Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/26

The Phoenix Theatre: The Childrenseeyouthere

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The Phoenix Theatre’s “The Children”

Lucy Kirkwood’s award-winning new play begins as a bold comedy between a long-married couple and their intrepid friend from days gone by. In this explosive drama, three scientists are forced to rethink their life choices as educated elites, and the two women, in particular, are challenged to confront their responsibilities to themselves, their children, and the earth itself.

Ending this season’s Trail Talks series is an interactive theater night with longtime Phoenix artist Diane Kondrat (who is also in The Children) exploring end-of-life issues, April 30 at 6 p.m. The night also features Artistic Director Bill Simmons, Suzanne Fleenor, Kelsey Miller from The Christians, and A.K. Murtadha from Barbecue.

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Andy Offutt Irwin telling “Love at 85” 

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Andy Offutt Irwin

Bang, zoom, pop…Andy Offutt Irwin makes incredible noises with his mouth to add pizazz to his stories. Irwin is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer. His story is about his 85-year-old aunt, Marguerite Van Camp, who graduated from medical school and started dating again. Put simply, it’s about adventure.

Ed. note: I have seen this guy perform before, and he is hi-lar-i-ous. I even have one of his CDs. Marguerite is a handful.

  • Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m.
  • $20
  • Indiana History Center 
  • Tickets here

Carmel Community Players: A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play tells the story of a Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, who, after encountering a series of personal losses, leaves her aristocratic background, seeking refuge with her sister and brother-in-law 
in a dilapidated New Orleans tenement. The play reveals to the very depths the character of Blanche du Bois, a woman whose life has been undermined by her romantic illusions, which lead her to reject—so far as possible—the realities of life with which she is faced and which she consistently ignores. The pressure brought to bear upon her by her sister, with whom she goes to live in New Orleans, intensified by the earthy and extremely “normal” young husband of the latter, leads to a revelation of her tragic self-delusion and, in the end, to madness.

  • April 26-May 5, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and  Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $14-$16
  • The Cat
  • www.carmelplayers.org

Civic Theatre: Disney’s Newsiesseeyouthere

Set in turn-of-the century New York City, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged “newsies.” When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right!

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Indiana Repertory Theatre: You Can’t Take It with You

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Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “You Can’t Take It with You”

The iconic madcap comedy written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman explores the importance of finding happiness in the everyday, featuring eccentric characters who unapologetically pursue joy by playing the xylophone, dancing, making candy, throwing darts, and more. You Can’t Take It with You proves that money isn’t everything, especially when love and joy—whether found through relationships or hobbies—are involved. Last produced at the IRT in 1982, the Pulitzer Prize-winning show’s appeal comes from not only its hilarious cast of characters but also how its meaning changes as society changes.

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Forbidden Broadway

A musical parody of all things Broadway! In this long-running Off-Broadway hit musical, Broadway’s greatest musical legends meet Broadway’s greatest satirist in this hilarious, loving, and endlessly entertaining tribute to some of the theater’s greatest stars and songwriters. This cannon of witty and oftentimes brilliant parodies is a time capsule of the American Theater. Journey through more than 20 Broadway shows and spend the evening with the casts of The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Matilda, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Les Miserables and so many more.

 

10-Minute New Play Festival

Six brand new playwrights with six unique voices. Five mothers with problems, forgotten boyfriends, fervent wishes and a magic tree. A lot can happen in ten minutes! 

Mrs. Pete’s Café by Mitch Vogel: Two friends enter a nearly empty, greasy diner on the Texas Gulf coast. One of them thinks their frumpy waitress might be a Hollywood babe, or is she?
 
Tree’s Company by John P. Gallo: A heartbroken woman on a mystical journey is stumped by an unforeseen obstacle—a radical environmentalist blocking the path back to her love.
 
Good Life Guarantee by Russell Menyhart. An exhausted mom, a mysterious visitor with a tantalizing offer…when you have a chance to transform your life, do you take it?
 
Can You Hear Me Now? by Nicole Amsler. Three generations of women relate to each other around their comic misunderstanding of the #metoo movement and their cellphones. 
 
Mothers and Daughters by Robin Lyster. A stressful morning leads to an unexpected conversation between two generations of women.
 
A Play on Words by Sam Hill. Powered through poetry, this play within a play follows young troubled lives, souls that are hoping to make their dreams come true

Clean Plate Club by Andrew Black. A woman at the local mall finds that her shopping trip is interrupted by a long-forgotten (and rather surreal) memory from the past.

  • April 26-27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 28 at 4 p.m.
  • IndyFringe theater
  • $15 adults / $12 seniors/students
  • www.indyfringe.org

Extension

The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes has been extended through May 12.

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Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Ruthless: The Musical”

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Cynthia Collins and Nya Skye Beck in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Ruthless: The Musical”

Ruthless: The Musical camps up film noir and spoofs Broadway musicals in an homage to the little homicidal brat in the 1950s film/play/novel The Bad Seed, here known as the 8-year-old wanna-be drama queen Tina Denmark. Tina will just KILL to get the lead in the school play.

Judy Fitzgerald plays Judy Denmark, a dim, stereotypical 1950s housewife who loves her solitary role in life: being “Tina’s mother.” While Fitzgerald is amusing as the clueless mother figure, she gets much more interesting as her past catches up to her and Judy’s buried personality takes over.

The true onstage diva is John Vessels as Sylvia St. Croix, talent agent. Vessels gets the best parts, owning the stage in heels and turbans, acting superior and fabulous, and he belts out many of the best musical numbers. While not onstage as often, Cynthia Collins is equally over the top and pounding those vocals as washed-up actress-turned-school-teacher Miss Thorn.

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John Vessels in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Ruthless: The Musical”

Critiquing kids always leaves me feeling mean spirited — much like theater critic Lita Encore, played by Suzanne Stark with flamboyance and a careless ego. But there’s no avoiding it here since fourth-grader Nya Skye Beck tackles Tina in in all her curly blond, darkly saccharine self. While Beck certainly gets the camp like any good Girl Scout should, vocally I feel she is inconsistent — a sharp here, a flat there. She does tap prettily though.

Laura Sportiello starts as Tina’s nemesis in Act 1, but she gets to strut her stuff in the second half as Judy’s personal assistant. Finally, there’s a guest cameo for each weekend, so check out ATI’s website to see who will storm the door at each performance.

Overall, the show has its moments, but I wasn’t doing the proverbial rolling in the aisles. However, the guy sitting next to me was. Blame the drink (or my lack thereof)? Or am I just being too Lita?

Check out ATI’s Facebook page for lots of preview videos.

  • Through Feb. 17, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $20-$45; all tickets $25 on Wednesdays
  • The Studio Theater at the Carmel Performing Arts Center
  • www.ATIStage.org

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 1/25

Fonseca Theatre Company: The Ballad of Klook and Vinette

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Fonseca Theatre Company’s “The Ballad of Klook and Vinette

Soulful music and compelling choreography combined with witty and poetic storytelling makes this a mesmerizing theater experience. Tender, funny, and incredibly moving, this contemporary new love story will grab you from the inside out. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting. Vinette is on the run, but she doesn’t know what’s chasing her. Together they make a tentative stab at love … until the past catches up to the future and smacks it in the face.

  • Jan. 25-Feb. 17, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25; $20 for students; $15 for Near West residents.
  • Indy Convergence
  • There will be post-show discussions following the Sunday matinees on Jan. 27 and Feb. 10. The panel on Jan. 27 will feature Dan Wakefield and Phyllis Boyd from Groundwork Indy. Dan will be sharing his experiences covering the Emmett Till murder trial and unpack the enduring relevance of this pivotal case. The panel on Feb. 10 will feature guests from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop, and PACE Indy, who will help further explore issues in today’s criminal justice system.
  • fonsecatheatre.org

Indy Men’s Chorus: Queen Day

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Indy Men’s Chorus presents an encore of “Queen Day”

(Ed. note: One of my favorite shows at the IndyFringe Festival. Highly recommended.)

This is an encore run back by popular demand. The show blends the hard edge of rock and roll and punk with the drama of musical theater and features the music of Queen and Green Day. The show received rave reviews across sold-out performances during IndyFringe this past summer.

  • Jan. 25-27, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 6 p.m. Plus, an additional 9:30 p.m. performance on Saturday is a Sun King Brewery sing-along show with free beer for ticket buyers.
  • $25; seniors and students $20
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre
  • http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/queen-day-0

Buck Creek Players: After the Fair

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Lori Ecker and Tara Sorg in Buck Creek Players’ “After the Fair.” Photo by photogary.net.

The show is an Indianapolis premiere. What happens when a married Victorian British woman writes letters for her illiterate maid and falls in love with the man to whom she is writing? A romantic, literate musicalization of Thomas Hardy’s short story On the Western Circuit, this award-winning four-character musical has played Off-Broadway, London, and various cities throughout the USA. 

  • Jan. 25-Feb. 10, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at with 2:30 p.m.
  • $20; $18 for children, students, and senior citizens
  • www.buckcreekplayers.com

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Ruthless: The Musical

Ruthless is based on the 1956 thriller The Bad Seed. It is an aggressively outrageous musical hit that garnered rave reviews during its long Off-Broadway run. Eight-year-old Tina Denmark knows she was born to play Pippi Longstocking and she will do anything to win the part in her school play. Anything includes murdering the leading lady! This spoof has enough plot twists and multiple identities to fill several old movies … the fun comes from the sheer brazenness!

  • Jan. 25-Feb. 17, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $20-$45; all tickets $25 on Wednesdays
  • The Studio Theater at the Carmel Performing Arts Center
  • www.ATIStage.org

Indiana Repertory Theatre: The Diary of Anne Frank

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The IRT’s “The Diary of Anne Frank”

This stage play is by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and adapted by Wendy Kesselman. In a world turned upside down by the Holocaust, Anne Frank held on to her faith in humanity. This story of resilience, optimism, and a young girl’s extraordinary spirit that transcends time and offers hope to today’s world.

  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, times and dates vary
  • Tickets start at $25
  • Many programs will be presented in conjunction with the show. One notable event is the Community Night honoring The Diary of Anne Frank and International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Special Community Night programming will take place around the Jan. 27, 6 p.m. performance and feature special pricing. There will be a post-show candle lighting ceremony that will feature representatives from a variety of marginalized Indianapolis communities, as well as readings from Anne Frank’s writing. IRT’s Community Night encourages patrons to pay what they choose to enjoy a night of top-quality and thought-provoking live theater. Community Night suggested ticket pricing starts at $10. Patrons who wish to purchase tickets for Community Night can do so by calling the Ticket Office at 317-635-5252.
  • www.irtlive.com

Broadway in Indianapolis: School of Rock

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“School of Rock”

School of Rock is a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie, and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage. 

Phoenix Theatre: Apples in Winter 

The show has been extended through Feb. 3.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/23

Phoenix Theatre: A Very Phoenix Xmas 13: Merry Superstitions

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Phoenix Theatre’s “A Very Phoenix Xmas 13”

Phoenix’s annual anything-but-traditional holiday show is the sketch comedy/cabaret/variety hour you never knew you needed. It’s a little slice of yule log with a big dollop of sass, and this year, it’s turning lucky number 13.

  • Nov. 23-Dec. 23, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $24-$39
  • phoenixtheatre.org 

Indiana Repertory Theatre: A Christmas Carol 

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Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”

This is the IRT’s 28th year producing Tom Haas’s snow-filled adaptation. There are a TON of special events in conjunction with the show’s run. Check them out here.

Special Black Friday Sale

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Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “It’s A Wonderful Life (Live Radio Play)”

Actors Theatre of Indiana is offering a special Black Friday price for any ticket to any performance of It’s A Wonderful Life (A Live Radio Play) at the Studio Theater in Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts. Purchase tickets at special rate of $25 any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23 with code BEDFORDFALLSFRIDAY. This deal is good for all sales — online, by phone or in person. atistage.org.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/16

Actors Theatre of Indiana: It’s A Wonderful Life (Live Radio Play)

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Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “It’s A Wonderful Life (Live Radio Play)”

This beloved Frank Capra American holiday classic film comes to life as a captivating live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that bring dozens of familiar characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. It will take the help of a lovable angel, Clarence, to show George what life would be like if he wasn’t born and then guide him to a change of heart and understanding the true spirit of Christmas. Remember: “Every time a bell rings, an angel get its wings.”

  • Nov 16-Dec 14, various dates and times
  • $20-$25
  • Center for the Performing Arts
  • http://atistage.org

Magic Thread Cabaret: Melissa Schott: The Key of Me 

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Magic Thread Cabaret presents Melissa Schott: The Key of Me

Indianapolis native and current New York City-based singer-actor-dancer Melissa Schott presents a cabaret show in which she is accompanied by her pianist and music director Scott Harris. Singing a blend of pop, Broadway, and folk, in addition to tunes from the Great American Songbook, Melissa will share stories about her life and career during a captivating show that will also include some surprises.

NoExit/Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective: OPEN Indy

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Gerry Trentham

The first OPEN Indy features this year’s resident artist, Gerry Trentham, an internationally known director/performer based in Toronto and artistic director of lbs/sq” performance. The OPEN Indy culminating performance will include Trentham’s Yellow Scale, a 40-minute solo from his full-length work Four Mad Humours, which earned him a Toronto Dora award for performance. Local dance theater artist Lani Weissbach, director of artist residencies and embodied learning at IMAC, will present The Truth About Mr. Duffy, performed by Lukas Schooler of NoExit Performance and Tanner Hronek, previously with Dance Kaleidoscope. The performance will also feature the premiere of COMMUTE, which will be created by Gerry during his residency and performed by members of the Indianapolis community.

IndyFringe: Stark Naked

Stark Naked is a two-woman play in which the artist Margaret Stark and graduate student Carrie Cohen explore the choices women make in their lives and the consequences of those choices. Carol Weiss, the playwright, has been writing about artists and the arts for more than 30 years. She was a columnist and feature writer for the statewide arts magazine Arts Indiana and has co-authored three books.

Marian University Theatre: Urinetown the Musical

In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides that he’s had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! Hilariously funny and touchingly honest, Urinetown is a musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics, and musical theater itself!

  • Nov. 16-17, 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m.
  • $7.50-$34.50
  • Tickets here
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 10/19

Indiana Repertory Theater: Pipeline

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Indiana Repertory Theater: “Pipeline.” Artwork by Kyle Ragsdale.

Nya’s son, Omari, is tormented with rage and in trouble at school. A fractured family navigates a broken system as a mother fights for her son’s future in a world divided by race, class, and money. Compassion and eloquence galvanize this gritty new work by one of America’s most sought-after playwrights, Dominique Morisseau. Note that Pipeline is a modern drama that contains strong language throughout and some adult situations.

Phenomenal Women

Produced by Connie Oates, this is a celebration of women through dance, poetry, and music portrayed through the work of Maya Angelou and Mari Evans. Emerging Indianapolis poets include Mijiza Soyini and the voices of Staci McCrackin and Sharon Rimmer.

Actors Theatre of Indiana’s Fall Barn Bash

The fundraiser includes a pig roast/ BBQ, live music, Sun King Beer, games, Cowboy Cocktails, wine, cash prizes, and show tickets. 

  • Saturday, Oct. 20, 6:30-11 p.m.
  • $75
  • Demaree Barn
  • Tickets here

Beef & Boards Children’s Theatre: Rapunzel

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Beef & Boards Children’s Theatre: “Rapunzel”

From the Emmy-winning writers behind the hit television series Friends comes Rapunzel, a familiar tale with a fantastic new spin. Forced to live alone in a tower, Rapunzel’s 16th birthday has come, meaning that she’ll be able to see the outside world for the first time. Before Rapunzel finds her prince and her inevitable “happily ever after,” she will have to face the wrath of the witch and a few other hilarious obstacles first!

  • Oct. 20-Nov. 17, Fridays at 10 a.m.; Saturdays at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
  • $16.50 (includes juice and snack)
  • Performances are one hour long with no intermission
  • www.beefandboards.com
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/21

Phoenix Theatre: Bright Star

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Phoenix Theatre’s “Bright Star”

A sweet and homespun folk musical about family ties and the search for identity, flashing forwards and backwards over two decades. Written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and folk-rock musician Edie Brickell.

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 7, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $24-$39
  • www.phoenixtheatre.org

Epilogue Players: Becoming Dr. Ruth

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Epilogue Players’ “Becoming Dr. Ruth”

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist. Few, however, know the incredible journey that preceded it. From fleeing the Nazis in the Kindertransport and joining the Haganah in Jerusalem as a scout and sniper, to her struggles to succeed as a single mother coming to America, Becoming Dr. Ruth is filled with the humor, honesty, and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became “Dr. Ruth,” America’s most famous sex therapist. 

  • Sept. 20-30, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $15; $13 For seniors 65 and older; $12 for Epilogue members (Opening Thursday performance is pay-what-you-want donation.)
  • www.epilogueplayers.com

Carmel Community Players: Forever Plaid

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Darrin Gowan in Carmel Community Players’ “Forever Plaid”

Singing in close harmony, squabbling earnestly over the smallest intonations, and executing their charmingly outlandish choreography with over-zealous precision, the “Plaids” are a guaranteed smash, with a program of beloved songs and delightful patter that keeps audiences rolling in the aisles when they’re not humming along to some of the great nostalgic pop hits of the 1950s.

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 7, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $18-$20
  • The Cat
  • www.carmelplayers.org

Actors Theatre of Indiana: A Comedy of Tenors

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Jenny Reber in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “A Comedy of Tenors.” Photo by Ed Stewart.

This Sunday’s 2 p.m. performance has the popular Sun King Brewing Company talk back immediately following. Free beer for those of age and who attend. Call 317-843-3800 for tickets. The show runs through Sept. 30. For more info: http://atistage.org/.

White Rabbit Cabaret: Lloyd & Harvey’s Wowie Zowie Show

wowieThis wild, weird, and wacky variety show features judged performances from some of Indianapolis’s finest and not-so-fine musicians, comedians, dancers, jugglers, hummers, wild animals, and just about anything else that loosely qualifies as talent that will leave you either scratching your head or yelling, “Wowie Zowie!”

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Saving the World: Oh, That Way Madness Lies

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Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents Vicki Juditz

Vicki Juditz is an actress, comedian, writer, and spoken-word artist. “I take experiences from my life and craft them into monologues that hopefully shed light on universal truths,” Juditz said during the social media platform ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere). The story includes heartbreaking details of the circumstances that led to her becoming a single mother.

  • Saturday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.
  • $20
  • Eugene and Mary Glick Indiana History Center 
  • storytellingarts.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

No openings for the weekend of 7/13 that I could find, so here are some events

HAPPENING NOW: Flash sale for Forbidden Broadway

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Logan Moore in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Forbidden Broadway”

Any seat, any date, any time: tickets for just $20 apiece. (Lisa says: Do this. DO THIS. This show is both hysterical and full of talent.)

Other Forbidden Broadway special dates:

  • July 12 ATI Industry Night. Are you an actor or artisan? Show your Equity card or a show program with your name and get a discounted ticket.
  • July 19 Favorite Broadway Star Night. Come dressed as your favorite Broadway star and enter your name for a drawing for two tickets to opening weekend of Comedy of Tenors in September.
  • July 29 SunKing Sing-along Night. After the show, ATI will host a five-song sing-along with lyrics and beer.

TONIGHT: Word Fringe Day Kingmakers Game for Good

Celebrate World Fringe Day at a giveback night at Kingmakers, IndyFringe’s neighbor down the road, for a night of game playing, refreshments, and giving back. In honor of World Fringe Day, a veteran Fringe performer will host the fun. All you have to do is enjoy a drink (or two) and a game with friends, and 18 percent of proceeds come back to IndyFringe. Plus, Kingmakers is giving out free Game on Us cards to be used during your next visit. 

Footlite Musicals: Young Adults

Into the Woods Fairytale Friday 

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“Into the Woods” artwork by cast member Rylie Gendron

Friday, July 13, dress as your favorite fairytale character to be entered to win a framed print of a painting inspired by Into the Woods by cast member Rylie Gendron. Then meet your favorite Into the Woods characters following the show.

Coming up

 Indiana Repertory Theatre’s

A Christmas Carol in July Sale

Early booking for A Christmas Carol begins July 16. Get the best seats at the best price to Indy’s favorite holiday tradition during the Carol in July sale before single tickets go on sale.

  • July 16-20
  • Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased from July 16 at 11 a.m. through July 20 at 5 p.m. by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317-635-5252.
  • irtlive.com

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http://www.phoenixtheatre.org/

Footlite Musicals Annual Meeting & Barbecue Pitch-In Event

This event is open to both members and non-members, but only members may vote at the membership meeting.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Forbidden Broadway”

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Forbidden Broadway”

Sometimes, there is brilliance—an idea that is truly groundbreaking, pushing and challenging fellow artists to the next level. Let’s use Les Miserables as an example. When it premiered, it was considered a musical masterpiece. Now, 30-odd years later, if I ever have to sit through another production of Les Mis, I am going to throw myself on that barricade in the hope that a stray kitchen chair takes me out. As declared in another over-produced piece of music (part of a current Broadway production—because originality is dead), Let it go.

For those of us who can’t take another rendition of that lazy Susan musical, as well as other musicals that have descended into the tedious (or just WTF, ahem, SpongeBob), there is Forbidden Broadway.

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Logan Moore in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Forbidden Broadway”

The inaugural production at the District Theatre, formerly Theatre on the Square, is a (literally) nose-snubbing show presented by Actors Theatre of Indiana. The cachinnating-worthy performance parodies and bullies musical theater in ways that go beyond irreverent and into territory that some mainstream musical-lovers would find blasphemous. And it’s divine.

Granted, this means that a working knowledge of musical theater history and present trends is a necessity to cachinnate at—or even “get”—this show. Various popular show tunes have been re-lyriced to indulge in how hokey and/or hackney their sources really are.

Since its inception in 1982, Forbidden Broadway has continued to evolve. As new musicals/actors/producers hit the stage, many ripe with potential parody material, they have been incorporated into the show. Hence, we have the unbelievably hilarious Lion King with a demented Rafiki and neck-braced actors forced into costumes the Inquisition would have envied. There are some classics in there too, rehashes that won’t die, making the “saucy Fosse” number hysterical in its truth.

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Judy Fitzgerald and Cynthia Collins in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Forbidden Broadway”

Director Billy Kimmel is the mad Hatter to this insanity. With the fab-u-lous Brent Marty on piano, Don Farrell, Logan Moore, Cynthia Collins, and Judy Fitzgerald outdo themselves in their sheer glee of the devastatingly ludicrous. Special goof awards do need to go out to Farrell and Moore for the foolishness that so often falls to them. Donning those Mamma Mia costumes is a tame example, but they take to them like cats to chlorinated swim trunks. Farrell also belts out some awesome notes, and Moore was born for this kind of show (see my review of Edwin Drood, which contains many of the same descriptors I use here).

And Terry Woods’ costuming is absolutely brilliant. These are not merely costumes—they are a fifth actor, as essential as the cast wearing them. Some are infected with details a keen eye will appreciate. And while props are sparse, the itty-bitty baby chandelier for the Phantom is adorable.

This is an excellent opening for the District Theatre. A standing ovation to ATI for making it so.

  • Through July 29; dates and times vary
  • $30 general admission / $25 seniors (65 and over) / $20 students
  • District Theatre (formerly Theatre on the Square)
  • http://atistage.org

Special events:

  • July 12 ATI Industry Night. Are you an actor or artisan? Show your Equity card or a show program with your name and get a discounted ticket.
  • July 19 Favorite Broadway Star Night. Come dressed as your favorite Broadway star and enter your name for a drawing for two tickets to opening weekend of Comedy of Tenors in September.
  • July 29 SunKing Sing-along Night. After the show, ATI will host a five-song sing-along with lyrics and beer.

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Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Forbidden Broadway”

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 7/6

Actors Theatre of Indiana:

Forbidden Broadway

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Forbidden Broadway”

In this long-running Off-Broadway hit musical revue, Forbidden Broadway pokes, teases, and lampoons anything Broadway has to offer — but always with love. This canon of witty and oftentimes brilliant parodies is a time capsule of American theater. Journey through more than 20 Broadway shows and spend the evening with Carol Channing, Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, not to mention the casts of The Lion King, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, and so many more in this entertaining tribute to some of Broadway’s greatest shows and stars!

  • July 5-29; dates and times vary
  • $30 general admission / $25 seniors (65 and over) / $20 students
  • District Theatre (formerly Theatre on the Square)
  • http://atistage.org

Special events:

  • July 5 opening night VIP party for all ticket holders
  • July 12 ATI Industry Night. Are you an actor or artisan? Show your Equity card or a show program with your name and get a discounted ticket.
  • July 19 Favorite Broadway Star Night. Come dressed as your favorite Broadway star and enter your name for a drawing for two tickets to opening weekend of Comedy of Tenors in September.
  • July 29 SunKing Sing-along Night. After the show, ATI will host a five-song sing-along with lyrics and beer.

 

Magic Thread Cabaret:

Katy Gentry Is Judy Garland LIVE!

Katy Gentry is Judy no credit
Katy Gentry as Judy Garland

Katy Gentry, who grew up in Crawfordsville and now lives in Fishers, is bringing Judy Garland to life as she recreates performances by the legendary superstar. Gentry first stepped into Judy Garland’s shoes when she originated the role in the Actors Theatre of Indiana premiere of Beyond the Rainbow in 2007, joining ATI’s reprisal of the show in 2017 to play 38-year-old Judy Garland in her iconic 1961 Carnegie Hall performance.

  • Friday, July 6-Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 8 at 4:00 p.m.
  • $35 and $25 and reflect seating options
  • The Cat
  • https://katygentry.bpt.me or reserve 317-649-4CAT

7th Artistry: Little Red Riding Hood

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7th Artistry: “Little Red Riding Hood”

Carter’s summer is off to a rough start. Her friends’ pets keep going missing and her grades slipped during the last semester. Her friends are worried about their pets, and her mom is angry about her grades. No one seems to have time for her except her grandma. So how hard can running away be? The woods aren’t that scary. In this devised piece, the ensemble and a board of creators examine what we fear and how we can overcome it.

Epilogue Players: Run For Your Wife

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Epilogue Players: “Run For Your Wife”

London cab driver John Smith has two wives, two lives, and a very precise schedule for juggling them both, with one wife at home in Streatham and another at home in Wimbledon. Trouble brews when Smith is mugged and ends up in hospital, where both of his addresses surface, causing both the Streatham and Wimbledon police to investigate. Having upset his schedule, Smith becomes hopelessly entangled in his attempts to explain himself to his wives and two suspicious police officers, with help from his lazy layabout neighbour upstairs in Wimbledon.

  • July 6-22, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $15; $13 seniors 65 and older; $12 For Epilogue members
  • http://epilogueplayers.com/
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Million Dollar Quartet”

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Million Dollar Quartet”

That. Was. So. Much. Fun.

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Brandon Alstott and Don Farrell in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Actors Theatre of Indiana

Million Dollar Quartet is the story of an epic studio recording/jam session with the rock/country legends Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins at Sun Records. The studio was on the cusp of change. Sam Phillips was about to find out that Cash was moving to Columbia Records, Elvis wanted to come back to Sun, and Jerry Lee was still relatively unknown. Perkins was in the studio to make a new record, hoping to reignite his career, accompanied by newcomer Lewis. On this one auspicious night in 1956, the four superstars spontaneously came together—the only time—for one of the most amazing sessions in music history.

The show combines the most famous and some lesser-known music from these four performers with a little bit of background, a little bit of banter, and a whole lot of rockin’. The context and glimpses into each personality are nice segues into what we really all come to see (or hear, as the case may be): the music.

milliondollar3And the cast doesn’t disappoint. Brandon Alstott as Cash, Sean Riley as Perkins, Gavin Rohrer as Lewis, and Adam Tran as Presley nail the mannerisms, personalities, look, and sound of their characters. They recreate these immortal names. If you open your ears and let your eyes slightly unfocus, you can believe you are there in the studio with the real lineup. And not only are their vocals spot-on, but they also play their own instruments. Think about it—lines, songs, blocking, direction, characterization, and performing the score. That’s an impressive load. An impressive heavy load. And they’ve got it. Grok it. On every single song.

Backing them are Kroy Presley on the upright bass and Nathan Shew on percussion to fill out the sound. Betsy Norton as Presley’s girlfriend Dyanne gets to take the mike too in a sultry “Fever” and rousing “I Hear You Knockin.’”

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“Million Dollar Quartet” at Actors Theatre of Indiana

But the brightest star has to go to Gavin Rohrer as the buckets-of-crazy Jerry Lee. He is all over that piano in quintessential Jerry Lee fashion and captures the manic Jerry Lee vibe. He is a hoot.

Don Farrell as Phillips, the star maker, gives us much of the narrative insight. His night is emotionally turbulent as he gleefully sees the talent in his performers as he catches them on tape, but he is faced with choices and obstacles that leave him uncertain about the future.

While the show is set in a recording studio, Marciel Irene Green’s lighting design transports you to a concert stage when the songs really kick up a notch. Music director Taylor Gray keeps the sound real, and costumer Donna Jacobi provides iconic outfits. Director/choreographer DJ Salisbury brings it all together for a concert performance that will get you out of your seat and movin’ to the music.

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“Million Dollar Quartet” at Actors Theatre of Indiana

It’s worth including the song list because you’re going to love it.

  • “Blue Suede Shoes”: company
  • “Real Wild Child”: Jerry Lee Lewis
  • “Matchbox”: Carl Perkins
  • “Who Do You Love?”: Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis
  • “Folsom Prison Blues”: Johnny Cash
  • “Fever”: Dyanne
  • “Memories Are Made of This”: Elvis Presley and company
  • “That’s All Right”: Elvis Presley
  • “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”: Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins
  • “Down by the Riverside”: company
  • “Sixteen Tons”: Johnny Cash
  • “My Babe”: Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash
  • “Long Tall Sally”: Elvis Presley
  • “Peace in the Valley”: company
  • “I Walk the Line”: Johnny Cash
  • “I Hear You Knocking”: Dyanne
  • “Party”: Carl Perkins and company
  • “Great Balls of Fire”: Jerry Lee Lewis
  • “Down by the Riverside (Reprise)”: company
  • “Hound Dog”: Elvis Presley
  • “Ghost Riders in the Sky”: Johnny Cash
  • “See You Later Alligator”: Carl Perkins and company
  • “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”: Jerry Lee Lewis and company
  • June 1-17, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • Carmel Center for the Performing Arts
  • $25+
  • http://atistage.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/30

The Indianapolis Shakespeare Company: Macbeth

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Indianapolis Shakespeare Company’s “Macbeth.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

Indianapolis Shakespeare Company presents the Traveling Troupe, the new community outreach arm of Indy Shakes that is an extension of the professional company. It will present a one-hour performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in multiple venues throughout the month of June 2018. Thanks to the support of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation and Indy Parks, Indy Shakes is excited to provide programming within Indy Parks to bring free, high-quality Shakespeare productions to several parks across the city. Please bring your own lawn chairs or blankets for the outdoor performances. Go to www.indyshakes.com for more info.

  • June 1, 6:30 p.m. Garfield Arts Center
  • June 5, 7:00 p.m. Perry Park
  • June 6, 11-noon at Central Library
  • June 11, 1:00 p.m. Brookside Park
  • June 12, 6:30 p.m. Martin Luther King
  • June 14, 2:00 p.m. Tarkington Park
  • June 15, 7:00 p.m. Broad Ripple
  • June 16, 1:00 p.m. Garfield Arts Center
  • June 19, 6:30 p.m. Eagle Creek
  • June 21, TBD Watkins Park
  • June 21, 7:00 p.m. Holliday Park
  • June 30, 11:00 AM Martin Luther King Park
  • June 30, 1:00 p.m. Frederick Douglass
  • June 30, 3:00 p.m. Tarkington Park

Nathan Wilusz left and Addison R. Koehler in Pasek & Paul's DOGFIGHT Photo by Gary Nelson, www.photoGary.net
Nathan Wilusz and Addison R. Koehler in Buck Creek Players’ “Dogfight.” Photo by Gary Nelson, http://www.photoGary.net.

Buck Creek Players: Dogfight

The hauntingly beautiful musical Dogfight takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey. It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying, and maybe a little trouble. But, when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress whom he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion. From the Oscar-winning lyricists of the film La La Land, composers of the film The Greatest Showman, and the creators of Broadway’s current Tony Award-winning best musical, Dear Evan Hansen, comes the 2012 Off-Broadway musical based on the 1991 film starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor.

  • June 1-17, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $20 adults; $18 children, students, senior citizens (62+)
  • Note that this show is rated R
  • www.buckcreekplayers.com

And Dogfight again, this time from Eclipse, Emerging Artists Program of Summer Stock Stage

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Million Dollar Quartet

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: “Million Dollar Quartet”

This Tony Award-winning musical takes place on Dec. 4, 1956, when an extraordinary twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley together at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever.

  • June 1-17, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • Carmel Center for the Performing Arts
  • $25+
  • http://atistage.org

Sip-N-Song benefiting Actors Theatre of Indiana

Join Actors Theatre of Indiana and the Million Dollar Quartet for an evening of wine and music. June 5, 2018 6-9 pm at Peace Water Winery in Carmel. Appetizers provided by Donatello’s. $25 Donation to enjoy an evening of fun and fabulous music.

Beef & Boards: Annie

Claire Kauffman as Annie 2018
Claire Kauffman as “Annie” at Beef & Boards

Little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Songs include “Tomorrow,” “Hard Knock Life,” and “Maybe.” Rated G, but children under age 3 cannot be admitted to this show.

  • May 31-July 15; dates and times vary. Check the website for a full schedule.
  • $44-$66. Discount of $10 off per ticket available to children ages 3-15.
  • www.beefandboards.com

Longshot Theater: 24-Hour Playhouse

This is the second edition of the show in which several 10-minute plays are written, rehearsed, and then performed for you all within 24 hours. Some of Indianapolis’ best talents push themselves to new heights.

​​​​If you would like to write, act, or direct, e-mail Bob at 24hrplayhouse@gmail.com. Actors: Take a picture of yourself in a costume of your choosing with a prop of your choosing. Those pictures will be given to the writers for inspiration.

  • June 2; actors rehearsal from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.
  • Wheeler Community Arts Center
  • $5 online; $7 door
  • www.longshottheater.com

Civic Theatre’s Education Fundraiser

Show your support for Civic Theatre’s Education Programs. Celebrate theater education and have a “peachy” time! Song, dance, food, fun, and themed cocktails!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Actors Theatre of Indiana: “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”

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Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”

Who knew that Charles Dickens could be so funny?

I didn’t. His writing always made me go “blah,” and after a few pages, I would toss the book across the room, never to be seen again.

But … The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the final, unfinished novel by Dickens, was adapted into a hilarious musical melodrama, and Actors Theatre of Indiana is staging a sidesplitting production of the choose-your-own-adventure show.

This is the second play-within-a-play production that opened last weekend, but this one most definitely has a different feel to it. For starters, it’s in the small Studio Theater in the Carmel Performing Arts Center, so you are in a more intimate setting. Speaking of intimate, if you are one of the lucky few to have a table in the front row, don’t be surprised if you end up with a “lady of the evening” on your lap at some point. Aisles are fair game for interaction, but lap sitting is limited for obvious logistical reasons.

The story is set in a pub, where the patrons and bar wench perform their sad tale, which, incidentally, isn’t so much about Drood but his fiancé, the lovely Rosa Bud, who is the picture of propriety, and Drood’s uncle, John Jasper, a creepy man who desires Rosa for his own. The point of Drood’s character is to decide who killed him.

The show starts off strong with a company number, and from there just gets funnier and funnier and better and better. This is melodrama at its best weaved with crackerjack songs. Everything is gloriously ludicrous—characters are overplayed to create the most absurd personas possible.

It. Is. Awesome.

Everyone in the cast takes on multiple roles … except Flo, the barmaid, played by Karaline Feller, whose poor character is often left in the sidelines despite her vivacious if lowbrow personality.

Drood (before he is offed) is played by Alice Nutting, who is played by Cynthia Collins. “Alice” is introduced as a famous “male impersonator” and given the role of Drood. Collins’ Drood is a happy if clueless little chap; audience sympathy for Drood runs high when his bloodied coat is discovered and the worst is assumed.

One who is not sympathetic is what should be an intimidating force known as Neville Landless, played by Logan Moore. Moore’s character is just deliciously ridiculous. Neville tries to look aggressive, but his outrageous movements and facial expressions just make him look like a fool. His equally bizarre twin sister Helena, played by Jaddy Ciucci, is fluid where Neville is stiff, gliding around the stage in her Middle Eastern-dance-type garb and looking mysterious. Both are from abroad with accents of “indeterminate origin.”

Another is John Jasper. Eric Olson as Jasper is by turns deranged and slightly less deranged. His pursuit of Rosa Bud, played by Harli Cooper, an innocent little bird in a cage, is so creepy.

This article does not cover the entire character list or cast, but I’m not leaving anyone out just to be kind. Really, everyone is exceptional here, so kudos to director D.J. Salisbury for this wonderfully campy show.

  • April 27-May 13, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25+
  • Carmel Center for the Performing Arts
  • http://atistage.org/

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews, Indianapolis theater: reviews

Theater marathon

It’s not unusual for multiple theaters to open shows on the same weekend.

What is unusual is that every single show was fantastic.

This week, I started with Wicked on Thursday, Noises Off at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on Friday, The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Actors Theatre of Indiana on Saturday, and then I concluded my whirlwind weekend with Hairspray at Civic Theatre.

I’m trying my best to get my thoughts about the last three up here as quickly as possible (I already posted Wicked), but how many synonyms can you come up with for “fantastic” before you just sound unbearably repetitive?

I’m hoping for a minimum of one review per day, in the order that I saw them. So bear with me.

Interesting side note: The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Noises Off are both play-within-a-play structures. I just thought that was a funny coincidence.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/27

Actors Theatre of Indiana: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”

ATI’s 13th season closes with the rip-snorting rendition of Rupert Holmes’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name. In this bombastic rendition of the whodunit Dickens mystery, the audience enters the action and becomes the ultimate detective, deciding who committed the dastardly deed. Multiple endings are determined by audience vote.

  • April 27-May 13, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25+
  • Carmel Center for the Performing Arts
  • http://atistage.org/

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Noises Off

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Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “Noises Off.” Photo by Amber Mills.

Ever gone to a play and something went wrong? What happens when everything goes wrong? Rehearsal implosions, backstage shenanigans and onstage disasters have the cast on life support—and the audience in stitches!

Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents Barbara McBride-Smith: Crooked Ways of the Ancient Greek Gods

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Barbara McBride-Smith

A bonafide wordsmith, Barbara McBride-Smith, whose wicked wit is underscored by serious research and scholastic excellence, brings a stellar reputation to her interpretation of the Greek myths. With her incurable Texas drawl, Barbara spins the Greek myths as you’ve never heard them before, rending them 99% more fun while retaining 100% of their original insights into the crooked ways of the human heart and the no-less crooked ways of the ancient Greek gods.

In celebration of our 30th year, Bob Sander will kick-off the evening with a story of his choice. He began pursuing a career as a storyteller at the same time that he co-founded Storytelling Arts of Indiana. Bob travels the state for Arts for Learning and is currently teaching an-eight week workshop on storytelling at the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville for us.

  • Saturday, April 28, 7-9 p.m.
  • Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center
  • $20/advance and $25/door
  • storytellingarts.org

Civic Theatre: Hairspray

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Civic Theatre’s “Hairspray”

The 1950s are out, and change is in the air! Hairspray is a family-friendly musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter, romance, and deliriously tuneful songs. It’s 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire: to dance on the popular Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network … all without denting her ‘do!

  • April 27-May 11, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; final Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • $24-$45
  • http://civictheatre.org

Renaissance: A Harlem Affair

The historic Madam Walker Legacy Center and the Langston Hughes Family Museum presents Renaissance: A Harlem Affair, an evening of the arts celebrating the achievements of Indiana artists. Dress in your favorite vintage attire from the 1920s and 1930s and prepare for an unforgettable experience. Dive headfirst into a living art installation featuring interactive 3D projection mapping coupled with talented actors, dancers, musicians, and poets interpreting the long-lasting impact and importance of the Harlem Renaissance.

Phoenix Theatre: From Ashes, They Rise

It’s time to celebrate the amazing 35-year history of Phoenix Theatre and launch into the spectacular new Cultural Centre with style. A short presentation of memories at the old building precedes a procession down the Cultural Trail to the new facility. Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce will perform a ribbon-cutting ceremony. A short presentation in the new building will reveal the company’s hopes and dreams for the new Cultural Centre of Indianapolis.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/9

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Lillian Baxter & Friends We Enjoy Being a Girl

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Lillian Baxter at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Ed Stewart.

