Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Civic Theatre: “Newsies”

Civic Theatre’s “Newsies”

Newsies, the Disney film turned stage musical, is a riot of exquisite choreography. The show was inspired by the New York City newsboys’ strike of 1899, and the adaptation captures the spirit of the boys’ (and girls’) determination to be paid a fair wage. It won four Tony Awards in 2012 for Alan Menken’s score and Christopher Gattelli’s choreography. Music director Brent Marty and choreographer Anne Beck make this community theater production just as musically and visually exciting.

Ensemble numbers are powerful explosions of these two elements, given heft by a huge cast showcasing both singing and dancing abilities. Director Susan Fleenor molded the cast into a cohesive unit.

Given the large cast, I won’t reprint the playbill here, but some names must be included in their outstanding performances, including leads Jake Letts as union leader Jack Kelley, his friend Crutchie played by David Cunningham, Ani Arzumanian as Jack’s love interest Katherine, and Steve Kruze as newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer.

The downside, except for the audio booms Saturday night? The plot is somewhat boring. I sometimes found myself glazing over between musical numbers. But if you are a fan of the movie, this will be a fulfilling retelling for you.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/26

The Phoenix Theatre: The Childrenseeyouthere

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” 

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

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!


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

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


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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Civic Theatre: “The Importance of Being Ernest”

Carrie A. Schlatter, Sabrina Duprey, Ethan Mathias, and Bradford Reilly in Civic’s “The Importance of Being Ernest.”

Michael J. Lasley and Parrish Williams have trimmed the Oscar Wilde play The Importance of Being Ernest into a fast-paced romp through Victorian England. All of Wilde’s sharp wit is intact, and Lasley, who directs, inserts some quirkiness into the already silly-fun show.

Matt Anderson, Carrie A. Schlatter, and Sabrina Duprey in Civic’s “The Importance of Being Ernest”

To sum up, John Worthing is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, who thinks his name is Ernest. To facilitate his comings and goings as he pleases, he is Ernest in London, but at his country home, he is John and has a fictional roguish brother Ernest. Gwendolen is adamant that the name Ernest is key to her love, so John is faced with procuring a hasty name change. John’s friend Algernon Moncrieff thinks marriage is a worthless institution and can’t understand why John is pursuing it. When “Algie” finds out that John has an 18-year-old ward in the country, he decides to investigate as John’s brother Ernest. There he meets Cecily Cardew and immediately decides he must marry her. However, Cecily has similar ideas regarding the name Ernest as Gwendolyn does, and so he too is faced with an imminent name change. There’s more, but this gets you started.

If all of this seems ridiculous, that’s because it’s supposed to be. The show’s subtitle is “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” But Wilde’s writing is so astute, and Lasley’s pacing keeps us focused on the language.

Ethan Mathias and Bradford Reilly in Civic’s “The Importance of Being Ernest”

Matt Anderson as Lane/Merriman, Bradford Reilly as Algernon, Ethan Mathias as John, Vickie Cornelius Phipps as Lady Bracknell, Carrie A. Schlatter as Gwendolyn, Sabrina Duprey as Cecily, Miki Mathioudakis as Miss Prism, and Craig Kemp as the Rev. Chasubtle. The cast is perfectly competent in their roles. During scene changes, Anderson directs the actors in moving set pieces by ringing a bell and he bops along to jazzed-up pop songs. A little stroke of brilliance there. Cornelius Phipps presents a supercilious Lady Bracknell, and Schlatter, as Bracknell’s daughter, is as entitled as a young lady of wealth would be. Duprey is a lovely if spacy Cecily.

Reilly is a quandary, however. He crosses the line from fop to effeminate in his affectations. Given his performance, it would not be a stretch to think he is in love with John and jealous of Gwendolyn, hence his anti-marriage attitude. His pursuit of Cecily could be a way of getting John’s attention. Given the ending, this could be a very hellish outcome for him. Wouldn’t that be a twist on the play? And was it really necessary for him to talk with his mouth full of cucumber sandwich?

Quibble aside, this is an excellent period piece for modern audiences.

  • March 22-April 6, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43


Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/22

seeyouthereCivic Theatre: The Importance of Being Ernest

Civic Theatre’s “The Importance of Being Ernest”

Although the play was written near the end of the 19th century, the message is still valid: a person’s name and heritage mean little; it’s what you make of yourself that counts. Two charming young ladies — sophisticated Gwendolen from the city and naive Cecily from the country — are in love with Earnest Worthing. But there is no such person as Earnest Worthing. Gwendolen thinks Jack is Earnest, and Cecily thinks Algy is Earnest. Each girl swears that she could never love a man who wasn’t named Earnest. In the midst of all this confusion comes Lady Bracknell, who doesn’t like the idea of anybody loving anybody. It sounds like a big mess, but Oscar Wilde unwinds this knotty affair into one of the favorite comedies of English literature.

  • March 22-April 6, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43

Garfield Shakespeare Company: Henry IV

Henry IV continues the tale of Henry Bolingbroke, crowned king with the help of the Percy family in Richard II. The Percies feel that their efforts and loyalty have not been recognized by the newly minted King Henry IV and seek revenge. The York family, in an ages-old feud with the Lancasters who now have the royal seat, also work to topple the king.

The Garfield Park Arts Center Main Gallery will be turned into a traditional English tavern. Friday and Saturday performances will even feature locally brewed beers provided by the Garfield Brewery.

seeyouthereStorytelling Arts of Indiana: “Silence: The Adventures of a Medieval Warrior Woman” told by Dolores Hydock 

Dolores Hydock

Originally written in the 13th century, “The Roman de Silence” is finally recovering its voice after more than 700 years of, well, silence. The very existence of the manuscript containing the poem was unknown to the scholarly world until 1911, when it was discovered in the manor of a British nobleman in a box marked “Old papers — No value,” together with letters from Henry VIII and other documents. The poem was edited for the first time in the 1960s and translated from original Old French into English in 1992. The author, Heldris of Cornwall, is otherwise unknown. In fact, this is probably a pseudonym, and it’s not clear if it was a man or a woman.
Hydock adapted the scholarly translation into a story for 21st century listeners and created the “crone” narrator. The musicians of PanHarmonium selected, arranged, and interpreted a wide range of early music to provide a musical setting and themes. “In her reliably remarkable style, Hydock tells a painful, poignant, humorous, and hopeful story of a girl raised as a boy for the sake of property rights,” wrote one reviewer of the piece. “Talk about theater of the mind — Hydock creates a whole countryside using nothing but her voice, a heavy drape, and a walking staff.”

  • Saturday, March 23, 7-9 p.m. 
  • Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center
  • $20

Stage to Screen Catered Cabaret: A Lil’ Bit of Country

Stage To Screen’s “A Lil’ Bit of Country”

A boot-scootin’, family friendly dinner and a show!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Civic Theatre: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Steve Kruze in Civic Theatre’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

As reclusive as Boo Radley is, To Kill a Mockingbird is as ubiquitous, being a favorite among theater-goers and school groups alike. Civic Theatre’s rendition is the quintessential live production, with all the heart that goes into Harper Lee’s classic story.

The adult Jean Louise (Michelle Wafford) narrates the story about her father Atticus’s (Steve Kruze) trial defense of a black man, Tom Robinson (Antoine Demmings), back when she was a little girl called Scout (Bridget Bingham) in 1935. She, her brother Jem (Dalyn Stewart), and out-of-town friend Dill (Ben Boyce) had been especially speculating on the hermit Boo Radley (Colby Rison) since his brother Nathan (also played by Rison) had returned to take care of him, and Scout had been finding small gifts in the knot of a tree that separated their property.

Bridget Bingham in Civic Theatre’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

That summer, Scout and Jem, and by extension Dill, learn a lot about the nature of people — the unseen things that make people more than a one-dimensional caricature — and what it means to do the right thing.

The large cast does a lovely job of bringing the townspeople of Maycomb, Alabama, to life. The children are charming, and Kruze effectively conveys both the fortitude and weariness of a man besieged by honor.

Emily Rogge Tzucker directs a show that brings the life-changing events home for the audience. The show is both shrewd and sympathetic as it reveals the best and worst of humanity.

  • Through Feb. 23, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. (except the last Saturday at 5 p.m.) and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43; $25 students


Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 2/8

Catalyst Repertory: Arcadefire! [The Redemption of Billy Mitchell]

The real Billy Mitchell at Tappers Arcade Bar before the 2018 Fringe premiere of “Arcadefire!”

This is an upgraded, full-length version of the IndyFringe Festival show from this past summer.

Friday’s lineup of events. Check the website for more throughout the show’s run.

Billy Mitchell, the 1982 Donkey Kong world-record holder and Video Game Player of the Century, had it all until a 2007 cult-classic documentary brought the public gamer back into the public eye. Years after the explosive premiere of King of Kong: Fist Full of Quarters, Billy faces a new challenge — the worst accusation a competitive gamer can face: They’re saying he cheated. When his scores are removed from the record boards and the “MAMEing” begins, it’s up to video gaming’s most polarizing figure to start dodging some barrels. Arcadefire! [The Redemption of Billy Mitchell] is a musical theater and gaming experience unlike any kill screen you’ve witnessed.

Saturday’s lineup of events. Check the website for more throughout the show’s run.

Level Up, along with Team Scorechasers and Videogamepalooza bring Play-Play POPcade (that’s an Arcadefire! Pop-Up Arcade) experience to Irvington at Level Up Lounge before and after every performance. Gaming contests, celebrity appearances, drinks, food, and the hot sauce will be flowing! The King of Kong, Bil  l Mitchell will return (with friends!) to Indy for opening weekend only! 

  • Feb. 8-17, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $20. This ticket allows you into ONLY the production Arcadefire! This ticket does not include access to extra events and meet & greets.
  • Tickets for Play-Play POPcade Passes are $35. These weekend passes allow you full access to the Level Up Gaming Lounge events and after-parties, as well as your entry for any desired tournaments and meet & greets. Team Scorechasers creator Sid Seattle will moderate fast-paced tournaments, while legendary gamers play and stream … for a good cause! (Find out more about supported charities through the website link below).
  • Historic Irvington Lodge
  • For a full schedule of events, tournaments, celebrity guests, and available game consoles visit

Civic Theatre: To Kill a Mockingbird

Scout, a young girl in a quiet Southern town, is about to experience dramatic events that will affect the rest of her life. She and her brother, Jem, are being raised by their widowed father, Atticus, and by a strong-minded housekeeper, Calpurnia. Wide-eyed Scout is fascinated with the sensitively revealed people of her small town, but, from the start, there’s a rumble of thunder just under the calm surface of the life there.

  • Feb. 8-23, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. (except the last Saturday at 5 p.m.) and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $43; $25 students

Beef & Boards: Grease

Welcome back to 1959 and Rydell High. Greaser Danny and new girl Sandy try to relive the romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through songs like “Greased Lightnin” and “We Go Together” in this rollicking musical!

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: “Come Sit on My Front Porch” featuring Josh Goforth 

Josh Goforth
Josh Goforth

Goforth was just a boy when he played the fiddle in the 2000 feature film Songcatcher. The movie, starring Aidan Quinn and Emmy Rossum, among other big names, is about a musicologist who stumbled upon the Scots-Irish ballads of Appalachia, beautiful and unadulterated, handed down  through generations of families  secluded by the mountains. The musicologist wants to share this “discovery” with the world but is met with resistance from musicians and singers who want to preserve their proud heritage. These are Josh Goforth’s people. You’ll hear their stories and songs at his show.

And don’t forget about the Indy Story Slam next Tuesday, 7 p.m. at IndyFringe with its theme of “The Agony & Ecstasy of Love.” Whether you’re feeling amorous or alone this Valentine’s, there’s a story for you. 

The Alley Theatre: Picnic

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play takes place on Labor Day Weekend in the joint backyards of two middle-aged widows. Flo Owens lives in one house with her two maturing daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder. Helen Potts lives with her elderly and invalid mother. Into this female atmosphere comes a young man whose animal vitality seriously upsets the entire group.

Buck Creek Players’ After the Fair ticket sale

Receive 25% off all tickets to the FINAL WEEKEND of the Indianapolis premiere musical  when using coupon code AFTER online at



Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Civic Theatre: “Anything Goes”

Civic Theatre’s “Anything Goes”

Hoosiers love their hometown heroes, and one of the best and most beloved is Cole Porter. With good reason. His infections tunes helped shape the sound of an era. Hence why his musicals continue to attract theaters and audiences some 80 years later. Songs from Anything Goes such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Let’s Misbehave,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” are ageless.

Susie Harloff and Parrish Williams in Civic’s “Anything Goes”

Civic Theatre’s production captures that signature Porter spirit, anchored by the indomitable Susie Harloff as Reno Sweeney. There are many good reasons to see Civic’s show, but Harloff is the top. Her stage presence and pro vocals are everything you would expect from the confident Sweeney.

Kari Baker is lovely as Hope Harcourt, though Juddson Updike is hit and miss as love interest Billy Crocker. Of course, Anything Goes is really more comedy than love story, and Matt Bays as the effusively effeminate Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and Parrish Williams as the goofy gangster Moonface Martin provide in spades. Natalie Cruz is a firecracker as Erma.

Anything Goes wouldn’t be complete without the tap number to the titular song, and again, Civic doesn’t disappoint.

Everything comes together here — direction (Michael Lasley), choreography (Anne Beck), lighting (Ryan Koharchik), and music (Brent Marty) — to make this a delightful and de-lovely staging of a classic musical.

  • Through Oct. 27, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25-$48


Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 10/12

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Ghost Stories at Crown Hill

Celestine Bloomfield
Celestine Bloomfield at Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Ghost Stories at Crown Hill

The Halloween season has arrived!

Spooky stories will be told by Deborah Asante, Celestine Bloomfield, Doyne Carson, Lisa Champelli, David Matlack, Sally Perkins, and Bob Sander. Get ready for an evening of chilling tales told in one of Indianapolis’s most somber settings when Crown Hill Cemetery opens its gates for this annual celebration. Indiana storytellers take the stage among the tombstones, all sharing their eerie best and turning up the fright factor as the night goes on. 

Bring blankets and lawn chairs before darkness falls and prepare to be entertained. Pack a picnic or check out one of the food trucks that will be on site. Beer and wine may be purchased as well. Please use the entrance at 34th Street and Boulevard Place; the north gate will not be open.   

  • Saturday, Oct. 13. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and stories begin at 7:30 p.m.
  • Crown Hill Cemetery
  • Children under 10 are free; students (ages 10-17) are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate; adults (18+) are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Family rate (all those living under one roof) is $50 in advance and $55 at the gate. Parking is free.

RIP Reception: Start the festivities in style with complimentary music by the Unholy Trio, beverages from Sun King Brewery and Mass Ave Wine, and snacks provided by the Food Guys Catering Company. Meet and mingle with the storytellers and other patrons at Crown Hill’s Waiting Station, built in 1885 as the gatekeeper’s residence. Play Halloween trivia and bid to take home a decorated pumpkin for the season. This event takes place  from 5-7 p.m. Tickets are $40, which includes admission to Ghost Stories at Crown Hill.

Civic Theatre in partnership with Great American Songbook Foundation: Anything Goes

Civic Theatre’s “Anything Goes”

Music, dance, laughs, and the age-old tale of boy meets girl — no musical puts it on stage better than Anything Goes! A hilarious shipboard romp, wrapped around one of Cole Porter’s most magical scores that is delightful, delicious, and de-lovely. 

Catch “Putting It Together: Anything Goes” presented by Yvonne Shaheen Friday, Oct. 12, 5:30 p.m. What does it cost to put on a show? Come to opening night of Anything Goes at Civic and find out for yourself! Experience what it actually takes to put on a production at Civic Theatre, from costumes and sets to the transformation from actor to character, printed programs, live stage manager calls, and more. See Anything Goes through the eyes of the actors and crew during this special evening. The ticket cost of Anything Goes on opening night includes the cost of “Putting it Together” ($25-$100).

  • Oct. 12-27, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25-$48 

Stage To Screen Studios: Indiana’s Got Talent

Indiana’s Got Talent starts off the Stage To Screen Studios’ 2018/19 Cabaret Series. This is a variety show featuring a few of Indiana’s most talented artists, and it’s not only entertaining, but it will leave audiences inspired. Stage To Screen Studios’ Cabaret Series is proud to clearly demonstrate that the Hoosier state has some pretty amazing entertainers and is thrilled to give them a stage!

Beef & Boards: Man of La Mancha

“Man of La Mancha” at Beef & Boards

This five-time Tony Award-winning musical is based on the Miguel de Cervantes 17th century novel Don Quixote. Set in a dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition, this musical play-within-a-play harkens back to a time of chivalry, adventure, romance, and a noble knight in a poignant and passionate quest for the impossible dream. It also confronts the vague line between sanity and lunacy, asking, “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?”

Candlelight Theatre: The (White) House of Horror

Election years always cause a hubbub in the nation’s capital, and this year’s election appears to be a real barn-burner. With all the noise and confusion being bandied about by the living residents of the District of Columbia, the unliving are fleeing like rats leaving a sinking ship! And where are they all headed? To the Presidential Site! Come meet the apparitions of haunted D.C. as they take residence in the Harrison home. Guests will travel from room to room enjoying performances throughout the National Historic Landmark home of President Benjamin Harrison, including up and down two flights of narrow stairs (elevator assistance is available). Guests will view shorter vignettes standing and longer scenes seated.

The performances are approximately 70 minutes long and are recommend for children age 10 and up due to the darkness of the home, length of the performance, and subject matter.

Want a spooktacular event your friends and family will talk about in the after life? Purchase a Room Buyout and bring up to 15 of your best ghouls and gals for a private performance unlike any other!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 7/27

Red Couch Benefit Show

Photo by Charles Borowicz

Acco, Israel, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, will play host to Red Couch, a performance that debuted at IndyFringe in 2011. Indianapolis-based performer and choreographer Tommy Lewey will bring this production—in which he stars alongside Morgan Skiles—to the Acco Fringe Festival in September.

Read more of NUVO arts editor Dan Grossman’s story about Red Couch here.

The benefit is to help the artists with expenses related to the show.

  • Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m.
  • $36
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre

Young Artists Civic Theatre Program: Guys & Dolls

Set in the Manhattan of Damon Runyon’s short stories, Guys & Dolls is considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy. Gambler Nathan Detroit tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for 14 years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result.

Summer Stock Stage: The Secret Garden

Summer Stock Stage’s “The Secret Garden”

This enchanting classic of children’s literature is reimagined in brilliant musical style. A young orphan girl returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle and discovers a magic garden with haunting melodies and spirits to guide her through her new life. The Tony Award-winning musical is a compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal suitable for all ages.

More than 30 talented high school students from 20 public, private, and charter schools in Central Indiana will perform a fully-staged and orchestrated production. Summer Stock Stage is an intensive, pre-professional program designed to equip students for collegiate and professional theater programs. Its mission is to enrich the community through theater by inspiring young people to learn, connect and perform. The SSS staff mentors and collaborates with student artists in two major musical productions each summer, while Park Tudor School generously donates use of its facilities.

  • July 25-28 at 7 p.m. and July 28-29 at 2 p.m.
  • $14 for the Wednesday preview performance and $18 for all other shows
  • Park Tudor High School
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 6/29

NoExit: Drosselmeyer’s

All-American Cabaret

NoExit’s Drosselmeyer in the 2016 take on “The Nutcracker.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

Proud American (????) Wolfgang Drosselmeyer pulls out all the stops for a Christmas in July celebration of Lady Liberty, Old Glory, and Uncle Sam. Join his cohort of special guests for a night of performances, games, and celebrating all that makes America the world’s butthole favorite nation.

Summit Performance Indianapolis:

Silent Sky

Henrietta Swan Leavitt (July 4, 1868–Dec. 12, 1921) was an American astronomer whose work received little recognition in her lifetime. Leavitt is the subject of Lauren Gunderson’s play “Silent Sky,” the inaugural production for Summit Performance Indianapolis.

Young Artist productions

Summer Stock Stage: Urinetown

Summer Stock Stage’s “Urinetown”

The Tony Award-winning Urinetown is a sidesplitting send-up of greed, love, revolution, and musical theater in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a dystopian city, a terrible water shortage has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities controlled by a malevolent company — until a hero decides to plan a revolution.

Summer Stock Stage features more than 40 talented students ages 13 to 19 from 20 public, private, and charter schools in Central Indiana who will perform a fully-staged and orchestrated production. Urinetown is co-directed by and Charles Goad and artistic director Emily Ristine Holloway, with musical direction by Michael Raunick and choreography by Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee, and Lily Wessel.

  • June 28-July 1,  Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • Park Tudor School’s Ayres Auditorium
  • $14 for the Thursday preview performance and $18 for all other shows

Personal note from Lisa: Not only is Urinetown freaking hilarious with a great soundtrack, but SSS is the supporting arm of Eclipse, which recently produced an amazing staging of Dogfight. This young-adult production is more than likely worth checking out.

Footlite Young Adults Production: Into the Woods

Featuring Indiana performers aged 18-25, check out this popular Sondheim musical — an epic fairytale about wishes, family, and the choices we make. The story follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

  • June 29-July 15, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $15-$25; The first Sunday performance and all Thursday evening performances are $10.
  • Footlite Musicals
  • Saturday, July 7 will be ASL interpreted

Civic Young Artists Theatre Program: Revue!

Under the guidance of Brent Marty (music/vocal director), Emily Rogge Tzucker (director), and Anne Beck (staging), high school students from across Central Indiana will present a showcase of scenes, dance, solo, trios, and small group numbers for an evening full of fun, cabaret-style entertainment!



Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/30

The Indianapolis Shakespeare Company: Macbeth

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 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,
Nathan Wilusz and Addison R. Koehler in Buck Creek Players’ “Dogfight.” Photo by Gary Nelson,

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

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

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Million Dollar Quartet

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+

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.

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 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

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

Civic Theatre: “Hairspray”

Nina Stilabower in Civic Theatre’s “Hairspray”

It’s likely you’ve seen the movie, the musical, the movie-musical, and/or the “live” TV-musical of Hairspray, but Civic Theatre’s production is so much fun you will be glad you went ahead and saw it again.

First, the choreography. I was blown away by the choreography.

Sometimes, in a community theater setting, especially when working with a large ensemble, you are lucky to get a few synchronized steps and call it a success. Here, the choreography isn’t just well-executed, it is dynamic, and more than just high-energy, it is intense. And it is flawless. Anne Beck’s choreographer is challenging, but the cast, over 40 total, owns it. I can only imagine the rehearsals and the sweat. Acknowledgement should also be given to the hard work of the dance captains, Michael Humphrey and Melissa Mellinger, for coaxing out dance moves of such high caliber.

Second, the sets. The shadow effects that are used, the backdrop of colorful lights, the details in the joke shop, the use of scaffolding as layers … Scenic designer David Rockwell and lighting designer Ryan Koharchik crafted an above-par, changeable environment for the story.

Evan Wallace, Nina Stilabower, and Company in Civic Theatre’s “Hairspray”

And so on to Tracy Turnblad, the high-haired star of the show. Nina Stilabower delivers in a performance that any fan of the soundtrack would find impeccable. And as a character, Stilabower keeps Tracy’s backbone intact. Tracy stays strong in her resistance to bigotry in any form in any situation.

Stilabower and Zachary Hoover, as Link Larkin, complement each other vocally in “It Takes Two,” and Hoover is adorable as the pretty boy who learns to see the bigger picture, so to speak.

Justin Klein, Zachary Hoover, and Nina Stilabower in Civic Theatre’s “Hairspray”

So many high-caliber scenes and songs deserve mention, but I am just going to give you my personal faves. One standout for me is “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” with Stilabower, Evan Wallace (Edna), Mikayla Koharchik (Velma), Emily Hollowell (Amber,) Robyne J. Ault (Prudy), and Jenny Reber (Penny). They just mesh so well together, it left me impressed. Joyce Licorish as Motormouth Maybelle performs a rousing “I Know Where I’ve Been.” And Michael Hassell has some sweet moves as Seaweed Stubbs. Two unnamed standouts are the scatting prowess of the Prison Matron and the aerial moves of the photographer in “Welcome to the ’60s.” Wallace and J. Stuart Mill (Wilbur) combine the funny yet sweet in “Timeless to Me.” And Hollowell is the manifestation of a teenage-y temper tantrum as Amber.

The show’s message is still vital, but it is wrapped up within such a lively show that the heavy stuff—the situations of those perceived as “different”—begin to sink in later. Then, you can continue the conversations that started decades ago. Maybe someday, we won’t have to. Until then, you have Hairspray.

  • Through May 11, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; final Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • $24-$45

Side note: There were a couple little kids in front of me at the performance I attended; they looked to be around the age of 8 give or take. I was impressed that they cheered more for the announcement of Newsies as part of Civic’s next season than they did for Shrek and that they not only sat through the performance but also seemed to truly enjoy it. However, I do want to caution parents that if you choose to take your youngsters, be prepared for some funny looks and/or questions, such as explaining the correlation between circumcision and Judaism. Just saying.


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

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

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Noises Off

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

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

Civic Theatre: Hairspray

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

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: reviews

“And Then There Were None” at Civic Theatre

“And Then There Were None” at Civic Theatre. Photo by Zach Rosing.

It’s all fun and games until someone drops dead.

Well, even then it’s still fun and games for one person. The question is, who is that person?

Hence, And Then There Were None, the Agatha Christie murder mystery on stage at Civic Theatre. Ten people have been invited to Soldier Island off the coast of Devon, England; the goal is to successively pick them off following the pattern in the poem “10 Little Soldier Boys” — sort of like a checklist. The killer sees this as redemption for the alleged murders each guest is accused of, which are recited on a recording so the others can know each other’s sins.

Once Anthony Marston (Bradford Reilly) chokes to death, the threat finally seems real. The group is completely cut off from the mainland, and there is little for them to do but accuse each other and wait to die next.

Completing the list of potential victims are Matt Anderson, Christy Walker, Carrie A. Schlatter, Joshua Ramsey, Steve Kruze, Tom Beeler, Christine Kruze, David Mosedale, David Wood, with Dick Davis as the ferryman.

The actors’ performances were guided by their characters’ superficial descriptions — the righteous old maid, the flighty young woman, the defensive cop, the swaggering soldier, etc. I didn’t really care when one of them got picked off. It felt as if the cast was just going through the motions.

From a technical standpoint, Ryan Koharchik’s set design was spot-on, and director Chuck Goad had everyone hitting his or her marks. But overall, I wasn’t as impressed as I could have been by the Civic or the cast and crew involved.

