“People have heard that we aim to be the off-off-Broadway of Carmel. So I think they know that whatever ideas there are, we will give them a shot at making them real,” says Will Wood, the founding artistic director of The Cat, the newest theater/multipurpose venue in Carmel. “We are fortunate in Central Indiana to be a tight-knit group.”
The Cat took up residence in the old live-music venue The Warehouse. Wood took over the space in February of this year, and its first performance was in May: “Side By Side By Sondheim led by the delightful Ellen Kingston for Carmel Theatre Company. CTC, whose history goes back over 25 years, had lost their lease the previous December and had been looking for a new home. We were quite honored that John and June Clair and their board made the decision to become our first of seven resident theater companies.”
Now the venue’s client base has grown significantly. “We have seven resident theater companies, but only two of them existed in any form before we opened. Our model encourages, almost demands, that people who have an idea or a dream come try it out here. The new companies, all formed this year, are Improbable Fiction, Approxima, 4 Way Stop, Indiana Theatre Company, and The Carmel Apprentice Theatre.”
The building is tucked away from the main road in the Carmel Arts & Design District at 254 First Ave. SW. Since the venue opened, its focus has been integrating itself into its natural habitat. “We serve the local arts community. And the term ‘arts community’ is meant in its most liberal term. And the term ‘local’ means just that. We have had several touring acts ask about playing here, and we could easily accept them, but that would send the signal that we are another of the many—and fine—spots open mostly for acts originating somewhere else.
“I sit at my desk sometimes and watch people walk by with their dogs or kids…And they stop and stare at the place. Maybe it’s the neat logo on the front, the bird feeder, the dog dish. Or maybe they’re just looking at this tiny place next to the big five-story office building going up…And they just wonder how we’re going to survive!”
While the venue lies in the “theater” category, it is by no means exclusively a live-theater spot. “As far as artists, we’ve had comedy shows, student recitals, a surprise birthday party, corporate meetings, ribbon cuttings, summer camps, concerts…lots of stuff.” The flexibility of the setup inside, which Wood describes as “cozy,” allows performers a multitude of possibilities. Overall, Wood says, “We attempt to be relatively family-friendly. And not too loud.”
When assessing potential new performers, Wood’s draw is “The look in their eyes. The desire to create something. The hope that this is their chance.” So far, Wood says the best part of running The Cat is “Each time we say, ‘Yes, you can do that here!’ I love the reactions I get. Like ‘Really?’ or ‘You’re kidding, right?’”
Wood himself has had many experiences in the theater. After a break lasting 30 years, he reemerged into the scene in 2009 and since then has assistant directed, directed, or produced nearly 20 theatrical productions in Central Indiana. In 2016, he wanted to direct a Cole Porter musical for CTC, but it lacked a venue. Wood and his wife and business partner, Deborah Wood, discovered the 60-year-old building, signed the lease in February 2017, and fulfilled a life-long dream of having their own theater.
In the future, audiences can expect “Excited performers! Shakespeare, Charlie Brown, Dueling Pianos, a Broadway cabaret, It’s A Wonderful Life, a premiere play, comedy—IndyProv and Dave Dugan…maybe more! We have shows booked all the way through December of 2018, but there’s still room for more!”
If you are interested in using The Cat for your next production, you can contact Wood at email@example.com, and for more information and a lineup of upcoming shows, go to thecattheatre.com.
Normally, I shy away from commenting on kids involved in a show. It just seems like a catch-22. However, be prepared because farther down I am going to gush.
Fun Home was adapted from Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of the same name. Bechdel is the cartoonist behind the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and her graphic novel explores her journey toward discovering her own sexuality and the complicated relationship between her parents. The show won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the soundtrack was nominated for the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. I find the accolades most odd because the music seems secondary to the narrative of the show itself, which is not usually the case in a musical. While “Ode to Joy,” er, “Joan,” will always have a new meaning to me, otherwise the songs merely complement the storyline.
“Fun home” is a derivative of “funeral home,” which is attached to the house in which the family lives. Another odd element—this tidbit factors very little in the overall plotline yet captured the title for the show. Add to that the father who works every capacity in the funeral home, teaches high school English, restores the historic home himself, and still finds time to get a little on the side. WTF? Does this man never sleep?
And I wish there had been an intermission.
OK, enough nitpicking.
Almost in a Wonder Years sort of way, the adult Alison (Cynthia Collins) guides the audience through her formative years, first as a child (Amelia Wray) and then as a college student (Ivy Moody). Her mother, Helen (Emily Ristine), is a mother of three and an actress. Her father, Bruce (Eric J. Olson), is the manic patriarch I described above and a closeted homosexual.
Olson effectively captures the bi-polar aspects of Bruce. His obsessive tendencies and covert indiscretions clash brilliantly with his moments of fatherly involvement, such as playing “airplane” with his daughter.
As the college-age Alison, Moody does a good job of capturing the mixture of insecurity and enthusiasm of someone fumbling to find her identity. Given the time period (eighties-ish), this would have been daunting.
But—here comes the gush—Wray as the child Alison is nothing short of perfection. She shows none of the tentativeness or self-consciousness that most young performers (and even some adults) do. Spot-on execution, an amazing voice, and locked-in dance moves make her shine. Seriously, this kid needs to be on Broadway. Like, now.
Overall, this is a well-done production under the direction of Suzanne Fleenor with musical direction by Brent Marty. The exploration of repression and freedom from it are conveyed emotionally and humorously by the Phoenix Theatre’s cast and crew.
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.
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.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Indiana Repertory Theatre
The Tony Award–winning stage version of the best-selling novel. When a teenage math savant investigates a puzzling neighborhood occurrence, he begins an extraordinary journey that takes him places he has never been—and you have never imagined. This staging follows a highly successful Broadway run that resulted in five Tony Awards including Best Play.
Sept. 19-Oct. 14
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.
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.
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.
The original 1983 Broadway production of La Cage aux Folles is based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret. (The title translates to “the cage of mad women,” but folles is also slang for queens). However, audiences may be more familiar with the American film adaptation, 1996’s The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Play or film, the premise is the same: Georges is the manager of a drag-show nightclub in which Albin, his life partner, is the star. Georges’s biological son, Jean-Michel, is engaged, and his fiancée and her parents are coming to meet the prospective in-laws. However, Anne’s parents are freakishly conservative, her father being a spearhead against the kind of entertainment the gay couple runs. Jean-Michel is in a tizzy to cover up his home life and unconventional parents. In this quest, he requests that Albin, who is roaringly effeminate, not participate in the visit. This is disturbing (and offensive) because Albin is the only mother Jean-Michel has ever known. When Jean-Michel’s birth mother blows off the meeting, as she has been wont to do her son’s entire life, Albin steps in, trying to portray the typical mother and wife. Farce ensues.
I have included this rather long synopsis because at Friday night’s performance, a couple different people left at intermission with aghast looks on their faces. Really, people, before you drop that kind of cash you should know what you are getting into. Interestingly, the mostly elderly crowd was not part of the ones offended.
The Tony Award-winning musical has a book by Harvey Fierstein (also a Tony winning actor and for the books of Kinky Boots and Torch Song Trilogy) and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame). The cast of Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production, under the direction of Larry Raben and musical director Levi Burke, puts on a spectacular show. Leads Bill Book (Georges) and Don Farrell (Albin, stage name ZaZa) are completely entertaining as well as endearingly sweet as a couple. Both execute their numbers powerfully and emotionally. (The show is credit to the acting prowess of Farrell if you remember his awe-inducing main character in ATI’s Sweeny Todd last year. You can’t get more of a 180 character-wise.)
They are backed by their talented cabaret singers and dancers, Greg Grimes, Michael Humphrey, Tim Hunt (excellent high note, by the way), and Kenny Shepard. They create adorable drag queens with fun choreography by Carol Worcel. (The bizarre bird number is hysterical.) Also highly comical and campy are the flamboyant Daniel Klingler as Albin’s “maid,” Jacob, and John Vessels, as Francis, the slightly intimidated but equally gay stage manager. Judy Fitzgerald, as the aggressive Jacqueline, dominates the stage in her short moments on it.
Sean Haynes as Jean-Michel portrays the insecurity of a conflicted youth, and Devan Mathias, as Anne, is his tenderhearted but strong-willed fiancée. The also brief roles of Ken Klingenmeir and MaryJayne Waddell as Anne’s parents, the Dindons, play their roles well and give the audience a good laugh at their expense.
World premiere of Human Rites at the Phoenix Theatre
Old wounds split open as former lovers tackle new relationship dynamics amid boiling controversy. Michaela, now dean of Alan’s university years after their affair, challenges the claim that his paper is “based on actual, reputable, methodical research” by accusing him of sexualizing black women for personal gain. Alan, a white man, scrambles to defend his findings while fighting a re-surging lust for the couple’s passionate connection. The new play is written by Seth Rozin.
July 20-August 13, Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., $27; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., $33. Tickets for July 20-23 are only $20 each.
Producer party Friday, July 21 with complimentary food and Sun King beer directly following the performance
Eclectic Pond presents J. Eyre: A New Musical Adaptation at Grove Haus
Based on Charlotte Bronte’s epic novel, J. Eyre tells the story from a contemporary set of eyes. Told by six women and one man, be swept away by this new musical and on to the mysterious grounds of Thornfield Hall. You may find love there, but you may find something else…
July 21-20, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.
Riot: A Comedy Variety Show at Theatre on the Square
A monthly 90-minute non-stop Riot of talented improv comedy troupes and variety acts, both local and from out of town, bring to the stage an unexpected mixture of joy and happiness. From the team that brought you the show Up Yours Indianapolis and the improvised comedy troupe Fleece Academy comes an evening of entertainment you’ll be talking about for its uniqueness and audacity. Every Riot show is a fundraiser for Theatre on the Square with 100% of ticket prices and concession sales kept by the theater.
