Sunday, March 01, 2009

This Beautiful City


Photo: Carol Pratt

Like disgraced evangelist Ted Haggard, who is the focal point if not the subject of the show, This Beautiful City rides high on a wave of infectious energy through the climax of its first act, then loses its way. The authors and cast traveled to Colorado Springs to interview some of its Evangelical citizens, both leaders and laypeople, along with members of the broader community. It's not the first time a theatrical piece has been created from collected or found materials. The subject matter here is pretty juicy, and as luck (or Satan) would have it, the story of Haggard's drug abuse and secret gay sex life broke just then, giving the visiting New Yorkers an unexpected dramatic turning point for their creation.

The show shares the high-spirited pop sensibility of Avenue Q, another enjoyable but less-than-great product of the Vineyard Theatre. The characters -- charismatic preachers and gay rights activists, believers and nonbelievers, militants and military, angry folk and scary folk -- are an extremely colorful assortment, and the cast of six has a grand time embodying them all. But interesting characters and a lone dramatic twist can take us only so far. In Act One we get to know and appreciate these people. After that, nothing really happens.

Read the full review.

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