December 15, 2008

This Wonderful Life


The Indiana Repertory Theatre's new Christmas show is a one man rendition of "It's a Wonderful Life." The initial concept sounds odd, but in the hands of actor Jerry Richardson it's delightful. It enhances the original classic film, while at the same time standing on its own as a great performance.

Richardson provides the narration and plays all of the characters. He adds humor with his energetic portrayal of everyone from the evil Mr. Potter to the coquettish Violet. He is able to channel Jimmy Stewart in a way that's almost spooky. The well-known story is interspersed with commentary and is at times hilarious and at others, heartbreaking.

Unlike most Christmas stories, there is no Santa Claus and no ghosts of Christmas present of past. The plot focuses on one man's simple life and his struggles. George Bailey is just a good man who has come to the end of his rope and feels lost. It's a feeling that most people can identify with. Because of this, the story transcends the Christmas trappings and applies to people's lives no matter what time of year it is.

The play reminds audiences why they fell in love with Bedford Falls in the first place. It also adds a fresh Christmas show to Indianapolis' regular December docket. During this dour holiday season, when the economy is flailing, the play stresses the important message, "no man is a failure who has friends."

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. "This Wonderful Life" runs until Sunday, Jan. 4 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

December 8, 2008

A Beef & Boards Christmas


The dinner theater's popular Christmas show returns with new musical numbers, dance routines and Mrs. Claus as its gracious host. It provides all of the tinsel and tap dancing needed to fill the holiday season.

This year's production includes a brand new country Christmas section. Songs like "Tennessee Christmas" and "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" shower the audience with plenty of twang and calls of Yee-Haw. Jayson Elliot, who plays the recurring role of Uncle Stanley in "Smoke on the Mountains," joins the Christmas show's cast this year.


The production's quiet song, especially Gerald Atkins' "O Holy Night" remain its greatest strengths. The theater's inclusion of dinner in the ticket price makes it a great choice for a night on the town this year and the family-friendly content means that kids are sure to love it.


Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Dec. 31. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

For Weekday 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. For Sunday evenings doors open at 5 p.m. and the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

December 5, 2008

Lion King


As elephants and zebras make their way through the aisles of the Murat Theatre audience members quickly realize "The Lion King" isn't an average show. With a huge cast, extraordinary costumes and impressive sets the Disney musical is a treat for people of all ages. This is a show that could not be done with a local theater's budget. Broadway Across America has literally brought Broadway to Indianapolis' collective doorstep.

The show sticks closely to the 1994 animated movie of the same name. The familiar characters make it a wonderful show for families. There are a few additional songs, including one from the adult Simba and another from the adult Nala, both of which are lovely additions and great opportunities to showcase the talented cast members' vocal abilities.


The cast does a superb job bringing their animal characters to life with each movement, despite the size of their costumes. Timothy Carter is particularly delightful as Scar and pours out his condescending and devious comments in each of his scenes. The lioness pride provides another highlight with a dozen women maintaining a graceful elegance that is both feminine and feline.


The diverse dance sequences are exceptional. The production includes many forms of dance, including everything from ballet to hip-hop with a strong African heritage theme woven throughout.


"The Lion King" feels fresh and original compared with many Broadway musicals in the vein of Rodgers and Hammerstein classics. The musical, which took Broadway by storm is a fantastic holiday experience and shouldn't be missed.


Don't Miss the Show

Unlike most Broadway Across America shows, which run for only six days, "The Lion King" will be in town for six weeks. But tickets are going fast for the popular show, so don't miss your chance to see it. The show runs until Sunday, Dec. 28 at the Murat Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, the Murat Theatre, by calling (800)-982-2787 or online at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $77.

November 8, 2008

The Sound of Music


At Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre the stage is alive with "The Sound of Music" until Nov. 23. The family friendly show is a mainstay at the theater and features songs made famous by the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein film.

Although the theater's production doesn't feature any Austrian mountains, it still captures the heartwarming true story of the singing von Trapp family. The show hits its stride with the "Sound of Music reprise" in the instant that Captain Georg von Trapp realizes, with a little prodding from Maria, that he doesn't know his children.

Christine Negherbon stars as Maria, the nun turned governess turned mother. She's enthusiastic and sincere as a woman trying to understand her own heart.

Sarah Hund plays Elsa Schraeder, the baroness vying for the Captain's heart. Though the role is small it's a notable change from Hund's recurring role as June Sanders in the "Smoke on the Mountain" shows. In this show she is reserved and posh, a stark contrast to her hammy hilarity in "Smoke" and January's "Run for your Wife." The role demonstrates her wide range of talent and cements her position as a Beef & Boards regular.

"The Sound of Music" is a show well-known for its songs, including "Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things." It's easy to forget the the plot revolves around a country on the brink of war and a family that refused to fold under the pressure of the Nazi party. The story is a beautiful one that highlights the undeniable strength of the human spirit and unwavering character. It's a true classic that will delight children and adults alike.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Nov. 23. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

For Weekday 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. For Sunday evenings doors open at 5 p.m. and the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

October 24, 2008

Macbeth


"Macbeth" is currently on the Indiana Repertory Theatre's Upperstage. Macbeth is the latest in the IRT's long line of Shakespeare shows that work to make the Bard more accessible to younger audiences. The 90 minute show is brief enough to appeal to Shakespeare novices, without losing the meat of the play. The original language hasn't been altered, just trimmed. In addition to shorten the original play, the production embraces modern dress for the cast, complete with military attire for the men.

The set is an original design by Gordon R. Strain. This is Strain's first solo run as a scenic designer and the stage captures the stark, yet restricted feel of the plot.

IRT regular Jennifer Johansen plays the manipulative and ambitious Lady Macbeth. Johansen gives a mesmerizing performance as the voice of evil in her husband's ear. Her intense portrayal alone makes the show a must see as her character feeds Macbeth's desperate thoughts.

Andrew Ahrens embraces his role as the title character with fervor. Insanity leaks into Macbeth's life with every new crime he commits. The blood of his misdeeds stains his hands long after water has washed it away.

The plot of Macbeth stands the test of time, reminding us all that a guilty conscience will haunt your every step. The show is a bloody Halloween treat for audience members of all ages.

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. "Hamlet" runs until Saturday, Nov. 8 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

October 14, 2008

Avenue Q


The lights go up on a shady version of Sesame Street, but this show and these puppets are not for kids. "Avenue Q" is on stage now at Clowes Memorial Hall courtesy of Broadway Across America. The show follows a mix of people, puppets and monsters that live on a street in a dodgy New York neighborhood. The newest resident, Princeton, is a recent college graduate hoping to find his "purpose" in life.

The premise sounds innocent enough, but the show is an exercise in adult humor and hilarity. The musical numbers have titles like, "Everyone is a Little Bit Racist" and "It Sucks To Be Me." There is also puppet sex, which odd as it sounds, is pretty graphic.


The talented cast, including Indiana native Carey Anderson, does a wonderful job. Despite being in full view of the audience, their animated antics add to their puppets' personality instead of becoming a distraction. Anderson has a gorgeous voice, showcased in "There's a Fine, Fine Line." Robert McClure does a particularly wonderful job with the roles of Princeton and the closeted Republican accountant Rod. Rod's character is in love with his roommate Nicky; a parody of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie.


Despite the crude nature of some scenes the whole production is bursting with real life humor. Just like life it's a little down and dirty; some things will make you cringe, others make you giggle and many things, like the misfortune of others (a.k.a. "Schadenfreude") make you laugh out loud.


Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, October 19 at Clowes Memorial Hall so hurry to get tickets to the show. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, The Murat Theatre, by calling (317) 239-1000 or online at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

September 25, 2008

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure


The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre decided to open its 2008/09 season with a new adaptation of a classic tale, "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure." The play follows Holmes through his final case. The iconic detective meets his match both in Dr. Moriarty as his nemesis and Irene Adler as the beautiful, witty woman who steals his heart.

The show is a celebration of IRT's talent and is filled with many of the theater's regular performers; Mark Goetzinger, Ryan Artzberger, Robert K Johansen and Robert Neal. It also welcomes a few newcomers to the local stage, all of which meld nicely with the familiar faces.

The show is one of the most technically difficult IRT has done. The elaborate sets, including a train car, a bridge over a waterfall, Holmes' study and a warehouse, sweep the audience away into Holmes' Victorian England.

Jonathan Gillard Daly embodies the clever Holmes with every dry observation he udders. Goetzinger works well with Daly as Holmes' loyal, though often out-of-the-loop, assistant Dr. Watson.

"Sherlock Holmes" is just the beginning of the IRT's new season. The theatre selection of upcoming shows includes "To Kill a Mocking Bird," "Crime and Punishment" and "Macbeth." Its continued excellence and constant striving to bring fascinating new work to Indianapolis keeps audiences enthralled year after year and is sure to do so again over the next eight months.

One line from "Sherlock" sums up the IRT's presence in Indiana. "All other things, our powers our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it." IRT is a rose in Indianapolis, embellishing the lives of all of the Hoosiers who take advantage of it.

For more information about IRT's upcoming season visit irtlive.com.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Oct. 11 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $34.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

September 1, 2008

The Producers


When one thinks of Mel Brooks, creator of the films "Spaceballs," and "Blazing Saddles," subtly and quiet laughs don't generally come to mind. Instead, the genius behind those comedy cult classics tends to lean towards over-the-top bawdy humor. Brooks crosses every racial, sexist and religious line in his movies and musicals. He embraces taboos and has brought audiences to their knees with belly laughs for decades. His film "The Producers" was turned into a Broadway smash hit and is now being presented for the first time, by an independent theatre, in Indianapolis.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre has the show on its stage until Sept. 28. It stars the duo, Eddie Curry and Doug Stark, two actors more frequently found behind the scenes than on the stage in recent years. Stark is the owner of Beef & Boards and Curry is a real life producer and director at the theatre. The pair's easy friendship on stage comes from two decades of collaboration in various shows.

Curry's turn as the timid accountant Leo Bloom who blossoms into a Broadway producers is delightful. He is nervous and always on the edge of a hysteric breakdown.

"The Producers" is a hilarious look at two producers who try to con their way into a couple million dollars by putting on a flop. After finding a horrible play, "Springtime for Hitler," they meet the playwright, a crazed Nazi played to insane perfection by Jeff Stockberger. They then sign Broadway's worse director, an emotional queen who wants to make the show a little more "gay." Curt Dale Clark, is the director Roger DeBris, and his delicious turn as the effeminate Adolf Hitler is sure to keep the crowds rolling in the aisles.

With a sure fire failure in the bag, the producers think they're set for life, but as audience members will discover, things are never that simple. The show is a riot, but it is full of adult humor.


Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sept. 28. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

For Weekday 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. For Sunday evenings doors open at 5 p.m. and the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

July 15, 2008

Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming


Bluegrass gospel songs and sarcastic sass don't often go hand-in-hand, but in the newest Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre show they work together like peanut butter and jelly. "Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming" is a sequel to last year's sleeper hit "Smoke on the Mountain." The hilarious show's success spread through word-of-mouth and now the entire cast has returned to reprise their roles as the Sanders Family Singers.

Each of the characters, from the scripture-quoting Vera to Dennis, the preacher with stage fright, return exactly as last year's audiences will remember them. The actors slipped easily back into their roles. They also had no problem moving from instrument to instrument during the show. The cast members played the guitar, banjo, piano, upright bass, fiddle and more; proving their musical versatility with each number.

The show picks up seven years after the original "Smoke" production. The Sanders family has undergone some changes, but have reunited for one last family sing. Sarah Hund is back as the non-musical Sanders, June, and her attempts at sign language and personal percussion section are wonderful crowd pleasers.

"A Little at a Time" is one of the show's best examples of the excellent family dynamic. Andrew M. Ross, as Dennis, particular shines during his jazzy rendition of "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho."

