Before we settled on Fort Collins, Dan and I visited a handful of other neighborhoods across Colorado to see if they might be a fit for us. Often the towns would offer stunning mountain views, breweries galore… and more than an hour’s drive to anything resembling theater.
In “FoCo,” Dan and I can drive a quarter of a mile to Bas Bleu, a 26-year-old theater producing works such as Equus, Dirt, and the show we just caught: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang.
Dan and I had been lucky enough to catch Vanya a few years back at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Bas Bleu’s production is more stripped-down than Playhouse’s staggering budgets allow, but Vanya is a show that relies on a funny script and a handful of sometimes warm, sometimes psychotic characters. Bas Blue’s casting is strong, including Kelly Foerster as the self-deprecating Sonia and Lee Osterhout-Kaplan playing Masha, an aging actress coping with her waning popularity.
Behind the more boisterous characters on stage, Vanya himself is the glue holding the story together — Jeffrey Bigger lands Vanya’s tender grumpiness and brings a lot of heart to a pivotal monologue about technology leaving him behind. (“We used to lick postage stamps!”)
There is room to grow in this production — for instance, I felt that Marcus Turner missed a few opportunities at physical comedy as the un-self-aware adonis Spike. There were also a few technical issues — lighting cues gone awry, actors tripping on their harem pants — but a show as smart and funny as Vanya can shine through small mistakes.
I am thrilled to be just down the road from Bas Bleu and I look forward to catching future productions — in particular, I am intrigued by the Bas Bleu Reader’s Theatre, a series of staged readings at their venue. As much as I love a theatrical spectacle, a solid script in a black box theater can be just as powerful.
P.S. It is so strange to attend a theatre and know nobody. Not at the box office, not in the audience, not on the stage, not behind the scenes. On the other hand, as I begin writing my theater reviews here, it’s a fresh start!