There are plenty of reasons to take in the latest production from the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, the musical comedy by playwright Craig Lucas and famed composer Stephen Sondheim, 'Marry Me a Little.'
The biggest: the comic, yet heartfelt, performances from Chris Flowers and Priscilla Fernandez, who play two twenty-something singles in search of love in the swinging 70s. Flowers and Fernandez return for the second time since their Lake Dillon Theatre debuts in the 2010 award-winning summer repertory season, which included starring roles in "Hair," "Rent," and "Smokey Joe's Cafe."
The Lake Dillon Theatre Company mounts huge musicals like this past summer's "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Xanadu" in its intimate black-box venue, but "Marry Me a Little" is just right for the 70-seat space. While the musical comedy features just two actors and a piano player (prominently featuring the talent and sensitivity of LDTC musical director Jonathan Parks), it is rarely produced for Colorado audiences - probably because of the challenging score and layered sentiment.
In a series of musical numbers that range from comedic frolics to souring ballads, Flowers and Fernandez portray two New Yorkers, Phyllis and John, who are destined for love and ultimately each other. Separated by a flight of stairs, Phyllis and John live one floor apart in their brownstone building, where their mutual fears of being rejected (but also of being alone) keep them from venturing beyond their front doors. Unbeknownst to one another, the two bounce back and forth between their shared desire for a meaningful relationship and safety in singlehood.
The age-old story of a young man and woman yearning for love is recognizable, and their emotional journey of spending one Saturday night alone is one to which all hopeless romantics can relate.
Lucas's tale of two destined lovers, strung together by the at-times lively and at-times melancholy tunes of the legendary composer Sondheim, weave together a story of hope, humor and happiness. Co-directors Christopher Alleman and Joshua Blanchard elicit performances that are classic without cliche. The duo on stage is at best when they drift into each other's fantasies, dreaming about the possibility of what could be rather than the reality of what is.
Jared Grohs's set design, Jacob Welch's lighting design and Ben Whitmore's sound design balance the reality of a New York loft with the fantasies of universal daydreams and desires. And Dan Ciba's retro costumes recreate a world of bellbottoms, Afros and platform shoes with a stylish, yet restrained sensitivity.
In the end, the star-struck lovers discover that while happiness doesn't come without heartbreak, bliss is reserved for those who dream big and without regret.
Fun and fine-tuned, "Marry Me a Little" will leave audiences wistfully remembering the excitement of young love.
Tickets: www.lakedillontheatre.org or (970) 513-9386