Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Indianapolis Men’s Chorus: “Journey to Hell” (IndyFringe 19)

Hell yes.

Journey To HellThe IMC rock the hell out of the District Theatre with their program dedicated to the dark side. Starting off with black robes and Latin chanting sets the mood for the homage to all things scary. Their energetic choreography exhibits their incredible stamina. Sometimes the musicians override the vocalists, a pet peeve of mine, but it wasn’t enough to make this a must-see-or-die show. Just some of the songs include “Renegade,”a Journey Mega Mix, “Devil Inside,” “Hell’s Bells,” “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” “Hope It Gives You Hell,” and so many more. Don’t overlook this one!

  • Friday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 1:30 p.m.
  • indyfringe.org
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Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Footlose” (IndyFringe 2019)

Take Footloose and add improv. Audience members contribute blind lines from movies and dance moves to buckets, and as the story progresses, the actors pick from the appropriate bucket. Hilarity ensues. Be creative, please. The night I went there were multiple “I don’t give a damn” and “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The cast went with it, though, no matter what they were given. If you are a fan of the movie, you won’t want to miss this.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Uindy Theatre Company: “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” (IndyFringe 19)

Twenty-four mini plays in 48 minutes. Timed. If they can’t do it, you get free pizza! On your table is a menu of play choices, and the audience gets to shout out which play they want to see next. Some are a few seconds, some are about two minutes. Some are brilliant, and each one has a comedic element. Highlights are “Poultry-geist,” “How to War,” “These Things Are True,” “Memorial Day,” “and Honesty.” Beware No. 8, Sudden Death and Resurrection.” Kudos to Katie Carter, Destiny Heugel, Morgan Jackson, and especially Clayton Rardon for having to wear a dildo on his head because of “stage direction.”

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Is Your Brain Still Cooking?” (IndyFringe 19)

Is your brain still cookingWelcome to the Nursing Home Channel, where octogenarians remember useless information in the game show Is Your Brain Still Cooking? Jim Banta as the game show host is a bit frazzled, as he just happened to land the gig as host. He’s unprepared, especially when his two contestants arrive. Edmund (Dan Flahive) is covered in Post-It notes because he can’t recall even the simplest of everyday things, but ask him about something 50 years ago and he can go into minute detail. The other contestant, Roby Flo (Case Jacobus) is well-centered in the now. But her past profession, porn star, keeps her mind otherwise occupied. This is a funny of slightly long program. All three cast members nail their characters, and the jokes go beyond just the gross and old.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“The Phantom of Fountain Square” (IndyFringe 2019)

Phantom in Fountain Square PRINT (1)Poor Fountain Square. The revitalization that never was. In this story, a couple, Samantha (Kerra D. Wagener) and Danny (Thom Johnson) have bought a space in The Square to open a restaurant. But the gremlins of Fountain Square strike, removing electrical components and even pooping on the counter. The only person not bothered by the ghostly presence is Katie (Jacquiline Rae), their daughter.

This is a musical without much music, and sitting on the right side of the audience, the vocals were often overpowered by the music. Similarly, a small screen showing old photos of Fountain Square is placed to the far left, making it hard for us on the right to see.

Owen Harp as the Phantom is downright goofy in his exaggerated movements, all long, sweeping arms and long strides inside a large black cloak. His monkey companion is downright disturbing.

Rae is a natural on stage, however. I hope to see her again in the future.

  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 10:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 4:30 p.m.

 

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: interviews

Carmel High School: “And then They Came for Me” (IndyFringe 2019)

The 15th annual Indianapolis Fringe Festival continues into its second week, including the offering from Carmel High School, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank. The play combines the the stories of Anne Frank and survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss.

Maggie Cassidy, a theater teacher and director at CHS for 12 years and this show’s director, has been a part of Fringe for 14 years. “I love to direct Fringe plays because they are intimate and artistic. It isn’t about glitz and glamour; it is about true and beautiful storytelling,” she says.

“The story of the Holocaust is one that should continue to be told,” she adds. “I love to do plays based on historic events/true stories. I love to research that event, time period and its people. I thought this play was beautiful and heart wrenching. The play is a combination of two real survivors sharing their stories on video and actors recreating the events on stage.”

The actors are made up of seniors, juniors and one sophomore from CHS. “I think it is a wonderful experience for the students. They get a chance to perform for a wider audience. We cast the show at the end of the 2018–2019 school year, but have only been in rehearsal for three weeks. I think it gives them a truer experience of what professional theater is like. It gives the kids and the theater program at CHS really great exposure,” she says.

“We often do something heavy, almost always a drama, almost always something based on real events, always a small cast, and almost always something that provides a message for the audience. I think that we must often remind our young people and our audience about the events that took place under Hitler in WWII. Survivor Eva Schloss says, ‘I fear greatly that the lessons of the past will be forgotten, if only because we all tend to push aside what is unpleasant. Therefore it seems to me very important that the surviving witnesses should continue to testify.’ Survivor Ed Silverberg says, ‘It is, after all, the next generation that must keep alive the knowledge of this dark episode in human history, so that it may never be repeated.”

The show runs Aug. 16–18 and Aug. 20, 24, and 25. For tickets and more information, go to www.indyfringe.org.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

aMUSEd (IndyFringe 2019)

amusedNikki’s apartment is haunted by a Muse. A very unwelcome one. He’s stuck on this plane until he fulfills his promise to his last companion: find someone to finish their last story. Nikki won’t budge because this apartment is supposed to be a haven for her to escape her own pain. An odd couple indeed.

Kyle Dorsch and Megan Ann Jacobs take the acting over the top a little, but overall they give us a sweet and funny story.

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Emerging Artist Theatre: “The Cookie Dough Show” (IndyFringe 2019)

Cookie dough show 300_0Thank you, Paige Scott, for making my night. (As opposed to the Diet Coke going up my nose in Is Your Brain Still Cooking? See seperate review.) Paige on a toy piano singing the song “Not in Nottingham” from Disney’s 1973 classic Robin Hood was one of the best experiences of my life. I know every. single. word of that song. Using the Robin Hood theme as a segue into a Kevin Costner homage, Paige also serenaded us with Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You.” Besides Paige’s musical prowess, the show is a mishmash of half laughs and some more serious scenes. A little girl wants to kill Santa. Then there is a series of awkward retail exchanges, a somber set where a daughter runs into her estranged father, and a sweet scene about a pregnant Army wife. Billed as a “variety” show, The Cookie Dough Show seemed a little too schizophrenic in its widely varied vignettes, but it has its high points. Like the plinking of tiny piano keys. tumblr_ml2dn9giLJ1rkx03vo1_400

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 18, 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 20, 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m.
  • ComedySportz
  • www.indyfringe.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Be Out Loud Theatre (BOLT): “The Only Thing Worse You Could’ve Told Me” (IndyFringe 2019)

swinfordYou do not need to be gay or a man to appreciate this show. As a straight woman with many gay friends, I loved it.

Written by Dan Bulter (Frazier), the show looks at what it means to be a gay man. Michael Swinford’s masterful characterization and colorful inflection make these vignettes both serious and seriously funny. He is so energetic and expressive that you are right there with him when “Leslie” falls for a man dying of AIDS, or when 10-year-old Tommy asks his friend what fucking is. Watch as a guy reacts to his best friend coming out, which is followed by one of the weirdest conversations ever. The commentary on just what is the “gay community” is a conversation starter. Do they speak for all gay people? Should they?

This is a must-see on your Fringe list for its entertainment value and its depth.

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 21, 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 4:30 p.m.
  • The District Theatre
  • www.indyfringe.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Approxima Productions: “Vinny the Pooh” (IndyFringe 2019)

It’s Mafia Pooh!

They all had to grow up eventually, so why not make their family a Family? Sniglet and Pooh had a deal go south, and The Boss, Franga, isn’t going to be happy. Sniglet (Kelsey VanVoorst) has a filthy mouth and anger issues — and an eclectic sex drive. Of course, Christa MaBobbin (Morgan Morton) is the one who has been screwing toads. Franga (Carrie Ann Schlatter) keeps her furry puppet Little Schmoo in a golden belly pouch, which the unintelligible Jowl (Joshua C. Ramsey) seems to be into. Eyesore (Clay Mabbit) may have his tail’s ribbon tattooed to his neck, but now he’s managed to lose an eye. And Stagger (John Kern) appears with visual conformation of his bouncy goodness <sniff>. As for Vinny (Steve Kruze), he seems to be the only one who hasn’t degraded into mafia madness with his honey snacks and rumbly tummy. Not to mention those shorts and dress shoes he’s rockin’. (Speaking of, VanVoorst’s boots are awesome.)

Director Christine Kruze has quite the handful of characters (they have a violence supervisor), and the group gets its weirdness on. The cast knows it Pooh, but Jowl, Sniglet, and Stagger ham it up the most for a giggly romp through the 50 Hectare Forest.

Sunday, Aug. 18, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Ubrella” (IndyFringe 2019)

Ubrella (not a type-o) is a one-woman show about Ginger Thimlar’s observations on life and its perception. It’s almost stream of consciousness in that it jumps subjects or repeats itself. Such as, Ginger lets us know several times that she hates technology. Vehemently. The way she see it, tech has destroyed our communication skills and social interaction. She also exhibits quite a bit of bitterness having never used her vocalist/fine art/film direction degree. Then she moves on to her estranged father and her eventual malaise for Indianapolis. Where she is at any given time is nebulous. Sometimes she seems to be at work, sometimes on the bus, and sometimes no place in particular at all — just monologuing. In the background are the noises of a city, which come and go at random.

Her entire show is read straight from a script in a binder, often sitting or else shambling around the stool. There is little or no eye contact and expression. Instead, it resembles a first table read for a new play. This production is nowhere near ready for a stage.

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 10:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 19, 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 23, 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug 25, 1:30 p.m.
  • $15 adults / $12 seniors (over 65), students (with ID), and children
  • Indianapolis Firefighters Museum
  • www.indyfringe.org

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Openings for the weekend of 8/15

FringeFest, ya’ll

That’s the big deal for the next two weeks. I just got back from the preview night, where performers were given two minutes each to hawk their shows. Not everyone participated, but of those who did, here are my “promising” picks:

  • Beyond Ballet
  • Lady Lives
  • Fallen from the Toy Box
  • The Madwomen’s Late-Night Cabaret
  • The Adventures of Crazy Jane and Red-Haired Annie
  • and one other I didn’t catch the name of about being transgender

Sixty-seven show at $15 bucks a pop. Go to http://www.indyfringe.org.

Garfield Shakespeare Company: As You Like It

For something completely different: Break out your leg warmers and your mix tapes and head over to Garfield Park for one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays with a new, bodacious twist. Its the 1980s, and the Forest of Arden is home to the raddest summer camp around. But trouble abounds as two brothers fight over control of the camp, young counselors disguise themselves for love, and the campers are left to fend for themselves. Enjoy beer from Garfield Brewery on the lawn of the beautiful MacAllister Stage as Garfield Shakespeare Company takes it to the max with a totally tubular production of As You Like It.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 6/14

Catholic Boy Blues

James’ recurring migraines lead him to therapy. Beginning a journaling practice, he soon realizes his journey of discovery might force him to deal with a childhood trauma he didn’t know he had repressed. Playwright Norbert Krapf, former Indiana poet laureate, is the author of 12 poetry collections, including Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal and the recent The Return of Sunshine about his Colombian-German-American grandson, age four, as well as the prose memoir Shrinking the Monster: Healing the Wounds of Our Abuse.

  • June 14-15, 7:30 p.m. and June 16, 4 p.m.
  • $20; $15 seniors; $12 students
  • IndyFringe
  • www.indyfringe.org

Phoenix Theatre: White City Murder

Murder! Mischief! Comedy! Original music highlights this hilarious and terrifying tale of infamous murder at the 1893 World’s Fair. It’s Ben Asaykwee. It’s hysterical. What more could you ask for?

Indy Shakes Traveling Troupe: Much Ado About Nothing

Spying, double-crosses, cover-ups, mistaken identities! Shakespeare’s adventure play takes place in the Forest of Arden. Things are not quite what they seem. Let’s see if you can figure out who’s who, what’s what, and why in this hilarious journey through the woods.

