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TEDxVail returns with event featuring powerful women Dec. 10

TEDxVail is returning Dec. 10 with TEDxVailWomen, which will stream TED Talks from this year’s lineup of TEDWomen Speakers. These talks have not yet been made available to the general public. Attendees will also have the chance to network and participate in workshops designed to empower women. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

The event takes place from 2-6:30 p.m. in the Four Seasons Vail and is hosted by TEDxVail. This event is only open to 60 participants, so early sign-ups are encouraged at tedxvailregistration.com.

TED started in 1984 as a conference for technology, entertainment and design. Today, most people know the TED brand for its short, educational recorded speeches – TED Talks – which gained more popularity in the internet age thanks to YouTube streaming. Each TED talk must be under 18 minutes long, preserving the idea of capturing big ideas in a short timeframe.

The “x” in TEDxVail stands for “independently organized,” meaning communities can create local events using TED-branded content. There are TEDx communities around the globe, and TEDxVail works to highlight topics that are important to the community at large.

Just three hours from Vail, Music Meadows Ranch offers families a place to connect with horses, each other and themselves

“You’re a real natural; you know just how to steer that horse,” says Rich. He’s one of our guides for the day, complimenting my 5-year-old daughter Ellis who beamed in reply. He wasn’t kidding: she didn’t have a hint of the anxiety I felt when I rode for the first time as a pre-teen. 

It’s our second day at Music Meadows Ranch in Westcliffe, Colo., and we’re mid-way through a milestone for the kids: their first time riding horses.

But the experience goes far beyond just a ride. Before setting out, Elin Parker Garchow, a third-generation rancher and the ranch’s owner/operator, patiently explained how to hold the reins and communicate with the horse. Most riders learn how to groom and saddle their horses prior to putting their feet into the stirrups.

After our feet-on-the-ground lesson, we set out for a short out-and-back ride on the 3,800-acre working cattle ranch. While Garchow held the reins for my 3-year-old son, Davis, guiding his horse along, she trusted Ellis to listen and comply to her instructions. “Pull up the reins, tell her whoa,” and Ellis rose to the occasion, listening intently and following instructions.

Later, after the ride, the kids feed apple slices to their horses — Babe and Rusty — and it’s hard to tell who was happier, the children or their trusty steeds.

Ellis and Davis Petrowsky join Elin Parker Garchow, the owner/operator of Music Meadows Ranch.
Caramie Petrowsky | Special to the Daily

A history of horses

Situated in the southern Wet Mountain Valley, it’s hard to stop staring at the dramatic Sangre de Cristo Mountains abutting the ranch. The land was originally homesteaded in the 1800s and Garchow’s father, Bill, purchased it in the 1960s; her family has been working it ever since. 

While you can opt to visit the ranch for just a horseback ride, spending at least three nights and four days in the ranch house allows you to really settle into ranch life and all it encompasses: horseback rides each day; family dinners made onsite by Sherry, the ranch’s sweet and talented chef each night.

You can enjoy bonfires in the fire pit and trout fishing in the dusty light of early morning or evening. Another highlight? Petting and feeding Lily, the ranch donkey that comes on command. An abundance of solitude, stars and serenity relaxes tension held deep inside.

At the ranch, guests get to enjoy bonfires and the surrounding nature while experiencing ranch life first-hand.
Special to the Daily

Plus, if she can get you for three days or a whole week, Garchow can accomplish her goal, which she explains as we’re warming ourselves by the bonfire post-ride while filling our bellies with barbecue beef wraps made with Sangres Best Beef, Garchow’s grass-finished beef company also located on the ranch: “I look at this as a full immersion-type experience with the horses, and not just a ‘get on, go down the trail, get off and walk away.’ I want people to learn and gain confidence with their horse and build a relationship,” she said. “As you learn to read your horse, your horsemanship excels.”

Simple pleasures

Stepping into the house when we arrived at the ranch on a Friday evening felt like taking a step back in time when things were simpler and people were more connected to the land and each other. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has everything you might need, from a well-stocked fridge and pantry to plenty of books, games and even extra cowboy hats in case you forgot your own. There’s plenty of wood for the wood-burning stove in the living room and instead of a television, there’s a piano. It’s functional and comfortable rather than fancy. In other words — it’s the perfect fit for a vacation at a working cattle ranch.

Ellis feeds Lily, the resident donkey at Music Meadows Ranch, who especially enjoys carrots and apples.
Caramie Petrowsky | Special to the DailyEllis feeds Lily, the resident donkey at Music Meadows Ranch, who especially enjoys carrots and apples.

Aside from horseback riding, the highlight of our stay was dinner with the ranch cook Sherry — Sangres Best Beef filet mignon, homemade rolls, roasted vegetables and chocolate pudding sundaes for dessert, along with plenty of good conversation about the ranch and surrounding area.

During our three-day visit in October, we found enough adventure around Westcliffe to fill our days but if and when we return, we will stay put at the ranch, soaking in the welcome reprieve from life’s busy to-do list.

Davis looks out over the private pond at Music Meadows Ranch that’s chock full of trout. Guests at the Ranch are welcome to fish it, though we were warned its more like catching.
Caramie Petrowsky | Special to the Daily

Must Stay

Music Meadows Ranch is located at 6076 CR 119 in Westcliffe, about 150 miles and a 3-hour drive southeast of Vail. The ranch itself is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Westcliffe. Pricing is $300 per night, per person (minimum of three people; each person after four gets a 25% discount). Price includes lodging, daily horseback riding (3, 4 or 5 hour rides) and three meals a day (two of which are prepped and one that is cooked and served by the ranch cook, Sherry). Visit musicmeadows.com to learn more.

Must See

Mission: Wolf: Open since 1984, this sustainable wolf sanctuary is home to 27 wolves, including Arctic and Timber wolves. Go on a Saturday and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to watch feeding time, which happens twice a week. Visitors are welcome every day except Thursdays and Sundays. Take a free tour (donations welcomed) led by a volunteer to hear about how the sanctuary got its start and how the resident wolves ended up at this remote sanctuary. Follow Google Maps directions for the most direct route, which is 45 minutes from Westcliffe but is well worth the trek.

Mission: Wolf strives to educate people about wolves and dispel myths. Visit near feeding time and you might hear all 27 of them start howling shortly after.
Caramie Petrowksy | Special to the Daily

Smokey Jack Observatory: Designated an International Dark Sky Community in 2015, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were the first Colorado communities, and second in the whole nation, to earn the honor. Since, the observatory has become a popular destination for people from around the country and world. The observatory features a retractable roof and a 14-inch computer-automated telescope. Free public star parties take place at the observatory mid-March through October. Reserve a spot online beginning in January. The calendar fills up fast; the observatory was nearly entirely booked in 2019.

Designated an International Dark Sky Community in 2015, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were the first Colorado communities (second in the whole nation) to earn the honor.
Deb Adams | Special to the Daily

Must Eat

  • Breakfast: Duck into Candy’s Coffee (102 S. 2nd St.) in Westcliffe for egg, green chile and cheddar croissants and Mexican chocolate chai.
  • Brunch or lunch: Cliff Lanes (25 Main St.) boasts the best mountain views of any bowling alley you’ll find. After brunch at the Rancher’s Roost Café inside, stay for a round of bowling. There are even bumpers, ramps and lightweight balls for the littles.
  • Dinner: Tony’s Mountain Pizza (630 Main St.), in the adjoining town of Silver Cliff, serves up calzones, pizza, pasta and salads in a warm, family-friendly establishment.

Former Vail Daily Arts & Entertainment Editor Caramie Petrowsky is a freelance travel writer and public relations professional who lives in Denver with her husband and their two children.  

‘Law & Order’ creator Dick Wolf takes on Colorado’s Christopher Watts murder case with Oxygen show

The third season of Dick Wolf’s “Criminal Confessions” will kick off with a visit to Colorado’s Front Range.

That’s according to the Oxygen network, which is touting its Dec. 7 season premiere as the first time that lead investigators at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation have spoken publicly about the case of convicted murderer Christopher Watts.

In fact, Denver Post reporter Elise Schmeltzer talked to three CBI investigators — including the agent that secured the confession — for a story that ran in August.

As The Denver Post has reported, a steady stream of documentaries and television shows have continued to examine the 2018 murders that rocked the small town of Frederick, about 30 miles north of Denver. Chris Watts was convicted after confessing to the murder of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters.

Read the full story at The Denver Post.

Book Club: ‘Calypso’ by David Sedaris will have you laughing before you realize you’re reading

Editor’s note: This monthly-ish column by the Vail Daily’s entertainment editor will discuss what she’s reading currently and how it affects her life.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing the shelves at The Bookworm of Edwards. I saw David Sedaris’ 2018 book, “Calypso” on the best-sellers shelf and bought it. I even asked one of the attendants if they had other titles by him. If they did, I would have bought more.

“Calypso” is the fastest I’ve read a book since my first time flipping the pages through “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and that was 12 years ago. I was 10 years old (yes, I know everyone older than me is gaping at my youth).

David Sedaris, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of cackling devilishly at his work, is one of America’s pre-eminent contemporary humor writers. He often finds subject matter in his upbringing in Raleigh, North Carolina, his large and dysfunctional family and his ex-patriot life in Europe with his longtime boyfriend, Hugh.

He first got his break in public life when he met NPR host Ira Glass in a Chicago club. In 1992, Sedaris read from his diary on NPR’s “The Wild Room,” and built on his success. He’s published many books since then, as well as essays in publications like The New Yorker and Esquire. His sister is actress Amy Sedaris, the Second City alum whom “BoJack Horseman” fans will recognize as the voice of Princess Carolyn. The pair have collaborated on numerous projects, and the author gave a talk in Breckenridge last month.

“Calypso” came out last year and has topped bestseller lists for its incisive wit and humor.
Special to the Daily

Back to speed. For reference: It took me four sessions to get through the 300-ish pages in “Calypso;” when I was 10, it took me 3 days of practically non-stop reading to get through the 700 plus pages in the final Harry Potter book. For a Russian Literature class in college, I read “Anna Karenina” in about a month, and that was fast, but nowhere near as fast as “Calypso.”

Sedaris, and I hate this cliché in the amateur book review lexicon, just draws you in. Somehow, you’re the one bickering with Hugh in the Sea Section, a.k.a the Sedaris family beach house on Emerald Isle. At the same time, you’re detached enough to see the universal reality of the author’s cultural commentary, which in the case of “Calypso,” shows the author grappling with his own mortality in middle age through a series of his trademark personal essays.

A few other, less cutesy reasons why “Calypso” went by so quickly for me probably had at least a little to do with the fact that Sedaris’ writing is very conversational. It’s very easy to get through pages at a time without even noticing, “hey, I’m actually reading.” I also read and write for a living, so for better or for worse, I’ve learned how to do those things fairly quickly.

I first became familiar with Sedaris via The New Yorker, which I’ve written about in this column before and I’m sure on second reference will have even more people rolling their eyes than it did the first time. I read his essays commuting on the Q train in New York. Fun fact: exactly 65% of subway riders have a crinkled copy of the magazine with them, my well-vetted research indicates that less than 10% of those people actually read it.

Sometimes I’d have to force myself not audibly giggle, or even smile, at his incisive, self-deprecating articles when I read them on the train. After all, the two Ultimate Transgressions Against Society in the city are 1) appearing happy for no reason and 2) disrupting others’ obvious displeasure. I resolved to actually buy one of his books one day. I stared at them on the shelves in the Union Square Barnes & Noble, convincing myself that my bank account, at the time very reflective of my unpaid internship, would be upset with me if brought anything up to the counter. I’m glad I have a job now that affords me enough money to buy books.

Some parting notes:

If you work at the Bookworm and you’re reading this: get more Sedaris.

If your middle name, like what’s for sure printed on my government-issued birth certificate, is Desensitizes Personal And Societal Problems With Off-beat Humor: read more Sedaris.

Casey Russell is the arts and entertainment editor of the Vail Daily, and in case you were curious for some reason, her real government-recognized middle name is Marie. You can reach her at 970-748-2904 or crussell@vaildaily.com.

SEE: Live updates from Vail’s 2019 opener

Opening day is here in Vail, and the Vail Daily will be out here all day capturing the action! If you’d like to have your photos featured, use the #VailLive hashtag on Instagram, and refresh this page for updates.

