Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 8/9

Monument Theatre Company: 1984

George Orwell’s classic tale as you’ve never seen it before. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch some of the most thrilling theater in Indianapolis.

  • Aug. 9-18, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
  • $15
  • Indy Convergence
  • Tickets here

Footlite Musicals: Bring It On!

Nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, this musical is about the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading meeting the fierce rivalries of high school politics and romance. Bitingly relevant, sprinkled with sass and inspired by the hit film of the same name, “Bring It On” takes audiences on a high-flying journey that is filled with the complexities of friendships, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. This Young Artists Production is performed by actors ages 13 through 18.

Save on Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Twelve Angry Men

Save $10 off the first two weeks of Twelve Angry Men using promo code TWELVE1. Offer valid on performances
Sept. 4-15 when you book by Aug. 23.
Valid on individual tickets priced $35 and higher. Other exclusions may apply. irtlive.com.

Save on Phoenix Theatre’s Georgia McBride

Early Bird Special on Aug. 23rd! Tickets only $28 with code DRAG. phoenixtheatre.org.

IndyFringe Fundraiser

Fringe has a fundraising challenge: a match for $7,500. IndyFringe wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for frequent Fringers and volunteers who have continued to play a major role in the festival, welcoming audiences and artists in true IndyFringe style. August marks 15 years of IndyFringe. Did you know 80 percent of the box office is returned to performers? Over the past 15 years, IndyFringe has returned over $1.6 million to festival performers and small theater companies in Indianapolis. To keep doing this, they need your support! Your tax-deductible contribution supports creative expression. A theater community that welcomes everyone. Diversity in the arts and audiences. Accessible theater for all. Giving is easy in one of several ways: online at http://www.indyfringe.org/donate-indyfringe; mail IndyFringe P.O. Box 44121 Indianapolis, IN 46244; or in person the next time you come to the theaters.

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Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Children of Eden”

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Mitchell Hammersley, Allen Sledge, and Nina Stilabower in Footlite Musicals’ “Children of Eden”

If you’re OK with biblical source material being altered, then continue. If you are a Bible purist, look away.

The first thing you need to know about the musical Children of Eden is that the playwrights took a few key parts of the Adam and Eve story, Cain and Abel, and the story of Noah’s Ark and replaced them with something more dramatic. The depiction of Eve is even more misogynistic than in the Bible, and Noah’s son, Japhath, is wifeless at embarkment. Instead, she is replaced by a forbidden servant girl, whom he stows away.

By intermission, I was pretty pissed by the depiction of Eve. I am no Bible-thumper — hell, I’m not even Christian — but I was flabbergasted by the changes. By the end of the show, I was disappointed that the idea of accepting someone for who they are was glossed over. Noah had to remove the mark of Cain from the servant girl for her to be part of the clan even though she was the one that stopped two of Noah’s sons from committing Cain’s sin. The overarching theme of the show is family dynamics, but, meh.

However, this mini-rant has nothing to do with the show’s production values. As for that, all I can say is that the cast is competent if inconsistent. Some of the performers have exceptional moments, including Mitchell Hammerersley, Nina Stilabower, Keane Maddock, and, the best of all, Yasmin Schancer. Stilabower ends the show with a high note, literally, as does the ensemble. But just as often cast members miss notes that are just out of their range.

Set designer (and director) Lauren Johnson’s background is nice, and Chris Grady’ s costuming is OK.

Footlite has produced musicals in the past that blew me away. Sadly, this isn’t one of them.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/5

Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes

goldengirls
“Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes”

An original parody of the beloved TV show. These gender-bending Girls find themselves in situations never before seen on television — that’s why they’re lost episodes! Written by David Cerda and Shade Murray and originally performed by Mr. Cerda and Hell in a Handbag Productions, the show features all of the beloved sitcom characters, including the forthright Dorothy, the sweet airheaded Rose, the lusty Blanche, and the sharp-tongued Sophia. In these “never before seen episodes,” they band together as Rose struggles with a debilitating malady and Blanche dates a younger man. The production also features The Golden Girls trivia and games to help fully embrace the Miami experience.

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Amber Waves

Hard times mean hard decisions as an Indiana family faces the prospect of losing their farm. This small-town tale returns by popular demand, featuring music by Tim Grimm and Jason Wilber, with generous helpings of courage, love, and humor. Check the website for special programming for this play. which was written by playwright in residence James Still.

Beef & Boards: 42nd Street

A celebration of Broadway, Times Square, and the people who make the magic of musical theater, and winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical. Aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer comes to the big city from Allentown Pennsylvania, and soon lands her first big job in the ensemble of a glitzy new Broadway show. But just before opening night, the leading lady breaks her ankle. Will Peggy be able to step in and become a star? The score is chock full of Broadway standards, including “You’re Getting To Be a Habit with Me,” “Dames,” “We’re In the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” and “42nd Street.”

Make Me A Perfect –Asperger’s– Match

Max has Asperger’s. So does Victoria. They “met” on an online dating service for persons on the autism spectrum. A (mostly) cheerful Max asks the (always) overwhelmed Victoria for a date at the only place he feels comfortable, the break room at the McDonald’s where he works. Will they hit it off or just eat fries?

After the play, Autism professionals will lead a panel discussion about Asperger’s and autism. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and take home informational brochures provided by panel members.

In late 2016, playwright Garret Mathews discovered at age 64 he had Asperger’s —
a high functioning form of autism. “It was truly one of life’s “Aha” moments. When I finally found out why I’ve always been different, it was like unbuttoning a cement overcoat. Now I understand why I think this, why I avoid that. I’m one of Asperger’s lucky ones. I can write. I earned a living penning the metro column for the Evansville Courier & Press.” The way I see it, if I don’t use my words to reach out to others with Asperger’s (and their loved ones), I’m the worst slacker on the planet. So I blog on the subject (medium.com/an-aspie-comes-out-of-the-closet). And I wrote this play (that’s mostly a comedy) loosely based on some Aspie folks I’ve met over the last three years. If Make Me an –Asperger’s– Match can contribute — even peripherally — to just one person having a similar “Aha” understanding about autism, my tale about the dating misadventures of Max and Victoria will be worthwhile.”

  • Saturday, April 6, 4:30 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, April 7, 2:30 and 5 p.m.
  • $15 adults / $12 seniors and students
  • IndyFringe
  • www.indyfringe.org

Footlite’s Got Talent

Footlite’s Got Talent is a family friendly variety show competition presented by Entr’acte. This event is a fundraiser to support Entr’acte’s continuing efforts to raise money for the purchase of a Macbook to be used by the all-volunteer orchestras. Come be entertained as local performers showcase their vocal, dance, and instrumental talents! Join the fun by donating to vote for your favorite act!

Extension

Lady Day by the Fonseca Theatre company has been extended through May 4.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Openings for the weekend of 3/15

Fonseca Theater Company: Lady Day

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Monica Cantrell as Billie Holiday in the Fonseca Theatre Company’s “Lady Day”

1959. A seedy bar in Philadelphia. You’re about to witness one of Billie Holiday’s last performances, given four months before her death. More than a dozen powerful musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous reminiscences to project a dynamic portrait of the lady. As she shares the ups and downs of what it meant to be a powerful woman of color in 1950s America, you can’t help but fall in love with the iconic Lady Day. Lady Day will be a truly unique production, lending even more weight to an already powerful script because it will be held at the Linebacker for a site-specific experience.

  • Through April 7, various dates and times
  • $25 or $15 for Near West residents. Individual tickets are $30 for the April 7 performance, which includes a special tribute and reception to commemorate Billie Holiday’s birthday. The special price does not impact Flex Pass holders.
  • The Linebacker, 2631 W. Michigan on the same block as Indy Convergence
  • All audience members must be 21 or older.
  • Tickets here

Indiana Repertory Theatre: A Doll’s House 2

The Indiana premiere of one of the most produced shows across the country by Lucas Hnath. Straight from Broadway, this is a scaldingly funny and deadly serious exploration of divorce, family, and lost love. The inspiration for Hnath’s work is Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House, a revered, controversial, and groundbreaking play focused on feminism, marriage, and societal expectations — themes which continue in Part 2 and are still relevant today, 140 years after the original was written. Ibsen’s version ends with the “slam heard around the world” as the main character Nora leaves behind her domestic life in pursuit of identity and independence, and A Doll’s House 2 starts with a knock at that same door 15 years later. What happens throughout the play is a fierce and funny five-round boxing match as the characters explore and engage their feelings and each other during an unexpected reunion. The production does not require its original to exist wholly on its own.

  • Through April 7, varios dates and times
  • $25+
  • IRTlive.com

Also at the IRT, more weekday and weekend performances of Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” have been added through March 31.

Discount for Beef & Boards’ 42nd Street

42nd

Footlite’s Got Talent

This is a family friendly variety show competition presented by Entr’acte on Sunday, April 7 at 2:30 p.m.. This event is a fundraiser to support Entr’acte’s continuing efforts to raise money for the purchase of a MacBook to be used by the all volunteer orchestras. Come be entertained as local performers showcase their vocal, dance, and instrumental talents. Join the fun by donating to vote for your favorite act. Interested in performing? Register by March 22.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Singin’ in the Rain”

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Footlite Musicals’ “Singin’ in the Rain.” photogary.net

For me, the best part about Singin’ in the Rain is the real rain onstage for the titular song. And at Footlite, the first row is a sprinkle zone, so heads up. Another important element is the tap dancing. Let me tell you something: Tapping is hard. So I bet choreographer Trish Roberds had her hands full getting all these volunteer performers in sync. But she did, and they did, and it was super impressive. Juddson Updike as Cosmo Brown and Grant Russel as Don Lockwood have some great moves in “Moses Supposes.”

As for the leads, Sydney Norwalk is beautiful as love interest Kathy Selden, and Updike combines slapstick humor with his solid vocal numbers. Unfortunately, Russel is flat at times, but his overall performance makes up for a few missed notes. And in a one-off performance, Russell Watson gives a stunning performance of “Beautiful Girl.”

Costume designer Curt Pickard outdid himself with the chorus girls’ costumes, and he the cast in general gave off the 1920s vibe.

Kathleen Clarke Horrigan directs this classic in such a way that any fan will be thrilled with the production.

  • Through March 17, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $15-$25
  • footlite.org

https://www.facebook.com/Footlite/videos/1155357184630711/

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/1

District Theatre: Yank! — A WWII Love Story

yank
District Theatre: “Yank! — A WWII Love Story”

This plushly scored piece by brothers Joseph and David Zellnik is an unabashed throwback to the golden era of Broadway, in which the creators have attempted to imagine “the show that Rodgers and Hammerstein never wrote.” Indeed, it’s the show that no classic Broadway team could possibly have written, as it deals with the subject of gay men in the US army at a time when the penalty was three years in military prison.

Once in modern San Francisco a young man found a diary of 60 years old in a junk shop. Having read it, he discovered that it were the personal notes made by a soldier in 1943. When the young farmer Stu, living in the Midwest, was 18 years old, he received a summons to the army. In training camp, located in the Texas, young recruits learnt martial weapons that they had to know during the military service in the battles in the Pacific. For Stu, it was very hard to stay in colleagues’ circle, as he hid from them his homosexuality. For a young man, it became even more difficult to stay in the camp, when he had the urge to brave Mitch. Falling in love with a comrade, Stu did not know how to tell him about his feelings. Mitch also realized his awakened sexual desire for men, but he resisted, remembering girlfriends back home. 

When recruits fulfilled training military skills, they were put on a train and sent to the west coast of the country. Taking advantage of the moment, Stu confessed Mitch of his feelings and kissed him. Soon it turned out that a colleague was experiencing response cravings to this young man. Caught in the midst of battle, many soldiers lost their hearts. The same emotion came to Stu, who was terrified after seeing the massacre. Soon the young man met with a reporter-gay from Yank Magazine. Artie got the young man assigned to him as a photographer. Getting rid Stu of the nightmare of fighting and fear of death, he also alienated him from partner Mitch. Under the guidance of an experienced homosexual, young man discovered the secret gay world, which existed in the army. Stu trusted all new experiences to his diary. Only after many months, he was able to be reunited with a former lover. When a young man’s notebook with personal records fell into the wrong hands, it has caused detrimental effects for the pair. Stu had to endure not only the battle with the enemies of his country, but also with colleagues. 

  • March 1-24, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
  • $25 general admission; $20 seniors & students; $15 for active & retired military (with ID)
  • www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/yank

Footlite Musicals: Singin’ in the Rain

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Footlite Musicals’ “Singin’ in the Rain.” photo by photogary.net

This show is faithfully adapted by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their original award-winning screenplay. The must-see classic musical is filled with every memorable moment from the film, including extraordinary dance numbers, a downpour of unforgettable songs, and a real rain shower.

  • March 1-17, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $15-$25
  • footlite.org

https://www.facebook.com/Footlite/videos/1155357184630711/

Phoenix Theatre: The Hotel Nepenthe

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Ben Asaykwee in Phoenix Theatre’s “The Hotel Nepenthe”

A gruesome murder, a fatal accident, and a missing infant—anything can happen at Hotel Nepenthe, a locale straight out of the film noir of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Four actors portray nineteen characters in this poignant dark comedy that oscillates between absurdity and deeply emotional honesty. Warning: This show has strong adult content and situations.

https://www.facebook.com/indyfirebird/videos/624633921290875/

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Brigadoon”

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Kristen Tschiniak (center) in Footlite Musicals’ “Brigadoon”

Brigadoon is a magical tale of a Scottish village that only appears every 100 years, leaving its residents safe in the 1700s when, for them, only one day has passed. Due to a poorly navigated hike, present-day travelers Jeff (Ethan Mathias) and Tommy (Charlie Metzger) are lost in the Highlands and happen to stumble upon Brigadoon.

This is a relatively well-known story, and for good reason. It’s funny and sweet, and it contains many enchanting musical numbers. Footlite captures the otherworld feel of the musical, and the cast’s impressive talent fills the stage. Each cast member holds his or her own, creating a well-put-together production.

Mathias and Metzger complement each other, with Mathias’s unapologetic pessimism and Metzger’s indecisiveness. When Tommy meets the charming Fiona (Sydney Norwalk), you can see that Tommy has found the meaning he has been searching for in his life.

brigadoon3
Sydney Norwalk and Charlie Metzger in Footlite Musicals’ “Brigadoon”

Norwalk’s sassy “Waitin’ for my Dearie” is soon overridden by her flirtatious duet with Metzger, “Heather on the Hill.” Donald Marter as Charlie gives a foot-stomping performance of “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean,” and Kristen Tschiniak brings out Meg’s sauciness in “The Love of My Life.”

The prettily executed choreography by Linda Rees is accentuated by the women’s lovely twirling skirts designed by Karen Frye Knotts. A special nod to the exceptional choreography in “Sword Dance and Reel.” Set designer Bill Phelan imagined an area of isolated but lush landscape for the village.

Occasionally, the mikes need to be turned down, and the ensemble’s vocals are overridden by the leads or the orchestra in a few numbers. But these are minor quibbles for what is a lively and engaging show.

Director Paula Phelan and vocal director Damon Clevenger have created an experience that takes you along on their mystical journey.

  • Through Oct. 14, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $10-$25
  • Footlite.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 8/17

So, the Indy Fringe Festival will dominate the theater scene for the next two weeks. There are 78 shows spread over eight stages, so I’m not going to list them here. Go check out the schedule. I am planning to attend at least 13 of these — more if time and stamina permit. I’m a one-woman writing machine, so bear with me.

There are, however, a couple alternatives to Fringe.

Garfield Shakespeare Company: The Three Musketeers

Footlite Musicals Young Artists: The Pirates of Penzance

A fresh take on one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comic operas, this show is a hilarious farce of sentimental pirates, bumbling policemen, dim-witted young lovers, and an eccentric Major-General.

  • Aug. 17-26, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $25; $15 for youth 17 and younger; discount days Thursday evening and opening weekend Sunday matinee: $10
  • footlite.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 

into the woods
“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

promo

flexpass

boas

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: previews

Openings for the weekend of 6/29

NoExit: Drosselmeyer’s

All-American Cabaret

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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

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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
  • http://www.summerstockstage.com

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
  • footlite.org

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 6/8

Carmel Community Players: Is He Dead?

ishedead
Carmel Community Players: “Is He Dead”

In this play written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, is in love with Marie Leroux but in debt to a villainous picture-dealer, Bastien Andre. Andre forecloses on Millet and threatens debtor’s prison unless Marie marries him. Millet realizes that the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune. Millet fakes his death and prospers, all while passing himself off as his own sister. Now a rich “widow,” he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life, and marry Marie.

  • June 8-24, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $16; $14 for seniors (62+) and students
  • Studio 37 inside Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy, 10029 E. 126th St., Fishers
  • www.carmelplayers.org

Quick! Switch Clothes With Me!

