‘Jump, Jive and Wail’ kicks off the Vail Performing Arts Academy’s 20th season celebration
If You Go ...
What: “Jump, Jive and Wail,” by the Vail Performing Arts Academy
Where: Homestake Peak School auditorium, Eagle-Vail
When: 6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
More information: Buy tickets at the door, or get them online at vpaa.org.
Two decades ago Annah Scully found herself surrounded by off-the-scale extrovert kids — because it takes one to know one — wondering what to do with them all summer.
And that, more or less, is why she launched the Vail Performing Arts Academy.
They celebrate their 20th anniversary this weekend with an ambitious and high-energy show, “Jump, Jive and Wail,” a tribute to those great Billboard No. 1 songs from the 1950s and early ’60s.
But before we can tell you about that, we need to tell you about this.
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Scully grew up in Pueblo and every summer performed in massive productions and musicals. Kids from all over that area were part of it, and they made friends from all kinds of places.
If it worked in Pueblo, it could work here, Scully reasoned.
Scully had an entertainment company doing corporate gigs, to go with her job as a high school teacher. So she launched the Vail Performing Arts Academy on the side.
Before long it moved to center stage.
That first summer they did a recital with about 30 kids.
The next summer they produced “Grease,” their first musical. They were also the first community production in the brand new Vilar Performing Arts Center. Scully convinced them that it would be good for their image if they were the venue for such a beloved community event.
Extroverts R Us
The Vail Performing Arts Academy has grown to three major productions each year, plus all sorts of other events, and before long Scully couldn’t do it by herself.
Enter Colin Meiring, but not right away.
Scully brought in people from out of town, and most were more hindrance than help. Some of those directors were complete divas — or divos; one was a male.
She was ready to call it quits, but some parents begged her to keep doing it and offered to help, so she did.
Meiring came along in 2003 and it’s been smooth sailing since then, Scully said.
“He brings his expertise, humor and calm. When an obstacle presents itself, he just flows right over it,” Scully said.
Meiring was a snowboard instructor in Vail when he saw one of her ads in the newspaper.
“As soon as we met it was hook, line and sinker,” Meiring said.
Along the way they’ve added music director Melinda Carlson, assistant music director Cindy Allard, assistant choreographer Maria Barry and costumes and production assistant Vali Watts. Nathan Cox and Pink Monkey Solutions help handle the sound and light.
Meiring is the artistic director and a performer to his very marrow, but he had never taught before joining Scully.
“As soon I saw the masses of children in front of me, it was very intimidating,” he said. “I had only performed before and all performers are ego driven. There was nothing in it for me, except the warm and wonderful feeling of seeing young performers improve and grow.”
Scully has a long background as a teacher and taught Meiring the tricks of the trade.
Performers of any age are not the quiet types, and that’s true from the Vail Performing Arts Academy to the many professional troupes with which Meiring has performed.
“The less they’re inhibited, the better,” Meiring said. “You have a room of competing extroverts. In addition to that, they’re schmoozing.”
Vail Performing Arts Academy rehearsals tend to be “lively and expressive.”
“We trick the kids into working hard because they have so much fun,” Scully said.
Scully, Meiring and others from the Vail Performing Arts Academy travel extensively, and almost always catch a show.
“We’ve seen productions all over the country, and we rock!” Scully said.
‘Jump, Jive and Wail’
“Jump Jive and Wail” features 50 local kids between the ages of 8 and 18, from schools all over the valley.
It’s a collection of Billboard No. 1 hits from the 1950s and early ’60s.
You’ll recognize “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay,” “Greased Lightening,” Sha Na Na’s “Good Night Sweetheart,” “Twist and Shout,” “Stormy Weather” and several others you know.
Singing along is encouraged, Meiring said.
“This show is great and features lots of up and comers. They give it their all. They always do,” Scully said.
They’re expanding this summer’s programs yet again.
The musical is “Shrek Junior,” scheduled for August. They’re adding Shakespeare in the Park in June, and as the name indicates, it’s Shakespeare and it’s in a park, the park beside the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
“It’s for kids who want to brush up on their acting and get some classical experience,” Scully said.
Sign up for both by May 3.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.