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Offseason Notebook: Good News, Bad News

Stewart Oksenhorn
Basalt High School students, from left, Stephanie Morley, Rob Jeffery, Zane Bloomer and Michelle Miller, star in the musical "Guys & Dolls," showing Friday through Sunday at the Basalt Middle School. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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Good news: Locals’ specials. Bad news: Don’t know whether to put on flip-flops or mukluks.Bad news: All your friends are gone. Good news: So are the tourists.Bad news: The big-name acts at the Belly Up are Spanish for 100, Shiny Toy Guns and People Under the Stairs. Good news: There is the Belly Up, and its doors are open.Good news: Plenty of time to catch up on movies, books and CDs you missed when they were first released. Bad news: There was a reason you missed them the first time around.Bad news: It’s offseason, and there’s not much to do. Good news: It’s offseason, and there’s not too much to do.Here’s what there is until the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest hits on June 9. (Or, for the traditionalist, till the Food & Wine Classic arrives June 16.)Treasured Spaces701 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springsopening with a reception today at 5:30 p.m.This show, subtitled An Earth Day Art Show, is a benefit for Aspen Valley Land Trust, which gets half of all proceeds. The nature- and landscape-inspired work includes paintings, sculpture and pottery, and comes from the likes of Daniel Sprick, Mary Noone and Gregg Tonozzi. The show runs through Sunday only, in a new space that has yet to be occupied.Wheeler filmsThe Wheeler Film Series offseason begins on a high note, with the conclusion of Oscarfest, comprising all the Best Picture nominees.”Good Night, and Good Luck,” the stylish look at Edward R. Murrow’s clash with Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, gets a final screening tonight. “Crash,” the ultimate – and surprise – winner, a multi-narrative examination of prejudice in Los Angeles, shows Sunday through Tuesday, April 23-25.”Munich,” which reveals the violent aftermath of the assassinations at the 1972 Olympics, is set for Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27. The series concludes with “Capote,” starring Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the writer during research for “In Cold Blood.”Wheeler films resume May 7, with titles to be announced soon. Expect a full slate; the Wheeler has few live events scheduled, due to refurbishing.

More filmsThere’s no offseason from the usual blitz of sequels (“Mission Impossible III,” May 5; “X-Men: The Last Stand,” May 26), remakes (“Poseidon,” May 12), ambitious animation (“Cars,” by John Lasseter, who made the “Toy Story” series, June 9) and attention-grabbers (“The Da Vinci Code,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, May 19).Alternatives to the above include two films opening in Aspen today: the dark relationship comedy “Friends with Money,” winner of the Best Film award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, and with an ensemble female cast – Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack – to die for; and “American Dreamz,” a satire built around a televised singing contest.In the category of limited-release films that one hopes makes it here, are “L’Enfant,” a realist drama from Belgium; “Down in the Valley,” starring Edward Norton as a delusional man in contemporary Southern California; and “Lonesome Jim,” directed by Steve Buscemi, and about the sort of loser – a 27-year-old who moves in with his parents – that Buscemi often plays. (Here, he is portrayed by Casey Affleck.)”Guys & Dolls”Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, at 7 p.m.and Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m.Basalt Middle SchoolSince instituting Basalt High’s annual musical four years ago, John Goss has seen the program explode in popularity (32 students auditioned this year, enough that Goss expanded the cast), and quality (last year’s “Oklahoma!” was a sensation).Goss is also giving his actors the full range of onstage experience. “Oklahoma!” reveled in danger; “Guys & Dolls,” Frank Loesser’s tale of Damon Runyan-created gamblers and their girls, is all in good fun. “It’s broad, goofy characters,” said Goss, who directs. “It’s almost cartoonish, a Keystone Cops-y show. It’s great for kids to play characters on the run from the law, getting away with gambling, picking up girls. And all nice and lighthearted.”Lead actors are Zane Bloomer, Michelle Miller, Rob Jeffery and Stephanie Morley. Like last year, the show opens with an original video, created by Goss and Basalt High video wiz Matt Hobbs.Broadway Players Go Big BandSaturday, April 22, 7 p.m.Wheeler Opera HouseAfter a decade, and a dozen performances, the Broadway Players are for the first time charging admission for their offseason appearance – $15, which includes one free child’s ticket. There’s good reason: the Players have gone big, with the three singers – Scott MacCracken, Terra Vestrand and Jeanne Walla – backed by a 15-piece orchestra. (“A dollar per musician – and you get the singers for free,” quipped Walla.) The band, led by Montrose saxophonist Larry Simms, comprises musicians from the valley and around the Western Slope.The set list reflects a change from the usual Broadway theme; instead of Broadway musicals, most of the tunes are from the songbook of American standards: “Paper Moon,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Beyond the Sea” and “It Had to Be You.” Fans of show tunes should be satisfied with “Almost Like Being in Love,” from “Brigadoon”; “Mack the Knife,” from “The Three Penny Opera”; and “S’Wonderful,” from “Funny Face.”

