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Showing posts from 2007

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is on stage now at Indianapolis Civic Theatre. The show, a creation of Broadway icons Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, is a mutt of various productions. It combines everything from country-western to calypso musical stylings.

The show is a recreation of the Biblical tale of Joseph and his 11 brothers. Joseph is the apple of his father's eye and his brothers are jealous. Their anger sends him on a one-way trip to Egypt, where he is sold into slavery. The show may have its basis in a Biblical story, but God has no part in the production. Instead, the musical turns the tale into an upbeat, jovial romp. With an Elvis-impersonating Pharaoh of Egypt and a singing camel, it relies heavily on its jokes and gags.

Joseph Robert Doyel makes a great Joseph. In an over-the-top musical, he underplays most scenes, bringing a quiet humor to the show with his expressions. His vocals had a soothing quality and provided a glimpse at his obviou…

Tuesdays with Morrie

The bestselling book "Tuesdays with Morrie" has been adapted for the stage and the Indiana Repertory Theatre is currently presenting it on its upperstage.

The story revolves around Mitch Albom, a successful journalist who has become caught up in all of life's trappings. Success, money and fame have become priorities and he has lost touch with the simple things he used to love. One day he hears his old college professor Morrie Schwartz is dying. His whirlwind life freezes and he realizes he should visit his ailing friend.

The show is based on Mitch Albom's real life experience. His conversations with Morrie force him to focus on what is truly important in life; community, love, family, joy, beauty and even death. He is searching for the meaning of life, or rather how to find meaning in life.

With death creeping nearer Morrie's thoughts and emotions are raw. His beliefs become clearer and his drive to make sure Mitch finds happiness becomes urgent. Even in the dept…

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Broadway Across America's newest production "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is based on the 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. The show is onstage at Clowes Memorial Hall and unlike the film, it's a musical. The basic plot remains the same, but big Broadway numbers have been woven into each scene.
Two con men meet, one an elegant gentleman who woos women and eventually takes their money. The other is a crass, vulgar cretin with seemingly no morals or restraint.

Circumstances throw the two together they find they make the perfect team. With their very individual skill sets they can dupe wealthy women into forfeiting their riches.

At first the classy gent, Lawrence, tries to train the other, Freddy, to be at least presentable. It's like a topsy turvy, and much more depraved, version of "My Fair Lady."

Shortly after the partnership begins they fall out and turn against each other. They decide that instead of working together, they will make a be…

A Very Phoenix Xmas

The show begins with a warning, "If you're looking for 'A Christmas Carol,' this isn't it." They aren't kidding.

"A Very Phoenix Xmas" is on stage now at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. The comedy show is presented annually, but with new sketches every year, written by Phoenix playwrights and submitted by audience members.

Taking snatches from Christmas tales and holiday movies the writers have melding these elements together to make a completely original creation. Featuring skits about the island of recalled toys and the tragedy of a broken Christmas cookie the show is both entertaining and a little strange.

Any Christmas show that includes a song called "Don't Eat the Baby" definitely falls into the "out of the ordinary" category. Everything from local fast food eateries to 'The Wizard of Oz' is fair game at the Phoenix.

The six person cast does a great job bringing each story to life. Michael Shelton and Sa…

Mamma Mia!

Broadway Across America has brought the neon colors and sparkling sequins of "Mamma Mia!" to Indianapolis. The international hit musical is on stage now at the Murat Theatre.

The show is built around songs by the Swedish band ABBA, who hit it big in the late 1970s. If you can't name more than a couple ABBA tunes, you're not the only one. But the show is beyond entertaining, it is a tasty, synthetic pop treat. The show is no highbrow drama, instead it is an unabashedly funny romp.
The story follows young Sophie who, just before her wedding day, attempts to find out who her father is. After being raised on a Greek island by her single mother Donna, Sophie decides it's time to meet the other half of her gene pool.

Donna's best friends are a modern day Lucy and Ethel combo. Played by Christine Sherrill and Allison Briner the duo steal the scene with their hammy antics. Their physical comedy makes for some of the best parts in the show.

Sophie's potential fath…


"The play's the thing ..." there are few phrases more familiar to the theater going public. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has brought back the show where that line originated. "Hamlet" is now playing on their upperstage.

The show incorporates current elements of culture into the original text for easy relatability. This includes a shared iPod song, a quick game of hacky sack and a few cellphone calls. One of the finer uses of this tactic was an easily interchanged video recorder for the musical recorder in a scene with Hamlet and his patsy friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Matthew Brumlow walks the tightrope of sanity as the show's title character. He has just the right blend of discontent and contempt. He never completely reveals his cards, veering from cheeky jest to tortured rage in an instant.

