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 or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at

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 Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $77.