13 at the Sheridan Opera House
The musical 13 premieres at the Sheridan Opera House this Friday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. A production of Sheridan Arts’ Young People’s Theater, it tells the story of brainy, self-absorbed Evan Goldman, an about-to-turn-13-year-old whose world is upended when he moves from the Big Apple to tiny Appleton, Ind., “The Lamest Town in the World” (one of 13’s songs). In Appleton, Evan is the odd man out, and at the worst possible time: the start of adolescence. Thus the stage is set for a rollicking story of first kisses, cliques of “cool kids,” and crying in the bathroom at the school dance, all against the backdrop of that desperate longing to fit in. As 13’s composer Jason Robert Brown (who wrote the Tony-winning score for Parade) remarked of this special age, “It was horrible, really traumatic and not fun, and it took me 15 years to recover.”
The actors in the Broadway version of 13 may have been a few years out from adolescence, but for this young cast of middle and high school students in the Sheridan’s production, it’s a world they have barely left behind. And that has made their work all the more challenging. Sure, it’s easy to recall what 13 felt like. “I mean, we all know,” says Mountain School senior Ciara Green, who plays the cheerleader, Kendra. “We’ve all turned 13. The memories are fresh.” But remembering that time isn’t necessarily very fun. Jenn Julia, 13’s director, asked the cast to write about their experience of those years. “We’ve done a lot of imaginative work about what being 13 is like,” says Julia, who coincidentally is in her 13th year with the theatre. “We’re trying to create a really honest, engaging experience.” Working on this musical may have been intense, but the upside has been the camaraderie. “We’ve been immersed full-on for so long, we’re like a big giant family,” Green says. “It’s been a blast.” Tickets are $13 ($11 for kids under 12). The play runs Fri., Sat. and Mon., Feb. 3, 4 and 6. Showtime is 6 p.m. Tickets are available at sheridanoperahouse.com or by calling 970/728-6363.
Author Peter Shelton at the ROCC On Saturday night, Feb. 4, the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council will hold its 18th annual get-together. This year it will be a spaghetti dinner with writer Peter Shelton, Ouray County editor of The Watch, who will speak on the 10th Mountain Division’s role in World War II and the effect its survivors had on recreation in North America.
The 10th Mountain Division began in 1941 as “a crew of civilian athletes with a passion for mountains and snow,” as Shelton puts it in his book Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of World War II’s 10th Mountain Ski Troops (Scribner, 2003). Members of the 10th trained in the mountains of Colorado and on Mount Rainier, and fought in the Italian Alps. They went on to make substantial contributions to the skiing industry in this country, launching ski schools, becoming ski coaches, and perhaps most notably, starting ski areas. In Colorado, Aspen, Vail and Arapahoe Basin were all designed by men of the 10th. Perhaps less well-known is that David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club, was a member (he was editor of the ski-mountaineering manual used by allied troops, and went on to earn a Bronze Star for his role in the taking of Italy’s Riva Ridge). Or that Paul Petzoldt would return from his tour in the 10th to found the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming, and introduce generations to wilderness not only in the U.S., but places like Patagonia and Kenya. Or that backcountry skiing got a big boost from 10th vet Fritz Benedict, who, Shelton says, “started the 10th hut system and championed a kind of anti-industrial skiing.” Shelton, whose next book will “probably” be a collection of essays from the 36 years he has spent on the Western Slope, says he looks forward to spending an evening with the community council. He calls them “stalwart members of the clan of mountain folk” – in other words, kindred spirits. The dinner takes place at 6 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center. Admission is $10 (kids under $12, free).
Kierstin Bridger at Wilkinson Library Next Tuesday, Feb. 7, there will be a meeting of the writers’ group “Talking Gourds” at the Wilkinson Library, and the featured guest will be poet Kierstin Bridger.
Bridger is not a poet in her day job, she’s a designer. “I may not make my living writing poetry, but poetry makes my life have meaning,” she has said. She is also the 2011 winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, named for the Telluride lawyer-cum-poet known for what he called his “squibbles” – quirky, esoteric works that showcased his love of languages and his quick wit. Bridger’s specialty is short-form fiction, also known as micro or flash fiction, a genre of writing that limits itself to fewer than 1,500, and, in its extreme form, as few as 25, words. She has a ready explanation for why she chooses to limit her prose and poesy to small snippets. “It’s always more dynamic when you have a form to put your work in” such as a sonnet or a poem on a certain subject. “Looking at a blank page is horrifying.” Her work displays flashes of wit, a quality prized by judges of the Fischer award. Here is her poem “Tyin’ the Knot.” It’s a form that challenges the writer to a) take its title from a shade of nail polish, and b) make it only twenty-five words long.
Blinded by love, sure.
She felt the rope’s grip slacken, heard the
Hardwood crack. They both
Fell even harder when their
Tree swing gave way.
Bridger will soon teach a class in so-called Ekphrastic writing through Weehawken. Ekphrastic writing uses graphic art (in this case, Pam Conrad’s paintings, on exhibit at the Ridgway Library) as an inspiration to create fiction or poetry. “If you can channel a muse,” she says, “whether it’s music, whether it’s poetry, it’s salve on a sore spot. The best thing in the world.” The event at the Wilkinson is free, and begins at 6 p.m.