Monday, December 10, 2007

You Can't Please Some People

To the Editors:

Mark Arnest's review of "A Christmas Carol" was sour, mean-spirited, and completely off the mark. The show was actually beautifully done and delighted the audience, as I could tell by the enthusiastic applause and the comments I heard as people were leaving. I had reservations about going, as I am tired of the way the story is usually presented, and if I never hear "God bless us, everyone" again it's too soon, but I loved this adaptation. The set and the costumes were beautiful, the music was great, and the actors were superb. People in the Springs should be grateful we have such marvelous local talent to put on such a fine show, and they deserve our appreciation, not such a snotty review.

I take exception to Arnest's assessment of Rais's performance. It was all right, but not exceptional. Dave Plambeck, another actor in the play, could have done a better job, and he is a local. I have seen him in many roles and know his versatility.
As for Arnest's comment that the script made explicit what Dickens merely implies, Puhleeze! I wouldn't call Arnest a Scrooge, as Scrooge repented and changed. I'd call Arnest a supercilious jerk and recommend he be replaced.

Pat Krieger
Colorado Springs
I just had a phone conversation with Ms. Krieger, who sounded very nice - rendering me completely incapable of writing the scathing response for which my wounded vanity cries out. But even the wiser, kinder Mark Arnest is compelled to note that Bob Rais is in fact local (she knows that now), and that Ms. Krieger and I agree on pretty much everything about the production except the music's quality and the script's ham-fistedness. (An example of the latter, which was cut from the review due to lack of space: When the young Scrooge’s sister comes to take him home during the first spirit’s visit, this version has her mention that their father no longer drinks. Dickens doesn't.)

And a very merry Christmas to all!


Blogger atomicelroy said...

"You Can't Please Some People"

So don't try.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We saw this show and left at intermission. This was our first theater experience in Colorado Springs and were disappointed. We thought it was terrible all the way around. The sound was awful. The adaptation was bad and the singing was very poor. It was a waste of $60 and we will probably never go to a Fine Arts production again. Is this the best the Colorado Springs art community can produce?

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

You know, I am constantly hearing how much better the theatre is getting at the FAC, but I think we are focusing too much on one production (Into the Woods) which was actually pretty good. Ever since Sandy Bray left the FAC, the quality has actually gone down, and the Christmas Carol is a prime example. I also watched Ballyhoo, which was another extreme disappointment. The FAC is billing the Christmas Carol as an annual family tradition beginning this year, and I really hope they rethink this, or next year their theatre will be empty around Christmas time.

I hope the play selection gets better next season, as I am very disappointed this year.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

Anonymous: Fortunately this is nowhere near the best the city can produce.

Jenna: I'd have to disagree, a bit. Much of the problem with "Ballyhoo" was that the FAC stage isn't very congenial to straight plays. The production team worked hard to fix this for "Brighton Beach Memoirs," and the result was by far the best production of a straight play that I've seen there.

Aside from the peaks of "Into the Woods" and "Brighton Beach," the quality is basically the same under Alan Osburn as under Sandy Bray. Last year's "Complete History of America ... Abridged" was neither better nor worse than the Sandy-era "Complete Works of William Shakespeare ... Abridged." "Little Shop of Horrors" was as good a production as all but the very best previous FAC shows. "1940s Radio Hour" was, well, what it was, but it was well done. (In a cruel twist of fate, I have to see the show again over the holiday.) "I Love You" etc. was indeed fairly wretched, but mostly I remember how bad the vehicle was.

It's also important to remember that not everything Sandy produced was as good as "Pirates of Penzance" or "Chicago."

However, one thing about "A Christmas Carol" concerns me a little. Coming after "Into the Woods" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs," it makes me wonder if the FAC Theatre is budgeting for one or two excellent shows a year while hoping that people won't notice what happens the rest of the time. As anonymous' comment makes clear, this approach is doomed to failure. It's one thing to do less expensive works, but they have to be done just as well.

2:48 PM  

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