  • March 23-April 8; Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; last Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • Prices vary
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/23

IndyFringe Theater: OnyxFest: A Celebration of African-American Playwrights

Onyx Fest is Indianapolis’ first and only theater festival dedicated to the stories of African-American playwrights. The inaugural Onyx Fest in 2012 was developed in response to the lack of diversity on stage and in audiences of Indianapolis’ theaters; except the IndyFringe Theater. IndyFringe has actively worked towards embracing diversity in the Indianapolis theater scene and these efforts have yielded fruit by working with African-American playwrights to change the Indianapolis theatrical landscape of storytellers, actors, and audiences at the IndyFringe Theater. Onyx Fest is another step towards institutionalizing the IndyFringe Theater’s commitment to provide support and a performance venue that is inclusive of all playwrights who make up the Indianapolis community.

The importance of Onyx Fest: Develop and present voices not often heard and showcase the work of established voices. Engage new and established audiences in the art and craft of production Bring new excitement to theatre and grow Onyx Fest as a center for African-American playwrights.

Impact of Onyx Fest: Growth of new works, new audiences, new performing companies, new Fringe Festival shows. Imagine the new voices being heard.

Dear Bobby: The Musical 

Playwright: Angela Jackson Brown; Music: Peter Davis

dear-bobby-v9-2Judith Rosenstein and Annabelle Strong are two twelve-year-old girls from opposite sides of Indianapolis but their stories are similar. Both girls are growing up without their mothers and both have two very loving fathers and brothers.This play explores the very real struggles and successes of the Jewish community and the black community to unite as one in Indianapolis during this time. It explores in a larger scope, the tumultuous times everyone was living through as they watched in horror the assassination of their leaders.

Forever Moore  

Playwright: Lanetta Overton

The holidays are quickly approaching, and the Moore family is planning to visit with one another. Ruby and Michael are anticipating the arrival of their three beloved sons. Tyrique is the eldest son, he is a lawyer who has worked hard to make partner at Lax and Chism Law firm. He’s in the right business, but he may soon need a lawyer of his own. Trent is the middle son who is currently in his last year at Notre Dame, his passion is football, but he has a love for something else which could lead to his demise. Lastly, the youngest son Jywan is a military man that has not always had a voice, but is in desperation of trying to be heard. The Moore’s will share more than good food and laughs over the holiday. It’s time for this family to show they will be there for one another despite the odds they may face.

Take My Hand (A Blues Man’s Path to Gospel)

Playwright: Lillie Evans,

takemyhandThomas Dorsey, a self confident composer and self-taught pianist, is determined to make his mark. In his early twenties he was well on his way to being one of the most prolific composer in blues history and was sought after by some of the top blues artist of his time. But, what’s gospel have to do with it? His vision is to marry church music with blues rhythms — it was called gospel. Pressured by those around him, he is unable to choose between the blues he loves and the secular music he was striving to change. The answer comes at a heavy price but heralds a song that anointed Dorsey as the “father of gospel music.”

Fat Turtle Theatre Company: The Quest for Don Quixote (Indiana Premiere)

Fat Turtle Theatre Company: “The Quest for Don Quixote”

Playwright Ben Eisenberg sits in a Starbucks on the eve of the first rehearsal of his stage adaptation of Don Quixote. There’s just one problem — he hasn’t written it. He hasn’t written anything in years, and his status as wunderkind playwright is quickly fading to has-been hack. His agent is apoplectic, the producer’s advance is long since spent, and adapting a 1,000-page Renaissance adventure is beginning to feel a bit like tilting at windmills. But then — whether from a stroke of genius or a near-lethal dosage of caffeine and Xanax — Starbucks itself begins to transform, and the errant knight arises in this delightfully theatrical and hilarious retelling of Cervantes’ classic tale.

Civic Theatre: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Civic Theatre: “And Then There Were None”

Ten strangers are summoned to a remote island. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. As the weather turns and the group is cut off from the mainland, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme. One of Christie’s darkest tales and a masterpiece of dramatic construction, its growing sense of dread and unfaltering tension will keep you guessing to the very end.

  • March 23-April 8; Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; last Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • Prices vary

Indianapolis Opera: South Pacific

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s endearing classic deals with many socially significant issues of today: war, romance, racism and battle fatigue. Rodgers wrote most of the lyrical melodies specifically for opera stars, including Ezio Pinza, the lead bass at the Metropolitan Opera for 22 years. Audience members will be moved by some of the most popular songs in all of musical theater including “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Younger than Springtime.”

  • Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 24 (sold out); Sunday, 25 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Schrott Center for the Arts
  • $25-$55
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 2/23

Carmel Community Players: David Mamet’s American Buffalo

Carmel Community Players: David Mamet’s “American Buffalo”

Carmel Community Players, now in its 24th season, is at a crossroads: The theater company is looking for a new home. Over its history, CCP has staged performances at many different venues in the Carmel area, an approach it will return to while searching for a permanent residence. The remaining shows in the 2017-18 season are Ragtime, Is He Dead?, and Kitchen Witches, but this production of American Buffalo will be CCP’s last show at the Playhouse at Clay Terrace. This is a special production, not part of the regular season, that only runs for two weekends.

Winner of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play, David Mamet’s American Buffalo is a volatile drama that starred Robert Duvall in the original Broadway production and has seen revivals with Al Pacino and most recently on Broadway with John Leguizamo in 2008. In a Chicago junk shop, three small-time crooks plot to rob a man of his coin collection. These high-minded grifters fancy themselves businessmen pursuing legitimate free enterprise. But the reality — Donny, the oafish junk shop owner, Bobby, a young junkie Donny has taken under his wing, and Teach, a violently paranoid braggart — is that they are merely pawns caught up in their own game of last-chance, dead-end, empty pipe dreams.

  • Feb. 23-March 3, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 25, 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 4, 3:30 p.m.
  • $16; $14 students/seniors

EclecticPond Theatre Company: Sonnets and Slow Jams 

EclecticPond Theatre Company: “Sonnets and Slow Jams”

A snarky and romantic post-Valentine’s Day cabaret of paired sonnets and slow jams featuring special guest performances, a live band, and a raffle, with performances by Katie Angel, Jason Adams, Paige Scott, and more. Raffle tickets are $5 for five tickets or $20 for an arm’s length of tickets (doesn’t have to be your arm).

  • Feb. 22; doors open at 7 p.m. and performance at 8 p.m.
  • Tickets are $10 online, $12 at the door
  • White Rabbit Cabaret
  • Age 21+ with a valid ID

Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Exploring Stages production: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Exploring Stages production: “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”

William has a cozy, familiar home in a boot in the barn. But when his cousin Monty takes him to the big, dangerous city, William learns to wade through plush carpets, climb hot-water pipes, and outwit mischievous mice. Where will his expedition take him next?

