November 30, 2009

Beef & Boards Christmas

The Beef & Boards Christmas show is back with a kid-friendly theme this year. Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Grinch, Santa and tap dancing reindeer all make appearances. The young Anna Lasbury, one of the mop-topped orphans from "Annie" earlier this year, brings a sassy spunk to the holiday numbers.

This year's cast includes many B&B regulars, such as hosts Deb Wims and Kenny Shepard, but also introduces some new faces. Doug Stark revises his role as a cheeky Santa Claus. Chris Dickerson performs as one of the featured singers. His deep baritone voice lends an operatic feel to a few of the classic Christmas numbers. Though Dickerson does a wonderful job with "O Holy Night," previous year's performer Gerald Atkins is sorely missed.

Up next at Beef & Boards is their 2010 season opener "The Foreigner." The comedy begins January 6th. VIP tickets are also available if you think you'll be able to see a few shows this season. For more information visit www.beefandboards.com.

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.

Beef & Boards offers a special New Year's Eve performance. The tickets, which start at $72, include the dinner buffet, the Christmas show, live music until after midnight, party favors and a special breakfast buffet.

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.

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

November 20, 2009

La Bohème

One of Giacomo Puccini's famous operas, "La Bohème," is on stage at Clowes Memorial Hall. The opera, set in Paris around 1830, follows a poor group of friends who are all true starving artists, musicians and poets.

The show is sung in Italian, but the English translation is projected on a screen above the stage. It's split up into four acts, with two 15 minute intermissions and a brief break between the first and second act.

The sets are masterpieces. Incredible scenes are laid out for each act, seducing the audience into the illusion of the Parisian world.

The performers' sumptuous voices resonate with each delicious sentence they sing. There's something beautiful about the rolling Italian syllables. They can turn the most mundane chatter into a work of art. Each character's voice has a unique lyrical cadence and they all melt together to create a glorious sound.

I wasn't expecting the show to be so hilarious. The friends have an easy camaraderie and their banter is cheeky. Fans of the Broadway musical "RENT" will recognize the characters and story, because it is a modern day retelling of "La Bohème."

Despite their poverty, the characters find happiness in their love for each other. In the words that the main character, Rodolfo, sings to his new love, Mimi, "In my dreams I build castles in the air; in my soul I'm a millionaire," you can feel his elation even though he is freezing.

The heart of the opera lies in the crippling fear of losing the one you love the most. Love is a risk, but you can never experience its joy without being willing to lose it.

The final two performances are at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday, Nov. 20) and 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, so hurry to get tickets. The Indianapolis Opera is presenting the limited engagement show as part of its three show season. Next up is "The Mikado" in March 2010.

Photo Courtesy of the Indianapolis Opera

November 16, 2009

Never the Sinner

The true story of Leopold and Loeb is one that has fascinated people for decades. Two wealthy young men decided to commit the perfect murder in 1924. The cocky college students take down a young boy and assume they've proved their genius with his demise. Quickly their plans begin to unravel as the evidence mounts against them and they find themselves on trial for their lives.

"Never the Sinner" is a play based on the murderous tale and it was recently on stage at The Theater Within, located in Fountain Square.

The stage is small and unassuming, mere feet from the audience. The set is simple, the cast is limited and yet the director, Rod Isaac, manages to pull off just the right ominous tone. His use of eerie imagery projected on a blank screen to transition between scenes was chilling.

Zach Stonerock is excellent as the fidgety and condescending Leopold. He is both incredibly intelligent and socially stunted. He finds the attention he longs for in his relationship with Loeb. Nate Walden is Loeb, as different from Leopold as fire from ice. He is a charming, self-assured playboy who acts out of boredom and a desire for fame. Only his piercing eyes give a glimpse of the fury that resides just below the confident surface.

The show provides a fascinating look at the psychology that drives a man to murder and the consequences those actions lead to. The opposing legal counsels in the case add another facet with the question of the morality of defending admitted killers. The simple question of why anyone would do this haunts audience members long after the show ends.

Though this show has closed its run, The Theater Within has released its season for next year (see below). Visit their website for more information, http://www.thechurchwithin.org/theaterwithin/theaterwithin.html.

Photo Courtesy of The Theater Within.

"The Twilight of the Golds"
by Jonathan Tolins

Performances: March 12-27, 2010
If your parents knew everything about you before you were born, would you be here? That is the question posed in this entertaining drama. All is well when Suzanne Gold and her close New York family discover that she is pregnant, until a prenatal test reveals that the baby will most likely be homosexual. The news forces the entire Gold family to confront issues of bigotry, evolution and the limits of love.

"Proof"
by David Auburn

Performances: June 11-26, 2010
Catherine has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician. Now, following his death, she must deal with her own volatile emotions; the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire; and the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the notebooks that her father left behind. Over the weekend that follows Catherine faces the most difficult problem of all: How much of her father’s madness—or genius—will she inherit?

"Death and the Maiden"
by Ariel Dorfman

Performances: Nov. 5-20, 2010
Set in an unnamed country that is emerging from a totalitarian dictatorship, the play explores the after effects of repression on hearts and souls. Paulina Escobar’s husband Gerardo is to head an investigation into past human rights abuses. Dr. Miranda stops at Escobars’ to congratulate Gerardo. Paulina overhears them and is convinced that Miranda supervised her prison torture sessions. She ties him to a chair and conducts her own interrogation, gun in hand. Escobar doesn’t know whether to believe his distraught wife or his persuasive new friend.

November 3, 2009

The Giver

"The Giver" is one of the first dystopian books I ever read. I was in junior high at the time and I remember being completely awed by this strange society, where everything seemed perfect at first, but the dark secrets of the community were quickly revealed. The book fascinated me and challenged my thinking, which is why I was filled with both excitement and apprehension when I found out "The Giver" was part of the Indiana Repertory Theatre's season this year. Anytime a book resonates with you it can be difficult to see that story brought to life on stage or film. There's always the fear that it won't be recreated quite like you imagined it and it will somehow mar the integrity of the story.

The IRT's version of "The Giver" did nothing but enhance my original feelings. It's an amazing production, condensed to an 80 minute show with no intermission. The set, costumes and acting all played their unique parts in capturing the menace of the sterile society that values "sameness" above all else. The story is told from the point of view of Jonas, a 12-year-old who has been selected to receive all of the memories of generations past from the "Giver."

The set and costumes are all created in shades of gray, because color has been eliminated from the community. In an effort to get rid of the bad elements that exists in any society, much of the good has been removed as well. If there are no lows, there will be no highs; no hate, but also no love. This is the conundrum the futuristic world faces. The clever use of color was expertly done; subtle touches of it slowly increase as Jonas' awareness increases.

The book has many logistical issues that the IRT surmounted with ease. They had to find a way to show memories of sledding, snow, sunshine, sailing, hunger, etc. They're creative solutions and the talented seven-person cast did an fantastic job, especially considering half the cast was 13-years-old or younger.

One of the highlights of any IRT show is the post-show discussion the cast occasionally holds. If one is offered at any show you attend I would highly recommend sticking around for it. Robert K. Johansen, who played Jonas' father, hosted one during my visit and hearing the thoughts and questions of both the cast and fellow audience members was a wonderful addition to experience.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Nov. 21 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 $29 with discounts available for students.

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