Aspen Historical Society’s ‘Twilight in the Cemetery’ returns Thursday

Mary Ella Stallard character performance.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo

On Thursday, Aspen Historical Society is presenting its annual progressive museum-theatre tour “Twilight in the Cemetery: Stories from Aspen’s Ancestors” at Red Butte Cemetery. The tour features several historically important characters played by actors, historians, and storytellers.

“This event has been very popular over the past many years,” said Nina Gabianelli, Aspen Historical Society’s vice president of education and programming. “We portray influential Aspenites from the mining era through to as recently as the 1980s. History when I was growing up was just a bunch of dates and slides, but these historical character presentations bring it all to life.”

Guests will have a chance to walk through the cemetery and learn about the residents through those sharing first-person narratives. Some are direct descendants of those they are portraying.

The portrayals include David Stapleton, a third-generation Aspenite and ski-racing legend, performed by his son, Dean Stapleton; Mary Ella Stallard, a mining- and quiet-era matriarch who was the longtime owner of the Wheeler/Stallard house, performed by AHS volunteer Serena Chase; Hildur Hoagland Anderson, born in Aspen, a beloved local school teacher and well-known accordionist, performed by AHS staff member Sheri Brinker; Davis Hanson Waite, the eighth Governor of Colorado and founding owner of The Aspen Daily Times, performed by AHS staff member Mike Monroney; Ella Elisha, a daughter of the family who ran and owned the Hotel Jerome for decades, performed by AHS staff member Suzie Brady; Nick DeWolf, a widely renowned engineer, photographer, inventor, artist and influential community member, performed by AHS volunteer Chris Wheatly. 

Gabianelli said the idea of the theatrical presentation of the cemetery tour came from an event the Glenwood Historical Society holds every year. And though she is not performing this year, given her love of theater and performing, educating the community about its history through this type of programming was a natural fit.

“I just thought it was such an excellent idea with my background in theater,” she said. “Museum theater has helped the education program both for adults and children by really creating a memorable connection for people. We’re engaged in seven different schools up and down the valley, where we’re able to really bring history to life through museum theater and give people a chance to meet people who are no longer living if you would.”

Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required. The tour is approximately one hour and guests can sign up for their preferred starting time slot starting at 6 p.m., running every 15 minutes until 7:30 p.m.

Parking is very limited at the cemetery, so please bike, walk, or bus. If driving, please park at Bugsy Barnard Park.

For more information and registration, go to or call at 970-925-3721.

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