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FAC show: hand-in-hand with museum 

click to enlarge Abe Linc ... ah, Georges Seurat etches a sketch.
  • Abe Linc ... ah, Georges Seurat etches a sketch.

Brian Jude Beacom's set design for the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company's Sunday in the Park with George mimics the grandiosity of the newly renovated museum in which it will run. According to Alan Osburn, that's no coincidence.

"It makes sense, especially in the second act when [the actors] say there's a reception down the hall in the museum, and the exhibit is on the second floor," says Osburn, director of the musical and FAC producing artistic director for the performing arts. "[The show]'s almost built for this place."

In addition, he says, "There are not many theaters that have the physical capacity to do this show."

To execute the production, he says, a fly tower and floor pit are both necessary.

Written by Stephen Sondheim who visited Colorado Springs this past fall to receive an achievement award from the Colorado Festival of World Theater with a musical score by James Lapine, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical was selected by Osburn to correspond with the FAC's current exhibit, Impressionist and Modern Masters.

Sunday in the Park is based on the late 19th-century post-impressionist painter Georges Seurat, played by Brian R. Hutchinson. Georges, engulfed in the creation of his painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," is also maintaining a relationship with his mistress Dot, played by Carmen Mock.

"The painter is obsessively focused on his art and is kind of a renegade in the time period, because he's trying to do something new and breaking out of the traditional mold," Hutchinson says. "This comes into play with Dot because he can't really connect with her as a real person."

On the flipside: "It's hard," Mock says, "because Dot has a very open, loving personality, whereas [Georges] is very concerned with his art. This is a challenge for her because she wants to be loved the way that she loves, and she's not."

The show's second act takes place 100 years later, during the contemporary period. It involves Marie, also played by Mock, who is Georges and Dot's daughter, now 98 years old. Marie's grandson, George, also played by Hutchinson, is a contemporary artist who, like Georges in the first act, is struggling with creating or inventing something new. But unlike his elderly counterpart, he's completely stuck.

George denies his heritage, but ends up being commissioned to create a laser-light machine called a "chromolome," which is based on "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." He's alone on the island and feeling hopeless when the spirit of Dot visits, inspiring him to make a change.

For those seeking a true art history lesson, take note that though Sunday in the Park is based on history, most of its events are fictional.

"Sondheim gets off on not being linear," says Osburn. "He likes the fact that [the story] doesn't go where you think it's gonna go."

Sunday in the Park with George
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's SaGaJi Theatre,
30 W. Dale St.
Jan. 25 through Feb. 17; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $26 to $31; call 634-5583 or visit csfineartscenter.org for more.

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