March 28, 2013

ATCA Conference


This past weekend I had the opportunity it participate in something truly incredible. Indianapolis hosted the American Theatre Critics Association Conference (ACTA) and critics from all over the country made their way to our fine city. From San Francisco, CA to New Haven, CT the critics came; many had never been to Indiana before and had no idea that we had such a wide variety of cultural events available. This conference was a chance to widen perceptions about how our city is viewed throughout the country.


The driving force behind this event was Indianapolis Business Journal, led by Arts and Entertainment editor Lou Harry. A lot of work went into pitching and organizing this conference. Every detail from the food to the transportation had to be worked out and dozens of schedules had to be juggled to fit in as much as possible, but the result was a smashing success. Attendees enjoyed local food from Yats, Ralston’s Draft House, Shapiro’s and the Rathskeller. They traveled from Mass Ave to the Pyramids and from Carmel to Fountain Square. In the span of only four days the critics had the opportunity to drink their fill of Indianapolis and despite a strange spring blizzard; even critics from South Carolina hung around for the final events on Sunday night.

(Dance Kaleidoscope)


One of my favorite aspects of the weekend was watching the different organizations and theatres work together to accommodate everyone. There was a sense of camaraderie as Indy put its best face forward. There was a huge and varied selection of events offered to the conference attendees; including plays performed by the Phoenix Theatre, HART, Acting Up Productions, NoExit Performance and Indiana Repertory Theatre, musicals by Beef & Boards and Actors Theatre of Indiana and a concert at the Palladium. There were panel discussions at the Indiana Historical Society and a modern dance performance by Dance Kaleidoscope. There were trips to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and the Eiteljorg Museum and so much more.

(Fringe Panel at IndyFringe)

Between all of the events there were a myriad of questions raised and discussed. One of the most interesting: why do Broadway-caliber performers and set/costume/lighting designers choose to live and work in Indiana? A panel featuring notable Hoosiers in the arts responded, illuminating the issue with their personal experiences. Each one had unique reasons, but a common theme was trying to find balance in their lives. Living and working in Indiana allowed them to spend time with their families and enjoy their community while at the same time finding creative fulfillment. They also agreed that there are joys and challenges to being an artist that you will find no matter where you’re working. With the wonderful work available in regional theatre, you don’t have to go to New York City to find a great role.  


One conclusion that was unanimously reached was that the Indianapolis community does support the arts and the artists in its midst. From the money raised to save the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to donors who sponsor individual artists, Hoosiers are willing to step up and put their money where their mouths are. It will always be a struggle and the arts remain underfunded. To maintain such diverse offerings of cultural events we have to get out and buy tickets or attend exhibits to show our support.

(The Lyons at the Phoenix Theatre)

I think people in Indianapolis often don’t realize the immense number of options available at any given time. Sometimes tickets are $50, but other times there are $10 matinee tickets or cheap seat night, etc. You just have to be willing to look for them. Theatre groups like IndyFringe are breaking new ground by providing a home for original theatre in Indianapolis and there’s always something interesting on its schedule!

On the right side of this blog there is a long list of theatres in the Indianapolis area. If you haven’t heard of one or just haven’t checked it out in a while I would encourage you to visit a few of the sites. Don’t assume you can’t afford tickets or that there isn’t much going on. If we don’t support these organizations then they won’t be around for long.

I hope it’s a reminder to all of my fellow Hoosiers to make sure you get out and enjoy the city as much as possible. If people are willing to fly here from all over the country to see a show, then it’s certainly worth you making a trip downtown to do the same!

Photos Courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography, the IBJ, Zach Rosing and Melissa Hall


March 16, 2013

Broadway Across America Announces 2013/14 Season



Broadway Across America is thrilled to announce the 2013/14 Indianapolis season. Season tickets are now on sale. 

FLASHDANCE (October 1-6, 2013 - Clowes Hall)

Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, the pop culture phenomenon of Flashdance is now live on stage. With electrifying dance at its core, Flashdance: The Musical tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of one day becoming a professional performer. When romance with her steel mill boss threatens to complicate her ambitions, Alex learns the meaning of love and its power to fuel the pursuit of her dream.

