Aspen Times Weekly: Most Anticipated Arts Events, Winter 2017-18
This ski season in Aspen, it’s looking about as adventurous on stage, on film and on the page as it is on the hill.
From an extraordinary new collaboration at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet to a next-level caliber lineup at the Aspen Laugh Fest to a new literary prize from Aspen Words, arts and culture presenters are breaking new ground this winter.
There’s a fresh and experimental theater piece at the Wheeler and six new exhibitions in the Aspen Art Museum on the way, along with the resurrection of the Bird’s Nest Gallery popping up downtown and returning local pop music favorites like Jane’s Addiction and Umphrey’s McGee at Belly Up (along with first-time Aspen performances from greats like LCD Soundsystem and Passion Pit).
So break out your calendars and start planning your season. Here is the 2017-18 winter most anticipated list.
Most Anticipated: COMEDY
Tiffany Haddish @ the Aspen Laugh Festival, Wheeler Opera House, Feb. 24
The Wheeler upped its game for the 2018 Laugh Fest, landing some of the biggest and hottest comics working today for its five-day festival. No headliner is more exciting, however, than Haddish. The breakout comedy star of 2017 stole the show in the blockbuster “Girl’s Trip” this summer and may get an Oscar nomination for her performance. She made history as the first African-American woman to host “Saturday Night Live” and now she’s closing out the Laugh Fest.
And don’t forget: Heather McDonald, Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 17) … Nick Swardson, Belly Up (Jan. 5-6) … Matt Iseman, Wheeler Opera House (Jan. 12) … The Second City, Aspen Laugh Festival (Feb. 21) … Paula Poundstone, Aspen Laugh Festival (Feb. 22) … Colin Jost and Jeff Ross, Aspen Laugh Festival (Feb. 23) … Mike Birbiglia, Aspen Laugh Festival (Feb. 24) … Iliza Shlesinger, Wheeler Opera House (March 16).
Most Anticipated: DANCE
‘Carnaval,’ An Evening with Joyce Yang, Presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet @ Aspen District Theatre, March 24
There’s no question this is the most anticipated cultural event of the season in Aspen. A major coup for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, this groundbreaking collaboration pairs two world-renowned artists — and Aspen audience favorites — with the dancers of Aspen Santa Fe for a world premiere performance. Yang, a pianist, is a Van Cliburn competition winner, Aspen Music Festival regular and frequent summertime headliner in the Benedict Music Tent. Elo, a choreographer, has made some of the most celebrated works in the Aspen Santa Fe repertoire. Together over the past year, the duo has been crafting a new ballet inspired by Robert Schumann’s “Carnaval.” To boot, Yang will be performing live onstage at the premiere and on the ensuing tour.
And don’t forget:
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Aspen District Theatre (Dec. 9 & 10) … Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s “Silent Ghost,” “Huma Rojo,” “Dream Play,” Aspen District Theatre (Jan. 20) … The Peking Acrobats, Wheeler Opera House (Feb. 8) … Che Malambo, Wheeler Opera House (Feb. 11) … Ailey II, Aspen District Theatre (Feb. 16).
Most Anticipated: FILM
“The Post” @ Aspen Film Academy Screenings, Paepcke Auditorium, Dec. 28
So far it’s been a remarkably wide-open Oscar race, with few clear frontrunners emerging. But this Steven Spielberg-directed historical drama about the Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers — starring Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee — may quickly change that.
And don’t forget:
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Isis Theatre & Movieland (opening Dec. 14) … “Lady Bird” at Academy Screenings (Dec. 21) … “Last Flag Flying” at Academy Screenings (Dec. 22) … “Wonderstruck” at Academy Screenings (Dec. 27) … “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” at Academy Screenings (Dec. 28) … Best of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, The Temporary at Willits (Dec. 9) … On the Wall Shorts: An Evening of Climbing Adventure, Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 12) … Warren Miller’s “Line of Descent,” Wheeler Opera House (Jan. 6) … “Americana,” Wheeler Opera House, (Jan. 16) … Aspen Shortsfest (April 3-8).
