Last summer, his first as artistic director of what was then Aspen Theatre in the Park, David McClendon saw himself as an observer. He took the full lay of the theater landscape: the tent in Rio Grande Park, the productions, the audience response. McClendon began to take action with last winter’s warming stage version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” indicating his intention to go year-round, and continued tinkering by renaming the organization Theatre Aspen. The McClendon era takes hold with the 2005 season, the first he has programmed. The season starts with “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a revue of the songs of Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Love Potion #9”) which holds the distinction as the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history. The production, directed by Anthony Powell, shows Monday through Saturday, July 4-9, this week, and continues through July 30. Also opening is the children’s theater piece “The Near-sighted Knight and the Far-sighted Dragon,” on Friday and Saturday, July 8-9.
The Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Filmfest team to present a rare insight into Evelyn Glennie, one of the most interesting artists in classical music. The Scottish percussionist has become the superstar of her instrument – instruments, actually, as she plays everything from trap drums to marimba to bottle and cans. Glennie makes her Aspen debut on Sunday, July 3, with the Aspen Festival Orchestra and conductor Marin Alsop, performing the U.S. premiere of Steven Stucky’s “Spirit Voices,” designed for the soloist’s theatricality and virtuosity. (Glennie plays several dozen different percussion instruments in the piece). That night, SummerFilms presents a preview screening of “Touch the Sound” at Paepcke Auditorium. A poetic documentary about Glennie by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, the film explores the world of sound through Glennie, who is profoundly deaf.
Even the titles of Shelby Lynne’s albums shout out a defiant stance. The Alabama-born singer burst into the public consciousness with 2000’s “I Am Shelby Lynne”; she has followed with “Identity Crisis” and “Suit Yourself,” released in May. A profanity-filled interview with The Aspen Times last year confirmed her devil-may-care attitude, especially as regards the press. Yet when Lynne made her Aspen debut, opening for Al Green at Jazz Aspen’s June Festival, the horns were gone, and in their place was a smiling, even generous performer. There are far fewer questions about Lynne’s musical talents than about her demeanor. Even as she has steadily stripped down her sound since “I Am Shelby Lynne,” Lynne has shown more facets to her music, each one shining. Lynne returns to play the Snowmass Summer of Free Music series on Fanny Hill on Thursday, July 7.
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