BWW Reviews: FLOYD AND CLEA UNDER THE WESTERN SKY at the Fine Arts Center
If you missed Once when it was at the Denver Center last month, then Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky is probably an acceptable substitute. Like the Tony-winning musical, Floyd and Clea centers around two characters who form a bond through music and end up transforming each other's lives.
The characters in this case are Floyd (Jordan Leigh), a washed-out country singer living out of his beat-up Studebaker, and Clea (Chelsea Ringer), an ambitious young girl determined to get out of her small-town Montana existence and into California. She adopts Floyd as her mentor (much to the latter's consternation), perhaps seeing in him a father figure to replace the drug-addicted dad who died when she was a child. Floyd's reluctance inevitably thaws, as his relationship with Clea gives him the strength to pull his life together, a favor he is able to return when Clea's path to success hits a few road bumps.
The story is rather obvious, a walk through the usual country-song series of disappointments, downfall, and redemption. It's only when the music starts up that Floyd and Clea really starts to sing. Jonathan Kreisberg and David Cale's songs are philosophical, heartfelt, and honest, and are served well by Leigh's hard-life drawl and Ringer's soulful, clear tones. It's during these moments-particularly Floyd's sweet ode to Clea "White Cowboy Hat" and the upbeat finale "(We're in it for) The Long Haul"-that we really feel the power of Floyd and Clea's tender, platonic relationship.
Oddly enough, though, the characters are at their most interesting when they start to switch places. Floyd warms up once he climbs out of the bottle and makes the most of his second chance, and Clea becomes more compelling when she loses some of her naïveté and starts to crack under the bright Hollywood lights. The reversal of fortune, while hardly surprising, is a worthwhile payoff for the evening and makes Floyd and Clea a worthy entertainment for a summer evening.
FLOYD AND CLEA UNDER THE WESTERN SKY plays at the Fine Arts Center now through June 29th, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. For tickets, call the box office at 719-634-5583 or visit www.csfineartscenter.org.