by Beki Pineda

FUTURITY – Music by Cesar Alvarez and The Lisps; Book and Lyrics by Cesar Alvarez; Directed by Helen Murray. Produced by the Aurora Fox Arts Center (9900 East Colfax, Aurora) through October 30. Tickets available at 303-739-1970 or AuroraFox.org.

The people who perform GODSPELL seem to universally love it. Audience members seem to have to grit their teeth to get through it.  Try as Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak could to make the words of the New Testament story of the crucifixion of Jesus fit into a musical pattern, it just doesn’t work. I had the same problem with FUTURITY. The melodies are simple and lovely; the words the composer tries to conform and squeeze into the melodies are complicated and awkward. Not only in pattern but in meaning as well. You – the audience – are being fed so many scientific concepts so quickly, it’s hard to absorb the details fast enough to follow the story.

This is not to say that the cast doesn’t do a magnificent job with the script they have been given. It’s an entertaining evening of theatre with meaningful choreography, excellent vocal renditions of the complicated music with a powerfully visual set. Brandon Case set the play inside a clock-like mechanism that represents the “peace machine” the players are hoping to create. It has actual cogs and wheels as tall as the stage that move together, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s MODERN TIMES.

This script seeks to tell the story of Ada Lovelace and Julian Munroe’s efforts to find a scientific way to end war. It seems they want to collect positive human emotion, funnel it into a logarithm they could then run through a machine and spread throughout the land. The cast recreates scenes from the Civil War with the actors using everything on stage – wooden boxes, chairs, buckets, multiple musical instruments, body parts – to create the music and the story. The choreography by Patrick Mueller seems both simple (but probably not) and powerful (definitely). As the lead story tellers, Adriane Leigh Robinson and Nik Vlachos engage each other as both actors and characters, as well as the audience, often expressing concern over their comfort and well-being. Shane Franklin displays an amazing versatility as a drummer, musician and tap dancer.  Don Randle as the leader of the troops is a huge presence on stage by virtue of his James Earl Jones voice, his Jason Momoa physical presence, and his Don Randle talent.

It’s always interesting to see what the Fox pulls out of the Box. The next one is THE JEDI HANDBOOK – another interesting title.

A WOW factor of 8!

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