Before his mayoral campaign gets under way, the ubiquitous Andrew Kole – talk-show host, gadfly, serial candidate for public office – makes his debut on yet another stage. This time, it’s a literal stage; Kole’s semi-autobiographical comedy, “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time,” is being produced by Theatre Aspen. Kole, who has worked in film promotions and was an avid theatergoer as a kid, has found a theme that he would seem to know well: The play focuses on Max Zirinsky, who revisits life decisions that made sense at the moment but didn’t hold up in the long run. Becoming a playwright, however, might turn out to be a solid choice. Kole’s first stage script got a read-through last summer at Theatre Aspen, and Theatre Aspen head David McClendon liked it enough both to schedule it as a full production, and to direct. “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time” opens Thursday, Aug. 17, and gets an extended run, through Sept. 9.
The life of Mozart is compelling enough that even his death is a source of pop fascination. (“The Simpsons” devoted an episode to the composer’s demise.) Plagued by fits of depression and financial difficulties, the deaths of four of his children and his father, and his wife, Constanze’s, health problems, Mozart feverishly completed his last works – the Clarinet Concerto and the “Masonic Cantatas” – before dying at 35, leaving his “Requiem” unfinished. He was buried in an unidentified pauper’s grave. In a dramatized performance honoring the 250th anniversary of his birth, the Aspen Chamber Symphony and conductor Murry Sidlin examine the circumstances of his death in “Who Killed Mozart?” The concert, Friday, Aug. 18, features Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart and Salieri,” and Mozart’s own Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat major, with soloists Misha and Cipa Dichter.
Joe Cocker, Dwight Yoakam and B.B. King as headliners, with Asleep at the Wheel, Drew Emmitt and the Texas Sapphires as opening acts – that sounds like a reasonably attractive roots music festival. Instead, that is the week’s lineup at Belly Up, capacity 450. This is the week that Aspen’s sparkling club puts itself squarely on the music map, if it weren’t already. King, playing a rare club gig in his ongoing 80th birthday celebration tour, kicks things off Saturday, Aug. 12. The blues-rock legend Cocker, who has just a handful of dates on his summer itinerary, follows Sunday, Aug. 13. Yoakam, the last, strongest link to the ’60s Bakersfield brand of gritty country music, pulls in Wednesday, Aug. 16. Texas swing kings Asleep at the Wheel play Thursday, Aug. 17, with the Texas Sapphires opening. Colorado mandolinist Drew Emmitt returns Friday, Aug. 18. And just in case you were thinking of resting next week, think again. The rest of the month features Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, the Radiators, Cracker and two nights of Galactic.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.