Putting the ‘fun’ in a Vail fundraiser | VailDaily.com

Putting the ‘fun’ in a Vail fundraiser

The cast of Life Unrehearsed is rehearsing for Friday's show. It's 6:30 p.m. at Vail Mountain School and is a benefit for the Taft Conlin Youth Foundation Memorial Scholarship Fund.

VAIL – “Life: Unrehearsed,” features young local performers doing what they do best – perform.

They love it, it loves them, and they’re back on stage Friday evening to perform and raise money.

They don’t pay and they don’t get paid. They pick the songs, they do all the stage management, lights, choreography – everything.

They also decide where the money goes. This year it’s the Taft Conlin Memorial Fund through the Youth Foundation.

Four years ago when they started it was Andrew Claymon and Luke Dillon.

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A few years back a group of kids told Rayla Kundolf they wanted to do something for their friends whose lives had been leveled by cancer. They didn’t know what, exactly, but something.

Rayla knew most of them through the Marketplace’s Cabaret Nights, where they waited tables and sang. The idea of a show popped up almost immediately, but what kind of show?

Rayla and her husband Taylor were having coffee one morning when she looked up and said, “Life is so unrehearsed.”

And there it was.

They’re now in their fourth year and many of the performers were in that original troupe.

“They raise money and give it to those families,” Rayla said. “I’m proud of them. They’re doing this for their friends.”

The series of shows started with “Life Unrehearsed.” They took the stage for the first one the night after Claymon died of cancer, and just days after they’d voted to give some of the money they raised to his family to help him fight the disease.

Year two was “Life Unrehearsed … The Audition,” and they ran it like auditions.

Last year was “Life Unrehearsed … Dress Rehearsal.”

This year it’s “Life Unrehearsed … But under study.”

Some of the performers are getting older and this year’s theme is to tap younger ones to replace them.

“The older kids can tap a younger person in the community to bring along,” Kundolf said.

In “Life Unrehearsed,” art imitates life.

Everyone in the show has to audition and not everyone makes it, just like lives unrehearsed.

It’s a show. The stage is simple, a few boxes and some other props – like it’s set for rehearsal. The performers improv a little on stage, eventually doing whatever they’ve decided they’re going to do.

Most of the performers are triple threats: they sing, dance and act, sometimes better than others.

Like the time a girl was so nervous she was shaking as she sung for her audition. Rayla gently guided her over to a soda vending machine and she sang to it. She made the show and is now a show-stopping performer.

Some are studying in college or places like the American Musical Drama Academy. On Friday they’re back here, back on stage.

“It’s been a journey for all of them to get where they are,” Rayla said.

You know most of these 16 performers.

Jake Dutmer was one of the founders. He graduated from Battle Mountain High School and is working on his Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of Northern Colorado. He spends part of his summers honing his skills with Second City.

He and most of the other founders were working as singing waiters with Cabaret Nights when the idea landed on them.

“It was always going to be a benefit, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it,” Dutmer said.

The show features some group numbers, and they all have a solo bit.

“There lots of improv, but there is some structure. There’d have to be,” Dutmer said.

Then there’s the future Miss Colorado, Kate Manley. She competes in two weeks for the state crown. In the meantime, on Friday she’ll sing, “Much More” from “The Fantastics.”

“The whole show is about who you look up to and what you want to do with your life,” Manley said. “‘Much More is how I feel. I want to go to New York, perform at the Met, travel the world.”

She’s well on her way. She spent her summers at Interlaken and Tanglewood vocal camps studying opera, which works out well because that’s what she studying as a vocal performance major at the University of Colorado. She has already made her debut on CU’s Mackey Auditorium stage.

And Charlie Barry. When he graduated Battle Mountain High School he headed for the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City. He learned at the feet of his mother, Marie Barry. Barry is also one of the show’s founders.

Summers Baker is poet/singer/songwriter; Angela Downs was the lead in Vail Christian High School’s “Oklahoma” and “The Wizard of Oz”; Hailey Vest’s senior project for Vail Mountain School was adapting a novel into a musical using the music of Queen.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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