According to the book Barry Smith’s mother had at the birth of her son, Barry was slated to go on to college, grad school and parenthood. Seems the late Mrs. Smith bought the wrong book: Instead of college graduation, there was fleeing from a religious cult. No grad school, but an extended stretch squatting in an appalling London flat. And while grandkids are only a remote possibility ” Smith is married, but also 42 and childless ” there is most definitely an obsession with saving stuff. Smith, who writes The Aspen Times column Irrelativity, explores his alternate life journey, the inevitable disappointments that have resulted, and his tendency to hold onto to every last worthless bit of junk from his past ” including, yes, that baby book ” in the one-man, multimedia show, “Barry Smith’s Baby Book.” It is at the Wheeler Opera House on Thursday, Dec. 11.
George Friderich Handel created much enduring music; his anthem “Zadok the Priest,” commissioned for the 1727 coronation of King George II, has been played at every British coronation ceremony since. But the Handel name will always be most closely associated with his oratorio, “Messiah.” The piece was first performed in 1742, in Dublin, as part of a series of charity concerts, and became an annual event eight years later, when it was sung as a benefit for the Foundling Hospital in London, where the German-born composer lived most of his life. Handel’s gravesite, in Westminster Abbey, features a statue of him holding the score of “Messiah’s “I know that my Redeemer liveth” aria. In the Roaring Fork Valley, performances have been a Christmastime institution for three decades. This year, conductor Ray Adams and the Aspen Choral Society perform the work Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 9-10, at the United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs, and Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12-13, at the Wheeler Opera House.
Unabashed warmth, even sentimentality, are not often rewarded by critics. And that went doubly so in the late ’70s, a post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era of arts that were meant to shake up the old world order (think punk rock, “The Deer Hunter”). But when “On Golden Pond” made its stage debut, in 1978, it was generally hailed as something different ” a cuddly look at the importance of family. Even three years later, the film version of Ernest Thompson’s play about three generations of the Thayer family gathering at their summer home in Maine was still earning acclaim, taking Oscars for best actor, actress and screenplay. Carbondale’s Thunder River Theatre Company presents its take on the rustic classic, with the company’s artist director, Lon Winston, directing, and Wendy Perkins and Richard Lyon in the lead roles of the aged couple, Ethel and Norman Thayer. It plays Friday through Sunday, Dec. 12-14, and Dec. 18-20 at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale.
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Novelist John Grisham, the master of the legal thriller, is in Aspen this week to give the keynote at Tuesday’s Aspen Words Book Ball at the Hotel Jerome.