Friday, September 22, 2006

Bray Out, Osburn In (for now) at FAC

Sandra Womochil Bray is no longer director of performing arts at the Fine Arts Center, and for now nobody is saying why.

Whether that's good news or bad news all depends what happens next. The quality of the FAC's productions was way up in Bray's four seasons. It was also her decision to move the center from its traditional position as both a producing house and a presenting house - a space that anyone could rent for a performance or production - into exclusively a producing house. That threw some performing arts organizations into a tizzy, because Colorado Springs isn't exactly busting out with decent performing arts venues, but from the center's standpoint it was a good move: It enabled them to keep tighter control of quality. (If someone sees a cheesy show in your space, even if you didn't produce it, it's bound to affect the response to the shows you do produce.)

On the other hand, the quality of the programming hasn't kept pace with the quality of the productions, and Bray must have had some say in the upcoming relatively dismal-sounding season.

Interim director Alan Osburn has all the experience and ability you could hope for. He's an experienced actor (among other credits, he's a former swing man on the Broadway production of "Les Miserables") and has run Theatre Aspen. Locally, he's directed the Fine Arts Center's 2005 production of "Anything Goes" and appeared as Georg, the male lead in the center's 2005 production of "She Loves Me."


Anonymous Leverkuhn said...

Not yet wanting to comment on anyone's departure or arrival at the FAC until we know more information - I am curious about why the season is considered "relatively dismal." After seeing their line-up for 06/07 I thought it looked pretty decent, especially in light of inclusions such as "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." Just curious about your take on the season.

10:05 AM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

Indeed the jury's out as to the change at the FAC.
Is there anyone still working at the CSFAC, who was employed when De Marsche was hired? Seems like he's axed all the department heads. Curious!

The decission to go to an all production house is a solid one. As a past 'who ha' at the FAC I know how hard it is to juggle both styles. It does leave a void in that there are NO other decent rental houses of the same size. The Pikes Peak Center has finally, after promising to do so 24 years ago, equiped the Studio Bee black box theatre as a viable rental venue but I think ( not sure) that it only seats 200.
As for the qualitative verbage describing the up coming FAC season... I'll leave that to our Art Writer/Critic Mr. Arnest

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

leverkuhn: I don't think we're that far apart. The difference between "pretty decent" and "relatively dismal" is sort of a "po-TA-to/po-TAH-to" situation.

But here's my quick take:

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change": Pleasant but vapid musical revue that everyone on the front range had ample opportunity to see when it played at the Denver Center for about two years. But obviously I understand nothing about the public, because - amazingly - the Fine Arts Center's staging is one of FIVE front range productions in the upcoming season. The others are in Greeley, Littleton, Fort Collins and Evergreen.

"1940s Radio Hour" - Possibly pleasant but surely vapid nostalgic musical revue. (I'd love to be proven wrong about this.)

"Little Shop of Horrors": A good show, actually, but the Fine Arts Center produced it in 1996. Are there really so few viable musicals in the repertory? (That's a rhetorical question. At least, I hope it's a rhetorical question.)

"Into the Woods": Even Sondheim at his not-quite-best is fascinating. Probably the season's highlight.

"The Last Night of Ballyhoo": Another possible highlight from Alfred Uhry, author of "Driving Miss Daisy."

"The Complete History of America - Abridged": By all accounts an even stupider sequel to the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged." (I'd REALLY love to be proven wrong about this!)

That's a pretty light season, depending on "Ballyhoo."

atomicelroy: You're right. Michael De Marsche is now the institutional memory at the FAC. I respect De Marsche a lot, but that's a bit unnerving to an old timer such as myself.

Btw, 200 is indeed what Studio Bee seats, according to the Pikes Peak Center. I think it's also a pretty minimal facility with regard to wings, flys, etc. The seats, however, are allegedly better than the ones used during the World Theatre Festival. The WTF oversold the house, so the PPC had to use narrower chairs.

4:29 PM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

De Marsche has done a lot of good for the FAC and the community, but the methods are so cold I suppose it's the true institutionalization of the FAC.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Leverkuhn said...

Interesting comments from both of you - thanks for the explanation and the capsule comments MA. As Elroy said, it seems that the jury's still out, and it seems it still out in many ways.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I inadvertantly saw "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." at the FAC a couple of weeks ago. The most horrible thing I've ever seen on stage.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Dani said...

So where IS Sandy these days?

7:57 PM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

Still in town, judging from the message on the answering machine. She's not returning my calls, though.

I'm confident, or at least hopeful, that she'll turn up somewhere, theater-wise.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the inadvertant viewing of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change". What was so bad about it? We didn't get an opportunity to catch it.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen Little Shop of Horrors and how did you feel about this production? I am curious to know how it stacks up to other prodcutions of the same?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

I enjoyed it a lot. (My review is here)

I finally spoke to Sandy when writing the preview for "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress." I could wring no information from her about the FAC, despite pleading that frankly verged on desperation.

11:20 AM  

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