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Showing posts from 2012

Buck Creek Players Announces 2013/14 Season

Buck Creek Players is proud to announce their 40th Anniversary Season in 2013-2014!
Rumors: September 27-October 6, 2013 Celebrating forty years of quality community theater, the award-winning all-volunteer group will open their season with Rumors by Neil Simon. In this hilarious comedy, several affluent couples gather in the posh suburban residence of a couple for a dinner party celebrating their tenth anniversary. When they arrive, they discover there are no servants, the hostess is missing, and the host - the deputy mayor of New York City - has shot himself through the earlobe. Comic complications arise when, given everyone's upper class status, they decide they need to do everything possible to conceal the evening's events from the local police and the media.  
The Little Town of Christmas: December 6-22, 2013 Visit The Little Town of Christmas in December as Buck Creek Players presents Pat Cook's comedy package of twelve yuletide sketches just perfect for the holiday seas…

Top Shows of 2012

This year has held some incredible performances and productions throughout the Midwest. Here are my top ten choices for 2012. Keep your eyes on these theatres in the future for more great shows.

1) Les Misérables at Clowes Hall performed by Broadway Across America

2) The House That Jack Built at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

3) August: Osage County at the Phoenix Theatre
4) The Woman in Black at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

5) The Book Thiefat Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago
6) Othello at the White River State Park performed by the Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre

7) Twelfth Night at the American Players Theatre in Wisconsin

8) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydeat the Indiana Repertory Theatre

9) Freud's Last Sessionat the Phoenix Theatre

10) The Wizard of Oz at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
Photos courtesy of the Phoenix, Beef & Boards, Broadway Across America and the IRT

A Christmas Carol

“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

That line from Scrooge’s nephew perfectly explains why A Christmas Carol is such a powerful play year after year. It is a reminder of all of the wonderful things the Christmas season holds. It's a reminder to value the people that are truly important in your life and to hold them close to you throughout the year. The Indiana Repertory Theatre's annual tradition is back again this year with a wonderful production of the Christmas classic.

The play has the same script each year, narrating the story of Scrooge's change of heart with a revolving cast of characters. The large and enthu…

American Players Theatre Announces its 2013 Season

American Players Theatre (APT) is excited to announce its thirty-fourth season, which will run June 8 to October 20, 2013. APT’s flagship outdoor amphitheater Up the Hill will feature William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Hamlet, along with W. Somerset Maugham’s comedy Too Many Husbands; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - Tom Stoppard’s accompaniment to Hamlet; and Arthur Miller’s great American classic All My Sons.
In the indoor Touchstone Theatre, APT is proud to produce its very first indoor Shakespeare production, an adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra. Also in the Touchstone, Brian Friel’s gripping Molly Sweeney and a reprisal of James DeVita’s Dickens In America, featuring James Ridge.

Tickets will go on sale for returning patrons March 4 and to the general public on April 15.
APT is a professional repertory theater devoted to the great and future classics. It was founded in 1979 and continues to be one of the most popular outdoor classical theaters in th…

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot, the story of a young boy who discovers his love of ballet, is on stage now at the Murat theatre, produced by Broadway Across America. It was a treat to be able to see the show for a second time this year. Seeing it again gave me the opportunity to enjoy layers of depth I missed the first time around. I was able to get past first impressions and reflect more on the story and performances.

When Billy’s mother passes away the Elliot family looses its anchor and is left reeling. Their community is also at war as the miner’s union goes on strike. In the midst of this chaos is the sweet story of a young boy who feels life his desires don’t match up with his environment.

The role of Billy Elliot was played by Noah Parets on Tuesday. The role rotates between three actors and Parets did a wonderful job. He had just the right balance of boyish earnestness and adolescent angst. Billy is trying to deal with feelings of grief after loosing his mother, shame for his growing love of …


What does it take to be a good writer? Is it harrowing experiences or is it a unique perspective or way of life? Is it something that can be taught or can good writing only come from natural talent? These questions and more are discussed in the Phoenix’ current production: Seminar.

The play premiered on Broadway in November 2011 with a stellar cast. Less than a year later the Phoenix was able to snag it as part of its 30th season. It’s currently onstage in the intimate Frank and Katrina Basile Theatre.

Four aspiring fiction writers scrape together $5,000 each to hire an accomplished author to teach a 12-week writing seminar. Their teacher, Leonard, is a misogynistic jerk with a palpable self-loathing and a particular talent for crushing dreams. Played with relish by Bill Simmons, Leonard embodies a failed artist, lashing out at others who are just beginning their careers. He stumbles around as if drunk or high while spouting self-absorbed nonsense after merely glancing …

The House That Jack Built

This past weekend the Indiana Repertory Theatre hosted the world premier of playwright-in-residence James Still’s new production, The House That Jack Built. A family converges in a cozy home in Vermont for Thanksgiving dinner and as is to be expected with the holidays, emotions run high and past grievances and grief lay just beneath the tender surface.

I’ve been a fan of James Still’s work for years, but this production truly rises above anything I’d yet seen. He has an incredible talent for writing characters that are completely unique, yet somehow also completely relatable. That contradictory principle makes the people in his plays unforgettable. Overbearing mothers or bickering spouses could become clichés, but in Still’s plays they never are. Their flaws and connections to each other always run deeper than that and this play in particular, is full of beautifully complicated characters.  

Jack, the title character, is an enigma that we never meet, though he shaped the lives of ever…

The Woman in Black

Take one deserted mansion in an English marsh, add in rumors of possible hauntings, children’s laughter and a nervous solicitor and what do you get: the perfect Halloween treat!
The Woman in Black is on stage now at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. The beautifully dark show has long been a favorite in England. It’s the second longest-running play in London and was turned into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) earlier this year. Now the ICT is presenting the creepy production just in time for Halloween.

As Hitchcock taught audiences for years, the less you see the scarier it is. That idea holds true for this show as well. The show features a play within a play and though it starts out slow, the momentum builds in a wonderfully satisfying way.

This two-man show features excellent performances by both of its leads. Dan Scharbrough is the earnest Arthur Kipps, a troubled man who wants only to unburden himself of his terrible story.  John Michael Goodson – last year’s Sali…

The Book Thief

The Book Thief was selected as this year's One Book One Town for Chicago. As part of the festivities, author Markus Zusak collaborated with a playwright to turn his wonderful book into a stage production.
The play is currently on stage at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. I had the opportunity to see the show and you can read more about my experience here.

Away in the Basement

The Church Basement Ladies are back for a third time at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. This installment, Away in the Basement, is actually set in 1959, before the other two chronically. B&B’s audiences have grown to love the devoted crew and their playful banter. The ladies, so proud of their Norwegian heritage and Lutheran traditions, keep their churches’ events running smoothly.

The whole cast is back for a third installment with the exception of Lisa Bark, who is replaced by Hillary Smith as Beverly. Karen Pappas returns as Mavis, a hilarious woman with her own particularly style. Vivian (Licia Watson) is the group's matriarch with a strong aversion to change. Katherine Proctor is Karin, Beverly's mother and Vivian's deputy.

The Church Basement Ladies shows are always at their best when the women are supporting each other through both the heartbreaks and celebrations life brings. Vivian shows her softer side in the second act and Eddie Curry, the church's …

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson combines American history and rock ’n’ roll in a complete unique musical about the 7th president of the United States. Straight from Broadway this raucous retelling of Andrew Jackson’s life is more in the vein of “Anchorman” than a History Channel special.

The political musical is particularly timely in the midst of this election year. When candidates’ ads are yelling absurd claims at us from every direction, it’s the perfect time to reflect on past presidents and the difficult job they are entrusted with.

Expertly directed by Bryan Fonseca, the 90 minute show has no intermission and features a live band, led by Tim Brinkley, on the stage. Numbers like “Ten Little Indians” and “Crisis Averted” stand out as do the fights, coordinated by IRT regular Rob Johansen. There is adult language, so leave the kids at home.

Eric J. Olson plays the infamous 19th century president. His performance clearly reflects Jackson’s complex nature. Unlike many of the politicia…

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Indiana Repertory Theatre decided to tackle the gothic classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as its season opener. The liberal adaptation, masterfully done by Jeffrey Hatcher, focuses on Jekyll’s gradual loss of control to the dark incarnation of himself, which he has brought to life with a medical experiment. Mr. Hyde lives by no conventional moral guidelines and he wreaks havoc on Jekyll’s carefully ordered life.

The most interesting element in the show was the decision to have the entire cast, save only Dr. Jekyll, play Hyde at different points. At times there was even a chorus of Hydes. When playing that character each cast member wore the same outfit, a tailored suit with an upturned lime green collar. The multiple Hydes work surprisingly well, providing a creepy omnipresence in the play. They give the production a unique and enthralling quality.

Kevin Cox, making his IRT debut, was the best of the Hydes. His performance was at once playful and disturbing; he could taunt and then t…

A Chorus Line

A Chorus Line is a fun season opener in an exciting new lineup of shows at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. The musical opens on a long line of dancers auditioning for one of only a few available parts in a chorus. As the winnowing process begins they're asked to share their personal stories. They are all very different people but they have one thing in common, their passion for dancing. From funny songs, such as “Sing!” to heartfelt ballads, the show honors the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of every musical.