Jessica Martin takes on the role of Ophelia, a woman easily swayed and confused by the events unfolding around her. She demonstrates the pendulum swing betwee…

Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy

"Cirque Dreams" is on stage now at Clowes Memorial Hall, it's a Broadway Across America show. The production is part circus, part comedy and part Broadway show.

It is visually stunning and audiences will be treated to an amazing feast for their senses. Violinist Jared Burnett, performing as Soul Tree, provides a continuous flow of music from his electric violin. His soulful strands of notes fill the venue as audience members watch, mouths gaping, at the rich scenes unfolding on the stage.

The strength of the show lies not in the songs, but in the complicated dance sequences and acrobatics. Even jumping rope becomes astonishing in the hands of these talented performers. They don't stand still for a second. Every movement they make is perfectly coordinated and they toss each other round and manipulate their bodies in unbelievable ways.

Their breathtaking acts are unlike anything most theater-goers have seen before on a local stage. The contortionists and flyers form mo…


The Indianapolis Civic Theatre's most recent show, "Aida" was part comedy, part drama. The story is a modern version, created by Elton John and Tim Rice, of Verdi’s grand opera. The show's namesake is a Nubian princess who is captured and forced to serve as a slave in Egypt.

The woman's captor, Radames, quickly falls for her and Aida is torn between her newfound love and her loyalty to her people. The matter is further complicated by the fact that Radames is engaged to the pharaoh's daughter.

Mikayla Anne Reed plays Radames's finacee Amneris. She's a caricature of a spoiled princess. A Barbie-esqu sphinx who provides a welcomed element of comedic relief. She crocodile rocks her way through her first big number "My Strongest Suit." As the show goes on the audience watches as she maturs and by the end of the show her character shows unforeseen depth with songs like "I know the truth."

The pop musical pulls elements from gospel songs,…

Our Town

From the opening strands of music to the lilting melody that plays as the actors take their final bows 'Our Town' is a beautiful piece of theatrical work. The show is on stage now at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Playwright Thornton Wilder wrote this Pulitzer Prize winning piece of work in the '30s, but its message still rings true decades later. The story is timeless and touches on points that every person on earth can relate to.
Set in the small town of Grover's Corners, N.H. the play unfolds in three acts. First there is the daily life of a small town, then there is love and marriage and lastly there is what waits for us all in the final act, death.

The production is staged as a play within a play. The stage is simple with few set pieces and even fewer props. Audience members are left to use their imaginations and rely on the outstanding acting the cast provides.

Rarely does an evening at the theatre so completely satisfy. The show is about the simple joys of life,…

Altar Boyz

Only a few years ago you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing the most recent pop song by a boy band. Bands like 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees ruled the airwaves and spewed out one formulaic hit after another. A show which manages to both embrace and mock that pop culture phenomenon, "Altar Boyz," is on stage now at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. The off-Broadway musical is making its Midwest premier.

The show is staged like a concert featuring the five-member boy band "Altar Boyz." The members of the band, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Juan (the latin member), are good Catholic boys who believe they were called to minister through the rhythm God put in them. The fifth member of the group is Abraham, a Jewish guy who ended up in the band by mistake. Mix them together and they create the self-dubbed "apostles of pop."

There is, like in any boy band, the "cute" one, the "bad boy," etc. The boys get down while shar…

Dos Fallopia: Desperate Spuddwives

What could be sweeter in the midst of the summer heat than slipping into a cool theater and having a good laugh. "Dos Fallopia: Desperate Spuddwives," a satire of pop culture is on stage at the Phoenix Theatre and provides audiences with the perfect place to beat the heat.

Dos Fallopia is a Seattle-based comedy duo made up of Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt. Their shows are audience favorites at the Phoenix Theatre and they are back with a new show "Desperate Spuddwives."

The show consists of six sketch comedy bits starring Koch, Platt, Kevin Smith and Scot Greenwell. In additions to the mysterious women on "Hysteria Lane" the show mocks faded rock stars, angry poets and militant baristas.

Clad in suits and toupees the Dos Fallopia duo portrays President Bush and his right-hand man Dick Cheney in the skit 'Are You Smarter than the President.' The game show pits audience members against the current presidential administration and Hillary Clinton.

Peggy P…

Welcome to the Monkey House

Eight stories woven into one show. Seven cast members, each taking on a handful of characters. It all adds up to a wonderful night at the theater and a bittersweet way to honor the death of an incredibly gifted man.

ShadowApe Theatre Company is an Indianapolis based theater company that offers a new show each year. This year's selection is "Welcome to the Monkey House," an original adaptation of some short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. The production was created by ShadowApe as part of Indianapolis' "Year of Vonnegut." It is currently at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre; where many of ShadowApe's members are regular performers.

