EAGLE COUNTY — A slew of fantastical figures — everyone from Tarzan, Willy Wonka and Shrek, to Dorothy, Cinderella and Mary Poppins — will take the Vilar Performing Arts Center stage today and Saturday.
Nearly 80 local kids, age 8 to 18, are taking part in the Vail Performing Arts Academy’s fall musical, “Broadway Fantasy,” a revue of songs and scenes from some of Broadway’s most whimsical hits including “Willy Wonka,” “Shrek: The Musical,” “Wicked,” “Tarzan,” “Into The Woods,” “Wizard of Oz” and “Rocky Horror.”
“It’s all about enchanting, magical fantasy lands,” said Annah Scully, the founder of the Vail Performing Arts Academy. “Once again, VPAA has created a delightful show for all ages that will tug your heart strings with songs like ‘Pure Imagination,’ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘God Help the Outcast,’ to rocking out in your seat with ‘The Time Warp,’ ‘Freak Flag’ and ‘I’m a Believer,’ just to mention a few numbers. This show is a magical, musical revue and our cast is one of the largest we have had for our fall productions, ever.”
‘Very whimsical and fun’
Battle Mountain High School freshman Garvin VanDernoot plays the role of Tarzan in the production.
“I think people will be excited to see and hear some songs that they probably haven’t heard before because some of the shows might not be very well known, like ‘Shrek The Musical,’” VanDernoot said. “I didn’t know there was one ‘til we started doing it, but it’s really fun. Tarzan is also really fun. I like the diversity of the show. I think people who are going to see it should expect to have a really fun time.”
VanDernoot, who “loves to be on stage,” has been performing with the Vail Performing Arts Academy for five years.
“I’ve made really good friends in the productions,” he said. “Most of the friends who I do these shows with are from other schools. I know people from all over the valley who I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”
One of those friends is Alec Mauro, a Vail Mountain School freshman whose main role in “Broadway Fantasy” is that of Willy Wonka. While younger kids generally really enjoy the Vail Performing Arts Academy productions, Mauro is certain children will especially adore this show.
“It’s very whimsical and fun,” he said. “It’s like a storybook.”
For Mauro, the experience of performing on the Vilar stage makes the production that much more meaningful.
“As a kid, to get to perform on an awesome stage in an awesome setting, there’s not many groups around the country who get to perform in that setting,” he said. “It gives us that much more incentive to put on a great show for the audience.”
Mauro isn’t the only performer who shares that sentiment.
“They are all very talented and so thrilled to work on the Vilar stage once again, which makes all the difference for them and the audiences,” Scully said. “For almost 20 years now Vail Performing Arts Academy, along with the Vilar Performing Arts Center, have epitomized our motto: ‘Vail Performing Arts Academy: The most important stage in a child’s life.’”
For Edwards mom Shelley Woodworth, it was a no-brainer to sign her oldest son, Aidan, up for Vail Performing Arts Academy as soon as he was old enough. Aidan, who started at 8 years old, is now 12.
“Before he started kindergarten, he was in costume changes five or six times a day,” Woodworth said. “He’s always loved plays, musicals and music. Once he got old enough to be part of it, I knew he would love it.”
And he did.
“What had him hooked immediately is it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make friends with all ages of kids, and kids who go to all different schools in the area,” Woodworth continued. “He became friends with high school kids that first year who took him under their wing. He got to look up to those boys as his performing arts mentors.”
Aidan’s little brother, Keller, 9, is participating in the academy for the second year in a row. Both boys are taking part in “Broadway Fantasy.”
“Keller always helped Aidan learn the audition songs and was really excited when he could be part of it ... Hanging out with their best friends, singing and dancing, learning teamwork, camaraderie, how to support your friends and stage presence — they’re learning all those things that as a parent you want your child to develop.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org.