Chief Theater struggles as it continues to offer free online shows |

Chief Theater struggles as it continues to offer free online shows

At the 2017 Steamboat is Magic event at the Chief Theatre, magician David Blatter guesses (correctly, of course) after an audience member picked a color on a die she held in her hand.
Joel Reichenberger

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Chief Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs is making the best of a bad situation in the middle of a pandemic. Turns out the historic theater’s Living Room Sessions, live on Facebook, have been a hit.

Scott Parker, executive director of the Chief, says people have tuned in from as far away at Australia as the theater continues to offer creatives an outlet, even as many venues stay closed.

“Artists are dying to perform right now, and there’s not many options,” Parker said.

The Chief recently had its 19th Living Room Session with the Rick St. Pierre Jazz Trio. When performers are local, they actually perform from the theater.

The live Facebook venue allow fans to chime in with comments in the middle of a performance, making them feel a part of the show. The best interactions are in between music sets or live comedy when the performers and emcee read out funny comments from fans all over the country.  

“I’m usually sitting right where the camera is,” Parker said. “When they (performers) take a break, I let them know who’s watching and who says ‘hi,’ and the performers love it. … ‘Oh, hi Aunt Pam.’”

One recent show, featuring local comedy duo Calder Young and Katie Carroll, had a mini audience at the theater along with the Facebook fans.  Parker said the theater is slowly increasing the live audience and expects a major announcement soon about opening back up to limited crowds.

How to help

Chief Theater donation page:

Chief Thater GoFundMe campaign:

In the meantime, the Chief continues to collect donations through GoFundMe and its website, but Parker understands their fans may be hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The first few sessions were bringing in a lot of donations. It tapered off, but we’re doing it for the greater good,” Parker said. “We also promote the artists’ websites and encourage people to tip them. It keeps the artists relevant in people’s minds.”

As for this weekend, the normally free Living Room Session will actually be a scheduled fundraiser. People are asked to pay a minimum of $25 for the Streaming Magic Show starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“There’s 10 to 15 magicians doing five minutes of material, and they’re all doing it to support the Chief and our magic festival two weeks later,” Parker said.

Since many of the participating magicians appear on television and have national exposure, Parker said he expects Saturday’s livestream event to attract a diverse audience.

To buy tickets, visit and click on the Streaming Magic Show icon. After paying for a ticket, Zoom will send instructions on how to view the show.

If you go

What: Streaming Magic Show fundraiser for the Chief Theater’s sixth annual Steamboat is Magic Festival
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5
Where: Visit for tickets

Parker is hoping there will be enough fans joining the Streaming Magic Show on Saturday night that Chief doesn’t have to cancel its sixth annual Steamboat is Magic Festival scheduled for Sept. 17 to 19.

In the meantime, a full schedule of future free Living Room Sessions can also be found on the theater’s website.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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