April 30, 2012

Avenue Q

Brought back for the second year in a row due to popular demand, the Phoenix Theatre is once again producing the smash hit Avenue Q. This twisted version of Sesame Street is an adult comedy with puppets and very grown-up problems.

The show is perfect for anyone who has graduated from college in the past decade. Filled with ambition and ideals, Princeton graduates from college and heads out in the real world to find his purpose. He quickly realizes that he has no place to live, no job and no way to pay his bills; a common problem for recent grads in this struggling economy. He moves to Avenue Q, an odd street where Gary Coleman becomes his superintendent and monsters live in the building.

It’s no wonder Phoenix’ audiences flipped for this musical last summer. Director Bryan Fonseca has pulled together an amazing cast that is clearly having fun with the show.

Claire Wilcher pulls double-duty as Trekkie Monster and Lucy the Slut. She’s brilliant in both roles; showcasing her sassy nature and belting out Trekkie’s line with gusto. Jason Gloye and Eric J. Olson are the perfect pair as the Bad News Bears and a Bert and Ernie-style roommates (Rod and Nicky).

The role of Princeton seems tailor made for Ben Tebbe. His earnest face and cheerful demeanor make him easily relatable. His love interest, Kate Monster, is played by Emily Ristine. The two are sweet together and it doesn’t take long to get the crowd rooting for them.

The humor and language are not appropriate for kids, so don’t be fooled by the fuzzy puppets. Instead, take your friends and remember a time before you realized “It Sucks to Be Me.”

*One interesting side note, the show is sponsored by Tire Barn Warehouse which is currently running TV commercials featuring two of the productions stars.

Buy your tickets fast, because this show is selling out every show!  

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 May 13 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 $20 to $30.

Photos Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre

April 24, 2012

The Miracle Worker

The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s 40th season closes with the classic drama, The Miracle Worker. The inspirational play is based on the true story of the blind and deaf girl Helen Keller and her sign language teacher, Annie Sullivan.  
The success of the show depends on the performances of its two main characters: Nora Fiffer as Annie Sullivan and Ciarra Krohne as Helen Keller. Both actors are incredible. Krohne is only 12 years old and yet she embraces her role with such abandon that it’s easy to forget you aren’t really watching Keller herself.

Fiffer does a wonderful job portraying the young, formerly blind teacher who is haunted by her own demons. She’s rough around the edges, but she’s tenacious and that’s exactly what Helen needs. Their stubborn natures clash as they test each others’ wills. Keller’s parents love her, but their tender care and coddling is more harmful than they realize. It takes Sullivan’s brassy impertinence to stand up to them before things can really change for Helen.
The set is one of the IRT’s best. Designed by Robert M. Koharchik, it is a huge rotating two-story house that fills the stage. Everything from the green shutters to the infamous water pump in the yard is remarkable. Taking advantage of IRT’s policy to allow patrons on stage on opening night, audience members could see that it was just as impressive up close.
The production is a superb combination of strong performances by the entire cast and a story that resonates. It’s an excellent way to close a strong season and it leaves audience members looking forward to more great things from the IRT this fall.

*Side note, as someone who uses sign language to communicate with my brother, I find Helen and Annie’s story so inspirations. Without being able to use sign language, there are so many people who would have no way of communicating. I’m so grateful for teachers like Annie Sullivan who had the patience to work individuals to teach them the language.
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 Miracle Worker" runs until Sunday, May 20 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

April 19, 2012

The Music Man

The Music Man has been a nostalgic classic for decades. It captures small-town life in a way that few other musical have been able to. This show, which includes Broadway standards like, “Trouble,” “Seventy-six Trombones,” and “Til There Was You” is on stage now at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.

A smooth-talking salesman, Professor Harold Hill, rolls into town with the single goal of riling people up to get them to buy his wares. His scam is a simple one: convince the townspeople that their city is in headed into dangerous territory and the only solution is to give the troubled youth something to do with their time. He then suggests they start a band for the boys and conveniently, he sells musical instruments and uniforms. He offers them both the problem and solution and makes a bundle in each city he stops in.

The town’s librarian/music teacher is the only obstacle in his way. Considered an old maid by the village’s nosy biddies, Marian, played by Katie Sina, is suspicious of Hill from the start. Sina, who is new to B&B, gives a lovely performance. She is kind, but cautious and has lived her life as someone who makes her decisions with her head, never her heart.

Curt Dale Clark stars as Hill, The Music Man himself. He has just the right amount of charm and devious nature. He can scheme and manipulate while still coming across as a gentleman. With a wink and a smile he could sell shoes to a snake and the snake would thank him.

The musical contains quite a few tongue-twisting rapid-fire numbers, especially “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little.” The performances of these are fun to watch, especially when the cast picks up steam… literally as they take a “train” around the theater. The barbershop quartet adds a delightful element too. The costumes, particularly the ladies’ large feathered hats, are all well done and the rotating set also works perfectly with the flow of the production.

Rest assured the sleepy Iowa town of River City is just how you left it. The Music Man is as good now as it was years ago and this is a charming production with a message of embracing life and the people around you.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until May 25. 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.

To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $37 to $60 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. This production offers discounts; call the box office for more details.

Up next at Beef & Boards is the popular show The Wizard of Oz and tickets are sure to go fast!

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

April 11, 2012

Les Misérables

It’s a rare treat in the world of theater to find a show that blends an incredible story, a breathtakingly beautiful score and superb characters. Les Misérables is one of the few musicals that has it all. It’s easy to understand why the show is celebrating its 25th anniversary tour. It’s a show that has endured through decades, touching new generations with its power and is on stage now at Clowes Memorial Hall.

One thing I’ve always loved about Les Misérables is its ability to balance big cast numbers and intense solos. The combination of the two creates a powerful story of forgiveness, grace and redemption. The quiet solos, like Javert's "Stars" are just as moving as the big finale songs.

Peter Lockyer stars as Jean Valjean, a man who has spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Lockyer's voice has incredible range and depth and his astounding performance makes the production worth seeing all on it's own. Luckily the rest of the cast is excellent as well.

Eponine, played by Chasten Harmon, always leaves the audience wanting more. The talented actor nails the performance of the tough street rat, conveying every ounce of disillusionment and unrequited love. The tragic Fantine was played by the understudy, Casey Erin Clark on Tuesday and she did a wonderful job. Crowd favorite Madame Thénardier (Shawna M. Hamic) is a nasty piece of work and the perfect character to love to hate.

Each time I see the show, like last year's Louisville performance, new things stand out to me. This time it was the songs “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and “Bring Him Home.” Both songs are born of desperation and grief and showcase the best of the characters who sing them.

Don’t let this classic pass you by. See it while you have the chance, before the star-studded film version is released this December. Nothing can compare with a live performance!

*There are stage gun shots and a few bawdy lyrics.

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, April 15 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

April 6, 2012

Freud's Last Session

What would have happened if if the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the author and theologist C.S. Lewis had met and discussed their diametrically opposed world views? That's the situation imagined in Mark St. Germain's play Freud's Last Session on stage now at the Phoenix Theatre.

The fascinating show is a brisk 80 minutes with rapid-fire dialogue and no intermission. The two-actor production features Gordon McCall as Freud and Scot Greenwell as Lewis. At first their accents are a bit jarring, but soon the audience is caught up in their fierce sparring and everything else fades to the background. The men give excellent performances, oscillating between friendly banter and heated debate.

The meeting of the two great minds never actually happened, but much of the rest of the show is based on fact. Shortly before his death, Freud moved to London to escape the Nazi occupation in Austria. In the play he and Lewis are caught in the midst of the London bombings and between that and Freud's cancer, death is never far from their minds.

The bombings and Freud's illness serve as segues between discussion points as the men cover a myriad of topics. The talk about religion, sex, joy, death, marriage, sickness, music, suicide, parents and more. They were both intellectuals and rather than arguing their points they parry back and forth with the rhythm and humor of old friends, rarely escalating to emotional outbursts.

The engaging show is a tribute to the importance discussing ideas instead of ignoring people whose beliefs differ from your own. It doesn't preach one point of view, but instead it starts a conversation that will leave you thinking about each point for days.

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. 

: The show runs until April 15 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.

: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Prices range from $15 to $20.

Photos Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre

April 1, 2012

Broadway Across America Announces Indy 2012/13 Season

Broadway in Indianapolis announces its 2012-13 season which includes something for everyone!

Billy Elliot the Musical: November 13-18, 2012

Billy Elliot the Musical, is the joyous celebration of one boy's journey to make his dreams come true. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising passion that inspires his family and his whole community. A big musical with an even bigger heart, Billy Elliot will enchant the dreamer in all of us.

Jersey Boys: January 9-27, 2013

Jersey Boys, is the Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide - all before they were 30! Jersey Boys features their hit songs "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll," "Oh What a Night" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

Sister Act: February 26-March 3, 2013

Sister Act is Broadway's feel-amazing musical comedy smash! Featuring original music by 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors), Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look-a convent! Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, Sister Act is reason to rejoice!

Green Day's American Idiot: April 2-7, 2013

Direct from Broadway, the smash-hit musical American Idiot tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Their quest for true meaning in a post 9/11 world leads them on the most exhilarating theatrical journey of the season. Based on Green Day's GRAMMY® Award-winning multi-platinum album, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it's never gone before.

West Side Story: June 4-9, 2013

More than fifty years ago one musical changed theater forever. Now it's back, and mesmerizing audiences once again. From the first note to the final breath, West Side Story soars as the greatest love story of all time and remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever. The new Broadway cast album of West Side Story won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway's finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as "Something's Coming," "Tonight," "America," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere."

Season tickets for the 2012-13 Broadway in Indianapolis Season will go on sale Sunday, April 1 online. Beginning Monday, April 2 there will be 3 convenient ways to purchase season tickets:

1. Select your seats in person at the Broadway in Indianapolis Box Office in the Marott Center at 342 Massachusetts Avenue, Monday - Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm

2. Order online 7 days a week/24 hours a day at BroadwayInIndianapolis.com.

3. Call the Broadway Across America toll-free Indianapolis Season Ticket Hotline at 800-793-7469. The Hotline hours are Monday - Friday, 10:00am - 5:00pm.

Prices for the five-show season ticket package range between $120 and $471 depending on seat location.

Images of Billy Elliot and American Idiot from here and here.