At the end of the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company's last season, we watched our founding fathers build this great nation. But enough of that; new performing arts director Scott RC Levy wants us to see the people who tried to tear it down.
Levy, 36, says many factors contributed to his choosing Steven Sondheim's beloved and critically acclaimed "fabulous piece of American theater." The FAC finished off its last season with 1776, a "happy-go-lucky" musical about the formation of the country, and Levy says he felt Assassins would make for a meaningful segue into a new era.
"It was important for me that for my first production — and sort of my introduction to the community — to really give a sense of what I'm attracted to artistically," Levy says.
Assassins is a vaudeville-style play that documents the lives of nine people who assassinated or attempted to assassinate an American president. Much of the play focuses on the motivation of the perpetrators, from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, which grows out of the very political culture they despise.
Some feel the play trivializes and humanizes cold-blooded killers, but it's widely considered a masterpiece; its 2004 Broadway production earned five Tony awards.
Levy himself put on Broadway shows including Smokey Joe's Café, Tuesdays With Morrie, and Stomp, but the New York University grad also found an artistic home in Broadway's fringe festival movements, with lots of performances in "99-seat, black box theaters." His move to the FAC earlier this year came after five years as artistic director for the Penobscot Theatre Company in Maine, where he more than doubled box office receipts and was involved in renovating the nearly century-old Bangor Opera House.
"I was absolutely fascinated by the model of the FAC and excited about the artistic opportunities that I could present here," Levy says. "Not only in terms of resources, but also the number of people that I have a chance of affecting through theater."
In his local debut, the 14 cast members include some newcomers, such as Tom Auclair and Cailin Doran, both of Denver; and veterans of the FAC such as Marco Robinson and Max Ferguson, who both starred in 1776.
"Their singing voices are incredible, and their acting is really delicious," Levy says. "We're having a really great time putting this together."
Levy adds that he isn't trying to be known for putting on only controversial productions. His hope is to balance the season so that everybody in Colorado Springs will want to come see at least one play. Next on the docket: A Year With Frog and Toad.
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.