Debbie Nelson & In Full Transition Band

Debbie Nelson & In Full Transition

Nelson & In Full Transition Band bring excitement, dynamics, and dimension to the blues with their passion for performing. Winners of last year’s Naptown Blues Challenge, this band will soon be on your must-see list.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/31

seeyouthereSummer Stock Stage’s Eclipse: Violet

Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts. It tells the story of a young disfigured woman who embarks on a journey by bus from her farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in order to be healed.

  • May 30-June 15; various times and dates
  • $20 opening weekend; $30 thereafter
  • Phoenix Theatre
  •  summerstockstage.com

 

At IndyFringe:

Fan Me, Lord!: In the 1950s, Chicago native Patricia Wilson visits home to share her big news after studying abroad in London. Little did she know her entire world will flip upside down as the beans spill about family secrets. Can she face the challenges and keep her “new-found self-confidence”?

Big Beautiful Women of Broadway (BBWOB): Actor/singer James Solomon Benn presents his 75-minute cabaret show featuring songs sung by or made famous by the women of Broadway.

seeyouthereBuck Creek Players: Disaster: The Musical

“Hustle” back to the 1970s for the Indianapolis premiere of Disaster: The Musical. It’s 1979, and New York’s hottest A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to earthquakes, tidal waves, and so much more! As the night turns into day, everyone struggles to survive and, quite possibly, repair the love that they’ve lost … or at least escape the killer rats. Disaster: The Musical features some of the most unforgettable songs of the 1970s. “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman,” and “Hot Stuff” are just a few of the scintillating hits in this hilarious musical comedy which played to Broadway audiences in 2012.

  • May 31-June 16, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $20; $18 for students (through college and senior citizens (aged 62 or older)
  • http://www.buckcreekplayers.com

PLUS:

Bidding Begins Friday, May 31, for The Rocky Horror Show 2019 BCP PLay-A-Part Fundraiser. Play the role of your dreams! All roles in the Play-A-Part Fundraisers are “won” through an online silent auction with no required auditions! Veteran performers join first-timers to give classic musicals a comedic twist.

Magic Thread Cabaret: “Bill Book: It’s a Most Unusual Day”

Veteran Indy theater artist Bill Book headlines an eclectic, 90-minute program of his favorite classic, pop, swing, comedy, and country songs, weaved together with personal memories and stories of love, laughter, friendship and family.

  • Friday, May 31-Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m.
  • The Cat, 254 Veterans Way in Carmel
  • $30 general admission/$25 seniors/$20 students with valid ID
  • magicthreadcabaret.com
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/26

The Phoenix Theatre: The Childrenseeyouthere

thechildren
The Phoenix Theatre’s “The Children”

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

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

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

irwin
Andy Offutt Irwin

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

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

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

Carmel Community Players: A Streetcar Named Desire

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

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

Civic Theatre: Disney’s Newsiesseeyouthere

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

seeyouthere

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

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

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

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Forbidden Broadway

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

 

10-Minute New Play Festival

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

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

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

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

Extension

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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe LAFFShows: “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes”

goldengirls
“Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes”

The new IndyFringe series LAFFShows aims to spoof. First, there was Hold on to Your Butts, which took Jurassic Park to task. Now, it’s The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes.

There’s a reason these episodes are lost, as Sophia pulling dildos out of her purse or Blanche’s beau popping out of the bedroom wearing a mesh onesie and giant codpiece would not make it onto TV — even cable — in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

There are two episodes split by an audience participation spot of “Guess that Girl,” where two people are chosen to vie for Golden Girls prizes. Brush up on your trivia — these aren’t throwaway questions. The skits are anchored in dick jokes, and some of it seems a little forced, but when it’s funny, it’s outrageous stuff.

Pat Mullen really takes the ubiquitous cheesecake in this show, vamping up the Southern belle Blanche. Donning Golden Girl drag alongside him are Jim Banta as Rose and Dave Ruark as Dorothy, with Olivia Schaperjohn as Sophia and Christian Condra as a very revealing, very enthusiastic multipurpose male.

Next up in the LAFF series is Fly You Fools!, a Lord of the Rings rip-off, May 3-25.

  • April 5-27, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 and 10 p.m.
  • $15
  • The District Theatre
  • www.indyfringe.org

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 4/5

Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes

goldengirls
“Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes”

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

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Amber Waves

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

Beef & Boards: 42nd Street

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

Make Me A Perfect –Asperger’s– Match

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

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

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

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

Footlite’s Got Talent

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

Extension

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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 2/22

Black & 25 in America

Jeremy Gillett
Jeremy Gillett

Los Angeles-based actor Jeremy Gillett will staging his one-man show. Black & 25 explores difficult issues through the life stories of several African-American characters in their mid-20s, people like Big Man, the high school football standout who couldn’t escape gang life; Joshua Thomas Northington III, a conservative, preppy black man who struggles with privilege; and Marcy, a bi-racial woman who has to carefully navigate two cultures while keeping her sanity. Through these narratives and more, Gillett gives his audience insight to what it is like to be a young, black adult in the first decades of the United States in the 21st century.

Carmel Community Players: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as “the relationship.” Act I explores the journey from dating and waiting to love and marriage, and Act II reveals the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car, and pick-up techniques of the geriatric set. This hilarious musical revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, to those who have dared to ask, “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”

  • Feb, 22-March 10, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $18-$20
  • The Cat theater
  • www.carmelplayers.org

IndyFringe: Winter Magic Showcase 

This is a unique event, designed to bring back to the stage amazing, live magic shows and present the world’s top magicians in an intimate, close-up setting where you can’t miss a trick! Hosted by Kevin Burke, the Magic Showcase features Murray SawChuck, Gazzo , Steve Daly, and Michael Kent.

  • Feb. 21-24, 7 p.m.
  • Reserve a table for two or four at $30 per person, or general admission seating is $25 adults/$20 senior/$15 students.
  • http://www.indyfringe.org

University of Indianapolis: Her Lies, His Secrets Part 2

A suspense thriller written by D.P. DeMarco.

  • Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.
  • $20-$33
  • Ruth Lilly Performance Hall
  • demarcoplays.com 

 

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!”

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Artwork by Kyle Ragsdale

The award-winning children’s author Mo Willems scripted this Exploring Stages production.  It’s a rollicking celebration of friendship and fun in a colorful musical for children 3 to 8 years old and their families. With their backup trio the Squirelles, Gerald and Piggie sing, dance, and laugh their way through a day where anything can happen.  The show is approximately 75 minutes, including pre- and post-show activities.  

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Timeless: The Story of the Town Clock Church told by Celestine Bloomfield

celesteThe saga of the restoration of a historically black church in New Albany, Indiana. Bloomfield researched and shaped this new story, choosing to tell it through the eyes of the church’s female congregants, strong women of faith who took on the impossible and prevailed. Built in 1852, the Second Baptist needed hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs in 2013, when a group of people first started meeting to figure out how to salvage the building. They overcame enormous obstacles to fully restore their beloved church to its former glory, including its majestic steeple that can be seen from anywhere in town, hence the nickname “Town Clock Church.” That steeple was said to be a “beacon of hope” for runaway slaves before the Civil War and the church a way station on the Underground Railroad.   

  • Feb. 24, 4-5:15 p.m.
  • $15 in advance, $20 at the door
  • Indiana Landmarks Center
  • storytellingarts.org

North Central High School: Winter One Acts

Lockdown by Douglas Craven.  In a dark classroom, eight students sit in an “official lockdown,” not knowing if it’s just a drill or an actual emergency. When a hysterical younger girl bolts from the room and the teacher follows, the remaining students are left alone to decide if it’s safer to stay or run.

The Yellow Boat by David Saar. The story of The Yellow Boat is a glorious affirmation of a child’s life and the strength and courage of all children. This dramatization is based on the true story of David and Sonja Saar’s son, Benjamin, who was born with congenital hemophilia and died in 1987 at the age of 8 of AIDS-related complications. A uniquely gifted visual artist, Benjamin’s buoyant imagination transformed his physical and emotional pain into a blaze of colors and shapes in his fanciful drawings and paintings. A Scandinavian folk song tells of three little boats: “One was blue, one was red and one was yellow as the sun. They sailed far out to sea. The blue one returned to the harbor. The red one sailed home, too. But the yellow boat sailed up to the sun.” Benjamin always concluded his bedtime ritual by saying, “Mom, you can be the red boat or the blue boat, but I am the yellow boat.” Benjamin’s remarkable voyage continues to touch audiences around the world.

Lose Not Thy Head by Gary Rodgers. The Viscountess is in a funk. She’s lost her passion for her job as lead executioner. This may or may not help the next victim.
Joan has been sentenced to lose her head for impersonating her famous brother William Shakespeare. He’s disappeared with all his earnings and Joan has been trying to finish his latest play about Henry VIII. Joan pleads for her life, Death waits for Joan to die, a severed Head says beheading isn’t so bad, a Sigmund Freud-type doctor tries to convince everyone that you can’t sew a head back on a body, and then things get weird. If you like Shakespeare, Monty Python, a little love, a little death, a lot of laughs and lunch at the pub, you must read Lose Not Thy Head!

PUNpocalypse: A Pun/Dad Joke Competition

Are YOU the punniest person in Indianapolis? Put those terrible dad jokes to the test and compete for fabulous prizes! Sign up in advance required to compete, or 15 minutes before the competition if spots are still available. There will be three rounds to challenge your pun-based skills, judges to keep you in line, and opportunities for the audience to win prizes for puns in between rounds. If you don’t wanna compete just sit back and watch the puns fly!

  • Feb. 25, 7:30-9 p.m.
  • To register, click here. Spectator admission is free.
  • Books & Brews on Mass Ave
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 12/21

Happy Winter Solstice! 

Christmas Through the Ages: The Hysterically Historical Holiday Musical

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“Christmas Through the Ages: The Hysterically Historical Holiday Musical”

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

  • Friday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday Dec. 23, 4 p.m.
  • $15
  • IndyFringe building
  • http://www.indyfringe.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/16

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

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

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

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

Magic Thread Cabaret: Melissa Schott: The Key of Me 

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Magic Thread Cabaret presents Melissa Schott: The Key of Me

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

NoExit/Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective: OPEN Indy

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Gerry Trentham

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

IndyFringe: Stark Naked

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

Marian University Theatre: Urinetown the Musical

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

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

IndyFringe: “Souvenir: A Fantasia of the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins”

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John Phillips and Lori Ecker in “Souvenir”

Florence Foster Jenkins was the laughing stock of the New York socialites. The true-life figure sincerely thought herself a highly gifted singer when in fact she couldn’t carry a note in a hermetically sealed container. Her friends indulged her, attending her recitals for the comedic entertainment, though Florence thought they were genuine in their support. She hired an accompanist, Cosme McMoon, who took the job because, as a struggling young musician, he needed rent money, though he was appalled by her voice. Her performances took on a cult-like following, with audience members shoving handkerchiefs in their mouths to muffle their laughter or even fleeing the hall because they were just going to lose it. Slowly, her performances got out of hand, with the audience growing and growing until the duo found themselves performing at Carnegie Hall in 1944.

Souvenir is ridiculously hilarious. This under-publicized show needs attention because not only is it a riot, but it’s also so well-done.

Of course, the play isn’t strictly biographical, as the conversations between Florence and Cosme can’t be recreated, and there is some conjecture about whether or not she really knew how bad she was. But, poetic license.

The story is told to us by Cosme, who is now working at a supper club. In between his flashbacks to his time with Florence, John D. Phillips gives us snippets of a few ditties, such as “One for My Baby” and “Crazy Rhythm,” a nice counterpoint to Florence’s unspeakable noises.

Lori Ecker is the flamboyant and melodramatic Florence. I don’t know how Ecker mangles her beautiful voice into Florence’s caterwauling, but at the end, we get to see what Ecker is really capable of in a moving “Ava Maria.” Ecker is endearing, even childlike in her comical enthusiasm, confidence in her talent, and flighty personality. At one point, she practically (and gleefully) assaults the audience with maracas and flowers. The Carnegie experience comes complete with equally absurd outfits by costume designer Susan Sanderock.

Phillips as Cosme is the picture of a pianist in pain, even frightened at times by the sounds emitted by Florence, but he slides in sly comments without Florence’s notice, which, with a bottle of wine, seem to help him though their rehearsals. The over-the-top looks on his face are just as outrageous as Florence herself.

The play explores friendship, loyalty, passion for the arts, and musical interpretation. The (NOT romantic but almost familial) relationship that evolves between Florence and Cosme over their 12 years of working together is deeply touching and a testament to the power of friendship. Camilla Upchurch has directed a hit that deserves to be supported. Go see it! You will love it!

