Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reefer Madness, 4000 Miles and other notes on the FAC's 2014-2015 season announcement

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 3:28 PM

click to enlarge SaGaJi Theatre - COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER
  • Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • SaGaJi Theatre

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
 artistic director Scott RC Levy was greeted with enthusiastic applause as he stepped onstage of the SaGaJi Theatre promptly at 5:30 on Tuesday. A projection screen to his right, Levy was there to announce and present the lineup of productions scheduled for the FAC beginning in October and running through June, 2015.

Levy’s eclectic plans for the season assure that many new faces will be setting foot at 30 W. Dale Street, and bringing their friends.

It may be for Dracula, Denver native Steven Dietz’s successful adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, opening October 9. Whatever their imbibing (or inhaling) preferences might be, patrons will savor the Count’s now famous line “I don’t drink … wine,” while bats, rats, and wooden stakes abound from the prop department. Levy’s matchless eye for actors is sure to land a top-notch performer in the title role, and his “sensual, suspenseful, and bloody” approach pay off in grisly Halloween style. A howling, shrieking, scarefest for all “not-to-be-missed,” Levy darkly warns.

And don’t be surprised to see those same new faces turn right around in December and return for Mary Poppins, a Broadway musical hit, bringing their own kids (or grandkids) in tow. What middle class American 9-year-old of the ’60s did not have “Supercalifragil..,” or whatever it is, drummed into his or her budding noggin by an uncle or in-law zealot of the movie? Again, Levy will secure the talents of a much more appealing tutor as Mary, and surround her lavishly with music, sets, and seasoned performers. It runs from Dec. 11 through Jan. 4, the first in the FAC’s affordable Family Package of four shows. A more optimistic launch to 2015 can hardly be imagined.

But it’s Reefer Madness, the “raucous musical comedy” opening Feb. 12 that is sure to breach the stony façade on Dale Street with hipsters young and old. A timely masterstroke by Levy, it’s a show based on a 1936 film, intended at that time as a frightening omen against the alleged demoralization and death caused by pot-smoking. It’s a premise and message we can all laugh at now, and do, as “clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana” and degenerate into “madness.” (As if the Depression Era economy weren’t frightening enough.)

Amy Herzog’s 2012 award-winning 4000 Miles then takes the stage March 26, as a 21-year old with an ecological passion rides cross-country to Manhattan, reuniting with his 91-year-old grandmother. A week after opening in New York, it was nearly impossible to obtain tickets to 4000 Miles at either its off-Broadway or Lincoln Center locations. Reviews unanimously praised the play for its sensitivity and insight. Look for and expect first-rate design courtesy resident designer Christopher Sheley.

Guys and Dolls wraps up 2015 on the mainstage, a musical most people already know at least one of the songs from, whether or not they’ve ever seen the show. If not, now is their chance to make up the loss, but advance ticket reservations would be advisable. It’s also on the Family ticket plan and likely to sell out.

Second Stage productions, those taking place in the smaller 108-seat Music Room upstairs, also show promise and were met with enthusiasm by the crowd at Levy’s presentation.

Nora and Delia Ephron’s long-running off-Broadway hit Love, Loss & What I Wore, opening Sept. 18 calls for an all-female cast of five to reflect on experiences from their fashion choices. Praised as “wise and witty” by Variety, the show is a series of monologues by women ranging from Chicago gang members to cancer patients. “Any American woman under 40 who says she’s never dressed like Madonna is either lying or Amish,” declares one. “Never wear a red jacket,” avows a second. “It makes you look, on some level, like you work for an airline.”

Another in the Family Package of four follows E.B White’s classic children’s tale Stuart Little, opening Oct. 23, with area favorite WYNOT Radio Theatre making its annual visit in December, the 11th through the 28th, “the finest old-time radio troupe around.”

Molly Shannon’s (of Saturday Night Live) children’s book Tilly the Trickster in a “high-spirited musical adaptation” appears next, from March 20-30, making way in June for another annual event, the Rough Writers New Play Festival, June 4 -14, a series of staged readings showcasing original short and long plays with a theme to be announced in the spring.

Affordability makes tickets to the FAC even more appealing, as some of the best seats in the house in 2014-15 can be purchased for only $20 dollars. A new pricing format divides the SaGaJi into premium, select, and standard seating areas, allowing first time subscribers in premium seats to make out like bandits at a mere $130(!) for all five mainstage shows. A flex pass plan is ideal for those with unpredictable time and date schedules, making for excellent holiday or birthday gifts, too. If you just can’t make the show, finding someone to go for you instead will be easy, each show like the season itself offering “something for everyone.”


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