JACKSON, WY — The scene: Jackson, Wyoming, some years into the future. Jackson Hole’s backcountry skiing access has been completely shut down, except for a small batch of passes you have to win in a cut-throat lottery. Jonah Mills, one of Jackson’s most prolific snowboarders, is missing.
I Can Ski Forever 4 brings much of the same self-deprecating and painfully self-aware humor that writer, director and, star Andrew Munz has become known for over the years back to the stage. But while the themes, characters, and even some of the jokes are familiar, Munz said, Ski Forever 4 is a different show.
The fourth chapter of I Can Ski Forever (ISC4) finds a way to honor the show’s history while bringing it, literally, into the future. Munz recalls that ICS4 comes from humble beginnings. The first show was just a series of sketches in the Black Box Theater Munz put together with his friends from Laff Staff, including original cast members Josh Griffith (Jonah Mills), Kjera Griffith, and Kari Hall. It was “cute, flawed, and unpolished,” Munz said.
From then until the show’s third iteration in 2017, it grew into a full-length musical. And how do you top that? So the fourth and possibly final (though cast members say Munz “says that every time”) chapter of ICS4 blends short sketches with eight new, original songs.
Some of the show’s most memorable characters have always been the Cougars — the philanthropic, opportunistic women who keep Jackson’s nonprofits alive. But in this future reality, the original cougars are gone. Phoebe Fenton has taken the reigns and is on 6-7 nonprofit boards at any given time. Flanked by Penny Willows and Cougar-in-Training Taylor Hendricks, the West Bank Cougars prowl Old Bill’s Fun Run looking for “investors and homeowners” to be their “angel donors.”
The show is written with a kind awareness and cynicism only a “true local” could bring to life. “Munz is super insightful about Jackson Hole culture,” Kjera Griffith said. He’s not a skier or a snowboarder, so he defies what most people consider the only requirement of a local. But he’s keenly aware of the culture that surrounds him.
“My experience is different,” Munz said. “I grew up here by accident. But the perspective all filters down”
None of the characters are based on specific people, Munz assures. It might not feel that way — Kari Hall, who’s been around since the beginning, sees a lot of herself in her character, Jess. Both Hall and her character have grown in very similar ways, and have experienced the same range of emotions in a single day. “It’s tough to have my struggles be closely related and put out on exhibition,” Hall admitted.
But it’s also therapeutic. Like her character, Hall has had days where it feels like the whole world is out to get her. “But I also know what it’s like to get that really big breath,” she said.
Everyone in the audience will likely see themselves on stage somehow. That’s the point. The show asks us to laugh at ourselves, and sometimes take a brutally honest look in the mirror — but mostly laugh, Munz said. It is a comedy, after all.
I Can Ski Forever 4 opens Thursday, May 2, and runs the 2-4 and 9-11. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 7:30 (sharp! Munz does not run on Jackson time). Get your tickets at PinkGarterTheater.com. But first! Join the cast and fans for The Gaper Ball, tonight, April 26, at The Rose. Gaper attire encouraged. Starts at 10 p.m.
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