If you're lucky, you've experienced a kiss that changed your life, sending you in a different direction — with a different person — than you expected.
Multiply that effect by about a hundred, and you'll have Prelude to a Kiss, the Craig Lucas play nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 and a Tony Award in 1990, now being staged by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company.
The premise: Peter and Rita have just kissed after saying "I do" when an elderly gentleman asks if he can kiss the bride. The old man's soul ends up in Rita's body, thus beginning quite a detour into uncharted territory.
"I hadn't read it in years and was pleasantly surprised by how well it stood up over (the 20-plus) years since it was first written. It is a great, classic love story," director Garrett Ayers e-mails from his Boulder home. This is his first directing stint in Colorado after extensive experience in New York.
"The relationship between the Old Man/Rita and Peter can really take an infinite number of symbolic/metaphorical forms, depending on who's watching," he continues. "Like any great play, however, it works equally well whether you view it as a parable/allegory, or take it on face value as a quasi-naturalistic, modern fairy tale play from the mid-'80s."
Cynthia Pohlson, who plays Rita, is another FAC newbie. The University of Iowa graduate relates to the script's "for better or worse" message.
"Long-term commitment means promising security and support (to the best of one's ability) even against the unknown," she writes. "This show exemplifies the struggle to live up to that promise."
Pohlson is embracing the "fun challenge" of playing a young woman as if she's inhabited by a man fast approaching death. She and local theater veteran Sol Chavez, as the elderly man, are exploring the "Rita-isms," such as her smile, that the actress must subtly replace with his mannerisms.
"It's deceptively simple and it's a romantic comedy," Ayers writes. "So there are a lot of potential pitfalls there. It also is a play that moves and flows, almost like a musical. It's nonstop. The timing and precision of each moment, scene, transition, etc. is incredibly important. This is probably the most choreographed non-musical play I've ever directed."
Sounds like the perfect date with your significant other. Your challenges will pale in comparison.