Vilar Performing Arts Center’s STARS program brings classrooms to life in new season

'Boy Who Cried Wolf' is one of the STARS productions this year.
Brian Slater/Courtesy photo
If you go …
  • What: STARS youth programming
  • When: September - April
  • Where: VPAC
  • Cost: FREE for students
  • More information:

Language arts, literature, composition, and creative writing — these are terms that Eagle County students are used to hearing in local classrooms.

When students attend a free show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC), they may not suspect that these topics are embedded in the themes of some of our valley’s best entertainment. 

Thanks to the VPAC’s STARS (Support The Arts Reaching Students) programming, all students in Eagle County have free access to eye-opening and inspiring performing arts experiences at the beautiful Vilar Performing Arts Center.

Each performance ties in a component of children’s everyday classroom learning. Topics like literature and vocabulary are interwoven in the plays, concerts, musicals and magic that are part of the STARS series.  

“We are grateful for the tremendous support of our community, and the enthusiastic participation of our schools, to be able to offer this exceptional programming,” said Mike Imhof, President of the Vail Valley Foundation, which operates the VPAC. “STARS is a way for our local youth to share in the lessons and ideas presented on the stage. It’s more than just a field trip, it’s wonderful, shared, experience that helps enrich the lives of all the students who participate.”

Support Local Journalism

STARS was a part of the VPAC’s very first season in 1998. The program began as a reduced-cost ticket offering to local students and teachers, but generous donations soon ensured that all STARS performances were free for local children. The late Pat and Pete Frechette led the way in helping fund the program.

Then, in 2018, the Frechette Family Foundation created a $1 million endowment for the program, which ensured it would continue well into the future.

In the 2022-23 season, the VPAC provided 8,295 free tickets to local youth through the program.

“The STARS program exemplifies what our parents, Pat and Pete, felt makes the Vail Valley so special,” noted Kathy Frechette Tenhula and Kristy Frechette Woolfolk, Pete and Pat’s daughters who carry on their parents’ legacy through their work with the Frechette Family Foundation. “Our parents shared the same values about what community means. They wanted all children to have an opportunity to experience the theater, arts, music and other cultural activities. STARS continues to do just that, bringing joy and learning to children while creating access for those who may not have had it were it not for this program.”

Teachers and schools coordinate with the VPAC for ticketing and transportation to and from the venue is also provided free of charge.

“I have been a teacher in the valley for 9 years and we have utilized the STARS program several times each year,” said Matt Felton, a teacher at Red Sandstone Elementary School. “They provide a myriad of shows that encompass all walks of life. The STARS programs offer so many choices to the students of the valley to broaden their horizons in respect to the arts. This may be a transformative experience as students may not have much exposure to these art forms and after attending feel inspired to pursue a new avenue.”

The Vail Valley Foundation’s Martha Brassel coordinated early STARS performances as part of her duties at the VPAC during her tenure from 1998 through 2010. “When this program started, most elementary kids hadn’t seen anything like this before,” Brassel said. “They got all dressed up and had an incredible time. Arts exposure is so important for children — and thanks to STARS it’s a part of each school year for almost all of our valley’s young people.”

Coming STARS performances

Tomás and the Library Lady

Thursday, Oct. 5, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: Grades K-fifth grade


Monday, Jan. 29, 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: Third grade and older

BODYTRAFFIC: Bolero by Fernando Hernando Magadan

Thursday, March 22, 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: Third grade and older

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Tuesday, April 2, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: PreK-fifth grade (ages 4-10 years)

Puppy Pals Live!

Thursday, April 4 at 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: Grades K-fifth grade


Thursday, April 15, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Age Range: Grades third–seventh grades (ages 8-13 years)

Support Local Journalism