Exploring Stages is specifically designed for children aged 3-8 and includes pre- and post-show activities led by IRT artists to engage young minds and allow families to experience live theater together. Immediately after each performance, students will join an IRT teaching artist and cast members in various interactive learning activities designed to enhance their understanding of the play and the experience of live theater. This post-show experience is free for any ticket holder and will last between 10 and 15 minutes. The production includes Storytime Seating where children are invited to sit cross-legged on carpet and enjoy the cast and characters up close. Parents can purchase a floor seat and watch the production while sitting with their children or can purchase a seat along the back and side areas of the theater.

  • Feb. 24-March 25
  • Children Storytime Seating $8; adult Storytime Seating $15; all chair seating $25

Asante Children’s Theatre: Snatched: A Passage to Madness

Asante Children’s Theatre: “Snatched: A Passage to Madness”

This is a controversial story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its parallels with today’s society. This production explores the journey from Africa to America through the eyes of several misguided youths. Performed by members of the Asante Children’s Theatre’s Academy together with seasoned adult actors, the play examines how the African holocaust tragically impacts the lives of both black and white Americans of today.
Adapted from the original drama, The Middle Passage written by Crystal V. Rhodes and Deborah Asante, Snatched will enlighten and shock audiences as three black teenagers and a white policeman are snatched back in time and find themselves at the center of an ancient struggle.

  • Feb. 23-24, 8 p.m. and Feb. 25, 4 p.m.
  • $10 advance and $12 day of show. Thursday, Feb. 22 is Community Night. All seats are $5 in advance and $6 day of show.
  • Madame Walker Theatre
  • Tickets here

Butler Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Butler Theatre: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Shakespeare’s magical comedy. Butler Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman’s 90-minute adaptation is directed by beloved Indianapolis actress Constance Macy.

Go. Why? Because Diane Timmerman and Constance Macy.

  • Feb. 28, 7 p.m.
  • $10-$25
  • Clowes Memorial Hall
  • Tickets

Village Voices: Notes from the Griot

Village Voices is a celebration of artistic contributions from African-Americans that will be performed throughout the month of February to coincide with Black History month. The artistic director of Village Voices, Joshua A. Thompson, has created this program with the assistance of local artists who currently perform works of African-American artists. Amassing a legion of vocalists, musicians, composers, poets, visual artists, and an African dance troupe, Mr. Thompson has enlisted an up and coming playwright to construct a single narrative that weaves biographical/historical information with the masterworks of selected artists.

  • Feb. 24, 7 p.m.
  • $20; $15 student or senior; $12 military or vet
  • Theater at the Fort
  • Tickets

VDAY 2018: The Vagina Monologues

Eve Ensler’s unforgettable show based on interviews with women all over the world. There will be a silent auction every night before and after the show. Proceeds from auction and ticket sales go to benefit Coburn Place Safe Haven (

  • Feb. 22-24, 8 p.m.
  • The Church Within
  • $15; $10 for seniors/students
  • Tickets

And other various events of note …28058497_10159919225955401_4290253389322931670_n


For information and registration, click here.




Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 2/16

Civic Theatre: Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat”

Civic Theatre: “The Cat in the Hat”

From games and mischief to Thing One and Thing Two, The Cat brings all sorts of trouble to a grey day— but will Sally and her brother be able to explain the mess to Mother? This Dr. Seuss classic leaps onto the stage with chaotic exuberance in this adaptation from the National Theatre in London.

Inclusive performances will be presented Feb. 22 and 24. Through a contract with the Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and in collaboration with ArtMix, Civic Theatre will provide over 400 tickets of the professionally produced, weekday matinee, sensory-friendly performances to special education classrooms on Feb. 22 and 24. These adjusted performances ensure theater access in a comfortable setting to all members of our community through accommodations for sensory sensitivities, mobility issues, and other special needs. Adaptations include keeping the house lights up, adjusting overwhelming sound effects, adjusting house rules to allow for talking and moving, additional seating options for those with mobility devices, and an American Sign Language interpreter upon request. Overall, these adjustments provide an open, welcoming, and safe environment for everyone to enjoy live theater at Civic.

In addition, on Feb. 24 from 1-3 p.m., Civic will host its third annual Disability Awareness Day. This special event will be a chance for children, parents, and caretakers to interact and learn about Civic’s various partners including the Monon Center’s Playback Program, The Joseph Maley Foundation, ArtMix, and more. To further increase learning through performing arts access, Civic and ArtMix will send artist-instructors to each participating classroom to implement visual and performing arts lessons relating to show content. Students will be provided adaptive opportunities with trained artists to increase learning through the arts with activities that may include drawing the set and characters or performing alternate endings.

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Antonio Sacre telling The Leprecano

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Antonio Sacre telling “The Leprecano”

Known to his family as Papito and his school peers as Tony, Antonio Sacre has learned to embrace his diverse upbringing. In The Leprecano, he embraces his status as one of the world’s only Cuban-Irish-American storytellers, sharing brand-new adult adventures.

If you have elementary age children or grandchildren, join us from 1:30- 2:30 p.m. for a family performance, “High Five, Daddy! (Mis) Adventures in Family Camping and Other Stories,” for free, at the Glendale Library, 6101 N. Keystone Ave (next door to Staples) .

IRT Radio Show

The IRT Celebrity Radio Show is the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s annual fundraising event. It is a truly one-of-a-kind event that focuses on what the theater does best: producing a grand and exciting evening of live entertainment. The event features a hand-crafted script presented as a 1940s radio program with live sound effects, audience participation, and community VIPs dressed in costumes. The evening is a fabulous party and silent auction hosted at the IRT.

  • Feb. 16; 6:30 p.m. doors open + silent auction; 8 p.m. Radio Show with celebrity guests. Following the performance, join us for appetizers, drinks, and music.
  • $175
  • Indiana Repertory Theatre
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Civic Theatre: “Sense and Sensibility” (4 stars)

Indianapolis Civic Theatre: “Sense and Sensibility.” Photo by Fierce Little Bird Productions.

Jane Austen. Either you love her or you don’t. There’s really no middle ground. So even though Civic Theatre chose the playful 2016 minimalist adaptation by Kate Hamill to produce, it’s still Jane Austen.

Emily Bohn in Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Photo by Fierce Little Bird Productions.

While I am not a Janeite, I can appreciate a well-done production, which is what Civic delivers. In the spirit of Hamill’s take on the staging, a single background is used for all the scenes (a set of wrought-iron gates behind a rotating section of stage). Actors mime most of the actions that would normally involve props (eating, playing the harpsicord, etc.). Actors also take on multiple roles; in addition to covering several characters, they often are props themselves, acting out parts such as dogs, trees, or a horse. Justin Klein is especially amusing in his enthusiastic clipity-clopping, which brought to my mind Monty Python and the Holy Grail. These inclusions may seem small, but they really help lighten up the often-tedious interaction of the characters (Sorry, again, not a Janeite.) and engage the audience’s imagination.