Flashdance: The Musical features a score that includes the biggest hit songs from the movie, including the Academy Award-winning title song "Flashdance - What a Feeling," "Maniac," "Gloria," "Manhunt," and "I Love Rock & Roll." In addition to these hits, 16 brand new songs have been written for the musical with music by Robbie Roth and lyrics by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth. The book is by Tom Hedley (co-writer of the original screenplay), and Robert Cary with direction and choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys, Memphis).

GHOST: THE MUSICAL (March 4-9, 2014 - Old National Centre)

Relive the iconic and magical moments from the Oscar-winning movie Ghost in a brand-new Broadway musical.  Ghost The Musical follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam's untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death.  The musical’s tale of everlasting love is thrilling entertainment for audiences of all ages.

MEMPHIS (April 1-6, 2014 - Clowes Hall)

From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes a hot new Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Come along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves -- filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock 'n' roll.  Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, Memphis, which played pre-Broadway at the La Jolla Playhouse, features a Tony®-winning book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and a Tony®-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan.  Directing is Tony® nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu), and choreography is by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys).  Get ready to experience Broadway’s most exciting new destination~ what AP calls “The very essence of what a Broadway musical should be.”

THE ADDAMS FAMILY (May 13-18, 2014 - Clowes Hall)

The Addams Family is a smash-hit musical comedy that brings the darkly delirious world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and, of course, Lurch to spooky and spectacular life. “A visually satisfying, rib-tickling, lunatic musical that will entertain you to death!” according to Toronto Post City, this magnificently macabre new musical comedy is created by Jersey Boys authors Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, Drama Desk-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party), choreographer Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and Olivier Award-winning costume and set designers Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter) with direction by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks.
Come meet the family. We’ll leave the lights off for you.

THE BOOK OF MORMON (June 17-22, 2014 - Old National Centre)

Ben Brantley of The New York Times calls it “the best musical of this century.” Entertainment Weekly says it’s “the funniest musical of all time.” From South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it’s THE BOOK OF MORMON, winner of nine Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show calls it “a crowning achievement. So good it makes me angry.”

The Book of Mormon features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.

WICKED (November 13-December 1, 2013 - Old National Centre)

Back by “Popular” demand.  Variety calls WICKED "a cultural phenomenon,” and when it last played Indianapolis in 2011, it broke box office records and sold out in record time. Winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tony Awards, WICKED is “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times). 

Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the land of Oz. One - born with emerald green skin - is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good makes for "the most complete - and completely satisfying - new musical in a long time" (USA Today).




To purchase ticket: 

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, 9:00am-7:00pm and Saturday, 12-5 pm

Broadway in Indianapolis shows typically run for one week at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre and Clowes Memorial Hall.  Performance options are Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30pm, Friday evenings at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 2:00 & 8:00pm and Sundays at 1:00 & 6:30pm. (All times are subject to change). An American Sign Language interpreted performance for the deaf is regularly scheduled for the Sunday evening, 6:30pm show.  Audio described performances for the visually impaired are also available upon request.  Anyone requiring either of these services or accommodations for the physically challenged should request so when purchasing season tickets.

Group Sales and Single Tickets

Group sales information is now available for all shows.  Reservations may be made by calling Group Sales Manager, Chris Schneider, at 317-632-7469 x 103 or email at Chris.Schneider@BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com. For more information visit BroadwayInIndianapolis.com.

Tickets for individual shows are not available at this time and typically go on sale to the general public 4-6 weeks prior to the opening of the show.

*parking is limited and cannot be guaranteed

For more information visit Broadway Across America.

Photos Courtesy of Broadway Across America

March 11, 2013

The Whipping Man


The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s current Mainstage production The Whipping Man takes audiences back to Virginia in April 1865. The play opens with Caleb, the son of a Virginia slave owner, stumbling into his home at the end of the Civil War. He (Andrew C. Ahrens) has been fighting for the Confederacy and returns to his family’s land in the hopes of reuniting with them, but the only man there to greet him is the former slave Simon (David Alan Anderson). The two must try and navigate the minefield of their new relationship. Simon is a free man now but they still feel a deep loyalty to each other. Their shared Jewish faith gives them a common ground as they celebrate the Passover Seder together.

The show touches on many issues. What happens when you lose your faith? What happens when the world you know has crumbled? How can people move past bitterness, anger and guilt to join together and rebuild an entire country? Playwright Matthew Lopez deals with each of these topics in a delicate but intense way.


Ahrens has built a solid foundation of dramatic roles at the IRT. His talent has been evident in everything from Macbeth to Crime and Punishment and this latest performance is a wonderful addition to that body of work. I think Ahrens has a wonderful career ahead of him and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Over the years Anderson has conditioned IRT audiences to expect excellence from him in every performance and he does not disappoint. His portrayal of the loyal and strong Simon is spot on. Tyler Jacob Rollinson rounds out the cast as John, an angry young man who has grown up alongside Caleb and has seen the difference between them highlighted every day of his life. Seeds of discontent were planted early and have had years to blossom in his soul.

Erhard Rom, the scenic designer, creates a fourth character with the dilapidated old mansion. The broken windows and eerie atmosphere the house provides brings the severity of the situation into focus. It’s been ravaged by years of war and is now a hollowed out shell of its former glory. Lighting Designer Kendall Smith adds to the dramatic mood with a lightning storm in the first scene. All of these elements combine together to remind the characters that the old world is gone; something new must be built from the ashes, but it will never be the same.


Before the show began the IRT’s Artistic Director, Janet Allen, mentioned that one of the responsibilities of art is to start tough conversations. The horrors of war are not pretty. The cruelty of slavery is disturbing, but these things are part of our history and should not be ignored because they make us uncomfortable. In the wake of both Lincoln and Django Unchained receiving Academy Award Best Picture nominations last month the play seems particularly relevant.

The show isn’t for the faint of heart, but the important things in life usually aren’t. There is adult language and themes, but it is a powerful show that will start some essential conversations. At the end of the opening night performance the entire house was on its feet, reminding us that the things that often resonate with people on a deep level are often those that deal with the most difficult subject matter. 

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 Whipping Man" runs until Sunday, March 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. 

March 4, 2013

The Lyons

 
Over the past 25 seasons Diane Kondrat has performed in dozens of roles at the Phoenix Theatre. Now she can be seen for the final time in the Hoosier state playing the handpicked role of Rita Lyons, the matriarch of a dysfunctional New York family in the Frank and Katrina Basile Theatre.

This part is perfect for Kondrat, offering her a chance to showcase both her comedic timing and dramatic prowess. The Lyons provides a tightly-wound look at the unique intricacies of one family’s dynamics. It’s a black comedy providing wildly funny lines, but each clever barb cuts another character to the core.
  


Rita is a piece of work. In the opening scene she discusses her design ideas for a new living room with her husband. Quickly you realize she’s asking her husband what he thinks of these new ideas with the full knowledge that he’ll be dead soon and won’t be around to enjoy it. There is no love loss between the two. Though the couple has been married for 40 years they treat each other with utter contempt.

Charles Goad is Ben, Rita’s long-suffering husband. At the end of his life he has decided to let go of any veneer of politeness and let everyone know just what he thinks of them. That death bed honesty is both amusing and brutal. Goad is excellent in the role, conveying a wide range of emotions as he readies himself for the end.

Their daughter Lisa (Angela Plank) is a single mother trying to keep her alcoholism at bay. Their other child, Curtis (Scot Greenwell), is in his own father’s words, “creepy.” The pair grew up watching their miserable parents undermine each other and as adults they have no idea how to find a healthy relationship. They’re both lost and alone in their own way; convinced they don’t deserve happiness.




Each of the characters in the cast walks a delicate line between neurosis and vulnerability. They’re trying to find a way to stave off their loneliness, settling for any crumb of human connection they can find. They are each hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measures. Their cruelty towards each other knows no bounds and because of that they have each created a prison of loneliness for themselves.

The first act is particularly well-crafted. It’s an unending stream of personal attacks and each relationship has a minefield of past wrongs and grudges. Blood might be a tenuous bond, but bitterness will hold fast in any storm. It’s like a beautifully orchestrated train wreck; you know it’s going to end badly, but you can’t look away.

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 March 31 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. There are adult themes and adult language used in the show.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Prices range from $18 to $28. The play has one intermission and includes adult language.

Photos Courtesy of Zach Rosing