November 28, 2012

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 enthusiastic cast makes the show a fresh delight each year. There's always something new, like this year's addition of the lovely Megan McKinney in a variety of roles. Jason Bradley takes over the role of the beleaguered but cheerful Bob Cratchit and IRT favorites Ryan Artzberger and Robert Neal are back as Scrooge and Marley. The show is 90 minutes, with no intermission, perfect for both kids and adults to enjoy.


In addition to the play, the IRT is offering festive activities and events before and after each performance. They have everything from carolers in the lobby to visiting reindeer outside the theatre. Visit their site here for a full list of scheduled events.

The IRT is also offering special discounts for this show, including free and discounted tickets for military families. The IRT is now one of the 66 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) theater members to participate in the newly launched Blue Star Theatres program, which – in partnership with Blue Star Families – provides free or discounted ticket programs to military personnel and their families, as well as veterans.

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. A Christmas Carol" runs until Monday, Dec. 24 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 Zach Rosing

November 19, 2012

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 the nation. APT is located in Spring Green, Wis., on 110 acres of hilly woods and meadows above the Wisconsin River. The APT amphitheater is built within a natural hollow atop an oak-wooded hill. Under the dome of sky, 1148 comfortably cushioned seats encircle three sides of the stage. In 2009, APT opened the indoor Touchstone Theatre, offering a different type of play and experience

For more information, visit www.americanplayers.org
 
The 2013 Season: June 8 – October 20, 2013

UP THE HILL 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Tim Ocel
One of Shakespeare’s early comedies, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a coming of age story about youth, friendship and forgiveness. Valentine and Proteus are the best of friends. But when Valentine moves to the big city of Milan and promptly falls in love with the beautiful Sylvia (whose father has promised her to another suitor), Proteus can’t stay behind for long. Leaving his own newly won beloved Julia in Verona, Proteus also falls for Sylvia, committing the sin of putting his own desires before his friendship. But in friendship (and Shakespearean comedies) no one is ever beyond forgiveness. Featuring all the Bard’s greatest hits – mistaken identity, girls dressing up like boys, hilarious servants and one emotive dog – Two Gents makes for entertaining theater.

Too Many Husbands (AKA Home and Beauty)
By W. Somerset Maugham
Directed by David Frank
Prim English chivalry gets bushwhacked by fate in this hilarious comedy. In the wake of WWI, lovely Kate has lost one husband, but gained another. His charming best friend Frederick, in fact. But when husband number one is found unexpectedly alive, Kate and Frederick struggle to explain their relationship to chaotic (and very funny) results. Featuring characters who waltz with and around propriety, Too Many Husbands is one of those pieces that fits our players like an urbane second skin; an event not to be missed.

Hamlet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Langs.
The Prince of Denmark returns to the APT stage in all his hang-dog glory. A visit from the ghost of his murdered father sets Hamlet on a quest for the truth. Everyone is a suspect, from his uncle-turned-stepfather Claudius to his own mother, Queen Gertrude. But Hamlet’s investigation sets in motion events he couldn’t have imagined, as the kingdom grapples with what to do with their emotional and often dangerous Prince. Without hyperbole, Hamlet is one of the greatest plays ever written, covering all the big thematic bases – love, madness, revenge and murder are just the beginning here.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by James Bohnen
Hamlet bit players Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take center stage in Tom Stoppard’s philosophical comedy about free will and identity. Mssrs. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to make sense of the world through a series of insightful, witty conversations with each other (or themselves, as they often forget which one of them is which) and other characters who make appearances along the way. A funny, philosophical commentary about life, with moments of Shakespearean poetry. And P.S. – All the players from APT’s production of Hamlet will be reprising their roles in this play.

All My Sons
By Arthur Miller
Directed by William Brown
The Keller family struggles with tragedy and scandal in the wake of World War II. Patriarch Joe discovers that his youngest son, Chris, is preparing to propose to his deceased brother’s fiancĂ©. Which poses a problem, since Joe’s wife, Kate, refuses to believe that their son Larry is dead. As it turns out, this is the least of the secrets at hand, and as more revelations come to light, the Kellers and their tight-knit community struggle to survive the fallout. A mystery in the guise of family drama from great American playwright Arthur Miller.