Not all musicals, no matter how good, deserve a sequel. But "Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming" is a welcome return to the small town church and the family that the audience can't help but love. With its great blend of humor and heart, the show is sure to leave audiences wanting more.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Aug. 6. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

For Weekday 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. For Sunday evenings doors open at 5 p.m. and the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

June 6, 2008

The Fantasticks


"The Fantasticks" is the longest running musical in the world ... and before this summer I had never seen it. Currently on the Indiana Repertory Theatre's main stage, the show is split into two acts. The first is all roses and sonnets and moonbeams. It is the quintessential romantic musical. A young couple fall for each other, then they run into a few obstacles, but their passion prevails and love triumphs. Call me a cynic, but I wasn't impressed. It felt so pat and predictable, but the show wasn't over yet. The real meat of the show lies in the second act where the perfect pictures falls to pieces.

The impressive thing about "The Fantasticks" is that it was first produced in 1960 and yet it avoids all of the normal musical trappings of being predictable and borderline cheesy. The second act is cynical, witty and filled with humor. It doesn't mock love stories, it simply shows a more realistic view of life.

In this particular production the cast does a wonderful job highlighting the humor. The show's scheming fathers, Mark Goetzinger and Charles Goad are excellent. Their comradery and odd couple mannerism feel natural. William Norris and Robert K. Johansen are the local players. They provide some of the shows biggest laughs as they ham up death scenes and butcher famous monologues. El Gallo, played by David Studwell, is the narrator and "villian" in the show. His calm and steady presence lends a sense of solemnity to the show as he sings about celebrating sensation.

The show is a deviation from IRT's normal fare because it is a musical, but the theatre found a way to make the show its own. With a small cast, a real plot and a simple set the show doesn't feel like a stretch for the theatre, which is so well known for its dramas.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sunday, June 22 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $32.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

*Photo Courtesy of the IRT

May 1, 2008

Iron Kisses


Four characters, three scenes, two actors and one big issue. The Indiana Repertory Theatre presents “Iron Kisses” on its upperstage.

Written by the IRT’s playwright-in-residence, James Still, the show is about family relationships. On the surface the show is about love, both hetero and homosexual and it would be easy to focus solely on that element. Gay marriage is a hot topic and one which is divisive in almost all circles. But this show reaches much deeper than that subject. It revolves around one family and its struggles to accept and love each other despite the countless flaws that get in the way.

Using only two actors, the production tells the story of Billy and Barbara, siblings who were raised in a small Midwest town. After growing up, Billy moves to San Francisco and Barbara marries and stays in her hometown. During the course of the play Billy and Barbara’s parents are invited to their gay son’s wedding and learn that their daughter is getting divorced.

The parents’ thoughts and fears are the same ones that most audience members will relate to; simple questions and concerns that all parents have for their children.

Ryan Artzberger and Constance Macy play Billy, Barbara and both parents. They each take a turn mimicking the mannerism of a fussy mother and gruff father with careful accuracy. Their performances make the show come alive and elicited a standing ovation the second they took a bow.

There is some adult language and subject matter and so it’s not an appropriate production for children.

The show is a reflection of our current society, for good or for bad, but the point is not to push an agenda on the audience. The purpose of the play is to highlight universal family dynamics and unconditional love; through loss, extreme differences in views and all of the other issues life throws at us.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sunday May 11 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.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $32.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

April 18, 2008

Black Gold


The Phoenix Theatre presents the Indianapolis premier of “Black Gold.” The show celebrated its world premiered in Philadelphia earlier this year.

This black comedy takes a look at a Detroit man, who is struggling to support his family. He decides to purchase an oil rig on eBay and strikes it rich in his backyard.

The events that follow throw both his neighborhood and the wider world into chaos.

The play deals with real issues; racism, political upheaval, America’s dependence on oil. No one is safe from the show’s mockery, including Osama Bin Laden.

The cast consists of six actors who play more than 80 roles. There is no intermission and the lightning quick dialogue keeps audience members on their toes. With so many costume and attitude changes the show hinges upon the actors’ ability to work well together and make the audience believe that the plot is plausible.

Though there are plenty of opportunities to laugh, the show packs an unexpected poignant punch. It raises the important and often unasked question … what if?

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until May 4 and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Tickets cost $15 for those 24 and under and $25 for those 25 and older.

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Avenue., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Avenue.

April 8, 2008

Show Boat


One might assume that an 81-year-old musical couldn’t pack a punch for audiences in our current society, but visitors to Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre are sure to find out differently. “Show Boat,” which was first released in 1927 is onstage now at Beef &. It is a delightful show which is able to delve deeper into the lives of its characters than many musicals, because it spans 40 years in their lives. I begins in 1883 and ends in 1927.

I was expecting something lighter, fluffier, something along the lines of “Okalahoma.” What I got instead was a plot which didn’t shy away from issues of racism, gambling, alcoholism and the difficult task of raising a child.

Elisabeth Broadhurst’s role as Julie is particularly good. One of her numbers, “Bill,” is a silly love song, but with her rich voice she turns it into a heartbreaking ballad.

The show is not without humor though. There is a play within the play, which is campy and fun with overacting hilarious embraced. The comedy duo Frank and Ellie also provide laughs and Douglas E.Stark, owner of Beef & Boards, gives a wonderful turn as Cap’n Andy.

The production also featured the amazingly talented Gerald Atkins as Joe. Atkins has demonstrated his vocal abilities in the past at Beef & Boards annual Christmas show. His goose bump inducing version of “Of Holy Night” is now rivaled by his “Ol’ Man River.”

The show is often called the first modern American musical. Whether you are a fan of all musicals or just hoping to get your feet wet, it’s a great show to see.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until May 11. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 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 $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Board Dinner Theatre

March 6, 2008

My Fair Lady


In the 1950s the world was introduced to "My Fair Lady," an Alan Lerner and Frederick Lowe musical filled with what are now, well-known ballads. The original Broadway production later became an Oscar-award winning feature film starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

Broadway Across America's production is now onstage at Clowes Memorial Hall. The show, straight from its U.K tour, features beautiful costumes, lush sets and stellar performances.

The classic tale begins in the gutter with a simple flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, who butcher's the English language every time she opens her mouth. Audiences watch as the girl becomes a lady, both in speech and actions.

The talented Lisa O'Hare is Eliza. Her performance is stunning and her voice is unstoppable. Every dropped H is heaven as she bemoans the evil 'enry 'iggins.

Christopher Cazenove plays Higgins, Eliza's instructor, a confirmed bachelor and callous curmudgeon. He captures the spirit of Harrison's performance with his every inflection, while at the same time bringing his own charm to the role.

The two main characters antogonize each other with every breath they take, but in between their banter a few side characters manage to get in some outstanding performances; namely Freddy, Alfred P. Doolittle, Mrs. Higgins and Colonel Pickering.

The timeless tale is an undeniable treat. Fifty years after its debut it remains sublime.

The show runs until Sunday, March 9 at Clowes Memorial Hall so hurry to get tickets to the show. Tickets are range in price from $22 to $67 and can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, The Murat Theatre, by calling (317) 239-1000 or online at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.

Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.


*Photo Courtesy of Broadway Across America

March 4, 2008

The Piano Lesson


The Indiana Repertory Theatre's current main stage production is a great choice for February, Black History Month.

"The Piano Lesson" is one of a ten-part series written by August Wilson that chronicles black American culture and experience. Each of the plays represent one decade in the 20th century. The IRT included one of the plays, "Gem of the Ocean" in last year's season. The entire work captures the life styles and struggles black Americans faced during the tumultuous century.

This show, a Pulitzer-prize winner, is set in the 1930s and follows the Charles family. Brother and sister Boy Willie and Berniece find themselves on opposite sides of an argument when Willie decides he wants to sell a family heirloom of which they share ownership. The object in question, a priceless piano, is covered with ornate carvings detailing the family's rise from slavery.

Boy Willie is a bubbling cauldron of trouble and bad attitude. He sees only his own future and what he might do with the money from the piano. Berniece is a young widowed mother, who has become jaded and cold since her husband's death.

Roslyn Ruff who plays Berniece and Carl Cofield as Boy Willie do an excellent job. The very different characters are both intense and stubborn in their own ways and the actors capture that.

Kudos also goes to the Michael Lincoln, the production's lighting designer, who makes the set come alive with spirits from the past with his lighting.

There are a couple scenes in the play where the characters perform songs. These moments are the strongest in the show. Music is so deeply ingrained in black American culture and that element is highlighted during those scenes. They are the times when the show truly comes alive.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday March 15 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $32.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

*Photo Courtesy of the IRT

March 1, 2008

The Lieutenant of Inishmore



The Phoenix Theatre presents "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" on its main stage. The black comedy follows a crazy Irish man, Padraic, whose pet cat meets an untimely end. The death of the animal opens a big can of worms in the tiny hamlet, Inishmore

Shane Chuvalas as Padraic is excellent in his obscene madness. He's off his rocker, but his own strange way he means well and his loyalty to his feline is oddly touching.

Padraic is a member of a rebel group in Ireland. His haphazard way of punishing those who cross the moral line have put his fellow Irish National Liberation Army, (INLA) members on edge. When he decides to torture a drug pusher who has been paying them off they decide it's the last straw and the group turns on him. When Padraic returns home to tend to his ailing pet a trap awaits him.

Joanne Dubach plays Mairead, a spitfire of a girl whose ambitions to join the INLA are stunted by her gender. She's the only person who could dare to match Padraic's insanity, which makes them the perfect couple. Everyone in the play is a wee bit mad, but these two take the cake.

The show is reminiscent of the 1999 film "Boondock Saints," both in humor and violence. There's no shortage of blood flow or gunshots during the performance.

If plays were drinks, most would be a cup of tea or coffee; reliably good, some better than others, but nothing out of the ordinary. This play was a shot of whiskey, and Irish whiskey at that. It was fast, intense, a little harsh, but still enjoyable. But like whiskey, it's not necessarily everyone's taste.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until March 9 and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Tickets cost $15 for those 24 and under and $29 for those 25 and older.

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Avenue., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Avenue.

*Photo Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre

February 19, 2008

West Side Story


Two warring cultures, young people from opposing sides falling in love, sound familiar? It's not "Romeo and Juliet," it's "West Side Story." Inspired by the Shakespearean saga, the musical is set in New York in the 1950s and is now onstage at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis.

The Jets, a gang led by Riff, have decided to declare war on the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican immigrants. In the midst of the building tension, Tony, a member of the Jets, and Maria, sister of the Sharks leader, Bernardo, manage to fall in love.

The tragic tale of the star-crossed lovers is set to the music of Leonard Berstein, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The well-known songs, like "Tonight" and "I Feel Pretty," are crowd pleasers.

The two leads are new to Beef & Boards. Evy Ortiz stars as Maria and Loren Christopher plays, Tony. They are both talented actors. Ortiz's voice is beautiful and it brings a richness to each number she's in.

Bernardo, played by Joshua Gunn, and Monique Alhaddad, as his girlfriend Anita, are feisty and perfectly cast. The pair heat up the stage with their chemistry and dance moves, especially in "America."

The supporting cast of Jets shine during the hilarious "Gee, Officer Krupke;" a light-hearted number full of "buddy boy" and "daddy-o" lingo.


After the choreographed dances and ballads of love are stripped away, the story is really about acceptance and overcoming prejudice. Revenge leads only to more bloodshed. This Broadway classic packs a powerful punch with it's moral of the story finale.

For anyone looking for the perfect date night during this month of love, this show provides a meal, music and a great message.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until March 22. Doors open for evening performances at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet is served at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m. One Sundays the buffet is served at 5:30 and the show begins at 7 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 $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

February 16, 2008

My Way


Frank Sinatra is said to have created eras. His career, which spanned 50 years, touched countless lives and his work will never be forgotten. The Indianapolis Civic Theatre's current show, "My Way" pays tribute to “Old Blue Eyes'” entire catalogue of work. There are songs from Sinatra's Rat Pack days, Broadway tunes, films and more.

