Our city has endured quite a bit of revision in the past year. Not only in our government, but among the leadership within our performing arts scene.
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic (csphilharmonic.org) now thrives under the direction of conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech. A thrill to watch and a dynamic force for the musicians, "JCD" landed the position last year when he guest-conducted a concert for outgoing director Lawrence Leighton Smith, who was too ill to perform. Caballé-Domenech was such a hit, he was recruited into the pool of conductor candidates, and wound up prevailing over five others.
Caballé-Domenech spent most of the 2011-12 season on the road with previous commitments, though he returned in March for the Philharm's date with virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman. In 2012-13, he'll conduct many more concerts here, with highlights including a performance by flautist Sir James Galway, season opener The Pines of Rome and a Philharmonic Pops concert devoted to the music of John Williams.
Meanwhile, the theater company at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (csfineartscenter.org) is now helmed by Scott RC Levy, whose first season focused on 20th- and 21st-century American plays, along with a mix of edgy, contemporary works such as Assassins and In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play. For 2012-13, the FAC will produce Gypsy, Next to Normal and a new series of plays in its upstairs Music Room, part of a second-stage season.
The MAT (themat.org) has remained in the capable hands of Jim Jackson and Birgitta De Pree. Yet last September, the art house theater changed its name from Manitou Art Theatre to Millibo Art Theatre to celebrate its 10th birthday; to reflect its move out of Manitou Springs; and to commemorate the passing of two members of the MAT family, Millie Harrison and Bo Freese. The MAT will host its annual Six Women Playwriting Festival through April, before taking the summer to prep for its 2012-13 season.
Excellent theater continues at TheatreWorks (theatreworkscs.org), which last year announced a new contract with the Actors' Equity Association, allowing the company to use as many union actors as needed. The past season brought standout productions of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Church and The 39 Steps and a visit by Shakespearean scholar Tina Packer; it'll wrap up in early May, when a run of Mary Stuart performances comes to a close.
THEATREdART (theatredart.org) has flourished in its new space downtown. Continuing with its edgy and often bloody plays, TdA wowed with the surreal The Show Trial in January, staged an ambitious theater version of Reservoir Dogs in March, and closes the season with co-founder Brian Mann's Ogres in the Office 2 and "the mother of all revenge tragedies," Spanish Tragedy.
Community theater stays fresh with the likes of Star Bar Players (starbarplayers.org) and Springs Ensemble Theatre (springsensembletheatre.org), which gifted the community Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them and a 24-hour play cycle event, respectively. Watch for Star Bar's staging of Othello in May and the grisly The Pillowman by SET in the fall.
In Pueblo, community outfits Steel City Theatre Company (sctcpueblo.com) and Impossible Players (impossibleplayers.org) set their sights on productions of Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof, respectively. While there, check out the Damon Runyon Repertory Theater (runyontheater.org), which besides its own shows, has hosted national touring acts like comedian Michael Winslow.
Into the mountains, audiences will find Old West-style entertainment at the Thin Air Theatre Company (buttetheater.com/tatc.htm) in Cripple Creek and the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Dinner Theater in Manitou Springs (pikes-peak.com/attraction/15.aspx). Thin Air, acting out of Butte Theater, plans productions of My Fair Lady, Haunting at the Old Homestead and A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol. Camp reigns supreme at Iron Springs, where comedy, music and light-hearted madcappery are always on the bill.
For faster-paced comedy, sit in on any of the WYNOT Radio Theatre (rickluger.com) shows, featuring some of the area's best talent like Cory Moosman and Sammie "Joe" Kinnett. A send-up of radio heyday programming, WYNOT shows are simple, sleek and brainy.
Lastly, we have the performances at Simpich Showcase Theatre (simpich.com), a world of marionettes built by puppeteer David Simpich. Shows include the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and The Firebird.
Singin' and dancin'
The dance community welcomed a new outfit the year with the birth of Sansara (facebook.com/sansaramovement), a modern troupe consisting of local luminaries including artistic director Camille Loftin, Lauren Andrus and Trish Doyle-Stahl.
