October 24, 2016

Finding Home: Indiana at 200

In a year where election campaigns can leave you feeling little love for your country and state, the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s unique production “Finding Home: Indiana at 200” is a welcome respite. I’ve never felt so misty-eyed about my Hoosier heritage. The play was created to celebrate the state’s bicentennial and is a combination of the work of dozens of artists. It compiles original music, created by Tim Grimm and performed by his family band, with short plays about Indiana’s history. 

There are no restrictions on content, except it has to be about Indiana. From Cole Porter to James Dean, Princess Mishawaka to Eli Lilly, the richness of Hoosier history unfolds beautifully.  They touch on the Indy 500 and IU basketball, but the other pieces are thankfully not heavy on sports; even those two focuses on lesser known elements. 
Many of the pieces are based on facts familiar to Hoosier, but the writers give those common stories a face and bring them to life.  I’m grateful the stories didn’t paint all of Indiana’s past in a rosy light. There are pieces on Ryan White and the Ku Klux Klan. Like any state, we have heartbreak threaded throughout our history. 

The ensemble cast works so well together. There is a live band on stage performing Tim Grimm’s original pieces. The rest of the cast takes on a new role with each new skit. Two IRT newcomers, Aaron Kirby and Michael Joseph Mitchell, were particularly good.  Robert Mark Morgan’s set design weaves hints of Indiana into every inch of the stage. It’s a piece of art in its own right. 

There is so much history packed into the show, but it rarely feels like a classroom. Some of the pieces could have used a bit more editing, especially since they were attempting to cover so much ground in the production. Some work better than others, but as a whole the production is a strong one. 

The one frustrating thing is that there were so many contributors they decided to split the content into two separate productions. I saw the “blue” production, but there is also a “gold” production with 70% different material. It’s certainly a good problem to have, but if you can’t make it to both you’re left wondering what you missed. 

Don’t miss this chance to see your state’s history come alive on stage! Hearts. Land. Indiana. Here’s to the next 200 years. 

Don't Miss the Show 

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Finding Home" runs until Nov. 13 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com 

Photos courtesy of the IRT

October 17, 2016

Into the Woods

Fairytales are familiar fare at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, but the darker stories in Into the Woods are not. The theatre is currently producing the Stephen Sondheim musical for the first time. The show explores the lives of Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel, etc. with a much more realistic twist. What happens after the happily ever after

Don Farrell and Meaghan Sands play the baker and his wife. The pair is the heart of the show. Their struggle with infidelity drives them into the woods to break a curse. The two work well as a married couple, frustrated with each other and loving in equal measure. Sands is particularly good, providing a grounded center in the midst of chaos. Her vocals are beautiful. Farrell finds his voice during the number “No More”.

“Agony” sung by Cinderella’s Prince (Timothy Ford), and Rapunzel’s Prince (Mickey Rafalski), is one of the highlights of the show. For me it blends the production’s tongue-in-cheek humor, excellent singing, and sarcastic tone perfectly. Amanda Downey as Cinderella is another stand out. The troubled girl goes from one bad situation to another, with only the birds as her friends. 

The costumes are elaborate, just right for this fantasy world. The show is a long one, but director Jeff Stockberger keeps things moving along. The theatre recommends the show for audiences members age 13 and older.

Don't Miss the Show 

Performances: The show runs until Nov. 20. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The buffet is served from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. For Wednesday matinees doors open at 11:30 a.m. and the buffet is served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The show begins at 1 p.m. For Sunday matinees doors open at 12 p.m. and the buffet is served from 12:15 to 1 p.m. The show begins at 1:30 p.m. 

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $41 to $66 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. 

Photos courtesy of Beef & Boards

September 28, 2016

Indy Bard Fest

Indy's Shakespeare festival is back for a second year! The annual event runs from October 13 through October 30. The three main shows this year are Coriolanus, King Lear, and Twelfth Night.

Founded by & managed in partnership with The Carmel Theatre Company, First Folio Productions, Catalyst Repertory (formerly CRP) & The Garfield Shakespeare Company. Bard Fest Indy was founded by 3 Indiana-based theatre companies to bring a professional quality, yet intimate, Shakespeare festival experience to central Indiana. Through their partnership with The Carmel Theatre Company, Bard Fest is able to not only provide paying work for local area actors, but also provide 3 unique visions under one intimate roof.

Opening Weekend Celebration:
Opening weekend will include buy-one-get-one tickets to the Shakespeare anchor shows, and will also feature two special guest shows by the critically acclaimed Fringe performer and classical literature scholar, Timothy Mooney. They are also bringing back Shakespeare Trivia (with prizes to local shows).

Special Showcases by Timothy Mooney:
Lot O' Shakespeare is a game-show like whirl-wind hour of Shakespeare monologues performed by a one-man force of theatre, spin the wheel, hear a monologue! Perfect for the whole family to reacquaint themselves to the Bard before catching one of our full-length Shakespearean offerings. Spin the wheel, make a request, win prizes, and see Shakespeare!

Breakneck Hamlet is just what the show's name suggests a Hamlet that goes so fast it could break your neck! See the critically acclaimed Fringe hit show that has taken the circuit by storm and you might even get a better understanding of the Bard's masterpiece. This show has been selling out all-over the European Fringe circuit (even Denmark!) and is NOT to be missed. It's only an hour, what have you got to lose?

$45 FLEX PASS: See all 5 Bard Fest shows for the price of 4! With your Flex Pass you can see each of the 3 Bard Fest Shakespeare Shows, as well as, the 2 special opening weekend Showcases. Flex Passes are only available by calling our box office at 317-688-8876.

*Group Rates for 8 or more are also available with the box office. (Group Rates save $3 per ticket / Tickets are $12 each.)
$15 BARD FEST SHAKESPEARE SHOWS: Our 3 annual Shakespeare anchor shows are only $15 each. Tickets are available for purchase by calling the box office, online (brownpapertickets.com) or by clicking the show images above.
$10 SHOWCASE SHOWS: Every year, Bard Fest tries to host some special hour-long showcase performances for just $10! Tickets for these are available online at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office.

For more information, visit their website here. 

September 26, 2016

The Three Musketeers

The world undoubtedly needs a bit more swashbuckling. The Indiana Repertory Theatre opens its 45th season with the classic tale of The Three Musketeers. The show is adventurous and hilarious. It never takes itself too seriously, especially in the first act, and it's incredibly fun because of that. 

Jeb Burris plays D’Artagnan with an unending stream of earnestness. He's captivating as a young man devoted to king, country, and the woman he loves. Milady de Winter (Elizabeth Laidlaw) is a classic femme fatale. She is haughty and dangerous, and completely enthralling. Ryan Artzberger, David Folsom, and Nathan Hosner play the title musketeers as Athos, Porthos, and Aramis respectively. They are moody, reflective or jovial in all the right measures. In one scene Artzberger makes a murder feel almost like a prayer.

The show is directed by Henry Woronicz, who starred in the one-man show An Iliad in 2013. This is his first time directing at the IRT and it's not a disappointment. Under his deft hand, the comical adventure takes a tragic twist in the second act. Though the focus remains set on adventure, we dig a bit deeper into the characters' back stories and the light banter turns to more weighty subjects. This particular adaptation includes some clever story telling moments with silhouettes and flashbacks. 

The set is sparse, allowing for elaborate sword fights courtesy of Paul Dennhardt, who serves as the fight director. The costumes include big leather boots that would make a pirate proud and hats plumed with ostentatious feathers. There were only a few moments in the show when the  campiness leaned into cheesiness, but the audience loved it.

The production is a perfect season opener. It swings the IRT's doors wide and yells to Indy, "Come in! We're having a blast in here." Though it is an entertaining romp at times, the darker points means it's not appropriate for little kids.   

Don't Miss the Show 
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "The Three Musketeers" runs until Oct. 15 on IRT's OneAmerica Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Photos courtesy of the IRT