When two Longmont families found out that Jesters Dinner Theatre would be closing last year, they decided to make their own place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the performing arts.
Eric Scamehorn, Erika Scamehorn, Matt Cunningham and Heidi Cunningham have children on the autism spectrum who really enjoyed learning and performing at Jesters.
“Our son is a different person when he’s on stage, you know,” Eric Scamehorn said. “When we found out they were closing, we were kind of bummed out. He really loved it, you know? So that was a really big push too, to see him open up.”
In March of last year, the two families started talking about opening their own theater company. By June, they had a building.
Initially called the LoCol Theatre, the Uniitive Theatre and Performing Arts School has already put on several shows for children, teens and adults while also running a variety of classes on costuming, stage design, tech, dancing, acting and improv.
While the Cunninghams have some background in theater, the Scamehorns had limited knowledge on the industry. They jumped into this massive undertaking with the hope of making a place accepting of all.
“We have a lot of families that have all sorts of different abilities and we have kids on the spectrum, kids that have different medical issues and stuff,” Erika Scamehorn said. “It’s really cool to see how many different people that are here that are being accepted and finding a place where they can act and dance.”
With roughly 10 employees and around 60 children involved in either classes, performances or both, the new endeavor has hit the ground running. They’ve leaned on and learned from their employees, many of whom have been in the business for years.
“It was definitely this last couple months a learning experience, trying to figure out how to run a theater business,” Erika Scamehorn said.
Their building at 800 S. Hover Road, Suite 30, has a black box theater setup, with backstage spaces and rooms for classes as well. There’s already been a lot of interest in the young operation, and people are already feeling at home.
“We wanted to just be a place where all kids — really anyone who comes in here — feel comfortable,” Erika Scamehorn said. “Some of the kids have asked if they can just sleep in the back so they can stay here. We said no, obviously, but that's what we want, that communify feeling.”
The theater is finishing up its first “mini” season, with plans to put on a full season with five adult shows, six kid shows and four teen productions. Learn more about the theater, including upcoming shows, auditions and classes at www.unitiivetheatre.com.