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The Oriental Theater Denver


The Rebirth of the Historical Oriental Theater
By Alyx Webb

The Oriental Theater is a historical monument for all things art, from opening in 1927 as a movie theater to what is now an eclectic mix of live musical acts and theatrical performances and indie film nights. Over the years we’ve seen it have it’s ups and downs, but over the last two years since Sole owner Scott Labarbera has come in they’ve been working on some pretty heavy renovations and remodeling.

June of 2005 marked a moment for the venue as a new beginning, where community and employees have reached out to bring the theater back to life. The Oriental now has 5 investors including owner of Meltz, Gregory Rohs, and Jay Bianchi owner of Cervantes, Quixotes, Dulcenea’s, and Sancho’s Broken Arrow. Two other major players in the venue are Bobby Lewis the Manager, and Dewey Paul-Moffitt the booking guru. All of them are a team of highly organized and dedicated individuals, who strongly encourage local music and arts!

Just recently the company invested in a new Meyer Line Ouray sound system, a highly advanced sound system that helps a room like The Oriental have the best sound possible. With this system you are able to adjust the sound for any spot in the house to fit its shape and needs. Owner, Scott says, “it helps the liveliness of the room, there is less bouncing.” With this system I say that they definitely have the best sound for this type of venue in Colorado.

Another great thing that they have done is merged with a Gourmet Sandwich Shop, Meltz. Greg is the kitchen manager; both him and Scott have extensive restaurant backgrounds. They make sure that what they serve is perfection to every bite. Meltz features slow-roasted meats, homemade soups, gourmet cheese, fresh vegetables, and locally baked breads. The menu has many different options that would fit just about anyone from meat lovers to vegetarians, and boy did it smell great! The sandwich shop is open Tuesday thru Saturday during days and nights for people who love their food.

One thing you’ll notice about the staff at The Oriental Theater is that they are like family. They care about each other and everyone that walks in the door. Everyone involved tries to create a great vibe, and after meeting with them, I’d have to agree. All of the gentlemen there were just that, gentlemen! Everyone that works there is very friendly, outgoing, and accepting. One thing you’ll defiantly get from them is they are dedicated to the music, and that they are extremely committed to the local scene. This is also brought out in the look and feel of the room, pictures of bands down the hallway walls, classy décor with the touch of Rock ’N’ Roll. Plenty of seating and standing options with tiered floors and even a balcony, you can see the stage from any spot in the venue. This is great for all types of guests to be able to enjoy their evenings.

Another interesting part of our interview was that everyone agreed that Jay Bianchi has been a great help to them, as Scott put it, “He has been a great mentor!” Jay helps with booking and promotions, a lot of new people and talent has been brought is because of his hard work. Dewey helped bring Jay into the bunch, and all of this has been greatly appreciated.

This versatile group of people is open to many great talents coming to their stage. They get everything in their venue, Jam Bands, Metal, Indie Rock, Goth Industrial, Jazz, Blues, and even a theatrical group here and there like Ukulele Loki and the Folderol Follies, which they described as, “A smaller Cirque De Soliel with a touch of indie.” They’ve even started coordinating their efforts with the Tennyson Gallery across the street and getting involved in the First Friday Art Walk. Every month the art gets changed and it becomes an art gallery with live music! How brilliant is that?

It’s important also that I share that this whole renovation and rebirth of The Oriental Theater has been a True Group Effort, from neighbors to staff volunteering when times have been tough. It has been a lot of hard work, but they all came together to make this possible, everyone wants it to succeed. As do we here at Colorado Music Buzz, and that’s why we think that they have defiantly, “Raised the Bar!”


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