  • Through Nov. 25, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
  • $25
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre
  • www.indyfringe.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/9

IndyFringe: Souvenir

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John Phillips and Lori Ecker in “Souvenir”

Souvenir is a fantasia on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy socialite and a real-life historical figure, told through the eyes of her accompanist Cosme McMoon. Jenkins is completely tone deaf but convinced she is a great soprano. The audience enters Florence’s world completely, finding there the beauty she’d heard in her head all along. In 1932, she met mediocre pianist Cosme McMoon, and the two teamed up in the hope of achieving success. Over the next dozen years, their bizarre partnership yielded hilariously off-key recitals that became the talk of New York, earned them cultish fame. The play culminates in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in 1944, where the audience “turns on her in gales of derisive guffaws.” The play’s title comes from Jenkins insisting on recording “Queen of the Night” (Mozart), saying that when her voice is not as strong, the recording will make “a lovely souvenir.”

This is presented by the same cast, crew, production team that brought you Souvenir at Footlite Musicals and IndyFringe Festival 2012 and last month at Myers Dinner Theater.

  • Nov. 9-25, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
  • $25
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre
  • www.indyfringe.org

Fonseca Theatre Company: Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies

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Fonseca Theatre Company’s “Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies”

A timely examination of growing up black in America by rising-star African-American playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm. Marquis, a book-smart prep-schooler from the suburbs, meets Tru, a street-savvy Baltimorean, in a holding cell. Tru thinks Marquis has lost his “blackness” and decides to write a manual: Being Black for Dummies.

  • Nov. 9-Dec. 2, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25; $20 for students; $15 for Near Westside residents
  • Indy Convergence
  • fonsecatheatre.org

NoExit: The Mutilated by Tennessee Williams

It’s Christmas Eve in New Orleans, and two friends must navigate their usual territory of con men, cops, and the cruelty of fellow humans. In the company of fellow misfits and outcasts, Trinket Dugan and Celeste Griffin attempt to repair a friendship torn apart by unhealthy codependency and a string of hurt feelings. The popcorn is strung on the tree, the carolers are singing, and the booze is flowing. But will their friendship survive the ravages they inflict on each other? According to directed by Ryan Mullins, “The Mutilated beautifully embraces a variety of socials outcasts and questions whether or not they deserve the same happiness and redemption we associate both with the holidays and in our closest relationships. I love the idea that all of us are mutilated in some way. And while mutilation is a word that has a negative connotation, I would argue that no matter if it’s something physical or emotional, it’s something that makes you just as strong as it does vulnerable. And that’s a really fragile balance.”

Stage To Screen Studios Cabaret Series: The Best of Broadway

The Best of Broadway is a celebration of music from the Great White Way and features some of the most memorable songs, dances, and magical moments from your favorite Broadway shows, including A Chorus Line, Chicago, Gypsy, Evita, Cabaret, Grease, and many more.

  • Nov. 9-18, Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. 
  • Stage To Screen Studios
  • www.stagetoscreenstudios.com

Nickel Plate Players: Battle of Mudsock

A once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Fishers Police and the Fishers Firefighters perform an historical reenactment! On Saturday, Nov. 19, 1881, in the town of Fishers (then known as Fishers Station), a rowdy, cantankerous character by the name of Hampton “Hamp” West (he was also a grave robber) started a ruckus that culminated in a notorious battle. Commotion and mayhem ensued until it snowballed into an explosion of violence that left one person dead and 32 injured, and it caused the destruction of two buildings. So infamous was the occurrence that it made national headlines and put Fishers on the map. 

  • Nov. 10, 3 p.m. 
  • $12 online / $15 at the door
  • Historic Ambassador House
  • Homemade chili, provided by the Fishers Firefighters, will be available for purchase. A variety of local vendors will be on site with beverages available for purchase. 
  • All proceeds will go to The Historic Ambassador House, The Fishers Police Foundation, and The Fishers Fire Foundation. 
  •  www.battleofmudsock.com 

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Indy Story Slam

The Slam theme is Immigration. These up-to-five-minute personal stories must be true, told in the first person, and based on the theme. The theme is broad and may be interpreted many ways. (No props nor reading from the page.) The slam judges are picked from the audience along with a time keeper and score keeper, so if you don’t want to tell, you can still participate. Host Celestine Bloomfield will pick names of those who want to tell from a hat at the top of the show. The first-place winner will open for Donald Davis on Saturday, Dec. 1; second and third place winners will receive complimentary tickets to an upcoming storytelling performance and IndyFringe performance.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/2

Storytelling Arts of Indiana

Dr. David Matlack: The Stories in Our Stones

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Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents Dr. David Matlack telling “The Stories in Our Stones”

Matlack is a veterinarian turned academic whose hobby is creating and telling stories. Thanks to the Frank Basile Emerging Stories fellowship funded by generous arts patrons Frank and Katrina Basile, Matlack developed The Stories in Our Stones about his life-long obsession with the fossils from Indiana limestone. Matlack grew up near the Whitewater Formation in Richmond, Indiana, which is world famous for its fossils. It was one of the first natural exposures from the Ordovician period to be discovered and studied in this country. This geological period and system is 450 million years old! Matack is quick to point out he’s not a paleontologist, so there will be just enough science to understand the historical importance of the Whitewater Formation in paleontology, but mostly, his story is a nostalgic one about childhood obsessions, growing up in Indiana, and the great teachers he had along the way. 

  • Saturday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
  • $15; $20 at the door
  • Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center

Spirit & Place Festival: Sally Perkins presents “A Dance of Wisdom Tales and Tunes”

The festival theme this year is “Intersection,” allowing you to explore unique and even radical collaborative opportunities. Perkins will weave tales from various faiths and  cultures with music specifically chosen for each one. It promises to be a multi-sensory experience. 

Epilogue Players Night Out November Fundraiser

The evening will include musical entertainment, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, a group dance lesson, a silent auction, and more, all in the beautiful setting of McGowan Hall, a historic building a few blocks away from the theater.

Epilogue Players, a community theater, has been serving Indianapolis audiences for over 40 years. Its current home, 1849 N. Alabama St. in the historic Herron-Morton Place neighborhood, is in need of repairs and improvements to maintain the comfort and safety of the actors and audience members, who share in the experience of five productions each year. All of the actors, crew and board of directors are unpaid volunteers.

All proceeds will go to fund the materials needed for these upgrades and repairs. On the list of items needed are improvements to the exterior of the facility, installation of ADA restroom for audience and cast and crew, upgrades to the auditorium lighting system, and more. Funds will be raised through admission to the event and through a silent auction of items donated by various companies and individuals. 

The Improbable Fiction Theatre Company: Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors is a fast-paced farce involving mistaken identities, backhanded business, and even more mistaken identities. Shakespeare’s shortest play is full of laughter, clever lines, and outrageous characters.

  • Nov. 2-10, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
  • $15
  • The Cat
  • Tickets here

Khaos Theatre Company: Emerging Artists Theatre New Play Festival

Along with a local artists’ bazaar, Khaos will have two performances of its annual New Play Festival (formally Dionysia New Play Festival), a collection of excerpts from international and local playwrights voted on by you, the audience. The winner will be produced in full in Khaos’s next season. The evening will culminate in the only performance of Yellow Heat, a new play by Allan Bates.

IndyFringe: The Inaugural Indiana High School Festival

This weekend you can see eight high schools from across Indiana compete for $1,000 in cash awards in a brand new performance opportunity for high school theater artists. All schools will share 50% of the box office.

Merrillville High School: Drift

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Merrillville High School’s “Drift”

Among the shadows of the bright lights of New York City’s theater district, nine homeless people search for hope and meaning. They’re not movers and shakers; they just get moved and shaken. In a world that’s been turned upside down, they find poetry and pain, with no pity and no shame. Nov. 2, 6 p.m.; Nov. 3, 3 p.m.; Nov, 4, 2 p.m.

Lawrence Central High School: Interrupting Vanessa

Vanessa lives with her mother, who is too busy to listen to her, so she spends a lot of time in her room. There is one treasure she keeps there: her father. Vanessa’s father died last year, but she is unable to let him go and imagined him back to life. Vanessa gets carried away with her imagination by telling her father elaborate stories. Then Mom does the unthinkable: she invites Timmy Fibbins over. No one at school talks to Timmy! Her imaginary father reminds her that no one talks to her either. Once Timmy arrives, things aren’t so bad. Nov. 3, 2:30 p.m.; Nov. 3, 9 p.m.; Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m.

Shortridge High School: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged [revised]

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s classic farce, two of its original writer/performers (Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield) thoroughly revised the show to bring it up to date for 21st century audiences, incorporating some of the funniest material from the numerous amateur and professional productions that have been performed throughout the world. The cultural touchstone that is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged was born when three inspired, charismatic comics, having honed their pass-the-hat act at Renaissance fairs, premiered their preposterous masterwork at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987. It quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, earning the title of London’s longest-running comedy after a decade at the Criterion Theatre. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged is one of the world’s most frequently produced plays and has been translated into several dozen languages. Featured are all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, meant to be performed in 45 minutes, by three actors. Fast paced, witty, and physical, it’s full of laughter for Shakespeare lovers and haters alike. Nov. 2, 6 p.m.; Nov. 3, 1 p.m.; Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.;

Castle Hill High School: These Shining Lives

These Shining Lives focuses on the story of Catherine Donohue and some of her female co-workers, known as the Radium Girls, who were lied to by their employers about the health effects of the radium they were using to paint watches in the 1920s and 1930s. Their case helped change laws that would help keep future employees safe from dangers and health issues they would face in the workplace. Nov. 3, 1 p.m.; Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.

Roncalli High School: Steel Magnolias 

Truvy Jones runs a successful beauty shop in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies in the neighborhood have a standing Saturday appointment. Shelby’s engagement is the talk of the town, but the joy and excitement of her wedding quickly turns to concern as she faces a risky pregnancy and a myriad of health challenges. Eventually, when Shelby dies from complications related to her diabetes, M’Lynn, her mother, has to deal with life’s most difficult challenge: the loss of one’s child. As the women of Chinquapin make their way over life’s many hurdles together, they find comfort (and a fair amount of verbal ribbing) in one another. Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m.; Nov. 4, 12:30 p.m.

Carmel High School: Failure: A Love Story 

By the end of 1928, all three Fail sisters will be dead — expiring in reverse order, youngest to oldest, from blunt object to the head, disappearance, and finally consumption. Tuneful songs, and a whimsical chorus follow the story of Nelly, Jenny June, and Gerty as they live out their lives above the family clock repair shop near the Chicago River, before their time unexpectedly runs out. A magical, musical fable where, in the end, the power of love is far greater than any individual’s successes or failures. Nov. 2, 9 p.m.; Nov. 3, 6 p.m.; Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m.

University High School: Alice Through the Rabbit Hole

Alice goes on a steampunk, grunge rock journey through the eyes of five children. Lewis Carroll’s classic novel brought to life in a new era. Nov. 2, 9 p.m.; Nov. 3, 6 p.m.; Nov. 4, 2 p.m.

Westfield High School: The Actor’s Nightmare 

This play was inspired by the well known dream that many people in professional and amateur theater have, that they go must perform in a play that they have inexplicably never been to rehearsals for and for which they know neither the lines or the plot. So in this play, George is an accountant who wanders onto an empty stage, not certain where he is or how he got there. The stage manager informs him he’s the understudy and must go on in a few minutes. George doesn’t know his name, doesn’t think he’s an actor (“I think I’m an accountant”), and has no idea what play he’s supposed to do. Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m.; Nov. 4, 2 p.m.

The District Theater: Coping with Autumn staged reading

Witness the first-ever staged reading of Indy playwright Megan Ann Jacobs’s new play. It unravels the inner workings of the human psyche and challenges the resilience of the human spirit when dealing with anxiety, depression, and abuse. Support the development of this new play and offer feedback through the talkback to immediately follow the reading.

Indiana Repertory Theatre: A Super Secret New Play staged reading

Join The New Harmony Project and Indiana Repertory Theatre for a first look at a new play by James Still. Take a glimpse inside the development process and hear this play before it comes to a stage near you! Following his incredibly successful 20th season as IRT’s playwright-in-residence, Still returns to Indianapolis to workshop a script that he began at The New Harmony Project’s 2018 spring conference. This is an incredibly unique opportunity to hear a play in progress and participate in the development of his work. Featuring Jerry Richardson, Jenny McKnight, Jan Lucas, Robert Neal, and Emily Bohn.

  • Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.
  • Free. There will be a brief reception following the reading with a cash bar available. 
  • Register here
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/14

Fonseca Theatre Company:

Building a Wall

wallWritten on the eve of the 2016 election, the stunning play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award–winning dramatist Robert Schenkkan has created a nationwide sensation. Building the Wall lays out the potential repercussions of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration campaign rhetoric. After that policy resulted in the mass roundup of millions of undocumented individuals, the former warden for one facility is now behind bars awaiting sentencing for the horrific injustices that happened under his watch. In a riveting interview with a historian who has come seeking the truth, he reveals how the unthinkable became the inevitable. Playwright Robert Schenkkan had this to say about Building the Wall: “In this play I have imagined a not so distant time to come in which President Trump’s rhetoric has found its full expression. While the current political crisis is extraordinary, it is not new. The question, of course, is not so much what the authorities will do but how we, the citizens, will respond.”

  • Sept. 14-Oct. 7, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • $25; $20 students; $15 for Near West residents
  • Indy Convergence
  • https://fonsecatheatre.org/

Jollyship the Whiz-bang

 

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Paige Scott and Dave Peluse in “Jollyship the Whiz-Bang” at IndyFringe 2018

This was my No. 1 pick out of the shows I saw at Fringe. Now, check out an extended version. GO. SEE. THIS.

Comin’ at ya with more songs, a bigger stage, a full bar, and all the swashbuckling pirate-puppet melt-your-face-off rock and roll you can take on a Monday or Thursday night! Jollyship the Whiz-Bang is a pirate-puppet-rock odyssey about a drunken captain, a treacherous sea, and a potential mutiny while in search of Party Island. 

The McBride Magic Experience

As seen on A&E’s Mindfreak and Penn & Teller: Fool Us, experience close-up, stand-up, mentalism, and stage magic. An extraordinary evening of magical entertainment featuring many of Jeff McBride’s famous performance pieces and amazing new wonders.

  • Friday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.
  • Indyfringe building
  • $35; seniors $25; students $15; kids $15 (under 12 must be accompanied by adult)
  • Master class Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.; $150, three-hour workshop
  • Tickets here

Mud Creek Players: Exit the Body

A mystery writer rents a New England house that is the rendezvous point for some jewel thieves. The focal point of the set is the closet, which opens into a living room and a library. A body found in the closet promptly disappears only to be succeeded by another. The hunt for the jewels reaches a climax at 2 a.m. when four couples unknown to each other turn up to search. Not since the days of Mack Sennett has there been such a hilarious series of entrances and exits.

  • Sept. 14-28, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m.
  • $15 (Sunday $13)
  • www.mudcreekplayers.org

Broadway Across Indianapolis:

The Lion King

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Broadway Across Indianapolis: “The Lion King” indianapolis.broadway.com
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews, Indianapolis theater: reviews

Openings for the weekend of 8/24

As far as I can tell, it’s still all Fringe this weekend. There are new Fringe shows opening, though, so be sure to check out http://www.indyfringe.org/ for details.

There are over 70 shows offered at Fringe. I only got to see 15 — I wish I had been able to see more, but every free moment I had last weekend I devoted to Fringe shows. So, of those I saw, I thought I would pick my favorites (that are still playing this weekend).

No. 1: Jollyship Whiz-Bang

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“Jollyship the Whiz-Bang” at IndyFringe 2018. (Ryan Ruckman, center)

If you like weird and crass and inexplicable humor with puppets and music, this is it for you.

And the rest, in no particular order …

They Shall Take Up Serpents: a look into personal power and the subculture of snake-handling

The Pope Walks into a Bar, Father Ned!: an homage to the TV show Father Ted, but hysterical whether or not you’ve ever seen Father Ted

Queen Day: a concert by the Indianapolis Men’s chorus of hard-rockin’, high-energy awesome

Intrusion: a riveting look at rape culture through the eyes of those we don’t usually associate with it

Broadway’s Leading Ladies: a concert of three women wowing you with show tunes both old and new

 

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Haunted: Tales Told and True”

laurapacker
Laura Packer

I love storytelling, so this show immediately made it into my list of must-sees. I’m glad it did because Loren Niemi and Laura Packer can twist a tale that makes you shiver, sigh, or even sad, and sometimes all at the same time.

Each session is different, so the stories I heard could be different from what you get. One constant is that each session includes a storytelling improv. Suggestions are taken from the crowd, and one of the tellers will spin a yarn on the spot.

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Loren Niemi at Patrick’s Cabaret in 2017. hwww.patrickscabaret.org.

The night I attended, Loren regaled us with a story about his time in the Boy Scouts. This was not the modern Scouting we know today; his Scout days were probably 50-odd years ago. His pack master’s creed? “It’s good for boys to suffer; it makes them men.” But what started out as scary stories told in the dark during a secluded camping trip ended in a sobering experience.

Laura told a story she found when doing some research into Indianapolis. (Both are from Minnesota.) Bypassing the most well-known stories from Indy — the House of Blue Lights, Hannah House, etc. — she told a tale I had never heard about a thieving milkmaid in Crown Hill Cemetery in the 1940s. She also told us about her first-person experiences while living in two haunted houses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and recommended this show. But if you don’t make it, I highly suggest checking out Indianapolis’s own Storytelling Arts of Indiana, which has a full season of storytellers from across the nation.

Produced by Niemi and Packer Productions

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Hers Is the Head of a Wolf”

This is a confusing play.

wolfWhile mental health and sexual assault are both worthy topics of discussion, the script for Hers Is the Head of the Wolf is sketchy and unorganized, with no character development, and the audience is left wondering just what the story was about. We are given little initial information about main character Elise’s situation, and it remains that way for much too long. What has caused Elise (Raven Newbolt) to be in a state of constant fear? What does Danny (Riley Leonard) have to do with it? Why is her therapist, Dr. Hamilton (Michael Tingley), so forthcoming and accommodating? Does Elise suffer from PTSD, schizophrenia, or both? Slowly feeding the audience tiny morsels of information over time is an often-used playwright’s convention to keep us engaged, but there isn’t enough substance here to use that tactic. We are left frustrated and hungry.

The actors aren’t given much to work with. Elise and Hamilton are one-note characters, and Danny gets two: concern and anger. The conclusion is just as bewildering. One moment Danny is on the phone, and the next, he’s on the ground. When did he even get inside her home?

I’m sorry to say it, but there are too many other good shows playing at Fringe to give this one a recommendation.

Produced by Monument Theatre Company

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Two M@therf#ck*rs on a Ledge”

Two MFers on a LedgeAllyn (Ronn Johnston) is, quite literally, out on a ledge. His therapist, Mattie (Veronica Wylie), finds him there and pleads with him to come back inside, but instead, he ends up coercing her out onto that ledge with him.

Allyn has narcissistic personality disorder, which causes exaggerated feelings of self-importance. This is very closely related to hero syndrome, in which people think they are actual heroes and put themselves in dangerous situations because they believe they can survive them. As Allyn says, “Heroes don’t stay where it’s safe.” Mattie is a PhD candidate whose dissertation is on the pathology of heroism, most likely why she is Allyn’s therapist since his treatment could add to her research.

In the end, the ledge is a metaphor for vulnerability — facing the things that scare us or have scarred us and taking chances in life. And Allyn and Mattie discover that we become our own heroes.

Johnston is immediately sympathetic as a mental health patient who is trying to cope with his manic stream of thoughts. He oscillates; is he a real hero or not? Are heroes even real at all? This mental struggle makes him twitchy, agitated. Allyn works through this with an impromptu therapy session on the ledge with Mattie that includes discussions of heroes ranging from comic book characters to Jesus.

Mattie slowly moves from the role of therapist to a similarly vulnerable person searching for her own answers as to what makes a hero. Wylie lets this transition happen incrementally so that in the end, Mattie’s personal stories and confessions are realistic experiences.

But while the show is insightful, I felt that it dragged, as if it was too long. I kept anticipating the resolution only for the story to take another turn. By the time it did end, I was more than ready for it to wrap up.

Produced by Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Broadway’s Leading Ladies”

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Rayanna Bibbs

Broadway’s Leading Ladies? Yes, yes they are.

Another Fringe concert offering, this tour de force gives their target audience just what they want: show tunes performed with presence and panache.

Shelbi Berry, Rayanna Bibbs, and Virginia Vasquez infuse their songs with passion and vocal dedication — and even sometimes with humor. From their opening, “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton, you are pulled farther in with each note, each number, all the way to the end.

The show combines the well-known (“Defying Gravity”) with lesser-known selections (“Gimmie Gimmie”) for an eclectic showcase of musical soundtracks. The tenor of each song is taken into account and performed accordingly, from the powerfully emoted “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls by Bibbs to the playful “What Is this Feeling” from Wicked by Berry and Vasquez. The show closes with a beautiful melding of the trio’s voices in “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. And each song is pitch-perfect — as is the sound system (kudos to the tech team for pulling that off, especially with the inclusion of live musicians).

bwladies
Virginia Vasquez

Other standouts are Berry on “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl; “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat and “Daddy’s Son” from Ragtime by Bibbs; “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods and “Gimmie Gimmie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie by Vasquez; and the duet “In His Eyes” from Jekyll and Hyde by Berry and Vasquez.

Austin Schlenz gets some giggles as the placard changer. He struts on stage in a gold outfit reminiscent of Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Strangely, that is the second time I have referenced Rocky Horror in a Fringe review this year …)

This is the second concert I have seen at Fringe (the other being Queen Day) that has blown me away with the talent on stage. Proof positive that the Indianapolis area has some top-quality singers in our midst.

Yup, this is another one you must see.

Song list:

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Shelbi Berry
  • “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton
  • “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me” from Oh, Kay!
  • “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes
  • “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat
  • “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line
  • “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I
  • “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods
  • “Daddy’s Son” from Ragtime
  • “Gimmie Gimmie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • “In His Eyes” from Jekyll and Hyde
  • “What Is this Feeling” and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
  • “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls
  • “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music

Produced by Magic Thread Cabaret

Check out their “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton: 

https://www.facebook.com/MagicThreadCabaret/videos/705594489795642/

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Intrusion”

intrusion

The one-woman show performed by Qurrat Ann Kadwani is intense and eye-opening — and riveting.

Twenty years in the future, rape has been eradicated — or so everyone thought. One night, the story’s narrator sees a woman enter the hospital across the street. She is compelled to follow her and discovers that this woman has come to the ER because she has been raped. Kadwani’s narrator relates the event in a rapid-fire delivery that emphasizes the urgency of the topic.

Over the next 50 minutes, Kadwani takes on eight characters — narrator, reporter, prosecutor, day trader, psychologist, politician, school kid, and professor. Each has a unique viewpoint of rape culture and some expose alarming facts or attitudes that drive home how vital education and awareness of the topic are and how it reaches into societal aspects no one thinks about it affecting.

The show also touches on how women are still seen as “less than” — the word “rape” could apply to many actions that are set against women, even in an idyllic world that is supposedly rape-free.

Kadwani creates distinct characters, showcasing her quick-change versatility. The heavy subject matter is counterweighted by its top-notch presentation and fascinating content. This is another IndyFringe show that should not be missed.

Produced by QK Company Inc.

To make this show even more interesting, it is playing Off Broadway!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace”

Let there be Bingo.

betsyI never thought “interactive Bingo” could be so much fun, but Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace is a high-camp trip. Reverence for the art that is Bingo, lots of stand-up comedy, and actual Bingo games (with prizes!) come together for a show that even the most introverted (such as myself) can enjoy (even if I am glad that I wasn’t one of the audience members brought on stage for Bingo balls arts-and-crafts or the Bingo wedding).

The actual Bingo games take second seat to Betsy’s Bingo commentary, storytelling, and and sexual innuendo — balls are a big deal, of course — with backup from her ex-brother-in-law Chip. 

But the interactive part is when the audience gets to join in. During Bingo play, certain letter-number combinations require actions or phrases — think Rocky Horror but with Bingo and flying candy instead of rice.

It’s a shame that you only have one more chance to see Betsy before she flits off to Bingo halls unknown, so do your best to squeeze in some ball time before they’re gone.

Produced by Betsibu Productions.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Puddin Tane”

Puddin TaneTwo high schoolers sit side by side outside the principal’s office awaiting their fates for skipping school. One, Lisa, has no parents and a lonely hymen. The other, Angel, aka Crystal Queer, has a dad so far up his ass that his mustache started to tickle his ass. Of course, they become fast friends.

Both are known for their dumpster diving outside of the church because cool stuff can often be scavenged there. Lisa, especially, likes sifting through the trash to find objects that she can use in her art projects. As much as she hates high school, she desperately wants to go to art school — not “solve for X.” It’s at this dumpster that Lisa meets Puddin Tane, a creepy priest who smokes pot and wears sunglasses all the time.

The acting is somewhat clumsy, and the storyline isn’t focused. (Is this about being an outcast or a dysfunctional family — neither is fully explored.) This one still needs some work.

Produced by Theatre Sleuth of Indianapolis.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Paper Swords: A Musical”

Paper Swords A MusicalAny member past or present of the SCA or fan of LARPing will sympathize with the characters in Paper Swords. Named for the homemade armaments ubiquitous in such groups, the play depicts two factions within a single kingdom being forced to fight over their land, cleaving the kingdom after the battle.

The drama, the rivalries, the friendships, and the politics of these self-contained worlds all play parts, especially when a group has an organized hierarchy over a long period of time.

If you have never been a part of or known someone who was a part of this scene, you might not “get” the people who immerse themselves into these fantasy worlds. Their alter egos are just as real and vital to them as their mundane lives — often the fantasy can even bleed into the reality in their personal interactions. And often they take themselves very, even too, seriously.

Paper Swords ups the ante by putting all this conflict into a musical setting — and a surprisingly good one. Donovan Whitney plays Avery, knight of Ferndrake, who falls for Elena, knight of Silvemore (Alicia Hamaker), both part of the kingdom of Eleren. Avery initially approaches Elena’s courtship by what he calls “wooing with 1500s lingo” before they finally settle on laser tag. The relationship is going well until the imminent battle is upon them.

Within Ferndrake is another tentative, awkward relationship that is building between Liz (Jordan Brown) and Will (Clarke Remmers) that makes for more comic relief than conflict.

With Sarah Tam as the Silvemore knight Bren, the main players in the show exhibit some solid singing and acting, and they are backed by a band behind the curtain. The show is just as sweet as it is entertaining, funny, and worth a spot on your Fringe stops.

Written by Matt Day and Kelsey Tharp.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “The Globe”

The Globe ProgramThe Globe is an all-female Shakespeare company. Out of the blue, its founder, Bella (Fawzia Istrabadi) is fired, soon to be replaced by a man coming in from out of state, James. Coincidentally, that night she has a Tinder date with Jackie (Spencer North), who happens to be a friend of James and is helping him get settled into his new apartment.

Bella’s initial reaction? Dial assassinationstation.gov.

While she does back down from the assassin idea, with the advice from said assassin (Ky Doyle), she is still intent on dislodging James from his new position while not telling Jackie that James is her replacement. She’s also trying to avoid the subject with her friend and stage manager, Mel (Lucy Fitzgerald).

The script has real potential, and the actresses performing it show talent. The concept is great, but the show feels truncated, short even for a Fringe setting, but that gives it plenty of space to be workshopped and refined into what can become a funny and thoughtful piece of theater.

The show is presented by the Earlham College Fringe Company, and the aforementioned actresses are joined on stage by Briana Miller and Grace Nickeson as members of the theater company.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Queen Day”

queenday

There is so much f*cking awesome in this show.

It’s not a “theater” production in the sense that it’s not a play. It’s actually a concert performed by members of the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus, an homage to the band Queen and other music that falls into a similar genre. I was fan-struck by the opening number, “We Will Rock You,” and they had my heart when Hedwig took the stage.

These guys put on a full-energy, sexy, goofy performance even at the 10:30 p.m. show. And that powerful presentation remained consistent throughout.

The singers showcase some voices that leave you in awe of their talent, and the choreography — a mishmash of headbanging, grunge-y style movements, and song-synced steps — adds more strength and even some humor to the numbers. Hedwig’s costuming is perfect, and the cameo by Marie Antoinette is hysterical. They also perform with a backing band, which gives the show more substance than if they had merely been singing with prerecorded music.

Just fantastic stuff going on here.

Sure, there are some tech issues, but really, with the quick turnover of stages for different productions, you have to give them some leeway. Lots of sound equipment, mikes, amps, etc.

This is another not-to-be-missed opportunity.

Song list (hope I didn’t mess this up because I was too taken in by the show to keep consistent notes):

  1. “We Will Rock You”: Queen
  2. “American Idiot”: Green Day
  3. “Somebody to Love”: Queen
  4. “Don’t Stop Me Now”: Queen
  5. “Basket Case”: Green Day
  6. “Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  7. “Fat Bottom Girls”: Queen
  8. “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar
  9. “What You Own” from Rent
  10. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”: Green Day
  11. “Wig in a Box” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  12. “Killer Queen”: Queen
  13. “Another One Bites the Dust”: Queen
  14. “21 Guns”: Green Day
  15. “Jesus of Suburbia”: Green Day
  16. “Bohemian Rhapsody”: Queen
  17. “We Are the Champions”: Queen

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 8/17

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

There are, however, a couple alternatives to Fringe.

Garfield Shakespeare Company: The Three Musketeers

Footlite Musicals Young Artists: The Pirates of Penzance

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

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

Openings for the weekend of 7/27

Red Couch Benefit Show

couch
Photo by Charles Borowicz

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

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

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

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

Young Artists Civic Theatre Program: Guys & Dolls

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

Summer Stock Stage: The Secret Garden

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Summer Stock Stage’s “The Secret Garden”

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

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

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

Openings for the weekend of 7/20

Saltbox Theatre Collective and U.S.S. Indianapolis Survivors Organization:

In the Soundless Awe

soundlessawe2July 30, 1945. The U.S.S. Indianapolis is hit by two Japanese torpedoes, killing three-hundred sailors in the initial blast and leaving nine-hundred men to drift helplessly in the Pacific Ocean. 321 survivors are discovered almost five days later drifting aimlessly in the South Pacific. Twenty-two years later, Charles Butler McVay III, the wrongly court-martialed and disgraced Captain of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, puts a gun to his head after many years of night terrors where specters, human and otherwise, call to him from below. In the Soundless Awe is a horrific and heart-breaking imagining of McVay’s final nightmare before he pulls the trigger.

  • Thursday July 19, 7:30 p.m.; Friday July 20, 12:30 p.m.; Friday July 20, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 21, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 22, 12 p.m.
  • $10 general admission; 50 percent of ticket sales and donations will go directly to the USS Indianapolis Survivors Organization, as Saltbox Theatre Collective views the remounting of this play as a service to those that served and the city of Indianapolis.
  • IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre
  • http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/soundless-awe

Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission:

The Tempest

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Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission’s “The Tempest”

William Shakespeare’s final masterpiece, The Tempest, is a comedy, a drama, and a fantasy all rolled into one. This is the 26th season for Noblesville Shakespeare in the Park, presented by the Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission.

 Amalgamated Stage Productions:

Charley’s Aunt

Jack and Charley have a problem. As their college careers wind down (at Oxford, no less), they have found the girls of their dreams. The problem, you ask? In 24 hours those girls leave on an extended trip, and if they don’t act now they may lose their chance with them forever! Polite society dictates they cannot be alone with the girls, but how else is a guy to propose? A welcome solution is found when Charley’s wealthy aunt is to visit him, and Charley and Jack seize the opportunity to invite the girls to a lunch in her honor. Trouble starts once his aunt cables she has been detained, and the boys, desperate and out of ideas, press their friend and amateur actor, Fanny Babbs, to portray Charley’s aunt. Hilarity ensues as the men and women of the tale misplace their affections, rekindle love affairs, and find themselves in some outrageous positions in the quest to find—and secure—true love. In the vein of classic films Some Like It Hot and Tootsie, Brandon Thomas’s English farce, Charley’s Aunt, is sure to thrill audiences today as it did in 1892, when it historically broke records with an original London run of almost 1,500 performances.

Beef & Boards: Million Dollar Quartet

mdqFilled with iconic music and based on a true story, it relives one of the most remarkable nights in music history. Million Dollar Quartet is set on Dec. 4, 1956, when an extraordinary twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. The four legends gathered at the Sun Records recording studio in Memphis, Tenn., where they’d launched their careers. Word soon leaked out of an impromptu jam session. A newspaper man who was there wrote, “This quartet could sell a million.” Soon, they were dubbed the “Million Dollar Quartet.” This was their only performance, a cultural flashpoint that caught rock ‘n’ roll at the moment of creation. That legendary December night reveals an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations that is both poignant and funny. The incredible score includes: “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk the Line,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Hound Dog,” and more.

Theatre for Christ: Godspell (2012 Broadway Revival Production)

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Theatre For Christ’s “Godspell”

This immensely successful rock opera needs little introduction, but when it was first produced on Broadway in 1971, it broke new ground in its stage treatment of the historical Jesus Christ. Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, it deals with the last days of Jesus and includes dramatized versions of several well-known parables.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

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

HAPPENING NOW: Flash sale for Forbidden Broadway

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

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

Other Forbidden Broadway special dates:

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

TONIGHT: Word Fringe Day Kingmakers Game for Good

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

Footlite Musicals: Young Adults

Into the Woods Fairytale Friday 

into the woods
“Into the Woods” artwork by cast member Rylie Gendron

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

Coming up

 Indiana Repertory Theatre’s

A Christmas Carol in July Sale

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

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

promo

flexpass

boas

http://www.phoenixtheatre.org/

Footlite Musicals Annual Meeting & Barbecue Pitch-In Event

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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/11

Phoenix Theatre: Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

rosewaterThis is the first production to open in the Phoenix’s new building! Kurt Vonnegut’s legendary Indiana voice rings out clearly in this cheeky, blazing satire of corruption and goodwill. As his alter-ego Kilgore Trout puts it: “Now we know that giving respect to people who don’t deserve it is possible, too. Since practically nobody is very respectable any more, it has to be one of the most important experiments of modern times!” Musical comedy meets Kurt Vonnegut satire meets the brand-new Russell stage. Expect laughter, witticism, and that new theater smell.

Improbable Fiction: The Butler Did It, Again!

This play combines the thrill of a murder mystery with the hilarity of a raucous comedy. Presented by the same team that created the highly successful The Butler Did It, this sequel furthers the hysterical antics. The mystery writers are brought together once again by Miss Maple for a fun-filled weekend party, each impersonating the detective characters they write, including the gumshoe, sophisticated New York couple (à la Nick and Nora), soft-spoken crime-solving priest, Asian “quotemaster,” and cowboy investigator, with the addition of a novelist who writes supernatural fiction.
The hostess has prepared exciting events to challenge the writers during the party, but one occurs that she didn’t count on — an actual murder! The writers scramble to solve “whodunit” before they become the next victim. But actual detectives they are not, so they blunder through this real-life investigation with comical results.

  • May 11-19, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; May 13 at 2 p.m.
  • The Cat
  • $15
  • thecattheatre.com

At the Fringe

bitchbonnie
Bonnie Bitch at IndyFringe

Bonnie Bitch: Presented by Steve Daly Productions, America’s first and only comedy female impersonator hypnotist returns to Indianapolis. Direct from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Bonnie Bitch swings her mesmerizing watch in this HER-larious evening of hypnotic fun. Come see the show or BE the show, as audience members become outrageous characters that will have everyone rolling with laughter.

  • May 10-11 at 7:30 p.m.
  • $20; $15 student/senior

Camp Summer Camp: Defiance Comedy is at it again, this time with a full-length run and even more fun! Love triangles! Rivalries! Campfire songs! Serial killers! Cabins built on ancient burial grounds! The year is 1984, and the camp counselors at Canada’s #3 ranked midsize, regional summer camp are ready to have their yearly entertainment!

  • May 11-12 and 18-19 at 8 p.m.; May 14 and 20 at 4 p.m.; Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m.
  • $10 in advance, $15 at the door

Poetry on the Fringe: Mother’s Day Edition: Spend part of your Mother’s Day with IndyFringe! Mom gets in free! Poetry on the Fringe is performance poetry and theater arts in concert with one another. Come experience this unique show. This bi-weekly series includes 20-minute open mic for emerging artists, never-before-seen theatrical productions, and NPS-certified poetry slam competitions.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/4

Footlite Musicals: Priscilla Queen of the Desert 

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

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

NoExit Performance: Nickel & Dimed

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NoExit Performance: “Nickel & Dimed”

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

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

Epilogue Players: Maggie’s Choice

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

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

Ten-minute Play Festival

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

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

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

IRT special for Noises Off

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

Plus these events at the Phoenix

where is Phoenix

thepill

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 3/23

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

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

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

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

Dear Bobby: The Musical 

Playwright: Angela Jackson Brown; Music: Peter Davis

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

www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/dear-bobby-musical

Forever Moore  

Playwright: Lanetta Overton

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

http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/forever-moore

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

Playwright: Lillie Evans, www.lilliebarnettevans.com

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

http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/%E2%80%9Ctake-my-hand%E2%80%9D

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

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

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

Civic Theatre: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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Civic Theatre: “And Then There Were None”

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

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

Indianapolis Opera: South Pacific

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

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

Openings for the weekend of 1/5/18

Footlite Musicals: Brooklyn the Musical

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Footlite Musicals: “Brooklyn the Musical”

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

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

Zach & Zack: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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

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

Check out my interview with Zach & Zack here.

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

IndyFringe: Holiday Hangover Party

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

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

And I missed this one last week …

Beef & Boards: Greater Tuna

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“Greater Tuna” at Beef & Boards

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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Looking back at 2017

Note: Parts of this article can also be found at www.nuvo.net.

2017 has been an exciting year in the local theater community. New faces, familiar faces, new spaces, and a slew of fantastic shows—from tear inducing, to cerebrally challenging, to rib cracking—have made this year’s journey in stories exceptional. Indianapolis’s theater scene is thriving, so go ahead and chew off a piece of it. 2018 looks to be even better. New and improved locations and innovative productions—from both established and new companies—are only the beginning. Below is just a tiny glimpse of what has kept audiences engaged and involved this past year.

2017 News Bits

Theatre on the Square renovations

No, folks, the Mass Ave theater isn’t closed forever! It’s just undergoing much-needed renovations and repairs. In August, TOTS announced that it is partnering with the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and other community partners to update the venue. The work is underway, the most recent being structural. The theater is slated to re-open early in 2018.

The Phoenix Theatre’s brand-new home is almost done

This has been a much-anticipated, multi-million-dollar investment, the planning of which began back in 2016. The move has been backed by a rainbow of donors, only a few of which include the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Frank and Katrina Basile, the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, and Lilly Endowment. (They still need more! Any contribution is helpful, so go to www.phoenixtheatre.org for a multitude of ways to donate any amount.) Demolition of the old Auto Vault building, located at the intersection of North Illinois Street and South Walnut Street downtown, began in February 2017 with a groundbreaking ceremony on May 2. The new building promises to increase the quality of shows and experiences for all involved. The 20,000-square-foot new building will be the first new freestanding theater built in Indianapolis in the last 100 years. Spaces include a proscenium theater and a configurable black-box theater. New amenities include a grand lobby that opens onto the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and, perhaps best of all for those of us familiar with the current Chatham Arch location, free parking. The new location will open in April 2018 with expanded programming.

The Cat opened in Carmel

The Cat, the newest theater/multipurpose venue in Carmel, took over the old live-music venue The Warehouse in February of this year, and its first performance was in May. The theater has seven resident theater companies, including five brand-new ones, and rents out the space for others performers. The theater’s focus is to serve the greater Indianapolis area.

My favorite hysterically funny moments of 2017

Please remember, I cannot see each and every show staged in Indianapolis. These are my personal faves from this year.

NoExit Performance in association with Zach Rosing Productions: Mad Mad Hercules

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“Mad Mad Hercules” from NoExit Performance and Zach Rosing Productions

My frequent theater companion Katrina commented, “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 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. Local playwright Bennett Ayres crafted one of the filthiest scripts I know of in a way that approached a work of art. The crass and degradation was no holds barred, unapologetic, and a thing of beauty.

 Indiana Repertory Theatre: Boeing Boeing

Elizabeth Ledo in “Boeing Boeing” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

The show is full of excruciatingly funny lines, most of which were delivered by housekeeper Berthe, played by Elizabeth Ledo (who in looks and attitude reminded me of Edna from The Incredibles), and the show’s standout, Chris Klopatek. Klopatek, as the nerdy, nervous, clumsy Robert, stole every single scene he was in. But Ledo was right behind him, delivering her character’s own brand of snarky shtick. Greta Wohlrabe, as the “aggressive German” Gretchen, was absolutely endearing and sidesplitting in turns from one second to another.

Theatre on the Square: The Great Bike Race

“The Great Bike Race” at Theatre on the Square

Writer-director Zack Neiditch expanded the 40-minute IndyFringe version. Overall, its comedic ride was well worth taking. It’s a story about bicyclists racing the Tour de France in 1904, but I assure you, this wasn’t the stage version of a historical documentary. The show was full of dirty tricks and sexual innuendo. Plus, there was a stuffed cat a la the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. And a cow. And an angry mob of French hicks. The stage was full of crazy-funny insanity. And ah-maze-balls victory dances.

IndyFringe: The Gab produced by Zach & Zack

“The Gab” at IndyFringe

Chat show-cum-cat fight The Gab features a gaggle of crazy women (and one gay assistant who keeps talking about makeup sex). These women know how to stir some sh*t. The show was packed with laughs, low verbal blows, and physical smack downs that kept it rolling until the cameras cut off for the final time. Lots of silly fun.

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

The Phoenix Theatre: “A Very Phoenix Xmas 12.” Photo by Zach Rosing.

I lost all coherent thought when the cast did “Les Miserabelves.” I think I got disruptive because I was in the back cackling so much. CACKLING. At one point, I think my BFF who was with me was considering CPR. I can’t even explain the experience; it was something you had to witness for yourself.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 12/14

IndyFringe: Merry Fringe-mas Holiday Cabaret

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IndyFringe: “Merry Fringe-mas Holiday Cabaret”

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

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre: Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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

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

IndyFringe: Christmas Through the Ages

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

IndyFringe: Conductor Cody’s Christmas Express

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

Twas the Night Before … presented by Candlelight Theatre

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

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

Openings for the weekend of 12/8

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

NoExit Performance: Drosselmeyer’s XXX-Mas Cabaret

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Too Fat For This Show

I'm too fat for this show
“I’m Too Fat For This Show” at IndyFringe

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

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

Defiance Comedy: The North Wing: A Holiday Musical

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

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

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

Freetown Village Celebrates Christmas

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“Freetown Village Celebrates Christmas”

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

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

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

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 12/1

It’s a Wonderful Life — The Radio Play

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Buck Creek Players: “It’s a Wonderful Life — The Radio Play.” Photo by photoGary.net.

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the journey of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

Buck Creek Players

  • Dec. 1-17, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $18; $16 students and seniors (ages 62 and up)
  • www.buckcreekplayers.com

Carmel Community Players

  • Dec. 1-17, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, Dec. 10 and 17 at 2:30 p.m.
  • $15; $12 students/seniors
  • The Cat
  • Tickets

Messages Untold: Odds of Oz

A fairy tale with a twist. The land has been cured by the one trusted to protect it. Is there no one left to save Oz from being destroyed. Maybe it’s time the legend of Oz come to an end. This is the apocalypse!

  • Dec. 1-2 at 5 and 7 p.m.; Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.
  • $12; $10 students/seniors
  • IndyFringe building
  • Tickets

Nickel Plate Players: Coming Home: A  Christmas Cabaret

A melancholy, down-on-his-luck songwriter is on his own for Christmas and unable to spend it with family. He attempts to write a spirited Christmas song in an effort to recover from a difficult year but can’t find the words, the will, the hook or the melody. Through interaction with his close friends he learns that home is where the heart is and ultimately finds the inspiration to write the song “Coming Home,” a heartfelt tribute that reveals his true feelings and desires: to be with his family during the holidays. The brand-new Christmas song, “Coming Home,” written by Barbara F. Cullen, co-founder and co-artistic director of Fleur De Lis Theatricals in Louisville, KY, will be the highlight of the evening in this touching and poignant holiday tale that includes classic Christmas songs and timeless melodies from the holiday season.

  • Dec. 1-3, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $20; seniors and students $18; veterans: $15
  • Theatre on the Fort
  • Tickets

Defiance Comedy: The North Wing: An Original Christmas Musical

From the creators and actors who brought you the Haul & Oatz: Time Traveling Detectives series and Spaceship to Nowhere. Cutthroat advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a holiday. Meet the behind-the-scenes players who support the big guy, and do whatever it takes to make Christmas happen.

  • Dec. 1-16, Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m.
  • $15 online/$20 at door
  • 16+ up
  • IndyFringe building
  • Tickets

Carmel Community Players: Holiday Cabaret

A new holiday tradition that is a season bonus production with songs of the season by local singers, dancers, and other acts to put you in the holiday mood.

  • Dec. 1-3, Friday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • $10
  • Carmel Community Playhouse
  • www.carmelplayers.org

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: “Come Go Home with Me” told by Sheila Kay Adams

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Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Sheila Kay Adams

Sheila is a seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and claw hammer banjo player from the mountains of North Carolina. Storyteller Lou Ann Homan will kick-off the evening with one of her signature stories. Lou Ann travels the state for Arts for Learning and is an adjunct professor at Trine University.

 

  • Saturday, Dec. 2, 7-9 p.m. Come as early as 6:30 p.m.to enjoy the cash bar and the Festival of Trees (80 decorated trees) before the start of the show.
  • $20/advance, $25/door; $15 with high school or college ID.
  •  www.storytellingarts.org

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 11/17

Mud Creek Players: Dashing through the Snow

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“Dashing through the Snow” at Mud Creek Players

It’s four days before Christmas in the tiny town of Tinsel, Texas, and a colorful parade of eccentric guests arrive at the Snowflake Inn to deck the halls with holiday hilarity. For one last time, see the Futrelle sisters from Fayro along with some new and wonderfully funny additions to this laugh-out-loud Christmas comedy. You’ll swear this family-friendly show is more fun than a joy ride in a one horse open sleigh.

  • Nov. 17-Dec. 2, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov 26, 2:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2,  2:30 p.m.
  • $13-$15
  • www.mudcreekplayers.org

The Lawrence Players: The Old Man and the Sea

A world premiere based on the novel written by Ernest Hemingway. Through music, mime, and puppetry, the audience will be taken through the trials, tribulations, and triumph the “old man” faced.

  • Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 25 at 07:30 p.m.
  • Theatre at the Fort
  • $15; discounts available for students, seniors, military, and veterans
  • artsforlawrence.org

Indiana Repertory Theatre: A Christmas Carol

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“A Christmas Carol” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre
  • Nov. 18-Dec. 24
  • $25-$35
  • Various special events are scheduled throughout the run. Check the website for details.
  • Scrooge Gives Back Friday, Nov. 17: If Scrooge can give back this holiday season, so can you! Roll up your sleeve, purchase a new toy for a local child or donate non-perishable items to the food pantry and receive one free ticket to *select A Christmas Carol performances. Donors can also receive 25% off four additional tickets. Donations of food and toys can be received from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., while the blood drive is from 3-7 p.m.  This event is in partnership with Indiana Blood Center, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. and Toys for Tots. Participating A Christmas Carol performances are 11/18 at 3 p.m., 11/24 at 5 p.m., 11/25 at 3 and 7 p.m., and 11/26 at 2 p.m. Sign up to donate: blood:bit.ly/2gBigi4
  • www.irtlive.com

IndyFringe: The Gift

The Gift logoA mysterious gift of foresight is imposed on Eleanor. The secret to unraveling its mystery, Eleanor realizes, is embedded in her mother’s newfound visions of the future.

Check out my interview with the author, Dr. Louis Janeira, here.

  • Nov. 17-26, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
  • $15; seniors/students $12
  • www.indyfringe.org

Ashton Wolf Productions: Broadway and Beyond

Enjoy an evening of your favorite Broadway tunes.  This evening of magic features Jessica Hawkins (nominated for a local Emmy) and Ashton Wolf (Drama-Logue Award Winner).

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: interviews, Indianapolis theater: previews

The MD Writer’s “The Gift” at IndyFringe

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Author, playwright, and cardiologist Dr. Louis Janeira

This story was originally commissioned by NUVO Newsweekly

Tedious commutes are too common in many large cities. You can never get that hour or so of your life back. But when faced with three to four hours of total drive time between home in Zionsville and work in Terre Haute, Dr. Louis Janeira, a cardiologist at the Providence Medical Group, looked at it as an opportunity instead of a loss. He hired a driver and decided to spend his “me” time in the car doing something he loves—writing. Lucky for him, he can manage it without the threat of motion sickness. “I’ve never had that problem. I’m lucky that way.”

Using the pen name Dr. L. Jan Eira, and also known as “The MD Writer,” Janeira has created numerous mystery/thriller shorts, novels, and plays, one of which, The Gift, will be staged this weekend at the IndyFringe-Indy Eleven Theatre. This is the second production of the play; the premiere was at the Community Theatre of Terre Haute in June, which played to sold-out audiences.

The Gift explores suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, cancer, hallucinations, and mental disease. It is a story about a girl, Eleanor, who is mysteriously “gifted” with foresight. Eleanor believes this phenomenon is linked to her mother’s own visions of the future. Eleanor must determine what is truth and what is imagination in her mother’s mind because if she fails, it will lead to her death.

The show is coming full circle in its IndyFringe staging. “I wrote a 10-minute play called The Final Word for the Short Play Festival at IndyFringe in 2016. It was loved by all. I decided to write a full-length play around it,” Janeira says. This time, the play will be under the direction of Jan Jamison. “I respect and admire [her],” he says. “She recently won five Encores for her direction and work on Indy stages. I picked her because of how I admire her talents.” That admiration extends to handing over the helm of the production completely. “I purposely have not interfered at all with the director as I trust totally in her talent and ability to put a successful run on stage. I’m excited to see the end result.”

A common mantra in writing is to “write what you know,” and Janeira has done just that with all of his works. “Being a medical doctor, writing with medical undertones comes natural and easy for me. I feel I am uniquely positioned for that purpose. I would not say my writing influences my work as a cardiologist,” he says, which is good news for his patients, as many of his fictions include suspicious deaths, “but I definitely think my artistic work is heavily influenced by my medical practice. Certain cases and patients provide me fodder for my playwriting.”

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Dr. L. Jan Eira, and also known as “The MD Writer”

Janeira has been a longtime supporter of the arts, and through his ingenuity of using that commute downtime as a creative outlet, he can now take an active role in the theater scene. After a case of writer’s block with his young adult books, The Traveler Series about time-traveling teens, he decided to shake things up and take some playwriting courses. “I love theater and have been a huge consumer most of my adult life. My first play ever was Annie, which I saw on Broadway in 1975. I’ve been mesmerized by staged arts ever since. I mostly admire the works of Lin Manuel Miranda and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber.”

His own playwriting debut was The Ambush, a medical murder mystery, which played on stage in Carmel in 2015. Following that, The Final Word and Stop Crying! were staged at the IndyFringe theater in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The Curse of Count Dicky, Secrets of the Heart, and The Final Word were staged at 4th Street Theater in Chesterton, Indiana, in 2016 and 2017. “My short play, Secret of the Heart, was staged off off Broadway in 2016. That was my proudest moment,” he says. In the future, “I’m planning to stage Critical Recall and The Freshman that Could in 2018. The Casualty will hopefully be staged in 2018 or 2019. Theaters in Terre Haute, Brazil, Green Castle, and others are looking at several of my pieces and hopefully will give me the honor of a production in 2018. Also, Chesterton, Indiana, will hopefully produce one of my plays in 2018.”

While his subject matter may seem dark, his writing is actually cathartic. He says in his blog, “I do it because it brings me peace. It relaxes me. It puts me in a different world, one where patients don’t die despite my best efforts to help them, where the people I advise actually follow my every guidance and counsel. Not the place where I work, where these things don’t always happen.”

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for 10/6-20

I will be out of town and minus my laptop for a while, so I’m combining what I have so far for the next three weekends. Sorry if I miss anyone!

Oct. 6

Fat Turtle Theatre Company: Glengarry Glen Ross

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“Glengarry Glen Ross” at Fat Turtle Theatre Company. Photo by Brandi Elizabeth Underwood.

This Pulitzer Prize winner took Broadway and London by storm. Here is David Mamet at his very best, writing about small-time, cutthroat real-estate salesmen trying to grind out a living by pushing plots of land on reluctant buyers in a never-ending scramble for their share of the American dream. The play is about angles, about conniving, about devil take the hindmost, where the only things that matter are money and making it. Forget about ethics, even common decency.

Beef & Boards: Ghost, The Musical

You know what this is …

Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Pre-Enact Indy at Monon 16

Harrison Center for the Arts will host the free and open to the public event. A first of its kind, the collaborative preenactment theater event will span three city blocks and envision through interactive performances what a neighborhood OUGHT to be. Alvarez & Klein Productions is participating along with ten other theater companies by presenting Club Monon. There will be three 30-minute shows at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. at The Tinker House Events, located at 1101 E 16th St. (2nd Floor). Come and hear talented vocalists Tiana Williams and Logan Moore, accompanied by Dustin Klein on piano, perform jazz and blues song stylings from the Great American Songbook.

 

Oct. 12

Civic Theatre: Annie

Yeah, you know this one too. Meet adoptable pets from the Humane Society of Indianapolis Thursday, Oct. 12, Sunday, Oct. 15 & Sunday, Oct. 22 before show time.

Center Stage Productions: The Secret Garden

I loved this story when I was a kid … Mary Lennox, a sullen and spoiled young orphan, is sent to live with her brooding uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor. Discovering a hidden, neglected garden, Mary plants the seeds of new life for all those drawn into her secret refuge.

Carmel Community Players: Hide and Seek

After 18 years of marriage, Richard and Jennifer Crawford are finally about to become parents and have moved from the city to an old farmhouse, which they are trying to restore before the baby arrives. He still commutes each day, while she stays in the country supervising the shambling handyman and cook who work for them. At first it is mostly the slow pace of restoration that nags them, but a general sense of unease begins to build as the old house seems to be resisting their intrusion. The lights fail, the plumbing malfunctions, a fey neighbor stops by with an odd gift (a prayer book for the burial of the dead), and her poet husband ominously warns Jennifer that she should go back to the city before it is too late. Further complications arise when they are joined by Richard’s ne’er-do-well brother and his fiancée, but it is the silent little girl whom Jennifer claims she has seen swinging in the backyard who brings on the chilling climax of the play, in which the real and the supernatural clash with disturbing and breath-stopping results.

The Candlelight Theatre Company: Victorian Villains

The Harrison Home is unexpectedly beset by a host of the most villainous villains from history. Just when the world thought it was rid of Lizzie Borden, Sweeney Todd, H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, a local team of crime scene investigators have discovered a nefarious plot to bring them back to life! In this frightful performance, guests will partner with their crime scene handler to uncover the sordid tales of the villains. Are you ready to face these fiendish creators of chaos and carnage, so that we can learn from their twisted and tormented minds to protect society as we know it… before it’s too late?! Audiences will travel from room to room enjoying performances throughout the Harrison mansion. Audiences will travel up and down two flights of narrow stairs (elevator assistance is available). Guests will view shorter vignettes standing and longer scenes seated. Each performance lasts approximately 60-75 minutes.

Broadway Across Indianapolis: Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever.

 

Oct. 20

IndyFringe: Bard Fest

A collection of Shakespearean tales, all with a twist.

Indiana Repertory Theatre: The Originalist

Supreme Court justice and conservative icon Antonin Scalia hires a young, liberal, female law clerk and opinions start flying right and left. Every point of view is explored in this thoughtful, witty, open-minded look at one of our most galvanizing national figures.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/29

Nuts at Buck Creek Players

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“Nuts” at Buck Creek Players. Photo by photoGary.net.

Nuts has been called the best courtroom melodrama since Witness for the Prosecution and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, and it inspired the 1987 film starring Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfus. Set in a courtroom in New York’s Bellevue Hospital, the story follows the journey of a high-priced call girl incarcerated on a charge for killing a violent “john.”  The state says Claudia Faith Draper is unfit to stand trial. As testimony from experts, physicians, and her parents unfolds, can she prove to the judge that she isn’t “nuts” and stand legally sane at trial for manslaughter?

  • Sept. 29-Oct. 8, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $18; $16 for senior citizens (aged 62 or older)
  • www.buckcreekplayers.com, 317-862-2270

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Don White

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Don White

Storyteller and folksinger

  • Sept. 29, Don will perform at Sakana, 5252 E 82nd St, Ste 102, Indy 46250. This concert will benefit WITT-FM (91.9). $20 with limited seating.
  • Sept. 30 is a benefit “Tools for School,” a program that provides school supplies for low-income families in Hamilton County. This past July, Tools for School served over 2,200 children with everything from school supplies and backpacks, to new shoes, socks, underwear, and new or gently worn jackets. This show will be held at the Ritz Charles in Carmel. Tickets are $30.

The Shape of Things at Khaos Company Theatre

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“Infinity” at Khaos Theatre Company

Neil LaBute’s 2001 play focuses on the nature of stoicism, art, psychopathy, intimacy, explorations of love, and people’s willingness to do things for love. It is set in a small university town in the American Midwest and centers on the lives of four young students who become emotionally and romantically involved with each other.

Storefront Theatre: Infinity at IndyFringe

How does a new theory of time change everything we know about ourselves? Three brilliant minds — a musician, a mathematician, and a theoretical physicist — smash together like colliding particles in an accelerator. Together they learn that love and time are connected in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Infinity is a shocking, funny, and revelatory play about love, sex, and math by Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch with original violin composition by Njo Kong Kie.

Lafferty’s Wake at Westfield Playhouse

The darlin’ wild rover, Charlie Lafferty, is being waked in grand style in his home away from home, the local pub. The audience joins Charlie’s widow, his sweet daughter, bumbling son-in-law, the parish priest, and the savvy innkeeper as they celebrate the life and times of ramblin’, gamblin’ Lafferty. Two hours of sheer fun replete with jokes, jigs, games, stories, and songs including such old favorites as “Molly Malone,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

  • Sept. 29-Oct. 15, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $15; $13 seniors and students; free for active military and vets with ID
  • 317-402-3341 or www.westfieldplayhouse.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 9/15

La Cage aux Folles at Actors Theatre of Indiana

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

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

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

 

Curse of an Aching Heart at Mud Creek Players

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

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

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

The Comedy Magic of Oscar Munoz

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Oscar Munoz at IndyFringe

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

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

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

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

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

Openings for the weekend of 9/8

Celebrate James Still’s 20th Season as Playwright-in-Residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

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James Still, playwright-in-residence at the IRT

A yearlong celebration of his work at the IRT. This evening will feature readings from Looking Over the President’s Shoulder and Appoggiatura, tours of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time set, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and much more!

  • James Still Celebration Kickoff
  • September 12, 6 p.m.
  • Free
  • Indiana Repertory Theatre
  • E-mail ticketoffice @irtlive.com to RSVP

Fringe Against Hate

A partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Fringe brings you an opportunity to learn how to Make a World of Difference. Sunday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free, but registration is requested.

  • No Place for Hate ® Zone – 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Indy Eleven Theatre: The small theater will host informational booths, activities for younger children, story tellers, crafts, child-friendly programming, puppets, magic, and a special visit by the FBI.
  • Responding to Bullying – 10:00 a.m., Main Theater: ADL Education Professionals will discuss definitions of bullying, its impact on individual students and school communities, and what educators and families can do to prevent its escalation. Attendees will come away from the session with tools for preventing and intervening in bullying incidents.
  • Hate Crimes 101 – 11:30 a.m., Main Theater: ADL’s Civil Rights Professionals will discuss the impact of Indiana being one of only 5 states in our country without a hate crimes law, and why it is important that Indiana enact such a law. We will explore the issue of hate crimes in America – including discussing the unique nature and impact of hate crimes, the way in which hate crime laws operate, myths and facts about the issue, and the distinction between hate crimes and bias incidents.
  • Addressing Gender Bias in the Early-Childhood and Elementary-School Years – 1:00 p.m., Main Theater: We will focus on gender bias and its impact on individuals, schools, and communities. Participants will be given tools to engage in conversations around gender bias, gender identification, and transgender issues to create environments that are welcoming to all students and colleagues.
  • Confronting Anti-Semitism: From Words to Action – 2:30 p.m., Main Theater: Allison Rosenfeld, ADL Assistant Regional Director, will focus on empowering and equipping communities with constructive and effective strategies for responding to persistent anti-Semitic stereotypes and incidents while fostering critical thinking and creative thought among participants.
  • Building an Ally – For Students and Groups of All Ages – 4:00 p.m., Main Theater: Join A World of Difference Institute facilitators, who will provide participants with an opportunity to understand and reflect on what it means to stand up and advocate for others. Participants will work together to develop the skills to confront bias and bullying in their schools and communities through a hands-on, creative activity for people of all ages.

