Interior of historic Sheridan Opera House


Interior of historic Sheridan Opera House

Interior, historic Sheridan Opera House

Can you think of a better way to celebrate the 100th birthday of Telluride’s cherished, historic Sheridan Opera House than to stage a vaudeville show? The evening,  complete with melodrama, magic and dance, takes place Sunday, December 30, 8 p.m. and stars a local cast of characters in unlikely roles.

The Vaudeville Variety Show is the kick off of the Opera House’s year-long Centennial Celebration with a night of performance Sheridan Arts Foundation Executive Director Ronnie Palamar describes as “a really cool evening.”

Inspiration for staging an authentic vaudeville show came from the musty basement of the 100-year-old Opera House herself. A still-pristine handbill from a show dating back to the early 1960s instructs the audience to hiss at the villain and applaud the dashing hero. The cast is comprised of locals and though some of the names are new to Opera House playbills, perhaps they too were cast with humor in mind.

This week’s show includes two groups of performers:  the vaudeville players and the melodrama cast.

The vaudeville troupe is comprised of seasoned actors, dancers and musicians; the melodrama cast, however, is a mélange of locals, most of whom we would not normally find under the bright lights. Telluride Chief Marshal Jim Kolar, for instance, plays the villain. Effervescent local realtor Rosie Cusack is cast as a charlatan. And Sally Puff Courtney is a brothel madam? Why not?  The melodrama, entitled “Miners, Madams and Mayhem,” was written and directed by Jennifer Julia, whose work directing SAF’s Young People’s Theater makes her a  local star in her own right.

Telluride's Chief Marshal plays a villain

Telluride’s Chief Marshal plays a villain

Vaudeville performers include magician Paul Distefano, actor-comedian Buff Hooper, and Telluride’s best-known pianist Bobbie Shaffer, who will tickle the ivories dressed in early 1900s finery, Tin Pan Alley tunes pouring from m her gifted fingers. Lyndia Peralta, a Telluride High School alum and now a professional dancer, has choreographed dancing that Palamar describes as a modern influence on traditional can-can. And pulling the whole show together is history buff George Greenbank as Master of Ceremonies.

The Sheridan Arts Foundation staff will work the night dressed in period costume to add to the authenticity of the birthday celebration.

In honor of the Opera House’s 100th, each seat in the hallowed space will be offered for sale. Purchasers are to be acknowledged with a plaque engraved with their name to be affixed to a seat. Palamar says that’s a great way to support the non-profit organization that runs and programs the Opera House, as well as becoming part of its ongoing history.

Tickets in the balcony and limited table seating for this historic event are available at:, or by calling 970-728-6363, ext. 5.

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