‘Wit, wisdom and umatched stortelling’ of Vail’s earliest couples
February 10, 2013
Art imitates life – mostly, and “As Vail Turns” is a hilarious look at both.”As Vail Turns” is a satirical look at three of Vail’s iconic couples through the lens of Josh Hartwell and Curious Theater, out of Denver.Yeah, some Vail tales are touching and heartwarming, but Hartwell went for comedy and nailed it.”I wanted to do something like the Carol Burnett show,” Hartwell said.Stuff is funny because we think it is, and this stuff is funny.”It’s comedy. The stories told in the play, people will already know. It’s how they’re told. It’s fun to see it told in a theatrical way. It has a rhythm to it,” Hartwell said.They’re familiar tales about familiar people: Paul and Janet Testwuide, Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer and George and Rose Gillett.All kinds of people have all kinds of Testwuide stories.One that absolutely had to make the play is Paul Testwuide’s horse in the bar. That was the time he rode his horse into, well … you’ll just have to see it to believe it.”The story was told to me that way, so that’s the way it went in,” Hartwell said.About all Paul Testwuide says about his early Vail days is that “the community has matured and most of us have matured along with it.”It’s Fractured Fairy Tales for Vail’s 50th.”This will be the one Vail 50th event that you won’t want to miss,” said Susie Tjossem, Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum executive director.Keeping the peaceThere’s the story of George Gillett buying the ski company.Negotiations weren’t going all that well and George had to be nudged in the right direction. Legend has it that his adorable bride, Rose, woke him up in the middle of the night and implored him to buy Vail, or words to that effect.The legend claims George said something like, “Well, for you and the boys.”Once the Gillett clan arrived in the mid 1980s, their four boys tried the latest thing in snow sports – snowboarding. They decided that George should allow snowboarding in Vail, and allow it immediately if not sooner.The boys hammered on their dad with persuasive arguments such as, “What’s the point of owning a ski mountain if all you can do is ski on it?”He finally relented, both to expand his customer base and to keep peace in his personal valley.A rich historyVail Symposium board member and local writer David Williams shared mountains of information, Hartwell did some research, talked to all kinds of people and the next thing you know, they had some stories to tell.”I’m looking forward to meeting these people and they can tell me how right or wrong I am,” Hartwell said.The names have not been changed to protect the innocent because it’s us, and we know we’re not that innocent. “Vail has one of the richest histories of any of the world’s great ski resorts, and our three featured couples span Vail’s five decades from its inception in a remote sheep meadow to a world-class winter destination,” Williams said. “All of them have incredible tales that will make ‘As Vail Turns’ an unforgettable evening.”There’s a script and the actors follow the script – mostly. There’s an entertaining sense of improv about a Curious Theater performance.”The lines are written, but with Curious Theater, there’s always a sense of collaboration,” Hartwell said. Curious Theater writes and performs Denver stories every year, featuring some of Denver’s more prominent and colorful residents. Hartwell wrote a sketch about John Hickenlooper. Some Vail residents saw it, liked it and asked him to write the Vail play.David and Kristin Kenney Williams are Vail Symposiums board members and are co-hosting the event.”We are thrilled that the Gramshammers, Testwuides and Gilletts have loaned us their wit, wisdom and unmatched storytelling from Vail’s formative years to create a very unique, entertaining and humorous production on Valentine’s Day,” Kristin said.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.