January 28, 2013

A Little Night Music

The Indiana Repertory Theatre typically shies away from musicals, depending instead of dramatic plays for the majority of its productions. But when the theater decides to do one it holds nothing back! Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is on the IRT’s Main Stage through the middle of February and the sheer scale of the undertaking is impressive. There’s a large cast, decadent costumes, incredible voices, and a live orchestra performing the score beneath the stage. The cast even includes Sylvia McNair, a Grammy-award-winning performer.

The stage is set with lines of thin birch trees, giving an added depth to the stage. The elaborate period costumes include piles of tiaras and beautiful jewelry to compliment the men’s tuxes and ladies’ evening gowns. The show itself is a reflection on love and the odd pairings it sometimes creates. It’s a bit like a French farce blended with an operetta, quick witty dialogue and humor balancing the characters’ heartbreak and loneliness.

Fredrik is a newly married man with a young bride. He can’t help but reminisce about an old flame, Desiree, when she performs in his town. The pair is beautifully matched, both in their humor and time in life. James Rank’s performance as Fredrik was one of the best in the show, portraying both a bemused gentleman and a confused lover. The duo has a chorus of memories haunting their steps and whispering bits from their pasts in their ears.   

To complicate things, Desiree is involved with a married man whose wife and lost her patience with her philandering husband. Jacquelynne Fontaine plays the wonderfully droll scorned wife, Countess Charlotte Malcolm; her sarcastic wit barely masking her desire for her husband to return her affection.

The musical offers a sweet look at love from the point of view of both the elderly and the young; one is so full of regret and wisdom and the other so full of hope and innocence. Shows of this caliber aren’t available everyday, so while it runs a bit long at near 3 hours, it’s still a delight.

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 Little Night Music" runs until Sunday, Feb. 17 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

January 22, 2013

Jackie and Me

Joey Stoshack has the unique ability to travel back in time using old baseball cards. Jackie and Me, based on the novel by Dan Gutman and adapted for the stage by the talented Steven Dietz (Dracula, Becky's New Car), follows Joey back to 1947 where he meets the great Jackie Robinson. The show is now playing on the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Upperstage and it's a wonderful way to bring history alive for any age group.

The casts rotates through the present day segments and those in 1947 with almost every person taking on multiple roles. Rob Johansen’s turn as the card collecting Flip was particularly fun. Robert Neal was perfect as the brash Branch Rickey who went out on a limb and signed Jackie Robinson as the very first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. Beethovan Oden, Lanise Antoine Shelley, Ryan Artzberger, Jennifer Johansen all do wonderful work as Jackie and Rachel Robinson and Joey’s concerned parents along with a myriad of other characters.

One of the most outstanding elements in the production is the detailed costume design by Alison Heryer. From the Dodgers’ uniforms to the ladies’ hats, Heryer’s attention to detail is impeccable. She was even able to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to see some actual clothing worn by Jackie and Rachel Robinson while researching the show.

Jackie and Me is a powerful play that tells the story of a man who stood up for what he believed in and refused to let others tell him to give up on his dreams.  It's a play about baseball and racism and about standing up for what is right. It’s also well suited for younger boys because it provides a fun sports-driven story blended with an accessible history lesson. Jackie’s story is being made into a movie, "42," starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, but the play is not to be missed! The show is 90 minutes long with no intermission. Get your kids or your niece or nephew and head to the theater! 

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. "Jackie and Me" runs until Saturday, Feb. 16 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

January 14, 2013

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys, the musical smash based on the band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is back in Indianapolis this month. The Broadway Across America show tells the story of the group that wrote and sang dozens of hits, like "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Ragdoll."

From humble beginnings the four Jersey boys rocket up the charts with hit after hit, but the road to success is never easy. Girls, drinking and gambling, the pitfalls are many and hard to avoid. It's hard to resist the bright lights of success and reaching the top can be bittersweet.

The first half of the show builds slowly as the group evolves, finding its name and sound. The second half feels more like an energetic concert as the cast bursts forth with one recognizable hit after another. It’s like having the opportunity to travel back in time and see the band live. The musical is even better the second time around. It gives you the chance to appreciate some of the supporting characters.

Nick Cosgrove plays Frankie Valli, the quartet’s lead singer. He nails Valli’s incredible octave range and makes the audience feel like it’s seeing the real thing. From the second he belts out his first number you know he’s perfect for the part. He has a voice that gives you chills. Bob Gaudio is played by the understudy Tommaso Antico and he knocked it out of the park. He and Cosgrove did were the highlights of the excellent show.

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Murat Theatre so hurry to get tickets. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, The Murat Theatre, by calling (800)-982-2787 or online here. 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

January 3, 2013

Arsenic and Old Lace

Beef and Board Dinner Theatre kicks its 40th Anniversary Season off in style with the classic screwball comedy Arsenic and Old Lace. Mortimer, a young theatre critic,  learns his two aunts are murders and his long-lost brother returns all in the same night. Chaos ensues as Mortimer tries to keep anyone else from getting killed. 

David Schmittou is excellent as the straight man Mortimer trapped in the farcical situation. His bewilderment and consternation at his family's madness is hilarious. He says more with one incredulous face than a dozen lines of dialogue could convey. 

One of my favorite bits in the show are the playful jibes at theatre critics. Mortimer hates the theatre and spends hours lambasting new plays and saving time by "writing the review on the way to the show." You can't help but think that was a bit of revenge from a frustrated playwright. 

Eddie Curry plays Dr. Einstein perfectly, channeling the long-dead Peter Lorre who played the same role in the film version. He pairs nicely with the creepy character of Jonathan Brewster played by Jeff Stockberger, the psychotic brother of Mortimer. Douglas E. Stark also adds another great element as he hams it up as Teddy, Mortimer's brother who believes he's Theodore Roosevelt. 

The results of the great cast is a fun show and a delightful way to begin a monumental season! 

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Feb. 3. 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 $37.50 to $62.50 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. As Beef & Boards’ 2012 Family Show, this production offers a $10 discount off tickets for kids ages 3-15. This production offers discounts; call the box office for more details. 

If you;d like to learn more about Beef & Boards full 40th Anniversary season, which includes hits like The Sound of Music and Les Misérables,  visit this link.

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre