December 30, 2009

The Color Purple

"The Color Purple," presented by Broadway Across America, is on stage now at Clowes Memorial Hall. Based on the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book of the same name, the musical's central character is a subservient, sweet-natured girl named Celie.

Celie's story is one of heartache and pain. She is beaten, raped and mistreated by all of the men in her life from a young age. The few people in her life whom she loves, her sister Nettie, her two children and a woman named Shug, are all taken from her at some point. She's lived under the oppressive thumb of her husband since she was only 14. Yet somehow, despite the unimaginable sorrows the characters face, this story exudes hope and love.

"The Color Purple" is truly about Celie finding her footing in a harsh world. Celie is played by Kenita R. Miller, whose small stature disguises a vocal powerhouse. Miller is the perfect choice for the role and her solo numbers are breathtaking.

The production's supporting cast, specifically the women, allow the show to rise above the trappings of becoming an average draining drama. Characters like Felicia P. Fields' strong-willed Sofia and Angela Robinson's sassy Shug give the show touches of humor and a wonderful depth.

Though "The Color Purple" deals with dark material it is a tale of redemption. It's a story of the strength we can find inside ourselves when we are loved.

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, Jan. 3 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 (800)-982-2787 or online at
Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Photos Courtesy of Broadway Across America

December 21, 2009

Love Letters

The plot is deceptively simple, two people, a man and a woman, who have been corresponding for their entire lives. Through their letters the story unfolds and the audience is quickly reminded that there is nothing more complicated than just one man and one woman.

A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" is on the Indiana Repertory Theatre's Upperstage right now. IRT favorite Priscilla Lindsay plays the woman, Melissa, and Patrick Clear is Andrew. They grew up together and from their first notes in second grade to postcards sent from family vacations to family Christmas letters as adults their lives have remained entwined.

Lindsay is wonderful as Melissa, but she definitely excels in the second half when Melissa moves past her melodramatic teenage angst into a bittersweet melancholy. Lindsay manages to find the perfect balance between sassy quips and an all-consuming unhappiness that she can't ever seem to shake off. Melissa's flip comments and cavalier tone hide a world of hurt that unfolds as we get to know her better. She comes from a world of privilege and money, but her parents' lack of interest in her and an unfortunate stepfather leave her to spin out of control.

Andrew on the other hand is the picture of perfection. He puts his parents' wishes and his schoolwork above any frivolous interests, but he can never quite shake his fascination with his first love. Clear nails Andrew's sincere, yet stuffy personality.

Melissa and Andy are an ill matched pair with polar opposite tendencies, but it's this unique blend created by the two that makes this play a gem. Just when you want to tell Andy to loosen up, Melissa does just that. And when Melissa seems to be on the edge of disaster, it's her friendship with Andy that grounds her.

The set for this show is unsurprisingly simple, with one exceptional dominant element, which continues the show's theme. A Renoir painting of a man and a woman has been enlarged and takes up the entire back wall of the stage. It was a bold and beautiful choice and works well in this setting. For more on the fascinating process behind the enlargement visit the IRT's blog.

The show is a study of how two people can have a profound effect on each other's lives just by being there. It's also a love letter to love letters and the intimate relationship they create between people.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Jan. 16 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at Prices begin at $34 with discounts available for students and seniors.

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 (including Renoir painting used in the set design)

December 8, 2009


The Indiana Repertory Theatre's annual show, "A Christmas Carol," is back for its 14th year. The show is 90 minutes, with no intermission, perfect for both kids and adults to enjoy. The IRT once again captures the true macabre atmosphere of the Victorian era story, but it also manages to sprinkle humor and carols throughout the show.

The production is beautifully choreographed. The entire cast felt perfectly in synch as they moved from spot to spot on the stage picking up props as they went and adjusting each scene by opening and closing trap doors in the floor. The narration of the show is also done by the cast as a whole, they trade lines in a seamless flow. The costumes are exceptional in this show. Everyone from the shady laundress to the British officers are decked out in the perfect attire for their character.

Charles Goad is back as the cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge. As he relives his memories, both the joyful and the painful, he shows a sweet intimacy. Goad gives the audience a glimpse of the gentle spirit Scrooge once was and the gregarious man he will become.

Matthew Brumlow, who recently performed in the title role of "Hamlet" at IRT, was an excellent addition to the Christmas Carol cast this year. He plays both young Scrooge and Scrooge's nephew Fred with a touching sincerity. He wonderfully demonstrates Ebenezer's transformation into a miserly soul. Ben Tebbe, a frequent performer around Indianapolis, takes over the role of Bob Cratchit this year. His bursting enthusiasm is fitting in the role of the eternal, though much maligned, optimist.

The entire cast, from the spritely Ghost of Christmas Past to the coquettish niece's sisters, make the show a delight to watch. A wonderful Christmas tradition for Hoosiers to enjoy again or to start anew.

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. "A Christmas Carol" runs until Sunday, Dec. 27 on IRT's Main Stage. 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

"Yuletide Celebration"

Another option for families this Christmas is the "Yuletide Celebration." The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra once again presents this holiday classic, which includes traditional carols such as “The First Noel,” and “Joy to the World” blended with other favorites including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Jingle Bells. The show also includes a e-enactment of “’Twas the Night before Christmas” and the ever-popular “Tap Dancing Santas.” This year’s production is hosted by legendary pop music icon and Grammy and Oscar Award winner Maureen McGovern.

In addition to the energetic show filled with all the familiar holiday songs, the Hilbert Circle Theatre will have live reindeer outside the front door of the theater (on Monument Circle) for families to pet. Inside, photographers will take family photos in front of the Christmas tree in the lobby and costumed characters will greet children.

Don't Miss the Show

Tickets for this year’s production range from $38 to $64 for adults and $23 to $48 for children ages 4-12. “Super Saver” prices for select performances range from $32 to $48 for adults and $17 to $33 for children. For more information, call the Hilbert Circle Theatre Box Office at (317) 639-4300 or (800) 366-8457 or visit the ISO’s website at

Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre