Catch musicians and more in Beaver Creek over the holidays

Melanie Wong
(l-r) Broadway stars Danny Zolli, Carter Calvert and Ron Bohmer perform in Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway last winter. The sell-out show returns with a new repertoire this holiday season with 101 Years of Broadway.
Special to the Weekly |

Coming up at the Vilar

Monday: Michael McDonald — 7:30 p.m., $140

Tuesday: “A Christmas Carol” — 6:30 p.m., $55 adult/$35 child

Dec. 26: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue — 7:30 p.m., $78

Dec. 27-28: Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk — 6:30 p.m. Dec. 27; 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 28, $65 adult/$45 child

Dec. 29: Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway — 7:30 p.m., $78

Dec. 30: Arthur Trace, The Artful Deceiver — 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., $42 adult/$28 child

Jan. 2: Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute Band — 7:30 p.m., $55

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to or call 970-845-8497. For sold-out shows, be sure to call the box office for last-minute availability.

BEAVER CREEK — Christmastime may mean carols and silver bells, but this year, it also means Motown beats, the drama of Broadway, New Orleans funk and even a jaw-dropping magic trick or two.

Whether you’ve had the Christmas music cranking since Halloween or if you’re the Grinch who’s been wrinkling his nose every time “All I Want For Christmas Is You” plays, Vilar Performing Arts Center Executive Director Kris Sabel promises you’ll hear something you like in the theater this December.

“Up until Jan. 2 or 3 is the busiest time of year for us, with 25 percent of our winter shows running at this time,” Sabel said. “We have so many people in town at that time, with visiting families, donors and second homeowners all here. We really try to get something for everyone.”

There are the classics, such as “A Christmas Carol,” coming Tuesday, a sell-out show that returns year after year.

“It’s so popular we might have to think about doing two shows,” Sabel said. “We work with the (theater) group to end their tour here. They’ve been taking this show around the country since November. They love ending here because it feels so Christmasy.”

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From New Orleans to New York City

Of course, the Beaver Creek theater also likes to offer something unexpected for music lovers. One of the season headliners — and an artist Sabel said the Vilar has been working for years to book — is Louisiana brass master Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue on Dec. 26.

Shorty, otherwise known as Troy Andrews, a hard-edged funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop artist, and his extraordinary set of lungs are in high demand these days, touring around the world with the likes of Lenny Kravitz. Andrews has been performing for crowds since he was 4, becoming a bandleader at the tender age of 6.

“I grew up right in the heart of Treme (a historic New Orleans neighborhood), so it was a real music neighborhood, and there was a bunch of bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Rebirth Brass Band,” Andrews said. “My family played music growing up, so I’ve been playing and marching around the streets in the parades since I was 4. Everything I do is influenced by my musical upbringing there. That’s my life. Without Treme, I don’t think I would have my sound or be where I am today.”

Andrews’ high-energy show is equal parts musicianship (he studied at the same school that musicians Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. went) and equal parts showmanship. (He takes inspiration from the performances of James Brown and Michael Jackson.)

He admits that performing in the mountains is very different from being at sea level, but he assures audiences that the show will be as exciting as ever.

“I think the farthest up we’ve been was in Quito, Ecuador, so we’ve been up over 9,000 feet for shows,” Andrews said. “Coming from sea level, it can be a workout playing at altitude, but we drink a lot of water and the show is the same high energy as if we were down by the ocean.”

Bringing softer sounds, but no less entertaining are Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers (Monday) and Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway (Dec. 29).

In Berg’s show, the composer, lyricist and producer guides the audience through some of Broadway’s greatest hits from behind the piano, sung by the Broadway stars who made the songs famous.

“These five stars are the real deal, and we have a chance to have them recreate these moments from their career,” Berg said.

You’ll get to hear Richard Adams, who has played both Jean van Jean and Javert in “Les Miserables,” as well as the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera.” Danny Zolly, known for his roles in “Jersey Boys,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rock of Ages” will also take the stage, and Berg will fill the audience in on the history and backstory of the song and performance.

Berg explains that watching these Broadway stars perform is to see them do what they do best — tell a story.

“You’re seeing master craftsmen,” Berg said. “Opera is about voice. Rock ‘n’ roll is about vibe and attitude. In Broadway, it’s about telling a story.”

He calls the holiday show at the Vilar one of his favorite events of the year.

“At the Vilar, it’s truly no different than if I were having a party in my house in my living room, and I happened to invite some of the best singers in the world,” he said.

All-ages fun

There’s no doubt that the holidays are a time for family gatherings — visitors come for family ski vacations and local residents may be welcoming their family into town — and the Vilar’s lineup keeps that in mind.

“It’s a huge time for families. That’s why we always try to do one or two magic or family shows. You can come to Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk whether you’re a little kid or an old kid. The Artful Deceiver is also for all ages,” Sabel said.

The Artful Deceiver (Dec. 30), also known as Arthur Trace, brings a sophisticated brand of magic that is cerebral, visual, and well … artful.

“It’s not just your typical magic show,” said Trace, who is based in Los Angeles and is internationally recognized for his work. “It’s not illusions. It’s not me coming out with an assistant and sawing people in half. That’s already been done. I take pride in creating a lot of materials in the show, and it’s very much an artful take on magic.”

In one act, he takes an abstract painting and begins to pull objects from the painting, transforming them from 2-D shapes to 3-D. The colors change before your eyes, and Trace magically “puts” them back into the painting.

The show is designed for all ages.

“It’s not meant to entertain 3-year-olds, but older kids will enjoy it, as will adults,” he said. Trace says seeing good magic in a theater setting might change any ideas you may have about magic being “cheesy” or “unbelievable.”

“There’s a skill involved with slight of hand, and a good magician will win the audience over. You want them to be along for the ride, to be on your side,” Trace said. “Some people go into the show willing to suspend disbelief, and some are more challenging. It requires a bit more persuasion on my part to get them on my side, and that’s fine. I welcome that challenge.”

Cirque Mechanics are a modern, acrobatic circus-style troupe who will perform death-defying feats on a variety of pedal-driven apparatus. The group performed last year to great reviews, and when they knew they would be developing a new show, they asked the Vilar Center if they could come to Beaver Creek to work on the performance. They came for the Fall Underground Sound Series and will be returning for three shows Dec. 27 and 28.

Sabel said he hopes people will take advantage of the chance to see a favorite performer or maybe even hear something completely new.

“Our hope is to be part of people’s holiday traditions. You can’t ski the entire day, and we love the idea of people coming out together and having the live performance experience,” he said. “It’s something you can’t recreate.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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