FLOYD AND CLEA KICKING ASS AND TAKING NAMES
Why is it that every time I write about the theatre at the Fine Arts Center of Colorado, I start with
the words "yet again"? As in, yet again, under the direction of Scott Levy, the Fine Arts Center provides the best theatre in Colorado. It's really amazing- over and over and over, I have seen shows there- and always, they remind me why I love theatre: because, when done right, it's exciting, and fun, and relevant. I know there are those in the theatre community who bemoan the state of theatre in America- who complain about finances and donors and whatever else- but those people need to wake up and smell the coffee and get their collective butts to the FAC.
The theatre, I am happy to report- is alive and well and living in Colorado Springs. Case in point: the Colorado premiere of Floyd and Clea Under the Western the Sky. What a friggin' great show this is. Entertaining, moving, unique- this production shakes the dew out of your eyes and reminds you that you are a human being- frail and majestic, living in a world of beauty and sadness and connection and hope and loss and redemption. This show is like a breath of fresh air- new and exciting and hard to define in the boring old terms like musical or serio-comedy or whatever. It is beyond labeling. It's a work of art, alive and kicking and drawing you in like a great song you hear on the radio- the song the you never heard before but that is so good you have to keep the radio on until either you find out who it is singing or what the name of the song is, because you must- right away- buy that song and play it over and over until you know every word. It's part modern drama, part concert, part intimate musical- and one hundred percent engaging.
The plot follows Floyd- a singer/songwriter who at the start of the story is obviously in the middle of a downward spiral. He's clearly talented, and charming- but also an alcoholic with a talent for self-destruction. As Floyd, Jordan Leigh is a revelation- charming, infuriating, and sad. Floyd isn't into self pity, however. Simply self immolation via a flask he keeps filled with booze. While anyone destroying themselves is tragic- there is something doubly tragic in watching Floyd degenerate, because you can see glimpses of greatness in him- particularly when he's singing one of his plaintive songs about love and loss and loneliness. Fairly early in the story, he meets young Clea- a girl with dreams, talents, and an inability to take no for an answer. Clea is a firebrand, fiercely portrayed by the outstanding Chelsea Ringer. She lights up the stage the moment she enters- and when she sings she has the voice of a angel. Watching Ringer and Leigh in a scene, or singing a duet, is a treat- a master class in style, grace, and agility. They listen to each other and play off each other so well, so naturally, so splendidly- it's mesmerizing. I don't want to say too much of what happens in the story- but it's not your average boy meets girl type of story. It's not a romance in the traditional sense. It's a very modern story about some classic problems with human beings- dealing with ourselves, figuring out who we are, what to do with dreams deferred or detoured, what to do with dreams come true- so much, and yet it's all crammed into about 90 minutes of stage time. The music, by David Cale & Jonathan Kreisberg, is amazing. It sounds like something T-Bone Burnett would produce- slightly rock-a-billy with and edge and lyrics as clever as something Elvis Costello would write. And the Band! Holy crap, what a band! Jim Christian on guitars, Bobby McGuffin on percussion, Jay McGuffin on Bass, and Jim Robertson on guitars, all under the music direction of Jay Hahn, are the tightest, rockingest, grooviest band I have ever heard in a show. Ever. When the performance is over, thye play a few songs while the audience ambles out. I highly recommend staying, and savoring every ounce of these music gods. I did.
Scott Levy directs this show at a perfect pace- moving action along when needed, and letting other moments develop their own quirky timing. There are a few scenes in a motel room that are just magnificent- quiet, simple, conversational- but with so much heart and emotion bubbling underneath the silent veneer, with so much unspoken tension between the two characters based on a need to express their true feelings and needs that you can't help but lean in from your seat watching them. The set by Christopher L. Sheley is outstanding- sparse, imaginative, and with a fantastic sky stunningly lit by light designer Holly Anne Rawls. And the costumes, by Janson Fangio, are perfect, natural extensions of both Floyd and Clea at the various stages of their lives as they both make a rather arduous journey.
If you haven't notice, I love this show.
And I love the Fine Arts Center.
On other fronts: my show APRIL'S FOOL- which had it's first ever public reading as part of the Rough
Writers Festival at the FAC, has been accepted into the New York International Fringe Festival- the largest performing arts festival in North America- and will have it's world premiere this August. We are crowd sourcing this production through Indiegogo, and would greatly appreciate it if you checked out the campaign- and if you like what you see, please share it via social media. You can find the campaign by clicking HERE.
So, to reiterate: Go see Floyd and Clea now! I myself plan on returning to see it a second time before the run is over.