Acting without a map in Eagle-Vail |

Acting without a map in Eagle-Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
AE Boogie Man2 PU 4-8-08

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” If Battle Mountain High School students put on “Grease,” they would do so in the shadow of pop culture.

Everyone knows John Travolta’s collar-popping, hair-combing, hod-rod-worshipping character; audiences would compare any high school actor playing Danny against the Travolta role model.

That’s why it’s interesting to watch senior Sean Pack play the lead role in “The Boogie Man.”

Set to debut tonight at Battle Mountain, the musical is an original work.

That means Pack used his imagination alone to become a suave, boogie-dancing federal agent.

For students, taking on “The Boogie Man,” means operating without a pop culture net; No soundtrack, no video, no looming Broadway expectations has marred their creativity ” or offered clues about how to proceed.

“We just had to learn the music from scratch,” Pack said. “It was fun, though, because you can create something that’s totally and completely new and you don’t have to watch a movie to see how a part should be played.”

“The Boogie Man” is a 1940s fantasy by Beaver Creek skiing instructor Steve Szindler.

The musical brings vintage New York to life with a cast of swing dancers and gangsters.

Wielding prop guns and rocking fedoras, the 34 students in the cast have embraced the 1940s flavor. Senior Pearl Burkham was among three girls clad in fishnets, pencil skirts and frilly blouses at a recent rehearsal.

“We’re the gangster’s girlfriends, so we’re kind of the bad girls, I guess, in the show,” she said. “We have fun with it.”

Junior Sage Buchalter plays Dolly, a heartbroken nightclub singer who harbors a smoldering resentment toward the Boogie Man (Pack) for leaving her years ago.

“It was funny reading the script because every time that me and Dolly are on stage, a kiss happens, or two, I swear,” Pack said.

For the musical’s creator, the performance will be a first. An avid piano player, Szindler said he wanted to write a musical for decades. He had tried once before but threw out the draft because it sounded too much like “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

About four years ago, Szindler, 63, got another idea for a musical. After experimenting on his keyboard for six months, he finished “The Boogie Man.”

For audience members, the musical will be a first as well. Musical director Suzanne Foster hopes to draw 300 people to each show.

“No one has seen this before so there are no preconceived notions,” she said. “The document has also been fluid; Steve has added lines and a song. We have collaborated well over the past two months.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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