Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh, no, I'm a Scrooge, too!

I saw the Fine Arts Center musical version of "A Christmas Carol" on Thursday, and I have to agree with our critic, Mark Arnest. In fact, Mark, as usual, was too kind.

It's a play that will bring a tear to your eyes ... for the wrong reason.

When Scrooge and Marley start doing a soft-shoe routine, you know something's gone horribly awry.

Man, I thought Star Bar's "Heidi Chronicles" had problems. This is a real train wreck.

The vast majority of the blame goes to this terrible musical adaptation. The music is either annoying, forgettable or so sickly sweet, like somebody dropped a jar of sugar in the cranberry dressing.

The cast consists of, by and large, actors. Some are actors who sing. Only one or two are true singers, and those aren't among the leads.

Given these issues, the bright moments stand out even more. Amy Brooks, as always, is brilliant, radiant, owning every bit of the stage as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Then there's Bob Rais as Scrooge. Having now seen Bob in four back-to-back productions (the others at TheatreWorks), he's undoubtedly one of the most impressive actors in Colorado Springs. I'm glad he returned to us from the big cities.

But after seeing Bob in four roles, I have to say that, although he has a great stage presence, there's something studied about his work. At least the nights I've seen him, it seems there wasn't a heavy emotional commitment. That said, he's still a force to be reckoned with in the local theater community.

One point that Mark and I agree with is that the general level of acting in this community has gone up dramatically. "Doubt" at TheatreWorks showed some of our best, especially Lynn Hastings, who may just be the single best actor we have in this city.

But, as we saw in "Doubt," they need the right vehicle. FAC's "Christmas Carol" ain't it.


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