This is a devised piece of theater that explores the smothering — or perhaps amusing —  expectations placed upon all of us: expectations that we have for ourselves, expectations others have for us, and expectations placed on us by society. Emma Rund, Cooper Pell, Gwyneth Clare, and Layke Fowler in collaboration with director Kelsey Price have devised a summation of pieces that will bring you laughter, empowerment, and a damn good time. Please note that this show does contain heavy language and mature themes and may not be suitable for all audiences.

Broadway Across America-Indianapolis: Rent

Check out the 25th anniversary tour!

The District Theatre Open House during Pride Parade 

Theatre on teh Square is now the District Theatre. Walk through this new-and-improved space and grab a refreshment.

  • June 9, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • 627 Mass Ave.

Footlite Musicals: Awards Night 

The annual end of season celebration. A cocktail hour and dessert bar are followed by a preview of the upcoming 2018/2019 season and awards for the 2017/2018 season. Bring cash to vote for your favorite show of the past season to receive the Fan Favorite Award. Dress is cocktail attire.

  • June 10, 5:30 p.m.
  • Tickets are only $5
  • Hedback Theatre
  • footlite.org

Tony Awards

harry-potter-broadwaySpongeBob the Musical. Josh Groban. I just don’t know about this …

However, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has 10 nominations, sooooo …

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”

priscilla2Footlite Musicals spent a small fortune to rent the costumes for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert from the Broadway show, and they are just as fab-u-lous as you would expect from a musical about three drag queens. So visually, Priscilla is a riot of color and outlandish styles.

The bad part is that the ensemble looks hesitant, off-balance, or just terrified in the costumes. My first thought is that it’s fear of destroying something that cost, most likely, more than my house. I would be freaked out too. Or perhaps they just didn’t get the opportunity to wear the costumes enough before opening night to really get a feel for them. After all, 4-foot-high headwear and the like can take some getting used to.

But whatever the cause, it just didn’t look as if the ensemble was having fun. And that’s what the show is really about—it’s an excuse to be campy as hell and sing some reinterpreted classics from the ’70s and ’80s. Arguments can be made that it is a reflection on societal issues such as homophobia, but really. It’s too Mamma Mia.

Set in Australia, the thin plot begins with Michael Howard as Tick/Mitzi, who has never seen his son. His act in Sydney is stale, and after his young son Benji pulls a promise out of Tick to visit, Tick recruits two other performers, Chris Jones as Adam/Felicia, and John Phillips as Bernadette, to accompany him to Alice Springs, where they will put on a show at his wife’s casino. Felicia acquires an RV for the two-week journey that she christens “Priscilla,” which looks like a Gay Pride Mystery Mobile. Beware of stuffed roadkill too.

Howard portrays Tick as a character at odds with himself. His heart is in drag, but he is still skittish about admitting it outside the safety of the theater. When not onstage, he is always dressed in more “normal” clothing. In addition, he has guilt over being an absentee dad. Howard communicates these conflicted feelings well. Somewhat ironically, though, his strongest song is “Always on My Mind,” which he sings with his son, played by Rocco Meo. Although the “MacArthur Park” abandoned cake bit was pretty funny.

Jones is by far the queenest of the queens, overflowing with sass and unapologetic about it. His performance is the most entertaining and animated, and his songs are the best. He also leads a slo-mo effect for “Hot Stuff” that is riveting.

Bernadette, who is transgender, is old school from when performers appreciated the art of lip-synching. Phillips acts as the matron of the trio, a lady in many ways, but she doesn’t back down when a one-liner or a good kick is needed to put someone in his or her place. A burgeoning love interest between her and Bob, a backwoods mechanic played by Dan Flahive, makes for some sweet feels.

While the spotlight wasn’t as schizophrenic as it often is at Footlite, the sound was an issue. Bad mikes or overwhelming orchestration made for lost lyrics.

But I will end this with a positive note: An unexpected moment of pure hilarity from a mullet-ed redneck, Shirley, played by Lauren Johnson, was actually the highlight in laughter for me. Her unabashedly grody state and pelvic gyrations are so obscene they simply have to be seen.

  • Through May 20,  Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $5-$23
  • Sign language-interpreted performance: May 12
  • Sing-Along performance Saturday, May 12 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Priscilla’s Closet Fashion Show Saturday, May 19 5, p.m. Feast your eyes on a 45-minute fashion show extravaganza showcasing the Tony Award-winning costume designs.
  • www.footlite.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/4

Footlite Musicals: Priscilla Queen of the Desert 

priscillaPriscilla Queen of the Desert is a story of three Sydney, Australia, drag artists who boldly “Go West” on a roadtrip to Alice Springs to perform at a casino. The ulterior motive of Tick is to reconnect with his young son. Bernadette needs a distraction from her grief after the death of her lover Trumpet. And Adam wants to blatantly disrespect aboriginal sacred land and climb to the top of Ayers Rock in a frock and sing Kylie Minogue tunes. Along the way they have engine troubles, meet hostile locals, and sing 23 ’70s and ’80s dance tunes such as “I Will Survive,” “It’s Raining Men,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “MacArthur Park.” This production will feature the original Broadway and Academy Award-winning outrageous costumes from New York. *Intended for mature audiences.

  • May 4-20,  Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $5-$23
  • Sign language-interpreted performance: May 12.
  • Sing-Along performance Saturday, May 12 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Priscilla’s Closet Fashion Show Saturday, May 19 5, p.m. Feast your eyes on a 45-minute fashion show extravaganza showcasing the Tony Award-winning costume designs.
  • www.footlite.org

NoExit Performance: Nickel & Dimed

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NoExit Performance: “Nickel & Dimed”

Based on the novel Nickel and Dimed, on (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich’s voyage into the world of the working poor made headlines when her novel about her low-wage service jobs was released in 2001. A bestseller, Nickel and Dimed was adapted in 2002 into a play, and it remains relevant to our current socio-economic landscape. Nickel and Dimed reminds us that the promise of a “good day’s pay for a good day’s work” is, for a large swath of the population, a quaint fantasy. Ehrenreich’s research was conducted in the late 1990s, and perhaps what is most disturbing is how little has changed. Joan Holden’s stage adaptation is a focused comic epic shadowed with tragedy.

  • May 3-19, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.
  • $12-50-$25
  • The Bingo Hall, 3633 E. Raymond St.
  • Friday, May 4: Talkback. Lynn Duggan, labor studies professor at IU and IUPUI, will be hold a talkback immediately following the May 4 production. Duggan has a background in political economy and is a professor in the Labor Studies Department at Indiana University Bloomington. She is interested in gender and social policy around the world, currently focusing on women in retail and building trades, and on work-family policy in Germany and Ireland.
  • Industry Night: Half price tickets on May 3 and May 10
  • https://nickeldimed.bpt.me

Epilogue Players: Maggie’s Choice

The laughs begin when Maggie “chooses” to find out what life holds in addition to “wife and mother.” Stir in a wacky mom, a confused husband, an adult daughter who won’t grow up, two lovable sidekicks, and the hilarity escalates to crazy-funny chaos of epic proportion!

  • May 4-20, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $15; $12 members; $13 for seniors
  • www.epilogueplayers.com

Ten-minute Play Festival

From page to stage. Emerging playwrights take you on a personal journey through their imagination. The themes are as wide-ranging as the playwrights themselves. IndyFringe and the Indiana Writers Center have put together an emerging playwrights’ showcase featuring ten-minute plays by exciting new playwrights who have been honing their craft at the Indiana Writers Center and presented by your favorite local theater companies.

Jabberwocky presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana: “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

The time has finally come to plant your flower and vegetable gardens. Hear stories from those that are passionate about their gardens. During the open mike portion of the evening, you may choose to share your own 2 to 3 minute gardening story. The evening includes a cash bar, snacks, stories and a chance to make new friends.

IRT special for Noises Off

Save $10 with a limited time offer. Use promo code FARCE1 on your next purchase to see IRT’s season finale Noises Off. Valid on individual tickets priced $35 and higher now through May 14. Other exclusions may apply. irtlive.com.

Plus these events at the Phoenix

where is Phoenix

thepill

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/13

2018 DivaFest: A Celebration of Women Playwrights

JosephineDivaFest is a juried playwriting festival sponsored by IndyFringe each year. Nationally, only 19 percent of published contemporary plays have been written by women. IndyFringe is seeking to change that. Over the past nine years, DivaFest has fostered the growth of new works, new audiences, performing companies, and new IndyFringe festival shows.

2018 DivaFest lineup:

Unholy Trinity written by Mary Karty: Some people will speak their Minds, but what if the Heart and Body were given voice as well? What would they want and how would they get along? Unholy Trinity explores these internal conflicts and complexity by giving each of these aspects her own character. They will have to work together in this hilarious, absurdist search for love. It will take all three to find the one.

Moon Beneath Her Feet written by Carol Stamile: Moon Beneath Her Feet is a challenging yet hopeful play about a woman, Julia, struggling not only with her messy love life, but also with unexplained, occasional blindness and troubling insomnia. There are answers for both Julia’s heart and mind in the truth, but finding the truth in her mother’s stories won’t be easy…

Josephine — Special Returning Event, co-created by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio, and Tod Kimbro: Indianapolis audiences will see the full-length version of Josephine, the 2017 IndyFringe hit play, as part of this year’s DivaFest lineup. Featuring three new original Josephine Baker songs, Tymisha “Tush” Harris embodies the legendary artist in the magnificent “burlesque cabaret dream play” Josephine at IndyFringe Basile Theatre. Harris recounts Baker’s journey from Missouri poverty and exploitation (she was married twice before she turned 16) to Parisian high society and Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. Harris makes the audience feel Baker’s pain and pride at every turn, both through songs — highlighted by a heartbreaking rendition of “Bye Bye Blackbird” and a stirring slowed-down reinterpretation of Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin'” — and heartfelt soliloquies. ($25 online and at the door. Special performer pricing for Sunday, April 15 – $10 at the door only. Bring past program for proof at the door.)

Keeping the Pace written by Casey O’Leary and Stacy Post: Kit-Kat is retiring and selling her small business, a gym exclusively for women. However, her three most loyal clients are devastated by the news and set out to stop the sale. As the four women share what the gym means to each of them, they discover common ground and the strength to face life’s challenges.

Stark Naked written by Carol Weiss: Stark Naked is a one-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.

Operation Farley written by Ramona Henderson: Jack and his best friend Dale have been in a rut since their recent retirement. When Jack discovers his great, great grandfather’s Civil War memorial is going to be destroyed he enlists Dale to help him save it. Their adventure leads to excitement, trouble, and making a new friend.

Cassandra’s Dream written by Maripat Allen: Unconscious forces are unleashed when a woman with a secret joins a seminar on Interpretive Art through Dreams.

Beef & Boards: Singin’ in the Rain

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Timothy Ford reprises the role of Don Lockwood in Beef & Boards’ “Singin’ in the Rain”

It’s the classic MGM movie-turned-musical with the catchy tunes that include “Good Morning,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and its infamous title tune. In silent movies, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a hot item, but behind the scenes, things aren’t always as they appear on the big screen! Meanwhile, Lina’s squeaky voice might be the end of her career in “talking pictures” without the help of a talented young actress to do the talking and singing for her.

  • April 12-May 26
  • $44-$64. Discount of $6 off per ticket for ages 3-15.
  • beefandboards.com

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Bill Lepp, Don White, and Bill Harley

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Bill Harley is joined by Bil Lepp and Don White for “Father’s Daze”

Bil Lepp, Don White, and Bill Harley have joined forces to share their unique perspectives on fatherhood in Father’s Daze. The show includes stories, songs, and a chance to ask your burning questions about parenthood. Experience some laughs at the expense of their foibles. For a few short hours, let the outside world slip away, laugh, remember our own parenting missteps, and celebrate 30 years of Storytelling Arts of Indiana. The celebration includes desserts, beer, and wine during intermission as well as a chance to make a difference by supporting the many outreach programs sponsored by Storytelling Arts of Indiana.

If you would like to mingle with Lepp, Harley, and White as well as partake in appetizers, beer, and wine before the show, then attend Before the Curtain from 6 -7 p.m. downstairs in the Stardust Cafe. This is an additional cost of $15 for a total ticket price of $50.

Candlelight Theatre: Murder in Triplicate

Prepare for an evening of intrigue, mystery, and murder as Candlelight Theatre presents Murder in Triplicate. Three one-act plays, written by James Trofatter and Donna Wing, will entertain patrons as they rotate through three rooms of the Benjamin Harrison presidential mansion. Ambient lighting, candlelight, and artifacts of the 23rd president of the United States set the stage for a most unique theater experience. Looking for a VIP experience? Book a private room for up to 20 guests and enjoy a night with friends, family, clients, or coworkers.

Betsy: A newlywed couple arrives home after a whirlwind romance to find they are not alone.

The Photograph Album: Siblings cope with the deaths of their parents. A family photo album reveals a horrifying mystery.

The Companion: An invalid woman is suspicious that her new nurse is not who she seems to be.

Footlite Musicals Indy Pride preview of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert

Footlite Musicals welcomes the entire Indy Pride community for a special preview night of  the upcoming show. Mingle with members of the Footlite board of directors, Priscilla cast members, and other Indy Pride community members. Representatives of Indy Pride and Footlight will present a welcome, and then attendees can enjoy some songs from the cast of Priscilla. The Footlite Pub will be open and selling beer and wine, and the snack bar will be selling water and non-alcoholic beverages.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musical: “The Bridges of Madison County” (4 stars)

bridgesSo, I kept telling myself it was hyperbole to use this word, and kind of cliché really. But then I thought about Footlite Musicals as a theatrical entity: “Footlite Musicals is an all-volunteer organization administered by a Board of Directors and several committees with the support of a loyal membership paying nominal yearly dues. Productions are cast from open auditions, and no one in the cast or on staff is paid. [emphasis added]

You get it?

The cast and crew (and orchestra, which is so often overlooked) are doing this for nothing more than the joy of being onstage, telling a story, and sharing their talents with audiences.

So I’m gonna say it.

The leads, Lori Ecker and Rick Barber, are superstars.

Ecker and Barber gift Footlite’s production of The Bridges of Madison County with their superlative voices in the most captivating and emotional performances I have seen onstage in years—no matter if the show was volunteer, Equity, touring, whatever.

Barber’s vocals are majestic in a way that belies his character’s humble persona. Robert’s strength is born of his growing love for Francesca. His a cappella is enchanting. Ecker vocally and physically manifests Francesca’s yearning to yield to her soul’s starvation for living, but ultimately she is shackled to her obligations as a wife and mother. Together they perfectly depict the bumbling, unsure, but eager interaction of two people drawn to each other in a guilty but inevitable way.

Barber’s credentials include both local (including other Footlite shows) and traveling gigs, such as cruise ship performer, and he graduated from IU’s Jacob’s School of Music. Time and effort that was well-spent to hone his talent. Ecker is also a veteran of Footlite’s stage, and she was also in the intriguing production of The Golem of Havana at the Phoenix Theatre. She has worked with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Opera, and has her MFA in acting from Ohio University. But even with all this experience, talent such as theirs remains something special.

Darrin Gowan as Francesca’s husband, Bud, gets a chance to impress, especially in the moving song “When I’m Gone,” sung with Daniel Scharbrough and the company. Joseph Massingale, as Francesca and Bud’s son Michael, also gets a deserved chance in the spotlight for the song “State Road 20/The Real World.”

But a special mention needs to be made of Jeanne Chandler as Francesca’s nosy neighbor Marge. In a hilarious and unexpected turn in such a somber show, Chandler gets to strut her stuff in “Get Closer,” sporting a muumuu and headwrap and using a strainer spoon as a microphone. Seriously, this was a riot.

Director Tim Spradlin, an Indianapolis directing and acting force in his own right, has overseen a beautiful piece of stagecraft for Footlite.

Admittedly, I was hesitant about seeing the show at first. I have never read the book or seen the movie, and the only impression I had about the plot was that it was sad and dealt with adultery, neither of which appealed to me. And while yes, the story is downright heart-wrenching, this production makes the chest pain worth it.

So why only four stars? There was a lot of prop rearranging, and sometimes it took too noticeable an amount of time. This movement was really distracting. However, the backdrops that took audiences from the farm to the bridge are lovely—understated but effective, just as these elements should be.

And that damned spotlight. I’ve said my piece about it before. So, yeah, that.

  • March 2-18, Thursday,  Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $25; 17 and under $15
  • Come a half-hour early to the show and enjoy live music performed on the beautiful two manual, eleven-rank Page Theater Pipe Organ at most performances.
  • http://www.footlite.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/2

7th Artistry: Hansel and Gretel 

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7th Artistry: “Hansel and Gretel”

Hansel and Gretel don’t have a perfect life. Their father abandoned them and the woman who was kind enough to take them in has grown tired of them. Hansel decides that it is for the best if they leave, but is it really that easy to get rid of your addictions? This  is an extravagant tale, set in a 1920s speakeasy during prohibition.

*Please note this is a darker telling of “Hansel and Gretel.” Yes, please.

  • Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 4 at 4 p.m.
  • $15
  • The Friday opening night performance’s will be part of First Friday at Circle City Industrial Complex.
  • Circle City Industrial Complex, 1125 Brookside Ave., Indianapolis, Ind. 46202. Located in the old ifab space just north of the parking lot, few does down from ruckus.
  • https://hanselandgretel2018.brownpapertickets.com/

Footlite Musicals: The Bridges of Madison County: The Broadway Musical

footlite2The Bridges of Madison County chronicles the four-day affair between an Italian war bride and a traveling National Geographic photographer who comes to Iowa to shoot the area’s fabled covered bridges. Based off of the bestselling novel written by Robert James Waller, Bridges tells of how the sadness of Francesca’s solitude is broken when her husband and children leave for the 1965 Iowa State Fair and a weary Robert Kincaid stops to ask directions for his assignment. The pair’s connection is instant and deep, yet short-lived. But that liaison will haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

  • March 2-18, Thursday,  Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $25; 17 and under $15
  • Come a half-hour early to the show and enjoy live music performed on the beautiful two manual, eleven-rank Page Theater Pipe Organ at most performances.
  • http://www.footlite.org

 Epilogue Players: Lucky Me

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Epilogue Players: “Lucky Me”

If it weren’t for bad luck, she’d have no luck at all. Unlucky in love, life, and pets, Sara refuses to give up. Sharing her home with her overprotective, grumpy, and confused father, she dreams of something more. Her perpetually injured suitors all run away in self-preservation. Can her new neighbor, Tom, be her knight in shining armor? Can he survive a relationship with Sara, or her father?

  • March 2-18, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $15; $13 seniors 65 and older; $12 for Epilogue members
  • http://www.epilogueplayers.com/

Theater at the Fort: Black Voices — The Grand Finale

Directed by Delores Thornton, Black Voices from the past includes a cast of 13 performers that will bring the history of blacks to life. This is the finale of the 3-part series and will highlight the Kings and Queens of Africa from the past, all the way to the present day.

Love You Reckless produced by Ankh Productions

Man and Woman. They live with each other and can’t live without one another. They simply have to share, care, love, yell, fight, hate until something… “sticks.” There is plenty of power for everyone.

  • Friday, March 2-Sunday, March 4. Times vary.
  • IndyFringe theater
  • $15; student/senior $12
  • Tickets

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 2/23

Carmel Community Players: David Mamet’s American Buffalo

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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
  • www.carmelplayers.org

EclecticPond Theatre Company: Sonnets and Slow Jams 

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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
  • www.eclecticpond.org

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

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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
  • www.irtlive.com

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

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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
  • www.asantechildrenstheatre.org

Butler Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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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 (www.coburnplace.org).

  • 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

 

footlite
For information and registration, click here.

dinner

 

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Brooklyn: The Musical” (4 stars)

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Footlite Musicals: “Brooklyn: The Musical”

Brooklyn: The Musical is a rather obscure show that opened on Broadway in 2004. Information on it is scarce, and the soundtrack even more so. Which is a shame. The numbers are poignant and dynamic. The script is flawed, but it’s still a good story with great music.

Set on a street corner near the Brooklyn Bridge, a group of street performers who call themselves the City Weeds tell a “sidewalk fairytale” about a tragic love story. A Parisian woman and an American man enjoy a fleeting but passionate relationship. The man, Taylor, leaves, promising to return to France for Faith, but he never does. Unbeknown to him, he also left behind their unborn daughter, whom Faith names Brooklyn in remembrance of her lost love. While Brooklyn is still a small girl, Faith commits suicide, leaving Brooklyn’s upbringing to a convent. As an adult, Brooklyn, who is an up-and-coming singer, searches for her father, hoping he will recognize her through his “Unfinished Lullaby.” But the young Parisian is confronted by Paradice, an established performer who feels Brooklyn is a threat to her career.

And I will stop there. I already gave you a good piece of the plot.

But another element of the story makes it even more interesting. Mark Schoenfeld, who co-wrote Brooklyn, experienced homelessness himself. When a friend from his past, Barri McPherson, found him singing on the street, she invited him to stay with her and her family, and the two collaborated to create Brooklyn, including songs based on Schoenfeld’s experiences.

Footlite Musicals has done an impressive job of transforming the theater for the show. After you pass through the side door leading to the stage, which is set up cabaret style, you are immersed in the set—you continue down a darkened ally with panhandlers, graffiti, and even a dog. The stage’s main set is a suburb accomplishment, designed by Stephen Matters, mimicking an inner-city sidewalk against a warehouse-like building. In the spirit of street performers, the imaginative costumes and props consist of cast-offs and trash. One of Curt Pickard’s most ingenious designs is a headpiece for Paradice made from potato chip bags. The live band is tucked away on the side with an open guitar case for donations.

Individually, not every single note from the singers may be perfect, but overall the effect is moving and powerful. Full-cast numbers are some of the strongest I have heard on the Footlite stage. (Sadly, the endemic sound issues are still present, and occasionally, the singers drown out narrative.)

Shelbi Berry as Brooklyn has the sweet face and demeanor, with a voice to match, of a girl not looking for super stardom, just her father. Her nemesis, Paradice, played by Kendra Randle, on the other hand, is the epitome of a sassy, sexy, diva star. Stevie Jones is smooth as the Street Singer. Donny Torres as Taylor exhibits his character’s broken emotions, and Paige Brown as Faith has an especially pretty duet with Berry called “Once Upon a Time.”

Director Kathleen Clarke Horrigan was passionate about bringing this show to Indianapolis, and her determination and persistence paid off, for audiences and for the production.

From Footlite: Homelessness is a growing problem in Indianapolis. In 2016, a staggering 12,055 individuals experienced homelessness in Indy…and that number continues to grow. In an effort to raise awareness about this epidemic, Brooklyn: The Musical has partnered with The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention in Indianapolis. CHIP Indianapolis’s goal is to make homelessness rare, short-lived and recoverable. Visit chipindy.org to make a donation or learn how you can volunteer or make a donation during a Brooklyn performance.

  • Jan. 11-14 and 18-21; Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; 17 and under $15; special discount pricing ($10) applies for the first Sunday and both Thursday performances.
  • footlite.org

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 1/5/18

Footlite Musicals: Brooklyn the Musical

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Footlite Musicals: “Brooklyn the Musical”

An Indiana premiere, Brooklyn is a story within a story. On the outside, you have a group of soulful homeless street performers living under a bridge in the famed New York borough who share a story from their lives. Then there is the story they tell — a wondrous fairy tale of a young girl searching for fame and the father she never knew. Together, these stories create a show that is both touching and inspiring, drawing the audience into a live theater experience to remember. This will be a cabaret-style production, with the audience seated on stage for an intimate, immersive experience. Footlite has proudly partnered with the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention. Together, Brooklyn and CHIP hope to raise awareness about the Indianapolis homelessness epidemic. CHIP mobilizes, advocates, and empowers community collaboration toward ending homelessness and fosters an effective system of homelessness prevention and intervention in the greater Indianapolis area. Visit chipindy.com for more information.

  • Jan. 5-7, 11-14 and 18-21; Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; 17 and under $15; special discount pricing ($10) applies for the first Sunday and both Thursday performances.
  • footlite.org

Zach & Zack: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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Zach & Zack’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

More than a woman or a man, legendary rock goddess Hedwig Schmidt is coming to turn Indianapolis on its head with her husband Yitzhak and her band, The Angry Inch. In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the “internationally ignored song stylist” tells her tale of a botched sex change operation and her journey over the Berlin Wall. Along the way, she’s learned a thing or two about life.

Check out my interview with Zach & Zack here.

  • Friday, Jan. 5 (sold out) and 12, 9 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 6 and 13, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 11, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m.
  • $30
  • Epilogue Players theater
  • zachandzack.vbotickets.com/events

IndyFringe: Holiday Hangover Party

A 2018 theater-season kick-off party. Performer previews from local theater companies and artists.

  • Sunday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m.
  • Complimentary Sun King Beer and nibbles from Mass Ave restaurants.
  • $10; adults only
  • indyfringe.org

And I missed this one last week …

Beef & Boards: Greater Tuna

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“Greater Tuna” at Beef & Boards

This sidesplitting comedy takes place in Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas. Get ready to laugh as all 20 of its wacky residents are played by Eddie Curry and Jeff Stockberger!

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

I'm too fat for this show
“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: reviews

Footlite Musicals: “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (3.5 stars)

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Footlite Musicals: “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”

The 1978 Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas along with its 1982 film adaptation starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton made known the story of the infamous Texan “Chicken Ranch.” Yes, this show is actually inspired by a true story, though sensationalized for public consumption. Regardless, it’s a fascinating fact of history that the brothel stayed in business from 1905 to 1973.

