Stories come to life in Beaver Creek
Vail, CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK ” When you ask Brian Hall to explain what he does for a living, his answer is quite unusual ” “a smorgasbord of theatrical delights.”
Hall, a self proclaimed “big kid,” started the Beaver Creek Children’s Theatre Company 21 years ago and has been making kids giggle ever since. With help from actors Joe Davidson and Jennifer Gaul, he puts on a free show for kids and their parents every Wednesday through Friday at 11 a.m. on the Beaver Creek Plaza, near the ice rink.
“Today I was on stage in front of 50 people under four feet tall,” he said. “But it’s so much fun. Just give them naps, sunscreen and a bit of juice, and it’s all good.”
Hall starts his performance by asking his audience, “Did you bring your imagination? Because we brought ours!” Kids applaud and squeal as Hall, dressed in multicolored balloon pants, a teal T-shirt and a four-pronged clown hat, takes on funny accents and contorts his face.
His young audience, completely engaged throughout the 45 minute production, participates by making “arrrr” pirate noises, imitating “zzzzz” power tools or scratching their heads and commenting on the show.
All the plays, which change from day to day, revolve around audience participation and a moral lesson. Last Friday, his skits were about a kid who is obsessed with spaghetti, a silly poem and an angry boy who runs away only to find himself back home and perplexed as to why he was so mad to begin with.
“This is making me hungry,” Annie McDonald, 6, said, during the spaghetti play.
Some stories may be familiar, but the details are always altered to keep the audience guessing. One of Hall’s specialties is “fractured fairytales,” he said.
“You take Goldilocks, or something as a skeleton, and you tweak it. Maybe she’s a snowboarder. You teach kids, it’s okay to be creative,” Hall said.
Hall also wants kids to learn about the rhythm of poetic language.
“Kids don’t hear that rhythm in school. It’s a dance. It’s a cool story and it’s got some interesting sounds,” Hall said. “So we take poems about dogs taking over the world or dad’s who don’t know which direction to go on I-70 or superheroes who are mildly insecure.”
In the end, Hall does it for the laughs and education, he said.
In addition to his free shows, Hall runs a theater workshop for 25 kids ages 5 to 12. The workshops are from July 9-12 and July 23-26 and cost $185 per child.
“The kids go from ground zero to creating stories with real characters and stage directions,” said Hall. “And then, they perform. A kid learns that they can stand up in front of a bunch people and do their piece. And then they walk offstage and realize they didn’t die.”
Hall believes that the workshops help build self-esteem.
“Some of the kids are shy, and they can learn that they can at least pretend to be outgoing,” he said. “I’m the oldest of five boys, in a catholic home, and I was pretty shy growing up. I learned that if I made people laugh before they beat me up, I’d be okay.”
In addition to the workshops and free shows, the Beaver Creek Children’s Theatre Company also runs a children’s museum, a toddler town, a reading spot and a lending library. It’s a community for kids, and everyone is invited.
“Life is a long journey so choose wisely,” said Hall. “We’re all a bunch of kids no matter how old we really are.”
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