Platts: It’s Show Time
Five, six, and seven, eight…
The count came back to me almost immediately. Perhaps it never left. It felt as natural as riding a bike or reciting the alphabet.
I danced all the time when I was young. I had a love affair with the stage, even though I probably cared for it more than it did me. I was always enrolled in drama and dance classes. I even, kind of, learned how to sing and play guitar, but that all started to fizzle out at the end of high school. Journalism took the steering wheel and my variations of performance art moved to the backseat, or quite possibly, got let out at the closest intersection.
I never regretted the decision. I summed up the interest to a high school fantasy and chose a career that was much more stable and lucrative: print media…
I really enjoy my job, but as a writer I can often get stuck in my routine, spending hours of the day staring at my LCD computer screen trying to turn words into stories. I’m constantly looking for new things that can pull me out of my comfort zone for a brief moment.
That’s why I succumbed to the peer pressure from Ramona Bruland, one of the co-founders and producers of Aspen Cares, an annual theatrical fashion show (formerly known as the Aspen AIDS Benefit) benefitting organizations that support sexual and mental health such as the Aspen Hope Center, Aspen Community Health, WestCap, and the Telluride AIDS Benefit. Since Aspen Magazine is sponsoring the event, I was beginning to hear a lot about it and wanted to see what auditions would be like. I figured the more embarrassing the better…it would ultimately make a good story.
But then, the plan went astray a bit. I ended up getting called back and then, ultimately, cast in the show.
The Aspen Cares fashion show is a one-night only event at the Belly Up that’s in its fourth year. The concept stemmed from the Telluride AIDS Benefit that started in 1994. Unlike the typical charitable galas with the standard dinner, auction, dance routine, this fundraising event takes a different approach. It dresses up roughly 30 locals in fancy, and often bare, clothes, gives them choreography and music and lets them sort the rest out on the runway in what ends up being an intricate story about addiction, loss, heartache and ultimately, love and acceptance.
The artistic geniuses behind this production are co-founder and director Katy Parnello and choreographer Amanda Carlson. They’ve both been involved in the Telluride AIDS Benefit for several years and have taken the show on tour to Boulder and New York.
The two of them, and Bruland, have worked tirelessly to bring this story to life, not only boasting a great cause but also showing why it’s necessary to do so. They want to reveal, in a beautifully artistic way, why we should care about mental and sexual health. To do this, they sprinkle characters throughout the fashion show: the virgin, the drunk, the bad boy, the bully, and the outcast that gets bullied, which just so happens to be my part.
Along with the creators, the cast is also intensely dedicated, rehearsing long hours and putting other obligations aside for weeks to make this show as good as possible. Some of them even have to shed most of their clothes in a (spoiler alert) lingerie/S&M choreographed piece.
We are now two days out from the show and things are getting real. What started as a story idea for me has turned into a full-on production. Despite the hours of work and the fact that I will be bullied on stage, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take this on. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine in this town, falling into patterns and not branching out. But, often times, when we do, great things can happen.
I’m not sure about the rest of the cast, but I’m ready for my close up.
To find out more information about Aspen Cares and its beneficiaries, go to aspencares.org.
Barbara Platts has given up her column to head back to the stage. This will be her last piece until next Thursday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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