December 14, 2011

Million Dollar Quartet


On December 4, 1956 four singers got together and made recording history. That night is the subject of the Broadway Across America musical Million Dollar Quartet, on stage now at the Murat Theatre. Set in the Sun Records recording studio in Memphis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis blend their distinct styles to create something unique. The result is a concert of famous oldies, including everything from gospel to rock and roll.

The cast is incredibly talented. Not only do the four members of the quartet nail the individual singing aspect of the performers they are portraying, they also play their instruments (guitars and piano) amazingly well. They shine on both the rowdy hits, like Party, and the quiet hymns, like Peace in the Valley. Along with rocking performances, the show provides a history lesson. I’d never heard of Carl Perkins and had no idea he wrote and performed Blue Suede Shoes, topping the pop/country/blues charts long before Elvis covered it.


Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, is the thread that strings the show together. His ability to see the potential in each individual is what helped them on their way to stardom. There are a lot of egos packed into the small studio and Phillips works hard to manage the temperamental talent. His sincerity and hopefulness provide the heart of the show.

When Johnny Cash appears the show takes off. The Man in Black is played by Derek Keeling and even in the midst of so much talent, he manages to take it up a notch. He nails Cash’s trademark bass-baritone and his songs reverberate throughout the hall. Another treat is Cody Slaughter as Elvis. They called him Elvis the Pelvis for a reason. The King’s stage presence, or in this case Slaughter’s, make him a thrill for the audience.


Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye) has a wild, unrestrained energy. As the youngest in the group he is bursting at the seams with ambition. Lee Ferris plays Carl Perkins, the most frustrated in the group, but with good reason. In Tuesday’s performance, the role of the bassist Jay Perkins was played by the understudy David Sonneborn, who did a wonderful job. There's not a single weak link in the production.

These men ushered in a whole new era of music, proving once and for all that rock and roll was not fad. You can no longer see the originals perform live, but this is the next best thing and it’s not to be missed.


Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, Dec. 18 at the Murat Theatre 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 www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. 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

November 29, 2011

Beef and Boards Christmas 2011


Beef & Boards has toned down the razzle dazzle in this year’s Christmas show. The quieter production is hugely improved by sweet Christmas carols and a heavy reliance on the talented Holidaires instead of flying reindeer or goofy elves. The quartet is made up of three Smoke on the Mountain veterans and Jillian Wallach, a new addition to B&B.

Jayson Elliott, Sarah Hund and John Vessels have proved their talent in a dozen shows over the past couple years and this performance is no exception. The production is at its best when it allows its performers to relax into roles they excel at. Vessels has a wonderful voice and a unique ability to pull off the silliest bits. He never fails to delight audiences.


Elliott and Hund, in addition to being able to sing, can each play multiple instruments. Their talent is showcased wonderfully as they playfully duel on banjoes, fiddles, guitars and harmonicas. Each of the singers held their own, but newcomer Wallach shone the brightest. She took the reins of O Holy Night, the first female to do so in recent years. Her powerful performance in that song, along with others through out the night, raised the bar for the vocals.

Terry Woods and the BBC orchestra perform live on the stage providing an added level of talent to the variety-style show. B&B always includes a tribute to our men and women in service, which should never be forgotten. They also make a point of highlighting the true meaning of Christmas. Look past the tap dancing Santas and cute kids and you’ll find a quiet manger scene. So whether you’re a regular every year or looking for a new option for the family, Beef & Boards will help you get into the Christmas spirit.


Don't Miss the Show 



Performances:
The show runs until Dec. 23. 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 $36 to $59 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. This production offers discounts; call the box office for more details.


Don’t forget to check out the other shows around town. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has A Christmas Carol, the Indianapolis Civic Theatre has Willy Wonka and the Phoenix Theatre has Our Goose is Cooked.

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

November 14, 2011

Mystery Cafe of Indianapolis: All Star Homer-cide


Raise your hand if you knew the nation’s longest running Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre was located in Indianapolis. I had no idea. The dinner theater performs everywhere from restaurants to audience members’ homes to company functions, but they can be seen regularly at the Milano Inn in Indianapolis.

The current production, All Star Homer-cide, tells the story of an All Star baseball game and the unexpected murder that throws the night into chaos. The show has four acts; each one is separated by a course of food, soup, salad and Italian entrée and dessert. The show changes each month, but the audience participation and dinner remain the same.


Jennifer Estes and Phillip Armstrong star as a variety of characters. The enthusiastic performers throw themselves into the show, taking on multiple roles, crazy costumes and more. Their cheesy jokes and playful banter keep the audience involved.

This would be the perfect night out for that friend or family member who loves to be a ham. Audience members can volunteer to be involved in the show, 15 to 20 are chosen to play a part. When their role comes they read their lines as dramatically as they want and at the end of the night an award is given to the biggest ham.


Don't Miss the Show



The Mystery Café Indianapolis
performs Friday and Saturday nights in the Milano Inn, located at 231 South College Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46202. "All Star Homer-cide" runs until Saturday, Nov. 19 and up next is “Ho-Ho-Homicide.” Times for performances can be found at their website here.

Graphic Courtesy of The Mystery Café

November 4, 2011

Amadeus


The Indianapolis Civic Theatre has officially moved into its new home in the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The theatre, previously located on Marian College’s campus, is now I n a beautiful new venue, complete with a free parking garage whose elevator drops you right in the lobby. The theatre itself has spacious seating and high ceilings.

The 2011/2012 season includes Amadeus, on stage now. The play won a Tony Award and was then adapted into a movie which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The story, a mix of fact and fiction, examines the themes of genius and mediocrity. Two composers in 18th century Austria vie for the emperors’ approval and public’s eye. The first is an upright Italian man named Antonio Salieri. The second is a child prodigy, now at the height of his creativity, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Mozart is as childish and crass as he is brilliant. His immaturity and cockiness grate on the nerves of many in the Austrian court, but no one more than fellow composer Salieri. Despite violating every principle Salieri lives by, he knows that Mozart is still able to create music more beautiful than he will ever make. As much as he hates Mozart, he can’t help but admire and envy his work.

The show rests firmly on the shoulders on John Michael Goodson’s portrayal of Salieri. His wonderful performance oscillates from carefully control condescension to passionate outbursts of disgust and despair in rambling Italian. Add in a simple set, sumptuous period costumes and insane giggle from Mozart and it’s a amazing dramatic addition to your entertainment calendar.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances:

The show closes Nov. 12. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Tarkington is located at 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032 at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets: Ticket prices start at $26 and can be purchased by calling (317) 923-4597 or visiting www.civictheatre.org

Photos courtesy of the Indianapolis Civic Theatre

October 27, 2011

Julius Caesar


Et tu, Brute? The question that has echoed through the centuries since it was first uttered on a stage in Elizabethan England is as timely now as it ever was. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has continued its wonderful tradition of presenting shortened versions of some of Shakespeare’s finest works with its latest production of Julius Caesar. It’s a show that fits easily into the unease of the current
political climate.

The cast is rich with talent. The IRT has an arsenal of excellent actors and I’m sure that choosing a Caesar was a difficult task. Though the title character’s stage time is short, he must make the audience understand the jealousy that is brewing within the hearts of the men who were once his allies. For me, David Alan Anderson was the perfect choice. He has a relaxed jovial attitude, but with a single look he can command a room. This balance demonstrates how the public could love him and the politicians could fear him at the same time.

Another casting coup is Rob Johansen as Cassius. He seethes with bitter discontent, spreading his contagious attitude among the senators of Rome. He is both persuasive and devious in the crucial role.


In business suits and jeans, the cast reflects the modern feel of the set, but the language is thankful untouched. The intermission-free 90 minute performance is more than manageable for both students and adults.

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. "Julius Caesar" runs until Saturday, Nov. 5 on IRT's Main Stage. 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

Photos Courtesy of Julie Curry

October 21, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life


It’s a Wonderful Life may not have been a box office smash when it was first released, but in the decades that followed, the film became an American classic. Families watch it together at Christmas, people can quote lines from it, there are even flower shops named Zuzu’s Petals in almost every state.

The reason the movie has become such a holiday staple is because the story is one that’s easy to connect with. Everyone has felt discouraged at some point and it’s easy to believe your life doesn’t matter. That struggle resonates with people and keeps them coming back, year after year. It’s hard to capture the onscreen magic created by the earnest Jimmy Stewart and his town of misfits, but the cast of Beef & Boards' current production brings the story to life.

