Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2010

Beef & Boards Christmas

A Beef & Boards Christmas is back for its 18th year in a row. The variety show includes dozens of Christmas songs, gorgeous costumes and even a flying reindeer. Though this production has been around for almost two decades, this year director Doug Stark has revamped the stale elements and introduced some new ones.

For the first time, Eddie Curry acts as the show’s emcee, announcing performers and telling bad jokes. His easy banter provides the perfect does of sass to balance out the holiday saccharine. He holds the show together and keeps things moving along nicely.

The lead quartet features Christine Mild, who made a splash in this year’s “Always… Patsy Cline.” She’s a great fit for the show and adding her beautiful voice to the mix works well. John Vessels, who has quickly become one of my favorite performers at Beef & Boards, is another new addition. He’s shown that he is wonderful in comedic roles, like “Smoke on the Mountain,” but this role proves he has the v…

My Name is Asher Lev

The Phoenix Theatre’s Frank & Katrina Basile stage is current home to “My Name is Asher Lev.” The play, based on the Chaim Potok’s novel of the same name, explores the meaning of religion and art in a Hasidic Brooklyn community in the ‘50s.
Asher Lev is raised by his troubled mother, who was scarred by the unexpected death of her sibling, and his temperamental father. At a young age Asher shows a natural proclivity for painting and wants to become an artist. His parents are at a loss for how to respond to their son’s gift. His father is particularly baffled by his son’s desire to draw the world around him and is ashamed that he can’t let go of his “hobby.”

John Michael Goodson plays Asher from age 6 to adulthood with a giddy childishness at moments and an emotionally raw vulnerability at others. He’s tortured and confused by his compulsion to draw. First he questions the world with a child’s innocence, later he remains baffled by the same questions that haunted his youth. Bill Simmo…

Mary's Wedding

Mary’s Wedding, on stage now at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, is a quiet play about falling in love, the horrors of war and the place where those two elements sometimes meet. Set in the Canadian frontier at the start of WWI we meet Mary on the eve of her wedding as she dreams of her first love, Charlie. The two cross paths by chance when a thunderstorm forces them to seek shelter in a nearby barn. Soon their sweet courtship is interrupted by the harsh realities of trench warfare.

As always, director James Still brought his own unique charm to the show. He decided to add a live cellist on stage throughout the performance. The talented musician is tucked away in an alcove ten-feet above the stage, but his presence is known every time he gently slides his bow across his strings. The sweet notes heighten each moment of exhilaration or pain and they add a palpable elegance to the production.

Wearing a simple white shift Gwendolyn Whiteside plays Mary with unbridled enthusiasm. In some scene…

The Belle of Amherst

Creating a play about the life of a recluse is no doubt a difficult undertaking, but “The Belle of Amherst,” on stage now at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, manages it beautifully. Using facts about the life of poet Emily Dickinson’s, along with her letters and poems, playwright William Luce created the one-woman show celebrating Dickinson’s life.

The two-act production is set in Emily’s bedroom and living room and the stage in richly decorated as a 19th century New England home. Luce seamlessly wove many of the author’s own words into a candid conversation with the audience. This format allows people to connect with the poet on a personal level, while at the same time having a chance to appreciate her lyrical prose. Her poems are sprinkled throughout the show. At times she reads them aloud, at others she is simple making observations of the world in the only way she knows how.
Carrie Schlatter plays the poet with a childlike wonder of the world. She brings and impish glee to the role,…


It goes without saying that anyone who manages to snag a lead in the national tour of “Dreamgirls” obviously has the pipes to fill the role. The musical, currently on stage at the Murat Theatre, is a celebration of soul and ‘60s R&B as it chronicles the rise of the Dreamettes, a trio of female singers.

Each member of the cast brings a unique flavor to the production. Curtis is the picture of blind ambition. The pompadoured Jimmy blows the audience away with his over-the-top charisma. Deena transforms from an innocent girl to a strong woman. Supporting players, like C.C. White and Lorrell, provide just the right balance of enthusiasm and earnestness. They leave the main stage open for the big personalities, but provide a much-needed grounding element.

Effie, played by Indianapolis native Moya Angela, is a boiling pot of sass and attitude. Even when she is silent she smolders with an anger that radiates throughout the theater. She is shameless in her opinions, often to her detriment, …