July 28, 2010

Church Basement Ladies

Over the past three years Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's audiences have enjoyed the antics of the Smoke in the Mountains clan every summer. This year "Church Basement Ladies" fills the big shoes vacated by the Sanders clan. Though the "Smoke" shows are a tough act to follow, the cooking ladies of a Minnesota Lutheran church rise to the challenge.

The show is set in the 1960s in the church basement's kitchen as four women prepare meals for a fundraiser, funeral and a wedding. Dressed in sensible shoes and aprons, the women cook up heaping Norwegian dishes. In one musical number they celebrate the joys of cooking with butter and doing the "Pale Food Polka."

The cast works wonderfully together. The oldest of the group struggles to accept changes in the church, while the youngest tries to square her parent's beliefs with her own. Karen Pappas portrayal of Mavis is especially fun. She brings an impressive energy to her role, which provides constant bits of physical comedy in the show as she battles hot flashes and chops cookie bars. Eddie Curry is the only male in the estrogen soaked musical. He plays the church's pastor and helps give a balance to the women's interaction.

It's a sweet show and at its core it's about friendship and the common bond these women share. It's a great show for church groups or a night out with the "church basement ladies" in your own life.

Don't Miss the Show

: The show runs until Sept. 4. 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.

: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $35 to $58 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. This production offers discounts, call the box office for more details.

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

July 19, 2010

Reasons To Be Pretty

"Show me a beautiful woman and I'll show you a guy that's tired of F***ing her."

As crude as that line is, it perfectly sums up the character of Kent, who says it during "Reasons to be Pretty," on stage now at the Phoenix Theatre.

The show premiered off-Broadway in 2008 and is the final play in Neil LaBute's trilogy about society's perception of beauty. The Shape of Things, the first play, was turned into a film starring Paul Rudd. The second, Fat Pig, was part of the Phoenix Theatre's 2007 season.

"Reasons to be Pretty" is about a couple, Stephanie and Greg, who fall out after she find out he called her face "regular" compared to a pretty co-worker's face. On the surface it's simple enough, but it delves much deeper into other issues in their relationship and in Greg's relationship with his self-centered friend Kent.

Angela Plank, who also co-starred in Fat Pig, plays Stephanie. She does an excellent job exuding a mixture of pain, strength and confusion that her character is dealing with. She soars in a delicate scene where she lashes back at Greg in a mall.

Ryan Artzberger plays Greg and manages to take a selfish character and completely turn him around. By the end of the show the audience sees a true change in Greg. His selfishness becomes selflessness as he makes hard decisions that benefit others. Though you don't see his chemistry with Plank until the end of the show, it's worth the wait. The two have a sweet, teasing ease, which makes the whole show more poignant.

Kent (Shane Chuvalas) is a stereotypical bully who has pushed others around throughout this life. He constantly makes degrading comments about women and is crass in every possible way. Unfortunately his type is not uncommon in the real world. In the end he teach Greg exactly what he doesn't want to be.

Mariana Fernandez plays Kent’s wife Carly. She balances her tough exterior as a security guard with her fragile, insecure true nature, bred from years with Kent.

In the end, the show is really about the pain that we can do to one another in relationships. In order to be close to someone, we have to be willing to open ourselves up and that often leads to a world of hurt. The words we use, good or bad, won't be forgotten and insecurities and distrust can be born out of casual, but cruel comments.

The show is meant for adults and the language and issues reflect that.

Don't Miss the Show

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Ave.

: The show runs until Aug. 1 and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Prices range from $15 to $20.

Photos Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre