October 27, 2014


When it comes to art, every person who views it can see something different. Even a simple color can mean a variety of things, stirring memories or emotions that bring on diverse reactions. The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “Red” is a two-man play that explores the topic of art in all of its forms.  
Abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko hires a young man to help in his studio in the 1950s. The two very different men give us two distinct viewpoints of the world of art. We see things through the eyes of the seasoned artist who has already found success. Then we see the point of view of his assistant, who shows joy and enthusiasm for everything around him. The old and the new come to a head as Rothko pushes the novice harder and harder, and the conflict leaves them both raw.
The performers themselves bring such power to the show with their portrayal of the two men both tortured in their own ways. Henry Woronicz plays the cantankerous Mark Rothko with a delicate balance of gruffness and vulnerability. Rothko is condescending and harsh to his young employee, but he’s just as critical of himself. He’s constantly battling his own doubts and demons. Ken’s (Zach Kenney) eagerness becomes frustration as Rothko challenges his beliefs at every turn.
The production uses every available element to tell the story. The lighting plays a crucial role, the music heightens every scene and the dialogue whips back and forth in a frenzy. Each component adds a layer to create the fabric of the show. James Still directs the production, lending a gentle hand to the intense material.

Red is a meditation on art. Not just paintings, and visual arts, but music literature and performance art. It's an exploration of art’s purpose. Should it challenge us or is it for pleasure alone? Who decides whether a piece is successful: the critics, the audience, or the artists themselves? Do audiences need to understand the artists’ motive and emotions when creating the work in order to “get” it? The show’s goal is not to answer these questions, but instead to begin the conversation, a goal which it achieves beautifully.
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. "Red" runs until November 9 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 Zach Rosing

October 24, 2014

The Rocky Horror Show

“I'm just a sweet transvestite, from Transexual, Transylvania,” if you don’t immediately recognize those lyrics than this probably isn’t the show for you. This cult classic, the basis for the 1975 film, has a strange story. A young couple find themselves stranded when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. They end up at the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and their bizarre night gets even weirder as they meet his devoted crew of miscreants.
The elegant Athenaeum theatre is an oddly fitting setting for the musical. The set included a full catwalk and scaffolding that allows the cast to take advantage of the whole stage. There were some occasional audio issues and moments when the music overwhelmed the actors’ voices, but it was a minor issue.

Zach Rosing Productions did an excellent job casting actors who were willing to throw themselves full force into the roles. Without their enthusiasm the show could have easily fallen flat, but instead the whole audience caught on to their energy. From the dancing Transylvanians to Scott Keith’s saucy Dr. Frank 'N' Furter, the cast was clearly having a blast. Damon Clevenger’ Riff Raff was spot on in his restrained creepiness and even Logan Moore’s naive Rocky, a role that can sometimes be wooden, was charmingly sweet.
The production could have depended heavily on camp alone and still been an incredibly fun show. Instead it combined some great performances and multimedia elements that were incorporated smoothly into the scenes. Magenta, played by Erin Cohenour, and Betsy Norton as Janet both nailed their songs with their powerful voices. Dave Ruark served as the narrator in via pre-filmed clips that worked perfectly because of his dry delivery.

Again if you find men in speedos and fishnets offensive, this is it going to be your cup of tea. But if you can embrace the silliness this show is just so much fun. You don’t have to know anything about it in advance to enjoy it. Now who's ready to do the Time Warp this Halloween?

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Athenaeum Theatre so hurry to get tickets. They can be purchased online at rockyhorrorindy.com or by calling (800) 838-3006. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24th, 30th, 31st and Nov. 1st. There is also a 10:30 p.m. showing on Friday, Oct. 24 and 31st and on Saturday, Nov. 1st

Photos Courtesy of Zach Rosing.

October 21, 2014

AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE: Alcestis and American Buffalo

Greek tragedy isn’t always at the top of everyone’s must see list, but this beautiful play dips into both the dark and light that every life holds. This production is based on Ted Hughes’ translation of the original play by Euripides. His skill as a poet is clear in each well-crafted line. From the opening scene we learn that Alcestis is dying, she has given her life so that her husband Admetus can live.
Alcestis, played by Melisa Pereyra, gives a hallowed-eyed performance as the selfless queen. To carry her to the Underworld is Death, deliciously played by Brian Mani. He’s charming in his chilling condescension.  The play’s second act isn’t as smooth or concise as the first, but it comes full circle by the end. We meander a bit as characters deal with the consequences of Alcestis’ death.
The play explores the ideas of grieving, sacrifice, and life carrying on despite mourning. In one man’s struggle with his wife’s death we can see mankind’s struggle with our own mortality. There’s one beautiful line from the show that summed it up perfectly, “Their birth-cry is the first cry of the fatally injured."
All of this sounds dire, but the story is not without hope. Heracles (the Greek name for Hercules) is a wild, strong force in Admetus’ house of sorrow. He is visiting his friend and despite the depression that’s descended on everyone around him, his passion for life overflows with joyous bursts. His role is a reminder that all life must include the bitter with the sweet. It’s a powerful production.


We open on a cluttered resale shop, empty bottles are strewn about and walls are lined with knick-knacks and antiques. The shop’s owner, Don, is a bear of a man who seems harmless enough. Things don’t really kick into gear until Teach appears. He’s a wiry man who prowls around the shop in a huff shouting obscenities and knocking things over.
The stand out element of this show is the performances. In Brian Mani’s skilled hands Don becomes a barely contained volcano of frustration. He controls himself, but you can see the slow-burning anger boiling beneath the surface. James Ridge plays the high-strung Teach, a hard character to like, but when he’s on the stage you can’t look away. He’s a loose cannon, a manic ball of energy that raises the level of tension in the room. Add in the naiveté of Brendan Meyer’s Bobby and the trio balances on the edge of something enthralling.  
The show’s playwright, David Mamet, is better known for “Glengarry Glen Ross,” another whirlwind play revolving around money. The difference with American Buffalo was that the plot failed to make me as invested in the outcome. I was caught up in the incredible work of the actors, but the stakes never seemed high enough for the eventual consequences that unfold.
The American Players Theatre is open until November 9th. Their 2015 season will open in June with a new selection of classic work for audiences to enjoy.

The theater's outdoor seats are comfortable, but definitely bring a jacket, rain parka, blanket, bug spray or sun block depending on the weather. The show will go on even if it's chilly or drizzling. There are easily accessible restrooms and concessions at both the Up-the-Hill Theatre and the Touchstone Theatre (indoor). There are also picnic tables for those who bring lunch or dinner for before a show. 

There are plenty of camping/B&B/cabin/hotel options nearby, depending on your preference. You can find additional information about where to lodge, restaurants and other attractions on APT's website.

For more information about APT and Spring Green, WI visit its website. Spring Green, Wi is only 6.5 hours from Indianapolis and makes a perfect weekend getaway! There are attractions for the entire family in addition to the APT, including the Wisconsin Dells water parks, House on the Rock, Taliesin and a golf resort.

Photos Courtesy of the American Players Theatre.

September 22, 2014

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

There aren’t many Shakespearean plays where a can dog steal the show, in fact there’s only one: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s one of the Bard’s lesser known works and it includes the infamous dog, Crab. In previous productions I’ve seen the dog played by a stuffed animal, but the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s current production has the real thing and the sweet pup holds the audience captivate every time she’s on stage.

As great as the canine performance is, it’s not the only highlight from the show. The IRT opens its 43rd season with a play in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The show includes a cast of IRT vets like Ryan Artzberger and Robert Neal (who both starred in HART “The Tempest” this summer), along with some excellent newcomers. Two standouts were Charles Pasternak as Valentine, who vacillates between ardent lover and frustrated exile and Ashley Wickett as both Julia’s maid Lucetta and the sought-after Silvia.

The plot itself is not without its problems. Like much of Shakespeare’s more obscure work, this one doesn’t come together in the end in the way one might expect. But that’s one of the reason this show is such a valuable production. It’s rare to be able to see high-quality performances of Shakespeare that aren’t of a well-known play (Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.) Seeing a show like this gives audiences a chance to explore the repeating themes in Shakespeare’s plays and see how he executed them successfully or unsuccessfully. It’s even easier to appreciate Shakespeare’s body of work when you can see the ways he improved over time. 

Each of Shakespeare comedies have strands of tragedy woven into the plot. His ability to combine the two extremes is one of the many reasons he is still being celebrated 450 years after his birth. His themes of heartbreak, betrayal and particularly in this show, first love, are demonstrated so well that each actor has a meaty role to dive into. The scenes are played with such heart that we feel the characters’ pain along with them.

In addition to that, the show is funny and wonderfully entertaining. At the intermission I kept overhearing comments from people wondering why this show isn’t produced as frequently as other (the second act answered that question for them.) With so many great plays of Shakespeare’s to choose from, it’s easy to see why some theatres skip over the ones that aren’t as neatly tied up at the end. I’m so thrilled that the IRT decided to produce this one for the very first time and I hope audiences will get out and see it!
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 Game's Afoot" runs until October 19 on IRT's Main Stage. 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 Indiana Repertory Theatre

September 2, 2014

Beef & Boards Announces 2015 Season

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre presents a fabulous lineup in 2015 that includes two new productions to its stage.
The season gets off to a solid start with the classic Neil Simon comedy: The Odd Couple, which marks its 50th Anniversary in 2015. Two Beef & Boards favorites will star in this tale of mismatched roomates, with Jeff Stockberger as the easygoing Oscar Madison and Eddie Curry as the uptight Felix Ungar, who moves in with Oscar after his marriage falls apart. What happens next is nothing short of hilarious! Opening on Dec. 27, 2014, the show is on stage through Feb. 8.
Then starting Feb. 12, the Beef & Boards stage is filled with all things Gershwin as it presents the all-American musical Crazy For You. Winner of three Tony Awards and based on the 1930 musical Girl Crazy, the story centers around Bobby Child, who is sent to Nevada to foreclose on a theatre. But when he falls in love with the local postmistress, he devises a plan to save the theatre. On stage through April 4.
A parody of American musical comedy of the 1920s, The Drowsy Chaperone makes its Beef & Boards debut on April 9. A middle-aged musical theatre buff plays the record of his favorite musical, the (fictional) 1928 hit The Drowsy Chaperone, and the show comes to life – with two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, gangsters posing as pastry chefs, an intoxicated chaperone and more! On stage through May 10.
The imaginations of the young and young at heart will soar to Neverland starting May 14 when Beef & Boards presents the beloved Tony Award-winning musical Peter Pan as the 2015 Family Show! This production features $10 discounts off tickets for all kids ages 3-15. On stage through July 3.
The lovable – and imperfect – Singing Sanders Family returns for the summer in Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming, the third installment of the popular comedy series. Opening July 8 and on stage through Aug. 16, the story takes place in 1945 – seven years since the Sanders Family first came to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church for a Saturday Night Sing.
Then the Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite, South Pacific, opens Aug. 20. Set in an island paradise, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of predjudice and World War II. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a French plantation owner, Emile, but is conflicted by what she learns about him. On stage through Oct. 4.
On stage for the first time at Beef & Boards and just in time for the spooky Halloween season, it’s The Addams Family, opening Oct. 8. This Tony Award-nominated macabre musical comedy is based on the cartoon characters created by Charles Addams, who also inspired the television show that first aired in 1964. Gomez Addams faces every father’s nightmare when his daughter, Wednesday, falls in love. On stage through Nov. 22. 
The holiday season is celebrated with the theatre’s original production, A Beef & Boards Christmas, opening Nov. 27 and featuring beautiful costumes, heartwarming songs, dazzling dancing and even Santa himself. A tradition at Beef &Boards for more than 20 years, and perfect for the entire family, this seasonal celebration is on stage through Dec. 23. 
Also returning in 2015 is Beef & Boards’ one-hour adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, on stage for select performances Dec. 5 through 21. Enhanced with holiday carols, this iconic tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who is given a second chance is the ideal way to enjoy the holidays.
TICKETS: New VIP memberships for the 2013 Season are on sale starting Sept. 4. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Oct. 1. Visit www.beefandboards.com, for complete details.
Photos courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.