Asylum Street SpankersSunday, April 23, 8:30 p.m.Steve’s Guitars, CarbondaleBased on the size of the band alone, the appearance by the Asylum Street Spankers qualifies for the “premium show” billing; we’ll see how the six Spankers fit on the tiny stage at Steve’s. In terms of talent, too, the band justifies the categorization (and $25 ticket). Led by guitarist Wammo and singer Christina Marrs, the Austin, Texas, band serves up an appealingly goofy, musically tight twist on acoustic swing.Other dates of note at Steve’s: Colorado honky-tonkers Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams (Friday, April 28); owner Steve Standiford’s Birthday Party (May 13); local outfit the Frying Pan Bluegrass Band (June 2); and ultra-eclectic Florida string band Dread Clampitt (June 3).Belly UpMost of the Belly Up’s offseason schedule is filled with little-known quantities. Among those is one, Sonya Kitchell, who is about to become well-known. This month the 17-year-old singer-songwriter released “Words Came Back to Me,” a mellow but deep CD with echoes of Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones. She has appeared recently on David Letterman, and next month performs as a special guest with Herbie Hancock at Sonoma Jazz+, a California festival produced by Jazz Aspen. Before Sonoma gets her, Kitchell plays the Belly Up on Friday, April 28.Also at the club: Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (Saturday, April 22; see feature story on page B3); Chicago indie rock band Spanish for 100 (Monday, April 24); L.A.’s Shiny Toy Guns, with fellow modern rockers Kill Hannah and Clear Static (Thursday, April 27); and the hip-hop Stepfather Tour, with People Under the Stairs, Time Machine and Gym Class Heroes (May 5). Expect more to be added.

Aspen Art MuseumArtist-in-residence Javier Téllez, Monday, April 24-May 21; Four Thursday Nights: Group Dynamics; beginning Thursday, April 27; at the museum; and the Young Curators of the Roaring Fork, opening Friday, April 28, in Hines Room of the Aspen Meadows Kresge BuildingLast fall, new Aspen Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson took heat for cutting the Valley Kids exhibit, a tradition for two-plus decades. With the museum about to launch a notably busy spring, it’s hard to argue that Jacobson isn’t making better use of the museum’s resources, as promised.The artist-in-residence program is inaugurated with Javier Téllez. The Venezuelan-born, New York artist will collaborate with Colorado mental patients to create a Western film, to be shown at the museum in August. Téllez’s studio, in the museum’s upper gallery, will be open to all comers, who are invited to talk to the artist about the project.Four Thursday Nights will have screenings of contemporary video works, thematically grouped under the title Group Dynamics. Each video will premiere on a Thursday, and show through the week. The videos are family-friendly, and beer and popcorn will be served. The series opens April 27 with “Jump,” a pleasure-filled work that combines jump-roping kids and several interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Los Angeles artists Diana Thater and T. Kelly Mason will be present to introduce the video. Following on consecutive Thursdays: Yang Fudong’s “S10,” a meditation on the Shanghai corporate world; “You Don’t Love Me Yet” and “Magical World,” two music-oriented works by Sweden’s Johanna Billing; and “Sleepwalkers,” a look at Americana through a British lens, by the Inventory collective.The museum opens its first Young Curators of the Roaring Fork exhibit Friday, April 28, in the Hines Room of the Aspen Meadows Kresge Building. Titled “Unspoken _____,” it includes works by local artists, ages 13-21. Also on display are the budding curatorial skills of the nine participants in the Young Curators program, who organized and promoted the show, which runs through May 7.Valley Kids, it should be noted, lives on, at the other end of the valley. Featuring some 450 works by local students, it is at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts through April 30.