Nickel Plate Players present Ten Pin Alli at Theatre at the Fort
This “Girl Power” musical is about ace bowler extraordinaire, Bernie Bostock, who has been killed in a motor cycle crash. His girlfriend, Alli (they call her Ten Pin Alli because she is an amazing bowler too), is the only one who can replace him if the men’s team is going to win the city-wide tournament this year. One problem: no girls allowed on the men’s team. So, she disguises herself as a man. The rest is history …
July 21-30, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
First Folio Productions and Catalyst Repertory collaborated to present Shakespeare’s story about one of England’s most devious villains, Richard III. And oh, what a deliciously bloodthirsty production it is!
Richard, who was killed in 1485, orchestrated the death of anyone who stood in his way to take the English throne. His hatefulness even drove him to killing children, contracting to have his two young nephews murdered in cold blood.
While not as misshapen as he is written in Shakespeare’s play, Richard was afflicted with scoliosis, which likely caused him to be minimally hunchbacked. This could have added to his “discontent,” a benign word to describe his sly viciousness, but in no way could justify it.
The play was adapted by Ben Power, Glenn L. Dobbs (who also directed), and Casey Ross, intriguingly bookending the production with the discovery of Richard’s remains in 2012 in Leicester, England.
What makes this production so riveting is Matt Anderson’s superlative performance. He masterfully embodies the eerie monarch in such a way that makes your skin crawl. The evil seeps off his character to pool into a noxious flood at the audience’s feet. From cunning conspirator, to simpering pretender, to paranoid madman, Anderson manifests them all. And while there is a large, and good, cast, the focal point is always Anderson. Not to slight anyone else, but he simply owns the stage.
Atmospheric costumes (Linda Schomhorst) help set the mood, as does sound designer Brian G. Hartz’s modern selections.
Everyone does an excellent job of maneuvering the Early Modern English that literature students bemoan. It’s easy to understand the dialogue (and monologues), so don’t feel as if you need to read the Cliffs Notes before seeing the show. And while Shakespearean productions are notorious for being long, don’t worry; this one is only a little over two hours. Totally worth it.
First Folio Productions and Catalyst Repertory present Shakespeare’s Richard III at the Indy Fringe Theatre
Richard, also called the duke of Gloucester, and eventually crowned King Richard III, was deformed in body and twisted in mind. Richard is both the central character and the villain of the play. He is evil, corrupt, sadistic, and manipulative, and he will stop at nothing to become king. His intelligence, political brilliance, and dazzling use of language keep the audience fascinated — and his subjects and rivals under his thumb.
June 3-July 9, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
$15 adults/$12 students and seniors in advance; $18 at the door
A new family musical … with goats! All the goats in the junkyard know the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff … or do they? In this interactive and puppet-filled musical, a young goat leaves the junkyard for the first time and stumbles into the fantastical land of the trolls. There, she learns about the wonder of the natural world, and a new adventure begins, in which trolls and goats learn to live and play together.
Since ancient times, storytelling has been a part of the universal human instinct to explain, record, and pass on truths. It helps us learn from our past, survive our present, and evaluate our possible futures. Stories—even the sad ones—connect us with our shared humanity as well as our particular origins.
I admit that I don’t know much about Cuba during the 1950s revolution, but the situations in The Golem of Havana are similar to other historical events, making it easy to pick up on what’s happening. Political unrest is certainly not unknown throughout the world. Besides, this isn’t so much a story about a historical event as it is about the everyday people who are forced to live their lives in reaction to what they are powerless to control.
Given the magic of storytelling, it is natural that Rebecca (played by Lydia Burke), a girl from a Hungarian-Jewish family, would find an outlet in creating her own comic book, titled The Golem of Havana, where she can shape her characters’ lives. In case you are unfamiliar with a golem, it is part of the Jewish mythology, a roughly human-like, single-minded creature created from clay and animated via a charm or parchment placed in its mouth by a rabbi. They were made to be protectors of persecuted Jews. Rebecca pulls from this Jewish folklore for her stories, consciously or subconsciously looking for a savior in the face of the tension of her adopted country’s impending rebellion, her beloved father’s financial stress (Pinchas, a struggling tailor played by Eric J. Olson), and her mother’s (Yutka, played by Lori Ecker) lingering pain over a sister lost to her long ago by the Nazis.
In Rebecca’s desperation to help alleviate her family’s worries, she is introduced to the deity of the family’s Cuban maid, Maria (Teneh B.C. Karimu): Yemaya, who has a particular fondness for watermelons as offerings. What follows is a beautiful, sincere chant to the goddess, their duet reverently asking for her intercession. Maria has her own troubles. Her son, Teo (Ray Hutchins), has joined the rebels, and his fate is uncertain.
The family’s contact with Cuba’s government comes in the form of Pinchas’s best customer, Arturo (Carlos Medina Maldonado), who runs a hefty tab with the tailor. Arturo is sympathetic to the family—but only to a certain degree.
Additional characters are taken on by Wheeler Castaneda, Betsy Norton, Rob Johansen, and Paul Nicely.
Rebecca’s enthusiasm about her comic-book character adds a touch of the whimsical to the serious subject matter that dominates the musical. Her innocence among the surrounding turmoil—perfectly embodied by her abruptly kissing and then immediately jumping away from Teo—reminds us of simple humanity in the unsure awkwardness of this teenage girl.
Director Bryan Fonseca has pulled together all the separate elements of a show and crafted a work of art—the often haunting music that blends Cuban and Jewish influences (musical direction by Karimu and performed by a live ensemble perched above the action), the orange-yellow sets, the elegant lighting, the excellent performances, all meld to create an immersive effect.
While the entire cast is top notch, my personal favorites are Burke, who conveys Rebecca’s endearing personality through her skillful portrayal and through her absolutely lovely voice, and Olson’s Pinchas, a remarkably likable, compelling, and sympathetic character.
OK, so the illustrations of the golem look like Baymax from Big Hero Six (whom I love anyway), but the use of Rebecca’s drawings, projected to a screen on stage, enlivens Rebecca’s journal writing. It is an intriguing way to include necessary exposition.
Rebecca says that stories matter, and the statement belies her years, because in the end, we are all stories, and these stories help us navigate the confusing, exciting, tragic aspects of our lives.
The first glimpse you get at Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical is of the couple riddled with bullets, dead in their car. While it takes some liberties with the actual details, the gruesome point is clear: theirs was a story fated to have a solemn, bloody ending.
But from there, the show steps back to how it all ended that way. This isn’t a shoot-‘em-up story (though of course it’s in there), but a love story—romantic love and familial love, and what one will do for said love.
Annie Miller as Bonnie and Joseph D. Massingale as Clyde lead up a massive cast under the direction of D. Scott Robinson. And every actor on stage more than holds up his or her own. The talent that has been accumulated for this production is impressive.
Not only do Miller and Massingale create sympathetic characters, but the musical numbers put their exceptional vocal talents on display as well. (A side note: the show’s music is by Frank Wildhorn of Jekyll & Hyde.) But others get center stage as well: Jonathan D. Krouse as Bonnie’s love-struck friend Ted has a memorable duet with Massingale, and Miranda Nehrig as Blanche, Clyde’s sister in law, is a hoot singing about her husband going back to jail.
This is an exceptional piece of stagecraft. My only nitpicking is that the spotlights smooth out and Massingale remembers to unsnap his holster before trying to pull out his gun.
June 9-25, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
$20 ($18 for children, students, and senior citizens)
I didn’t get to see The Great Bike Race when it was featured at the 2014 FringeFestival, but I’m almost glad because I went into the show not knowing what to expect. In fact, I thought the premise sounded kind of boring: a story about bicyclists racing the Tour de France in 1904.
Holy crap was I wrong!
Writer-director Zack Neiditch expanded the 40-minute Fringe version into just shy of 90 minutes. While some areas in the extended cut move too slow, overall its comedic ride is well worth taking.
The “cleverly anachronistic” (a phrase the actors instructed reviewers to use in describing the show) follows 16-year-old Henri Cornet (Frankie Bolda), an honorable cyclist among a pack of cheaters. The worst of them, and vicious rivals, are the aggressive hot-air-bag Hippolyte Acoutrier (Paige Scott) and the sneaky and subtle Maurice Garin (Ben Asaykwee).
Other contestants include Jean-Baptiste DuFortunac (Carrie Bennett Fedor) and Llucien Portier (Evan Wallace), who discover their man-love during the race. Many of the male characters are actually taken on by women, but Sonia Goldberg as Alois Catteau is an actress who is pretending to be a man who is a woman. (Get all that?) Josh Ramsey portrays multiple racer roles, all from different nationalities, in a tongue-tying, kilt-swishing, mustache-drooping hot mess. (I love the “Scottish surprise.”) Jean Dargasse (John Kern) actually hops a train to get to the finish line faster, and Gustave Drioul (Craig Kemp) just keeps his geriatric character pedaling.
I assure you, this isn’t the stage version of a historical documentary. The show is full of, dirty trick and sexual innuendo, and it even boasts a few musical numbers (Asaykwee, woot woot!). Plus, there is a stuffed cat a la the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. And a cow. And an angry mob of French hicks. The stage is full of crazy-funny insanity.
And ah-maze-balls victory dances.
Through June 24, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.
The Great Bike Race, one of the top sellers of the 2014 IndyFringe Festival, returns to Theatre on the Square in a new full-length production. The Great Bike Race tells of the disastrous running of the second annual Tour de France. In 1904, France’s greatest cyclists met and then preceded to cheat, lie, and sabotage their way through the historic race. Check out a preview here.
June 9-24, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.
