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The Mutilated

As one might be able to guess from the title, The Mutilated is not a holly jolly Christmas story. The Tennessee Williams play is set in New Orleans and follows two frenemies who cross paths on Christmas Eve. The pair, Trinket and Celeste, are both broken souls with their own secrets. Gigi Jennewein plays Trinket, a wealthy woman with an unknown mutilation. She's fragile and desperate for affection. Celeste is her polar opposite. Played by Beverly Roche, the shoplifting alcoholic is brash and constantly angling to manipulate those around her. 
Originally written as a one-act comedy, the show plays more as an ode to loneliness. It’s split by a short intermission and the second act wraps up so quickly that it feels a bit abrupt. The characters feel similar to those found in many of Williams' plays, though the plot doesn't pack as big of a punch in comparison. It's fascinating to see the damaged people trying to find a way forward, but I wish I'd had more time to better…
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Betsy Wolfe at the Cabaret

Tucked away in the newly renovated space behind the 924 Gallery downtown is the new gorgeous Cabaret. The space, formerly a warehouse and then a roller skating rink, is now a beautiful gem. Intimate tables sit close to a stage that hosts stars straight from Broadway. The theatre moved into its new location in April and the result is unbelievable. The Jazz Kitchen designed a menu with cocktails, starters and entrees perfect for any evening. If you haven't been to the new Cabaret yet, what are you waiting for? 

I attended Betsy Wolfe's show last week. Wolfe made waves on Broadway for her performances in The Last Five Years, Falsettos, and most recently in Waitress. This show, "All Bets Are Off" was a delightful combination of Broadway favorites and playful humor. Wolfe's rich vocals showcased fan favorites from Into the Woods and made me fall in love with the musical Waitress, even though I haven't seen it yet. 

The beauty of the Cabaret lies in the spontaneous n…

Pipeline

Education and race: there aren't too many issues that are more divisive in our country at the moment. The Indiana Repertory Theatre's current Upperstage production, Pipeline, tackles them both. The 90 minute play keeps a frantic pace as Nya, a public school teacher, finds out her teenage son has gotten into a fight at his private school.  
The show, written by Detroit-native Dominique Morisseau, brings to the stage the debate of public vs. private education and the role race plays in that conversation. In addition to being a playwright, Morisseau was a teacher for years and that experience comes through in her writing. She writes about the struggle from the point of view of both parent and teacher with equal weight.  One of the major strengths of the show is the character of Omari, played with compelling vulnerability by Cole Taylor.  In the hands of a less talented playwright he could easily have been a caricature of an angry young black man. Instead he is complex, emotional, c…

Man of La Mancha

Don Quixote, the infamous errant knight questing to save those in need and fighting windmills because he sees giants in their frames. He is a familiar character to most of us. Man of La Mancha is a classic musical inspired by the Spanish story. Beef & Boards’ current production of the show features Disney royalty in the titular role.
Richard White, famous for providing the voice of Gaston in Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast, takes on the role. It is absolutely his show, featuring him first as the book’s author, Miguel de Cervantes, and then transforming into the knight. His deep baritone is perfect for the role. His Don Quixote is blundering, but sincere in his delusion and you can’t help but root for him.  The show features a untraditional love story. The elderly knight sees Aldonza, a kitchen maid and prostitute, and decides she is his glorious lady Dulcinea and he will do anything to win her favor. Aldonza is a fiery character full of scorn. Erica Hanrahan-Ball tackles the …

Holmes and Watson

Three men claiming to be Sherlock Holmes are being held in an asylum on an island. The famous detective's trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, must make his way to the remote isle to identify the true Sherlock. The Indiana Repertory Theatre's season opener is a twisty mystery that keeps you guessing until the final moments. It takes a minute for the show to hit its rhythm, but it's worth settling in to wait and see how the identities are revealed.  
The set is one of the most extraordinary the IRT has created. Its gothic design layers stairs and ledges deep into the stage. There is even an aperture that opens and closes to reveal different characters and gives the audience the feeling of being inside of a camera at times. Kudos to Robert Mark Morgan for its creation.  Each of the three Sherlocks have a unique take on the role. One is classically clever, two is grief-stricken and emotional, and the third is literally catatonic. The seven-person cast keeps the show humming under the d…

Bright Star and the 2018/19 Phoenix Season

The Phoenix Theatre has gone through some huge changes in the past year. In addition to moving into a brand new state-of-the-art theater, it also has a new artistic director, Bill Simmons. With all of that in mind it’s not surprising that the theatre opened its new season with something a bit outside of its normal range. Known for producing plays that tackle tricky issues the theatre doesn’t often do musicals and when it does they tend to be edgy shows like Spring Awakening, American Idiot or Avenue Q.
In contrast, Bright Star is a bluegrass musical with a big heart. Written by banjo-playing renaissance man Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the show is set in the hills of North Carolina in the 1940s with flashbacks in the 1920s. It is at times playful and at others steeped in nostalgia. There’s a large ensemble cast with a full bluegrass band onstage providing live music. The set is simple, with movable pieces on wheels and straightforward staging. The result is an absolutely delightful …

The Lion King

The Lion King is one of the epic Broadway shows that everyone should see at least once in their life. It’s also one of the few stage productions based on a Disney movie that actually works. They never make the mistake of many movie-to-stage adaptations: sacrificing the heart of the story for the spectacle. It is a huge production. From Pride Rock to an elephant graveyard, the sets are so creative.

I can’t think of a single show where the costumes even come close to the grandeur of The Lion King. The animal kingdom comes alive as giraffes, elephants, and birds take to the stage. The costumes are impeccable, and manage to show the movement of cheetahs and antelopes with grace and beauty. Even the jungle plants are brought to life, played by humans in elaborate outfits.
Most kids are already familiar with the story from the movie, making this a very family-friendly show. It has that wow factor, and meshes a captivating plot, incredible sets, and an award-winning score together. There will …