For a list of events happening this weekend, check out Tricia’s weekend picks.

High Country Baking: These sweet potato mini Bundts ring in the flavors of fall

High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

The tastes of the harvest resound in these appealing mini-Bundt cakes. Sweet potato, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and rum harmonize beautifully, creating a moist texture and warm flavors with a distinctly autumnal accent. They’re a pleasing finale to any rich meal and a nontraditional but still seasonal addition to a Thanksgiving feast.

You can use canned sweet potato puree in this recipe, or you can make your own. To do so, pierce each washed and dried potato (you need about a pound) with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape and roast them in a 400-degree oven until tender. Cool, peel, cut them into pieces and whirl them in a food processor until no lumps remain.

The cakes are best served warm, a day or two after they’re baked.

Sweet Potato Minis with Rum-Brown Sugar Glaze

Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above

Make in a shiny metal mini-Bundt pan with 5-ounce-capacity cups

Yields nine 2 ¾ -inch cakes


¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dried cranberries or golden raisins

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 ½ plus 2 tablespoons bleached flour, spoon and level

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons canola oil

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup packed roasted sweet potato puree

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up

1 tablespoon corn syrup

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

¼ cup roasted pecan pieces

1 tablespoon dried cranberries or raisins, chopped, optional

1. Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if your pan is dark metal), with a rack in the center position. Grease the cups in your pan with a baking spray that contains flour and set it aside. Combine the dried fruit and rum in a small bowl, making sure all the fruit is submerged in the alcohol. Cover and microwave at high temperature for about 20 seconds, until the fruit has absorbed some of the liquid, uncover and set aside to cool. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine well. Set aside.

2. Beat the eggs and sugar: With an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale and thick, from 2-4 minutes, depending on your mixer’s power. Using low speed, beat in the oil and vanilla. Add the sweet potato puree and, on low speed, beat until it’s fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and starting and ending with the flour. Drain the dried fruit well (save the rum), and stir it into the batter.

3. Spoon the batter: Into the prepared pan, filling the cups two-thirds of the way to the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean; start checking after 20 minutes in the oven.

4. Make the glaze while the cakes bake: Combine the butter, corn syrup, and whipping cream in a small saucepan and, stirring constantly, heat on the stovetop at medium-low temperature until the butter is fully melted and the ingredients are combined. Add the brown sugar, keep stirring, and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue at a low boil, stirring, until the mixture thickens and gets syrupy. Remove it from the heat, cool slightly, and stir in the reserved rum. Taste, add more rum if desired. Set aside until the cakes finish baking.

5. Lightly grease a wire cooling rack: Remove the pan from the oven and place it on the rack. Let it cool for about 5 minutes then invert it onto the rack and let the cakes fall out; the top sides will now be up. Immediately, while still hot, use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the cakes and generously brush on the glaze. Sprinkle chopped pecans and dried fruit (if using) on the tops. Drizzle any remaining glaze over them. If the glaze thickens too much to pour easily during this step, reheat it. Let the glazed cakes cool to room temperature. Store covered, in the fridge. Rewarm in a microwave or 325-degree oven before serving.

Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, and Breck Books in Breckenridge). She became a full-time Frisco resident in 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Eagle Public Library reopens with all-day event

Eagle Valley Library District is hosting a grand opening celebration of the Eagle Public Library renovation and expansion, at 600 Broadway St., from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Patrons can tour the spacious two-story building and use its many new and upgraded amenities. Various activity stations for children and families will be set up throughout the library. All are invited to be part of this memorable day in celebration of a long-anticipated accomplishment.

Here is a schedule for the day:

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:45 a.m.

Doors open at 10 a.m.

Storytime at 10 a.m.

Cake cutting at 10:30 a.m.

Self-guided tours and familyfriendly activities throughout the day

Designed by Studiotrope and constructed by Evans Chaffee Construction Group, the Eagle Public Library is built to be cozy, warm and inviting, with an open, airy design that optimizes natural light throughout the building. The library features adult, teen and children’s spaces, an expanded local history section, new and repurposed furniture and shelving, ADA accessibility, 15 public access computers, lounge and café-style seating, WiFi capability, multipurpose community rooms, study rooms and the Spark Studio, a high-tech, collaborative studio with 21st century tools and technologies. A reading terrace overlooks a ground-floor exterior pocket park with a garden that will be planted next spring.

