So, yet again, I am going to tell you all something true about the performing arts in Colorado- the consistently best theatre in the entire state in in Colorado Springs at the Fine Arts Center. I have seen so many shows there- Assassins, Lovers Leapt, A Year with Frog and Toad, Other Desert Cities- and all of them have been excellent. The latest show I saw, Dracula, was amazing- fun, scary, quick paced, and entertaining. The night I saw it, the house was sold out, and the whole place had the kind of energy running through it you usually find at a rock concert. Which is, I believe, how theatre should be. The cast was excellent, the set gorgeous, the lighting amazing, the costumes beautiful- and the script the chose outstanding. I had recently read the Bram Stoker original, and was hoping I would enjoy the stage version as much as I loved that weird, one of a kind novel. And my expectations were exceeded. The play started with Renfield- played with insane glee and just the right amount of sadness by Michael Lee- addressing the audience in a monologue that set the tone for the night with a surprising, bloody moment. From that point on, I was leaning in, lost in another world and completely enjoying myself. Kate Consamus as Lucy and Jessica Weaver as Mina were both excellent. Jason Lythgoe, as Lucy's bumbling suitor Seward- was comical, tragic, and a joy to watch. Christian O'Shaughnessy as Harker- a usually thankless role- was quite good, and Matt Radcliffe as the bloodthirsty title character was creepy, dark, and menacing. Logan Ernstthal as Van Helsing was at times hilarious, at others heroic. Rounding out the cast in several smaller roles were Karl Brevik, Crystal Carter, and Kaetyln Springer- each of whom was solid in the performance. The set, designed by Christopher L. Sheley, was ingenious and glorious and perfectly set each scene in both look and tone. The costumes, by Janson Fangio, were as beautiful as the set, and everything was perfectly lit by lighting designer Holly Rawls. And putting all this together and making seamless was the director, Nathan Halvorson. This show kicked it in the ass.

So much theatre these days seems dull, contrived, and made to order for donors who must not really care about actually enjoying the experience of going to a play. A lot of these places- and I don't want to name names-  make going to the theatre feel like eating your vegetables did when you were a kid: something not very fun, but something you did because you were told it was good for you. Why this is, I do not know- I only know that it is so. And I am so sick of hearing from people in the theatre community bemoaning the glacial retreat of regional theatre, or how the corporations are running things on broadway and making it impossible for good theatre to be created, or how hard it is to compete with tv and film and the internet. Those are all just excuses for bad theatre made by people who should know better! You want your theatre to thrive? Stop making boring theatre, and your theatre will friggin' explode with customers- and the FAC in Colorado Springs is proof. Under the leadership of Scott RC Levy, they have grown a larger audience and presented exciting, relevant theatre that keeps people coming back for more. And not only do they come back, they seem to bring their friends.

Next up on their stage is the musical Mary Poppins, directed by Mr. Levy- and I can not wait. Here is some info from their press release: This musical aptures the exuberance of the Disney film, while remaining true to the original P. L. Travers' books. The score brims with such timeless classics at "Feed the Birds," Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," and "Let's Go Fly a Kite."
The show runs December 11-January 4 at 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays at 2:00 pm. Student matinees are already SOLD OUT! Tickets are available at www.csfineartscenter.org or at the box office, 719-632-5583.

Hope to see you there!


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