Most Anticipated: THEATER
‘PostSecret: The Show’ @ Wheeler Opera House, Feb. 10
Aspen has been slow to catch up with the latest trends in theater. Presenters have largely stuck with traditional musicals and plays instead of trying out the emerging forms of participatory and immersive theater experiences that have taken hold elsewhere. Bringing “PostSecret” to town is a step forward. The crowd-sourced production emerged out of an ongoing community art project asking people to anonymously mail in secrets on postcards, which are then posted online and are now being adapted into this stage show using projected images, videos, a live guitarist and three actors.
And don’t forget:
“Constellations,” Thunder River Theater Co., Carbondale (Dec. 7-17) … “Charlie Brown Christmas,” Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 23) … Neil Berg’s “Broadway Holiday!” Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 25) … Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, Holiday 2017, (Thursdays-Sundays, through Jan. 6) … “School of Rock,” Theatre Aspen Winter Conservatory, Aspen District Theatre (Jan. 11-12) … “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,” The Temporary at Willits (Jan. 26) … “Shopkins Live!” Wheeler Opera House, (Jan. 30) … “Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano,” Wheeler Opera House (Feb. 3) … “Multitudes: An Evening with Walt Whitman,” The Temporary at Willits (Feb. 9) … Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” Thunder River Theatre Co. (Feb. 22-March 10) … “Under the Streetlamp,” Wheeler Opera House (March 10) … “Cinderella,” presented by Aspen High School, Aspen District Theatre (March 15-18) … “Musical Thrones: A Parody of Ice and Fire,” Wheeler Opera House (March 23).
Most Anticipated: MUSIC
LCD Soundsystem @ Belly Up Aspen, Jan. 25 & 26
@ X Games Aspen. Jan. 27
Who would’ve guessed that the most talked-about touring band of 2017 would be LCD Soundsystem? James Murphy and his vaunted dance-rock band dissolved in 2011 with a legendary Madison Square Garden concert and documentary film closing the band’s run. And then suddenly this year LCD made a surprising return with its fourth album, “American Dream,” and headlining slots at what felt like every major music festival of the summer. They don’t appear to be slowing down this winter, when the continuing LCD road show comes to both X Games and Belly Up.
And don’t forget:
Atmosphere, Belly Up (Dec. 15) … Aspen Choral Society presents Handel’s “Messiah,” Snowmass Chapel (Dec. 14), Basalt Middle School (Dec. 15) and Wheeler Opera House, (Dec. 16) … Gary Numan, Belly Up (Dec. 19) … LeAnn Rimes, Belly Up (Dec. 20) … T.I., Belly Up (Dec. 23) … Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 28) … Diplo, Belly Up (Dec. 28) … Odesza, Aspen Art Museum (Dec. 28) and Belly Up (Dec 29) … Dee Dee Bridgewater, JAS Cafe at the Cooking School of Aspen (Dec. 29 & 30) … Infamous Stringdusters, Wheeler Opera House (Dec. 31) … Jane’s Addiction, Belly Up Aspen (Dec. 30 & 31) … Railroad Earth, Belly Up (Jan. 2 & 3) … Steve Aoki, Belly Up (Jan. 6) … Tatiana Eva-Marie & the Avalon Jazz Band, JAS Café at the Little Nell (Jan. 12 & 13) … Brett Dennen, Belly Up (Jan. 13) … Passion Pit, Belly Up (Jan. 20) … The Wailers, Belly Up (Jan. 21) … Method Man & Redman, Belly Up (Jan. 24) and X Games (Jan. 27) … Martin Garrix, X Games (Jan. 26) and Belly Up (Jan. 27) … Marshmello, Belly Up & X Games (Jan. 28) … STS9, Belly Up (Feb. 1-3) … Katie Thiroux, JAS Café at the Little Nell (Feb. 2 & 3) … Big Wild, Belly Up (Feb. 8) … John Jorgenson Quintet, (Feb. 9 & 10) JAS Café at the Cooking School of Aspen (Feb. 9 & 10) … Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Belly Up (Feb. 13) … Gentri, Wheeler Opera House (Feb. 15) … Bruce Cockburn, Wheeler Opera House (Feb. 17) … The Lique, The Temporary at Willits (Feb. 18) … Lotus, Belly Up (Feb. 22 & 23) … Pedrito Martinez Group, JAS Café at the Cooking School of Aspen, (Feb. 23 & 24) … Miguel, Belly Up (Feb. 27) … Pianist Inon Barnaton, Harris Concert Hall (Feb. 28) … Los Lobos, Wheeler Opera House (March 2) … Teka with the Roger Callaway Trio, JAS Café at the Little Nell, (March 2 & 3) … The Commodores, Wheeler Opera House (March 3) … Donavon Frankenreiter, Belly Up (March 4) … Umphrey’s McGee, Belly Up (March 7-9) … Violinist William Hagen, Harris Concert Hall (March 10) … Martin Sexton and Keller Williams, Belly Up (March 10) … Galactic, Belly Up (March 18) … Pacifica Quartet, Harris Concert Hall (March 15) … Jose James celebrates Bill Withers, JAS Café at the Aspen Cooking School (March 16 & 17) … Matthew Whitaker, JAS Café at the Little Nell (March 30 & 31) … Missio, Belly Up (April 6).