Sean Patrick Hopkins plays George Bailey with all the sincerity and selflessness needed to make the audience root for him. Stockberger makes a great Uncle Billy and Eddie Curry is in his element as the simple angel Clarence.



The play differs from the movie in a few ways, adding musical numbers and cutting a couple scenes. I particularly missed seeing George’s reaction when he sees his home for the first time, but many audience favorites remain and are sure to bring a few tears to your eyes. To catch the Christmas spirit a little early this year, don't miss It's a Wonderful Life at Beef & Boards.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Nov. 20. 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.

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

October 5, 2011

Spring Awakening


The cast of Spring Awakening performed to an incredibly packed house a few days ago. The crowd sat in eager anticipation for the Tony-award winning show’s Indiana premier. Spring Awakening is based on a play written in 1892, which was turned into a Broadway musical in 2006 and gave a few of the Glee stars their big breaks.

Set in 1890s Germany, the plot deals with some delicate subject matter; adolescent sexual awakening, suicide, abortion, rape, incest and more. It’s no frothy Oklahoma. That being said, though it’s clearly not appropriate for kids, its melancholy ballads tell a powerful story that gives adults something to think about after the curtain call.


The production’s two leads, David Terry, who plays Melchior and Wendla, played by Carly Kincannon, are excellent. Young and earnest, their sweet romance is the beating heart of the story. Both actors have the pipes to carry the songs as well. They are particularly good in "Mama Who Bore Me" and "Left Behind."

The Phoenix’ round, open set gives the cast members plenty of room for their many entrances and exits. Bryan Fonseca’s direction is leads the talented cast and live music performed on the stage accentuate powerful songs like, “The Dark I Know Well” and “The Song of Purple Summer."


The Phoenix theatre never shies away from anything taboo and it’s that fearless attitude which often shines a light of subjects that are shrouded in shame. The play was written at a time when teenagers were told nothing about sex, but that ignorance doesn’t equal abstinence. As their bodies change and they grow up their hormones go wild and their innocent minds are left feeling confused and sometimes scared.

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. 


Performances: The show runs until Oct. 23 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 Zach Rosing


October 1, 2011

Going Solo: I Love to Eat and Lost


The Indiana Repertory Theatre's Going Solo Festival is back for the third year. The festival features three separate one-man shows and gives audiences a chance to compare an contrast some fascinating plays. Each one is 90 minutes with no intermission and highlights one of the IRT's regular performers.

The festival includes a world premier by playwright-in-residence James Still. The show, "I Love to Eat: Cooking with James Beard," introduces us to the host of America's first cooking show. The exuberant chef is played by Robert Neal. His passion for life is contagious and in only a few moments the audience is swept away as he bounces from one side of the stage to the other, guffawing as he goes. Each moment is filled with emotion; the brief flashes of anger or sadness are just as intense as the joy.


Beard is shown as a man who embraced every aspect of life, food music, friendship, language, etc. The portly cook is incredibly alive, bubbling over with his enthusiasm for fresh ingredients and foreign cities. This is the most jubilant performance I've ever seen Neal give and he nails the larger-than-life man.

James Still manages to not only entertain the audience with his quick dialogue, but to capture their hearts as well. After spending only 90 minutes with Beard's effusive personality you can't help but want to learn more about the man behind the food. One-man shows are difficult beasts because they must pair a wonderful play with a talented performer who is well-cast. This show is a great example of what happens when those factors perfectly align.


"Lost: A Memoir" has a darker atmosphere. Cathy, a mother, wife and life-long traveler, searches for her younger brother who is lost at sea. Her journey is one of frustration and grief. She's struggling to find balance in her own life and this latest disaster has set things spiraling out of control. A loss with no closure makes it difficult to move on and let go of the past.

Constance Macy juggles a dozen accents as she portrays not only Cathy, but everyone else she meets on her journeys. With no other actors to bounce dialogue off of, Macy carries the show on her elegant shoulders.

Macy's performance is a beautiful one, but the show itself is harder to connect to. It starts slowly and never quite hits an even stride. It's a touching story, but one that leaves you feeling like Cathy is the one who is truly lost.

