Theatre Aspen announces summer lineup of performances, events
Two mainstage musicals and first-ever summer gala on tap for 2021
The countdown to Theatre Aspen’s summer season has begun. A robust lineup of musicals, plays, one-person shows and cabaret performances — plus a new summer gala — are on the calendar beginning in late June, the company announced Thursday morning.
“We were fortunate enough to be able to perform successfully last summer despite the COVID protocols and everything, and we were very proud about that,” Producing Director Jed Bernstein said in an interview this week. “But this year we wanted to get back to having as complete a summer as we can, and for us, complete means a range of full-length musicals, a rich sampling of drama, and our cabarets and any number of special events.”
Theatre Aspen General Manager Dani Taylor agrees.
“We’re excited about every single thing we’re able to offer this summer and really looking forward to it to come back with so many options after such a weird year for everyone,” Taylor said.
After a season sneak peak June 20, the mainstage season kicks into high gear with the Tony Award-winning musical “Chicago” on the Hurst Theatre stage June 30 to July 22. Two Theatre Aspen veterans serve at the creative helm: Director and choreographer Mark Martino is on his 12th season with the company; music director Eric Alsford is on his eighth.
“Rock of Ages” follows at the Hurst Theatre July 30 to Aug. 21, directed by Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster in his fourth consecutive summer with the company. Abbey O’Brien serves as choreographer; Alsford once again covers music direction.
Both “Chicago” and “Rock of Ages” were originally slated for the summer 2020 season; Theatre Aspen postponed the performances to 2021 amid pandemic-related programming shifts last year.
It’s a “peculiarly appropriate” mainstage lineup after the past year of modified performances and pared-down offerings, Bernstein said.
“‘Rock of Ages’ certainly is a very celebratory evening of rock and roll. … I think it is going to be that kind of summer that people, having been cooped up for so long, are going to really want to let loose,” he said. “’Chicago,’ of course, is an extremely entertaining show about a rather cynical time in America during the Roaring ’20s, a number of years after the flu pandemic, so it weirdly has a historical echo that makes it appropriate for the summer, too.”
The company will take what Bernstein calls an “intermission weekend” between the two musicals to host their inaugural “Midsummer Masquerade” gala July 25. Award-winning actor and Broadway performer Darren Criss will headline the gala; more details will be announced closer to the event.
“That should be a very special evening,” Bernstein said.
Also new this year, Theatre Aspen Education will produce its first Shakespeare play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” July 8 to 10 outdoors in the John Denver Sanctuary. The student arts education program also will produce two shows at the Aspen District Theater: “Willy Wonka, Jr.” (July 29 to 31) and “Peter and the Starcatcher” (Aug. 5 to 8).
The Solo Flights one-person show festival at the Hurst Theatre will run earlier in the season this year, Aug. 25 to 31, “in order to expose more plays, more drama, to more people” during the typically busier month of August rather than September, Bernstein said.
The Summer Cabaret Series also returns this year at multiple venues in Aspen on July 11 and Aug. 8, 9 and 15. Abbey O’Brien directs.
Theatre Aspen plans to require masks at all performances, Bernstein confirmed; that policy hinges in part on guidelines set by the Actors’ Equity Association, he said.
Some shows will be more distanced than others, allowing attendees to choose the option most comfortable for them.
At performances with traditional audience seating, attendees must offer proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the performance, according to the release. Socially distanced shows will offer a more spread-out setup. Mobile tickets, cashless transactions and thorough cleaning procedures will be in place at all performances; mask and distance policies are subject to change.
“We want audience members to be comfortable,” Bernstein said. “We really want audience members to be safe.”
Season passes — discounted as much as 40% off — go on sale May 26 at theatreaspen.org. Single tickets will be available beginning June 11 by phone at 970-925-9313. The Theatre Aspen box office opens June 20, at which point tickets will be available for purchase online, over the phone and in person.
“Chicago,” June 30 to July 22 at Hurst Theatre
“Rock of Ages,” July 30 to Aug. 21 at Hurst Theatre
Theatre Aspen Education Productions
“A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” July 8 to 10 at the John Denver Sanctuary
“Willy Wonka, Jr.,” July 29 to 31 at the Aspen District Theater
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” August 5 to 8 at the Aspen District Theater
Summer Sneak Peek, June 20 at Hurst Theatre
Summer Cabaret Series, July 11 and August 8, 9 and 15, various locations
Midsummer Masquerade Gala, July 25, location to be announced
Solo Flights One-Person Show Festival, Aug. 25 to 31 at Hurst Theatre
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Did you hear that? It’s the sound of music — and if the kickoff of the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series was any indication, Fanny Hill sure was alive with it Thursday night.