After a few of its own shows, Sansara paired with Peaks and Pasties (peaksandpasties.com), the city's only burlesque troupe, for a dual show followed by a mash-up dance. To catch Peaks and Pasties, go online for its schedule, which includes smaller shows in bars and clubs almost once a week, bigger events monthly, and the Colorado Burlesque Festival in Denver this summer.
More modern dance comes via Ormao Dance Company (ormaodance.org) in its gorgeous new west-side facility. More than 20 years old, Ormao continues to produce professional performances, like one with Colorado College this April.
The Colorado Springs Dance Theatre (csdance.org) brings performances to town while nurturing "talented young dancers by providing performance opportunities, master classes and scholarships." Watch for its Evening With Ballet West II at CC in April as well.
Also there are the ballet troupes, which include The Ballet Society of Colorado Springs (danceinthesprings.com) and the Christian-flavored Ballet Emmanuel (balletemmanuel.org), both staging shows throughout the year, with the classic Nutcracker at Christmas time.
The Springs is home to several choirs, including Out Loud (rmarts.org/outloud.php), an LGBT-friendly men's chorus. Born in January 2006, Out Loud performs often and is on the books for July's Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival in Denver. And the co-ed Colorado Springs Chorale (cschorale.org), of 100-plus voices, will join the Air Force Academy Band for a night of patriotic music and Colorado Springs Philharmonic for Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, both in May.
For other classical music outlets, look for concerts by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs (chamberorchestraofthesprings.org), led by music director Thomas Wilson, also of the Philharmonic. Though a smaller body, the Chamber tackles heavy, thematic topics such as its tribute to the Romantic era with Saint-Saëns, Chopin and Robert Schumann for its season finale in May. Its shows have the added benefit of lower ticket prices, as do those of the Pikes Peak Philharmonic (pikespeakphil.org) and Pueblo Symphony (pueblosymphony.com).
Other classical music companies play to intimate or alternative settings. String quartet Colorado Hausmusik (coloradohausmusik.com) got its start performing in private homes, but now performs in churches and even at Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. Classically Alive (classicallyalive.com) plays in the home of UCCS music professor Abe Minzer and his wife, who organize themed concerts with spirits and supper.
Eight ensembles make up the Air Force Academy Band (usafacademyband.af.mil) and perform often. Expect top-notch big band sounds from the Falconaires, pop from Blue Steel, and recitals from other groups.
Little ones, big laughs
Being geared towards the 18-and-younger bunch doesn't mean the Colorado Springs Conservatory (coloradospringsconservatory.org) kids can't sing, play, or act the socks off of most adults. The Conservatory preps performers for professional careers, preschool through high school. And Conservatory faculty shine, too: Judeth Shay Burns, Jana Lee Ross and executive director Linda Weise's cabaret-style show Manger Avec Trois wowed crowds with its adults-only humor, music and intimate setting.
Same goes for the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale (kidssing.org), actually five choirs and a preparatory class. The Chorale will team up with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony (csysa.com) — similar, except with instruments — for the Carmina Burana Festival at the beginning of May. Incorporating 11 regional organizations, this 400-performer show follows the "sometimes cruel, sometimes delightful turn of the wheel of fortune" based on a medieval German poem.
Acting classes, camps and junior musicals are offered through Academy of Children's Theatre (aoct.net) and AlleyCat Theatrics (alleycattheatrics.com). Completely fearless young ones can also try family-friendly Improv Jams with Improv Colorado (improvcolorado.com).
Got a routine already? Try stand-up nights at local bars like Thunder & Buttons II (thunderandbuttons.com).
Regional talent makes up the handful of comedy shows periodically at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center (stargazerstheatre.com). Big names take the stage at the Pikes Peak Center (pikespeakcenter.com), site of many a traveling and local show. But pros most regularly hit Loonees Comedy Corner (loonees.com), which hosts comedians every weekend.
Otherwise, home-grown laughs can be found the first Friday and Saturday of every month thanks to the RiP (theriponline.com) improv group at Millibo Art Theatre. Stick Horses in Pants (thestickhorses.com) and Improv Colorado also keep healthy schedules, appearing at The Broadmoor, Venue 515 and Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts.