May 28, 2009

Interpreting William

For its final show of the season the Indiana Repertory Theatre presents the world premier of "Interpreting William." The fascinating play is the work of the theater's playwright-in-residence, James Still. It splits its time between the life of frontiersman William Conner, of Conner Prairie fame, and the present day character Bill Montgomery, who is a professor attempting to finish his book about Conner.

Anna is a caffeine-addled, former professor who inspired Bill during his days as an undergrad. Her life has since disintegrated in many ways, but her razor sharp wit has not dulled. She is wonderfully written and brought to life with perfect execution by Carmen Roman. Her quick quips are captivating to watch and clearly cover a deeper pain. The show is at its best when Anna and Bill are conversing. They have a perpetual student/teacher dynamic that fuels discussions.

Still's greatest strength in this show, as well as in his past IRT productions, is his ability to capture human emotions that every audience member can identify with. No matter what the play's circumstances are, we can all relate to feelings of loss, inadequacy or pain. He creates complex characters whose base emotions are simple.

The plot is thought provoking and challenges the way we view both historical events and our own personal history. Everyone looks at things through their own lens of personal experience and it can be difficult to understand the decisions another person makes.

The show has some adult language and isn't appropriate for young kids. For more information about IRT's upcoming season visit irtlive.com.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday, May 31 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 $39.

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 Indiana Repertory Theatre

May 26, 2009

Annie

"Annie" is the latest family-friendly show to grace the stage at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. The familiar musical includes songs like "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard-Knock Life." A few lesser known songs, like "N.Y.C.," provided highlights as well.

A young girl, abandoned by her parents, refuses to give up on finding them. She endures much before falling into a two week visit at a millionaires home for the holidays. Despite their drastic differences, Oliver Warbucks, the millionaire, and Annie develop a unique kindred relationship. Annie's sweet optimism has a softening effect on the business titan and he finds himself wanting to adopt the unfortunate adolescent.

"Annie" has a talented and enthusiastic ensemble cast from the ragamuffin orphans all the way up to the President of the United States. A few particular stand outs were John Vessels as the smarmy radio host Bert Healy, Cynthia Collins in the role of the perpetually unhappy and occasionally intoxicated Miss Hannigan and Bobbi Bates as Warbucks understated aide, Grace Farrell. All three added their own charm to the roles, making them fun to watch.

The show is a sweet treat full of songs that will make you want to sing along.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until July 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 $34 to $57 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

Photo Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
TOP: Annie and Daddy Warbucks: Kara Oates, right, plays Annie at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, and Ty Stove plays Oliver Warbucks.

May 8, 2009

Rabbit Hole


From the first moments of the show there is an overwhelming feeling that you've stumble into someone's house and you're overhearing their conversations. That atmosphere, aided by the homey set, lends an air of authenticity to the actors' emotions.

"Rabbit Hole" is the story of the intense pain of four very different individuals; a married couple, the wife's mother and her younger sister. Even though their heartbreak comes from the same loss, no one deals with it in the same way. The play has something everyone can identify with; family relationships, spousal tension, life's shattering disappointments and the struggle to overcome them, the ache of not knowing how you will possibly make it through another day.

When people experience pain to this extent it's almost impossible to believe that anyone else's pain hurts as much as yours. They inevitably compare and critique each other's grief in an effort to understand their own.

In one particularly powerful scene the mother, played by Priscilla Lindsay, compares an earlier tragedy with the one they are all currently struggling with. This comparison causes her daughter to balk, but it also demonstrates that grief can consume us all in the same way regardless of its source. It also reminds us that no one else can understand another person's grief, it's too personal, too private.

The IRT's production of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama is restrained in some ways and raw in others, just like grief. James Still's direction blankets the show with an elegance that gives it even more impact. The show includes four incredibly talented actors, all returning players at the theater.

It's rare to see a show that captures all of the necessary elements of a production so perfectly. The casting, direction, drama, humor, set design, all of these elements align in "Rabbit Hole" and the result is a breathtaking look at people when they are the most vulnerable.

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. "Rabbit Hole" runs until Sunday, May 10 on IRT's Upperstage, so hurry to get tickets. 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