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Cyrano

 Don’t let the comically large nose fool you, this one is a heartbreaker. The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s minimalist production of the classic Cyrano features just three actors. It’s a quiet romance about Cyrano (Ryan Artzberger) and his unspoken love for Roxane. There are a few sword fights, coordinated by Jeb Burris who pulls double duty playing six different characters in the show. Jo Roets’ adaptation clocks in at just 1 hour and 20 minutes, with no intermission. Melisa Pereyra truly shines as Roxane. Despite the hurdles of a virtual viewing, her passion, fear, and grief radiate off the screen. Her real-life spouse, Jeb Burris, makes for a convincing partner in their scenes together. Linda Pisano's lovely work on costume design allows believability as Burris navigates between all of his roles. Russell Metheny’s set design is functional but sparse, lacking the usual detail of an IRT production.  A note on the streaming experience. The show is $30 and you have a week to watch it.
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NO. 6

In 2001 an unarmed black man was killed by a Cincinnati police officer. A peaceful protest turned dangerous in the following days as the city erupted into riots. If that sounds a bit too familiar to you, you aren’t alone. The subject matter is achingly relevant. In the midst of the chaos, a small family hunkers down in their home above their dry-cleaning business. When the son, Felix, returns home with a drunk white man in tow the tension boils over. The dialogue between the mother and her twin children feels real and quickly pulls you into their comfortable family dynamic. There were quite a few stumbles over lines in this production, which can take you out of the flow of the play, but it wasn’t too distracting. It’s only worth noting because, unlike live theatre performances, a recorded production will not change from night to night.  Truths are revealed as the riots rage on and important issues are addressed. Hearing about the black experience, the unavoidable hurdles they face in

This Wonderful Life

In 2008 the country was in the midst of a massive economic recession. That year the Indiana Repertory Theatre produced This Wonderful Life, a one-man show that celebrates the classic film, It's a Wonderful Life. It's appropriate that the theatre would return to that joyful play in 2020, a year that has been so heartbreaking. Never before have we so badly needed the reminder that family and friends are the most valuable part of our lives.  Rob Johansen plays the storyteller, recreating the movie with an exuberant performance. He single-handedly brings each character to life. In the blink of an eye, he switches from the evil Mr. Potter to the coquettish Violet. If you know the movie well, you can probably say many of the lines along with Johansen. It’s almost a retelling, but with some added commentary about 1946 and the impact of certain scenes. You can’t recreate live theatre with a recorded performance, but the care that was put into the production is excellent. Benjamin H

IRT Playwright-in-Residence Wins Drama Award

By Melissa Hall   James Still, the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT), was announced as the 2020 Indiana Authors Awards Drama Winner for his trilogy The Jack Plays. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award winners receive an award made from Indiana steel and limestone, a $5,000 cash prize, and the opportunity to make a $500 gift to an Indiana public library. The Jack Plays is a series of three plays featuring members of the same family, The Jack Plays travel from a Vermont Thanksgiving dinner, to the canals of Venice, and into a CIA operation in Yemen. Still’s ability to give his characters’ depth in all situations allows audiences to connect with the family and their struggles with grief and identity.   The IRT is the only theatre that has produced all three productions: The House that Jack Built (2012), Miranda (2017), and Appoggiatura (2018). Still has served as their first and only playwright-in-residence for 23 years. He has written more

COVID-19 and How to Support the Arts

Less than a week ago I saw Murder on the Orient Express at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. The set was opulent and the murder was crackling with tension and humor... and no one else will get to see it. Since that night the IRT, along with almost every arts organization in the city, has decided to cancel the rest of its shows through the Spring. There are directors, set designers, and actors who have poured their hearts into these productions that the public will never see. It's heartbreaking. The city is going dark in the hope that we can stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. It's a hard choice, but one that is incredibly important for the safety of the public.  That being said, the arts community, restaurants, and small businesses in our city are facing a very tough time. As people practice social distancing they are not attending events, eating out, or shopping, but that doesn't mean you can't support those places! You can donate directly to the theatres. Check t

Indiana Repertory Theatre announces 2020-2021 Season

The Indiana Repertory Theatre has announced the 2020 - 2021 Season. Set to begin on September 9, 2020, the season continues IRT’s commitment to literary and multigenerational stories, celebrates the city’s Bicentennial and centers on the importance of community and change. The Signature Six Series includes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Indianapolis at 200: Finding Home, Native Gardens, Thurgood, The Widow Lincoln, and Steel Magnolias. The additional productions for students and families will be Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, and the return of the Indy holiday tradition Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The IRT will continue into the second year of the INclusion Series to celebrate diverse storytelling with the hot-button comedy Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías and Thurgood, a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall by George Stevens, Jr. Rounding out the INclusion Series will be Indianapolis at 200: Finding Home, a collection of stor

Sweeney Todd

 Sweeney Todd is a deliciously dark musical that tackles a revenge story worthy of The Count of Monte Cristo. The content is not for the faint of heart, but the Stephen Sondheim musical is a classic for a reason.  The famous score is brought to life in reverberating tones by the Carmel Symphony Orchestra in the first-ever collaboration between the group and the Actors Theatre of Indiana. The 32-piece orchestra is on stage, just behind the simple set. An 80-person choir provides the backdrop, rising above the action and adding a Greek chorus element to the tragedy. The unique set up adds gravitas to the big numbers, as does Erin Meyer's lighting design, filling the ample space with an eerie red glow. The whole production has an operatic feel that suits the material beautifully. Don Farrell plays the title character and the role allows him to showcase his incredible baritone voice. He is full of grief and a bloodthirsty rage. Judy Fitzgerald is Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crim