Most Anticipated: LITERATURE
William Finnegan, Presented by Aspen Words @ Paepcke Auditorium, March 20
No book in recent memory has spoken to the soul of the Colorado ski bum the way that Finnegan’s Pulizer Prize-winning 2015 surfing memoir “Barbarian Days” did. Of course, this New Yorker staff writer’s book is about his lifetime on a surfboard and not skis. But the way of life he describes, and the escape and perfection one can find in the ocean, will be familiar to anybody living the dream in a mountain town and seeking transcendence in nature.
And don’t forget:
The Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist Party, Explore Booksellers (Dec. 13) … Alice McDermott, Paepcke Auditorium (Jan. 9) … Tracy K. Smith, Paepcke Auditorium (Jan. 23) … Christina Baker Kline, Paepcke Auditorium (Feb. 20) … Luis Alberto Urrea, Paepcke Auditorium (April 3).
Most Anticipated: VISUAL ART
Nate Lowman, ‘Before and After’ @ Aspen Art Museum, Dec. 15 through June 10, 2018
This pop art superstar is taking over both ground-floor galleries at the Aspen Art Museum with a new exhibition of paintings, “Before and After,” that’ll run through next summer. After the museum’s massive Peter Fischli, David Weiss, Wade Guyton exhibition proved somewhat divisive in Aspen, Lowman’s pop culture sensibility promises a crowd-pleaser of a show. Best known for his smiley-face works, Lowman uses familiar images — pine-tree air fresheners, celebrities — and filters them through his dark vision. This should be a fun one.
And don’t forget:
“iShow,” Red Brick Center for the Arts (Dec. 7-Jan. 5) … “Tonic of Wilderness: Pier Paolo Calzolari, Donald Moffet and Gunther Uecker,” Boesky West (Dec. 13-Feb. 11) … “Ritual,” Tony Feher, Meschac Gaba, Yuji Agematsu, Aspen Art Museum (Dec. 15, 2017-Nov. 25, 2018) … Zoe Crusher, “Prospecting Palm Fronds,” Aspen Art Museum (Dec. 15-May 13) … Dara Friedman, “Mother Drum,” Aspen Art Museum (Dec. 15-May 13) … Robert Gober, Aspen Art Museum (Dec. 15-May 13) … “And Still I Rise,” Bunny and Charles Burson, Patton-Malott Gallery, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village (Dec. 19-Jan. 15) … Winterskulpt at Winterskol, downtown Aspen (Jan. 11-Jan. 13) … Valley Visual Art Show, R2 Gallery, Carbondale (Jan. 12-Feb. 16) … Thomas Struth, Aspen Art Museum (Jan. 19-June 10) … Richard Wieth, Elliot Yeary Gallery (Feb. 1-March 8) … Maia Lai, Boesky West (Feb. 16-April 8) … 7 British Artists, Galerie Maximillian (Feb. 17-April 30) … Ajax Axe, The Bird’s Nest, (March 2-April 5) … Stanley Bell and Takeo Hiromitsu, R2 Gallery, Carbondale (March 30-April 27).
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If you are jonesing for some Spanish wines this June, you are in luck because you live in the Roaring Fork Valley.