Mystery musical in Beaver Creek Friday | VailDaily.com
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Mystery musical in Beaver Creek Friday

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Carol PrattThree Roosevelt children search for treasure in the White House in "Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major." The fictional historical mystery musical takes place today at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Interest in American history has seen a resurgence recently thanks to Hollywood Blockbusters like “National Treasure” and “The Patriot.” While these movies boil our country’s history down to a condensed soup of big-budget entertainment and bravado, the underlying message is that people still care about the past, as fictional as it may be presented sometimes.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. co-produced the play “Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major” with the White House Historical Association and launched the national tour of the fictional-historical mystery musical banking on America’s desire to be entertained by its own history.

The production’s four-month tour, which will travel through 23 states, is slated for a two-show stop at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Friday.

“The idea is the musical sheds a little bit of light on the White House and the people who lived there,” said John Dow, spokesman for the Kennedy Center.

“Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major” is the story of three children, Kermit, Ethel and Archie Roosevelt, and their quest for treasure after they discover a hidden map in their library. The play follows the children as they search the White House for a real-life treasure hidden somewhere in the building. President Theodore Roosevelt, the children’s father, is busy brokering a peace treaty between Russia and Japan during their adventures, so he charges his valet and an English governess with the care of his kids.

“The Roosevelt kids were infamous for getting into trouble in the White House,” Dow said.

In the tradition of “The Da Vinci Code,” the three kids set out to unlock the mysteries of the White House from room to room, breaking codes and finding new truths (and of course creating a little mischief here and there) about their temporary home. Some of the sets include the Red Room, the East Room and the Oval office, where the president’s desk enters into the equation.

“This is a fictional story … but there are a lot of factual events that are part of the story,” Dow said.

The show is designed for children nine years old and up and Dow said it should shed some new light on a very important period in American history and on the first family that helped shape it.

“Ultimately they’re going to walk into a really fun musical that’s engaging,” said Dow, who thinks adults will also enjoy the show.

Michael Glenn, who plays Teddy Roosevelt in the production, calls it a smart, clever kids show that doesn’t talk down to the audience or bludgeon them with useless facts. Even though his character is in the title of the show, Glenn said that it’s really all about the kids and their perspective on the events taking place. They are the true engine powering the vehicle, which should allow the children in the audience to relate to their characters in a way they couldn’t with adults. All that said, however, Glenn recognizes that the musical is still about our nation’s history.

“It’s really kind of a really clever tour of the White House for people who may never get a chance to come to Washington and take the tour themselves,” Glenn said.

And in the end, Glenn hopes that the audience will delve deeper into the history of our country and that some kids will even become interested in theater through the show.

But what about that treasure? Is there really some kind of valuable booty to be found by the children at the end of their hunt? Mum’s the word from Glenn, who said that he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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