Belles: The Reunion at Epilogue Players

This show continues the family drama of six sisters. In the sequel to Belles, the sisters are back on the phone 25 years later for another Mama-caused crisis-filled weekend. Will they ever meet in person?

Drag at IndyFringe

Presented by NoExit and IndyFringe.

  • Broadway Drag Sept. 8, 10 p.m.
  • Creatures of the Night Sept. 15, 10 p.m.
  • $8. Cash bar (beer & wine)
  • www.indyfringe.org

Nuts at Buck Creek Players ticket discount

Through Sept. 17 ONLY: Purchase any quantity of tickets to any performance of Nuts by Tom Topor (BCP) using the Buck Creek Players secure online ticketing system, and receive 25% off of each seat! No limit. Just enter the coupon code of BELLEVUE at checkout, and you will see the discount after you click on “Apply.” Cannot be combined with any other discount offer (group rates, etc.). Visit http://www.buckcreekplayers.com/what-is-playing.html to get your tickets!

Storytelling Arts of Indiana: Forest Story Night (aka Jabberwocky)

Jabberwocky is a monthly night of storytelling hosted by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and IndyFringe. September’s theme is “Lost and Found in the Forest,” presented by IFA. Hunker down for 7-15 minute stories by five forest voices. Consider sharing your own 3-5 minute “lost-and-found” forest story during the open mike portion of the evening. Event includes snacks and a cash bar.

PRESENTERS:

  • Rae Schnapp

STORY: Both deep humiliation and great pride factor in to an adventure of being locked out of his van while on a scientific field study in Morgan-Monroe State Forest in the middle of the night.

ABOUT RAE: Rae Schnaap, Ph.D., is conservation director for the Indiana Forest Alliance and is also the Wabash Riverkeeper.

  • Clarke Kahlo

STORY: What happens when a tree-hugger (Clarke) and a lumberman (his friend) travel together in an RV.

ABOUT CLARKE: Clarke Kahlo is a retired man with time on his hands for storytelling, troublemaking, and canoeing. He’s a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, a former city planner and environmental advocate for the past two decades who enjoys participating in land use/zoning battles where our natural heritage or livability is threatened by commercial over-reach. He blogs at www.heartoftheriver.wordpr ess.com.

  • Carrie Tauscher

STORY: How her childhood in the “North woods” of Wisconsin made her so passionate about exposing children to trees and forests.

ABOUT CARRIE: Carrie is a certified arborist and serves as the State Community and Urban Forestry Coordinator at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

  • Chuck Turner

STORY: He loses and finds humself in the forest, against all odds, over and over.

ABOUT CHUCK: Chuck Turner heads the conservation committee for the Indianapolis Hiking Club.

  • Glory-June Greiff

STORY: How the spirits of two loved ones helped her find her way in the forest.

ABOUT GLORY-JUNE: A native of the rolling moraine of northern Indiana, Glory-June Greiff is a historian, environmental and preservation activist, and woodsprite. She lives in a tiny urban forest—a certified backyard wildlife habitat—in downtown Indianapolis.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe: “The Gab” produced by Zach & Zack (4.5 stars)

I got to go to another Fringe show thanks to the generosity of Zach Rosing! And I got to LAUGH! Yay!

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The Gab is the brainchild of Zach Rosing (producer) and Zack Neiditch (director/playwright), known as Zach & Zack in theater circles; they also gifted audiences with The Great Bike Race at 2014’s IndyFringe and brought an extended version of that show to Theatre on the Square.

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“The Gab” at IndyFringe

The Gab is a morning talk show that’s already eyeing the chopping block. Because of issues on set, today is the first time the show will have no studio audience, but it is still being broadcast live. Poor stage manager Maureen (Devan Mathias) is so stressed she’s vibrating, and her assistant Alex (Chad Woodward) is suffering for it. Things get increasingly tenser as each host takes her place on stage: Dee (Jenni White), Jackie (Vickie Cornelius Phipps), Nadine (Nathalie Cruz), Brianne (Betsy Norton), and Angela (Ericka Barker). The chat show-cum-cat fight subsequently deteriorates with each segment. These women know how to stir some shit, and Maureen and Alex, with no help from The Gab’s director Jim (Rosing), who is safely ensconced in his own God-box, are left scrambling to keep these off-the-leash divas, and the show, going.

The show is packed with laughs at the expense of these crazy women (and one gay assistant who keeps talking about makeup sex). Low verbal blows and physical smack downs keep it rolling until the cameras cut off for the final time. Lots of silly fun makes it worth catching before Fringe wraps on Sunday.

But WTF with the last five seconds?

  • Saturday, Aug. 26, 6 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 27, 3 p.m.
  • $15 cash at the door, or go online or to the Firefighters Museum if you want to use a card
  • www.indyfringe.org
Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings (and events) for the weekend of 8/25

New shows opening at IndyFringe

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“The Secret of Castle Alphabet” at IndyFringe

Starting tonight, the Indianapolis Fringe Festival has even more shows in its roster.

  • Secret of Castle Alphabet: A must see for the kids in the family
  • Hedy!: Hitting Indy’s festival after a fabulous run in Ireland. “Best Actress” Galway Fringe

And under Music & Dance

  • Dudesical
  • Red Couch
  • Haul & Oatz
  • Pervy Prancing: A Dirty Dancing Improv Spectacular
  • IndyScape

TONIGHT: The Crowning of the First-Ever Miss IndyFringe!

Drag queens compete for the title in front of celebrity guest judges in categories such as Q&A, Fringe-wear, and talent. All proceeds benefit IndyFringe. Bring your dollars to tip the girls! The contestant with the most tips gets bonus points. Audience participation is encouraged!

Phoenix Theatre fundraisers

Brad Hinshaw and Friends

A stand-up comedy event! Eight of the best local comics under one roof for one night only. Mixed with the classic Phoenix style of no-holds-barred fun, this night is one not to miss. All proceeds benefit the Phoenix Theatre operations budget so they can bring us more productions just the way we love to see them.

  • Saturday, Aug 26. 8 p.m.
  • $15
  • Wheeler Arts Center, 1035 Sanders St.

Mathew Street: A Beatles Celebration

A rocking evening with the most beloved music of our time. All proceeds benefit the Phoenix Theatre’s operating fund. Appropriate for all ages.

  • Thursday, Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.
  • $20
  • Phoenix Theatre

Tickets for both events can be bought here.

Buck Creek Players’ Ice Cream Social

Enjoy some pie, ice cream, and other desserts and get to know other members and supporters of BCP. There is no cost to attend this event, so stop by to enjoy everyone’s company and enjoy some summertime treats. Catch up with some old friends, make some new ones, or come learn more about BCP. Following the social will be a short membership meeting and kickoff of the play-reading committee for the 2018-2019 season. Not a member? Interested in possibly becoming a member? Stop by for more information and to pay your membership fee.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe: “Showehead” produced by Formerly Fuckboy (2 stars)

Note: This was the only Fringe show I attended due to ticketing issues. Yeah, I am disappointed. I was really looking forward to doing some serious Fringe coverage this year.

Warning: potentially very offensive content follows

 

UntitledThis is a serious what-the-fuck show. Normally, I am all for that. This one, however, manages to be tedious, even in its festival-abbreviated runtime of less than an hour. The jokes have a repetitive nature, and you have to wonder if the whole thing was drug-inspired—and not in a good Muppet Show kind of way.

Ironically, or not, drug use plays a prominent part in the story of a Stepford “housewife” dragged into the underbelly of organized crime by her husband and a degenerate Jesus. Yes, if you have issues with unabashed blasphemy, stop reading now. At one point, Jesus snorts coke off the back of a flasher who has a rubber chicken dick. Plus, there’s the stupefying creepy sex scene where Charlotte (said housewife) is almost raped by a mafia muscle wearing a diaper, in which lube and a phone are stashed. This seems intriguingly funny on paper, but the reality doesn’t live up.

So why give the show any stars at all? Because the cast wholeheartedly throws themselves into the fuckery taking place on stage. Their enthusiasm and willingness in this experience takes precedence in my overall rating. They seem to be genuinely reveling their roles, and even made me laugh several times. But by the end, it just wasn’t enough.

Please don’t let this lackluster review turn you off of the rest of the festival. In the past, I have seen shows here that surpassed any expectations of even fully staged productions. I have faith there is some seriously amazing stuff happening.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 8/18

It’s hard to believe that there is anything opening this weekend outside of the Fringe Festival, but yes, a few brave souls have things happening. So, gorge yourself at Fringe and then see what else you might want to take in as well.

2017 Indy Fringe Festival: Eleven Days, Eight Stages, 72 Shows on Mass Ave

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Presented by EclecticPond Theatre Company at IndyFringe

There are entirely too many events and shows to cut and paste here, so to make it easier on all of us, go here to see the complete program offerings. My favorite from last year, Drankspeare,  is returning this year, so, yeah, go see that one for sure. I almost peed my pants last year.

Garfield Shakespeare in the Park: Antony and Cleopatra

After the events of Julius Caesar, three rulers take control of Rome — Octavius Caesar, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Mark Antony. Mark Antony spends most of his time in the company of the beautiful and powerful Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. Sextus Pompey threatens war against the Roman Empire, prompting Antony to return home to negotiate peace. Passion, jealousy, and intrigue follow Antony and Cleopatra through Rome and Egypt, leading to a tragic and timeless end for both. Join us as we stage this epic tale of romance and war spanning empires featuring two of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters — Antony and Cleopatra.

  • Fridays and Saturdays August 18-Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.
  • Admission is free, and donations are welcome.
  • MacAllister Amphitheater at Garfield Park
  • http://gscindy.com/

Beef & Boards: West Side Story

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Beef & Boards

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to New York City, as two young idealistic lovers struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s score includes “I Feel Pretty,” “Maria,” and “Tonight.”

StageWorthy Productions: The Outgoing Tide

The Indianapolis premiere of an award-winning drama. In a summer cottage on Chesapeake Bay, Gunner has hatched an unorthodox plan to secure his family’s future but meets with resistance from his wife (Peg) and son (Jack), who have plans of their own. As winter approaches, the three must quickly find common ground and come to an understanding … before the tide goes out. A touching family drama sprinkled with surprising humor and powerful emotion, and a poignant play about illness, death, and personal choice.

  • August 18-27, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $12, with a limited number of upgrade seats available at the door for an additional $2
  • Broadway United Methodist Church, 609 East 29th Street
  • 317-750-6454: leave your name, phone number, date of performance, and number of tickets needed. Cash or checks only. Walk-ins are also welcomed.
  • Rated PG-13 for adult language and themes.

The Improbable Fiction Theatre Company and Nickel Plate Arts: Much Ado About Nothing

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The Improbable Fiction Theatre Company and Nickel Plate Players “Much Ado About Nothing”

The IFTC’s inaugural production takes Shakespeare’s romantic comedy and sets it in post- Civil War Missouri City.

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 5/12

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.)

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Pink Droyd

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

onyxEstablished 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

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“Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Live!”

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.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

DivaFest 2017

The opening weekend of IndyFringe’s DivaFest 2017 was packed with passionate artists producing works that challenge audiences to evaluate their points of view.

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Batshit

  • 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.
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Chelsea Anderson and Adam Tran in rehersal for “Not Yet” at DivaFest

Not Yet

  • 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.
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Beverly Roche in “Not Yet Dead” at DivaFest

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.
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Banza Townsend and Brittany Taylor in “On the Pole” at DivaFest

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.

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“The Pink Hulk” at DivaFest

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.

 

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“Hedy” at DivaFest. Photo by Al Foote III.

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.

  • Friday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 18, 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 19, 6 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the week/end of March 8

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

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

 

 

“Boeing Boeing” at the IRT

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

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

 

DivaFest 2017 from IndyFringe

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

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

 

“Rock of Ages” at Theatre on the Square

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

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

 

 

“Belle” by XYZ

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

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

 

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Preview for the weekend of Jan. 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The Cay” at the IRT

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

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

Opening Night gala 1/28/2017 at 6 PM

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

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

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

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

Continuing this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Little Shop of Horrors” at Footlite Musicals

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

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