Overall, the large cast makes a laudable effort. Foremost, of course, are the two eldest Dashwood girls, 19-year-old Elinor (the sensible one), played by Emily Bohn, and 16-year-old Marianne (the sensitive one), played by Morgan Morton. The two women create perfect foils for each other’s characters while maintaining the underlying sisterly bond they have. Bohn lets Elinor respect propriety without sacrificing Elinor’s personality or making her stuffy or uptight. There is strength under her fragility. Morton’s Marianne indulges her character’s flighty tendencies. Marianne is impulsive, and Morton channels that over-emotional state common to teenagers.

The over-the-top “gossips” that comment on situations are caricatures of busy-bodies, which endure to this day, but their exaggerated affectations do become grating. Of course, all the characters are shallow to a point—they, after all, aren’t meant to be much more than vehicles for commentary on the social and gender issues of the day.

Morgan Morton in Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Photo by Fierce Little Bird Productions.

Even so, the cast still manages to make distinctions between each of their various characters. One good example is Klein, in his dual roles of John Dashwood and Willoughby, sets the two apart—one vacantly carefree and the other smooth and self-serving. Joshua Ramsey is so sweet as Ferrars, the other beau of note; Ramsey knows he is vulnerable, and Ferrars genuinely wants to follow his heart but his honor won’t allow him.

If you are a fan of Austen, this this is an opportunity to enjoy Sense and Sensibility, which is directed by John Michael Goodson, in a compelling way.

  • Feb. 2-17, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; final Saturday at 5 p.m.; student matinee Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m.
  • $24.50-$40.50
  • Receive a discount for your Sense & Sensibility ticket when you purchase a ticket to the Sisters & Spirits event.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Civic Theatre: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (4.5 stars)

Civic Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Zach Rosing.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been a Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre Christmas staple for many years now, but Civic does it so gosh-darned well that it’s a treat each time. The infectiously upbeat and flashy show with random comedic props keeps me, and scores of audience members, entertained. (The poop emoji is priceless.)

Civic Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Zach Rosing.

Jacob Butler as Joseph is a hook for this production. He was an excellent Quasimodo in Bobdirex’ s The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A New Musical in June/July, but he’s superlative here. His characterization and enthusiasm are endearing, with a voice that rings out clearly through the theater like crystal. It isn’t hard to see why Potiphar’s wife has the hots for him. Butler’s “Close Every Door to Me” is simply captivating.

Katie Stark is equally compelling as the Narrator. She gives her character a playful, almost mischievous flare in her taxing role, as she is called upon in one capacity or another continuously. Her melodic voice effortless guides us through the story.

Civic Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Zach Rosing.

The cast, of course, is massive, so handing out individual kudos would be reprinting the program because everyone gives 100 percent in this performance. The energy levels are astounding (Red Bull runs?), and nary a misstep or sour note was displayed. (However, there were three painful mike screeches Friday. Because I do hold the Civic to high standards, I took off half a star for this reason.)

Civic Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Zach Rosing.

The only other actor I will dote on is Logan Rivera as Asher and Pharaoh. Rivera’s rendition of The King, complete with impressive hip rolls, is spot-on. Between his pelvis and the S&M outfits on Potiphar’s women, the show almost gets downright racy.

Exceptional numbers from Joseph’s family include “One More Angel” and “Those Canaan Days,” both of which also highlight the work of choreographer Anne Nicole Beck. The gorgeous costuming by Adrienne Conces is continuously on display, and Ryan Koharchik’s scenic and lighting design bedazzle the settings with a little fun.

The closing numbers are a sensory cacophony with the lights, colors, movement, and infallible before-mentioned energy, closing out the show with a true spectacle. Though standing ovations are often overused, in this case, I was happy to stand with the crowd. Director Michael J. Lasley and his cast and crew deserved it.

  • Dec. 15-Jan. 7, Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • An inclusive performance, which helps make the experience accessible for audience members with sensory differences, is Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.
  • $31.50-$49.50
Civic Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Zach Rosing.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 12/14

IndyFringe: Merry Fringe-mas Holiday Cabaret

IndyFringe: “Merry Fringe-mas Holiday Cabaret”

A Fringe holiday spectacular. Two nights; two different shows! From Dickens to What the Dickens?! Opera, ballet, storytelling, and a drag queen.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre: Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Told entirely through song with the help of a main character Narrator, the family musical is about the trials and triumphs of Israel’s favorite son, Joseph, who is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers but uses his intelligence and wit along with his ability to interpret dreams to advance and become the right hand man of Pharaoh himself.

  • Dec. 15-Jan. 7, Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • An inclusive performance, which helps make the experience accessible for audience members with sensory differences, is Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.
  • $31.50-$49.50

IndyFringe: Christmas Through the Ages

The Hysterically Historical Holiday Musical was is a fun-filled family journey through the history of the holiday season and all of its music and traditions. Julie Lyn Barber stars alongside Dave Ruark and 10-year-old Sage Murrell in this fast-paced collection of humorous and endearing stories and music ranging from early chants to medieval, renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, Victorian, and contemporary. A warm and light-hearted show for the whole family.

IndyFringe: Conductor Cody’s Christmas Express

A holiday-themed show geared specifically toward young children involving the train conductor character Conductor Cody. Audiences will go on a magical train adventure to the North Pole, with magic routines themed to trains and Christmas happening along the way, culminating with Santa Claus appearing by magic. After the show, there will be plenty of time for pictures/gift requests with Santa.  The show is “disability friendly.”

Twas the Night Before … presented by Candlelight Theatre

A heartwarming interactive theater experience for all ages in the historic Harrison mansion, visiting holiday figures from tradition and folklore, as well as new jolly friends. Guests will travel from room to room enjoying performances throughout the National Historic Landmark home of President Benjamin Harrison, including up and down a flight of narrow stairs (elevator assistance is available). Guests will view scenes standing. The evening’s performance lasts approximately 60 minutes.

  • Dec 15-17
  • Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
  • $14.95-$17.95
  • Tickets
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Beauty and the Beast” at Indianapolis Civic Theatre (4 stars)


bb1In summary:  Ron Morgan directs (and choreographs) the excellent cast through this “tale as old as time” with all the sweetness and elegance that audiences expect from this elaborate production.


From the opening number to the curtain call, you will love being Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s guest for its production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Ron Morgan directs (and choreographs) the excellent Virginia Vasquez (Belle), Will Tople (Beast), Andrew Dalstrom (Gaston), and the rest of the large cast through this “tale as old as time” with all the sweetness and elegance that audiences expect from this elaborate production. Ryan Koharchik’s beautiful backdrops perfectly capture the settings, and Adrienne Conces’s costumes are spot-on.

Small distractions include too much reverb, Cogsworth’s painful light reflection, and some confusing utensils, but these quibbles won’t detract from audiences’ thorough enjoyment of this classic.

