Asher on Aspen: Yuletide Nostalgia

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

Misty fog escaped my mouth with every breath. I waddled down the road in my black high-heel booties and my white faux fur jacket. We were told the dress code was “Aspen cocktail” — whatever that means. Glistening icicles dangled from the trees that led us to our destination. Despite the below-zero temperatures, I was elated for what the night had in store.

Sparkly lights and the smell of pine needles overwhelmed my senses as we entered the Caribou Club.

I noticed the elegant Christmas ornaments hanging from the chandeliers and I stopped to admire the establishment’s lavish decor. We were guided to our table at the restaurant and I couldn’t stop smiling. The sumptuous holiday atmosphere gave me chills.

This night kicked off Theatre Aspen’s Holiday Cabaret Series — the first of four evening shows with a three-course meal and a holiday performance to follow. Each performance is hosted at a different venue and after this performance, the cabaret will be held at Pinions, Casa Tua and a closing performance to be held at Torro Restaurant at Viceroy Snowmass.

My holiday nostalgia needs were satisfied when I saw the area where the cast was set to perform. It was in that moment that I wished the time in the month of December would slow down. Every year, I seem to have a neverending list of gifts to buy, holiday parties to attend and cookies to bake. And every year, it seems as if this month has a way of getting away from me.

The evening commenced with a greeting from our waiter and a glass of red wine. The menu for the proposed three-course meal sat patiently in front of me. The first course offered the option between creamy potato and cauliflower soup or a spinach salad with bacon croutons and candied walnuts. The second allowed for either seared wild salmon or fresh herb crusted filet of black angus.

I opted for the salad and the salmon and then immediately dove in to meet my neighbors. We were randomly placed next to a couple who informed us they were preparing to make the move out to Aspen full time. Both had coincidentally gotten jobs in town at the same establishment. I could tell they were equally excited and nervous for the move. Alas, Omaha is very different than Aspen.

In my opinion, the best conversations are the ones that happen organically and totally unexpectedly. Going into the night, we had little to no knowledge what to expect. Thankfully, we were seated next to two of the loveliest humans who kept us entertained with good laughs and genuine conversation.

Before we knew it, dessert was being served. Eyes widened and jaws dropped as the Amazonian midnight cake paired with morello cherry sorbet was being served. Sugar cubes and creamer were passed around and coffee was on its way. The dark chocolate ganache melted effortlessly in my mouth and my taste buds were ever so satisfied. Just as I was swapping sips between wine and coffee, Theatre Aspen’s producing director Jed Bernstein came out to announce the show and thank the donors. We were instructed to turn our attention to the front of the room where the cast was set to perform.

With four performers and one piano player, the production provided an intimate experience from start to finish. One cast member stepped forward to begin the performance with “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” Chills ran up and down my spine as she began to belt out the notes to one of my favorite holiday sing-a-longs. I swooned with the magic of the music and I wanted so desperately for time to stand still.

The company continued the performance with classics like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “My Favorite Things” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” They even put their own twist on various holiday medleys, and I found myself crying and laughing at the same time when one cast member performed “The Hanukkah Song.”

I left the venue feeling thankful. Thankful to have a family to spend Christmas with and thankful to have someone to attend this holiday party with. The holidays can be hard for some people and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the commercial side of it all. This evening’s performance offered a subtle reminder to relax this holiday season and to simply enjoy the little moments in life — like listening to a classic Christmas carol and indulging in a chocolate cake.

Aspen Times Weekly

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