March 24, 2009

West Side Story

When a community theater decides to produce a big, well-known musical, there is always a risk that its production will unwittingly beg comparisons with other versions of the same show audience members have seen in the past. It's next to impossible not to picture the other dance sequences or compare the actors' voices in your mind.

The Indianapolis Civic Theatre's current production of "West Side Story" does just that. It's a fun show in its own right, but it's definitely not a big budget production. Half of the men in the Sharks gang were caucasian. The Sharks' tense relationship with the rival gang, the Jets, is based on the fact that it is made up of Puerto Ricans who recently immigrated to America. Inconsistencies like that can be distracting.

The best part of attending shows at a theater made up of avocational actors is seeing a break out star. The musical's Maria, played by Angela Nichols Manlove, is the perfect example. Her obvious talent rises above the grab bag of '80s style costumes. The show comes alive during her "Tonight" duet with Tony, played by Patrick Clements. The couple's chemistry and Manlove's gorgeous voice make the song the highlight of the show.

Though "West Side Story" was never quite in sync; the dancing just a beat off, the singing just a bit flat, it's still a fun musical to see and Manlove's performance is worth the ticket price.

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 March 29. The Indianapolis Civic Theatre is located at 3200 Cold Spring Road. on the Marian College campus.

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

Image courtesy of Aladin Images, Inc.

March 12, 2009

The Ladies Man


Audiences often go to the theater expecting dour, deep plots that challenge their thinking. Though thought provoking, the shows can sometimes be exhausting. Sometimes it's great to see a show like "The Ladies Man." It's refreshing to laugh at frivolous misunderstandings.

With its current mainstage production, the Indiana Repertory Theatre has reminded audiences that it is not only OK to laugh while at the theater, it's encouraged!

With slamming doors and swirling skirts the characters fly through each scene compounding the confusion with each jumbled explanation.

Dr. Molineaux is exasperated as his young wife and her mother try to pin him down on the details of his night of indiscretions. His friend and former patient Bassinet, a happy-go-lucky fellow, appears at the doctor's home and unknowingly forces the situation to come to a boil.

The Prussian soldier, played by Mark Mineart, is enormous, both in size and sense of humor. Using his own unique phrasing, he is the "scene stealing" with his thick accent.

Throughout the French farce Spinning beds appear from nowhere; lisps and accents muddle the scenes even more, intentionally, of course. The real questions is, with all of these Moulin Rouge conundrums CAN CAN they straighten it all out before the curtain falls?

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sunday, March 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 $29 and discount tickets are available for students and children.

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 Julie Curry Photography

March 5, 2009

STOMP


Performers often tread the boards at Clowes Memorial Hall, but they rarely stomp them. The eight-member percussionist troupe, known throughout the world as "Stomp," is on stage now, presented by Broadway Across America.

The talented musicians bring a whole new meaning to the word rhythm. Using everything imaginable, including the kitchen sink, they make music. They turn the simplest actions, like flicking open a lighter, into music. By simply banging on trash cans and sweeping with brooms they create beats that shake the hall and incite crowds to cheer.
The show, which at first seems hectic, quickly makes it clear that every movement is perfectly coordinated to create a seamless stream of sound.

The multi-level set looks like an abandoned junk yard. It's strewn with metal parts and plastic barrels that become the instruments of choice throughout the show.

The energetic performers climb ladders and swing from harnesses, enthralling audiences with their antics. In addition to the unconventional music, the entire show is infused with humor. Without saying a word the cast keeps the laughs coming with some "Three Stooges" style physical comedy.

After a decade of anticipation, I finally saw the show live and it did not disappointed. Don't wait as long as I did for a chance to see it!

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, March 8 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, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.