February 17, 2014

The Graduate

Strains of Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair open a recent production of The Graduate at Marian University Theater. The show, a touring production from the L.A. Theatre Works, is a unique combination of radio theatre and a traditional play. Actors in full costume rotate between standing microphones. There are no scripts, as with some radio performances, instead the actors perform the show in full to the accompaniment of prop zippers and slamming doors.

Most people are familiar with the plot from the movie version, but it originated as a novel which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The story is a one most twenty-somethings can identify with. The overwhelming question, "What are you going to do with your life?" that hangs over every college graduation ceremony is the driving force behind our main character's decisions. Benjamin Braddock finds himself at a loss for motivation after graduating and moving back home. His parents' friend Mrs. Robinson initiates an affair and Braddock finds himself caught up in an unexpected relationship. 

Heidi Dippold plays the original cougar, Mrs. Robinson, with a sultry purr and a deeply rooted discontent. Her casual attitude of disinterest barely masks the anger of a wasted life. Jill Renner plays her unfortunate daughter Elaine. Renner does a wonderful job as a ambitious and passionate young woman struggling to reconcile her head and her heart. The rest of the cast is fleshed out with L.A. talent, including Brian Tichnell, Matthew Arkin, Darren Richardson, Diane Adair and Tom Virtue. Susan Albert Loewenber guides the show as the Producing Director. 

The Graduate was a one night performance, but Marian University has many upcoming events, including an evening with the award-winning Irish singer/songwriter Eunan McIntyr. On Thursday, March 20  at 7:30 pm Indianapolis can enjoy McIntyr’s music and humor during "An Evening with Eunan McIntyre." 

Here are a few more events to look forward to: 

- Wednesday, January 29 @ 7pm: Global Studies Speaker Series - Dejan Lazic, world renowned pianist and composer “The Global Life of a Modern Musician” Co-sponsored by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
- Tuesday, February 25 @ 7pm: Global Studies Speaker Series - Bioethics panel discussion with medical ethicists from Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, IU School of Medicine and Eli Lilly and Co. Co-sponsored by Marian University’s Center for Organizational Ethics
- Tuesday, March 25 @ 7pm: Global Studies Speaker Series - Carolyn Woo, president and CEO, Catholic Relief Services “God, Neighbor, Self” Co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services
- Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12 @ 7pm: Knight Fusion Singers – “A Little Knight Music” Dynamic evening with Marian University’s show choir
- Wednesday, April 16 @7pm: Global Studies Speaker Series - Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Archdiocese of Indianapolis “The Catholic Church: Catalyst for or Obstacle to a Better World?” Co-Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
For more information visit Marian University Theatre.
Photos courtesy of Marian University Theatre. 

February 11, 2014

Steel Magnolias

The play opens as a tight-knit group of Southern women celebrate the pending nuptials of one of their own. M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby is getting her hair done in Truvy’s beauty salon with only a few hours to go until she ties the knot. The rest of the show follows the women as they meet up at Truvy’s to gossip and gab under hairdryers. Their relationships delve deeper than the surface jokes and when tragedy strikes and they realize there’s no one they would rather turn to than each other for support.
Though “Steel Magnolias” originally started as a play, most people know it best through the 1989 film of the same name. Unlike the movie, the men are wholly absent from the stage version. The only characters are the six very different women who create a relaxed atmosphere so friendly that you could be hanging out with your own group of friends.

 Shelby (Emily Lantz) is the youngest of the crew and her passion for life (and the color pink) oozes out of her with every breath. Ouiser and Clairee definitely get the lion’s share of perfect one-liners, making their interaction endlessly entertaining. They playfully poke fun at each other as only the oldest friends can. Ouiser, played by June McCarty, is cranky delight and Clairee (Pamela Kingsley) is the ying to her yang, an older southern belle with a spunky side.
The set is a dated beauty parlor. Ryan Koharchik nails the tiniest detail, from the linoleum flooring to the 1980s hairstyles framed on the walls. It could be any salon in the south a few decades ago. Robert J. Sorbera’s direction makes this production a great fit for the Civic Theatre. The women are relatable and the plot is a well-balanced mix of comedy and drama.
The first half of the show lulls you into a sweet comforting cocoon before reminding you that life can throw a hell of a curve ball, but your friends will be there to support you when it happens. If your favorite emotion is, in Truvy’s words, “laughter through tears,” you’ll be right at home.
Don't Miss the Show
Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Feb. 22 Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is located at 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032 at the Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets: Ticket prices range from $31.50 to $41.50 and can be purchased by calling (317) 923-4597 or visiting www.civictheatre.org.
Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing

February 4, 2014

Who Am I This Time?

Vonnegut isn't always associated with sweet stories of love and romance. In fact, most people would assume he never wrote anything near those topics, but the Indiana Repertory Theatre's current Mainstage production features three Vonnegut short stories that are perfect for February lovebirds.

Who Am I This Time? celebrates one of Indiana's greatest writers with a sublime collection of his stories reworked as a trilogy of love stories set in a sleepy little Indiana town. Janet Allen directs with her deft hand, taking advantage of the talented musicians in the cast to provide songs as interludes between the scenes. The rollicking songs and tender ballads add a great tone to the production. The first piece is a story titled "Long Walk to Forever" which in classic Vonnegut style was originally called "Hell to Get Along With." It's about a soldier who goes home for a brief visit with his old childhood playmate.  

The second title piece was my favorite of the bunch. Each member of the ensemble cast has a chance to shine, but Matthew Brumlow steals the show as the chronically shy Harry in "Who Am I This TIme?" The local community theater is putting on a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and he takes on the role of Stanley Kowalski. He's lost in the real world, but when he reads a script he becomes a new person. His passionate Stanley prowls the stage with a barely contained heat, yet he transforms back into Harry in an instant. Liz Kimball matches his enthusiasm as his besotted cast mate who can't seem to separate Harry from the roles he plays.

 Robert Neal is the audiences' thread throughout the show, grounding us in the realities of life. He narrates the story breaking the fourth wall and explaining the back story we go along. The real romance in a relationship lies in the day-to-day love and loyalty that partners show each other, not always in the grand acts that happen on occasion. Neal's hands-on description of marriage is one of the best I've ever seen on the stage. Constance Macy helps anchor the story as his wife Kate.

The sweet play is balanced with Vonnegut's  priceless view of the world. His cynical wit seeps in, but it's tempered with a warm nostalgia. The cast works so well together, weaving in and out of the glass door filled set, wheeling props on and off as needed and having fun with every scene. The generous actors make the show a delight with their playful attitudes.
Don't miss this ode to Vonnegut from his hometown fans. Get to the IRT and learn the meaning behind the infamous phrase, So it Goes.

Don't forget about the wonderful Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and Indy Reads Books, both of whom partnered with the IRT for this 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. “Who Am I This Time" runs until Sunday, February 23 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