$25 ($20 for student, senior, or military). IndyPride pricing specials for the Saturday, June 10 performance: all tickets are BOGO, as well as special $10 industry pricing for Indianapolis-area theater professionals.
The new musical by Frank Wildhorn, Don Black, and Ivan Menchell. At the height of the Great Depression, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow went from two small-town nobodies in West Texas to two of America’s favorite folk heroes, and the Texas law enforcement’s worst nightmares. Fearless, shameless, and alluring, the Tony-nominated show (from Jekyll & Hyde‘s Frank Wildhorn) is the electrifying story of love, adventure, and crime that captured the attention of an entire country.
June 9-25, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
$20 ($18 for children, students, and senior citizens)
Khaos Company Theatre’s “Much Ado About Something” IndieGogo fundraiser continues through July 22. The goal is to raise $30,000 by midnight on July 22. These funds will be used to cover expansion costs, including rent, maintenance, set-design, costumes and general up-keep of the theater for the next year. The theater will accept any donation but has some incentives for those who donate more. Some prizes include KCT T-shirts, KCT mugs, tickets to KCT’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, KCT 2017 season passes, A Cast-Talk Back after the performance of Much Ado About Nothing, and a masquerade festival. The summer masquerade festival includes local artist booths, local musicians, local food trucks, masquerade mask contest (bring your own!), face painting, silent auction, and more.
Go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/much-ado-about-something for the full campaign description and to donate to the cause.
Sunday, June 11 is the Tony Awards. Kevin Spacey (meh) is the host for this year’s event. Performances include the casts of Bandstand, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Falsettos, Groundhog Day: The Musical, Hello, Dolly!, Miss Saigon, War Paint, and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, along with additional performances by The Radio City Rockettes and Tony Award winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. (meh). The show will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, on CBS from 8-11 p.m. (ET/PT time delay). You can also watch the Tony Awards online with CBS All Access. More info at cbs.com/all-access, www.tonyawards.com.
So, not much going on in the theaters lately, with last weekend being Memorial Day, and a lot of theaters are in audition/rehearsal mode right now. But a lot of this summer’s weekends are packed with shows, so hang in there.
In the meantime, you can get your fix at Main Street Productions’ Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married. Clara and Gunner Johnson are the owners of “the Bunyan” in Bunyan Bay, Minnesota. They’ve been married “a long time” and the romance has left their marriage. Clara would like to get it back. Gunner tries to convince his wife that he’s a good husband. Bernice gets engaged to Aarvid and Gunner’s twin sister comes to town looking for a husband. Will there be a wedding? Will there be a divorce? What could possibly go wrong – after all, this is Bunyan Bay and anything can happen!
$15 Adult (18+ yrs); $13 Senior (62+ yrs) or student with ID admission; FREE for Active Military and Vets with ID
Hir is the story of a family that is prime for group counseling. The first thing you lock eyes on when the show begins is the father, Arnold. He is in a nightgown, diaper, and John Wayne Gacy-like makeup. Well, that was creepy. He is almost nonverbal and suffering the aftereffects of a stroke. His wife keeps him well-drugged (including estrogen) to make him more manageable. She uses a squirt bottle to keep his hands off his own penis.
Since his stroke, his wife, Paige, has fallen off the manic deep end and is exacting her revenge for the physical abuse she and her children suffered, using the opportunity to reject her husband’s prior commands, such as keeping a clean house and not working, and humiliates him with glee. Her anti-establishment rants include some great images—florescent foods like Cheetos are part of the blame for the country’s ills.
Their son Isaac has just arrived home from the army after being dishonorably discharged for drug use. He served in mortuary affairs, retrieving, collecting, and sorting body parts, so he likely has PTSD too. The blender is a vomit trigger.
Finally, there is Max, Isaac’s younger sibling. Max used to be Maxine and now insists on being referred to by the pronouns “ze” (he/she) and “hir” (him/her). Ze is very aggressive about hir transitional status and seeks companionship through online groups. Max shares most characteristics with any other angsty teenager with anger issues toward hir parents—but with a better vocabulary. Paige latches onto Max’s transition firmly, riding Max’s metaphorical coattails into a more interesting word. She revels in this new diversion and is able to speak in alphabet soup in her excitement. She even homeschools Max, which includes (again) creepy, therapeutic shadow puppet shows that reenact the family’s years of abuse at the hands of Arnold.
While Paige wholeheartedly embraces Max’s transition, she uses Arnold’s wardrobe as part of Arnold’s punishment. That’s a brain twister right there when you begin to contemplate the social statements being made.
Needless to say, Isaac, in his current condition, does not know what to think about his very changed family. In his desire to reinstate normalcy, for theirs and his own benefit, he goes into a cleaning frenzy after having been ordered not to by Paige. He instructs Max to “command the dust” and orders Arnold and Max through how to make a bed military-style—though they do a piss-poor job.
Brad Griffith (Arnold) manages to be both comedic and pitiable at the same time. You laugh but then feel a little guilty about it. But then you think of his past behavior and don’t feel as guilty. Some humor is needed to counter this dark story.
Jen Johansen (Paige) gets one of my favorite phrases in that she chews through the scenery, even if that scenery seems to be chewed upon already. (The family’s home is trashed.) While Isaac is the recovering drug addict, you would think his mother was the one hopped up on meth. Johansen must be exhausted by the end of the show by Paige’s hyperactivity and non-stop self-justification.
Ben Schuetz (Issac) has the wild eyes and tense mannerisms of both a drug addict jonsing for a hit as well as a soldier in the clutches of PTSD. You could bounce a coin off his physical and psychological tension.
And Ariel Laukins (Max) … well, ze just wants to run away from it all. In the end, Laukins’s character’s posturing dissolves into just the pain of a kid who is trapped in a damaged family.
While none of the characters contains much actual depth, the show, under the direction of Mark Routhier, uses the in-your-face, exaggerated characterization technique to challenge the audience on many different levels.
I don’t know if I will ever look at my happily domesticated and beloved kitties the same.
Cats have enthralled humans for centuries (think Egypt), and they have been “domesticated” for up to 12,000 years. Yet, they stand apart from the other most domesticated pet, dogs, in a way that you have to respect. While dogs will kowtow to their owners, cats push their own agendas unapologetically.
Catalyst Repertory’s production of Feral Boy, the latest from local playwright Bennett Ayres (Mad, Mad Hercules), follows Corbett, a disillusioned frat boy funded by Mommy’s sugar-daddy’s bank account. Newly graduated from college, he is frustrated by the assumptions of his friends and family that he will pursue his future that has been laid before him — a mainstream path of mind-numbing professions (his being Internet advertising). You know something odd is happening from the start when Corbett reflects on how mating cats sound as if they are killing each other, and he shows distracting interest in a feral colony of cats next to his dorm rental. The cats’ independence and lifestyle enthrall him. Corbett becomes engrossed in feline behavior and spends late nights stalking the cats and doing research on Wikipedia (which, as most people know, is just a font of accurate information).
The show is a study of how people seek a place to fit in but want something meaningful in their lives, and suffer from a lack of connection — how easy it is to be attracted to a cult-like mentality, whether it’s a gang, religious group, or something similar
Pat Mullen delivers Corbett’s fascination with the cats in a naive, anarchic way. He is a sheltered adult now who is still a little boy going mad, rebelling against society’s expectations in a floundering, blind way. He slowly falls feral himself by ignoring responsibility, not bathing, not working, squatting in his girlfriend’s apartment, and expecting her to provide for him. Almost like an owned cat might — minus the no bathing. Girlfriend Betsy, a convenience-store clerk (Patty Blanchfield), is persistent in her coaxing of Corbett, first affectionately then with a little tough love, but she finally realizes that his mind is deteriorating.
Cats are voiced in a way that you find yourself focusing on the puppets, not their handlers (if you’ve seen Avenue Q, you know what I mean). The cats are creepy, disturbing, both in attitude and in their facelessness. Patrick Weigand’s creations scream otherness. Mafia flare is reflected in Matt Anderson as Striper, the leader; Dane Rogers as Orangey, the enforcer; and Audrey Stonerock as the powerless Calico, Corbett’s love (think West Side Story). They make these fantastical creatures feel real in personality, voice acting, and movement. The colony’s influence even leads Corbett into his own ruthless actions of torture for information and vengeance.
The shallowness of Cornett’s previous human relationships is set up by the conversation of his frat brothers, Matt Walls and Donovan Whitney, who argue over the correct categorization of potential bedmates. Corbett begins distancing himself from them as well as from the worried yet tentative approaches by his mother (Sarah Holland Froehlke) and landlord (voiced by Jim Tillett), who seem to progressively infer that something is just not right with Corbett. Dennis Forkel plays Crane, a homeowner with a large aquarium, which Corbett raids to bring tribute to his feline ladylove. In his increasing delirium, Corbett even reaches out to a cat-themed magazine, only to get entwined in a voicemail tree from hell (voiced by Jolene Moffatt).
Under the direction of Zach Stonerock, the characters and staging reflect the dark angle of the script that occasional reveals a nimble hand with words, such as describing the indentations left by furniture in carpet as miniature crop circles — a vivid comparison. Projections of cat silhouettes against the back wall invigorate the sparse, black-box environment. However, the play is too long, with no intermission (and hot — be prepared for no AC to speak of in the theater). Some sequences drag. Tightened up and with some workshopping, though, the script could become an even more engaging, compelling work.
May 18-28, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.
Wheeler Arts Center
For this production, Catalyst Rep will house theme nights in tandem with sponsor the LongShot Theatre.
Feral Boy is recommended for ages 16 (strong language, adult situations, implied animal abuse, and sexual content) and up. However, see the flyer for lots of family fun in conjunction with the show’s run.
