September 23, 2013

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 can you fight back? It asks the impossible question: which is more valuable, your life or your honor?

Three performers making their debuts at the IRT were particular standouts in a large all-around excellent cast. Elizabeth Laidlaw plays the stoic Elizabeth Proctor with a quiet strength. Her moral clarity provides a compass for her husband in the direst of moments. Isabel Ellison is the polar opposite as Abigail Williams. She creates a role that is both terrifying and mesmerizing as she ruins peoples’ lives like it’s a game and refuses to be shaken form her course. Finally we have Dennis Grimes’ heartbreaking portrayal of Rev. Hale. He is a man confronted with an unimaginable moral dilemma. 

I recently read the following passage “Shakespeare’s plays, like all great works of art, are open to interpretation. That is the hallmark of art that has real value. If a work is static and never changes, then it can never tell us very much about how we change over our lifetimes, and how mankind changes over centuries.” I couldn’t help but think of that while seeing The Crucible. The play is set centuries in the past, but the atmosphere of fear and persecution is one that is present throughout history in different settings. It is a play that has remained relevant for decades because the mob mentality comes naturally to humans. It is art like this that allows us to hold a mirror up to society and see ourselves through its lens. Don’t miss the powerful production!

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 Crucible" runs until Sunday, October 13 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  

Photos Courtesy of Zach Rosing and quote courtesy of Ken Ludwig

September 3, 2013

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 the intended groom. As always his earnestness charms the audience as well as his father-in-law.

Anyone who has gotten married or watched a family member get married knows that it is a universally stressful production. There’s beauty and joy, but they always seem to be paired with the tense strain of planning and paying for the event itself. The show is sweet and funny and a great family-friendly production. Also, this production worked in multiple references to the Indianapolis area, always a crowd-pleaser.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sept. 29. 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.

TicketsTo 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.

Beef and Boards has also announced its 2014 season:

Lend Me A Tenor (Dec. 28, 2013 – Feb. 2)
A world-famous singer is set to perform with the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, but all doesn’t go according to plan in this madcap comedy set during the 1930s. The general manager desperately tries to save the day, and the results are nothing short of hilarious! Winner of three Tony and two Drama Desk Awards, Lend Me A Tenor was written by Ken Ludwig and is on stage through Feb. 2.

Cats (Feb. 6 – March 30)
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats leaps onto the Beef & Boards stage from Feb. 6 through March 30. This seven-time Tony Award winning marvel celebrates the annual gathering of the Jellicle cats. Based on the universally popular poetry of T.S. Eliot and also marking its 25 anniversary in 2014, Cats remains the second-longest running Broadway musical in history. Music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by T.S. Eliot, Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe.

Anything Goes (April 3 – May 11)
Anything Goes weighs anchor April 3  through May 11. Two unlikely pairs set off on a course to true love on the S.S. American in  this classic boy-meets-girl tale. But they’re going to need the help of a crew of singing sailors,  exotic disguises and good old-fashioned blackmail to reach their destination. Celebrating its anniversary in 2014, this musical comedy features music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse, Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.

Mary Poppins (May 15 – June 29)
Flying in to Beef & Boards for the first time is that practically perfect nanny in Disney’s Mary Poppins, presented as the 2014 Family Show from May 15 through June 29. With a little magic and a lot of common sense, Mary Poppins is a nanny like the troubled Banks family has never seen before. Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, the production’s book is by Julian Fellowes with original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, and new songs, additional music and lyrics by George Styles and Anthony Drewe. Co-Created by Cameron Mackintosh.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement (July 5 – Aug. 17) Beef & Boards Debut
A new show with familiar faces brings audiences back to the basement for A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement, the latest offering in the hilarious and heartwarming Church Basement Ladies series. The year is 1960 and it means new high heels for confirmation, a food booth at the county fair and spontaneous driving lessons! On stage July 5 through Aug. 17, this musical comedy was inspired by the books “Growing Up Lutheran” and “Those Lutheran Ladies” by Janet Letness Martin and Suzann Nelson. Music and lyrics by Drew Jansen; book by Greta Grosch.

Oklahoma! (Aug. 21 – Oct. 5)
Beef & Boards celebrates one of the most famous musical theatre teams of all time as it presents the spirited Oklahoma! on stage from Aug. 21 through Oct. 5. The first collaboration of Rodgers & Hammerstein is set in Indian Territory at the turn of the century where farmers and cowboys collide and love doesn’t come easy for one particularly headstrong pair. Based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! originally opened on Broadway in 1943 and has spurred four revivals since. Music by Richard Rogers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Fiddler on the Roof (Oct. 9 – Nov. 23)
Marking its 50th anniversary in 2014 is Fiddler on the Roof, the musical that embraces tradition in a changing world. Even in the tight-knit Jewish community of Anatevka, social mores are changing and anti-Semitism is growing in Czarist Russia. A nine-time Tony Award winner, Fiddler on the Roof has touched audiences around the world for its humor, warmth and honesty. On stage Oct. 9 through Nov. 23 at Beef & Boards Book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

Also on stage are the annual A Beef & Boards Christmas 2014 (Nov. 28 – Dec. 23) and A Christmas Carol (Dec.6 – 22) and two children’s shows: How I Became A Pirate (Feb. 14 – March 15) and Sleeping Beauty (Oct. 17 – Nov. 15).

Photos Courtesy of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre