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Showing posts from 2013

Lend Me A Tenor

Slamming doors and mistaken identities, it must be time for Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s season opening show! For the past few years Beef & Boards has opened every season with a slapstick farce. This year’s selection is Lend Me A Tenor, a Ken Ludwig comedy. A famous tenor, Tito Merelli, is scheduled to sing in Cleveland when unexpected obstacles complicate things. His highly-anticipated performance puts pressure on everyone involved, including a young man named Max and his boss Saunders. The set is a simple hotel suite with clean lines and countless doors. It works wonderfully for the whirlwind production, which has actors coming and going at break neck speeds. The costumes are also particularly fun. The characters are decked out in evening gowns and tuxes for the big night and the performers don purple tights.  Max, played by David Schmittou, is a bumbling good guy with Bryan Cranston’s looks and Clark Kent’s sweet charm. He finds that when the need arises he has the streng…

Top Shows of 2013

Each years there are countless of great shows produced and there's no way to make it to all of them. Here are my top ten choices of shows I saw in 2013. Keep your eyes on these theatres in 2014 for more great shows!

1) Yellow Wallpaper at NoExit Performances

2) Next to Normal at the Phoenix Theatre

3) Hamlet at the American Players Theatre in Wisconsin

4) An Iliad at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

5) The Importance of Being Earnest performed by the EclecticPond Theatre Company

6) Les Misérables at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

7) Wicked at the Old National Center performed by Broadway Across America

8) Love, Loss, and What I Wore at the Phoenix Theatre

9) Underneath the Lintel performed by Patrick O'Brien at iNDYFRINGE

10) The Crucible at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Photos courtesy of the Phoenix, the American Players Theatre, Broadway Across America and the IRT

A Beef & Boards Christmas 2013

Beef & Boards is bursting at the seams with holiday cheer this month. Their annual Christmas show is back to help audiences celebrate the Christmas season. As always, it’s co-hosted by the ageless duo Deb Wims and Kenny Shepard. This is Shepard’s 20th year performing in the Christmas show.
The production is a flurry of high kicking chorus lines and kid-friendly numbers. Four main performers take on most of the numbers while Kelly Teal Goyette belts out a few solo songs. Unlike previous years, there aren’t any standout performances that carry the show. Instead there’s a steady stream of Christmas carols and holiday standbys.

The Beef & Boards Orchestra is excellent as always; highlighted center stage on the all-new set by Michael Layton. Dominic Sheahan-Stahl provides a fitting salute to the military with his rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
You’d be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic Christmas show in town this year. From the Grinch to Frosty to Rudolph, families …


There are some musicals that become stale with age. They don’t hold up after multiple viewings and the magic seems to disappear with time. I don’t think Wicked will ever be one of those shows. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the show feels just as fresh and exciting as it did the first time I saw it. The elaborate sets are captivating, the costumes are whimsical and you’ll be humming the score for days.
This fan-favorite tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West before she was so infamously titled. The emerald-hued Elphaba struggles to find her place in a world that seems set on rejecting her. Through the story she discovers that the power of friendship and standing up for what’s right is much more important than simply fitting in with the crowd.

The two leads are played by Hayley Podschun (Glinda) and Jennifer DiNoia (Elphaba), both are excellent. DiNoia nails each of her big numbers while still making Elphaba a sympathetic and relatable character. Podschun is perfect as Glinda…

The 1940's Radio Hour

Women sporting victory rolls in their hair and exclamations of “swell” and “cheese and crackers” let the audience know we’re no longer in the 21st century. In the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s current production, The 1940’s Radio Hour, we take a trip back in time to Dec. 21, 1942. The country was at war and each night families gathered together and tuned in to hear their favorite variety show on the radio. The production gets off to a slow start. As the cast trickles in to prep for the live show audience members feel a bit like they’ve shown up too early for the performance. It’s a waiting game until the first number, but once the show kicks off we don’t slow down until the final bow.
The set is a live radio stage; complete with flashing applause signs to cue the audience. It also features a live 17-piece orchestra in stadium seating. They are the highlight of the show, performing each song beautifully led by their talented conductor Brent Marty. The commercials, sung by the cast, …

At Home at the Zoo

Awkward social situations, touchy marital talks, and discussions about uncomfortable issues, you’d expect nothing less from the playwright who wrote, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Acting Up Productions’ current show “At Home at the Zoo” is a unique play to say the least. Originally presented as a one act production called “The Zoo Story,” the playwright added another act to the beginning of the show decades later. The result is a strange blend, but a fascinating one. The first act (the newer of the two) introduces us to Peter and Ann, a content married couple who somehow end up discussing some delicate issues.
The couple, played by Allison Reddick and Joshua C. Ramsey, are convincing as a pair who have grown accustomed to their monotonous lives. They’ve established a comfortable life, but like most couples, they long for a bit of excitement. Ann begins to wonder if they wouldn’t benefit from a little disorder in their world.
The second and more well-known act follows Peter (Ramsey) a…

An Iliad

A one-man show of The Iliad doesn’t sound too promising to most people. The epic story of the Trojan War simplified into a show with a single cast member sounds almost impossible. And yet the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s current Upperstage production blows audiences away.