The third show, "Nobody Don't Like Yogi," stars Mark Goetzinger. I was unable to make it to a performance, but knowing Goetzinger's work at the IRT, I'm sure audiences won't be disappointed.

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. The Going Solo festival runs until Sunday, Oct. 23 on IRT's Main Stage. 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

Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Lost images by Zach Rosing and I Love to Eat images by Julie Curry.

September 23, 2011

American Players Theatre 2011

(The Tempest)

The American Player Theatre, a place of extraordinary talent, is nestled in the Wisconsin hills. As always, this year's season contains some wonderful plays. The APT has an indoor and outdoor theatre, both of which provide intimate venues for performances.

The outdoor theatre is particularly unique. The versatile stage moulds easily to each production. It sprouts curved planks, rising towards the sky like wooden waves or sails for The Tempest. Then bronze doors and benches transform it into an Italian town for Taming of the Shrew and crab grass and barn rafters appear for Of Mice and Men.

One of the APT’s many strengths is its tradition of using a talented core of actors in multiple shows each season. It truly highlights the performers abilities when you can see them in such different roles in the same weekend. One great example of this was Susan Shunk's role as the timid Laura in The Glass Menagerie and then her turn as the strong-willed Miranda in The Tempest. Tracy Michelle Arnold also pulled double duty as the difficult Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and the devoted Spirit in The Tempest.

The Tempest

By definition, a tempest is a violent disturbance caused by wind and this particular show takes audiences by storm. Shipwrecks, fairies, a sweet romance, a magician, Italian nobility, sibling rivalries, wild natives, this show has it all. A magician, Prospero, and his daughter Miranda are stranded on an island for years. Another shipwreck brings them back in contact with the people from their past.

The Tempest contains some of Shakespeare most fascinating characters. From the animalistic Caliban to the wild spirits that do Prospero’s biding, the island is filled with wonders. The main spirit, Ariel, flits about the stage with wren-like movements, never pausing for more than a minute. Miranda, who has lived a sheltered life knowing only two men, has her eyes opened to a whole new world during the course of the play.

Though it's technically a comedy, this particular work by the Bard takes a serious look at learning how to forgive. In the end it is really about Prospero’s journey to choose between forgiveness and revenge. But along the way Shakespeare provides some hilarious shenanigans, creating one of the most beautiful and balanced of all of his plays.

(The Tempest)

Taming of the Shrew

This production is set in the 19th century. The story is well-known, two sisters; the elder a defiant shrew, while the younger is charming and demure. The father won't allow the young sister, Bianca, to marry until someone weds the elder, Katherine. Bianca is all flowery sweetness, while Katherine scowls at everyone she meets.

Add to this a few suitors desperate for Bianca's hand, including Lucentio, who forces his servant, Tranio, to pretend to be him so he can get closer to his love. Tranio's performance is excellent. He has the audience in stitches with a single expressions.

Petruchio takes on the task of "taming the shrew" and in him Katherine meets her match. Their verbal sparring is electric. He can with stand up to her tart rebukes and offers loving smiles when she presents her sour puss. He literary tries to kill her with kindness, or at least break her stubborn streak with it. They quickly learn that though men and women try to find balance in their relationships, they can’t truly attain it until there is mutual respect.

(The Glass Menagerie)

The Glass Menagerie

Laura, a fragile, mousy introvert whose social life is stunted, lives at home with her over-bearing mother. Her brother, Tom provides for them by working in a warehouse, though he dreams of a more artistic life. He’s desperately unhappy, but isn’t sure how to escape.

Sarah Day’s fierce portrayal of their mother, Amanda, is enthralling. She maintains a delicate balance of nostalgic southern charm and vindictive disappointment. She ignores anything unpleasant in their lives and deludes herself into believing that things are perfect. When that veneer cracks, the audience has a chance to see the real Amanda; a frayed bundle of nerves soaked in bitterness who exhausts everyone around her. The absence of their father, who left years before, hangs heavy over the family.

When Tom’s friend Jim stops by for dinner, everything is brought to a head. Emotions that broiled just below the surface bubble over. Jim’s jovial attitude shines a glaring spotlight on the Wakefield’s stale existence.

