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


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