The talented cast, which includes, Troy Johnson, Tobin Strader, Annette “Missie” Hirsch and Katy Gentry, each have a chance to shine during the show. Hirsch is best when crooning her velvety version of "My Funny Valentine" and "All the Way." Strader excelled at embracing Sinatra's smooth side with numbers like "That's Life" and "Summer Wind."

Johnson was playful and endearing when performing "Chicago" and singing duets with Gentry, who's sultry voice came alive when she sang "I Love Paris" and "The Best is Yet to Come."

The songs were chosen to suit the individuals' strengths, but the performers also do a wonderful job as an ensemble. They act like they are truly enjoying themselves on stage, which makes the show fun to watch.

Sinatra is universally recognized as an icon and this production, under the direction of Cynthia Collins, does a wonderful job honoring his memory and celebrating his work. Whether you are a die hard fan or new to his work, the show is the perfect way to enjoy his music.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show continues until Feb. 10. The Indianapolis Civic Theatre is located at 3200 Cold Spring Road. on the Marian College campus.

Tickets: Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling (317) 923-4597 or visiting www.civictheatre.com.


*Photo Courtesy of Aladin Images, Inc.

February 14, 2008

Menopause the Musical


Making "the change" funny since it opened in 2001, "Menopause the Musical" is now onstage at the American Cabaret Theatre in Indianapolis.

It follows four women, with seemingly nothing in common, who meet in a department store. A business woman, soap opera star, Iowa housewife and a hippie, the women find that they are all in the midst of menopause. They bond over their shared ailments and sing their way through the woes of insomnia and mood swings.

The show is geared towards women who are going through or have already gone through the change, so it's more commiseration than education. It provides laughs, while at the same time showing that menopause is a universal bond between all women.

The songs are all well-known '60s and '70s classics, with a new sets of lyrics. Tiffanie Bridges, who plays the professional woman, has a wonderful voice, the strength of which carries many of the songs. Her version of "I'm Sorry," reworked as "I'm Flashing," an ode to hot flashes, is wonderful. The cast does a great job with many of the numbers, especially the rewritten version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

The 90-minute show is entertaining, but it also opens dialogue about a subject which has been taboo in the past. Sometimes called, "The silent passage," menopause is presented as not only normal in this production, but just one more layer that makes a woman the multi-faceted creature she is. Grab your mom, girlfriends, aunts and grandma and enjoy a ladies night out.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until March 30 at the American Cabaret Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis. Evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Matinees begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 631-0334 ext. 102. Tickets are $41.50.


*Photo Courtesy of the American Cabaret Theatre

February 12, 2008

Doubt


The Indiana Repertory Theatre currently has John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play "Doubt" on its main stage. The 90-minute production touches on many of the controversial issues that tend to be hot buttons in our culture. Though it's set in a Catholic school in 1964, the topics of race, religion and abuse are timeless in their application.

The plot follows Sister Aloysius as she accuses a priest, Father Flynn, of abusing a student. He denies it and she vows to find the truth.

Though the initial description may sound like an uncomfortable sermon, it's nothing of the sort. It sheds light on subjects often left in the dark. The thin line between holding someone accountable for their actions or just accusing someone of a crime without proof are tested as the characters struggle with their own views.

This is a show influenced by whatever religious background or beliefs that each individual brings with them. The play must first filter through those elements before attendees can make up their own minds about what they think happened. Steeped in ambiguity, the cast does a wonderful job leaving questions unanswered and open to interpretation. They demonstrate how when seeds of doubt are planted, it takes very little to make them grown.

Sister Aloysius, expertly played by IRT veteran Priscilla Lindsay, is quick to see the worst in people. Lenny Von Dohlen as Father Flynn, on the other hand, is charming and brings a sweet humor to the show.

Sister James is caught between the warring Flynn and Aloysius. Her innocent and trusting nature is swayed by the slightest breeze, not because she is weak, but because she wants to please and trust others.

The set was stark and beautiful. Metal, fence-like trees and wooden, stiff back chairs line the stage, demonstrating the strict perimeters the school forces upon both students and staff. The musical score has a haunting quality and leads the audience from scene to scene with grace.

