March 26, 2014

IRT Announces 2014/2015 Season


The Indiana Repertory Theatre has announced its season for 2014/2015. The mix of shows include a Shakespearean comedy to celebrate the Bard's 450th birthday, an award-winning Broadway play, and a few hidden gems from the regional theatre circuit.  To buy tickets or find out more information visit their site here. The season includes:

Two Gentlemen of VeronaSeptember 16 - October 19
The grass is always greener, especially in Milan. Best friends Valentine and Proteus are in love with the same woman: will it destroy their friendship or teach them a lesson? Join us for an adventure in laughter and frivolity as we meet a circus of outlaws, a cross-dressing heroine, a dog-loving clown and two friends who discover that love isn’t an easy game to play in Shakespeare's comedy.

RedOctober 14 - November 9
It’s 1958 and abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko had just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art. With the help of his assistant, Rothko frantically struggles against his insecurities while trying to create a definitive and moving body of work. Electrifying and captivating, this winner of the Drama Desk Award and Tony for best play investigates the conflicts inherent in the tension between a great artist’s desire to be understood and respected.

A Christmas CarolNovember 13 – December 24
The beloved classic of loss and redemption returns to IRT’s snow-covered stage! Dickens’ characters bring new life every season in this faithful, fanciful and frolicsome adaptation. It’s Indy’s favorite holiday tradition. Experience it for the first time all over again!

Good People January 7 – February 1
Single mother Margie Walsh may be on her last leg financially, but she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. Could reconnecting with an old sweetheart be the answer to all of her struggles? In this intensely observed portrait of a poignantly brave woman who is down on her luck, Pulitzer Prize-winning David Lindsay-Abaire, lights up the stage as he considers whether it is strength of character or just plain luck that ultimately determines our fates in today’s America.

The GiverJanuary 20 – February 22
No pain. No desire. No choice. Sameness reigns in a utopian society set in the not-too-distant future. But for twelve-year-old Jonas, his controlled and predictable life is unraveling before his eyes. Based on the award-winning book by Lois Lowry, this complex and controversial story forces us all to question the dangers of conformity and the power of truth.

The Hound of the BaskervillesFebruary 18 – March 15
Join Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as Baker Street’s fabled detective duo investigate a deadly threat to the heir of the Baskerville estate. Will Victorian London’s keenest mind deduce the source of the monstrous mongrels before they claim another victim? Family secrets, haunted hounds, romance, and mysteries abound in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless tale of supernatural suspense.

What I Learned in ParisMarch 17 – April 12
1973 Atlanta. The politics of race, class and gender are rapidly transforming as the city elects its first black mayor. What better time to begin a romantic escapade than during the eve of an historic election? Old loves rekindle and new loves ignite in this expertly funny and delightfully urbane love story.

On Golden PondApril 14 – May 10
As Ethel and Norman return to the familiar summer ritual of their tranquil vacation home on the water, they get a surprise guest in the form of their daughter’s young stepson-to-be. This tender tale paints an honest look at the labors and liveliness of a couple in the midst of their twilight years. This beloved Tony Award winning play reminds us that each moment we receive is a gift we share with those we love.

Image from here.

March 24, 2014

The Women

If a woman wants to hold on to her man she must do one of two things. Her first option is to ignore any cheating or bad behavior. He is a man; therefore he is expected and allowed to do what he wants. Her second option is to embrace her inner catty nature and lash out against the woman who is trying to steal her husband. Again, the man has committed no crime; he is helpless against in the irresistible charms of all local hussies. Above all, no matter what the woman decides to do, she must not trust her friends because they are all secretly out to ruin her life.

That’s the basic message conveyed in “The Women” on stage now at the Buck Creek Players Theatre. To be clear, it’s the plot of the play, not the production itself that I’m criticizing. The performers do a good job flexing their claws and tossing off cheeky lines. Allison Reddick is particularly good as the troubled Mary Haines, tossed into an impossible situation. She is sincere and heartbroken as she tries to navigate the tenuous tightrope of betrayal. The costumes are also an impressive feat. The 20 plus cast members are draped in everything from elaborate evening gowns to trim 1930s style suits and hats.

