All Together Now: Singing in sync at Theatre Aspen’s debut spring concert
“Three Part Harmony: The Playlist of Our Lives” concert is a cause for celebration, performers say
How does it feel to perform on a stage, indoors, for an in-person audience in Aspen in 2021?
“It’s just like Christmas morning and Fourth of July all at the same time,” said Tamyra Gray, one of three acclaimed Broadway singers performing in Theatre Aspen’s “Three Part Harmony: The Playlist of Our Lives” Sunday evening at Harris Hall.
“It’s like the anticipation and the excitement of getting back on stage and having a live audience be there and just being able to share space with other people again, it feels like a true, true celebration that I’m really looking forward to (and) really excited about.”
Gray joins fellow Broadway veterans Beth Malone and Elizabeth Stanley on stage for the Theatre Aspen first-ever springtime concert event directed by longtime choreographer and dancer Lorin Latarro.
The program features a lineup of classic tunes likely to ring a bell to most listeners from the likes of Adele, Alanis Morissette and the Indigo Girls as well as musical theatre hits, according to Latarro; the performers will also share personal anecdotes, she said.
“I cannot wait to hear these women sing together,” Latarro said. “I just think the three of them have such incredible voices and these songs are so beautiful, and Susan Drauss, our musical director, has made vocal arrangements of these songs so you’re going to hear some of them in a way that you’ve never heard them before.”
The performers, for their part, can’t wait either.
“I am so excited to be able to harmonize with other people,” Stanley said. “So much of the performing I’ve done this past year has been solo. … I think there’s something so powerful about hearing voices together and as a performer, to be in the same location when you are singing, making that sound, and you can hear the other person live, that’s just something that’s very hard to replicate.”
Gray is likewise looking forward to some in-person connection and a sense of community after a year of mostly virtual creative work.
“You still can’t see smiles 100% because everybody’s having their masks on,” Gray said. “But to look into the eyes of another person from the stage and just say ‘Hey, I see you, thank you for being here. We made it, we got through this, let’s celebrate this, this moment right here.’ It’s such an incredible feeling. I’m so, so excited about it.”
Gray encourages attendees to embrace the desire to sing and dance along Sunday night: “If the spirit moves you, don’t contain it,” she said.
“Just to feel the energy of other people and just to bathe in that for a second will be just (a) wonderful, wonderful way to welcome spring,” Gray said.
It will also be a way to welcome what is now a nearly year-round slate of performances produced by Theatre Aspen. “Three Part Harmony” is the organization’s first spring concert, adding to a robust lineup of summer productions, a fall “Solo Flights” one-person show festival and a winter cabaret series.
Expanding the Theatre Aspen schedule beyond its summer programming is a goal more than three years in the making since producing director Jed Bernstein joined the organization in late 2017.
“It used to be that when the curtain came down in mid-August that nobody thought about Theatre Aspen again until the following June,” Bernstein said. Now, with performances for every season, “there’s lots of reasons to think about us.”
Bernstein also sees the concert as a potential launchpad to expand the reach of Theatre Aspen programming beyond the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I think this project has the potential for a life outside of Aspen, and I think that if we are successful here we might be able to present it in other places,” Bernstein said. There are no current plans to launch a touring production of the show “but I’m excited about that possibility,” he said.
Bernstein started discussing the idea of a spring concert with Malone last year when she was among the headliners of the celebrity concert series. (The Tony-nominated Malone has deep roots in the Aspen-Snowmass area and has performed in a number of Theatre Aspen productions over the years.)
Once the summer season had wrapped, “we looked for the first opportunity that we could” to launch the new event, Bernstein said.
“For us, the question was not ‘Why?’ The question was ‘why not, if it can be done safely and in a high-quality way?'” Bernstein said.
The safety protocols of last summer’s performances at the Hurst Theatre — mask requirements, temperature checks and limited capacity — will apply at Harris Hall as well. Only 100 tickets were available for Sunday’s performance in a venue that typically seats 450.
The organization continues to adapt to public health protocols as restrictions change. But with sights set on a longer performance season than ever before, Theatre Aspen is ready for whatever comes its way.
“As long as somebody will be out there to applaud, we’ll be onstage to perform,” Bernstein said.