Perhaps the highlight of the show is the post show discussion held after some of the performances. These talks give audience members a chance to ask questions of the cast and crew and even voice their own opinions. The IRT always does a wonderful job provoking thought and conversation. As Steven Stolen, the theater's managing director, said just before the show,

"We like to think the play is the first act. The second act begins when you go home and discuss it."

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday Feb. 9 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $34.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

*Photo Courtesy of Indiana Repertory Theatre

January 29, 2008

The Wedding Singer


Crimped hair, mega mullets and ugly cars; these are a few of the priceless trends revisited in the musical "The Wedding Singer." The modern love story is set in 1985, when greed is good and music is bad.

Merritt David Janes plays the romantic main character Robbie. He's a wedding singer in love with the idea of love. After being left at the altar his views change.

Erin Elizabeth Coors plays Julia. She is sweet and perky with a good voice. She fills the role nicely and deserves extra props for her ability to sings lines like "You're back in the dumpster, that's like a metaphor," with a straight face.

Linda, played by Nikka Wahl, spends only a few minutes on stage, but manages to steal the scene each time. Her love-to-hate-her character brings a great skeezy quality to the show. Fellow supporting actor, John Jacob Lee is a delight as Culture Club-loving George. His attire and attitude are crowd pleasers.

The music is fun, with big '80s style songs. The "Casualty of Love" number is like something straight out of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The entire show has some adult content and isn't appropriate for kids.


For those who have seen and enjoyed Adam Sandler's film of the same name, expect more of the same. It's a great way to remember with '80s without, thankfully, having to relive them.


Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Murat Theatre so hurry to get tickets to the show. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, the Murat Theatre, by calling (317) 239-1000 or online at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.
Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

*Photo Courtesy of Phil Martin

January 22, 2008

End Days


The dark comedy "End Days" is currently onstage at the Phoenix Theatre. The show explores the inner workings of one of America's many dysfunctional familes.

The family, originally from New York City, fell to pieces after Sept. 11, 2001. The father was thrown into a deep depression; the mother found solace from her insurmountable fears through faith; and their daughter, Rachel, has embraced the Goth look and an angry demeanor.

The cast does a great job with the high-strung characters. They demonstrate teen angst, fanatical beliefs and quiet inner struggle with ease.

Matthew Van Oss plays an Elvis impersonating neighbor and brings hope and optimism to the show. He embodies a childlike sincerity. He's so in awe of the world around him, despite the personal tragedies he has endured, that others can't help but get caught up in his enthusiasm.

Stephen Hawking makes a cameo as a figment of Rachel's drug addled brain. His advice and straight man mockery make for the funniest scenes in the show. Matthew Roland pulls double duty portraying both Hawking and Jesus. The odd roles seem almost normal in his capable hands.

Even though the show parades as a comedy, it is a drama at heart. It is a touching look at family members finding each other and finding hope in the world.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Feb. 3 and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Prices are $15 for those 24 and under and $25 for those 25 and older.

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Avenue., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Avenue.


*Photo Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre

January 15, 2008

Run for your Wife


Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre opened their 35th season with the British farce "Run for your Wife," on stage now. Since 1973 the Indianapolis theatre has provided quality shows and delicious dinners. The one stop evening out includes not only a live performance, but a dinner buffet.

The current show is a first for Beef & Boards. John Smith, an ordinary cab driver in London, panics when a head injury puts his quiet life in the spotlight. All of a sudden his seemingly humdrum world is anything but. He worries that the world will discover that he has not one, but two average lives, with two separate wives.

For years he has kept his parallel lives on strict schedules. Now everything is thrown into chaos as his neighbors, police officers and his wives begin to suspect that something is not quite right.

With over-the-top characters and exasperating misunderstandings the show is everything a farce should be; confusion at its most amusing. The more improbable the situation, the better and this plot takes the cake.

Eddie Curry as John Smith and Jeff Stockberger as the nosy neighbor, Stanley Gardner, are great as they offer stuttering explanations to angry wives.

This show, along with all Beef & Boards productions, provides audiences with a great night out. Welcome to the 35th season of excellent entertainment.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Feb. 3. 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 $33 to $55 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

*Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards