May 2, 2011
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