February 26, 2011

Neat


The Indiana Repertory Theatre has brought back the Going Solo Festival for a second year. The festival consists of three separate one-man shows, each about 2 hours, with an intermission, and focusing on wildly differing topics. The three shows are all offered simultaneously on the IRT’s upperstage, where the set is designed with a versatile sweeping wooden floor to accommodate the trio of plays.


Milicent Wright stars in Neat, the sequel to last year’s Pretty Fire. The show, written by Charlayne Woodard, explores the playwright’s adolescence in the turbulent 1960s and ‘70s. The title character, Neat, is Woodard’s aunt who was left mentally stunted after an accident when she was an infant. Wright plays both women with delight. Her exuberance for the roles makes the characters come alive.



The play looks at the huge impact Neat had on Woodard’s life. With her childlike innocence, Neat inspires her to explore her heritage and appreciate the world around her. There are a wide variety of stories with the show; including everything from first crushes to racism, from teenager’s changing bodies to high school riots. Some are sweet, some funny and some heartbreaking, but all are told with a frank honesty.


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. "Neat” runs until Sunday, March 6 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

February 24, 2011

In Acting Shakespeare


The Indiana Repertory Theatre has brought back the Going Solo Festival for a second year. The festival consists of three separate one-man shows, each about 2 hours, with an intermission, and focusing on wildly differing topics. The three shows are all offered simultaneously on the IRT’s upperstage, where the set is designed with a versatile sweeping wooden floor to accommodate the trio of plays.

In Acting Shakespeare, one of the shows, stars James DeVita, who wrote the show as a tribute to Sir Ian McKellen’s show, Acting Shakespeare. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the playwright performing Shakespeare’s work at his home theatre in Wisconsin and was thrilled to have the opportunity to see him perform his own work at the IRT.



Acting was a completely foreign concept to DeVita as he grew up in Long Island. He became a fisherman and fell into a career on the stage through a string of coincidences and lots of hard work. During a class trip to New York he saw McKellen perform his show and sat in awe of the veteran performer. As DeVita describes falling in love with the acting, we fall in love with it along side him.

DeVita has a casual, intimate candor which immediately puts the audience at ease. His self-deprecating humor pairs beautifully with booming monologues from Shakespeare’s work. He sprinkles lines from the Bard into the telling of his own personal history, making it both touching and funny. He makes speeches from Jaws and Henry V equally enthralling.


He’s able to slip in and out of a slew of plays, letting the characters flow through him as he switches back and forth between his own story and Shakespeare’s journey to success. Though there are blind spots in the Bard’s history, there are some concrete facts which
DeVita ponders.

Although this show is an absolute delight for lovers of the Bard, it’s really perfect for audience members of every age. Regardless of your personal dreams in life, we can all relate to the struggle to achieve your goal.

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. "In Acting Shakespeare" runs until Sunday, March 13 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

For more information about the American Players Theatre's upcoming season, featuring James DeVita visit their website here.

Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre

February 11, 2011

Goldie, Max and Milk


Max is an unemployed, single woman living in Brooklyn, who has just given birth to a daughter. Shortly after moving from Oregon to Brooklyn so her long-time partner, Lisa, can take a new job, the couple decide to have a child together. While Max is pregnant, Lisa has an affair with her new boss and moves out. Abandoned, Max is left trying to find her footing as a new mother.

Goldie is an Orthodox Jew and a lactation consultant who helps Max learn how to nurse. She's uncomfortable with Max's lifestyle and tries to keep her distance from her client. Her daughter Shayna's own secrets come to light and force Goldie to question her beliefs.

The play attempts to tackle a wide variety of issues, including single parenting, drug dealing, same-sex relationships, fidelity, betrayal, religious prejudice, unconventional family dynamics, sibling relationships, motherhood, unemployment, breast feeding and more. That's a lot for a two-hour production. Parring down the issues and choosing a few to focus in on would have heightened the show's impact.



The ensemble cast, which includes Sara Riemen, Wendy Farber, Angela Plank, Kienan McCartney and Bridgette Richards, feel familiar, as if these people could be our friends, family members or co-workers. Each one struggles with their own flaws, mistakes and difficult choices. Riemen is particularly good as Max and it's a delight to watch her mama bear instincts grow as she bonds with her daughter.

Life isn't simple and perhaps this show is an accurate reflection of that. The many complications may seem like a bit much, but the same thing is true for the issues in our own lives. Nothing is ever simple.

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 Feb. 27 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.

February 7, 2011

Hairspray


An eternally optimistic teen with a passion for dance takes on inequality in 1960s Baltimore. The Tony Award-winning musical, Hairspray, deals with issues even bigger than the hairdos sported by the cast. Racism, segregation, obesity and prejudice are just a few of the big ones. The peppy show, with its unexpected serious side, teaches the crowd an important lesson in self-confidence.

The support cast is filled with gems. Marty McNamee as Corny Collins, Carly Vernon as Penny, Angela Birchett as Motormouth Mabelle, Jarvis B. Manning Jr. as Seaweed, Karen Pappas in all her roles. Each one adds spice to the show; Birchett with her powerful voice, Vernon’s na├»ve sincerity, Collins’ Seacrest-like chirper attitude, Manning’s dance moves, and Pappas’ combination of physical comedy and perfect delivery.


The absolute highlight of the show is Tracy's parents. Dan Dowling Jr. plays as Edna, a big, but shy woman and John Vessels is her devoted husband. Edna is a role traditionally played by a man (John Travolta in the most recent film version), and this production is no exception. Their duet, "You're Timeless to Me" is both sweet and hilarious.


Along with mountains of wigs, the show has some adult humor not suitable for kids. The message in the end though is one of accepting people as they are, despite the color of their skin or the size of the clothes. It’s a message that’s important no matter what decade we’re in and one that fun to learn while watching the characters dance through the show.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until March 27. 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 Theater