The jarring music and dramatic lighting embrace Tennessee William’s original vision for the play. His prose are poetic and he can capture the most complicated moods with a simple line. He created two very different women, both of whom are trapped by their memories and past hopes. They’re unable to move forward and their stasis traps Tom along with them.

(Of Mice and Men)

Of Mice and Men

Steinbeck's story is both powerful and heartbreaking and this production captures that same spirit. Even though you may know what's coming, you can't help but be swept away in the drama. Two migrant workers live life on the road, traveling from farm to farm looking for work in the 1930s. George is a small, shrewd man, always looking out for them. The other, Lennie, is a gentle giant. He has the strength of a bull and the mind of a child.

James DeVita is excellent, as always. He captures George’s frustration, while never letting go of this humanity and hope. Brian Mani embraces Lennie’s childlike enthusiasm and innocence. The repetitive nature of their conversations made any unexpected moments in the play even more unsettling.

The show captures the universal theme of loneliness. No matter who you are, you need someone to talk to and you need something to hope for. George and Lennie’s unique brotherly bond gives them something to hold onto, but they seem doomed to failure from the start.

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APT has such an incredibly talented crew of people that work together so well. Everyone from the actors, directors, set and costume designers, lighting and sound people, etc. make sure each element is handled with the utmost care. They strive for excellence with every show and their efforts are reflected in each new season of plays. This gem of a theatre provides more than just a performance, it gives audiences an experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you've never visited this Midwestern treasure, plan a trip there soon!

More Information:

The American Players Theatre is located in Spring Green, WI
only 6.5 hours from Indianapolis and makes a perfect weekend getaway.

The theater's outdoor seats are comfortable, but definitely bring a jacket, rain parka or blanket depending on the weather. The show will go on even if it's chilly or drizzling. There are easily accessible restrooms and concessions at both the Up-the-Hill Theatre and the Touchstone Theatre.

There are plenty of camping/B&B/cabin/hotel options nearby, depending on your preference. You can find additional information about where to lodge, restaurants and other attractions on APT's website.

For more information about APT and Spring Green, WI visit its website.

Photos Courtesy of the American Players Theatre.

September 12, 2011

Dracula


The Indiana Repertory Theatre opened its 40th season with a fang… actually a few of them. The original vampire story is on stage now and gigantic pair of ominous wings set the stage for the perfect Halloween treat.


It would have been easy to make Dracula a caricature, with an overt-the-top accent and cheesy lines. Instead, Wade McCollum’s portrayal gives you chills. This isn't a child's version of Dracula, it’s the character as Bram Stoker originally imagined it; powerful, seductive and terrifying.



At first the show is playful as good friends Mina and Lucy discuss their suitors, but it takes a darker turn as we follow Mina’s fiancé John Harker into Transylvania. There he encounters the Count, who lives alone and friendless in his dark castle.


Playwright Steven Dietz’s adaptation has perfect pacing. He shuffles the order of events from the original text, which reveals the monster at just the right moments. Other scenes overlap to keep the action moving. He also uses Dracula sparingly throughout the show, making his presence all the more frightening when he appears.


The cast, many new to the IRT stage, did a wonderful job. One that particularly stood out is that of the lunatic Renfield, played by Dieterich Gray. His performance is delightfully disturbing.


The set and costume designs provide audiences with lovely period pieces and cleverly designed props which allow for some unexpected scares. Lighting designer Christine Binder had her work cut out for her with flashes of lightning and eerie night scenes, but she’s more than up for the challenge.



For anyone who likes a good scare, it’s not going to get any better than this. Start your fall of right and check out Dracula. Up next at the IRT is the Going Solo festival. For the third year in a row, the theatre is offering three separate one-man shows, each unique and wonderful in its own way.


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. "Dracula" runs until Saturday, Oct. 1 on IRT's Main Stage. 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

Photos Courtesy of Julie Curry

September 7, 2011

Singin' in the Rain


As the season changes from summer to fall there’s only one place you can be sure to find rain right now. Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s current show, Singin’ in the Rain, has brought the storms to the stage. A crowd favorite, this classic musical contains well-known songs like “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Lucky Star” and the title song.

