This Friday and Saturday night at the Sheridan Opera House, any stray pasties will be in short supply. They’ll all be firmly affixed for a good cause, as Telluride Theatre presents its burlesque fundraiser. For the second year in a row, the show will be directed by Sasha Cucciniello, who will also perform a new act. She won’t reveal her stage name, nor the music she’ll be stripping to (“that would give too much away”), but will say the act is unusual for her. “I usually go for dance-y, jazz-inspired, funny stuff,” she says. “This is much more subdued.” The democratic process decided what Cucciniello should perform onstage: “I had four ideas, I presented them to my class, and they voted.”
“Her class” are adult students she’s taught burlesque to at the Ah Haa school for two years now, many of whom, with stage names like Backcountry Betty, Mrs. Robinson (her real married name) and Holly Go Tightly, will take the stage this weekend alongside their teacher. So will the teacher’s fiancé, Telluride Theatre’s Executive Director Colin Sullivan, who doesn’t find it unusual in the least for his betrothed to perform burlesque in front of a paying audience, nor that he plans to do this himself. “It’s who we are,” Cucciniello explains. “He understands this. It’s who I am.” For that matter, burlesque is not what it used to be. Traditional burlesque may have been g-strings and pasties, but this performing art has experienced a resurgence over the past two decades, and today it’s about “a girl doing what’s most comfortable for her.” Expect to hear “hard electronic dance music and Hollywood zombie-movie music” as well as classic burlesque music from the 1940s in this weekend’s show. “Some girls aren’t stripping at all. One is doing an animal-inspired dance and not taking any clothes off,” she says. “I don’t push anyone to get undressed. But at the same time, there is freedom in pasties.” Showtime is 9 p.m. Fri. and 10:30 p.m. Sat., with new surprises each night. Tickets are $25, available at sheridanoperahouse.com.
Telluride School’s Seussical
From the naughtiness of burlesque, to just plain naughty: the incorrigible Cat in the Hat has a starring role, along with Horton the Elephant and other characters from the Dr. Seuss canon, in the Telluride School’s Spring musical, Seussical. The play runs this Fri.-Sun. at the Palm, and is by the Tony-award-winning songwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime). It’s directed by Angela Watkins, a co-founder of the Telluride Repertory theatre, who was scrupulous about her expectations for her young actors. It’s a lighthearted-sounding show; Watkins’ approach wasn’t. “There are lots of different ways to cast a show, but I really wanted kids who could commit to their roles and understand what they were taking on,” she says. “The hard work is beyond-beyond, and they needed to be prepared.” By the time the musical wraps this Sunday, Watkins’ cast will have performed it eight days in a row. Even Broadway casts get more of a break (and they don’t have tests and homework).
It’s all in the service of a musical set in the imagination of a young boy, far away from a world of kids and grown-ups (“You’ve got quite a mind for your age,” the Cat tells him). Just as in the real world, life in the world of the play is hard work, particularly for Horton the elephant, who must guard the boy (who has been snatched into the drama by the wily Cat) and the tiny Whos from harm. Horton must do all this while also protecting an abandoned egg. “Seuss is a genius at keeping that insane thinking going, at taking on troublesome topics, and finding the logic beneath,” Watkins says. “The Seussian world is a big collective, and the characters use creativity and concentration to work their way through it. And all those things, these kids have done, too.” Seussical will be performed Mar. 30-31 at 7 p.m., and Apr. 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.
Author Mark Sundeen at Wilkinson
In the year 2000, Daniel Suelo dropped the last of his life savings in a phone booth, walked away and, as Mark Sundeen puts it on the cover of his new book The Man Who Quit Money, “began to live.” On Tues., Apr. 3, the author Sundeen will be at the Wilkinson to talk about Daniel Suelo, the subject of his book, who has lived in caves around Moab, existing happily and relatively healthily on foraged food and roadkill without cash or government subsistence since that day 12 years ago when he parted with his last $30. Suelo says he tries to live simply in accordance with the principles of Jesus, Buddha and Hindu philosophers.
Sundeen and Suelo first met about 20 years ago. They were both recent college graduates. Suelo had graduated from C.U., where a Catholic professor impressed him with the idea that Jesus could be a radical. Both men hated the ideas of careers and “didn’t want to climb the ladder or join the rat-race,” as the author told a Salt Lake City radio interviewer recently. They ended up working as cooks in Moab, “a good place to lose your connection to the world for awhile.” Though their lives had since diverged wildly – Sundeen went on to become a journalist and author several books – he heard from mutual acquaintances that Suelo had begun living without cash. He started reading Suelo’s blog. By 2008, when trillions of dollars disappeared from the economy virtually overnight, Suelo, who had been saying, in effect, money isn’t real, began to sound prophetic. “Other people were feeling this way, too.” Sundeen said. “So I went looking for him.” On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., he tells the story of what he found. The Atlantic recently published an excerpt of The Man Who Quit online. To read it, go to tinyurl.com/7237vpy, and don’t miss the 213 (and counting) salty comments.
April is National Poetry Month, and in honor of it, this column will feature a short poem or two each week. First up is haiku by Erika Moss Gordon, who lives in Ridgway. She says, “I think that I gravitate toward haiku because it feels quieter somehow. If an idea reflects something of the human condition, then it requires very little space in order to find resonance.”
Allowing the Boots Haiku
Only the jumper
can determine the perfect
depth of puddle.
Two small bodies curl
into each other, the whole
For more, visit http://erikamossgordon.wordpress.com.