Vail Valley Theatre Company presents two one-act plays in Avon Friday, Saturday |

Vail Valley Theatre Company presents two one-act plays in Avon Friday, Saturday

Bart Garton
Stage Right
Standing in trash cans, Franny Gustafson picks a winner while a confused Bart Garton looks on in “The Actor’s Nightmare”, one of two one-act plays presented Friday and Saturday at Montana’s Smokehouse.
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Vail Valley Theatre Company presents “The Actor’s Nightmare” and “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it all for You.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again June 19 and 20.

Where: Montana’s Smokehouse in Avon.

Cost: $18 online at or $20 at the door.

More information: Tickets are expected to sell out. Get them in advance at

AVON — For the past three years, the Vail Valley Theatre Company has been performing intimate shows on the upstairs stage of Montana’s Smokehouse in Avon. To date, this tradition has brought thoughtful and funny shows to the community, with witty discussions of science, art, creativity and female empowerment fleshing out the list of in-depth subjects.

This year we look at ironic inconsistencies between Catholic doctrine and practical reality. If that seems a little heavy and potentially controversial, you’d be correct in thinking that this show has offended a few people in earlier decades and/or more conservative venues than what we enjoy here in this progressive community. And there’s no question this witty, dark comedy by Christopher Durang will encourage some spirited discussion that lasts well after you leave the show. More on this, the second of two one-acts we’ll be presenting, later.

But first, to start the evening out with a nice little warm up short, the company presents “The Actor’s Nightmare.” Imagine finding yourself onstage right before a performance for which you have been told you’re the lead, yet you have no recollection of the script or attending any rehearsals. Many actors don’t have to imagine this — it’s the stuff of their recurring nightmares. For you non-actors, this is akin to dreaming of being in a college final exam and realizing you’ve never attended class or of finding yourself naked in public for some unknown reason.

This poor sap (played by the author of this column) gets caught in the spotlight he’s never seen before. And with the help of a cast of seasoned vets, the hapless fellow squirms his way through an alarming array of dramatic scenes.


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As this first show ends, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying a drink at the bar during intermission. And then, so as to confess this sin of indulgence, you’ll be treated to “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.”

A catechismal satire and tour-de-force from Lance Schober playing the circular-talking, ultra-conservative nun with a bit of an edge. As she proselytizes to an innocent 7-year-old “blank canvas” of a boy and the audience, four of her past students pay her a visit. And then things get a little out of hand.

Both plays are written by Christopher Durang, an American playwright out of Harvard and Yale known for works of outrageous and often absurd comedy. The show is expertly directed by Kaylee Brennand, president of the Vail Valley Theatre Company and a local theater veteran. Dean Davis lends his technical genius to this challenging venue, making us all look and sound fantastic. And the cast is top notch, including Franny Gustafson, Whitney Hathorn, Todd Frye, Johnette Toye and introducing 10-year-old Keller Woodworth as Sister Mary’s unwitting accomplice in mayhem.

Come see this pair of one-act plays this weekend courtesy of the Vail Valley Theatre Company and Montana’s Smokehouse in Avon at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. I promise it will give you something different and refreshing to talk about at the water cooler on Monday.

Bart Garton is a longtime local and a member of the Vail Valley Theatre Company. Email comments about this column to

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