Bay Area bluegrass band AJ Lee and Blue Summit head to Planet Bluegrass to play the Rockygrass festival this July. See them in Ridgway even sooner: they return to the Sherbino Theater March 2. (Photo courtesy of AJ Lee and Blue Summit/Facebook)

What happens when a theater is more than a space? Take a look at Ridgway. The Sherbino Theater’s programmers are thinking big, and the building’s metaphorical walls are expanding.

The historic theater itself is the community’s cultural nerve center. Yet increasingly, you will find the Sherbino’s — which is to say, the Ridgway Chautauqua Society’s— cultural programming not only inside its refurbished walls, or in the 610 Courtyard just outside — or in the Old Firehouse Backyard, just down the way — but on rooftops, down back alleys, on street corners and in Town Park.

You will even find Sherbino programming in Ouray and Montrose, when such a setting is right. Last summer, night times were the right time, and the Citizens State Bank rooftop in downtown Ouray, was a fine place to catch a Sherbino concert under the stars.

Next Thursday, “Second City Swipes Right” — or rather, Wright — when the Sherb partners with Ouray’s Wright Opera House to present the famed Chicago improv comedy troupe’s “Incomplete Guide to the Ultimate Date Night.” Performances are at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

“We wanted the option of seating a larger crowd, while still presenting Second City within our community,” the Sherbino’s Program Director Trisha Oakland explained of the decision to take up the Wright for a night, “and we wanted to have the option to engage with winter tourism traffic in Ouray.”

“Next month, we’ll be offering the Reel Rock 17 climbing film tour in the Montrose Pavilion, as well as at the Sherbino. The hope is that we can offer this to a wider range of climbing and outdoor enthusiasts” by screening Reel Rock in two places.

“We know that people in Montrose might drive to Ridgway for it,” Oakland said, “but offering it in Montrose makes it more convenient for a large population. Plus, it makes it more accessible to communities north of Montrose.”

Then too, “the Sherbino has limited seating,” Oakland added. “We want to be able to offer this film to as many people as possible.”

“Our home may be the Sherbino,” Oakland noted, “but the Ridgway Chautauqua Society’s mission goes beyond those walls. We always want to find the ideal venue for an event. At times that means outside our space…to really any venue that makes sense. We’ll continue to evaluate new ways to offer unique and innovative experiences in the community, and always look to partner with others to bring these ideas to fruition.”

The Sherb may be busting out, but its rich array of films and music are hardly exiting its home space at 604 Clinton Street downtown. Bay Area bluegrass band AJ Lee and Blue Summit are back at the Sherbino March 2, The Young Dubliners perform March 7 (“This will most likely sell out, so people should get their tickets now,” Oakland advised), and Boulder rockers Augustus return next Friday. “They opened for The Yawpers last year, and we loved them,” Oakland said. This go-round, local band Smutdolly is Augustus’ opener, “founded by our sound engineer Derek Jones with Polly Enochs Kroger, and they are so good.” Indeed, Jones wrote the original score, and performed with Polly Enochs Kroger, in the play “The Storm in the Barn,” directed by Colin Sullivan on the Sherbino’s stage last weekend. Speaking of Sullivan, and collaborations, “he partnered with the Ouray School and received grants and funds to offer a free theater workshop for middle and high school students that will culminate with performances of ‘Cabaret’ in the Sherbino March 24 and 25,” Oakland said. There will also be performances at the Ouray School on March 22 and 23.

Sullivan “is working with our aerial and dance instructor, Marisa Farrell, on choreography, and with Karisa Hoover” — one half of Ouray folk duo You Knew Me When with her spouse, Cie Hoover — “for musical direction,” Oakland added. “It should be a phenomenal show,” in a part of the world where (just like Telluride) opportunities for creative collaborations seem limitless.

For more on the Ridgway Chautauqua Society and the Sherbino Theater’s upcoming programs, or to purchase tickets, visit