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Showing posts from March, 2011

The Gospel According to James

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is currently hosting the world premier of The Gospel According the James. The powerful show tells the story of the horrific lynching that happened in Marion, Ind. in the 1930s. Two individuals who were involved in the event, Mary and James, reconnect after 50 years and find that their memories differ in some drastic ways. The line between fiction and truth blurs with time and perspective and that is never clearer than when you’re comparing your memories with another person.

Playwright Charles Smith’s dialogue sparks with life in every line. One of the best aspects of the show is the dual nature of each character. There is no clear hero and villain in the traditional sense. Instead each person feels real, with conflicting desires and selfish decisions which cause them to act the way they do.

The production, artfully directed by Chuck Smith, is perfectly cast. Each of the talented actors, many of whom hail from Chicago and are new to the IRT, bring life and…


Grease seems like it was made for the stage. The original movie had big dance numbers, bright costumes and melodramatic love stories and if that’s not Broadway fodder I don’t know what is. The show is on stage, presented by Broadway Across America, at Clowes Memorial Hall.

Danny, a bad boy from the T-Birds gang, falls for the innocent Sandy. The T-Birds female counterparts, the sassy Pink Ladies, have a hard time accepting Sandy because of her sweet nature. If you’ve seen the movie, you certainly know what to expect; horny teenagers trying to find the balance between love, sex and peer acceptance while singing great 1950s style songs.

Old favorites, like “Greased Lightning” and “We Go Together” transition perfectly from the silver screen. There are also a few new numbers added to the mix, all in that same ’50 Top 40 style. “Beauty School Drop Out” actually seems better suited for the stage production than the movie. In the movie it’s an odd deviation from the main story, while in this s…


Cabaret has always been one of my favorite musicals. The first half of the show is racy and fun, but in act two the plot takes a darker turn. Woven into the mix of fishnet stockings and cheeky lyrics is a serious tale of prejudice and ignorance. Set in Berlin in the 1930s, the heart of the musical lies in the Nazi uprising and the danger that meant for Jews in the country.

Cliff, a poor American writer, travels to Berlin to write a novel. He finds a decadent world on the brink of disaster. After a trip to the infamous Kit Kat Klub, he meet a British singer, Sally Bowles, and his life becomes much more complicated. All Sally wants is to live life to the fullest and have fun, but her refusal to acknowledge the dire situation caused by the changing political climate in Germany leaves Cliff baffled.

After seeing multiple productions of this show over the years I’ve come to realize that its success always hangs on the performance of the emcee. The androgynous character, originated by Joel Gr…

Les Misérables

(The cast of Les Mis performing One Day More)

Les Miserables has long been a favorite of theatre-goers and this 25th anniversary production is a beautiful reminder of why. There’s a reason that numbers like “I Dreamed A Dream” and “One Day More” have become beloved Broadway standards. The musical’s unique operatic feel speaks to audiences of all ages.

Jean Valjean, the show’s main character, provides a story of hope and redemption. After spending 19 years in jail for committing a crime of desperation, Valjean is released. He struggles to readjust to society and finds himself a recipient of prejudice everywhere he goes. One man gives him acceptance when he needs it the most and because of that single act Valjean’s life is changed forever.

(Valjean and Javert)

From a rollicking tavern to a barricade on the front lines of the revolution to a haunting trek through the sewers of Paris, the story weaves together the lives of Valjean, the unfortunate Fantine and the righteous police officer Jave…