It could be argued that the premise is outdated and so the message is not an issue, but there was just a film remake released in 2008. Obviously this is a message still being bandied about. I do understand that this play falls in the genre of comedy, but when you look at the actual themes there are some serious issues being dealt with: infidelity, divorce, announcing the split of a family to a child, etc. We have to ask ourselves, do we as audience members truly believe that those are a woman’s only options in this situation?

Buck Creek is a completely voluntary theatre and the outpouring of support from the community is always encouraging. Locals can buy a ticket to see their friends and family members on the stage and others can help build sets or work on costumes. The joint effort makes each production and wonderful communal project. Up next is Carrie: The Musical, opening May 30th.

Don't Miss the Show

For more information about the Buck Creek Players, visit The theater is located at 11150 Southeastern Avenue Acton, IN 46259 and directions can be found on their website.
Performances: The show runs until March 30th and offers three performances a week, Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. 

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call 317-862-2270 or visit range from $14 to $16.

Photos Courtesy of the Buck Creek Players.

March 19, 2014

A Streetcar Named Desire

“STELLA!” The infamous line from A Streetcar Named Desire was firmly cemented in the annals of pop culture when Marlon Brando first belted it out decades ago. That is all many people know about the show, but Tennessee Williams’ work has much more to offer. The play delves deep into the complicated lives of the very different DuBois sisters.
Blanche, played with an escalating level of tense cheerfulness by Carrie Schlatter, is a southern belle who has fallen on hard times. Her troubled past has made her leave the family mansion to join her sister, Stella Kowalski in a rowdy neighborhood in New Orleans. Schlatter captures Blanche’s fragile state, vacillating from childish enthusiasm in one moment to snooty disdain in the next. She is in a perpetual state of performing a role, but whether it’s for her or for others is hard to tell.

Stella’s husband Stanley, played by Chris Saunders, is coarse and uncouth in Blanche’s eyes and the two immediately butt heads. His raw sexuality and unashamed aggression is intimidating to the delicate Blanche. He’s also the only one willing to question her motives. Her shiny view of the world often skips over the uncomfortable details of her past; bury any unpleasantness as soon as she encounters it. As Blanche’s life spirals out of control her brother-in-law begins to peel back the layers of her lies.

Lisa Ermel’s Stella is caught between the two. The more she tries to make peace, the worse things get. Her frustration mounts as she tries to understand the reasons behind her own choices and the positives and negative aspects of the world she’s chosen. Mitch (Tim Sheehan) is Stanley’s friend, a momma’s boy with a soft-spot for elegant women and a Forrest Gump earnestness. He rounds out the main quarto of actors who drive the show. Each one adds a very different and crucial element to the production.

Williams’ writing is reason enough to see any of his plays. His beautiful lines of dialogue paint a vivid picture of the sultry New Orleans nights. In addition to that Acting Up Productions has done an excellent job recreating the 1950s world of Streetcar. From the costumes to the props, the attention to detail is lovely. The set provides tight-quarters for the actors, adding to the intentionally claustrophobic feel of the play. Much of Williams’ brilliance lies in the ambiguity of his characters’ motivations. Is Blanche intentionally deceptive or has she deluded herself with her own lies? Is Stella in an abusive relationship or did she intentionally choose someone whose penchant towards violence thrills her?
This is one of the most famous American plays ever written and it’s one that’s rarely produced. Woody Allen’s recent modern retelling “Blue Jasmine” has made the production even more relevant. Tickets are only $15; there’s no excuse for missing this one!

Don't Miss the Show
Performances: The Acting Up Productions show runs until Sunday, March 23. Performances begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The IndyFringe Theatre is located at 719 E. St. Clair, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tickets: Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
Photos Courtesy of Acting Up Productions

March 16, 2014

Other Desert Cities

“We all live with each other’s divergent truths.”

