Theatre Aspen announces new “All for One” summer lineup
Theatre Aspen announced another pivot to its 2020 summer season Tuesday due to the continued public health and safety challenges of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On April 6, the company announced a delayed start to its 37th summer season with some relatively minor tweaks and changes to its performance schedule.
On Tuesday, Producing Director Jed Bernstein said now the summer schedule is set to have a whole new flavor, featuring audience favorites, new initiatives and a lot of solo performances.
“There aren’t going to be as many performing arts options in town this year, so we wanted to create a schedule as enticing as possible that would appeal as broadly as possible,” Bernstein said. “And it’s much more flexible for us to pivot if need be.”
At the end of April, Bernstein said Theatre Aspen staff and board members realized that putting on full-sized productions this July and August posed too many health and financial risks to take — and may not even be possible given future state and county public health orders.
But because Bernstein feels arts is an integral part of general recovery from COVID-19, he said Theatre Aspen moved to shift its schedule yet again instead of cancel altogether, working to feature a broader “tasting menu” more Roaring Fork Valley locals can enjoy.
“Aspen is such a unique community, especially in the summer, and this is a summer people are not going to be used to,” Bernstein said. “So we felt obligated to offer the healing and fun power of entertainment as much as we could.”
The new “All for One” summer schedule will feature up to 35 performances from July 27 through 18, Bernstein said, including:
■ The popular summer cabaret series on the Hurst Theatre stage, with special performances by Beth Malone, a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee, and other celebrity headliners.
■ Solo Flights, the second annual developmental festival of one-person shows that will be moved from September into the summer lineup.
■ A live radio play that recreates a classic movie-musical, complete with onstage musical elements and sound effects. The show title will be announced soon.
■ Both Theatre Aspen Education summertime productions of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Frozen Jr.,” including a full complement of arts educations programs for K-12 students in July and August.
Most all performances will feature solo performers or very small group casts, Bernstein said. Theatre Aspen is committed to working with the Actors Equity Association — the labor union that represents professional actors and stage managers in the U.S. — to ensure proper workplace safety and health measures are implemented.
The company also is converting the Hurst Theatre into a 75- to 100-seat, cabaret-style space with as much social distancing in place as possible, and will abide by all state and county public health requirements.
But beyond ensuring the health and safety of its performers and audience, Bernstein said a major goal of this year’s season is celebrating Aspen as a local community.
That’s why on top of the new performance lineup, Theatre Aspen is also launching the Aspen Heroes Program to honor local frontline workers, dedicating the summer performance season to them.
Before each performance, Bernstein said a local first responder, bus driver, grocery store employee, restaurant staff member or other frontline worker forced to put themselves at risk for the benefit of others during the COVID-19 crisis will be recognized and honored in-person.
Roaring Fork Valley residents can submit their Aspen Heroes Program nominations online at theatreaspen.org, and Nicholas Vesey, Aspen Chapel Minister, and Rabbi Mendel Mintz, founder and director of the Chabad Jewish Community Center, will choose the heroes.
“I think one of the most special things that makes Aspen unique is its really strong sense of community, and we wanted to recognize that,” Bernstein said.
“‘All for One’ means we’re in this together, and the idea is only through community have we made it this far and only through community will we thrive moving forward.”
A detailed calendar with a more specific “All for One” summer season schedule will be announced in mid-June. The previously announced “Chicago,” “Rock of Ages” and “The Sunshine Boys” performances will be staged as part of the 2021 season.
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