Through Jan. 1; $49.50

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday @ 7pm
Saturday & Sunday @ 2pm

Beauty & the Beast Holiday High Tea at Tina’s Traditional Old English Tea Kitchen, December 16 & 23

Brunch with Belle at 502 East, December 18

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Young Frankenstein” at Civic Theatre

img_07724.5 stars


While Mel Brooks fans will be especially giddy with anticipation for the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s season opener, Young Frankenstein, (if they haven’t seen it already during opening weekend), anyone who savors an across-the-board top-notch musical comedy will be deliriously dazzled by the sheer quality of this staging. Having seen a professional touring production of the show several years ago, I can confidently state that Civic’s group of thespians outdid their travelling counterparts in talent, enthusiasm, and commitment.

The show’s transfer from film to stage kept intact the lowbrow comedy that make Brooks’ parodies so hilarious and inspired a dedicated following: ridiculous slapstick, bizarre situations, sexual innuendo, and outright dick jokes presented in unapologetic quantities.

Director Michael Lasley indulges us with shticky pleasures while achieving and maintaining excellence in performance and presentation. Jaw-dropping scenery frames ensemble musical numbers that come at you with the power of a case of 5-hour Energy drinks, choreographed and staged by Anne Nicole Beck with musical direction by Brent Marty and a live orchestra under the baton of Trevor Fanning. The most fantastical number, “Family Business,” contains not only a noteworthy performance by Evan Wallace as Grandpa Frankenstein but also a ginourmous puppet of the monster that is awe inspiring and unnerving.

Steve Kruze embraces the role of Frederick Frankenstein while insinuating his own take on the doctor, but hardcore fans won’t be turned off by his interpretation of the iconic character. He asserts his dominance of the stage from his first scene, “The Brain,” and never lets go. Nathalie Cruz also puts her own coquettish mark on Elizabeth, Frederick’s fiancée. Roles that more closely reflect their film versions are Igor by Damon Clevenger, Inga by Devan Mathias, Frau Blücher (“neigh!”) by Vickie Cornelius Phipps, and the Monster by B. J. Bovin. This in no way means that they aren’t exceptional—they own their caricatures 100 percent and revel in their insensible, bawdy humor. All of the main characters deliver knock-out renditions of songs, such as “He Vas My Boyfriend,” “Deep Love,” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

So why take off half a star? Opening night, there were some pretty grating sound and mike issues. For a show of this caliber, it was a shame that occasionally we couldn’t hear the actors.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Mary Poppins” at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

5 stars

It’s unavoidable; I have to say it: Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins is practically perfect. (Saying it was perfect would give the cast and crew nothing more to strive for, something Mary Poppins would not approve of.)

You might think that a musical with such illustrious names attached to it would be a shoo-in for the win, but while Disney’s screen-to-stage adaptations have so far been admirable (if not downright mesmerizing, i.e., The Lion King), Sir Cameron’s name (Les Mis, Phantom, etc.) doesn’t guarantee a golden ticket (i.e., the dead horse he kept beating, Moby Dick, an incarnation of which Indianapolis was subjected to in 2003). Mary Poppins enjoyed a healthy run on Broadway and garnered a best-musical Tony nomination in 2007, so if not a blockbuster, it was a qualitative success.

Unfazed by a few minuscule opening night mishaps, the entirety of the cast, crew, and orchestra exhibited such skill and performed a show of such quality that they put this community theater on par with any professional theater organization. The music itself is challenging, but the choreography demands even more of the performers, and each cast member has perfected each step, each note, and each line, working with director and choreographer Anne Nicole Beck and musical director Brent E. Marty. Ditto for the behind-the-scenes folks, such as costuming (Adrienne L. Conces), set (J. Branson), and lighting (Ryan Koharchik).

While there are differences between this and the 1964 movie, many favorites remain. “Feed the Birds” (sung by Krista Wright) reminds us of the beauty in this soundtrack—one that many of us grew up with.

As it should be, the two standouts among this exemplary cast are Jeremy Shivers-Brimm as a spry and charming Bert and Devan Mathias as the prim yet playful Mary Poppins. Both are vocal and character perfection, but they go above and beyond (ahem) as well by submitting themselves to the cable work that propels them through the air. Shivers-Brimm proves his commitment even further by taking a walk across the stage’s ceiling area upside down.

The excellent quartet of J. Stuart Mill, Carrie Neal, Anjali Rooney, and Mitchell Wray make up the Banks family. (A note about kids on stage: You often have to factor in their age when evaluating their performance, but Rooney and Wray are little stars.) These core characters are surrounded by minor characters and an ensemble that are more than just “supporting” actors—they are accomplished performers as well.

Mary Poppins at Civic is worth every dime of its ticket price.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“The Game’s Afoot” at Civic Theatre

3 stars

The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot is an intentionally melodramatic and comedic who-done-it.

The show begins with the last scene of William Gillette’s play Sherlock Holmes, which he has been performing and living off for twenty years. During the curtain call, Gillette is shot, and thus, the game is afoot. Gillette hosts a Christmas weekend with his cast at his home, intending to take his role as Sherlock Holmes to a more literal level and discover who shot him.

Director Michael J. Lasley has the actors not just chew but devour the scenery as if it were a gluttonous buffet for velociraptors. (Tempting, as the set, designed by Ryan Koharchik, is lavish.) This and the physical comedy make for a light-hearted show about murder.

The choice piece of that scenery meat goes to the theater critic Daria Chase, played by Christine Kruze. Her stage time is limited compared to the other characters, but Kruze makes the most of it, strutting in her sense of entitlement and arrogantly gloating over her presumption of power over actors.

Josh Ramsey as Gillette captures the smugness of an actor who is quite pleased with himself yet thinks he is gracious due to his assumption that everyone agrees with his self-assessment. Ramsey never lets Gillette’s composure waver because Gillette’s confidence in his deductive abilities is rivaled only by Sherlock’s.

Jean Childers Arnold is a gem as the sharp-tongued Madge Geisel. Her performance in the séance scene is one of the most gratifying comedic parts of the show. Bill Book as Madge’s husband, Felix, approaches his role in a more straightforward manner than the other characters. Book portrays him as funny yet endearing and sincere. He does not shirk from the physical comedy though. He (bodily) throws himself in to shoving and shuffling a corpse around in his character’s ill-fated attempts at hiding it.

Alex Ray as Simon Bright believably comes across as an cheerful, naïve young man. His new wife, Aggie Wheeler, should also emit a sense of wide-eyed innocence, but Emily Hollowell just seems uncomfortable. However, when her character takes a turn, she seems to loosen up and embrace the role.

Carrie Ann Schlatter as Inspector Goring is congenial in her role and maintains an air of efficiency even though the character indulges in her admiration of the stage. Finally, Wendy Brown depicts Martha, Gillette’s mother, as a dotty, innocuous old woman.