John Vessels as Hollywood’s favorite has-been makes her way to Carmel to celebrate the fairer sex. Joined by some old friends, Lillian Baxter takes you on a musical tour of womanhood. You’ll see women at work, in love, out of love, on the verge, sisters, mothers, and daughters all making their way through the hectic modern world of 1976. Big dreams and big hair are on parade as Lillian Baxter & Friends put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll call your mom at intermission.

IndyFringe’s OnyxFest: Jabberwocky: 50 Years Later

Read Dan Grossman’s interview in NUVO with Billie Breaux here.

  • Tuesday, March 13, doors 5 p.m., event, 5:30 p.m.
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair St., Indianapolis
  • Free, RSVP at IndyFringe.org

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Appoggiatura

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“Appoggiatura” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

A Venetian escapade by IRT playwright-in-residence James Still. A trip to Venice brings love, loss, pain, and joy to three weary travelers in search of healing and happiness. Hearts leap, time bends, and the floating city works its wonders in this magical play filled with music and amore.

  • March 7-31; days and times vary, so check the IRT website for a full schedule
  • Tickets start at $25
  • Recommended for patrons ninth grade and older
  • irtlive.com

Phoenix Theatre: Fairfield

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“Fairfield” at the Phoenix Theatre. Photo by Zach Rosing.

Fairfield Elementary is a progressive, integrated school in a progressive, integrated community where Black History Month goes horribly, horribly wrong. One bad role-playing exercise by an over-eager first grade teacher and suddenly black and white parents, principals, superintendents, and teachers are fighting for their educational lives and to just reach the “CelebrEthnic Potluck” on Feb. 28 in one piece. This twisted comedy will have you laughing so hard you cry while raising poignant questions about the world and the manner in which we are raising our youth.

This will be the Phoenix’s last production at their current location!

  • March 8-April 1; Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $20-$33. Thursday, March 8 is preview night; tickets are only $20.
  • www.phoenixtheatre.org

The Alley Theatre: Hamlet

Yeah, these guys are kinda hard to find show info on. So here:

Hamlet

  • Anderson Center for the Arts (the Carnegie Building), 925 Jackson St., Anderson
  • March 9-10 at 7:30 p.m. and March 11 at 3 p.m.
  • $10; Tickets must be purchased in person at the time of the production at the theater. Cash and checks accepted.
  • 765-643-6957, 765-643-0701
  • www.thealleytheatre.com

Broadway in Indianapolis: Les Miserables

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 1/26

Carmel Community Players: Other Desert Cities

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Carmel Community Players: “Other Desert Cities”

The play’s events occur around Christmas Eve 2004, when the family of Polly and Lyman Wyeth gather in Palm Springs, California. Their daughter Brooke Wyeth returns home after six years in New York writing magazine pieces. Polly’s sister Silda is also visiting, out of a time spent in rehab. Polly and Lyman are Republicans, while Silda is a liberal who has fallen into alcoholism. The sisters co-wrote a series of MGM comedies in the 1960s but have since become estranged, chiefly due to Silda’s resenting Polly for shifting social worldviews over time. Brooke announces and presents to her family a memoir recounting a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history. During the course of the story, Brooke experiences bitter conflict between her yearning for independent understanding and reliance and her parents’ doting yet secretive motives towards her. During this, she also comes to terms with her family’s sorrowing frustration in dealing with her post-divorce depressive episode.

  • Preview Thursday, Jan. 25′ official opening night Friday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Through Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays
  •  $16; $14 seniors and students
  • carmelplayers.org

Buck Creek Players: The Rink

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Buck Creek Players: “The Rink.” Photo by photoGary.net.

The Indianapolis premiere of the musical from the composers of Chicago and Cabaret. This innovative musical is set on the ragged fringe of the New York show-biz world. Anna Antonelli’s roller rink is about to be demolished, and with it Anna’s sour memories of her husband and her painfully shy daughter Angel. The rink becomes an arena in which mother and daughter examine their personal journey through past, present, and future as real-life mother/daughter duo Georgeanna Teipen and Miranda Nehrig star in the roles originated by Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli in the original Broadway production.

  • Jan. 26-Feb. 11, Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $20; $18 students and seniors
  • Recommended for ages 13+
  • www.buckcreekplayers.com

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Romeo and Juliet

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“Romeo and Juliet” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

IRT presents a contemporary staging of Shakespeare’s beloved classic. This timeless and timely tale of young love struggling to survive amid old hatreds is as vibrant as ever, speaking boldly across the centuries to the divided world we live in today.

  • Jan. 27-March 4
  • Tickets $25-$60
  • Save $10 when you book tickets using promo code VERONA1. Valid through Feb. 10 on individual seats priced $35 and higher.
  • Opening night Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.: Immediately following the performance, join cast, staff, and patrons in the lobby for appetizers and a celebratory champagne toast. Afterwards, join IRT staff on stage to explore the set and connect with the artisans who bring it to life.
  • Post-Show Discussion Jan. 27-March 4: Immediately following each performance. Join IRT staff and cast for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics including Shakespeare, history of the IRT, the production’s design elements, and more.  Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.
  • Valentine’s Day: This special one-time offer includes two tickets, two beverages of your choice (each valued up to $7), and sweet treats from DeBrand Fine Chocolates  for only $60. To book this deal, contact the IRT Ticket Office at 317-635-5252 or book online using promo code RJLOVE.
  • irtlive.com

Actors Theatre of Indiana: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

The show centers on a fictional middle school spelling bee where six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally quirky grown-ups. The 2005 Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book.

  • Feb. 2-18, Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (discounted ticket rate of $25), Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $45; $39 for seniors; $20 for students
  • The Studio Theater
  • ATIstage.org

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: “That This Nation Might Live: The Civil War Letters of Captain David Beem”

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Storytelling Arts of Indiana:n D. Paul Thomas

A Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories premiere told by D. Paul Thomas The premiere of the story commissioned by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana Historical Society ties in with the You Are There 1863: Letter Home from Gettysburg so come early and experience the exhibit before the story at 8 p.m.

Drawing from the 192 letters that Captain David Enoch Beem of the 14th Indiana Volunteer Regiment sent home to his wife, Mahala, in Spencer, Indiana, D. Paul Thomas brings Captain Beem’s story to life in a stirring, one-person performance. While giving us a stunning, first-hand account of some of the greatest battles of the Civil War, Mr. Thomas reveals both the triumphs and misfortunes of Captain Beem’s life – a life of extraordinary courage, faith and steadfast duty to one’s country.

  • Friday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m.
  • Indiana History Center
  • $15 in advance; $20 at the door
  • Reception immediately following the story with D. Paul Thomas
  • http://storytellingarts.org/

Longshot Theater: The 24-Hour Playhouse

A show in which several ten-minute plays are written, rehearsed, and then performed for you all within 24 hours. Actors submit a photo of themselves in a costume of their choosing with one prop of their choosing. Photos of the actors are randomly distributed to each writer at 8 p.m. on Friday. Each writer has 12 hours to write a ten-minute play. Actors and directors then rehearse from 8 a.m. Saturday up until show time at 8 p.m.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 12/8

Apologies. I am late with the first and second event. They opened tonight (Thursday), but you have another chance to see them!

NoExit Performance: Drosselmeyer’s XXX-Mas Cabaret

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NoExit Performance: “Drosselmeyer’s XXX-Mas Cabaret”

Cozy up with NoExit Performance’s Wolfgang Drosselmeyer (Ryan Mullins) while he shacks up at the White Rabbit Cabaret to cram more holiday shebang into one crazy night than you ever thought possible. Joined by a slew of local and fictional guests, celebrate both time-honored customs and mildly offensive rip-offs. Belly up to the bar and enjoy a crazy concoction of magic, puppetry, (possibly topless) dancing, and all the things that remind us of what’s most important this time of year: SELF GRATIFICATION.

  • Dec. 7-8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • $20; $15 for student, senior, and artist
  • White Rabbit Cabaret
  • Tickets

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Completely Christmas, Memories, Mistletoe & Manger Included

Don Farrell and MaryJayne Waddell return to the Studio Theater stage with new songs to tickle your funny bone and warm your hearts as you celebrate the 2017 Christmas season!

  • Dec. 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.
  • $35; $20 students
  • The Studio Theater
  • http://atistage.org/

I’m Too Fat For This Show

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“I’m Too Fat For This Show” at IndyFringe

In this shockingly hilarious and brutally honest solo performance, actor/writer Kate Huffman (Fresh Off the Boat) guides audiences through two decades of living with an OCD-instilled eating disorder that requires her to live by a strict set of rules and rituals rooted in numbers and eternal body hatred. Charm, wit, and self-deprecation entice the audience through the journey of a young girl who stumbles upon a life-long, nihilistic imaginary friend. Huffman utilizes biting precision and enchanting levity with every character she presents along her embattled journey. The show takes one woman’s struggle and turns it into a universal comedy that not only connects audiences to their shared common core of human suffering but enlightens them with the science behind developmental brain chemistry. It presents an opportunity for all people with obsessions, neuroticism, or overwhelmingly negative self-talk to laugh at themselves.

  • Friday Dec 8-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 4 and 7 p.m.
  • $15; $12 students/seniors
  • IndyFringe
  • Tickets

Defiance Comedy: The North Wing: A Holiday Musical

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Defiance Comedy: “The North Wing: A Holiday Musical”

Cutthroat advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a holiday. Meet the major behind-the-scenes players who support the big guy and do whatever it takes to make Christmas happen.

  • Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 8-16 at 8 p.m.
  • $15 online; $20 at door
  • IndyFringe
  • Tickets

Freetown Village Celebrates Christmas

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“Freetown Village Celebrates Christmas”

The year is 1870 and the residents are getting ready to celebrate Christmas … or are they? As the Christmas holiday has gained in popularity in recent years, some of the townspeople are not so eager to embrace the new commercialized influences to their traditional celebration. Will the Christmas planning committee be able to reconcile the differences and raise money for the festivities? The show promises to inspire as it explores the significance of family and cultural traditions during this holiday season. Set in an African American community, the play celebrates the richness of community, the spirit of giving, and the preservation of family traditions.