As the Wyeth family gathers in California for the holidays tensions run high. Even in the midst of friendly banter there is a portentous air in the family’s relations. Things seem smooth on the surface, but a barrage of cutting remarks and shared dirty looks quickly pulls the curtain back on this “happy” family. Soon we learn that the daughter, Brooke, is a talented author whose latest highly anticipated novel is about to be published. No one in the family has been able to read it yet and when they learn that it’s about a traumatic event in their past all niceties fall away and the claws come out.  

Other Desert Cities is in a similar vein as previous Indiana Repertory Theatre productions, The House that Jack Built and God of Carnage. It deals with tense verbal sparring and delicate family relationships. It presents the inevitable fact that when we return to our parents’ homes we revert to childhood personality types, the rebel, the brain, the goody-two-shoes. As much as we may resist, our natural inclination is to fall into those roles. We can’t seem to resist the urge to be the person they expect us to be.

Under James Still’s deft direction the layered characters are given a chance to shine. Anne Allgood is incredible as Polly Wyeth, a Texas transplant who is fiercely loyal to her family. She seethes with equal parts disdain and concern for her daughter’s perceived weakness. She has an irresistible honesty and refuses to gloss over problems. Her strength is both a blessing and a curse, making her a formidable enemy for anyone who crosses her. She wants her family to excel and thrive, but she can’t empathize with their struggles. She is confrontational and antagonizing, but it’s also clear that her actions, if misguided, are driven by love.

Paige Lindsey White gives a high-strung performance as Brooke. It’s not until the end that we see any break in her level of tense apprehension. Trip, the son played by Will Mobley, seems to be there solely for the comic relief at first. But like so many families, you quickly realize that someone in their midst has to use comic relief as a defense mechanism to hang on to their sanity. They might be struggling with the same issues, but they don’t want to discuss them with anyone else. He gives the audience glimpses of his surprising depth with lines like, “No one who takes pleasure as seriously as I do could really be happy.”

Other Desert Cities is one of those beautiful plays that leave you chewing on its plot for days after you see it. One of the play’s main points is that we see the world through our own specific lens. We take our limited facts and opinions and allow them to create our worldview. The result is that our truth is often vastly different from those we know and love and much of our lives are spent reconciling those differences.

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. “Other Desert Cities" runs until Saturday, April 5 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

March 5, 2014

Ghost the Musical

The latest in a string of movies turned musicals is Ghost the Musical. A Broadway Across America show based on the 1990 film of the same name, the production follows in the footsteps of The Wedding Singer, Grease, Once, Newsies, Sister Act, Flashdance and a few notable others, fleshing out the story from the movie with musical numbers. This popular trend works well with some movies, but feels forced with others; unfortunately Ghost is one of those others.

The love story with a supernatural twist introduces us to Molly and Sam, a young couple whose devotion can only be challenged by Sam’s untimely death. The film was best known for Whoopi Goldberg’s sidekick sass and for making pottery wheels sexy. Carla R. Stewart plays the role of Oda Mae Brown, originated by Goldberg, and brings a much-needed levity to the show.  

A cinematic opening sets the bar for a show that depends heavily on digital screens, flashing lights and other production gimmicks. Awkward choreography and a score with no real heart don’t help it along either. During many of the numbers the music and manic dancing overwhelm the singers. Songs like “I’m Outta Here” are superfluous; clearly filler pieces that add nothing to the show and making the musical aspect take away from the actual story. 

The two leads, Steven Grant Douglas as Sam and Katie Pototnik as Molly, both provide excellent vocals and have great chemistry. They do the best they can with the material, and the production strongest in the quiet scenes featuring the duo. In those simple moments the show finds its pace and the right balance of sweetness.

Don't Miss the Show
The show runs until Sunday, March 9 at the Old National Centre (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