IN THE TOUCHSTONE THEATRE

Dickens In America

By James DeVita
Directed by C. Michael Wright.
Join Charles Dickens on the last performance of his final American tour. Featuring readings from classic works such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and David Copperfield seamlessly paired with off-the-cuff insights, Dickens In America is a spellbinding combination of literature, history and fiction. Originally created in 2006 for James Ridge to play Mr. Dickens on the Uphill stage, we feel its true hearth and home is in the Touchstone Theatre.

Molly Sweeney
By Brian Friel
Directed by Kenneth Albers
Molly has been blind since she was a small child, and with the help of her father has learned to live contentedly using a combination of her other senses. After marrying the well-meaning dilettante, Frank, a new option becomes available via a struggling surgeon - one that may or may not restore at least some of her sight. Through a series of monologues, the three characters at the heart of this play investigate the question of “what have you got to lose”, as they struggle to stay connected in a hazy fog of memory and trust.

Antony and Cleopatra
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kate Buckley
Adapted by James DeVita
Mark Antony – one of the three new rulers of the Roman Empire – has fallen desperately in love with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, with whom he wiles away the time (and shirks responsibility). When Rome is threatened, though, he is forced to return. While away from his Queen, he dutifully marries another woman in order to bring peace between clashing emperors, angering everyone involved to the point of war and tragedy. APT’s new adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra allows the play to fit within the confines of the intimate Touchstone Theatre while retaining the power of the full production.

November 14, 2012

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 ballet and hope for a future in dancing. That’s a lot for an 11-year-old to cope with and Parets captures that struggle.


I was once again impressed with Rich Herbert’s performance as Billy’s father. I think his role makes this show a bit more accessible for men who might not normally love musicals. He provides a relatable character for almost any father. He’s reluctant to accept his son for who he is and in the world they come from, that’s completely understandable, but his son’s happiness is more important than his pride.

Billy Elliot is about being true to who you are and supporting the people you love no matter what. I can’t think of a better message for a musical to share. On top of that the show is incredibly entertaining!

Don't Miss the Show

 

The show will run until November 18 at Old National Centre (the Murat Theatre). Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, Old National Centre, 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

November 9, 2012

Seminar


 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 at his students’ work.
 

The classes are incredibly tense, as the five writers sit in a room and push each other’s buttons. The four students include: Martin (Sam Fain), who is a bit rough around the edges, but self-righteous about his work and Izzy (Lisa Ermel) who delights in using her sexuality to get a rise out of the people around her.

Then there’s Douglas (Neal Eggeson), an insufferable name-dropper whose self-entitlement is only matched by his mediocrity. Finally there’s Kate, played by Lauren Briggeman. She’s a middle-class, white female, so basically everything that Leonard despises in a writer. Her uptight, defensive nature and choices throughout the play make her a fascinating character, but I was frustrated by way the direction in which the story takes her. I felt like it was the easy way out and that her plot could have been so much more if it was handled differently.


Each of the characters is very well acted, but ultimately unlikeable. They are so wrapped up in their own neurosis that they are oblivious to each other’s pain. Everything they hang their hopes on is dashed on the rocks by the cruel and thoughtless words of their professor and they don’t know how to cope. If you ever needed a deterrent from becoming a writer – this is it!
 
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 Nov. 25 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 $18 to $28. The play has no intermission and includes adult language and mild nudity.


Photos Courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre
 

 

November 5, 2012

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 clichĂ©s, 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 everyone in the play. He is a reminder of all the lives we touch, with or without realizing it. I can’t single out a performer in the five person cast because each of them: Christopher Allen, Joseph Foronda, Patricia Hodges, Deirdre Lovejoy, and Jenny McKnight Jules, were so excellent in their very different roles.
 
The intimate set lends itself well to the 100 minute production. There is no intermission and conversation never lags. Comic moments break tense ones as the banter rolls on. The witty back and forth tumbles from casual chitchat to distant memories capturing the atmosphere of a true family get-together from the opening lines.

 
It’s rare to find a play that blends humor and heartbreak so seamlessly and to find performances and dialogue that move you deeply. In The House That Jack Built audience members find all of those things and more. It is a play about discovering who you are, because of and in spite of your family. It is about the ties that bind us together, even though they also cause us pain. And most of all, it is about the importance of family, both the one we are born with and the one we make along the way.

Please don’t miss your chance to see this remarkable show.

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 House That Jack Built" runs until Sunday, Nov. 25 on IRT's Upper 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 Zach Rosing