Footlite Musicals with director Jim Thorp do the show proud. The huge singing and dancing cast (thanks to vocal director Rick Barber and musical director Will Scharfenberger) fills up the stage with realistic scenic design (Fred Margison, Rich Baker, Therese Burns, and Thorp) and dazzling costumes (designed by Jeff Farley) for that big, powerful musical feel, and the production maintains its high-energy appeal to the end.

Lead Julie Powers is stunning in both her portrayal of Miss Mona and her musical numbers, most notably the closer, “Bus from Amarillo.” She is supported by equally arresting performances by “Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’” by Eryn Bowser as Jewel, “Doatsey Mae” by Jennifer Kaufmann, and “Hard Candy Christmas” led by Abby Okerson as Angel (ubiquitous sound issues aside). Fun-to-watch ensemble numbers include “20 Fans” and “The Aggie Song.” A surprising addition to the kudos is the engaging narrator (normally a relatively flat part) played by Rick Barber. The live orchestra on stage and in costume is a nice touch.

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Footlite Musicals: “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”

Mike Bauerle as takes on the combustible Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd well, against the effectively nosy Melvin P. Thorpe played by Todd Hammer. Jim Nelms as the Texas governor gets in there with a convincing political “Sidestep.”

This is just a fun, upbeat, (mostly) feel-good show that is consistently entertaining. Some technical issues, off notes, and occasional fumble aside, this is a nice alternative to the overwhelming number of holiday shows on stage around town.

  • 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
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: reviews

“Sister Act” at Footlite Musicals (4 stars)

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“Sister Act” at Footlite Musicals. Photo Credit: Rick Galloway.

Footlite Musicals has yet another hit with its production of the popular Sister Act, which is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Morgan Webster as Deloris Van Cartier has the sound and the moves for the Reno singer. Once ensconced in the convent, she is joined by her gaggle of new friends and “sisters,” including the adorable postulate Sister Mary Robert (Bailey Jane Williams, who sings an especially memorable “The Life I Never Led”) and the insidiously happy Sister Mary Patrick (Nina Stilabower), among many others.

Donald Marter (as police officer Eddie), in his unrequired love for Deloris, is a riot in his “I Could Be the Guy,” as is Jonathan Studdard as TJ. Studdard, Daniel Draves, and Josh Vander Missen are another highlight in “Lady in the Long Black Dress.”

Director Paula Phelan and musical director Zak Tschiniak have crafted a real crowd-pleaser.

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 8, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; $15 youth. Thursdays and Sundays only $10.
  • www.footlite.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/22

 

Fun Home at the Phoenix Theatre

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“Fun Home” at the Phoenix Theatre

Alison grew up in the wonderfully twisted household of the family funeral home run by her father, a distant parent and closeted gay man. As an adult, she uses her art to re-examine her life and come to terms with her father’s suicide. With storytelling that is darkly funny and characters that are exactly like your family (and nothing like your family), Fun Home takes audiences on an unpredictable journey of love, grief, and acceptance. Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 22, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. For Fun Home only, Saturday performance at 5 p.m. have been added. Tickets $27 each.
  • September 21: Preview Night. Tickets $25 each.
  • September 22: Opening Night and Producer Party. Tickets $35 each. Fun, food,
    and complimentary Sun King beer.
  • $35; $25 for ages 21 and under
  • www.phoenixtheatre.org

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Fairy Tales for Grownups

The kick-off of their 30th season features Mary Gay Ducey. Mary Gay tells fresh versions of fairy tales, family mayhem, and little-known stories from history. From a commission by the Smithsonian, to an appearance on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood as well as a show in San Quentin, Mary Gay has appeared at the National Storytelling Festival and most major festivals throughout the United States. Before Mary Gay takes the stage, Deborah Asante will share a story.  Immediately following the performance, there is an after-party at Chatham Tap on Massachusetts.

  • Saturday, September 23, 7 p.m.
  • $20; $15 students
  • Indiana History Center
  • storytellingarts.org, 317-232-1882

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

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“The Curious Indecent of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Photo by Zach Rosing.

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

 Sister Act at Footlite Musicals

The hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody, she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. In keeping with the theme of the show, Footlite will be taking up a special collection. Near the end of the first act, special offering plates will be passed by the actors. All proceeds will be given to The Little Sisters of the Poor and The Julian Center.

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 8, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; $15 youth. Thursdays and Sundays only $10.
  • www.footlite.org

KaidyDid Productions with Indiana Performing Arts CentreMemphis: The Musical

Huey Calhoun is an impoverished, illiterate white man in the South during the 1950s. Despite racial statements, he finds his passion in the city’s black night clubs on Beale Street in Memphis, and begins to fall in love with both music and Felicia, the sister of one of the club owners. When his irresponsible personality and protagonist duties to advance the plot land him a DJ gig at a local radio station, he instantly begins to promote black music, earning himself wild popularity with the young crowd and a neat catch phrase, “Hockadoo.” 2010 Best Musical Tony Award winner.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 7/7

And How Does My Garden Grow? written by Rita Kohn

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“How Does My Garden Grow” by Rita Kohn

From  directors Angela Jackson-Brown and Ashya Thomas:
This play is about a group of young teens who are struggling to find their way in the world. They are runaways. They are abused. They are pushed outside of the margin, BUT they are not broken. They have heart, they have humor, and they have a drive to succeed. This play will make you cry and smile as you see their journey. Rita wrote this play 17 years ago, and it is STILL relevant today. In the words of Rita, “All these years later and we are still struggling with the same issues.”

  • July 8, 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; July 9, 2:30 p.m.; July 14, 7:30 p.m.; July 15, 4:30 p.m.
  • $13
  • Indy Eleven Theatre
  • Click here for tickets

Ring of Fire at Beef & Boards

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“Ring of Fire” at Beef & Boards

This unique show has been inspired by Johnny Cash’s legendary, iconic songbook and covers everything from love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Famous songs include “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and of course the title tune, all celebrating the Man in Black.

 

PARADE2017 presented by NoExit Performance

The event is part of Garfield Park Arts Center-Indy Parks and Recreation “Pack the Parks Day.” PARADE2017 is a cumulative, outdoor performance inspired by dance history, community resistance, and the joyful pageantry of American parades. In 1917, the Ballets Russes premiered Parade (1917), a collaboration between Leonide Massine, Pablo Picasso, Eric Satie, and Jean Cocteau, a critique of modernity and the uncouth American. One hundred years later, PARADE2017 revisits this collaboration, marching through one hundred years of artistic history and asking if moving forward is always progress?

Belles at Epilogue Players

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“Belles” at Epilogue Players

Belles is told in “two acts and forty-five phone calls.” It visits six Southern sisters who, over the course of an autumn weekend, seek to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them via the telephone and in the process come to terms with their shattered family history.

On Broadway presented by Indiana Performing Arts Initiative

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“On Broadway” by the Indiana Performing Arts Initiative. Photo by http://www.photography.net.

The show is a cabaret-style musical review featuring some of American musical theater’s most popular songs. The review features selections from Broadway classics such as Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, Pippin and Les Miserables as well as current Broadway hits such as Wicked, Hamilton, Book of Mormon and Waitress.

This summer-stock musical theater training program is under the umbrella of local non-profit theater organization Claude McNeal Productions. In 2016, Claude McNeal Productions launched the inaugural season of its IPAI as an expanded performing arts training program. True to its mission of placing students alongside working theater professionals, the program had over fifty participants from local high schools and area college working to further develop their skills in the performing arts.

  • July 7-16, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sunday, July 9 at 4:30 p.m.; and  Sunday, July 16 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Herron High School, Russell Hall
  • $5 for all Herron High School faculty, staff or students; $8 for children 6 to 18 and all area college students (I.D. required); $12 for adults.
  • http://www.theipai.com or call 317-340-4258

Big Fish, a Young Adult Production, at Footlite Musicals

The show features performers aged 18-25. Every man wants to be a hero to his son. Big Fish is the heart-warming musical about a dying man’s efforts to justify an ordinary life. A father tells his life story as a tailored fairy tale. His young son believes the mythic, larger than life stories until time goes by and the boy grows up to question whether or not he’s being led on. The adult son refuses to buy into his dad’s self-glorifying tall tales until the tear-jerking finale when he recognizes his father truly lived a big life.