One of my personal favorites, “Moses,” is a playful tap number which highlights the performers’ skills. Doug King, Timothy Ford and Kenny Shepard nail it, having fun, but never failing to stay in synch and hit their marks.



Sarah Hund has proven her comedic chops in a dozen roles at B&B, but her turn as Lina Lamont provides a whole new height. She masters the horrible grating voice and adds her own flare to the role.

King should also be applauded for his understated role as Cosmo Brown. Always the sidekick, Cosmo provides zingers under his breath, taps his heart out and knows how to take an expert fall with the best of them. King was the perfect choice for the role.

The silent films, shown on drop down screens, add another hilarious element to the show. They celebrate the over-acting necessary in that format, long before the “talkies” were around. There’s also a great unexpected cameo from Eddie Curry.



Finally, there’s that famous scene in the rain. Ford throws himself into the number with no holds barred. He splashes across the stage, despite its slippery state, to thunderous applause. Just see if you can watch that scene without a smile on your face.

Tickets for this show are sure to go fast, so get yours quickly.


Don't Miss the Show


Performances: The show runs until Oct. 9. 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 $36 to $59 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 31, 2011

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)


This past weekend the Lawrenceburg Shakespeare Company North (LSCN) hosted a free event downtown. The production, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), is a fun romp through all 37 of the Bard’s plays. It celebrates Shakespeare’s talent, while at the same time poking fun at the common themes in his work and the occasional ripped off plot. It takes the highlights from his shows and mashes them together into one whirlwind stream of action.

The 90 minute performance, sponsored by Yelp, was held on the upper mezzanine level of the City Market. With a few rows of chairs and an enthusiastic cast of three, the show took off at a breakneck pace. They flew through scenes from Romeo and Juliet and before you knew it they were on to Othello. Bit and pieces of the original language is kept in tack with hilarious narration and pantomimes added along the way.


The simple set consisted of a large screen which allowed the actors to flit behind it to change wigs and grab props. The unique locale set the scene for an entertaining evening and some last minute effort from the behind-the-scenes crew ensured the cast was miked for the open space. There were even crepes provided by the local eatery, 3 Days in Paris, and Tomlinson Tap Room was open for business.

With lightning speed the actors ran the gamut of pop culture references from Jersey Shores to Glenn Beck. Using new mediums, i.e. cooking shows and impromptu raps, the classic tragedies became comedies. Who knew that Macbeth would be even better with a few added insults, like a well-timed “Haggis Face!”


The ever-changing costumes and playful cast kept the audience on their toes. Elise Lockwood played the occasional straight “man” to Henry Johnston and Stephen Dobbs slapstick duo, providing a good balance to the fun. The second act has a slightly slower pace as the trio made their way through the final play. The audience had a chance to join in on the fun as a few participants were pulled up on stage.

For anyone who has ever written Shakespeare off as a boring stiff, this show will absolutely breathe new life into his work for you. Entertaining, quick-witted and at the same time, a great reminder of the Bard’s brilliance, the show was wonderfully fun. Up next for the group is a September production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. The show will be performed in the Carmel Arts Center Amphitheater. Visit their website for more information.

*Photos courtesy of the Lawrenceburg Shakespeare Company North

July 13, 2011

Church Basement Ladies 2


The Lutheran ladies are back with more songs and exclamations of "Uffda!" After last year's show "Church Basement Ladies" proved such a popular musical, Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre decided to offer audiences a second helping. The same cast has returned to bring their characters back to life.

Part SNL Church Basement Lady and part sweet Midwestern hometown tale, the plot follows four very different women through a few life changes in 1969 and 1970. One of the show's greatest strengths is the diverse group brought together on the stage. One woman is old, another young, a couple have been married for years, another is a newly wed, another widowed. In addition to the females, there is the pastor, who still trying to find his footing in the church as America moves into a new decade. Each character brings a unique perspective to the table.


The cast seem like it's having fun, which is crucial for the success of a show like this. The playful atmosphere they create is contagious. Though some of the jokes and bits aren't as fresh as they were the first time around, there's still enough new material to entertain, especially with numbers like "Get Back in the Game."

