The musical play written by Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, is performed in rep with other productions in the 637-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the host of the internationally-known festival. Previews began March 5.
The show is "based on interviews conducted by the New York theatre company The Civilians, who took a group of actors to Colorado Springs to learn first-hand about the growing Evangelical movement."
According to production notes, "This documentary-style drama explores a city, Colorado Springs, the unofficial home of the American Evangelical movement, where questions of religion, public vs. private life and the shifting lines between church, state and society are brought to the surface in a range of subtle and dramatic ways."
The cast includes Marsha Stephanie Blake, Dori Legg, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett, Emily Ackerman, Ian Brennan, Elizabeth Gilbert, Katie Gould, Andy Lutz, Bing Putney, Ashley Robinson and Matthew Sa. Cosson, the production's director, says he was interested in the human side of the events taking place in Colorado Springs, especially around Pastor Ted Haggard's fall due to sexual behavior that the church frowned upon. Cosson said in a statement, "It felt important to go have a face-to-face experience with them to understand them on a human level."
The Civilians "were welcomed into homes, megachurches, coffee shops and more as they began to investigate the question of what motivates people."
"In the end," Cosson stated, "my question for this play is: How is it possible that Evangelical and non-Evangelical America exist in totally different worlds? How are we even all Americans? One of our goals is to find a fundamental root, not where we all agree, but where we at least know the common questions we're seeking answers for."
The Civilians have "an interest in investigating questions that do not have clear answers or a correct one," according to ATL.
The 2008 Humana Festival (Feb. 24-March 30) includes five additional full-length world-premiere plays, a bill of four ten-minute plays and a dramatic anthology. Performances of This Beautiful City continue in rep to March 29.
The creative team includes scenic/video designer Debra Booth, costume designer Lorraine Venberg, lighting designer Deb Sullivan, sound designer Matt Callahan and properties designer Adriane Binky Donley. Chase Brock is the choreographer.
As founder of The Civilians, Cosson has worked on productions such as the long-running hit Gone Missing, (I Am) Nobody's Lunch, Canard, Canard, Goose? and Paris Commune.
Lewis, a first-time collaborator with The Civilians and former resident of Colorado Springs, won Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Book for a Musical for his adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. He also wrote Dangerous Games and Tango Apaisionado with Graciela Daniele and works regularly in theatre, dance and opera with such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Philip Glass, Bartlett Sher and Anna Deaveare Smith.
Friedman is a longtime collaborator with The Civilians whose credits include (I Am) Nobody's Lunch, Gone Missing and Canard, Canard, Goose? He also wrote the music and lyrics for The Brand New Kid, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, God's Ear and the upcoming Alice in Wonderland and Saved.
For more information call (502) 584-1205 or visit www.ActorsTheatre.org.