Each fall, theater companies traditionally steer away from lighter musicals and comedies and toward darker fare. And looking at the offerings planned by our local theater community, it's clear that some of them got the memo. But for all the murder, mystery and malice on the docket, there's perhaps as much humor, honor and heroism.
Fresh from being named Outstanding Regional Theatre by the Colorado Theatre Guild, TheatreWorks has the strongest season, but there are many highlights to be found at other local companies.
If you loved TheatreWorks' productions of Fences and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, then you won't want to miss Seven Guitars (pictured, Sept. 12-29). It's TheatreWorks' latest offering from August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle — a collection of 10 plays exploring the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century. Set in 1948, this Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama tells the story of a troubled blues singer who struggles to rebuild his life after a stint in the hoosegow.
Later in the season, TheatreWorks revives that most poignant of family dramas, Death of a Salesman (Oct. 24 through Nov. 10). Well-loved local actor Christopher Lowell will play Willy Loman, reprising a role he first performed for the company two decades ago.
In 2009, A Steady Rain shattered the weekly box office record for a Broadway play, largely due to its powerhouse pairing of James Bond and Wolverine — oops, I mean Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Springs Ensemble Theatre isn't likely to bring that kind of stardom to its production (Oct. 10-27), but it will nonetheless inherit an explosive tale of two Chicago cops (played by Indy graphic designer Matt Radcliffe and SET president Steve Emily) and the tragic death that tears them apart.
THEATREdART doesn't really get going until December. In the meantime, fans of its avant garde style will have to satisfy themselves with Theatregasm 7 (Sept. 20-29), the latest entry in their popular — and completely uncensored — grab-bag of original sketches.
Another break in the clouds comes from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. It opens this season with Noises Off (Sept. 26 through Oct. 20), a British farce that New York Times theater critic Frank Rich called "the funniest play written in my lifetime." The first act shows an inept theater troupe bungling its way through a play titled Nothing On; but it's the second act where the laughs really ramp up, as the set rotates 180 degrees to give the audience a view of the same play from backstage.
For comedy with a noirish twist, head upstairs to the FAC's Music Room for the first show of its Second Stage season, and the latest show from WYNOT Radio Theatre, the world premiere of The Short Hello (Nov. 14 through Dec. 1). This installment promises all new commercials and serials, plus a Rick Luger mystery that sends up Casablanca, Key Largo and other classic films.
And one more: Just in time for Halloween, the Star Bar Players presents The Woman in Black (Oct. 18 to Nov. 2), a Gothic tale about a young solicitor who seeks to uncover the secret behind a mysterious, disfigured woman he sees at a funeral. Though little-known on this side of the pond, this creepy drama is a huge hit in the West End of London, where it's currently the second-longest running play ever, having opened in 1989.
Oh wait, you want more? Play our Fall Arts Trivia game for all kinds of great prizes, including tickets to the The Nutcracker, courtesy of The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Fine Arts Center, Theatreworks, GOCA, COPPeR and other arts organizations!