The Tony Award winning musical based on the Oscar winning DreamWorks Animation film about an Ogre who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. As Beef & Boards’ 2017 Family Show, Shrek, The Musical features $10 discounts off tickets for all kids ages 3-15.
May 18-July 2
$42.50-$62.50 (All tickets include dinner buffet, plus coffee, tea or lemonade. Full bar service and gourmet desserts are available at additional cost.)
When Isaac is dishonorably discharged for a drug addiction, he comes home only to find nothing is how he left it. Liberated from the oppression of her marriage, Isaac’s mother leads a crusade against the patriarchy alongside his sister, who is now a trans male anarchist and uses the pronouns “ze” and “hir.” Meanwhile, his abusive father has become ill and downs estrogen pills against his will. An Alice-in-Wonderland look at the traditional family, Hir flips the script on gender power dynamics … but does destroying the past really free you from it?
Play reading: West Wildwood Ave or Rita From Across the Street
Constance Macy, Robert Neal, Nina Samaan, and Paeton Chavis will participate in the first public reading of Lou Harry‘s latest play. West Wildwood Ave or Rita from Across the Street concerns Mark, who sold his boardwalk business to take care of his troubled brother, and Donna, who is summering at the shore with her teen daughter while her husband works during the week back in Philadelphia. A lot can happen over two porches during a single summer.
The public is welcome to attend this free reading.
Wednesday, May 24 at 6 p.m.
Lilly Hall 328, Butler University
Khaos Company Theatre: 2017 Dionysia New Play Festival
Khaos Company Theatre ensemble presents five-page excerpts from plays (as far away as Nigeria this year) in the fourth annual international play festival! Audience participants cast their votes, buy additional votes, and help determine what winning excerpt will be fully produced in the 2018 season.
The world premiere of Feral Boy by Bennett Ayres. May is Catalyst‘s guest artist month. Local writer Bennett Ayres ‘s new show is staged with direction by Zach Stonerock.Feral Boy is the story of Corbett, a recent college graduate, who finds purpose and direction through his friendship with a group of feral cats. But as his attempt to join the cats becomes an obsession, Corbett discovers that total freedom requires extreme sacrifice. Features original, hand-crafted puppets by Indy’s Patrick Weigand. For this production, Catalyst Rep will house theme nights in tandem with sponsors the LongShot Theatre. Feral Boy is recommended for ages 16 (strong language, adult situations, implied animal abuse, and sexual content). However, see the flyer for lots of family fun in conjunction with the show’s run.
May 18-28, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.
We’re Still Here: Stories of the Flint Water Crisis
We’re Still Here is a 45-minute play written based on interviews with more than 40 residents of Flint, Michigan, about the impact of the water crisis. The play features excerpts from those interviews, performed in a one-woman show with the residents’ own words. The evening will begin with recorded poetry readings from Flint resident TaJuana Stokes, followed by the live performance by Sarah Janssen. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
My apologies for being MIA last weekend. My metaphorical plate was piled too high, and I was sorely in need of a weekend to do normal stuff. Sadly, I didn’t think to look ahead, as there are far fewer shows opening this weekend. C’est la vie.
So, to start off with, I have to make mention of an event at a venue that I would not normally frequent (only because I lack the social skills required to take up space at a bar/club — not to mention that you can’t smoke in bars/clubs, and HOW THE HELL DO YOU DRINK ALCOHOL AND NOT SMOKE?!
(OK, OK, vape. I hate these hookah-like ecigs. If anyone has budget-friendly suggestions for a reliable cig-a-like, message me. I was persuaded to give up the Vuses because they were even more expensive than real cigarettes (oh how I miss ye), and half the refill cartridges were duds. Now I feel like I’m smoking a leaky cell phone. OK, rant over.)
Pink Droyd at The Vogue (I have mad love for Pink Floyd.)
Their live performances were both aurally astounding and visually brilliant. Today Pink Droyd, a tribute to Pink Floyd, brings the look, feel, and sound of those shows to audiences around the country. Their show is both accurate to the Pink Floyd music and visually stunning with their robotic, intelligent light show, digital video accompaniment (including the Pink Floyd traditional circular video screen), and amazing laser show.
Pink Droyd brings to life the music of Pink Floyd by including theatrical performances of some of Pink Floyd’s most memorable songs. From building “The Wall” to visiting “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Droyd spans the Pink Floyd catalog including the most memorable hits and some beloved obscure tracks.
With a combined Pink Floyd tribute band experience of over 50 years this all-star cast brings the music and experience of Pink Floyd to audiences at a time when the appreciation of Pink Floyd has never been greater!
OnyxFest: A Celebration of African American Playwrights at IndyFringe
Established in 2011, OnxyFest is striving to become, in the words of the late playwright August Wilson, a festival that “informs its viewers of the human condition and its power to heal.” OnyxFest is determined to be the vehicle to promote and expose avid theater-goers to the voices and talent of new and emerging African American playwrights.
OnyxFest is Indianapolis’s first and only theatre festival dedicated to the stories of African American playwrights. IndyFringe developed OnyxFest in response to the lack of diversity both on stage and in audiences of Indianapolis’s theaters. IndyFringe actively embraces diversity in the Indianapolis theater scene and began working with African American playwrights to change the Indianapolis theatrical landscape.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Live! at Schrott Center for the Arts
This Off-Broadway hit comedy is a one-man fusion of theater and stand-up, and is a lighthearted theatrical comedy based on the New York Times #1 best-selling book of the last decade by John Gray. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus LIVE! is more than just the book. This hysterical show will have couples elbowing each other all evening as they see themselves on stage. Sexy and fast paced, this show is definitely for adults, but will leave audiences laughing and giggling.
One performance left: Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour at Clowes Hall
The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music, and song. Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland — in rock, music, theater,and film — nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance.
It’s 1961, and Judy Garland is onstage for her Carnegie Hall comeback concert. As if she is seeing her life pass before her, memories of pivotal events take shape around her. She is not the only one on stage during that concert—her ghosts are playing supporting roles. At this moment, she is 38; in only nine years, she will succumb to a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.
Just as Judy Garland’s life had been punctuated by demands, Beyond the Rainbow uses Garland’s showstoppers as ellipses, setting off the scenes when Garland’s life changed—most often, without her making the decision.
Katy Gentry, as the adult Garland, is magnificent in sound and situation. While completely in control musically, her commentary allows the audience just a vague sensation of Garland’s emotional tumult. As we see through scene after scene, Garland is broken inside, the victim of too many people trying to dictate her life. But she is the consummate performer. The show must go on.
Equally stunning is Annie Yokom as Judy from late teens to late 20s. Yokom has the added benefit of getting to showcase her acting skills in more traditional storytelling as she interacts with supporting cast members (Grace Sell, Dave Ruark, and Roger Ortman, who demonstrate their own superlative finesse by portraying many different yet distinct characters). Yokom reflects the maturing Judy in a striking way, and the audience sees what a firecracker Judy was at that age.
Anjali Rooney portrays Young Judy, and she is adorable for the relatively short time she is onstage.
The setup in the black-box theater is brilliant. Gentry is front and center, as a concert performer would be, while flashbacks have their own space to develop around her—unless they come in for a more personal look … or conversation. The backdrop is a mesh screen, allowing a muted view of the spectacularly talented onstage band (John Bronston, Greg Gegogeine, Steve Stickler, and Greg Wolff) as well as some dreamlike sequences of the show.
Don Farrell has directed another show to add to Actors Theater of Indiana’s recent roster of hits.
April 28-May 14; Wednesday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
$43; seniors $37; students $20 (with valid student I.D.); Wednesdays all seats are $25
The Hat. It’s a silent, benign character. Rather dapper even, though unremarkable in color and style. There it sits, unobtrusively keeping company with the neat lines of cocaine on the cheap coffee table. It’s easy to overlook—eyes glide over it without registering its presence. At first. It sits its silent vigil, until, finally, its existence is noted. Then its silence takes on a malicious, gloating hue. Suddenly, The Hat isn’t so banal. It’s cock-sure, giving you the eye fuck because you were stupid enough to dismiss it before. Now you know better, motherfucking ass hat.
The premise of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherfucker with the Hat may seem about as deep as that hat, but, like the hat, what lies underneath is what matters. The show explores hypocrisy and moral irregularities within the mindset of addicts.
Jackie (Eric Reiberg), who has recently been released from prison, comes home to his sweetheart Veronica (Carrie Schlatter) with the celebratory news that he has landed a job. After much rejoicing (yea!), Jackie is effectively cockblocked by … The Hat. Reiberg goes feral, using his canine-like sense of smell to root out the scents of “Aqua Velva” on the pillows and “dick” on the bedsheets. Creative cursing ensues, as do promises of eating pie (you can take that however you like).
In homage of the play’s topic, you could actually make a drinking game out of its first ten minutes. Take a shot every time “fuck” is used. Most of which come from Schlatter, alone on stage, speaking to her mother on the phone. In her exaggerated New Yawkr accent, she doles out advice concerning her mom’s boyfriend, whom she calls a “fuckin’ big-time loser with a head like an actual fuckin’ fish.” “Ma,” Veronica says, “when you see him tonight, take a moment. Take a breath. Take a real good look and just ask yourself, in all honesty, do I wanna fuck him or fry him up with a little adobo and paprika?” Veronica/Schlatter is a multitasker: she cleans, talks on the phone, and snorts coke all at the same time. Efficient.
Poor Jackie never stood a chance: “I swear to God, being in love with Veronica, it’s like feeding your balls to Godzilla every morning. Every morning you go, ‘Yo, Zilla, these shits are very delicate so please chew softly,’ and every morning, the motherfucker just goes crunch!” Reiberg’s Jackie is trying so hard you can see him vibrate. He’s wants to stay on the up-and-up with his parole and his commitment to AA. So in times like these, who do you call? YOUR SPONSOR! (And someone who can loan you a gun to shoot the offending Hat …)
Jackie’s sponsor, Ralph, played by Ben Rose, has rechanneled his addictive tendencies toward healthy food and “nutritional beverages,” as well as other pastimes such as surfing and foreign languages. He’s like the AA Buddha. It’s all cool—you’d think he swapped Jim Beam for Mary Jane—and he self-righteously spews AA rhetoric like a Christian playing Bible challenge. Ralph’s wife, Victoria, played by Chelsea Anderson, is also in recovery but gives his AA preaching the mental middle finger because she is over her husband.
The proverbial voice of reason is Jackie’s cousin, Julio, played by Ian Cruz, an effeminate Puerto Rican spitfire and the only well-adjusted character in the show. He reflects the virtues missing in the others: loyalty and self-worth. Julio isn’t afraid to call bullshit. When confronted by Jackie, Julio dresses him down before stating, “Take the empanadas and leave the gun”—so much more than Jackie deserves. The diminutive health freak is the strongest of them all. He’s also funny (another multitasker), allowing the audience to come down from tense situations for a moment and catch their collective breaths. Julio is serious about going “Van Damme” on the Motherfucker with the Hat. He has the ferocity of a pissed off Chihuahua. While the entire cast fuses under Gari L. Williams’s tight direction, Cruz deserves a triple-snap award for his layered performance. Cruz’s Julio is so much more than an auxiliary character. His reactions and motivations are deeper. I want him to be my new gay best friend.
April 28-May 13; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
Struggling with addiction, love, friendship and the responsibilities of being an adult are at the center of MF*er With The Hat.
Jackie, a petty drug dealer just out of prison, is trying to stay clean. He is still in love with his childhood sweetheart, Veronica, who is addicted to cocaine and alcohol. His sponsor in AA is Ralph D., who has his own somewhat misguided and comedic interpretation of “the big book.” Ralph’s wife, Victoria, is bitter about her marriage and has the hots for Jackie. Jackie has a code of behavior that his cousin, Julio, a stand-up guy, is eager to help him enforce.
As complications around addiction and recovery ensue, we see each character’s true colors emerge in humorous and heartbreaking fashion.
April 28-May 13; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
$25/$20 for students/seniors/military.
Use coupon code HAT to get 25% off tickets for opening weekend
Actors Theatre of Indiana opens “Beyond the Rainbow”
The time is April 23, 1961, when a 38-year old Judy Garland performed at Carnegie Hall in what the New York Times called “the concert of the century.” Set both on the stage of Carnegie Hall and in Garland’s mind, Beyond the Rainbow simultaneously treats its audience to the famed concert while telling the life story of one of Hollywood’s most unforgettable icons: a portrait of a child actor turned star who captivated the nation with her spectacular talent and tumultuous life. Featuring 24 of her hit songs including “The Man That Got Away,” “That’s Entertainment,” and “Get Happy” … just to name a few.
April 28-May 14; Wednesday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
$43; seniors $37; students $20 (with valid student I.D.); Wednesdays all seats are $25
Bidding is open for Buck Creek Players’ Play-a-Part fundraiser: “Peter Pan”
All roles in this popular Broadway musical will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in an online silent auction. Roles begin at just $25, and there is no audition necessary! Just have the money in the bank and the availability of approximately five weeks to rehearse and perform the role of your dreams! http://www.buckcreekplayers.com.
Allison (Leah Brenner) hates presents. She has an strict no-present policy. So when a stranger (Charles Goad), graciously picks up her $80 restaurant bill after she finds her wallet is missing, she becomes obsessed. Why would he do such a thing? What does he want? Her obsession with this act becomes almost psychotic, leading her to invite him to what turns out to be a very interesting and cathartic dinner party (a gathering of friends, NOT a birthday celebration, even though it is on her birthday).
The Open Hand is a reflection, if an exaggerated one, of society’s inability to just accept a gift and say “thank you” without questioning motives or keeping a tally of IOUs.
Two young yuppie couples—Allison (who appears directionless to begin with) and her fiance Jack (Jay Hemphill) and their friends Todd (Jeremy Fisher) and Freya (Julie Mauro)—are at crossroads in their lives. Jack, a chef, is working toward opening his own restaurant. Todd, a car salesman, is having issues at his job, and his sommelier wife is on the brink of getting a posh job.
Comedic elements of the couples’ interaction belie the deep ribbon of mistrust and doubt that runs under the surface of them. Each of the four actors exemplifies his or her character’s distinct outer personas before letting loose with what they really feel—though it takes liberal amounts of alcohol for those inner demons to emerge. Among the mortifying debacle that is the dinner party, Goad remains the calm, beneficent anchor that no one can figure out. His continuous, sincere generosity baffles them, angers them, confounds them.
The cast, under the direction of Dale McFadden, and crew deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking story that keeps the serious and the silly well-balanced. (Love the revolving stage for scene changes too!)
Through May 14; Thursdays at 7 p.m. ($27), Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($33), andn Sundays at 2 p.m. ($27)
This weekend is Second Sunday: a discussion with cast members and complimentary beer from Sun King Brewery after the show.
The best way to begin this review is with a comment from my frequent theater companion Katrina about the shows we’ve seen over the past six months or so: “The number of shows we’ve been to where people either end up in their underwear or doing weird things with puppets is AMAZING.” And Mad Mad Hercules has not only added to that list, in both respects, but also has the distinction of being the funniest effing thing I have seen in years. YEARS. I never thought anything would top the unexpected stuffed animal orgy in Bat Boy, but this does. Over and over and over.
Local playwright Bennett Ayres has crafted one of the filthiest scripts I know of in a way that approaches a work of art. The crass and degradation is no holds barred, unapologetic, and a thing of beauty. I desperately wanted to write down some of the most inspired lines, but I was too busy trying not to cackle, cry, and pee myself all at the same time. My long-time friend, husband of Kat, and chauffer Paul said as we relayed some of our experience on the way home, laughing hysterically all over again, “I haven’t heard you laugh that hard in years, Miss Lisa.”
Needless to say, if you are easily offended, move down the avenue. Or, if you want to give it a try, there is a moment when the chorus pauses to give the conservative audience members an opt-out. However, if you don’t mind wallowing in the dirt for about ninety minutes, this is one of the best low-brow shows you can spend money on. I am actually considering if I can squeeze another performance into my schedule.
Presented by NoExit Performance in association with Zach Rosing Productions, the show can get away with the sort of fuck-you humor that really only the smaller theater companies can indulge. And thank the gods for them. I love the unlicked cubs that can be found in these companies (they make it worth slogging through other less successful outings).
So, as readers have probably inferred, the story is about the twelve labors of Hercules, a penance for killing his wife and children, which he claims was a product of a fit of madness laid upon him by his step-mother Hera. His exasperated father Zeus won’t intervene. So Hercules is assigned his tasks by King Eurystheus, whom Hercules glories in trading grade-school insults with.
Under the direction of Zach Neiditch, the cast takes the bull by the balls (Hercules sees nothing wrong with bestiality—it’s OK, calm down, we don’t see it first-hand) and rips into their roles with relish. Providing narrative is a Greek chorus, made up of Matthew Altman, Carrie Bennett Fedor, and Devan Mathias, a gossipy group that snipes at each other while providing commentary and filling in the blanks for the audience. Ryan Ruckman plays Hercules, a whiney, narcissistic drunk full of ennui who, during his first meeting with the closeted Iolaos, Nathan Thomas, a servant who will accompany Hercules on his quests, expects a hand job as if he’s asking Iolaos for a wrench. Ruckman’s Hercules reminds me of Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy in some ways. He plays tough, but under the wine skin and bravado, he finds the capability of something more . . . but it doesn’t dial down his raunchy that much. Ruckman is incredible, as is Thomas, his nervous but stalwart voice of reason with an adorable dirty dance.
Josiah McCruiston plays the sniffy, effeminate Eurystheus, the foil for Hercules, as a combination of self-important power with no self-confidence. Tony Armstrong as Zeus is the picture of the fed-up patriarch as Hercules rails against his evil but sexy step-mom Hera, Dena Toler, who seems to have a particular affinity for Trisha Yearwood. Finally, Beverly Roche is a riot as the sex-driven-Amazonian-queen-with-a-perpetual-yeast-infection Hippolyta.
The self-proclaimed low-budget props are actually quite impressive (as is the lighting), but, sadly, none of the puppets have sex (though I was poised for it during one shadow puppet scene).
The show lags about three-quarters of the way through, sort of like a Monty Python movie. I only took off that half star for it. However, it picks back up during the conversation about the consequences of dehydration due to copious copulation.
If you go, it might help to read a bit about the beings/things involved in Hercules’s trials. (Not much. Something like Wikipedia would do.) It’s not necessary, but it might help gloss over some of the events that aren’t portrayed visually. But even if you don’t, don’t let it stop you. While the show isn’t the “Disneyfication” of the tale, as the director points out, it still plays fast and loose with the originals. In a good way.
Carmel Community Players opens the musical Blood Brothers
Mrs. Johnstone is working as a cleaner for Mrs. Lyons when she becomes pregnant with twins. The financial burden of two children is too much for her, and Mrs. Lyons is longing for a child of her own, so Mrs. Johnstome keeps Mickey and gives the other boy, Edward, to Mrs. Lyons. Though the blood brothers are never told they are related and others try their best to keep them apart, their paths do cross later in life and all hell breaks loose.
April 20-May 7, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Allison does not accept gifts. Not even on her birthday. Not even from her fiancé. But when she finds herself without a wallet and unable to pay for a rather expensive lunch, she is forced to accept a stranger’s generosity. With quirky storytelling and eccentric characters, this dark, urban comedy follows Allison as she goes to bizarre lengths to repay his kindness.
April 20-May 14, Thursdays at 7 p.m. ($27), Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($33), andn Sundays at 2 p.m. ($27)
CHEAPSEATS WEEKEND April 20-23. All tickets for this show will be only $20 on opening weekend. This special sale price is made possible thanks to the generosity of Frank and Katrina Basile.
PRODUCER PARTY April 21. After the performance on Friday of opening weekend, the Phoenix will host a Producer Party. Food and Sun King beer will be provided.
SECOND SUNDAY April 30. The Second Sunday discussion will take place immediately following the performance. Come join cast and designers for a lively Q&A and gain a unique perspective of the show.
NoExit Performance and Zach Rosing Productions opens Mad Mad Hercules by Bennett Ayres
Get ready for a raucous, raunchy, Rated-R ride through Greek mythology’s most famous Hero tale! Though, this hero isn’t exactly the guy you remember. Directed by Zack Neiditch from a new original script by local playwright Bennett Ayres, Mad Mad Hercules is a raucous, raunchy, Rated-R ride through Greek mythology’s most famous Hero tale. Though, this hero isn’t exactly the guy you remember. Join Hercules and his companion Iolaos as they battle all the monsters Greece has to throw, if only they could stop battling each other …
Mud Creek Players opens Picasso at the Lapin Agile
The play features the characters of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, who meet at a bar called the Lapin Agile (French: “Nimble Rabbit”) in Montmartre, Paris. It is set on October 8, 1904, and both men are on the verge of disclosing amazing ideas (Einstein will publish his special theory of relativity in 1905 and Picasso will paint “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in 1907). At the Lapin Agile, they have a lengthy debate about the value of genius and talent, while interacting with a host of other characters.
City of Conversation is a chronicle of the rise of polarization of our political parties—something we are feeling more than ever these days. It begins in 1979 during the time of “Georgetown dinners”—an acceptable social gathering where politicians of both parties hammered out legislation in a more friendly way than on the Senate floor.
The story is set at the home of Hester (played by Nan Macy) and her sister Jean (played by Forba Shepherd). Hester is a longtime supporter of liberal legislation, and unapologetically maintains an affair with Sen. Chandler Harris (played by Doug Powers). On the evening of the first scene, Hester is about to entertain Sen. George Mallonee (David Mosedale) and his wife Carolyn (Anna Lee). She is surprised by the arrival of her (adult) son Colin (Carey Shea) and his fiancée Anna (Emily Bohn). Hester, probably seeing herself in the young Anna, bears her fangs behind her son’s back when Anna appears a little too conniving. However, this evening, pieces have been put in place that will change Hester, Anna, and Colin—a forewarning of what will happen soon for politics in general. Anna choses to stay with the men during post-dinner brandy, and her own fledgling fangs begin to take a bite out of Hester’s comfy political influence.
There is some excellent acting here. As Hester, Macy is at her best during the second act. Where before she was the consummate hostess providing the sanctuary of a non-partisan meeting space, by 1987 she is more of a powerhouse herself, even in her convictions. Before, her manic smiles were for social lubrication, but later her own grit comes forward in her sincere desire to recapture the protections and liberties that had been won before the Reagan era began. By 1987, Colin and Anna have morphed into staunch Reagan Republican power players, much to the horror of the far left liberal Hester.
Emily Bohn as Anna also undergoes change. When she first met Hester, she was still just a girl with strong ideas on how to change the world. But she evolves into a far-right cutthroat willing to do the unthinkable by actually using her son as blackmail when she thinks Hester could influence the appointment of Robert Bork, a judge that is deeply important for the Regan regime. Bohn begins with a coquettish flair and ends up as an insecure tyrant even if she is still flush with her own sense of power.
Shea as Colin is also undergoes a transformation. Where before he was a fresh-faced college grad sporting a poncho, mane of long hair, and idealistic plans, he wilts under his overachieving wife, the tug between family and political party, and the uncertainty of his own job within that party. Finally, Shea gets to portray his character’s grown son, Ethan, who is reunited with his grandmother the night of Obama’s inauguration, his husband at his side (Bradley Lowe) (that must have rankled the ’rents). Shea’s distinction between what could be called three characters (young Colin, middle-age Collin, and adult Ethan) is quite well done.
If you aren’t a political animal (and I am not), the show could go over your head (I can barely remember Reagan—most of the references to movers and shakers left me in complete oblivion). But, it is a skilled production.
Through April 29, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.
For those who love the well-known TV series M*A*S*H, you may be interested to know that as well as a movie, there is also a stage version. However, the play is, according to my husband, decidedly off cannon. For this reason, he was a little disappointed. I, though, was disappointed because the show itself isn’t funny and completely lacks any of the more series subject matter surrounding the Korean War. In addition, the stereotyping of Koreans and the USSO blondes are distressing.
In a series of short skits, with a flimsy at best plot line that could have been removed, you meet characters such as Hawkeye Pierce, Duke Forrest, Col. Blake, Maj. Burns, Trapper John, Maj. “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and many more. It’s a huge cast.
Sadly, only Ryan Powell as Hawkeye has a good performance. He looks much more at ease on stage than the others do, and he pulls off the only couple of scenes that evoke real laughter. Also, the Buck Creek Players’ stage is well turned out with set design by Lea Viney.
March 3-April 9; 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sunday
$18 for adults and $16 for students and senior citizens
Sex with Strangers opens on Angela Plank as Olivia, a demoralized writer in her late 30s who now supports herself through teaching and is using her spring break to work on a new novel. She is happily ensconced, alone, in an out-of-the-way writers’ retreat house in Michigan, manuscript on lap, wine on the coffee table, and fuzzy socks on—literally and metaphorically—cold feet. Brandon Alstott as Ethan, a hotshot in his late 20s, appears on the doorstep of her safe house, a late check-in due to a blizzard. He’s a modern-day pulp-fiction writer, a blogger-cum-novelist, whose first book, Sex with Strangers, details his year of debauchery, winning him fame and financial booty. While Olivia sees Ethan’s writing as the equivalent of junk food, she is both infuriated and intrigued with his runaway success.
The two represent a gap in literary culture of about 10 years—a gap that many readers can witness in the conflicting views of “J-school” adherents versus the cut-and-paste “news” sites that have become so popular (and lucrative); the difference between a trained writer and a nobody who pounds out misspelled blog entries or fanfiction. The show examines the changing landscapes of writing and publishing (with a brief mention of the role of “professional” critic versus the masses of Internet commenters and planted reviews).
Interestingly, when Olivia, who is a product of more rigorous literary standards, allows herself to explore the new publishing model, she is successful, while the hack Ethan blows it when he tries to be a “real” writer and a respected voice in the literary world. This says something for old-fashioned vetting. While anyone can “write,” not everyone should—yet the Internet and best-seller lists contain a festering stew of glorified wanna-bes.
Plank as Olivia feels unnaturally stiff, but this could be intentional, as her character does come across as having a stick up her butt. Best are her facial expressions in response to some of Ethan’s more infuriating statements. Given the intimate setting in the Phoenix Theatre’s cabaret stage, these kinds of details in a performance add so many nuances to a character. In any case, it comes as a surprise that Olivia’s uptight character would give in to Ethan so quickly—regardless of how smoking hot he is. Alstott as Ethan exudes self-confidence of every kind and demands attention in every way. Yet he is sincere when he describes his goal of producing something of real literary value, and the shedding of the persona “Ethan Strange” after his comeuppance is believable because of those earlier glimpses into his soul.
Director Bill Simmons, Plank, and Alstott created a show that can touch audiences on a personal level but also leaves them thinking about what does happen behind many types of closed doors, including the ones of various forms of media. “Sex with strangers,” after all, is a good metaphor for the intimacy that happens between reader and writer. Whom do you trust? The swaggering nobody or someone who has a few miles on them? At the same time, staunch adherence to tradition can also leave you stagnant.
The opening weekend of IndyFringe’s DivaFest 2017 was packed with passionate artists producing works that challenge audiences to evaluate their points of view.
Written by Brooke Eden
Directed by Miranda Swan
Performed by Brooke Eden
What is good: Twenty-year-old Eden has both good and bad luck. She suffers from panic disorder and depression. But karma picked up the bill by allowing her to come to terms with her issues now instead of 15 or 20 years later, after they did irreparable damage to her life.
In her one-woman show, Eden confesses to her own “batshit” craziness and to just how low she got before seeking help in college. She tackles the incredibly personal monologue with often self-deprecating humor, reveling in the convoluted events of her life that brought her to this point. Some stories are comical and some are sad, and she can turn a smart phrase. She’s genuine and relatable, and infinitely brave for sharing her story.
What needs work: The performance’s timelines and subjects sometimes feel disjointed. It’s a little rough, but I am betting it’s a work in progress. Also, moving the stool around the stage is distracting and unnecessary. I’d love to see some media added, such as music and photos that pertain to topics.
Saturday, March 18, 9 p.m.
Written by Chelsea Anderson
Directed by Rob Johansen
Performed by Adam Tran and Chelsea Anderson
What is good: The acting and directing. Tran and Anderson give professional-level performances. The incorporation of dance provides lovely symbolism for the coming together and drifting apart of two people in a relationship. The show’s execution from start to finish is spot-on.
What needs work: I have to play devil’s advocate here regarding the script. While I in NO WAY condone Guy’s date rape of Audra while she was passed out, Audra still needs to confront her own issues. As Guy states at the end, Audra is selfish. She says she wants to take the physical part of their relationship slow, but she gives in after five weeks. After allowing them to take that step, she reneges, saying that “it hurts.” First, if sex hurts, get thee to a GYN ASAP. If no physical reason for the pain exists, get thee to a sex therapist. Second, if you set a ground rule, keep it. This applies to every party involved. Audra never tries to have a meaningful, mature conversation with Guy about sex—or even about her expectations of the relationship. If this kind of a conversation is too embarrassing or uncomfortable, grow up.
When Guy date raped her, why didn’t she leave right away instead of letting the relationship continue, allowing her anger to fester, and choosing not to confront Guy? (I can tell you from first-person experience that restraining orders in these situations are not hard to obtain, even though pressing charges can be.) Guy has been rejected in every way a person can be (again, yes, the date rape was unforgivable, but why didn’t she do a thing about it?). And what is Audra’s take-away from all this? We don’t know if she has learned anything or grown because of a guillotined ending.
Saturday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.
Not Yet Dead
Written by Jan White
Directed by Ann Marie Elliott
Performed by Beverly Roche, Bridget Schlebecker, Nick Barnes, Shannon Samson, Jim Lucas, Craig Rubel, and David Molloy
What is good: A gaggle of friends tries to convince a former movie star to take on new opportunities—and new technology, which causes havoc. White’s message—not letting yourself get complacent in your senior years—transcends all age groups. No matter how old you are, your story is not over.
The banter between Roche as Dana and Schlebecker as her best friend Lana is so natural that it is beautiful, and the actresses convey the ease and comfort of beloved friends. Their words and interaction reflect the love and companionship that sustained their relationship for decades. Plus, lots of funny lines keep the audience laughing.
What needs work: The show has drinking-game potential. Every time the title is used, take a shot. The script is rough around the edges, and the scenes end abruptly. Some of the characters are superfluous, such as the obligatory gay friend and the man next door. (His sister doesn’t have a major role in propelling the plot either, but she is funny. And he does get one of the best jokes in the show, explaining that it’s the Vagina Monologues, not monocles. It’s not eyewear for your vagina.)
Sunday March 19, 7:30 p.m.
On the Pole
Written and produced by Nicole Kearney
Directed by Dena Toler
Performed by Banza Townsend, Andrea P. Wilson, Chandra Lynch, Brittany Taylor, and Jamaal McCray
What is good: On the Pole examines the circumstances and repercussions for four women who work in a strip club. Each one represents a different perspective: the housemother, who has been in the industry practically her whole life; the teen-age newbie, who sees this as a welcome opportunity to get off the streets; the proud career dancer; and the short-timer, who is saving for college. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes of rarely told stories. The catty comments are set to high, and each actress effectively embodies her character’s temperament. But Wilson as Mimi is the most eye-catching; she drips sexuality the entire 60 minutes of the production. Well-curated props add vibrancy to the black-box stage.
What needs work: The characters are depicted with a wide brush, but it’s hard to write effective character development into a short. The ending was a little abrupt; a more resolute conclusion would be satisfying.
Friday March 17, p.m.
Two additional shows will open this weekend.
The Pink Hulk, written by Valerie David and directed by Padraic Lill, is about Valerie’s battle with breast cancer. Afraid she might lose “the girls,” Valerie decides to takes them out for one last hurrah. The true story follows the triumphant journey of one woman seeking her own “hulk-like” strength to find her superhero within.
Friday, March 17, 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 18, 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 19, 4:30 p.m.
HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, written by Heather Massie, explores the film star who also invented frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology, which make the world of wireless communication tick.
Rock of Ages is a camp masterpiece. The fist-pumping shots of adrenaline that fueled the hair bands and groupies of the ’80s are lampooned in this amalgamation of every rock-band debauchery, mullet, and obnoxious clothing choice seen in that decade.
What Theatre on the Square’s cast may be lacking in vocal proficiency is made up for in stamina. (Hell, Ty Stover is the director, musical director, scenic designer, and lighting designer.) This is an instance when auto-tune could have come in handy. Everyone seems to have a few notes that he or she just can’t hit. But no matter. This karaoke-level performance is the height of sloppy fun.
The show has a loose storyline, but who cares what it is? This is a jukebox musical after all. And I get to use my favorite phrase: John Kern as Lonny, the narrator, CHEWS THE SCENERY AND SPITS IT BACK OUT. No matter what is happening on-stage, find him, and he will be doing something absurd or crude, but probably both. He makes a gallant effort in the vocal department.
Dave Ruark, who plays the nightclub owner Dennis, a washed-up ex-hippie who did way too many drugs back in the day, does an admirable job of stumbling through the club in a vague haze. Bar-hand and superstar wanna-be Drew, played by Davey Pelsue, has his best turn in “I Wanna Rock,” and his love interest, Sherrie, played by Sarah Hoffman, has a pretty little voice.
Hannah Boswell has the best voice in the production, which is odd because she has limited stage time as Waitress #1. Paige Scott as the strip-club housemother Justice gives excellent attitude, and Zach Ramsey as Franz is adorable. However, Thomas Cardwell as rock god Stacee Jaxx lacks the role’s sex appeal, and his surfer dialect is gratng.
Unbelievably horrible wigs are appalling to the point that they are comical.
Be forewarned that if you fear glitter (the herpes of the craft world) and/or boobs, don’t sit in the front row.
Overall, the show warranted an extra star for its sheer fun factor, and the bottom line is that you have to be a huge fan of the ’80s to really enjoy it. I’d love to see TOTS do a sing-along night.
Boeing Boeing is a classic French farce from the ’60s, and really, who doesn’t enjoy a little slapstick, even if the characters are a little…culturally dated? Just roll with it. Many stagings, translations, tweaks, and movie adaptations later, Boeing Boeing has made its way to the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s stage under the direction of Laura Gordon, and it’s a hoot.
Bernard, played by Matt Schwader, is an American playboy living in Paris. He has collected three “air hostess” fiancées, and by using a system of airline timetables, he keeps them from knowing about each other. The day his old friend Robert, played by Chris Klopatek, shows up for a visit, Bernard’s scheme begins to deteriorate.
The show is full of excruciatingly funny lines, most of which are delivered by Bernard’s housekeeper, Berthe, played by Elizabeth Ledo (who in looks and attitude reminds me of Edna from The Incredibles), and the show’s standout, Klopatek. Klopatek, as the nerdy, nervous, clumsy Robert, steals every single scene he is in (which is most of them). But Ledo is right behind him, delivering her character’s own brand of snarky shtick.
Schwader as Bernard is everything a 1960s schmoozer would be: handsome, smooth, arrogant—and hysterically frantic when he finds himself juggling all three women in his flat. Which brings us to the stewardesses. Hillary Clemens gets to be relatively straightforward as cute (but gastronomically challenged) American Gloria, whereas caricatures are carried impressively consistently by Melisa Pereyra as the “angry Italian” Gabriella and Greta Wohlrabe as the “aggressive German” Gretchen. Stereotypes aside, Wohlrabe is absolutely endearing and sidesplitting in turns from one second to another.
The set, designed by Vicki Smith, does ample justice to the IRT’s reputation for elaborate settings. The pacing of some narrative scenes could be sped up, but this is a minor quibble for a show that is such a delightful romp of silliness.
TONIGHT: Actors Theatre of Indiana presents Unscripted, an improvised musical comedy staring Ben Asaykwee, Cynthia Collins, Judy Fitzgerald, Paul Hansen, and Claire Wilcher and emceed by Ellen Kingston with accompaniment by Brent Marty. Full audience participation! You provide the content. The actors provide the laughs. See actors transform onstage into their characters as a story is woven together with help from the audience. Singing, dancing, costume changes, and wigs…all right before your eyes! Plus, the 2017-2018 season will be announced.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre‘s production of Boeing Boeing opens this weekend. A swanky Parisian bachelor pad sets the stage for a fun-filled performance where an infidelitous man finds out what can go wrong when he, along with three beautiful stewardesses, are in the right place at the wrong time. Check out the interview with Hillary Clemens and Matt Schwader!
March 10-April 2
Opening night March 10. Come dressed in your best 1960’s outfit and share a toast with the cast after the performance!
IRTea Talk | March 19, after the 2 p.m. performance
Happy Hour March 21, before the 6:30 p.m. performance
Backstage Tour March 24, after the 7:30 p.m. performance
Post-show Discussion March 26, after the 2 p.m. performance
Cookies & Coffee March 30, before the 2 p.m. performance
Recommended for patrons 9th grade and older. Boeing Boeing contains references to infidelity and mild sexual innuendo.
DivaFest 2017 presented by IndyFringe develops and presents female voices, providing a supportive environment where they can hone their craft and exploring new writers, works, and performing companies, while leaving enough room for established playwrights to foster mentoring relationships. The goal is to grow Indiana as a center for female playwrights and encourage the public to support them by buying tickets, watching shows, and sharing their thoughts with friends in person or on social media. Through the juried process, the best six submitted shows will be presented at the festival.
March 10-12 & March 17-19
$18; $13 seniors/student
IndyFringe Basile Theatre and Indy Eleven Theatre
Theatre on the Square presents Rock of Ages: In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl met a big city rocker — and in LA’s most famous rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the eighties. Rock of Ages is an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, and many more.
March 10-April 1
$25; $20 student/senior
XYZ, a youth theater company led by Grace Cullin and Jaytel Provence, students of Young Actors Theatre, presents Belle. The show follows the story of an orphaned girl and how she copes with the events of her past. Belle will have to learn to let go of what she has lost. Will she learn to move on or hold on to the past and destroy herself?
Footlite Musicals opens the Cole Porter favoriteAnything 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!
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.
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
Downey Avenue Christian Church Performing Arts presents the Midwest premiere production ofFour 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
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 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.
Matt Schwader and Hillary Clemens talk life, love, baby, and the stage
(This is the complete version of this story. Due to space constraints, the one in NUVO had to be shortened.)
There’s an old adage about mixing your private life with work (don’t), but for those who see the theater as home, the lines are easy to blur. Matt Schwader’s and Hillary Clemens’s relationship has been inextricably woven into their on-stage careers since they first met in 2010 at a Shakespeare festival in Wisconsin. And now, they are coming full circle in their theatrical parenting foray. After discovering that they were pregnant the morning before the opening night of The Great Gatsby at the Indiana Repertory Theatre (he as Gatsby and she as Daisy) in 2015, the whole family is back at the IRT for its production of Boeing Boeing, opening March 7 (he as Bernard and she as Gloria).
Though branded by the dark circles under their eyes common to all new parents, the couple is upbeat and positive about their first foray into the regional-theater scene since their son was born eight months ago. “We were going to take a year or more off from the theater world, and we probably wouldn’t have taken this [show] if it weren’t for Hillary’s mom,” says Schwader with a smile. “And it’s hard to say no to Janet [Allen, IRT’s executive artistic director] and the Indiana Rep,” he adds, and he and his wife laugh good-naturedly.
Clemens elaborates, “Henry’s with my mother. She’s staying in the room across from ours in our housing, and my stepdad is here for a little bit too. He’ll probably come and go, but she’s here for the duration. Really, it was the only way we could do this. My mom just looked at me and said, ‘I’ll come with you.’ We knew that we would be at home here.”
“It’s just the best place,” Schwader says. “It’s a fun theater. When you come here, people are just so warm and creative and positive—good people.” And when he says it, you know he means it. His lively blue eyes look right at you, and his body language conveys confidence and energy.
Clemens, her husband’s physical opposite—petite, with enormous brown eyes that dominate her face—is just as enthusiastic if more physically calm. Content. “I’ve been spending all of my time with Henry up until this. This is the longest I’ve been away from him. Being home made a real difference for me. I’m lucky that I was able to do that. But it also feels really good to be back at work too.”
Schwader says, “I kind of went back to a day job just to support the family. And then doing things with the Bach Aria Soloists and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and a couple of other groups that do like a weekend thing. It’s great, but all I wanna do is be at home,” and they both laugh again.
Everyone knows babies are exhausting, but when your schedules aren’t the typical nine-to-five, it can be even more challenging. “In this career, most of our job starts around noon and then goes later, in general. And then once the show’s in performance, it’s nights and weekend,” Schwader says. “But with a baby, he has no interest in our schedule! So he gets me up every morning. Hillary’s still nursing, so he’ll wake up a couple times at night, expect a little bite to eat, so since she has to do that, as a fair trade off, I get up with him in the morning. Everything’s completely different. Normally in the past, I’d be pretty much memorized before rehearsal started, and it just wasn’t very possible with a baby.
“The thing that’s a big issue with being parents and being a team in a play is time. It’s one thing if you’re in two different shows, where one person has a rehearsal schedule and the other one can be at home with the kids or doing supportive kind of stuff like making lunches, that kind of thing. But when you are both on the same schedule, it’s exhausting. You just want to come home and relax, and there’s no one there who’s picking up the extra weight. And you look at each other like the other person should do it. [both laugh] And then you realize, no, we’re in the same boat. I think that’s the biggest ‘challenge.’ But that’s just life.
Juggling work and their relationship is something the couple already had experience with before baby. But that time apart never marred their bond. The two laugh often and complete each other’s sentences. They have found their balance and made it work.
“We met in 2010, and we reconnected a couple years later. You [Clemens] were in Florida, and I was in Chicago,” Schwader says. “We started out long distance. From e-mails, to Skype, to watching Netflix at the same time,” which make them both laugh again.
Clemens adds, “We spent a lot of our relationship working in different cities and different plays. Right after we got married, we had about two weeks together, and then I came here and did The Game’s Afoot [IRT 2014].”
“And I had been here before in 2006 doing A Christmas Carol. So we both worked here separately.”
“And then we had an amazing year where we worked together.”
“Back to back. We did Romeo and Juliet out at Lake Tahoe where she was Juliet and I was Romeo. And we came here and did The Great Gatsby.”
“And then we went to Seattle and did Christmas Carol together. Then we had the baby, took some time off, and now we’re here! And then this summer, we are going to do Hamlet in Kansas City at the Shakespeare Festival there.”
So what’s it like working with your partner? Schwader says, “Being theatrical and being on stage with a show, I want to say…I’d love to say it’s no different from doing it with anybody else, but there is an element of comfort”
“Especially if it’s something romantic. Physical.”
“Exactly. All of that. It’s very easy, and it’s different than working with someone you don’t have that with. But you know, if you’re going through a lovers’ spat in life but have to be happy on stage, we’re professionals. Once we’re in the play, we really are in the play.”
Clemens adds, “We keep joking too that the last time we were here, it was Gatsby, so your [Schwader’s] character was obsessed with mine, and now we’re back and I’m one of three. I get to watch you make out with two other ladies. But I know you’re coming home with me at night. You betta.” [more laughter]
Schwader continues, “I think it [the challenge] is time. I’m up with him [Henry] at 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning. It’s kind of great because we get a little Henry and Pop time.” So, can you take a nap? “I’ve got to memorize lines and go to the gym, get the house cleaned up, pack our lunches…I’ll be interested to see what happens during the show. I don’t know that we’ll make it back before he goes to bed, and I’ll miss that time.”
Clemens adds, “We also moved to a new place right before we left.” This made their time even more precious.
Schwader says, “In a rehearsal process, normally the time that you’re off rehearsal, you have a lot of homework. Not just memorizing lines, but you’re working on your own.”
“And with a show like this [Boeing Boeing], that’s so physical, gym time isn’t just a luxury. You really have to do it.”
Schwader says, “You have to stay healthy, stay flexible. So trying to find time to do all those things and also not miss out on time with him [Henry], that’s the challenge.”
“And just figuring out how the schedule works. This is our first show back as parents, and just figuring out the timing of everything. I mean, we’re up at 5 a.m.”
And that brings the story back to their baby.
Schwader beings, “We were planning on having the baby. But the story is, actors get things for each other as little opening-night gifts, and we had been sort of lax on that. And in the morning, on the opening night of our show, Hillary comes to me and she’s like, ‘Let’s give each other our gifts now!’ and I was like, “No, we don’t do that!”
Clemens explains, “We still had about four hours of rehearsal to do—”
“Yeah, you do it at the show. But she said, ‘No, we have to do it now.’ Well, I was curmudgeonly about it—”
“He was grouchy, trying to make breakfast—”
“And she said, ‘You go first.’ So I was like, I didn’t want to do it at all, and now you’re making me go first.” This gets another laugh out of Clemens. “So I gave her her gifts, which were some things related to the show, like a daisy necklace, and things like that because she was playing Daisy. And then she gave me my gift, and it’s a little thing that is wrapped up. I open it up, and I pull it out, and it’s a onesie. And we just burst into tears. It was awesome.”
Seriously, how adorable is that!
Clemens picks up the story. “We had to go to rehearsal and couldn’t tell anybody. We’d be on stage, to reposition a moment or fix the blocking, and I’d look at Matt and he’d look at me. And his eyes would just fill with tears. And I was like [whispering through gritted teeth], ‘Get it together! They’re going to think something’s wrong!’ We told Nathan [Garrison], the stage manager, pretty much right away because it’s a medical issue. You want to make sure somebody in charge knows what’s going on.”
“And she of course did get horrible morning sickness that whole first trimester. And we were on a rake, which is a triangular stage, and she’s in high heels doing the Charleston.”
Clemens says, “I had a few ‘come off stage, throw up, come back on stage’ moments. And just the level of fatigue early on was really rough early on. And we did end up telling the cast because it hit me so hard that we thought they either are going to think I’m dying or they’re going to be afraid I’m contagious. And also it was good for them to know just in case—”
“Somebody could grab you—”
“If I look like I’m about to keel over, everyone knows to grab me. But it was really kind of wonderful to have this thing that was really special with the cast and crew.”
“And we get to bring him here now, and he can see where he began!” Schwader adds.
Clemens says, “It’s fun when we look at our production photos because they took all the photos, or at least half, during previews, so I was pregnant but didn’t know yet. So I look at all those pictures, and I’m like [in a singsong voice], ‘You’re preg-nant!’ We call them Henry’s first production photos. And there’s a moment in the play too where Gatsby is whispering to Daisy on stage—”
“But the audience doesn’t hear what I’m saying—”
“And there were a couple of nights where he would lean in and just go [whispering], ‘You’re preg-nant!’”
This elicits yet another bout of joy-filled laughter.
Clemens says, “It’s wonderful to come back with something that is so wonderfully silly. And we know when we come home at the end of the night we’re going to be in a great mood, as opposed to like a Shakespearean tragedy. You can’t always leave all of it; it comes with you, it lives in you a little bit. So it’s nice to know that there really isn’t a way to be in a bad mood at the end of this play.”
Schwader agrees. “Especially with this cast and this company. It’s sort of funny because the play’s about these people who sort of live an international lifestyle, and a play like this for anybody is sort of a vacation. You get to forget about anything that’s happening in politics, the world, or whatever else may be troubling you in life, and you can go laugh for a couple hours.”
It’s the 1960s, and swinging bachelor Bernard couldn’t be happier: a flat in Paris and three gorgeous stewardesses all engaged to him without knowing about each other. But Bernard’s perfect life gets bumpy when his friend Robert comes to stay and a new and speedier Boeing jet throws off all of his careful planning. Soon all three stewardesses are in town simultaneously, timid Robert is forgetting which lies to tell to whom, and catastrophe looms.
Boeing Boeing runs at the Indiana Repertory Theatre March 7-April 2.
Tickets are $25-$75.
Recommended for ages 14 and over.
Save $5 on the first two weeks of the show when you book using the promo code JETSETTERS5.