There were a few standout performers in the show. The first was Tim Hunt. His quiet portrayal of the troubled Paul San Marco was powerful in its simplicity. Diana, played by Nathalie Cruz, was another. She takes the lead on the famous ballad “What I Did for Love” and has a the solo performance in “Nothing.” Her beautiful voice and her character's earnest devotion to the craft of dance were wonderful. Laura Lockwood, last seen in ICT’s Guys and Dolls, is al…

Beef & Boards Announces 2013 Season

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre celebrates its 40th Season with three fabulous new shows to its stage and several popular favorites from its richly entertaining repertoire.

Kicking off the season is the hilarious classic Arsenic & Old Lace. Opening Dec. 28, 2012, this comedy follows the deadly deeds of two charming elderly spinsters who believe they are rescuing their lonely lodgers by poisoning them and burying their bodies in the cellar. Between their special secret and their brother who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt, their nephew is in for quite a surprise when he pays them a visit! On stage through Feb. 3. Book by Joseph Kesselring.

Next on stage is the debut of the high-energy hit 9 to 5: The Musical. With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, and based on the hit 1980 movie in which she starred, 9 to 5 is the story of three female coworkers who plot to get even with their sexist and egotistical boss – and take over the company while they’re at it! Outrageous, thought-provokin…

AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE: Troilus and Cressida, Skylight and Twelfth Night

There’s always something new and exciting at the American Players Theatre in Wisconsin and this season is no exception. APT’s core players never disappoint and the younger performers provides a wonderful suffusion of energy and passion to each production.

One of the best aspects of APT is the way it highlights its performers in multiple shows throughout each season. At any given time audience members can see a single performer in a modern drama, a Shakespearean comedy and a tragedy in the same weekend. Both Brian Mani and Greta Wohlrabe performed in all three shows I was able to see. They showed their comedic side in Twelfth Night, took on tragic roles in Troilus and Cressida and then portrayed the complex relationship between former lovers in Skylight. APT defies typecasting, allowing its performers to stretch and grow with each role, juggling multiple shows each season with apparent ease.

APT always does a fantastic job with each element in its shows. The sets, whether it’s walls of…

Billy Elliot

This fall Indy’s Broadway Across America season opens with a Tony-award-winning smash Billy Elliot.

Caught up in the midst of a miners’ strike in the 1980s, Billy Elliot watches as his father and brother struggle to stay calm as their union looses power. Billy has recently lost his mom and it’s not until he unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of a ballet class that he finds a place where he can shine.

The brassy ballet instructor, played by Janet Dickinson, and her strange group of misfit students provide a strange new home for Billy. He soon finds that he must choose between pursuing his dreams and following in his father’s footsteps.

The lead role is played by multiple boys in each touring show. The performance I saw in Louisville featured Ty Forhan as Billy. He is an incredibly gifted dancer. His Grandma, played by Patti Perkins, is a pip and the Dad (Rich Herbert) provides just the right balance of machismo and fatherly love. The rest of the cast embraces the thick working-class …

The Wizard of Oz

There’s nothing quite like a child’s first experience with live theater. Although it has been two decades I still remember my first show clearly; it was Brigadoon at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. So it was especially meaningful to get to take my nephew to his first show at the same theatre this past weekend and The Wizard of Oz provided the perfect introduction to world of musicals.

Fans of the Church Basement Ladies shows will recognize Dorothy, played by Lisa Bark. Her fresh-faced innocence is just right for the role and kids will love the fact that she’s accompanied throughout the show by a real dog playing Toto.

The rest of her gang is made up of B&B favorites like Doug King as the rubber-bodied Scarecrow, Jeff Stockberger as the cardiac-challenged Tin Man and Jayson Elliott as a Lion that’s all roar and no bite. Young audience members can’t help being delighted by the trio as they help Dorothy on her way.

Lynne Perkins clearly has a blast playing the Wicked Witch of the Wes…

IRT announces 2012/13 Season

The Indiana Repertory Theatre has announced its 2012-2013 One America Season
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, by Jeffrey Hatcher, adapted from the book by Robert Louis Stevenson
 Sept. 5 - 30 
What is the nature of the beast that lives in all of us? This deliciously provocative re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic digs deep to answer the question. Smart, sexy and suspensful, Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation takes us from Victorian drawing rooms to the grim alleyways of London as it examines the inner workings of two very different personalities and the ties that bind them dangerously close.

The Going Solo Festival:
    The Night Watcher, by Charlayne Woodard
Sept. 18 - Oct. 14 
Family ties reach beyond blood in this moving, one-woman piece by acclaimed playwright Charlayne Woodard. Investigating the social and cultural challenges that come with raising kids, Woodard's tales of her "children" are transfixing and tragic. Millicent Wright returns to channel the voic…