Platts: The show goes on
When we want entertainment in Aspen, we tend to look to the staples. What’s playing at the Belly Up? Anything happening at the Wheeler? Maybe a movie at the Isis? But one thing we don’t often think about is what lies slightly out of Aspen. There’s a growing arts scene downvalley that I enjoy immensely each time I opt to take the short trip to check it out. Most recently, a show that had me laughing so hard there were tears streaming down my face was the Glenwood Vaudeville Spring Revue.
This troupe of hilarious and talented performers was originally founded in 2009 by John Goss. The show is full of comedic skits, well written songs, downright silly jokes and even impressive dance numbers. The eclectic range of content in each show keeps the audience on their toes. One minute, the performers are dressed as fast food items and are singing a classical music number and the next they are large bobbling baby heads…you may have to be there for that one.
Living upvalley I hadn’t heard too much about this vaudeville show until one rather intoxicated night when a couple friends and I decided to take a cab into Aspen. As I normally do in my drunken banter, I struck up a conversation with the cab driver. However, this one was different. He was oddly familiar. It soon became clear, the details of exactly how escape my memory, that this driver was Tom Erickson, a performer who used to work at the Crystal Palace in Aspen.
For people who are new to Aspen within the last eight years, the Crystal Palace means something a bit different than it used to. Now a space for various dance parties, young professional events and even a funky popup store, it may appear a bit vague as to what the building’s original use was. The beautiful space used to be a dinner theater where your servers doubled as singers, dancers and comics. The acts ranged in topic but many were a form of political satire, poking fun at presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, as well as notable personages such as Barbara Streisand and even Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
My family had frequented the Crystal Palace since its birth in the early 1960s. I remember stories my grandparents used to tell me about going there on one of the opening nights. From a young age, I was placed in a dinner seat at the venue and laughed along with my parents, aunts and uncles. I was singing the song “Lesbians, Lesbians” before I even knew exactly what a lesbian was.
Anyway, out of all the many things to miss about Aspen in the late 1900s, the Crystal Palace is what my family mourns for most. That’s why it was so refreshing to see Crystal Palace legend Tom driving my friends and me into town. We started singing songs from back in the day and he urged me to come down to Glenwood where he and some of the other Crystal Palace regulars had joined forces with other talent, creating a wildly entertaining, seasonally changing show at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. His recommendation is all that it took. A couple days later, I booked tickets to the show with my parents (two of the biggest Crystal Palace fans I know) and my boyfriend, and we headed for the Springs.
When we walked into the theater over the weekend, we were greeted by a quaint bar and highly charismatic bartenders (who, along with the waiters, would morph into the entertainers later on). The scene was similar to many of the small theaters we used to go to like the Boulder Dinner Theater, Heritage Square in Golden and, of course, the Crystal Palace. When we entered the theater, nostalgia took an even greater hold. Hundreds of seats were set up around tables that were angled toward the stage. Each waiter and waitress was just as entertaining as the next. They all seemed like born entertainers, the types that couldn’t stop singing and dancing if they were forced to.
Then the show started, and with it came the jovial tears and sore stomachs from hoards of aggressive giggling. I won’t give away the details of the acts (however the Facebook song was incredible … so was the dieting song … OK, that’s all I will say), but each one was as creative as the next. Some were pertinent to national conversations going on today and others were just entirely random — that was the beauty of it. It was wonderful to see old-time favorites like Tom Erickson, Gary Daniel, Nina Gabianelli (who is subbing in for another cast member this season) and John Goss. We also found new favorites in Alexis Van Vleet and Julie Manischalchi. Overall, the two-hour show was one to remember. I look forward to going back again.
If you are someone that remembers the days of the Crystal Palace fondly, or have no idea what the show and entire experience entailed, I would urge you to check out the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. It will give you a new cultural venue to add to your list besides the typical Aspen staples.
The Glenwood Vaudeville Revue’s spring show runs through May 14. The summer show will start sometime in June. For more information, check out http://www.gvrshow.com.
Barbara Platts loves theater, especially when it makes you laugh so hard you almost pee your pants. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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