Vail Performing Arts Academy presents Buffalo Moon Revue this weekend
VAIL CO, Colorado
Meredith Steinke is way more likely to have Adele or some other pop princess pumping out of her speakers than say Dolly Pardon or Patsy Cline. Despite having a hefty collection of cowboy boots in her closet, she never listens to “cowboy music,” she said. But the Battle Mountain High School junior has a new appreciation for country music, she said, now that she’s spent the last few weeks rehearsing for the Vail Performing Arts Academy’s spring musical, the Buffalo Moon Revue. This 17-year-old is singing a new tune, quite literally.
“It opened me up to country music, I don’t really mind it anymore,” she said.
Battle Mountain freshman Rachel Weiss, 14, also in the musical, has a similar story.
“I’m not particularly a country music fan,” Weiss said. “I don’t generally listen to country music, but the country music in this is enjoyable becuase they picked good songs.”
Country music, perhaps more than all other genres, is usually focused on either highs and lows. The lyrics are either about feeling good – “my baby loves me” or feeling melancholy – “my baby left me.”
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For the musical, Artistic Director Colin Meiring focused on the former, choosing upbeat, happy country songs, mixing a variety of tunes that were either popular “way back when” or today. The musical takes place Saturday and Sunday at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail.
This year’s group of more than 50 children was a good one in particular to tackle a country-themed musical revue, Meiring said.
“We have some exceptional voices in this group that lend themselves to a terrific country sound,” Meiring said. “Madeline Riechart, at only 10 years old, singing the Patsy Cline classic ‘Crazy’ will astound the audience. We also have a very talented dancing Adagio duo: Blaize Olle and Meredith Steinke who will defy gravity with their aerial acrobatics.”
Each Vail Performing Arts Academy production is an educational experience, not just from the acting/dancing/singing aspect, but also from the historical perspective.
“They also learn about the time periods that these songs and scenes came from,” said Annah Scully, the show producer. “It’s a musical history lesson. VPAA always tries to give insight into the time periods and places that relate to these songs.”
In this show, for example, many of the songs reflect the rural west and the south, and show the diversity of the music – from 1950s classic country ballads like “Jolene” by Dolly Pardon to modern day hits – Miley Cyrus’ “Hoe Down Throwdown,” and Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen.”
“Students learn that although times change, human experiences seem to remain the same,” Scully said. “We also take a comedic peek into what the Wild West was like when bandits roamed the hills and robbed for a living, sheriffs kept the peace, and saloon girls and cowboys found romance. It’s non-stop, toe tapping, root in’ tooting’ country music fun that will have the audience bouncing in their seats like bronco riders – yeehaw!”
“Songs like ‘I Can’t Say No’ from the musical ‘Oklahoma’ are part of musical theater history,” Meiring said. “The song ‘Jambalaya’ is deep south country music. The different genres of country music educate the performers on civic history and impact how they deliver the song. The shoot out acting components of the show definitely reinforce ‘cowboy’ history that pertains to their home turf here in Colorado.”
For Steinke, who has performed with the Vail Performing Arts Academy for a decade, it’s the dancing part of this musical that has been the most fun.
“I love partner dancing and line dancing,” she said. “It’s kind of like the movie ‘Footloose.'” In the production, Steinke sings the song “Dance,” by Twister Alley, and dances with Blaize Olle in “Life is a Highway.”
“We do a lot of lifts in it. And it’s a really upbeat, fast dance together,” she said.
Dance rythms and tempos affected the music Meiring chose, he said. A variety of country western dance styles will be represented at the show: Texas two step, traditional country line dancing, and even some country square dancing.
Tickets for the performance are general admission and will be sold at the door. Scully recommends arriving early to get a seat since last year’s performance sold out. She also hopes people will don boots, Wranglers and hats.
“Audience members are encouraged to wear their best Western duds and be part of the fun,” Scully said.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2984.