Young Composers Family ConcertFriday, April 28Harris HallGabriela Lena Frank has been spending time in Roaring Fork Valley schools, teaching students to compose music. Frank has a wealth of influence to offer; the California-born, 34-year-old is of Peruvian, Chinese and Jewish heritage, and often incorporates South American sounds and references into her work. One of her pieces, “Los Sombras de Los Apus,” for cello quartet, was named by Chamber Music America as among the top 101 Great American Ensemble Works.The residency concludes with a free concert at Harris Hall, featuring compositions by local high-schoolers.This summer, the Aspen Music Festival toasts Frank with the Aug. 10 Inside Music event devoted to her compositions.”Dancing at Lughnasa”Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, and May 4-6New Space Theatre on CMC’s Spring Valley Campus”Dancing at Lughnasa” is on its way to becoming a classic. Brian Friel’s drama, set in 1936 rural Ireland, gets numerous productions in the States. Across the Atlantic, the play earned the Olivier Award when it was first performed, in 1990. The 1998 film version attracted Meryl Streep to star.Much of the attraction has to do with the wide scope of Friel’s script. Taking place over two days, leading up to the Irish harvest festival of Lughnasa, the story focuses on the five Mundy sisters, visited by the older brother, a priest who has been doing missionary work in Africa the previous 25 years. Into this family drama, Friel manages to weave in romance, religion and the radio; the upheaval from farm life to urban existence, and equal part of Irish humor and heartache.Directed by CMC Theatre’s Tom Cochran, “Dancing at Lughnasa” has a cast of Betsy Banks, Sheely Hemig, Julie Ann Wright, Melissa Malloy and Emily Cochran as the sisters, plus Doug Sheffer, Charley Deford and Michael Banks.

“Annie Get Your Gun”Friday, April 28, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, at 1 and 7 p.m.Basalt Middle SchoolJayne Gottlieb moved to Basalt four years ago, to take a position in the cast of the Crystal Palace. Now that her real dream is coming true – to direct a children’s theater company – she is bowing out of the Palace troupe.Using the Marin County, Calif., program she participated in as a kid as a model, Gottlieb launched Jayne Gottlieb Productions with a small camp last summer. The organization’s first production was “42nd St.” last fall, and this spring’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” Irving Berlin’s musical of Annie Oakley’s Wild West show, has the number of actors doubling, to 40, ages 6-14. Aspen middle-schooler Flynn Holman stars as Annie.Aspen Community School”A Really Big Wild West Show”May 4-5, WheelerMore of the Wild West, this time in an original production centered around the theme of separating myth from reality. Was Jesse James a criminal or a hero?Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities gallery showOpening May 5; and Gala dinner and wine-tasting at Six89 on May 8Lynette O’Kane, who makes mixed media with plaster works, and ceramic sculptors Maria Sippolla and Matt Johnson, are in a group show at the CCAH gallery. The opening, on May 5, is part of Carbondale’s First Friday gallery hop.CCAH has a fundraising event, with dinner and a wine-tasting, May 8 at the superb restaurant Six89. A silent art auction will feature a painting by noted local landscape artist Andy Taylor.

A second offseason exhibit, opening June 2, features paintings by Scott Harris and Max Cooper, and is part of June’s First Friday event.Zibaldone di pensieri (casual thoughts)Red Brick Center for the Arts, May 8-31This Red Brick gallery show includes charcoal drawings by Glenn Rappaport, mixed-media sculpture by Rick Parsons and ceramics and cast glass by Will Young. An opening reception is set for May 11.Symphony in the ValleyAt Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork on May 13and Glenwood Spring High School on May 14Symphony in the Valley’s annual Mother’s Day concerts include Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” narrated by local musician Steve Cole; and Mozart’s Symphony No. 1, with student conductor Zachariah Milby. Also, works featuring winners of the Young Artists Contests and Vocal Competitions: Secia Klocke, Lindsay Nelson and Aaron Poh. Cajun Clay NightCarbondale Clay CenterMay 20Why mess with success? The Carbondale Clay Center’s annual fundraiser, Cajun Clay Night, is hugely popular, with people lining up at the door to claim first dibs on a cup, to be filled with gumbo. So it’s back for its eighth edition with little change in the program. It’s Cajun food, a costume contest, drinks, and live music by Acoustic Mayhem, which will haul out a Louisiana song list. The feast is topped with cake – this year, billed as Gatorlicious, rather than the usual Crocodillyicious. Nobody will notice the difference.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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