An Iliad features Henry Woronicz in a tour-de-force performance. He is poet and player, warrior and widow all at the same time. He begins with the Greek language, naming cities and battles, but he quickly connects with the audience bringing the reality of war home to them. In modern day clothes he walks the littered alleyway in a big city reminiscing about the Greeks and Trojans. If the show was performed by a less talented actor it could easily have stalled-out, losing peoples’ attention in a sea of unfamiliar Greek words. Instead it’s mesmerizing in its complexity, maintaining a comedic edge despite the serious material.

The play is based on the Iliad, but it rises above being a retelling of the well-known story. Usin…

Les Misérables

When it comes to musicals they don't get much bigger or more complex than Les Misérables. The sheer size of the cast, the number of costumes and complicated sets make this production a huge endeavor for any theater to undertake. Beef & Boards decided to tackle that challenge head on for the first time in their 40 years of business. The powerful show is on stage now until November 24th.
The epic story covers decades of time and a huge cast of characters. At its heart is Jean Valjean (played by Broadway vet Gregg Goodbrod) a convict who breaks parole and starts a new life. He learns the hard way that a person can only depend on the mercy and generosity of others if they hope to survive. Goodbrod really hits his stride in the second act, nailing songs like “Bring Him Home.” Hot on his trail throughout the musical is Inspector Javert, a police officer who sees the world in black and white. Joe Tokarz plays Javert with such conviction it’s hard to look away. He’s a complex villain,…

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Last week if someone had asked me what Snow White, the Tony awards and Chekhov had in common I would have assumed it was the beginning of a bad joke. Instead, the answer is obviously the Phoenix Theatre’s season opener, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike. The title is a mouthful, but the play itself is a delight. The show won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play and audiences will have no trouble figuring out why. Witty dialogue, neurotic characters and a bit of absurdity thrown in for good measure make the show odd, but endearing.
Playwright Christopher Durang introduces us to a group of middle-aged siblings, two of whom still live in their childhood home after spending years caring for their now deceased parents. The third sibling, Masha, became a self-absorbed movie star. The play takes place over one weekend when Masha decides to visit her sedate siblings, Vanya and Sonia (their professor parents named them all after Chekhov characters). The whirlwind weekend includes a costume party…

The Crucible

When it comes to live theatre it’s always a treat to find productions of classic plays or see performances from talented actors or to be moved by the intense subject matter of a show. It’s rare to find a production that combines all of those elements, but the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s season opener The Crucible does just that. The play is perennial favorite, telling the story of the Salem witch trials while alluding to other moments of persecution in American history such as the 1950s Red Scare.
Set during 1692 at the height of the high-strung Puritan life style, the residents of Salem must decide if they will keep their heads down or if they will stand up for what’s right when the charge of witchcraft is shouted in the streets.  The stark set and lighting paint the actors in black and white while the plot shows us shades of gray.

This is a show that explores a terrifying situation. When society is turned upside down and the lives of so many are being held in the hands of a liar how c…

Father of the Bride and 2014 Season Announcement

Father of the Bride won audiences’ hearts as a 1991 film remake starring Steve Martin. Now that same story is on stage at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. The simplified version play takes place entirely in the family’s living room, reminding us once again that a wedding really is a family affair. A father’s life is thrown into chaos when his daughter decides to have a “small” wedding.

Jeff Stockberger stars as the title character. He plays grumpy, but is ultimately wrapped around his daughter’s finger. As the bills come in and the guest list grows he becomes more flustered. Fathers everywhere can relate to the strain he’s under. Lisa Ermel returns to B&B as the sweet bride. She’s naïve about the simplicity of planning a wedding, but sincere in her feelings for her fiancé.

Those who frequent other Indianapolis theatres will be excited to see a familiar face. Ben Tebbe, a regular at the Phoenix Theatre, HART and the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, makes his Beef & Boards debut as…

AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE: Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and More


This season the American Players Theatre is tackling one of Shakespeare’s most revered tragedies, Hamlet. This production includes the full text and clocks in at three and a half hours with one 20 minute intermission. And they’ve made every single minute count!

The show stars Matt Schwader as the tortured prince. He nails Hamlet’s infamous rise and fall of emotions and his delicate balance of sanity. He also manages to infuse just the right amount of humor and snark into Shakespeare’s lines. He is broken and grieving and yet he embraces his role of feigned madness to achieve his goal. It’s a powerful performance.

The intense drama deals with the issue of grief and love in equal parts. Hamlet is reeling from the death of his father when he finds out that his mother has married her former brother-in-law. Their marriage comes so quickly on the heels of the death that Hamlet resents both of them. Soon he learns his father was actually murdered by the usurping king, his own brother. To…