The two-story library is intended to be a center for community and a place for people of all ages to feel at home with access to resources and information. The renovation and expansion has added 6,000 square feet indoors, with a 300-square-foot reading terrace, and a 7,300-square-foot pocket park (in-lieu of a parking lot) for a total of 12,600 square feet additional indoor and outdoor public space.

“We are so excited for the community to see the improvements to the Eagle Library. This project has given us the opportunity to respond to community needs with a larger area for children, a defined space for teens, more quiet places to read, study and work and a number of other service improvements,” said Eagle Valley Library District director Linda Tillson.

The Eagle Valley Library District is grateful to Alpine Bank, Eagle Valley Library District Foundation, Friends of the Eagle Valley Library District, Sylvan Lake State Park and Whittaker Landscape Service for their generous donations. The district also thanks Eagle County for providing space for the pop-up library in the interim; and Yeti’s Grind, Mountain Recreation and Eagle Climbing + Fitness for providing story-time space during the final phase of construction.

The Eagle Public Library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit www.evld.org or call the library at 970-328-8800.

Vail Mountain opens, bells ring for après-ski, holiday ornament painting and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 11/15/2019

Vail’s Opening Day & Vail Après ringing of the bells

We’ve been watching ski resorts open over the pass in Summit County and now it’s Eagle County’s turn to start spinning the lifts. Vail will open for its 57th season with approximately 91 acres of terrain, up from the originally announced acreage of 70 acres of terrain accessed via Gondola One in Vail Village starting at 9 a.m. on Friday.

New for this season, Vail will open skiing and riding out of Vail Village, with upload and download access to the Mid-Vail area via Gondola One (1). The resort will offer skiing and riding terrain for all ability levels on trails accessed by Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) out of Mid-Vail including Swingsville, Ramshorn, Slifer Express, Cappuccino, Upper Powerline, Lower Meadows.

Beginner terrain will be available at the base of Golden Peak with Gopher Hill Lift (#12) and Sherry’s Carpet (#33) open. The connector trail between Golden Peak and Vail Village will connect the two base areas.

If you hiked up the Berry Picker trail this summer, you noticed the pipes and trenches as Vail was prepping the mountain for more snowmaking capabilities. That has resulted in nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain this season, in addition to the previously existing 431 acres of snowmaking terrain.

Vail will continue to make snow across the mountain at every opportunity as weather and conditions permit, and look to expand open terrain as soon as possible.

As part of the Opening Day festivities, Beth Howard, Vail Mountain’s vice president and chief operating officer, along with snowmaking project leaders will perform a celebratory ribbon cutting on one of Vail’s new state-of-the-art snow guns at the base of Gondola One at 8:30 a.m.

Complimentary breakfast burritos and hot cocoa will be provided in Mountain Plaza at the base of Gondola One for early risers on opening day, while supplies last. If you don’t get there in time for the free burritos, Express Lift Bar will be open in Mountain Plaza as well. For dining options on the mountain, Look Ma at Mid-Vail and Buffalo’s at the top of Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) will be fully operational starting at 9 a.m.

Après-ski bell ringing

The start of the ski season also kicks off après-ski. Après-ski is French for “after ski” and it can be likened to happy hour after work. To take après ski up a notch and pay homage to the European ski areas, Vail will kick off Vail Après at 2:45 p.m. Friday with a ceremonial bell ringing on Pepi’s deck.

Sheika Gramshammer and her family, owners of Gastof Gramshammer and Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant will be joined by dignitaries from the town of Vail and Vail Mountain to kick off the inaugural Vail Après bell ringing and celebrate the start of Vail’s ski season.

To join in the celebration, members of the community are encouraged to gather on Pepi’s deck at 2:45 p.m. on Friday to take part in a ceremony that will launch this new tradition.

Following Friday’s launch, Vail Après will take place daily at 3 p.m. throughout the season with simultaneous bell ringing throughout Vail Village, Lionshead and on Vail Mountain to signify the beginning of après-ski.

