The hills are alive – still |

The hills are alive – still

Dear Editor:The Aspen Community Theatre’s production of “The Sound of Music” closed last Sunday, Nov. 14.It was the buzz of Aspen – selling out completely with more than 5,500 ticket buyers seeing the show. Frequent refrains from audience members were: “Best ever in Aspen,” “Better than the Broadway production” and “Thank you for giving us so much pleasure in one evening.”The unsung heroes of the production are:The producers, Rita Hunter and Jody Hecht. Rita has been the driving force behind Aspen Community Theatre for 25 years; Jody came on board 18 years ago. Their devotion to the theater community, adherence to a consistently high level of professionalism and sense of fun and enthusiasm are remarkable. These are productions with budgets to $100,000, but, as far as I know, ACT has never operated with a deficit. In the not-for-profit theater world, this is almost unheard of.The director, Marisa Post, pulled off a remarkable organizational and directorial feat of planning and scheduling, coordinating the lives of 50-60 cast members, including 14 children, since early September. Her directorial talents include strong leadership and people skills, a clear artistic vision and excellent judgment in her selection of talented people to execute this vision. She made the rehearsals professional, efficient and fun. Her directorial process was exemplary for its lack of ego and her commitment to the entire group effort.The set designer, Tom Ward, has contributed more than 30 years of blood, sweat and joy to theater design in Aspen. His designer’s vision and execution of an extraordinarily beautiful and effective “Sound of Music” set, from nunnery to captain’s estate to Nazi grandiosity, created a real world for the actors to live and a stunning spectacle for the audience.The unheralded but irreplaceable orchestra and crew: These musicians play their instruments below the stage while other techno-types scamper behind the curtains, above the lights, in the back of the theater. They work their backstage mastery often late at night after rehearsals and, during the run, literally in the dark, seeming to thrive in their anonymity.The actors all devoted hundreds of unpaid hours and talent. Of special mention is the leading actress, Nikki Boxer, who played Maria. Her voice is wondrously beautiful and her professional ethic equally as inspiring. She’s soft-spoken, smart, modest and so nice it would make any prima donna diva or vixen turn into a puddle of love. Nikki set the gold standard for all the other cast members and her quiet confidence, work ethic and grace under pressure (severe bronchial infection) provided the wings under which everyone took flight.School arts programs are diminishing and art education gets less to no appreciation. But the support, enthusiasm and contribution of the many individuals and ACT supporters responsible for this “Sound of Music” form a collective voice that validates the importance of art for the children’s sake and art as an integral, dynamic and important part of community life.Tim George EstinAspen

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