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A star-studded season

Connie Steiert

The Vilar Center for the Performing Arts in Beaver Creek may not officially kick off its winter season until Nov. 30, but there are some very special dates you may want to mark on your calendar right now.The 2002-03 winter lineup at the Vilar Center for the Arts promises an exciting season, with a little something for everybody. From award-winning Broadway shows and unbelievable acrobatic acts, to first-rate musical groups and dance troupes, as well as holiday specials and enchanting children’s entertainment.Drawing big talent acts to the relatively small Vail Valley is always a challenge, admits Shelley Woodworth, director of marketing for the Vilar Center.&quotBut we managed to put together quite a variety of talented artists this year.&quot Including some artists the center has been pursuing for years, and others who are returning favorites.November kickoff In early November, The Vilar Center for the Arts will offer a free concert put on by the U.S. Air Force’s &quotGalaxy Brass&quot band. On Nov. 10, this fine percussion and vocal ensemble performs a wide variety of crowd-pleasers, from Broadway favorites to rock and roll. Then, on Nov. 30, the winter season kicks off in earnest with the seven-time Grammy-winning gospel and soul group, &quotTake 6.&quot This a cappella group inspires its audiences with stunning vocal arrangements and an unforgettable evening of songs, from gospel to pop and jazz to doo-wop and R&B. The performance is a t 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $40.&quotIts something a little different for us,&quot confides Woodworth. &quotIt should be really fun. They are very talented.&quot The holiday season in Beaver Creek is always heralded with the annual tree-lighting ceremony and, this year, the Vilar Center will present the holiday classic favorite, &quotIt’ s a Wonderful Life,&quot on the big screen on Nov. 29 to help celebrate.&quotWe presented ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ last year and it was really popular,&quot explains Woodworth. &quotWe decided to make it an annual tradition. We try to choose movies they don’t show as much; not too many people of the younger generation have seen that movie.&quot The Vilar will also play host to &quotA Community Holiday Concert&quot fundraiser on Dec. 13 -14. The concert will feature local talent, including Don Watson, Beth Swearingen-Kuntz, Peter Vavre, Pat Hamilton, Friends of the Dance, the Vail Valley Performing Arts Academy and the Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale. Tickets are $15 and go to benefit the Buckman/Blount Community Performance Fund.Straight from BroadwayThroughout the season, the Vilar Center will offer top-rate Broadway shows and recitals, some of which have come straight from Broadway and are just hitting the touring circuit. In December, the irrepressible &quotAin’t Misbehavin&quot hits the stage Dec. 28-29. In January, look for the hit 50s musical &quotForever Plaid&quot Jan. 3-4. Tickets for both shows are $44. Jan. 27, make sure you catch Blast II &quotShockwave.&quot This theater spectacle takes off where the Tony and Emmy-winning &quotBlast!&quot left off, taking the audience on a wild ride on a spectacle of music, light and movement. Tickets are $55. Linda Eder, a huge hit with the local crowd last year, will be back to offer a musical recital of Broadway numbers Feb. 1. Eder played the original part of Lucy in “Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde,&quot and wowedmillions with her hit single &quotGold&quot and her &quotStreisand-esque&quot vocal talents during the opening ceremony for last winter’s Olympics.&quotLast year, when she came here, not many people knew who she was,&quot says Woodworth. But after they heard her sing, audience members begged to have her return. Tickets are $58. For one of the season’s most provocative and brazen shows, be sure to catch the highly anticipated &quotVagina Monologues&quot Feb. 25-26. Written by Eve Ensler from countless interviews she conducted with women around the country beginning in 1996, the brutallyhonest, yet hysterically funny play has become a smash hit. HBO recently aired a television version of this irreverent and often touching show, and the play draws different stars to fill its roles in every city it plays, including the likes of Calista Flockhart. (The Vilar production is still being cast.)&quotWe’ve been trying to get this show for a few years,&quot says Woodworth. Tickets are $48. Barry Manilow’s &quotCopacabana&quot will hit the Vilar stage March 16, featuring the Grammy Award-winning song, dazzling costumes and its tragic tale of love and jealousy. Tickets are $55. A second Broadway recital, &quotDirect from Broadway,&quot March 26, will fill the Vilar with unforgettable songs from such mega hits as &quotCats,&quot “Sunset Boulevard&quot and &quotPhantom of the Opera.&quot Tickets are $40.Dance feverThe Vilar Center’s dance lineup is equally impressive this season. &quotWe have four really amazing dance groups coming,&quot Woodworth says. She is particularly excited about securing a visit from the Twyla Tharp Dance troupe Feb. 4. Since 1963, Twyla Tharp has been renowned for her maverick style of dance and her Emmy-winning choreography. She has created more than 125 dances, choreographed five Hollywood movies, written an autobiography and received 17 honorary doctorates. Her dances invariably incorporate mind-boggling stamina with driving energy and rhythm. Tickets are $45. Feb. 21, the Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley will grace the stage. Under the direction of Dennis Nahat, former dancer of the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theater, the company is known as a &quotdancers’ company.