  • Dec. 9 at 2 and 7 p.m.
  • $12 advance; $15 at the door
  • Scott UMC, 2153 Dr. Andrew J. Brown Ave.
  • www.freetownvillage.org

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas buy one ticket and get one free!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/24

 

 

The anti-holiday show:

Footlite Musicals: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” at Footlite Musicals

An exuberant and bawdy musical comedy based on the true story of a legendary Texas brothel known as the Chicken Ranch, which operated from the 1840s to 1973. Protected by a friendly sheriff and frequented by politicians, football teams, and others, girls came from all over to work and make a little extra money there. However, when a crusading Houston radio commentator and his conservative audience exposed the ranch, it was forced to close down forever. The show weaves elements of country music and a story full of stereotypes that pulls at the heartstrings from a time gone by.

  • Nov. 24-Dec. 10, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; youth (17 and under) $15. The first Sunday matinee and all Thursday performances are only $10 each.
  • www.footlite.org

 

Actors Theatre of Indiana: A Year with Frog and Toad: The Musical

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Actors Theatre of Indiana presents “A Year with Frog and Toad: The Musical”

True to the heart of the book series, the show is a story of a friendship that endures four fun-filled seasons. It bubbles with beautiful melody and wit, making it an inventive, exuberant, and enchanting musical for ages 4 to 104!

  • Nov. 25-26, 1 and 4:30 p.m.
  • $25; student seats (18 and under) $17.50
  • atistage.org

Broadway Across America: A Christmas Story: The Musical

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Broadway Across America: “A Christmas Story: The Musical”

You know what this is about. THE LAMP. ~LGM

  • Nov. 28 to Dec. 3
  • $28-$98; Family Night offer: 1/2 Off tickets Tuesday and Wednesday nights (in some sections) Nov. 28-29. Use code: FAMILY.
  •  Old National Centre
  • http://bit.ly/2hSgsW8

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre: 25th Anniversary A Beef & Boards Christmas

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Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre: “25th Anniversary: A Beef & Boards Christmas”

Filled with holiday cheer, A Beef & Boards Christmas is a perfect musical outing for the entire family. After this year’s production, the show is going on a hiatus. Join Santa and his friends for one more spirited holiday production before the show wraps up indefinitely.

Phoenix Theatre: A Very Phoenix Xmas 12: Up to Snow Good

There is never any telling what will happen in these variety shows. Be prepared. ~LGM

 

Civic Theatre ticket sale

Black Friday through Cyber Monday, get a free ticket to Sense and Sensibility when you buy two or more tickets to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/3

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing

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Actors Theatre of Indiana: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “A Grand Night for Singing.” Ed Stewart Photography.

Over three decades after the duo’s final collaboration, this show took the Great White Way by storm; it was in fact this new R&H musical that opened the 1994 Broadway season with flair and distinction, garnering wildly enthusiastic notices as well as earning two Tony nominations, including Best Musical! A Grand Night for Singing pays homage to their remarkable body of work in a musical revue featuring over 25 legendary songs including “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,”  “Honeybun,” and “Kansas City” to name just a few.

  • Nov. 3-19; Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • The Studio Theater, 4 Center Green, Carmel
  • Talkback series, “UNPLUGGED” features the cast immediately following the Sunday, Nov. 12 performance
  • $45-$43 adults; $39-$37 seniors; $20 students; Wednesdays $25 for all adults
  • atistage.org

Approxima Productions: In the Family Way

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Approxima Productions: “In the Family Way”

The inaugural production of this new company is also the the world premiere for the show! Set in the late 1980s, the show revolves around loving couple Andrew and Marc.  After being together for 10 years, they have decided to adopt a child only to find continual rejection by both the state and private adoption services. After much soul-searching, they beg Andrew’s twin sister Lainie to surrogate for them, with Marc as the biological father.  Lainie, while a successful career woman and mother of two, has made a habit of taking care of  her twin.  Although she is dealing with a painful divorce and has no desire to be pregnant again, she reluctantly agrees.  Issues arise soon after Lainie gets pregnant and set up a domino effect leading each of them to face the difficult reality of determining what they are willing to sacrifice to get what they truly want.

Epilogue Players: Tribute

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Epilogue Players: “Tribute”

An aging entertainer, after finding out he is very ill, tries to repair his relationship with his son. A skillful blend of comedy and pathos.

NoExit: 1984

In the all-too-possible future, cheap entertainment and public displays of hate keep the proles ignorant but content despite a never-ending war, all under the government’s watchful eye. Winston Smith rewrites history for the Ministry of Truth, but when he’s handed a note from a woman he hardly knows that simply says “I love you,” he decides to risk everything in search of the real truth. Can he possibly hold onto what he feels inside? Or will he renounce everything, accept the Party’s reality, and learn to love Big Brother? An immersive performance in a non-traditional venue, audiences will travel through the space, seating options available throughout. Some material may not be suitable for children under 15.

  • November 3-18
  • $25; student/senior $18; Industry Night (Nov. 9) $12.50
  • Ministry Headquarters, 1336 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46202
  • There is limited parking in an adjacent lot and additional street parking on Oriental Street
  • www.noexitperformance.org

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Liza Hyatt

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Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Liza Hyatt

Drawing from family history records, Hyatt creates a story that describes the lives of her Irish immigrant great-great grandmothers for the Frank Basile Emerging Stories premiere. Related to this project is the release of her book, Once, There was a Canal, published by Chatter House Press, 2017. Liza tells the story of her great-great- grandparents Daniel Heffernan and Catherine Meehan on her father’s side using the art of poetry. Once, There was a Canal will be available for purchase immediately following her performance.

Jewish Community Center: The Juniper Tree

Juniper-TreeThis one-woman play performed by Susan Bennett and written by Timothy Taylor is a moving and compelling story delving into the secret pain that is often just under the surface of family relationships. The story is set in Indianapolis, 1968. Three generations of women in a Jewish-American family look back on the first decades of the twentieth century, and struggle with the signs and ghosts of the past. Racism, prejudice, anger, and fear have threatened to destroy them, but bonds can never be broken. The Juniper Tree premiered at IndyFringe Festival 2016. Following the play, the audience is invited to join in a discussion with Bennett and Taylor.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

“La Cage aux Folles” at Actors Theatre of Indiana (5 stars)

Bill Book as Georges and Don Farrell as Zaza- photo credit - Zach Rosing
Bill Book (left) and Don Farrell in “La Cage aux Folles” at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Zach Rosing.

The original 1983 Broadway production of La Cage aux Folles is based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret. (The title translates to “the cage of mad women,” but folles is also slang for queens). However, audiences may be more familiar with the American film adaptation, 1996’s The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Play or film, the premise is the same: Georges is the manager of a drag-show nightclub in which Albin, his life partner, is the star. Georges’s biological son, Jean-Michel, is engaged, and his fiancée and her parents are coming to meet the prospective in-laws. However, Anne’s parents are freakishly conservative, her father being a spearhead against the kind of entertainment the gay couple runs. Jean-Michel is in a tizzy to cover up his home life and unconventional parents. In this quest, he requests that Albin, who is roaringly effeminate, not participate in the visit. This is disturbing (and offensive) because Albin is the only mother Jean-Michel has ever known. When Jean-Michel’s birth mother blows off the meeting, as she has been wont to do her son’s entire life, Albin steps in, trying to portray the typical mother and wife. Farce ensues.

I have included this rather long synopsis because at Friday night’s performance, a couple different people left at intermission with aghast looks on their faces. Really, people, before you drop that kind of cash you should know what you are getting into. Interestingly, the mostly elderly crowd was not part of the ones offended.

Michael Humphrey, Greg Grimes, Tim Hunt, Kenny Shepard and Don Farrell - photo credit - Zach Rosing
“La Cage aux Folles” at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Zach Rosing.

The Tony Award-winning musical has a book by Harvey Fierstein (also a Tony winning actor and for the books of Kinky Boots and Torch Song Trilogy) and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame). The cast of Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production, under the direction of Larry Raben and musical director Levi Burke, puts on a spectacular show. Leads Bill Book (Georges) and Don Farrell (Albin, stage name ZaZa) are completely entertaining as well as endearingly sweet as a couple. Both execute their numbers powerfully and emotionally. (The show is credit to the acting prowess of Farrell if you remember his awe-inducing main character in ATI’s Sweeny Todd last year. You can’t get more of a 180 character-wise.)

Daniel Klingler as Jacob - photo credit - Zach Rosing
 Daniel Klingler in “La Cage aux Folles” at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Zach Rosing.

They are backed by their talented cabaret singers and dancers, Greg Grimes, Michael Humphrey, Tim Hunt (excellent high note, by the way), and Kenny Shepard. They create adorable drag queens with fun choreography by Carol Worcel. (The bizarre bird number is hysterical.) Also highly comical and campy are the flamboyant Daniel Klingler as Albin’s “maid,” Jacob, and John Vessels, as Francis, the slightly intimidated but equally gay stage manager. Judy Fitzgerald, as the aggressive Jacqueline, dominates the stage in her short moments on it.

Sean Haynes as Jean-Michel portrays the insecurity of a conflicted youth, and Devan Mathias, as Anne, is his tenderhearted but strong-willed fiancée. The also brief roles of Ken Klingenmeir and MaryJayne Waddell as Anne’s parents, the Dindons, play their roles well and give the audience a good laugh at their expense.

Good stuff here. Highly recommended.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/15

La Cage aux Folles at Actors Theatre of Indiana

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“La Cage aux Folles” at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Jason Gaskins.

Based on the 1973 French play of the same name, the musical focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges’s son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancée’s ultra-conservative parents to meet them.

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 1, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $20-$45
  • The Studio Theater at The Center For The Performing Arts
  • atistage.org or 317-843-3800

 

Curse of an Aching Heart at Mud Creek Players

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“The Curse of an Aching Heart” at Mud Creek Players

Come laugh during this hilarious melodrama, and throw free popcorn at the villains! This modern treatment of an old melodrama will have folks hissing, booing, and applauding. The sweet heroine is Melody Lane, a self-educated and lovely orphan who falls into the hands of scoundrel Windermere Hightower. After Melody and the villain are married, he tells her that he expects her to carry out his criminal schemes. Revolted, she flees, a wife in name only. Several months later she is at the None Such ranch where she falls in love with stalwart Lucius Goodenough. When Windermere appears at the ranch, Melody is appalled. He tries to force his attentions on her and Lucius knocks him down. For revenge, Winderemere steals money and plants it on Lucius. His dirty work is discovered and he is unmasked but he gets away and returns to the ranch disguised as a peddler. And once again the virtuous heroine is rescued by guess who?

