Its shaping up as a dynamite summer for theater in the upper valley. Theatre Aspen has a strong season and Gottlieb Bartley Productions is bringing its standout childrens shows to Snowmass Villages Fanny Hill. The good times keep rolling this week. First up is Carnivale, Theatre Aspens kid-oriented benefit, on Saturday, Aug. 2. The bash opens with a performance of Seussical, the Dr. Seuss-inspired musical featuring a host of familiar faces from the defunct Crystal Palace. After the show, theres food, clowns, story-telling and more, with proceeds going to the Theatre Aspen School. On Sunday, Aug. 3, Gottlieb Bartley stages its version of Fame for one night on Fanny Hill; the musical also is at the Basalt Middle School auditorium Thursday through Saturday, July 31-Aug. 2. And for the adults, all three of Theatre Aspens feature shows the wonderful Little Shop of Horrors, the superbly acted comedy Rounding Third and the drama Crimes of the Heart all have dates this week.
This week is a good time to start getting horny. On Wednesday, July 30, Nomo, a brass-heavy septet from Michigan that specializes in Afro-funk rhythms, hits Belly Up Aspen. The band kicked off in Aspen three years ago, when it was one of the student ensembles in Jazz Aspens JAS Academy Summer Sessions; it returned last summer to open for Earth, Wind & Fire on the main stage at Jazz Aspens June Festival. Nomo comes armed with a new CD, Ghost Rock, which throws jazz, hip-hop and electronica into the mix. The following night, Thursday, July 31, the funk-rock band Bonerama appears in the Snowmass Free Concert series on Fanny Hill, to put a unique spin on the New Orleans sound using four trombonists. Horn lovers (and New Orleans devotees) also will want to keep their eye on Aug. 27, when the New Orleans Traveling Road Show stops at Belly Up, with the New Orleans Brass Allstars and the Soul Rebels Brass Band joining a drool-inducing Crescent City lineup.
The annual concert by the Aspen Percussion Ensemble has become a highlight of the Aspen Music Festival season and features a collection of eclectic, often obscure, usually thrilling percussion pieces (not to mention dozens and dozens drums of all types). Which is still not enough for Jonathan Haas, the longtime director of the ensemble. Haas wants lights and drama and theatricality and this year he gets it. The Percussion Ensemble concert, on Tuesday, July 29, at Harris Hall, is capped by The City Wears a Slouch Hat, a 25-minute play by beat poet Kenneth Patchen, featuring music by John Cage. The piece features four actors, including locals David Ledingham and Adrianna Thompson, and Haas New York collaborator, Anna Kepe. Also on the program are a George Crumb piece for flute and three percussionists, and Bic, composed for 40 Bic lighters.
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While many are breathing a sigh of relief at the loosening of local restrictions, some are feeling hesitant and are questioning whether the county is moving too quickly.