For information about opening day in Vail go to www.vail.com. For details on Vail Après or information on custom bell orders, visit www.vail.com/apres.

Tales of the 10th

We just observed and thanked vets on Monday for Veterans Day, but this Friday you can learn quite a bit more about the famed 10th Mountain Division, the winter warfare unit that trained just south of Vail at Camp Hale before fighting battles in Europe during World War II. Acclaimed author and historian Maurice Isserman will give a 90-minute presentation beginning at 3 p.m.

The presentation coincides with the publication of Isserman’s new book, “The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America’s Elite Alpine Warriors.” The 10th Mountain Division is known for breaking down the last line of German defenses in the Italian Alps in 1945, which was instrumental in leading the Allies to victory.

Isserman has poured over letters and diaries written during battle. This material has never been published before and Isserman brings the voices of these soldiers to life.

Seating at the Colorado Snowsports Museum is limited, with a maximum capacity of 30 participants. A $5 to $10 donation per person is suggested. Please call 970-476-1876 in advance for availability. To learn more about the Colorado Snowsports Museum visit www.snowsportsmuseum.org.

Cocktails and Canvas: Ornament Painting

Get a jump on holiday decorating by creating your own ornaments at Cocktails and Canvas: Ornament Painting this Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Lionshead. Make a set of round glass ornaments, perfect for holiday decorations and handmade gifts. The Alpine Arts Center provides all materials and step-by-step instructions. Wine and beer can be purchased for those ages 21 and older at the event.

Paint a snowman, a wintery scene or do something more abstract. It’s all up to you and what inspires you at the time. You don’t need to be an artist to do this project, either. It’s all about having fun and getting into the holiday spirit.

This event takes place at the Vail Recreation District community programming room (second floor of Lionshead Parking Garage above the Welcome Center). Parking is free after 3 p.m. The class is being offered at the discounted rate of $20 per person due to sponsorship from the town of Vail and Alpine Bank. To register, go to www.alpineartscenter.org.

Vail Performing Arts Academy presents “Broadway Stars”

Feel like you’ve traveled to New York City with the songs of Broadway filling the stage as the students from the Vail Performing Arts Academy’s present “Broadway Stars”, a revue featuring performances of Broadway hits.

Audiences will be entertained by students ages 8 to 18 who will be singing numbers from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Seussical The Musical,” “Anastasia,” “The Addams Family,” “Hairspray,” “Be More Chill,” “Matilda,” “Billie Elliot,” “Beetlejuice” and more.

Even though these performers are students, the acting, singing, costumes and set design are all top-notch. Annah Scully, executive producer of the Vail Performing Arts Academy, surrounds herself with professionals like Colin Meiring, artistic director; Melinda Carlson, vocal coach; Maria Barry, assistant choreographer and Val Watts, costumer. There are also technicians who help with logistics and countless parents and volunteers who really help each child’s experience live up to the Vail Performing Arts Academy’s slogan: The Most Important Stage in a Child’s Life.

Speaking of stages, the students get to perform on a stage that has seen the likes of B.B. King, Ringo Starr and Jay Leno. “Broadway Stars” will be hosted at the Vilar Performing Arts Center Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for reserved seating. Call 970-845-8497 or visit www.vilarpac.org. To learn more about the Vail Performing Arts Academy, visit www.vpaa.org.

Epic Mountain Express Fill the Van food drive

On Saturday, Epic Mountain Express will be hosting the 22nd annual Fill the Van event across our mountain communities. Fill the Van is the largest single food drive across the mountain region, with donated food going directly to local food banks.

Chances are you need to grab some groceries this week, so why not wait and shop on Saturday during the food drive and pick up some extra non-perishable items, put them in a separate bag at checkout and drop them off on your way out of the store. Epic Mountain Express makes it easy for you to help our neighbors in need.

Collection locations will be set up all throughout Eagle County and beyond. Look for the teams next to the colorful Epic Mountain Express vans between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the following locations:

Eagle County locations:

  • City Market – Vail
  • City Market – Avon
  • City Market – Eagle
  • Safeway – Vail
  • Wal-Mart – Eagle-Vail
  • Village Market – Edwards        

Summit County locations:

  • Safeway – Frisco 
  • City Market – Dillon
  • City Market – Breckenridge

Roaring Fork Valley locations:

  • City Market – Glenwood
  • City Market – El Jebel

Vail Mountain School debuts ’12 Angry Jurors’ as fall play this weekend

Vail Mountain School kicks off their 2019 theater season Nov. 14 with the dramatic play “12 Angry Jurors.”The play, based on the 1957 movie, “12 Angry Men,” is a courthouse drama that tells the story of a jury deliberating over a homicide case where a boy’s life hangs in the balance. 

“It’s an engaging narrative that highlights the different aspects of personal and institutional racism,” said Theatre Director Tony Bender. “The script exposes valuable lessons in bias, both unconscious and intentional. Students had meaningful conversations about discrimination as we prepared for the play.” 

Like in all courtrooms, following the closing arguments in the murder trial, the jury deliberates a verdict, only this time the accused is an inner-city teen. While sequestered, the jury considers the elements of the case with one juror casting reasonable doubt creating conflict that threatens the prospect of a hung jury and the boy’s fate. 

Upper school students at VMS have opportunities to support their interests in the theater arts with two shows in the year; a standard play in the fall and a musical in the spring. Preparing for a play is a part of the curriculum, meeting as many times in the week as core subjects like math, English and history. Nearly a third of all upper school students participate in one of the shows throughout the year resulting in a thriving and broad interest in theater. 

While the play is appropriate for all audiences, it will appeal more to upper- and middle school-aged children. Tickets are now on sale for “12 Angry Jurors” at www.vms.edu/tickets for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. All shows begin at 6:30 p.m. 

For more information call 970-476-3850 or Bender at tbender@vms.edu

Movie Guru: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ an entertaining, girl power romp

Girls just want to have fun.

Luckily, this weekend’s “Charlie’s Angels” reboot has what they need to do just that. It’s a charming action romp with a strong girl-power message, highlighted by some delightful performances. Though a tendency to meander keeps it from being perfect, it’s an entertaining way to spend an evening.

The movie highlights the angels as a global organization, with agents all over the world and several different handlers who go by the title Bosley. The trio featured in the movie are called together when a young programmer comes forward as a whistleblower for her company. The energy devices she just made for them can be turned into EMP bombs, information someone is willing to kill to keep quiet.

The main goal of the movie is empowering and supporting women. It takes care to dismantle a variety of stereotypes, from the idea that tough girls don’t have feelings to the idea that non-fighting women have less value. It focuses on the importance of female friendships, even between very different women, and punctures the idea of women automatically being catty to each other.

Thankfully, it makes sure to have a ton of fun doing it. The action scenes are great, with great fight choreography and even a solid chase scene. There’s also a good amount of comedy, just enough to add spice but not enough to cheapen the plot. The movie also does plot twists the right way, with hints buried earlier in the story that you may or may not pick up on. Even if you do, seeing them play out is satisfying rather than disappointing.

Kristen Stewart is the best thing about the movie, filling the screen with energy, humor and charisma. It’s clear she’s enjoying every moment, and she makes sure the audience is enjoying themselves as well. She’s blossomed as an actress since mainstream movies saw her last, and I hope more big budget films manage to lure her into sharing her talents with the masses.

The rest of the cast adds their own sparkle to the movie. Naomi Scott leans into her comedy side as the programmer, doing a great job balancing fish-out-of-water humor with scenes of real competence. Patrick Stewart is a treat, chewing scenery in a way only a master of his craft really can. Sam Claflin is surprisingly hilarious as the head of the energy company, and Elizabeth Banks is a solid anchor as one of the many Bosleys.

There’s a little more world-building here than is necessary, particularly in the set-up of each base of operations. At the same time, it’s also the most well-realized version of the “Charlie’s Angels” concept I’ve ever seen. If that means the pendulum sometimes swings too far the other way, I’m willing to take it.

Stay through the credits for this one, which is full of famous names and one really big easter egg for fans of the original show. The very last scene brings it all back to the show’s main theme, which is that if women work together they can do anything.

And what’s more fun than that?

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at themovieguruslc@gmail.com.