Summer in the mountains |

Summer in the mountains

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyThe Vilar Center for the Arts will host everything from comedy troupes to country concerts this summer. Suzanne Vega is playing July 15.

In addition to hosting the occasional Bravo! concert and International Dance Festival performance, they’ve also got a full season booked.

Theatre Festival: The Best of Chicago Theater

This summer marks the first year of a one-week festival in mid-August showcasing Chicago theater.

“It stemmed out of our merger with the Vail Valley Foundation,” said Shelley Woodworth of the Vilar Center. “We’ve always talked about how the Vilar Center needs a signature piece, something that will put it on the map around the country. Ceil Folz, with her contacts in Chicago, was able to pull that together.”

The Festival kicks off with Second City Comedy’s Troupe’s Improv. This comedy troupe’s alumni include George Wendt, Alan Alda and John Belushi. Spalding Gray will perform “Interview With an Audience,” and the Neo-Futurist Theatre Company will perform “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.”

Support Local Journalism

The crown jewel of the festival is the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. With ensemble members including Gary Sinise, John Malkovich and Joan Allen, they’re a big name for little Beaver Creek.

“When we were looking at this first festival, we wanted something that would complement the International Dance Festival and the Bravo! Music Festival,” said Folz of the Vail Valley Foundation. “By every single person’s list, Chicago theater is in the top three, and Steppenwolf is just the best.”

Folz used to live in Chicago, and she had her brother start hounding Steppenwolf. At the same time, one of the theater company’s board members had been out to Vail for the dance festival. He decided Vail would be a good fit for Steppenwolf, and recommended it.

The result was a three-year commitment with Steppenwolf Theatre Company. In addition to the performances at the Vilar Center, they’ll also host free performances outside for families during the afternoon.

The theater festival will be a yearly event for the Vilar. Each year will have a different theme, such as a playwright or genre.

“We could do a Shakespeare theme or, not that we would, but all Neil Simon, or all Irish,” said Woodworth.

Family Entertainment

On June 28, the Gizmo Guys and their juggling skills will appear at the Vilar. The Lazer Vaudeville show, July 6, combines juggling, lasers, magic, acrobatics and slapstick comedy.

Every Friday in July, in conjunction with On the Fly, an ice cream shop, will see a free movie screening. “Shrek,” “Spy Kids,” “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” will all be shown.

Live Music

Country music is difficult to book into a 450-seat venue, but Grammy-winning Suzy Bogguss will be playing June 27. Iris DeMent began her career playing with Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith and Merle Haggard. She’ll play July 20. Terri Clark, playing July 31, is Canada’s leading export to the U.S.

Other live music includes the Neville Brothers, the fathers of rootsy, New Orleans-style funk, on July 11. Suzanne Vega, who wowed the world with “Luka” and “Caramel” just released a new album, “Songs in Red and Gray.” She’ll be performing July 15. Folky Sally Taylor will be returning to Beaver Creek on July 27.

Joan Baez will forever be associated with folk music, human rights and world peace. She performs Sept. 1.

This is not a complete line-up. For more information, visit their Web site, at

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

Support Local Journalism