I would guess that most of the 30-plus people who gathered in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's SaGaJi Theater on Wednesday wondered at first who that stranger was greeting us from the stage. It was none other than Producing Artistic Director Scott RC Levy himself, almost unrecognizable without his trademark goatee. Turns out he shaved it off for his official local acting debut as Man in Chair in the upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone. Oh, the sacrifices we make for the theater.
Levy wasted no time getting to the reason we were all there: the announcement of the FAC Theatre Company's 2013-2014 season. And while he seems to be skewing away from the envelope-pushing works of his first season two years ago (Assassins, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)), the upcoming season does offer a comfortable balance of new and old, light-hearted crowd-pleasers and deeper, more challenging works.
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
Sept. 26 - Oct. 20
Longtime New York Times critic Frank Rich called it "the funniest play written in my lifetime." Now the FAC takes its stab at this backstage farce about the most incompetent actors ever to grace a British stage. One of my personal faves.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg
Dec. 5 - Dec. 29
For the holiday season, the FAC offers this family favorite adapted by the Royal Shakespeare Company and based almost word-for-word on the classic 1939 film, except for the addition of an entire song ("The Jitterbug") that was cut from that film. Levy promises some serious pyrotechnics in this one.
Play It Again, Sam by Woody Allen
Jan. 30 - Feb. 16
Before it was a successful movie, it was a wildly successful Broadway play, running an amazing 453 performances starting in 1969. Here a neurotic writer who turns to Humphrey Bogart's famous tough-guy character from Casablanca for guidance in wooing women.
Agnes of God by John Pielmeier
March 21 - April 6
Next year's multidisciplinary theme for the FAC is Religion in Civic Life. To tie in with this, the theater company offers a play about a young nun who claims that her dead baby is the result of a virgin conception. An unusually small work for the main stage — in Levy's words, "It's three women and a chair" — this incisive drama raises compelling questions about miracles and faith.
Forever Plaid by Stuart Ross
May 8 - June 1
The ever-popular musical revue about a 1950s close harmony group. Features a boatload of easy-listening tunes like "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," linked together by the whitest of white-bread gags.
Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky by David Cale, music by Jonathan Kreisberg
Not only will this be the Colorado premiere, but the first licensed production of this dark, off-Broadway musical about an alcoholic country songwriter and his talented young protegé. In fact, this work is so new that the score hasn't been published. "We have the chord progressions and the recordings," Levy said. "But we're actually going to be writing down the score so that other theater companies can produce it."
Levy also ran down the schedule at the FAC's Second Stage, where the focus has been on smaller shows and experimental works:
WYNOT Radio Theatre: The Short Hello by Cory Moosman and Sammy Gleason
Nov. 14 - Dec. 1
You've laughed your butt off at this comedy troupe's previous parodies of old-time radio. Now you can catch the world premiere of their fifth stage show, The Short Hello, with all new commercials and serials and a send-up of Casablanca starring everyone's favorite detective, Rick Luger. And yes, the famous smoking baby will be back.
The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris
Dec. 19 - Jan. 5
If you listen to NPR's This American Life, you already know Sedaris is one of the funniest men on the planet. Here he dramatizes his real-life and extremely uncensored experience as a department-store Christmas elf.
Pinkalicious the Musical by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
March 27 - April 6
A cute children's musical based on the popular picture books about a girly-girl who loves cupcakes so much she turns pink.
2013 Rough Writers
April 24 - May 4
This month, the FAC will do a staged reading of the four full-length and six short plays that were named finalists in the inaugural Rough Writers play festival. Next year, they'll give a full production to the full-length play dubbed the winner.
Special events just penciled in for now are a concert performance by comic Paula Poundstone and the return of The Civilians' controversial look at the Colorado Springs evangelical community, This Beautiful City. The play was given a script-in-hand performance at Colorado College in 2009, but Levy is hoping to do a full production this time.
On a side note, Knuffle Bunny is currently going strong in the FAC's Music Room, and the run has just been extended for one more weekend. If you haven't seen this sweet musical about a little girl who loses her favorite stuffed animal, you've got only five more chances to catch it: Friday, April 5, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Saturday, April 6, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Call 634-5583 or visit csfineartscenter.org for tickets.