Miller: On stage |

Miller: On stage

Alex Miller

Some folks get their thrills doing things like skydiving or cliff jumping. For others, it’s hard-won turns from skinning up and skiing down our local backcountry terrain. But whether it’s square dancing, poker, halfpipe or quarter horses, most of us need some kind of stimuli beyond our daily here-and-now.

Other than skiing – which I seem to do less and less of with each passing year – for me being on stage has long been that thing that gets my endorphins flowing and which pushes me out of my comfort zone. I haven’t done nearly as much of that, either, in the past decade, but last Friday I had the opportunity to share the stage with a bunch of fun locals for the Backstage Theatre’s annual “Bash.”

Talk about a mixed bag. Scotty Bondo was up there juggling on a unicycle; a group of local women sang a piece about being a mom to the tune of “9 to 5”; CJ Mueller led a gang of old-time Breck skiers in a lip-synch recreation of their old Ridge Street Rowdies “Noah and the Arcs” act; Chris Willard did his hilarious “Environmentalist Ed” pine beetle song and joke routine; and some folks from the Summit Prevention Alliance did a skit depicting what their phone line would look like if some evil twin commandeered the front desk. I did a couple of bits featuring “Cletus Shakespeare,” a redneck media consultant. And there were many more, with the whole thing hilariously emceed by Jeffrey Bergeron.

Backstage at the Backstage was a busy place with that many people set to go on, and it was interesting to see the mix of veteran performers like Willard and Bondo with those for whom this kind of thing was unfamiliar turf. County manager Gary Martinez looked like he wanted to flee before going onstage to perform “If I Had a Hammer” with Karn Stiegelmeier and Bob French. Kudos to all three of them for going through with that! But, of course, it was all for the benefit of the nonprofit theater.

A few days later it was fun to watch community leaders get up onstage to give out scholarships at Summit High School. Again, there were the hams – Silverthorne Mayor Dave Koop, Bergeron, this time representing the Town of Breckenridge, and Tom Connolly with the Summit County Bowling Association, to name a few. Others didn’t look so comfortable – and with the bright light in your face and a bunch of partly bored high schoolers behind you, it was no wonder. Ultimately, though, the act of giving away a bunch of money to our high school seniors trumped any reservation about public speaking.

Another forum on Tuesday evening saw local elementary school kids reading aloud their work for the Inspired by Assets essay contest hosted by Summit Prevention Alliance. Most of the kids were stoked enough to be winners to get up there on the middle school stage and read their bit with the microphone largely devoid of self-consciousness. Those with reservations just read rather quietly. We’ll run some of those essays in the paper here soon, but hearing them read them aloud was one of those small-town things you’ve just got to love.

I’m reminded of how I felt all those years ago when I moved to Silverthorne and Summit High from a large high school in New York. I went from being a face in the crowd to a kid who was soon involved in theater and on student council and writing for the school newspaper. I think Summit County still affords that kind of opportunity to people of all ages. You don’t necessarily have to be up on stage, but there’s a chance to stand out, make a difference and really be part of a community up here – something that’s not so easy to do in more populated area.

As we roll into mud season, it’s a good time to think about what our various stages and areas of opportunity might be. After all, if you’re going to live in this community, you may as well be a part of it.

Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at or (970) 668-4618.

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