  • Opens Thursday, Sept. 14 with a Pay What You Want preview night
  • Sept. 14-Sept. 30
  •  $15 per person; $13 Sunday matinee
  • http://www.mudcreekplayers.org

The Comedy Magic of Oscar Munoz

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Oscar Munoz at IndyFringe

An old-world magic show introduced to comedy. It’s an explosion of magic and satire. Oscar is known for his work within the Texas education system with an emphasis on anti-bullying messages and technique. It’s not just a magic show, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone in the family.

  • Saturday, Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. fundraiser for Center for Inquiry
  • Saturday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. fundraiser for  Fringe Against Hate with Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
  • $25
  • IndyFringe theater
  • indyfringe.org

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Indiana Repertory Theatre

The Tony Award–winning stage version of the best-selling novel. When a teenage math savant investigates a puzzling neighborhood occurrence, he begins an extraordinary journey that takes him places he has never been—and you have never imagined. This staging follows a highly successful Broadway run that resulted in five Tony Awards including Best Play.

  • Sept. 19-Oct. 14
  • $20-$75
  • Friday, Sept. 22, performance at 7:30 p.m. Opening Night: Join the IRT for opening night and experience the theater like you never have before! Immediately following this performance join cast, staff, and patrons in the lobby for appetizers and a celebratory champagne toast. Afterwards, explore the set and connect with the artisans who bring the set to life.
  • Saturday, Sep. 30, performance at 1 p.m. Sensory Friendly Performance: IRT will be hosting a sensory friendly performance including a variety of accommodations designed to help patrons with sensory issues experience an IRT performance.
  • Saturday, Sept. 30, performance at 5 p.m. Backstage Tour: Immediately following this performance, join IRT staff for an exploratory and informative backstage tour. Tours typically list 30 minutes.
  • Sunday, Oct. 1, performance at 2 p.m. IRTea Talk & ASL/AD: This post-show discussion is paired with tea and cookies and takes place immediately following the performance. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes. Dr. Carl Sundberg, Chief Clinician at the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism and Cecilia Coble, Fishers City Councilor At-Large, are both honored to be on the panel. Dr. Sundberg received his doctorate degree in ABA from Western Michigan University and has over 30 years of experience using behavioral interventions to teach individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Ms. Coble, having a daughter with autism, has experience in being a community activist and volunteer in organizations such as the Fisher’s ADA Citizen’s Advisory Task Force.
  • Thursday, Oct. 5, performance at 2 p.m. Cookies & Coffee and Post-Show Discussion: Coffee, tea, and cookies can be enjoyed before this matinee performance. Doors open at 1 p.m. Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10, performance at 6:30 p.m. Happy Hour: Enjoy complimentary appetizers from Happy Hour series sponsor Weber Grill. New Day Craft, Hotel Tango, Taxman Brewing Co., St. Joseph Brewery, TwoDEEP, and Tastings will also be on site for patrons to sample local libations. Half-price drinks will be available throughout the performance.  Happy hour starts at 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 12, performance at 7:30 p.m. Post-Show Discussion: Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.
  • http://www.irtlive.com

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IndyProv at The Cat. squareup.com/store/indyprov/

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Beyond the Rainbow” at Actors Theatre of Indiana (5 stars)

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“Beyond the Rainbow” at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Photo by Zach Rosing.

It’s 1961, and Judy Garland is onstage for her Carnegie Hall comeback concert. As if she is seeing her life pass before her, memories of pivotal events take shape around her. She is not the only one on stage during that concert—her ghosts are playing supporting roles. At this moment, she is 38; in only nine years, she will succumb to a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.

Just as Judy Garland’s life had been punctuated by demands, Beyond the Rainbow uses Garland’s showstoppers as ellipses, setting off the scenes when Garland’s life changed—most often, without her making the decision.

Katy Gentry, as the adult Garland, is magnificent in sound and situation. While completely in control musically, her commentary allows the audience just a vague sensation of Garland’s emotional tumult. As we see through scene after scene, Garland is broken inside, the victim of too many people trying to dictate her life. But she is the consummate performer. The show must go on.

Equally stunning is Annie Yokom as Judy from late teens to late 20s. Yokom has the added benefit of getting to showcase her acting skills in more traditional storytelling as she interacts with supporting cast members (Grace Sell, Dave Ruark, and Roger Ortman, who demonstrate their own superlative finesse by portraying many different yet distinct characters). Yokom reflects the maturing Judy in a striking way, and the audience sees what a firecracker Judy was at that age.

Anjali Rooney portrays Young Judy, and she is adorable for the relatively short time she is onstage.

The setup in the black-box theater is brilliant. Gentry is front and center, as a concert performer would be, while flashbacks have their own space to develop around her—unless they come in for a more personal look … or conversation. The backdrop is a mesh screen, allowing a muted view of the spectacularly talented onstage band (John Bronston, Greg Gegogeine, Steve Stickler, and Greg Wolff) as well as some dreamlike sequences of the show.

Don Farrell has directed another show to add to Actors Theater of Indiana’s recent roster of hits.

  • April 28-May 14; Wednesday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43; seniors $37; students $20 (with valid student I.D.); Wednesdays all seats are $25
  • http://atistage.org/

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Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/28

Theatre on the Square opens “MF*er with the Hat”

mfkrStruggling with addiction, love, friendship and the responsibilities of being an adult are at the center of MF*er With The Hat.

Jackie, a petty drug dealer just out of prison, is trying to stay clean. He is still in love with his childhood sweetheart, Veronica, who is addicted to cocaine and alcohol. His sponsor in AA is Ralph D., who has his own somewhat misguided and comedic interpretation of “the big book.” Ralph’s wife, Victoria, is bitter about her marriage and has the hots for Jackie. Jackie has a code of behavior that his cousin, Julio, a stand-up guy, is eager to help him enforce.

As complications around addiction and recovery ensue, we see each character’s true colors emerge in humorous and heartbreaking fashion.

  • April 28-May 13; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
  • $25/$20 for students/seniors/military.
  • Use coupon code HAT to get 25% off tickets for opening weekend
  • www.tots.org

Actors Theatre of Indiana opens “Beyond the Rainbow”

The time is April 23, 1961, when a 38-year old Judy Garland performed at Carnegie Hall in what the New York Times called “the concert of the century.” Set both on the stage of Carnegie Hall and in Garland’s mind, Beyond the Rainbow simultaneously treats its audience to the famed concert while telling the life story of one of Hollywood’s most unforgettable icons: a portrait of a child actor turned star who captivated the nation with her spectacular talent and tumultuous life. Featuring 24 of her hit songs including “The Man That Got Away,” “That’s Entertainment,” and “Get Happy” … just to name a few.

  • April 28-May 14; Wednesday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43; seniors $37; students $20 (with valid student I.D.); Wednesdays all seats are $25
  • http://atistage.org/

petrerpanBidding is open for Buck Creek Players’ Play-a-Part fundraiser: “Peter Pan”

All roles in this popular Broadway musical will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in an online silent auction. Roles begin at just $25, and there is no audition necessary! Just have the money in the bank and the availability of approximately five weeks to rehearse and perform the role of your dreams! http://www.buckcreekplayers.com.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the week/end of March 8

Presented at the Studio Theater at The Center For The Performing Arts

TONIGHT: Actors Theatre of Indiana presents Unscripted, an improvised musical comedy staring Ben Asaykwee, Cynthia Collins, Judy Fitzgerald, Paul Hansen, and Claire Wilcher and emceed by Ellen Kingston with accompaniment by Brent Marty. Full audience participation! You provide the content. The actors provide the laughs. See actors transform onstage into their characters as a story is woven together with help from the audience. Singing, dancing, costume changes, and wigs…all right before your eyes! Plus, the 2017-2018 season will be announced.

 

 

“Boeing Boeing” at the IRT

The Indiana Repertory Theatre‘s production of Boeing Boeing opens this weekend. A swanky Parisian bachelor pad sets the stage for a fun-filled performance where an infidelitous man finds out what can go wrong when he, along with three beautiful stewardesses, are in the right place at the wrong time. Check out the interview with Hillary Clemens and Matt Schwader!

  • March 10-April 2
  • $20-$75
  • Opening night March 10. Come dressed in your best 1960’s outfit and share a toast with the cast after the performance!
  • IRTea Talk | March 19, after the 2 p.m. performance
  • Happy Hour March 21, before the 6:30 p.m. performance
  • Backstage Tour March 24, after the 7:30 p.m. performance
  • Post-show Discussion March 26, after the 2 p.m. performance
  • Cookies & Coffee March 30, before the 2 p.m. performance
  • Recommended for patrons 9th grade and older. Boeing Boeing contains references to infidelity and mild sexual innuendo.

 

DivaFest 2017 from IndyFringe

DivaFest 2017 presented by IndyFringe develops and presents female voices, providing a supportive environment where they can hone their craft and exploring new writers, works, and performing companies, while leaving enough room for established playwrights to foster mentoring relationships. The goal is to grow Indiana as a center for female playwrights and encourage the public to support them by buying tickets, watching shows, and sharing their thoughts with friends in person or on social media. Through the juried process, the best six submitted shows will be presented at the festival.

  • March 10-12 & March 17-19
  • $18; $13 seniors/student
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre and Indy Eleven Theatre

 

“Rock of Ages” at Theatre on the Square

Theatre on the Square presents Rock of Ages: In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl met a big city rocker — and in LA’s most famous rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the eighties. Rock of Ages is an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, and many more.

  • March 10-April 1
  • $25; $20 student/senior

 

 

“Belle” by XYZ

XYZ, a youth theater company led by Grace Cullin and Jaytel Provence, students of Young Actors Theatre, presents Belle. The show follows the story of an orphaned girl and how she copes with the events of her past. Belle will have to learn to let go of what she has lost. Will she learn to move on or hold on to the past and destroy herself?

  • Big Car, 2628 Shelby St, Indianapolis, IN 46203
  • March 9-11, 7 p.m.
  • $12; $9 under 18
  • Recommended for ages 11+

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Preview for the weekend of Jan. 27, 2017

NUVO doesn’t have me slated for any reviewing this weekend, so instead I am passing on some openings for the weekend.

