With such skilled and inspired pros as Scott RC Levy, Murray Ross, Jim Jackson and Christian O'Shaughnessy steering things, there's bound to be at least one terrific stage show locally at any given moment.
At the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org), the 400-seat SaGaJi Theatre is Levy's domain. Early 2014 at the FAC saw first-rate stagings of The Wizard of Oz and Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam. In May, Forever Plaid arrives, a popular song-and-dance revue of '50s radio hits. Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky rolls in next, a sad and sweet tale of an unlikely pair on the road to redemption, country-and-western style.
Levy also makes imaginative use of a smaller upstairs space for a variety of children's and family shows, and for fleshing out new, exploratory pieces. The Rough Writers series, for one, showcases new playwrights and developing work. Meanwhile, WYNOT Radio Theater shows consistently nail spoofs of old-time "live" radio theater.
On the UCCS campus — but squarely in the realm of professional theater — Murray Ross assembles outstanding talent for both classics and contemporary plays at TheatreWorks (Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, theatreworkscs.org). David Ives' tantalizing Venus in Fur runs through April 13, off-site at 527 S. Tejon St.; TheatreWorks returns to UCCS for The Servant of Two Masters in late April. Next season will open as always in late summer, with an outdoor Shakespeare play at the Rock Ledge Ranch.
Another place where professional actors turn up is the Millibo Art Theatre (1626 S. Tejon St., themat.org). April brings the Six Women Playwrights Festival, featuring 10-minute entries from female playwrights across the U.S. Workshops, tours, a summer camp and an improvisational troupe are all on the schedule as well. It's the Premiere series that forms the core of the MAT's shows, however, for both children and adults, featuring "new voices and fresh approaches that playfully dare us to rethink what is possible in the theater," as artistic director Jackson puts it. Kansas City's remarkable Paul Messner Puppet Theater performed last year, but locals often take the stage, too; keep an eye out for co-director Birgitta De Pree's alter ego, Babette.
Still more stages
Moving into dedicated community theater, Springs Ensemble Theatre (1903 E. Cache la Poudre St., springsensembletheatre.org) tackles known and admired plays with flair, agility and a zeal to "make it work." So says SET co-founder Steve Emily, who, like other company members, brings experience from big-city theater to the region. Now in its fifth season, SET is uncanny in finding plays to suit a small, black-box space à la Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theater, and succeeding, sometimes brilliantly. Its recent and penetrating One for the Road by Harold Pinter is an example. They resume production in June with Edward Albee's Tony Award winner The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and finish out in August and October with Yasmina Reza's Art and Graham Farrow's Rattlesnakes. "Love in all its gory details," says Emily, describing SET's offerings this season, all in an intimate space that "completely submerges the audience in the play."
There's no telling where THEATREdART (theatredart.org) will show up in 2014, since it was forced to move on from its North Nevada Avenue space in February, but this is a group worth looking for. O'Shaughnessy says TdA uses a rigorous collective search-and-review process to find works that "simply must be done in Colorado Springs." Youth and society in transition are their current themes: See The Beat Generation and Crime and Punishment, which together round out the 2013-14 campaign. Missing stage aside, the company has vowed the shows will go on, though Crime in particular may be delayed; check theatredart.org for updates.
Star Bar Players (starbarplayers.org) had shared that downtown space with TdA, and was on hiatus as of press time. But given that it's been around since 1973, this is almost surely a temporary setback. Husband-and-wife team Dylan Mosley and Alysabeth Clements Mosley act and also helm the operation, which staged such standards as A Streetcar Named Desire and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 2013.
With I-25 acquiring a shocking similarity to the Bronx Expressway, Pueblo theater is really just down the road. On arrival, look for the Steel City Theatre Company (241 S. Santa Fe Ave., sctcpueblo.com), a poised outfit with solid community backing and programming. Steel City After Dark and Personals: An '80s Musical Romp Through Dating hit the mark for those seeking edgy fare; Shakespeare also gets his due with a kids version of A Midsummer Night's Dream in May, and Zombeo and Juliet in July.
And speaking of zombies, at the Damon Runyon Repertory Theatre (611 N. Main St., runyontheater.org), 2014 is the year of the undead. Evil Dead promises "a hilarious tribute to the Evil Dead movies," while the musical version of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein follows. As an antidote, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and You Can't Take It With You are then palatably shoehorned-in.