players and, currently, the Spanish Peaks Players. The Spoon River Players, a community theater group, was started by La Veta High School's drama teacher Robert W. Johnson and debuted with the production of Edgar Lee Master's The Spoon River Anthology.

Sketch of Francisco Center for the Performing Arts

On July 31 and August 1, 1976, the Spoon River Players performed its first play, The Silver Whistle, in what would become the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts. Between 1976 and 1981 the Players used the old church for plays with little modification to the facility. In fact, during the first five years or so, the theater was heated with a couple of wood stoves to allow for winter productions. A 1981 lease agreement between the Fort Francisco Museum and the Players formed the Fort Francisco Center for the Performing Arts.

 

The Spoon River Players continued to produce from three to six plays a years until the mid-1990s, including melodramas, musicals, comedies, mysteries and tragedies. Productions included, to name but a few, Oklahoma, Wait Until Dark, Mousetrap, A Star-Spangled Girl, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Our Town, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blithe Spirit, The Rainmaker, Steel Magnolias, Man of LaMancha, The Night of January 16th, and The Importance of Begin Earnest. La Veta High School's drama program also staged some productions at the Francisco Center over the years including A Thurber Carnival in 1981 and The High School Zone in 1998. Today, the LVHS Senior Class play at the theater is an annual springtime event.

 

In 1985 the Players once again produced Edgar Lee Master's The Spoon River Anthology to honor the 10th anniversary of the theater. Over 25 cast members were on stage, and it was noted then that well over 200 residents of the area had been involved in productions at the theater during its first decade. By now that number has most likely doubled, if not tripled.

 

In the mid-1990s a new acting troupe, the Fort Francisco Players, was formed to pick up where the Spoon River Players left off. To be continued . .

 

.The FCPA says THANK YOU to Nancy Christofferson, "La Veta: The First 40 Years" and to Robert W. Johnson for their contributions to our little history and to Dick Anderson, La Veta, for his sketch of the FCPA theater.