19 Jul ASPEN DAILY NEWS: Theatre Aspen’s “Our Town” resonates with our own towns
I’m not sure why, but it seems rather timely to me that the Theatre Aspen production making its official opening this weekend is “Our Town.” Maybe it’s because I live in Basalt, where we’re still dealing with the destructive Lake Christine Fire and where we’ve come to realize just how important a strong and caring community can be at times like this.
You could possibly call it misplaced sentiment on my part. I mean, the story is about ordinary, everyday life events – which the fire decidedly wasn’t – but apparently I’m not the only one who sees some kind of parallel between Thornton Wilder’s classic play and the situation right now in the midvalley.
“The message of this play resonates so strongly in the wake of this tragedy,” said TA producing director Jed Bernstein in a press release. “We must all come together to support each other in ‘our town’ at this difficult time and celebrate those heroes among us who have risked their lives to ensure our safety.”
Looking to do something to help out, Theatre Aspen made the decision to donate proceeds from some of the play’s performances to relief efforts in Basalt and El Jebel and to offer free tickets to first responders.
“Jed came to me and thought it would be a great idea to do that,” said “Our Town” director Hunter Foster, a New York-based stage veteran making his Theatre Aspen debut. “I think he really wanted to reach out and make sure that whatever he could do to help he was going to do.”
Parallels to the fire aside, “Our Town” is resonant on a grander scale right now due to the discord and distrust we’re experiencing as a society, and Foster sees Theatre Aspen’s production and its large cast as an example of how diversity and cooperation can help a community thrive and heal some of the divides that separate us.
“We’re multi-racial, and I like the fact that it’s a very encompassing atmosphere,” said Foster. “It really feels like a community of all different people.”
As someone who saw people of all stripes come together to help their neighbors – anglo, Latino or otherwise – I can attest to what a special feeling that is.
“Our Town,” has a final preview tonight, Thursday, July 19, at Theatre Aspen’s Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park before its official opening and party Friday night, July 20 (both shows at 7:30 p.m.). Twenty percent of proceeds from the performances on July 23-26 will go to the Aspen Community Foundation’s Community to Community Fund to benefit those affected by the fire.
First responders get free admission to any “Our Town” showing until Aug. 4, while seats are available. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Theatre Aspen Box Office at 970-300-4474.