Friday, Saturday is your last chance to see ‘Chicago’ |

Friday, Saturday is your last chance to see ‘Chicago’

Bart Garton
Stage Right
John Tedstrom (as Billy Flynn) does the speaking for Jessica Long as his ventriloquist dummy, Roxie Hart.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Vail Valley Theatre Company’s production of “Chicago: the Musical”

When: Friday and Saturday; doors open at 7 p.m., curtain at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.

Cost: Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students at Tickets will increase to $25 day of show.

More information:, 970-306-1086 or email:

After party

Warm up with dinner and drinks before, and party with the cast after the show at our sponsor bars in the Riverwalk in Edwards

Friday: Main St. Grill

Saturday: e-town

Roxie rocks Chicago.

That headline appears in the show “Chicago” after a murder suspect and her lawyer hold a successful press conference, but it could also have been blurted out in huge font and bold letters on the cover of the newspaper you’re now holding in your hands. The Vail Valley was rocked last weekend by the opening nights of this killer show. This production was seen by over 600 people, several of whom declared at the post parties they were coming again this weekend.

This really is some kind of spectacle. It’s a grand gathering of who’s who in the valley” mingling wonderfully with family and friends and those who wouldn’t normally go to a local show (but this is “Chicago: The Musical,” something they knew about, and now they won’t miss another one!). Rave reviews came forth like sequins popping off a flapper’s dress.

‘World-Class Production’

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“This show is one of the most exciting pieces of cultural fulfillment I’ve seen in this valley, and this includes the summer dance festival and shows at the Vilar,” lauded Elaine Kelton. “If you were to call the Vail Valley Theatre Company ‘community theatre’ (with its typical implication), then Vail Mountain is just a ski hill. This is truly a world-class production that compares to what we’ve seen produced in London.”

The talent is amazing, and many of them are new to this particular stage. Jessica Long, a senior in high school, belies her age and absolutely kills it as the conniving Roxie Hart. Charis Patterson, as the diabolical Velma Kelly, punctuates the opening number and signifies to the audience this is really going to be great. John Tedstrom, playing the ethically challenged, swaggering lawyer, nails his part so well you’ll actually believe he’s a horribly cheesy slimeball (when in reality he’s one of the nicest guys in town). And the list goes on. Gretchen Swanson has the chutzpah to challenge Queen Latifah in the movie version as Matron Mama Morton; Johnette Toye (Mary Sunshine) will astound you with an operatic voice I had no idea existed in the mountains. And Jet Quealy (another high school student) will bring you to your knees as the hapless, sad Amos Hart. These principals are stoutly supported by a deep ensemble of dancers and singers that twist, undulate, cavort, harmonize and amaze with acrobatics and fancy footwork. When you see the merry murderesses of the “Cell Block Tango” you will know that the opening scene was no fluke. This is really something different, and a show you’ll remember for a long time.

Behind the Scenes

The cast of 27 is backed up by a kickin’ jazz band, seven strong, led by musical theater veteran Jonathan Gorst. The multi-talented Beth Swearingen heroically directs and choreographs this tour de force. And the hugely talented folks behind the lighting, set design and sound are all coordinated, along with a rambunctious cast, by the indefatigable Kaylee Brennand. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the A-Team of musical theater in the Vail Valley.

Won’t Steer You Wrong

Yes, this is a gushing review by this critic-at-large. And yes, I do play a small supporting character in the show. But I have no interest in ruining my impeccable reputation by steering you wrong. I can sleep soundly, knowing you’ll feel the same way I do as you walk out the auditorium doors. In closing my conversation with Kelton, one who does not use fashionable words undeserved, she asked me to impart to readers, “You will not be disappointed. This show is awesome.”

Bart Garton is a longtime local and a member of the Vail Valley Theatre Company. Email comments about this column to

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