Friday, March 3, 2017

Fine Arts Center announces 2017/18 theater season schedule

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM

click to enlarge Shrek: The Musical delighted as the FAC's holiday show last year. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • Shrek: The Musical delighted as the FAC's holiday show last year.

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
seemingly never slows down. In the midst of their spring theater season (which still includes upcoming runs of Bye Bye Birdie, Souvenir, Man of La Mancha and Merrily We Roll Along), they’ve just announced their onstage plans for 2017/18.

And we’re very excited.

Scott Levy, Executive Director of Performing Arts at the FAC, says it takes him a full year to create a season lineup, and that the following shows were selected from about 100 possibilities, whittled down to create a diverse slate of shows that appeals to all avenues of the community.

Levy told the Indy that, during the listening sessions regarding the FAC’s merge with Colorado College, he paid attention to what people wanted from the FAC theater. While this aspect of the FAC has yet to fully merge with Colorado College, Levy has already taken the public's feedback to heart. “We wanted to make a season that is as diverse and inclusive as our community,” he says, and the results are promising.

Diversity in this case means, of course, productions of all genres for all ages, but also plays that directly address issues of race and sexuality.

Of course, there's no harm in starting the season with an accessible comedy. Coming up in October, we’ll be treated to Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Oct. 5-29, 2017). This comedic take on one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous tales, The Hound of the Baskervilles, includes just five actors playing more than 40 characters.

Next on the roster, the FAC continues its tradition of staging at least one widely recognizable musical title, presenting everyone’s favorite orphan, Annie (Dec. 7, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018). Considering the FAC’s musicals are always out-of-this-world, you can bet your bottom dollar this one should satisfy.

Following that, we’ve got the regional premiere of a play that may not be a household title like Annie, but has quite the pedigree to back it up. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Intimate Apparel (Feb. 8-25, 2018), follows an African-American seamstress in the early 1900s who specializes in sewing lingerie for everyone from high-society ladies to prostitutes. It’s been called “deeply moving” and should balance out the lighthearted nature of the first two shows in the season while telling a story that we don't always see onstage here in the Springs.

"Being able to feature an historical fiction about an African American woman in the early 20th century is something we’ve never done before,” Levy says. Plus he’s excited to be able to feature a play by Lynn Nottage, whom he calls “one of America’s finest playwrights.”

And around this time next year, we can look forward to the regional premiere of 2015’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical (plus the recipient of a number of other prestigious awards), Fun Home (March 29-April 22, 2018). Based on the autobiographical graphic novel by lesbian icon Alison Bechdel, Fun Home joins Bechdel after her father dies as she reflects on her life growing up in the family’s funeral home. It tackles issues of sexuality, mental illness, family and death, and it’s made all the better by being based on a true story. Levy says that, while choosing a favorite show for this season is like choosing a favorite child, he is “beyond thrilled” to have been given the rights to bring this show to the FAC.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (May 24-June 17, 2018), the last of the announced mainstage productions, should be a pretty solid counterpoint to the serious themes tackled in Intimate Apparel and Fun Home. This farce about competing con men was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, so it’s another high-profile hit for the FAC stage.

Of course, that’s just the mainstage. In case you weren’t aware, the FAC also produces some fantastic family shows and smaller-scale performances in their music room.

Here’s what families have to look forward to:

Bunnicula (Oct. 13-Nov. 12, 2017) marks another regional premiere for the FAC’s season. Based on the popular children’s book by James and Deborah Howe, Bunnicula now functions as a fun and whimsical Halloween play.

Then, the FAC brings to life one of Aesop’s most famous fables, Androcles and the Lion (March 2-April 1, 2018). But this version, presented in the style of commedia dell’arte, will be fantastical, colorful, and hilarious.

The studio series (non-family shows performed in the FAC’s music room) includes some other exciting titles.

Parallel Lives (Sept. 8-Oct. 1, 2017) has been lauded as a feminist and a thought-provoking comedy. The plot sounds ridiculously delightful: two supreme beings create the earth and humanity, imbuing their creations with advantages and disadvantages to level the playing field. Slapstick is nice and all, but this sounds like smart, progressive humor which should satisfy local audiences.

Then, Fully Committed (April 27-May 20, 2018) brings another regional premiere, and another one that proves a challenge to whomever is cast, as one actor will play 40 characters: protagonist Sam, wannabe actor turned restaurant host, and all the customers, celebrities, bosses and socialites that make up his daily interactions.

And finally, another rousing rendition of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (June 29-July 22, 2018). This is an “ensemble experiment” wherein 30 two-minute plays will be performed in random order within 60 fast-flying minutes. The FAC has always had a ball with this one, so you won’t want to miss it.

Levy projects obvious excitement about the 2017/18 season, which he says offers opportunities to actors of all genders, races and ages. That means that audiences of all genders, races and ages will also have opportunities — to see themselves onstage in stories that aren't often told in local theater.

“These are stories about us,” he says enthusiastically, “All of us.”

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