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Give them song & dance

Wren Wertin
"Grease" will come to the Vilar Center on Dec. 16 as part of its winter schedule.
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Theater, dance, improv, music – must be the Vilar Center for the arts. The Beaver Creek theater has released its winter 2003/2004 schedule.”I think that as the reputation of the center has built, we’re able to get more recognizable shows,” said Director Kris Sabel. “And that’s tough, because that’s what makes us look good, but it’s only part of our mission.”The other part, said Sabel, is bringing in the unknown and convincing people to take a chance.”For me it’s always a struggle,” he said. “If I just booked “Stomp” and the Kingston Trio and the Neville Brothers, we’d always sell out. But would we be serving the community in that way? We want to challenge the audience as much as entertain them.”So to compromise, they bring in a little bit of everything. Musicals, renegade rock, lounge jazz and educational dance all have a place in the lineup. Though the season officially begins Nov. 5 with “Very Eric Carle,” storybook theater for kids and adults alike, things don’t begin in earnest until the end of November.Of particular interest to Sabel is the performance of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.” It’s a new project the The Curious, made possible by a grant through the Gay and Lesbian Foundation, and is touring through three mountain towns.”It’s a pretty big deal,” said Sabel. “The Curious is on the cutting edge of new works. I think it will particularly speak to the local audience.”Based on reality, it follows a woman who quit her job and went from city to city, working minimum wage jobs. It’s an applicable scenario for the Vail area.”People are living in these cities and really not getting by,” he continued. “Here we live in an area that is so disparate, with the multi-million dollar homes and six people living in a two-bedroom condo.”The Second City returns twice for the winter season. In addition to their nights of improv, they’re performing a new show, “My Cousin’s Wedding.”Sabel describes it as somewhere between “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” It looks at a wedding from the perspective of a guest – who was invited, where they’re sitting, what they’re wearing and what they gave.The Second City always does well at the Vilar Center, selling out with alacrity.”I think people like to laugh, they want to laugh, and it’s a sure bet that you’re going to have a good time when you go there,” mused Sabel. “And Second City requires a certain amount of thought and understanding. Their improv group, if you don’t have a certain sense of what’s going on in the world, it’s not that funny.”Some highlightsThe Vilar’s major coup is Peter Cincotti, the youngest musician to ever play the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Compared to Harry Connick Jr, his album released last spring was a runaway hit.”In the next year, his artists fees are going to double and triple,” said Sabel. “So it’s going to be harder for smaller theaters to book him.”So the Vilar lucked out.”Yes, we live on that,” he said candidly.Opera fans won’t want to miss Teatro Lirico D’Europa’s “La Traviata.” This is no scaled-back production of the classic, but includes a 50-piece orchestra, a 40-member chorus and principal singers”It’s the real McCoy, not a concert version,” he promised. “A lot of small opera companies throughout the country are now bringing this group in as one of their productions as a way of cost cutting, and it’s the real deal, it’s everything. So it’s working for everybody.”For those who appreciate theatrical dancing, Diavolo is one to watch. The company is comprised primarily of people who work with Cirque de Soleil, such as the artistic director and choreographer. Once they’ve set a show, it runs for a year or so, and they can be at loose ends. Enter Diavolo.”It’s a somewhat avant garde dance company, and they have huge prop pieces,” said Sabel.Broadway musical fans are in luck – “Fame,” “Rent,” “Grease” and “Lord of the Dance” are all on the schedule. So are musicians Steve Earle, Sam Bush and Leon Redbone. The list goes on.”I’m so excited,” enthused Sabel. “We’ve got a lot of great artists and great variety. I think there’s something for everyone, a strong mix of popular and cultural entertainment. The two don’t always meet.”For more information on the season, visit http://www.VilarCenter.org or call 845-TIXS.Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.


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