October 9, 2007
Barry Smith has been in the Wheeler Opera House before. He’s done A/V work for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival; as an usher for a Monty Python reunion, he was instructed not to sit – or even watch – the historic gathering. (Smith was spared the agony of being in the same venue with his idols, but not allowed to gape, when he was instructed to fill an empty seat. The seat-filling gig came with permission to open his eyes.) Smith, a columnist for The Aspen Times, has even appeared on the Wheeler stage: as a tree in the rock opera “Umbrella Man,” and as a tall, witty, guitar-playing Aspenite (himself, basically) in Gong-Sköl. On both occasions, he performed Delta-style blues. Perhaps most significantly, he saw Spalding Gray perform several times at the Wheeler. When Smith makes his solo debut at the Wheeler, Saturday, Oct. 20, it will be with a nod to the late monologuist; Smith’s one-man, multimedia shows, like Gray’s work, take a skewed look at episodes from his own life. His latest, “American Squatter,” puts a magnifying glass to skateboarding in Southern California, invading a squalid London apartment, and, as ever, cleaning stuff with his dad, Brownie. It shows also in Paonia, on Thursday, Oct. 18, and at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale, Friday, Oct. 19.
For some, it’s the closing of Independence Pass, or the last golden leaf to fall from the aspens. And for some, the transition from one season to the next is the closing of the Aspen Saturday Market. No more starting the weekend with a downtown stroll, greeting friends over cherries and juicy peaches. The good news is that the market goes out with a bang, coinciding with the fall harvest. Especially in luck are apple lovers; there are apples of various colors, tartness and juiciness just being picked, with cider and juice to boot. Also at their height are lettuces, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. It’s also a good time to stock up on late-season items that store well, like potatoes and Spanish and red onions. And the Cloud Nine Brownies are always at their peak. Last call for fresh farm goods is Saturday, Oct. 20.
For its first foray into musical theater, Carbondale’s 13-year-old Thunder River Theatre Company is going with as sure a thing as possible: “The Fantasticks.” The gentle story of youthful romance and happy destiny is the most successful musical of all ages; it opened off-Broadway in 1960 and ran for a stunning 42 years. It was finally brought down by New York’s post-9/11 downturn, but “The Fantasticks” proved a mightier force – a revival staged last year is going strong. Lon Winston, Thunder River’s artistic director and the director of the upcoming production, has a history with “The Fantasticks” almost as long as the musical has been around; he saw it in 1963. Thunder River’s production stars John Goss as the bandit/narrator El Gallo, and Jennica Lundin and Danny Pettit as the young lovers, Luisa and Matt. “The Fantasticks,” with Marie Gasau as music director, plays at the Thunder River Theatre this week Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13-14, and Friday through Sunday, Oct. 19-21, with additional dates through Oct. 27. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m.