Actors Theatre of Indiana “It Shoulda Been You.” From their website:

isby_wedding_images-02-2A wild musical comedy with blushing brides, nervous grooms, overbearing moms, unexpected guests, and plenty of crazy twists and turns. In a world where nothing is what it seems, religions collide, Machiavellian plots are revealed, promises broken, secrets exposed, and hope springs from the most unlikely of places. Is it the latest conflict in the Middle East? No, it’s just the Steinberg wedding. The charming, funny and original NEW MUSICAL “It Shoulda Been You” invites you to a wedding day you’ll never forget, where anything that can go wrong does and love pops up in mysterious places. The bride is Jewish. The groom is Catholic. Her mother is a force of nature. His mother is a tempest in a cocktail shaker.
And…when the bride’s ex-boyfriend crashes the party, the perfect wedding starts to unravel faster than you can whistle “Here Comes the Bride!” Plots are hatched, pacts are made, secrets are exposed – and the sister of the bride is left to turn a tangled mess into happily ever after in this musical comedy for anyone with parents.

The show runs Friday, January 27 through Sunday, February 12. Performances are Wednesdays at 7:30pm (discounted ticket rate of $25.00), Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm in The Studio Theater, 4 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032.

A Talkback series, “UNPLUGGED” (sponsored by Sun King Brewing Company) featuring the cast/artistic staff immediately follows the Sunday, February 5, 2:00pm performance, moderated by FOX 59 personality, Sherman Burdette.  Single ticket prices are $43.00 for adults, $37.00 for seniors, $20.00 for students (with valid student I.D.) and Wednesday evening performances are $25.00 for all adults. Tickets may be purchased online, atistage.org.

Buck Creek Players  “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” From their press release:

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“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at Buck Creek Players

“How can anything go wrong on a day like this?” asks Charlie Brown. The show answers this question and many more, as Lucy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder, Snoopy, and Woodstock  join the fun of “a day in the life of Charlie Brown.” Full of music, humor, and insight, the stage musical tackles childhood’s memorable moments that made Schulz’s Peanuts characters a part of all our lives.

Fridays and Saturdays, January 27, 28; February 3, 4, 10 & 11 at 8 p.m.

Sundays, January 29; February 5 & 12 at 2:30 p.m.

$20 for adults; $18 for children & students (through college); $18 for senior citizens (aged 62 or older); Tickets may be purchased online, www.buckcreekplayers.com.

Indiana Repertory Theatre “The Cay.” From their website:

thecay
“The Cay” at the IRT

Amid the dangers of World War II, a privileged young white boy and a resourceful old black man are marooned on a tiny island in the Caribbean. Adapted from the award-winning children’s novel, “The Cay” tells a story of overcoming both hardship and prejudice, reminding us that friendship has no boundaries.

January 28-February 26; tickets are $25-$35; Tickets may be purchased online, www.irtlive.com.

Opening Night gala 1/28/2017 at 6 PM

Post-Show Discussions
1/28/2017 at 2 PM; 2/3/2017 at 7 PM; 2/4/2017 at 2 PM; 2/4/2017 at 6 PM; 2/10/2017 at 7 PM; 2/11/2017 at 2 PM; 2/11/2017 at 6 PM; 2/18/2017 at 2 PM; 2/18/2017 at 6 PM; 2/25/2017 at 2 PM; 2/25/2017 at 6 PM; and 2/26/2017 at 2 PM

“Calder: The Musical” at the Indyfringe Basile Theatre. From nuvo.net:

calder-the-musicalPresented by Klein and Alvarez LLC. “Calder, The Musical” celebrates the life of American artist Alexander “Sandy” Calder, the inventor of the mobile. An uplifting homage, the original musical brings Calder’s art to life and captures his essence through a whimsical theatrical experience of drama, music, dance, and visual art.

January 27-February 12, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. $20 adult/$15 senior/student/$12 under 12 years age. Call 317-522-8099 or go to http://www.indyfringe.org/

Continuing this weekend

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” at the IRT

“How to Use a Knife” at the Phoenix Theatre. From the website:

howtouseaknifeAmidst the chaos of a New York City restaurant, Chef George is trying to turn his life around. As he struggles to stay sober, he must also contend with two spirited Guatemalan line-cooks, a pot-smoking busboy, an eerily quiet African dishwasher, and, of course, hungry patrons. But now immigration authorities are knocking at the door and it becomes apparent to George that his life isn’t the only one he holds in his hands.

Second Sundays returns THIS Sunday,  January 29!  Stay after the performance, have a beer (compliments of Sun King Brewery), and chat with “How to Use a Knife” cast members Rob Johansen and Tommy Lewey.

During the entire run of “How to Use a Knife,” Phoenix Theatre will accept donations of unopened spices at the Box Office for Second Helpings.

Continues through February 12, Thursday, 7 pm and Sunday, 2 pm, $27 and Friday and Saturday, 8 pm, $33. Tickets are available online at www.phoenixtheatre.org.

“Little Shop of Horrors” at Footlite Musicals. From the website:

horrors
“Little Shop of Horrors” at Footlite Musicals

Welcome to Skid Row and Mushnik’s Flower shop where a meek shop clerk named Seymour Krelborn is tired of life in the gutter and dreams of fame, fortune and love. His heart is set on a secret crush with a co-worker, Audrey, who is busy chasing her self-work through the wrong men, especially a sadistic dentist. In his quest for something better, Seymour finds and cares for a strange plant that he names Audrey II. The mysterious plant has devious dreams of its own, and promises Seymour whatever his heart wants if he only ‘feeds the plant’. This hilarious, campy, dark comedy with a science fiction twist is directed by Maria Matters.

Through January 29, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Admission is $23 for adults and $15 for youth (17 and younger). Tickets are available online at https://footlitemusicals.wildapricot.org/.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Cabaret” at Actors Theatre of Indiana (3.5 stars)

 

photo by Zach Rosing

Cabaret turns 50 this year, making it an advantageous time to revisit it—not to mention how its theme, impending political doom, sums up 2016. Actors Theatre of Indiana scales down the staging a bit for this production in its black-box studio located inside in the Carmel Performing Arts Center.

Directed by Billy Kimmel, the production gives the audience pretty much what it’s expecting: leather and lace, commentary on societal expectations, and the inevitability of catastrophe, all imbedded in well-known musical numbers.

Ben Asaykwee takes on the iconic role of the Emcee, whom he plays as less of a slightly disturbing pansexual and more as an escaped mental patient. His wild eyes seem to have been given the Clockwork Orange treatment. That aside, he performs admirably in both narrative and song, most often with his Kit Kat girls and boys: Nicole Bridgens, Jeneé Michelle, Ashley Saunders, Carol Worcel, Nicholas Roman, and Kenny Shepard with choreography by Carol Worcel.

ATI co-founder Cynthia Collins portrays a world-weary version of Sally Bowles—a Sally who can almost be pitied for her forced frivolity, fully knowing that her life is the joke and she’s on her way out. Collins’s rendition of “Maybe This Time” conveys this, as it lacks the actual hopefulness others have put into this song. While Collins is a strong vocalist, the overuse of audio effects though the sound system, especially in the above-mentioned song, detracts from her voice’s natural modulations.

Opposite Sally is Cliff Bradshaw, who is given a sincere, likable demeanor by Eric J. Olsen that is emphasized by his generous smile. (Though the question of his sexuality is played down considerably here.) He contrasts well with the very convincing Patrick Vaughn as Ernst Ludwig, whose affability is tempered by his matter-of-fact attitude toward Nazi politics.

Some of the most engaging performances are found in the supporting cast, which also includes Judy Fitzgerald as Fräulein Kost, Debra Babich as Fräulein Schneider, and Darrin Murrell as Herr Schultz. Babich and Murrell imbue true emotions into their so-sweet rendition of “It Couldn’t Please Me More” (the pineapple song).

The band (musical direction by John D. Phillips), on stage behind sliding screens, even gets in on the fun with some alternative costuming.

Do note that the show contains mature content and themes, and the ATI suggest that it is suitable for ages 16 years and older.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Sweeney Todd” by Actors Theatre of Indiana

4.5 stars

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been a Stephen Sondheim audience favorite since it premiered in 1979 and swept the Tony Awards. And for good reason. Setting aside any moral/social commentary that can be gleaned from it, the show has a dark but fascinating plot, bizarre characters, and intricate and exquisite music.

I could break out the superlatives to describe Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production, but the bottom line is, it’s excellent—probably one of if not the best I’ve ever seen, and since Sweeney is a popular musical staple, I have seen my fair share. ATI presents one amazing voice after another in its deliciously macabre production.

One element that sets this show apart is its location. The Studio Theater at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts resembles a black-box theater all grown up. From my vantage point in the front row, I had the disconcerting experience of actors being so close that I felt as if they were invading my personal space, which added to the surreal atmosphere. ATI maximizes its use of the small stage. One main set piece (scenic designer P. Bernard Killian) is multipurposed for every scene, embellished occasionally by a few chairs or tables.

Don Farrell as Todd is downright ghoulish (the white face and exaggerated black eye makeup completing the characterization thanks to makeup designer Daniel Klinger). His portrayal of the madman is only trumped by every one of his sublime musical numbers. Disturbing as Todd may be, when you examine character motivation, the one with the evil soul is the sociopathic Mrs. Lovett. Judy Fitzgerald plays a perfect foil for Farrell’s insanity: a cheerful, motherly, practical woman who, without breaking character, is ready to take out Toby (Caleb Wertz) immediately after their moving duet “Not While I’m Around.” Director Richard J. Roberts makes Lovett and Todd stark contrasts: one inherently evil and unaware of it; the other crazy and all too aware of it. This emphasizes that Lovett is, in fact, the villain, not Todd. Another inspired turn is the placement of Todd’s victims in the theater’s ceiling grating toward the end—another satisfyingly eerie touch.

Additional main cast members John Collins as Anthony, Paul Nicely as Judge Turpin, Craig Underwood as the Beadle, Elizabeth Hutson as Johanna, and John Vessels as Pirelli and the off-stage orchestra—and really, everyone both on and off stage whom I haven’t mentioned by name—exhibit their own virtuosity as well.

The only quibble I have, which made me take off half a star, is that only about half the cast uses accents. I believe in all or nothing. It’s a Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves thing.

You only have one more weekend to see this show. Go.