THE MUSICAL THAT HAD IT ALL
"PETER AND THE STARCATCHER"
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., 634-5581, csfineartscenter.org
Director Joye Cook-Levy's production of this Tony winner gleefully offered the theatrical kitchen sink and then some: a Rube Goldberg mash-up of set, lighting pyrotechnics and action paired with hilarious (and tongue twisting) dialogue and songs, expertly rendered physical humor, whimsical costumes and skillful acting that was across the board fabulous.
THE SEASON'S BEST HISTORY LESSON
"ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA"
TheatreWorks, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 3955 Regents Circle, 255-3232, theatreworkscs.org
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's "Cleopatra" doesn't exactly prepare you for Shakespeare's surprisingly detailed account of the geopolitical infighting spurred by this epic romance. Director Murray Ross and his cast deliver more than a history lesson, though. Stars Tracy Hostmyer and James Keegan carve out flesh and blood visitations of these familiar figures - the passion and love, yes, but also the dark narcissism, manipulation and betrayal that ultimately fuels the tragic ending.
THE PRODUCTION WONDERFULLY OUT OF LEFT FIELD
"TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES BABY GO BLIND"
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 634-5581, csfineartscenter.org
Chosen from a roster of 100 micro plays, the 30 here were performed in a scant 60 minutes. That's about 2 minutes per work. And yet director Scott RC Levy and his small but energetic cast crafted every dramatic nuance while still creating the feeling of improvisation. The splendid chaos generated was fresh, surprising and a fascinating inquiry into human relationships and the nature of theater.
THE PRODUCTION THAT MAKES SOMEPLACE GRIM SEEM LIKE SOMEWHERE SPECIAL
The Star Bar Players, 357-5228, starbarplayers.org
Four broken people, a dingy basement and a world that is devoid of life. There, time seems to stop and unspool in endless tedium. Minimalist in the extreme, director Dylan Mosley and his four-person cast made Samuel Beckett's obtuse work deeply memorable, something haunting and poetic, beautiful and ugly, difficult and strangely riveting.
BEST SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON WITH A TWIST
"THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT"
Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., 357-3080, springsensembletheatre.org
You don't have to know much about the Bible to appreciate director Max Ferguson's production of this clever, irreverent and very funny play. Perhaps it's better than you don't because "Judas Iscariot" strives to make this purgatorial "Law & Order" into an edgy exploration of Judas' betrayal and theological fixtures like Mary, Satan and others. Actors Jenny Maloney, Greg Reilly, John A. Zincone, Desiree Meyers, Gabriel Espinoza-Lira and Warren Epstein - to name a few - deliver star turns, making it one of the most challenging and entertaining plays of the year.