&quot The San Francisco Chronicle called the company &quota major victory for American culture; a legacy for the future.&quot Tickets are $42. For a really fun and mind-expanding evening of dance, don’t miss MOMIX in Orbit March 9. This contemporary dance group, under the direction of dance giant Moses Pendleton, takes the audience on a cosmic journey filled with dreams, light and shadow play and superhuman and lyrical feats such as dancing on skis. The group has been featured in numerous films during the past 20 years, including an IMAX feature and on television and stages around the world. Tickets are $38. &quotBarrage: A Violin Sings, A Fiddle Dances,&quot March 23, is described as &quotStomp&quot with violins, highly energetic and uplifting. Tickets are $50. The Vilar’s winter season concludes with a flourish with The Parsons Dance Company, April 4, world-renownedfor its innovative and stunning dances. Choreographedby David Parsons, who was hailed by Romeos La Repubblica as the &quotheir of Nureyev and Baryshnikov,&quot his pieces such as &quotJacob’s Pillow,&quot have become classics, performed at the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Center, and featured on PBS and A&E television networks. Tickets are $45.Music in the nightA wide range of musical artists from blues and country western to chamber music and Scottish Christmas music fills the Vilar Center’s lineup this season, including some well-known names in somewhat different formats. For instance, John Oates, formerly of Hall and Oates, will perform his new blend of funk and acoustic soul from his new solo project, &quotPhunk Shui&quot Dec. 26. This is a real departure from his pop icon days of the ’80s. Tickets will sell for $48. Taj Mahal, a self-proclaimed “blues man” who has produced 39 albums, will perform some of his latest songs Jan. 19. Taj Mahal has recorded with Ry Cooder, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow, and his songs contain an international palette of influences from West Africa to the Caribbean, peppered with Cajun and Latin influences. Tickets are $38. Tim Reynolds, guitarist extraordinaire and composer from the Dave Matthews Band, will play solo March 3, with songs from his latest project, &quotChaos View.&quot With his intense, powerful style and his mind-boggling techniques on both electric and acoustic guitars, aswell as keyboards, this will be a concert not to be missed. Tickets are $35.For the whole familyThe Vilar Center’s offerings will also include several family shows designed to appeal to children of all ages. Bob Berky is back from last year by popular demand with his ingenious and masterful clown show for audiences of every age. Just in time for the holidays to spread some holiday cheer, Berky will present &quotWhat’s in the Box&quot Dec. 21, a show about acquiring the joy and true meaning of the season. Tickets are $11/$14. Jim Gamble, who has delighted children at the Vilar on numerous occasions, will also return with his puppets in &quotPeter and the Wolf&quot Dec. 30. Tickets are $11/$14. Be sure not to miss Fred Garbo and his Inflatable Theater Company Jan. 18. Romp in this wacky world of inflatable props and costumes that turn into suits, dogs, balls and dresses and include large portions of juggling, dancing and silliness. Tickets are $14/$18. The Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration presents &quotHarlem,&quot a theatrical piece on the history and creativity of the Harlem Renaissance through young eyes and a blend of poetry, jazz and art Jan. 30. Tickets are $11/$14. A storybook told by enchanting marionettes and surprising stage effects will take the audience on an aerial adventure through the Milky Way with the beloved penguin (of Bloom County fame) in &quotGoodnight Opus&quot on Feb. 15. Tickets are $11/$14. And the Enchantment Theater Company returns with a magicalproduction of &quotThe Snow Queen&quot March 6, complete with masks, music, puppetry and shadow play. Tickets are $11/$14. For stunning feats that will amaze the entire family, catch the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats Dec. 6 and the Russian American Kids Circus on March 22.The Vilar Center for the Arts is 530-seat, state-of-the-art facility located at 68 Avondale Lane in the Market Square Building in Beaver Creek Plaza.Not only have locals discovered what stellar entertainment and a lovely venue the center offers, the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts is fast becoming a favorite stop for many touring artists.&quotNow that people have performed up here they like it,&quot says Woodworth. &quotPeople come up here and they always have a great time. Its a beautiful theater, with a great crew and the audiences are always very receptive.&quotShows for the Vilar Centers winter season will go on sale Nov. 18. You can purchase tickets by calling the box office at (888) 920-ARTS (2787) or (970) 845-TIXS (8497), or e-mail the theater at info@vilarcenter.org. Or visit the Vilar Center for the Arts Website atwww.vilarcenter.org.


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