Church Basement Ladies 2 is the perfect, clean show for church groups and families alike. It touches on serious issues as well as the amusing, sprinkling in life lessons along with the laughs. Up next at B&B is the always entertaining show, Singin' in the Rain. Tickets are sure to go fast, so don't wait to get yours.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Aug. 28. 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 $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

June 23, 2011

London Globe's Shakespeare: Coming to Indy


In 2010, four of the plays performed at the Globe theatre in London were filmed for the big screen. Now they’re being shown across the nation. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing two plays live at the Globe in London and both were amazing. I can’t wait to see these.

Shakespeare’s Globe London Cinema Series consists of four in-theater events:

-Monday, June 27th – The Merry Wives of Windsor
-Monday, August 1st – Henry IV Part 1
-Thursday, August 18th – Henry IV Part 2
-Thursday, September 15th – Henry VIII


The following Indiana theaters are participating in this event;

Galaxy 14 - INDIANAPOLIS IN 46256
Eastside 9 - LAFAYETTE IN 47905
Hamilton 16 with IMAX - NOBLESVILLE IN 46060
Metropolis 18 - PLAINFIELD IN 46168
Portage 16 with IMAX - PORTAGE IN 46368
Valparaiso Commons - VALPARAISO IN 46383


Photos from here.

May 15, 2011

Cinderella


Less than a month after the world tuned in to watch the British royal wedding, dubbed a "Cinderella story," Beef & Boards’ audiences can see the original Cinderella musical for themselves. This past weekend the theatre was filled with tiny princesses wearing crooked tiaras and bouncing in their seats with anticipation. Knowing their about to see a "real" princess is too exciting for words.

The set is designed with a rotating centerpiece that becomes first a courtyard, then castle and finally a simple country home. Glowing turrets complete the fairy tale atmosphere and set the magical mood.


The most interesting difference between this version of Cinderella and others is the casting of the step-sisters. Instead of women, two men are undertaking the roles. B&B’s regulars, Jeff Stockberger and Doug King, have been transformed into the hideous and hilarious step-sisters. At 6’ 5” (plus a huge wig) Stockberger towers over his fellow actors, while lots of extra padding transforms King into a busty broad. Lindsay Sutton, who plays a very bubbly Cinderella, is dwarfed in comparison. As Shakespeare knew so well, men playing women is endlessly entertaining.


The rest of the cast just adds to the fun. Laura Lockwood's Queen provides a wonderful voice of reason, while Lynne Perkins eggs on her devious daughters as the evil step-mother. Prince Charming, played by Aaron Young, had a wonderful voice, which was showcased during songs like "Ten Minutes Ago." I hope B&B takes advantage of it in future shows.

If you have a daughter, niece or granddaughter, they're sure to love the show. It's fun, sweet and the magical transformation with the horse and pumpkin carriage is enough to make any little girl squeal with delight.



Don't Miss the Show



Performances: The show runs until July 1. 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 $36 to $59 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 Theater

May 2, 2011

Chicago


The Actors Theatre of Indiana has finally found a permanent home. Their latest production, Chicago, is on stage now at the Studio Theatre in the Carmel Center for the Performing Arts. The intimate setting is just right for the talented group and fans of their work will now know exactly where to find them.

Chicago starts, and ends, with a bang. The sexy show is set in the 1920s when booze and jazz were “corrupting” the youth in the big cities. Roxie Hart, a young married woman, kills her lover and finds herself first in jail and then in the newspapers as she plots to get herself a verdict of not guilty and a big vaudeville show. Velma Kelly is another singing murderess with high hopes and rough ways. The two women look out for # 1, as does their lawyer, Billy Flynn.

One of the best aspects of the show is the wonderful live band which provides the well-known jazz songs throughout the show. The choreography (by Michael Worcel) is also topnotch. There's not a dull moment as the tireless dancers tap and shimmy their way across the stage.


The supporting roles provided some of the best casting and performances of the show. A few of my favorites from around the Indy theater scene, like John Vessels (as Mary Sunshine) and Paul Hansen (as Amos Hart), nail their characters. I now can't imagine anyone else singing the sad, moody "Mister Cellophane" other than Hansen. Dwandra Nickole plays the Matron and her sassy version of “When You’re Good To Mama” spiced things up, while Bradley Reynolds makes the perfect shallow lawyer, pulling off the puppetry in “We Both Reached for the Gun” like a pro.

There were quite a few Beef & boards regulars in the cast, like Kenny Shepard and Sally Scharbrough. The show was the perfect opportunity for them to cut loose and showcase their sense of humor in addition to their dancing skills. They seemed to be having fun with the roles, especially during the Cell Block Tango (Scharbrough) and as ‘the jury’ (Shepard) in the court room.


There were some audio issues and a few actors’ mikes kept cutting out, but that’s the joy of getting used to a new location. You have to work out all the kinks as you go. Also, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to find the theatre if you aren't familiar with the Carmel area. Many audience members were talking about getting lost because of erroneous online directions.

Don't Miss the Show

The Actors Theatre of Indiana is now located in the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts, 355 City Center Dr. Carmel, IN 46032. "Chicago" runs until Sunday, May 22. Times for performances can be found and ordered here or by calling the box office at (317) 843-3800.


Photos Courtesy of the Actors Theatre of Indiana

April 24, 2011

The 39 Steps


The 39 Steps is about a man accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The Hitchcock movie of the same name has a dark tone, but anyone expecting a moody mystery is in for a shock. The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of The 39 Steps is more Monty Python than suspenseful drama and delightfully so.

The whirlwind play features only four actors, but between them they take on the roles of a man on the run, police officers, a newsboy, underwear salesmen, a Scottish farmer and his wife, spies, a milkman, a performer, a dead body or two, and more! The show makes liberal use of simple props, which adds to the constant stream of laughter.



Getting the audience to enjoy slapstick comedy and cheeky jokes for two hours can be a difficult task, but the IRT maintains the hilarious high throughout the show.

Tom Aulino and the always excellent Rob Johansen deserve massive kudos for their nonstop performances. Both men pull on costume after costume, donning wigs and various hats, to portray the majority of the shows revolving door of characters. They manage to do it with the necessary seriousness to keep a straight face, all the while winking at the absurdity of their task.

The show’s other two actors, Matthew Brumlow and Sarah Nealis, do as great job as well. Brumlow has a particularly interesting task of playing the straight man while everyone else is running around swapping skirts for slacks. Despite the danger, or perhaps because of it, his character is clearly thrilled to be caught up in the madness.



The 39 Steps is the perfect way to close a strong season; with a theatre ringing with audience laughter and eagerly anticipating the 2011/2012 season.

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. "The 39 Steps" runs until Sunday, May 4 on IRT's Main Stage. 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 IRT will open its next season with Dracula in September.

Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre

April 14, 2011

Rock of Ages


The 1980s never claimed to be subtle and Rock of Ages is no exception. The show embraces every ‘80s cliché with relish, which is part of the fun. There’s lots of leather and lace, big hair and bad mullets, but there’s a lot of laughter too. Broadway Across America’s production of the show is currently on stage at Clowes Memorial Hall. The story focuses on a young woman who moves to L.A. to become and actress during that infamous decade. The story really isn’t the point though; it’s simply a vehicle for providing a concert of hits from the ‘80s.

This is NOT a family show. I stress this mainly because I saw multiple families leave before the intermission. This is clear from the opening seconds when you see a neon Live Nudes sign on stage and an announcer tells everyone not to text during the show because it makes them look like a d*bag. The production is also loud, like any good rock show should be. It’s a lot of fun for adults, but it’s not appropriate for kids.



The ‘80s really did put the rash in trashy and constant references to STDs and a steady stream of strippers doesn’t do much to deviate from that image. That being said, the show pokes fun at itself, which is its saving grace. It never takes itself too seriously and because of this the audience feels free to laugh along.

Constantine Maroulis, the American Idol contestant, reprises his Tony-nominated role for this tour. He plays Drew, an aspiring rocker who works in a night club in L.A. and falls for the aspiring actress. The cast is great and Dennis, the club’s owner, (played by Nick Cordero) is particularly fun. His towering height and gravely voice make him stand out. Travis Walker as the wanna-be German confectionery Franz is also hilarious. It’s the over-the-top characters who shine in this musical, because everything in the ‘80s was over-the-top.

If you loved the ’80s or just loved the music of that era, don’t miss your chance to rock out during this show.

Don't Miss the Show



The show runs until Sunday, April 17 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 www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. 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