September 28, 2012

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 politicians running the country at the time Jackson was the “people’s president.” He was a frontiersman who shot first and asked questions later and his Git-R-Done mentality didn’t sit well with the folks in D.C. He embodied so much of what is still considered “American” today: a sense of entitlement, but also a driven nature that helped him succeed both in the political world and on a battlefield.

Claire Wilcher is an absolute scene-stealer every time she walks (or scooters) on to the stage. She plays a storyteller as well as a few other parts in the ensemble. Her performance in Avenue Q set a high bar for future expectations, but she’s exceeded them all with this show.

At the height of its silliness it’s clear the cast is having a blast and that translates into a great entertainment for the audience. The production embraces the irreverent portrayal of early America and just has fun with it. How can you resist a show that describes one of our presidents as “Federal Metamucil,” unclogging Washington?
In the midst of fun songs and hilarious dialogue there’s quite a bit of history packed in the show. History can paint quite a bittersweet picture. Go to enjoy the show, but afterwards you might just realize you learned quite a bit about “Old Hickory.”
p.s. Don’t forget to get out there and vote people!!!
Don't Miss the Show 

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit The theater is located at 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Ave. 

Performances: The show runs until October 21 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 $23 to $33. 

Photos Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre 

September 25, 2012

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 turn animalistic in an instant. Ryan Artzberger does a great job as the troubled Dr. Jekyll, slowly loosing his grip on reality.

Three spiraling staircases, dirty windows, and a spinning door create a set as dark and twisted as the story itself. The ghostly make-up on the entire cast adds to the eerie atmosphere on the show.

There’s a wonderful part at the end of the first act that sums up the overarching theme perfectly. A maid witnesses a murder and while giving her testimony she says she meant to call for help sooner, but her “bad” side wanted to watch what happened and so she waited. Even that minor character struggled with her sinister desires. Anyone who gives too much power to that part of their nature will begin to loose balance and control.

The story is a fascinating study of the duality that lives in every person. For Jekyll and Hyde that darker side has been given a name and a life of its own, but even without that, each person has their own demons to struggle with.

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. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" runs until Sunday, Sept. 30 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at

Make sure to check out the IRT's Going Solo festival as well. This year's shows include The Syringa Tree and The Night Watcher on stage until October 14th.

*Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing

September 17, 2012

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 also delightful as an acerbic older dancer. She once dreamed of becoming a prima donna, but now is wondering how long she has left in the business.

Ryan Koharchik deserves a nod for his excellent set and lighting design. The production utilizes a simple backdrop with occasional mirrors, letting the dancers themselves become the focus. Lighting is a vital element in this show as dancers take the spotlight as they tell their story and it was well done.
The show is performed with no intermission, which is crucial to maintaining the pressure and anxiety the dancers feel during their audition. The most interesting aspect of the show, which was a smash success when it premiered in 1975, is that the stories told on the stage are all based on the real stories of dancers in New York City. For decades the musical has remained close to the heart of performers, who can identify with the painful process. For the rest of us, it provides a glimpse into the lives of the people in show business. It can be a grueling life, but it's one fueled by a fiery passion.

Don't Miss the Show

The show closes Sept. 22. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Tarkington is located at 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032 at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Ticket prices start at $32 and can be purchased by calling (317) 923-4597 or visiting Next up is the chilling play, The Woman in Black, the perfect show for the Halloween season.

Photos courtesy of the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

September 1, 2012

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-provoking, and even a little romantic, 9 to 5: The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business. Book by Patricia Resnick. On stage Feb. 7 through March 24.

Also new to Beef & Boards and the next on its stage is the hilarious celebration of women and the change: Menopause, The Musical. Written by Jeanie Linders and set in a department store, Menopause, The Musical brings four women together who have little in common other than a black lace bra. The ladies make fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges in this production that includes parodies from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. On stage March 27 through May 12.

The Sound of Music, the iconic work of Rodgers and Hammerstein, opens May 16 and continues through June 30. As the 2013 Family Show, the production offers $10 discounts off tickets for kids ages 3-15. Follow the adventures of free-spirited postulant Maria as she is sent from the convent to become a governess for seven children of Captain von Trapp in Austria during World War II. With stories and song, she transforms the home and hearts of this rigid family. Adapted from “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” it was written by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Summer brings the return of the hit Smoke on the Mountain, opening July 5. One of the most popular shows in Beef & Boards’ 40-year history, this musical follows the Singing Sanders Family, who is invited to perform at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church by its new pastor, the Rev. Oglethorpe. Enjoy the “signing” sister June, and all your favorite characters as they perform energetic bluegrass and Gospel tunes and share stories that will touch your heart and leave you laughing. Book by Constance Ray. Conceived by Alan Bailey. Musical arrangements by Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick. On stage through Aug. 18.

Ready or not, Stanley Banks is about to be the Father of the Bride, on stage Aug. 22 through Sept. 29. His daughter has announced her engagement and the preparations begin for a “small” wedding. But as the plans and the guest list grow rapidly, so does the debt – and the stress! Mr. Banks is surrounded by caterers, dressmakers, florists and furniture movers, and faces the unthinkable when his daughter calls the whole event off. By Caroline Francke, from the novel by Edward Streeter.

The musical phenomenon Les Misérables makes its Beef & Boards debut Oct. 3 through Nov. 24. Journey with Jean Valjean as he finds redemption against all odds in the corruption and chaos of revolutionary France. An eight-time Tony Award winner, Les Misérables is the struggle, the score and the story that has captivated millions around the globe. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel.

The holiday season is time for the annual celebration A Beef & Boards Christmas, opening Nov. 29. This variety show has been a tradition at Beef & Boards for over 20 years, and makes the most of the season, with beautiful music, energetic dance numbers, colorful costumes and stirring voices. Gather with friends and family for this original production, on stage through Dec. 23.

Plus Beef & Boards brings back its one-hour musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol starting Dec. 6. This classic, enhanced with holiday carols, tells the timeless Charles Dickens story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge whose cold heart warms with the visits of several spirits on Christmas Eve. The production is on stage for select dates through Dec. 21.

Tickets for all 2013 season shows are on sale to the general public starting Oct. 1. They may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 317.872.9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays). Tickets for main stage shows range from $37.50 to $62.50, and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet, full fruit & salad bar and unlimited coffee, tea and lemonade.
Note: Discounts are available for groups and kids ages 3-15.

New VIP memberships for the 2013 Season are on sale starting Sept. 4. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Oct. 1. Visit, for complete details.

Photos courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.