An accidental impresario
"My whole career was about passion," Bob Garner told former Denver Post theatre critic John Moore in 2007. "It's true of anybody who wants to be successful: If you don't have passion for anything, you have nothing."
For all of his success in the world of Broadway Theater, he was actually an accidental impresario.
For how does one born in Massachusetts, raised in a military family, schooled in Japan, with a chemistry degree from University of Colorado become a bright light on the Great White Way?
Robert Simpson Garner was born October 29, 1931 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the older brother to sisters Carol and Diane. His was a traditional upbringing with the exception of the travel that comes with a father in the military. As it does for many, the Spirit of the West appealed to Bob; even after a starry-eyed brief move to New York City, he returned to Colorado.
When offered the chance to be the Denver producer on the musical, Fiorello in 1961, he was stunned and thrilled at its success. Presenting live entertainment, particularly musical theater, became both his vocation and avocation.
Bob was a pioneer in Broadway touring, urging New York producers to take their shows on the road; he was instrumental in the first national tour of Les Misérables. Opening nights were like Christmas for him — the curtain rising, the best gift imaginable.
The Broadway presenting division of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) was formed when Bob Garner joined Robert Garner Attractions with the DCPA in 1979.
Bob paved the way for Broadway Theatre in Denver. Now, Denver Center Attractions presents the finest touring productions at The Buell Theatre and the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Since 1979, Robert Garner (1979-1991) and Randy Weeks (1992-present) have entertained Denver audiences with more than 475 Broadway hits, six national touring premieres such as The Book of Mormon and the debut of The Little Mermaid. In 1992, DCA expanded programming to include cabaret productions at The Garner Galleria Theatre, named after Bob. The first production mounted was the successful run of Forever Plaid, followed by several cabaret hits including Denver's longest-running musical, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.