The second patrons enter the theater they see a stage set with a simple blue sky background. Suspended in that sea of clouds are ten shelves covered with books and audience members know they've entered one of Vonnegut's Twilight Zone universes.

The show would not work so flawlessly without its talented cast. The four man an…

Beyond the Rainbow

Judy Garland is an iconic figure. She's revered as one of the most talented performers of all time. Countless scores of people have seen and cherished her performances in films like 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'A Star is Born.' But for anyone curious about what lay behind the Garland's beautiful music 'Beyond the Rainbow' is a must see.

Actors Theatre of Indiana's latest show 'Beyond the Rainbow' recreates Judy Garland's famous 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. The production includes three separate Judys, the youngest played by Kennedy Martin, the 38-year-old Garland singing at Carnegie, and a third who plays Garland from her teens through her early 30s. Each of the three actresses help shape the whole picture of Garland's troubled life.
Jody Briskey plays the eldest Garland. Briskey originated the role for 'Beyond the Rainbow' in 2005 and has performed it at many venues in the U.S. Briskey nails each wobbly pitch in Garland well-know…

The Little Dog Laughed

Rarely do we Hoosiers get a chance to see something fresh from Broadway. New plays tend to make their way from the New York stage across the country slowly. They typically trickle through a dozen other states before making their way to Indianapolis.

'The Little Dog Laughed' is an exception to this trend. It's now on stage at the Phoenix Theatre, it's very first show since Broadway. The play premiered on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for the 2007 Best Play Tony award. That being said the show is definitely not for everyone. Accolades aside the show has very adult themes and contains some nudity.

The comedy gives the audience and glimpse into the life of a Hollywood movie star who is a closeted homosexual. Mitchell Green, excellently played by Michael Shelton, has a career dependent on his ability to appeal to women, as his agent Diane so frequently reminds him. His story is a fictional representation of the many stars that have dealt with the same dilemma, including…

Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace is on stage at Center Stage Community Theatre (CSCT) in Lebanon. Many may remember the story from the classic 1944 Cary Grant film of the same name. The story follows the Brewster family through one confusing night of mayhem.
Mortimer Brewster has just decided to marry his sweetheart, Elaine Harper, when he discovers his sweet elderly aunts, Abby and Martha, have been committing murders is their doily dotted home.

In addition to that shock Mortimer's evil brother Jonathon has returned home after years abroad to further disrupt the Brewsters' lives. Mortimer's other brother, Teddy, adds to the madness as he charges through the house convinced he is Teddy Roosevelt and is overseeing the construction of the Panama Canal.

Mortimer sums up the crazy atmosphere of the Brewsters' home with one hilarious quip, "Insanity runs in my family, in fact it practically gallops."

While Teddy chats with nonexistent dignitaries and Jonathon plots everyone…

Fat Pig

The Phoenix Theatre's current production, 'Fat Pig,' is sure to spark conversation for audience members.

The show revolves around Tom, played by Douglas Johnson. Tom is pretty average, good worker, nice guy. Then he finds himself unexpectedly falling in love with Helen ... a plus size woman.

All of a sudden Tom's simple life becomes complicated. His catty ex-girlfriend Jeannie, who is racked with her own self esteem issues, is incredulous. His coworker Carter, a shallow, foul-mouthed jerk, harasses Tom about Helen's size. Although Tom is clearly at his most relaxed and happy when he is with Helen he isn't sure how to cope with the pressure of social "norms."

It's almost painful to watch Tom struggle with the issue. Between Jeannie's bitter insecure tirades and Carter's obnoxious putdowns the audience can really feel Tom's pain.

The play is written by Neil LaBute, who also wrote 'The Shape of Things' a play which similarly probe…

And Her Hair Went With Her

The always original Phoenix Theatre is currently hosting the world premiere of 'And her hair went with her.' The play is written by Zina Camblin who stars, along with Milicent Wright, in the production.

The show focuses on two women who work in a beauty salon. Camblin is Angie, an intellectual single mother in her 20s who hopes to change the world. Jasmine, played by Wright, is in her 50s and has become more settled in her views of others and goals for herself.

The pair work side by side and though they spar and bicker about their differing opinions they have become true friends. Their love for Nina Simone and excitement about her upcoming concert is another thread which bonds them together.

Camblin and Wright are the only two actors in the show. They each play four characters, changing from role to role with the switch of a wig. The ladies play a slew of customers that breeze in and out of the beauty shop for new hairdos.

Each of the women have their own eccentric qualities. …