One notable feature of the entertainment scene in the Roaring Fork Valley, in addition to the amount and diversity of its offerings, is the way that all of the would-be competitors play so nicely together.
Whether it’s a Jazz Aspen headliner doing a late-night set at Belly Up or the heads of two midvalley theaters doing live improv together, the valley’s performing arts entities have the feel of a real family (or at least an ultra-friendly clique).
Take Sunday’s billing at the Wheeler Opera House: Vaudeville Comes to the Wheeler (7:30 p.m., tickets $25). The show, presented by Wheeler Associates, features five performers from the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, a popular dinner theater spot on the opposite end of the valley. The musical cabaret show features clever songs, dance numbers and vaudeville-style routines parodying the headlines and mountain living.
“We’re taking some of the best of our holiday show [which closes its sold-out run in Glenwood tonight] and some of our best stuff from previous things and putting it all together in one big show,” said John Goss, the owner and ringleader of the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue (GVR). “It’s gonna be a blast.”
For upper-valley folks who have a hard time venturing beyond the roundabout, it’s a chance to see a hit show that they’ve probably heard about but never seen, which is part of the reason the Wheeler booked Goss and company in the first place. But the friendly cooperation and family ties run much deeper than that.
Former Aspenite Goss performed for just one season with Aspen’s fabled Crystal Palace players, but Tom Erickson, a GVR performer who will be a part of Sunday’s show, was a Crystal Palace stalwart for 17 years before the venue closed in 2008. Goss also directed “The Music Man” for Aspen Community Theatre in 2009, and for Erickson, the family feeling is literal, as he has performed locally with his daughter, Danielle.
Another of Sunday’s vaudevillians, Gerald Delisser, is a name familiar to Aspen audiences, as he got his acting start here roughly a decade ago performing with the Hudson Reed Ensemble (HRE). The last two performers are Bailey Barnum, a young actress and dancer who grew up in Glenwood Springs, and Clayton Avery, an actor from Missouri who has performed intermittently with the Vaudeville Revue over the past couple of years.
It’s Delisser, who has worked his way up from bit roles to appearing in seemingly every other show in the valley, who perhaps best embodies the tight-knit local performing-arts community. In addition to GVR and HRE, over the past few years Delisser has performed with Theatre Aspen, ACT, Glenwood’s Sopris Theatre Co. and Carbondale’s Thunder River Theatre Co. He also teaches acting to kids through Carbondale’s SOL Theatre Co. and is in TRTC’s Consensual Improv troupe (including a stretch with the aforementioned theater directors).
So it should come as no surprise that Delisser will soon be the poster child once again for the spirit of cooperation that marks the local theater scene.
“He’s going to take the spring off [from GVR] to do some stuff with Thunder River,” said Goss, “but he’ll probably come back this summer.”
A weekend of laughs
Sunday’s vaudeville show caps a weekend of hilarity at the Wheeler that starts tonight with an Aspen Laugh Festival-presented appearance by two very funny comedians.
Headliner Sal Vulcano, a native of Staten Island, is best known for starring in the TruTV series “Impractical Jokers.” Special guest Chris Distefano is the star of the IFC series “Benders” and co-hosts a show on Netflix. Both have appeared on numerous late-night talk shows and headline as stand-ups throughout the country. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show ($39.50) are available through aspenshowtix.com.