  • July 7-23, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
  • $23; $15 youth
  • www.footlite.org

 

 

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Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Anything Goes” at Footlite Musicals (3 stars)

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“Anything Goes” at Footlite Musicals

It’s not unusual for the storyline of a piece of musical theater or a musical film to be merely a slipshod vehicle for what the audience really wants: amazing tunes (most often accompanied by elaborate dance numbers). So it is with works such as Grease, Mamma Mia, Cats, Chess…and pretty much anything pre-1940. As much as I adore Cole Porter, the book of Anything Goes is ridiculous. But oh those songs! One right after another is a little piece of tap-the-foot heaven. “I Get a Kick Out of You.” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Let’s Misbehave,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and of course the show’s namesake, “Anything Goes.”

Footlite Musicals pours energy to the 1962 version now on stage under the direction of Kathleen Clarke Horrigan, with vocal director John Phillips and choreographer Trish Roberds.

Despite sound system issues and an erratic spotlight, Saturday night’s performance was satisfying on many levels, even if it wasn’t “the top.” Susie Harloff as nightclub singer Reno takes top marks for her star-worthy performance both vocally and in character. Trenton Baker as the star-crossed beau Billy has a clear, lovely voice, but it lacks the power needed for a leading role. He and Emily Schaab, as Bonnie, could split her enthusiasm and projection and both actors would still have full tanks. Sydney Norwalk as Billy’s ladylove Hope accompanies him with her own sweet voice and a classical mixture of demur yet fun-loving demeanor.

Tom Bartley as Moonface Martin makes for a much more loveable buffoon than Ryan Straut as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. There is no possible suspension of disbelief here because it’s clear Oakleigh is going to end up in Reno’s costume closet, not her pants.

A large chorus of singers and dancers fill in the stage, and the tap numbers are an amazing cardio workout. Gale Sturm’s three-tiered set design captures both the enormity of a ship and the intimacy of a deck in the moonlight. Curt Pickard’s costuming—especially for the ladies—is classy and stunning.

  • Anything Goes continues through March 19. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: 7:30 p.m.; Sunday: 2:30 p.m.
  • Tickets are $23 (ages 17 and under $15)
  • Discount Days: All Thursday evening performances and opening weekend Sunday matinee are $10.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings and continuing shows for the weekend of March 3

Footlite Musicals opens the Cole Porter favorite Anything Goes this weekend. The story showcases madcap antics aboard an ocean liner between New York and London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as “Anything Goes,” “You’re the Top,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

  • March 3-19, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • Admission  is $23 for adults and $15 for youth (17 and younger).
  • Discount days (Thursday Evenings and Opening Weekend Sunday Matinee) – all seats are $10
  • Adult members are $15 and youth members are $10. Member tickets are only $5 on Discount Days.

Also check out Footlite’s tap workshop!

anything-goes-tap-workshop

 

"Swan Song" at Epilogue Players. Photo by Duane Mercier.
“Swan Song” at Epilogue Players. Photo by Duane Mercier.

Epilogue Players opens The Swan Song: A Study in Terror by Mike Johnson. The thriller, directed by Bernard Wurger, is a depraved tale of mystery, murder, magic, madness, and hideous revenge. It details the events of a single day from early afternoon to midnight. Olivia returns with her fiancé to the creepy family manor after the funeral of her murdered parents. Miles desperately tries to get her away from the house and the eerie influences of her secretary, her ever-tipsy aunt, a hidebound lawyer, a genuinely scary swami, and a kindly old housekeeper whose nervousness is contagious. Olivia won’t leave until she contacts the spirit of her mother at midnight to learn who committed the ghastly murders.

  • March 3-19, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • Tickets are $12-$15.
  • Reservations are required and can be made online at  or by calling 317-926-3139.

 

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“Move Over, Mrs. Markham” at the University of Indianapolis

Move Over, Mrs. Markham continues at the University of Indianapolis. Move over Mrs. Markham exposes the intricacies and complications that ensue when different sets of hopeful lovers all converge on the bedroom of the Markhams’ supposedly empty flat. The complications and deceptions that follow assure a hectic and hilarious evening.

  • Contains adult humor, language or content that some may find inappropriate.
  • Advanced sale tickets only.
  • March 2-4, dinner at 6:45 p.m., performance at 8:00 p.m.
  • Thrifty Thursday (performance only, no dinner) March 2 at 8:00 p.m. All seats $6
  • General admission: $27/person (includes dinner)
  • http://uindyarts.universitytickets.com/u…/event_listings.asp or call 317-788-3251.

 

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“Four Spirits” at Downey Avenue Christian Church

Downey Avenue Christian Church Performing Arts presents the Midwest premiere production of Four Spirits: The Play by Sena Jeter Naslund and Elaine W. Hughes. It spotlights the 1960s nonviolent protest against the legality of racial segregation. The death of four African-American Sunday-school girls in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing broke the hearts of many black and white Americans, but in its wake came new spiritual resolve to replace prejudice with justice, hate with love, violence with peace, and separation with friendship. Based on Naslund’s critically acclaimed, national best-selling novel, also titled Four Spirits, the suspenseful play reverberates with the courage, commitment, and cooperation needed to create an enlightened and positive community

 

"Stuart Little" at the Indiana Repertory Theatre
“Stuart Little” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Stewart Little continues at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Everyone’s favorite mouse lives a happy life with his human family and his friend Margalo the bird—as long as he can avoid that sinister feline, Snowbell. The beloved children’s book becomes a lively stage event brimming with invention and imagination.

  • Through March 26
  • Children’s storytime seating is $8; adult storytime seating is $15; all chair seating is $20

 

 

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show is a rainbow of musical styles that tells the story of Jacob’s favorite son, who receives the gift of a colorful coat that changes his life after it stirs jealousy among his brothers.

  • Through March 26
  • $47.50-$67.50
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

“Spamalot” at Footlite Musicals (4 stars)

Photograph by Gary Nelson
Photograph by Gary Nelson

In summary: There’s so much good here that it overwhelms many of the production’s flaws.

Mounting a production of Spamalot is a bold move for Footlite Musicals. The show is based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a 1975 movie that garnered a cultish following, and that following, along with Broadway trivia buffs, helped make the musical a smash hit on Broadway, even if Terry Gilliam did call it “Python-lite.” Plus, the original cast included Tim Curry, Sara Ramirez, Hank Azaria, and David Hyde Pierce, among others. Given the show’s history (and having seen it twice in touring productions), scaling back my expectations was difficult at first, especially when the sound was distorted and the lighting was off. However, on more objectively evaluating Footlite’s production, it really is a remarkable success. Cast and crew are made up completely of volunteers, but this did not stop them from turning out a production with ingenious costuming, well-executed sets, and a cast packed with talent.

Rich Baker leads the knights and ladies through this show of carefully orchestrated silliness. And while Arthur is the central figure of the eponymous legends, the first laurels must go to Rebecca Devries McConnell as the Lady of the Lake. Her ability to bring down the castle in “The Diva’s Lament” would make Sara Ramirez proud, and her scatting in “Knights of the Round Table” is spot-on, as is “Find Your Grail.”

That said, Drew Duvall most certainly holds his own as King Arthur, especially in his rendition of “I’m All Alone” with his loyal, and hilarious, manservant Patsy, Vince Accetturo, who shines in “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life.” Arthur’s knights—Christopher Jones (Sir Robin), Christian Condra (Sir Lancelot), Tony Schaab (Dennis/Sir Galahad), Clint Buechler (Sir Bedevere), and Sam Surette (Sir Bors)—individually create distinct and inherently outrageous characters while collectively adding to the dynamic humor of the show (like in “Knights of the Round Table”). Jones pulls off a perfectly cheeky “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” and Condra is screechingly funny in his complete embrace of the rainbow in the too-brief “His Name Is Lancelot” (with help from THAT CODPIECE. Thank you, costume designer Jeff Farley, and for all your other masterworks here.).

There’s so much good here that it overwhelms many of the production’s flaws. And even mistakes can add to the entertainment—some bumbled dismembering of the Black Knight on Sunday made the scene even more comical.

4stars

 

Thursday @ 7:30 pm
Friday @ 7:30 pm Saturday @ 7:30 pm Sunday @ 2:30 pm
N/A November 25 November 26 November 27
December 1 December 2 December 3 December 4
December 8 December 9 December 10 December 11

Adults – $23.00
Youth (17 and under) – $15

Discount Days: All Thursday evening performances and opening weekend Sunday matinee: $10 all seats.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“The Addams Family” at Footlite Musicals

Photos/design by Gary Nelson
Photos/design by Gary Nelson

4.5 stars

Footlite Musicals’ staging of The Addams Family rides on two things: nostalgia and a strong cast under the direction of a passionate director, Ed Trout.

The musical is actually based on Charles Addams’s cartoons as opposed to the TV and movie adaptations. But all the favorite black-and-white characters, including Thing and Cousin Itt, are depicted to a T here.

The plot is merely a vehicle for catchy songs and a chance to revisit these beloved ghoulish characters. Wednesday (Ivy Bott), now in her 20s, has fallen in love with a regular guy, Lucas (Joseph Massingale). They are secretly engaged, and they plan a dinner so their families can meet and hear their news. But instead of being a show about Wednesday, Gomez (Michael Davis) is the pivotal character, sort of like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof minus the political and religious themes.

There is some excellent staging here. The costumes by designer Curt Pickard are spot-on, and the ethereal chorus of lively dead Ancestors shows an array of styles over the centuries. The Addams mansion, sound effects, and makeup are also grand accomplishments, as is the kicky choreography by Trish Roberds. A personal favorite is Uncle Fester’s (a hilarious Bryan D. Padgett) number “The Moon and Me” that utilizes a black light.

Everyone from lead to chorus does a standout job on stage. Davis and Kathleen Clarke Horrigan create spitting images of Gomez and Morticia (respectively) both physically and in their mannerisms. Both have first-rate performances that include exemplary musical numbers, but the vocal superlatives are Bott and Carrie Neal (as Lucas’s mother Alice), both of whom have powerful voices behind their shy characters’ demeanors. Even Pugsley (seventh-grader Xavier Wilson) gets a good turn in “Pulled” with Bott and “What If” with Grandma Addams (Marie Beason). Rounding out the cast is Darrin Gowan as Lucas’s stuffy father and Trenton Baker as the reticent Lurch.

The lighting and orchestra were a little off on Saturday, but these minor quibbles don’t detract from the show that is a dreadfully guilty pleasure.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Gypsy” at Footlite Musicals

2.5 stars

The semi-biographical 1959 musical Gypsy is one of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular collaborations, featuring such enduring songs as “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Together Wherever We Go.” The story, set in the 1920s and ’30s, is about a “stage mom” who vicariously lives out her dreams by shackling her two daughters to showbiz. The second act is the most compelling, when Rose thrusts her eldest daughter, Louise, into burlesque, and the story gets into the grit of mother-daughter dynamics.

Footlite Musicals’ current production, under the direction of Tim Spradlin and vocal director Jo Read Trakimas, suffered from some opening-night glitches, but hopefully, these will be resolved as the run continues. The production is carried by Susan Boilek Smith as Mama Rose and Elise Annette Delap as Louise.

Boilek Smith is a powerhouse on stage, not only with her stunning vocals but her portrayal of a fierce woman who won’t take no for an answer. Her rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” brings the house down. Delap is her foil, maintaining her sweet-natured, accommodating demeanor compared to her smothering mother. While her vocals are also strong, her delivery reflects Louise’s gentle charm in the face of her mother’s steamroller approach. Her vocals are crystal clear and communicate Louise’s optimistic view of life.

Also of note is Rich Baker as the girls’ manager/Rose’s love interest; his is a loveable underdog. Though only spotlighted briefly as Tulsa, one of the background singers/dancers for the girls’ act, Noah Nordman deserves mention for his excellent performance of “All I Need Is the Girl.”

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Avenue Q” at Footlite Musicals

4.5 stars

Even after seeing Avenue Q many times, it still makes me hoot with laughter. The R-rated puppet show, which spoofs Sesame Street characters as adults, is a riot, and it won Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score at the 2004 Tony Awards for good reason. It’s still a favorite among audiences, and Footlite Musicals’ staging delivers in every expectation. When you take into account that everyone in the show—cast and staff—is a volunteer, this is quite an achievement.

Under the co-direction of Kathleen Clarke Horrigan and Ed Trout, the cast—Phil Criswell (Princeton), Emily Schaab (Kate Monster), Damon Clevenger (Rod), Graham Brinklow (Nicky), Ryan England (Trekkie Monster), Zarah Miller (Lucy), Leigh Alexovich (Bad Idea Bear and Mrs. T), Dejuan Jackson (Bad Idea Bear and the “newcomer” at the end), Chris Meek (Brian), Nathalie Cruz (Christmas Eve), and Ervin Gainer (Gary Coleman)—is exceptional. Really, pointing out any musical numbers or scenes as “the best” isn’t possible—every voice, every note is superlative. I was floored by the quality of the show. This also includes the orchestra, which often doesn’t get the attention it deserves: conductor Kristen Cutler with musicians Ainsley Paton, Larry Molnar, Bill Musick, Amy Johnson, Jen Hallbert, Jimmy Wingget, Rhonda Collins, and Matthew Tippel.

The high-quality puppets the actors use were acquired through an Adopt a Puppet program, making them the equivalent of the ones used in professional productions. I only have two small quibbles that made me take off half a star. First: the bouncing some of the actors employ while the puppets “walk” jars the suspension of disbelief. Imagine children with puppets or dolls and the exaggerated movements they use when playing pretend. Second: the lighting was of the night I attended. Actors were often left in a shadow or a spotlight was off mark.

These miniscule details aside, you don’t want to miss this show. And for those of you who know the music well, you will appreciate the substitution in the closing number for the original line that included “George Bush.” I was anticipating what they would put in its place, and their choice is not just funny as hell but also apropos.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Sondheim on Sondheim” at Footlite Musicals

2.5 stars

The musical revue Sondheim on Sondheim has undergone several incarnations since its origin in 2000. The final product, now having its Indianapolis premiere at Footlite Musicals, hit Broadway in 2010 for a short run.

For this show, I have to agree with the initial critics that the video clips of Sondheim speaking about his works and other miscellanea are the highlights. The concert was meant to give the audience insight into Sondheim’s broad range of music, but for ardent fans, the predominance of lesser-known songs (including some that never reached the stage) becomes tedious.

That said, Footlite’s annual cabaret performance is marred by one overriding element: The vocalists cannot be heard over the orchestra. For its cabaret shows, the audience is seated on the stage for a more intimate experience, but even being a mere 10 or 15 feet away, song lyrics are often unintelligible. Furthermore, several of the cast members’ voices lack the projection needed for an unmiked performance.

The ensemble cast—Lauren Bowers, Graham Brinklow, Onis Dean, Laura Duvall-Whitson, Karen Frye, Jeff Fuller, Sarah Marone, and Larry Sommers, under the direction of Bill Hale and vocal director/conductor Paula Phelan—does present some fine moments, however. Sommers and Marone hit satisfying last notes in “Epiphany” (Sweeny Todd) and “Do I Hear a Waltz” (Do I Hear a Waltz), respectively. Duval-Whitson and Marone perform a nice mashup of “Losing My Mind/Not a Day Goes By” (Follies/Merrily We Roll Along). Duval-Whitson also performs a lovely version of the ubiquitous “Send in the Clowns” (A Little Night Music).

Sondheim on Sondheim continues through Jan. 17 (a change from the original run due to auditorium renovation). Find more information at footlite.org.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Babes in Toyland” at Footlite Musicals

5 stars

The winter holidays are the prime time to stage family-friendly fare. Among the local offerings is the timeless favorite Babes in Toyland presented by Footlite Musicals. The show debuted in 1903, so the script is now public domain, giving Bob Harbin (the director) and Claire Wilcher the opportunity to do some rewrites for the show presented on the Hedback Theater stage. Staple songs of the holidays “Toyland” and “March of the Toys” remain intact, allowing older generations to reminisce and introducing new generations to these classics.

The quality of this show is extraordinary, and when you factor in that Footlite is an all-volunteer organization (as in, no one in the cast or on staff is paid), it becomes even more impressive.

The show depends on and delivers a strong ensemble cast, live orchestra, and behind-the-scenes support. The cast numbers over 35 and the staff over 19, and an orchestra (conducted by Damon Clevenger) fills the pit, so giving credit to each person by name would turn this article into a reprint of the program. Suffice to say Harbin guides the cast effectively through mugging for the audience and hamming up the sentimentality.

Vocal director Melissa Al-Ling Walsh coaxes lovely melodies out of lead vocalists Jonathan Krouse as Tom Piper and Claire Cassidy as Mary Contrary, as well as a convincing drag number from Krouse in “Floretta.” Jeff Fuller as the villain Barnaby dexterously rolls his alliterative lines from his slipless tongue.

The dancing (choreographed by Trish Roberds and supported by dance captains Amy Matters and Alex Vasquez) is confidently executed by the cast, including a dance line of tappers and some startling acrobatics. Standouts are the gypsy dancers and Thomas Whitcomb as Jack.

Adorable costuming was created by costume designer Rachel Hobbs Shelton and head seamstress Darlene Uggen. The layers of petticoats and pantalets for Gooseland girls and the lively and vivid costuming of the gypsies are exceptional. Set designer Will Tople provides cunning backdrops for the show.