April 28, 2014

The Game's Afoot


The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Game’s Afoot” marks the first time I’ve ever seen a set receive a huge round of applause. The incredible thing is that the breath-taking grandeur of Russell Metheny’s set isn’t the only great thing about this show. The IRT closes its 42nd season with this incredibly entertaining play and anticipation is high for the start of their new season this fall.
 
Part farce and part whodunit, The Game’s Afoot is a playful mystery that pokes fun at actors and theatre critics alike. Matthew Brumlow plays the real life actor William Gillette who made Sherlock Holmes famous on the stage. Brumlow is the quintessential eccentric actor. He seems to have blurred the line between the famous detective he has portrayed and his own life. After being shot at the end of a performance, Gillette recovers in his mansion and welcomes his fellow cast members to visit on Christmas Eve.


This dream cast is wonderfully suited for the ensemble show. From Jennifer Johansen’s deliciously catty Daria Chase to Carmen Roman’s quirky Inspector Goring, there’s not a weak link in the group. The cherry on top is the return of IRT royalty, Priscilla Lindsay, back for the first time in four years to play Gillette’s sweet and dotty mother.

The show has a similar feel to Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” The costumes are another delightful element, creating statuesque gold silhouettes and trim 1940s women’s suits for the characters. In addition to the constant references to Sherlock Holmes, there are Shakespeare quotes sprinkled throughout the play. It’s a literary pleasure to watch the actor banter the lines back and forth with obvious ease. This frothy treat is a wonderful way to close out an excellent season of performances at the IRT.
 

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 Game's Afoot" runs until Sunday, May 18 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

April 21, 2014

Spun

 
Memory is a tricky beast and there’s no one who understands that better than siblings. An event might seem crystal clear in our own memory, but when we compare notes with the people who shared our childhood, we realize that our accounts invariably differ. This is the case for Molly and Jesse, siblings brought together for the first time in eight years by their father’s death in the musical Spun, onstage now at the Phoenix Theatre. 

The original show, created by Bloomington native Emily Goodson and Jeremy Schonfeld, pairs a relatable story with rock music in a distinctive, raw style. Unlike some musicals, the show has a sense of humor about itself. After one of the first big numbers Jesse quips, “Well that was dramatic,” immediately breaking any barrier of awkwardness that can come from inserting songs into regular conversation. The simple moment sets the mood for the production, allowing audience members to embrace the style as the story explores the tangled mess of anger, resentment, and grief that can drive families apart.
 

The set, an old dilapidated house, uses stacks of cardboard boxes in a clever design to pull double duty as a stage. Sheer black screens keep the live band out of view until a song begins. At times the music drowns out the voices in the bigger numbers, but others like the simple “Mother Blue” resonate all the more clearly in the quiet moments. Jesse’s (Chris Roe) playful performance of “Happy Song” provides another great moment of connection between the siblings.

Lisa Ermel plays Molly, the tough younger sister who was left to pick up the pieces after Jesse left. Her balls-to-the-wall performance feels both intimate and powerful. She is at once defensive and vulnerable, paradoxically trapped in her immaturity when she’s forced to become a caregiver as a teen. This role is the polar opposite of her recent turn as Stella in a March production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Seeing the two shows within a month of each other was a unique chance to witness her range. In Spun she has displays her incredible vocal ability as a singer. Ermel is a clear rising star in Indianapolis and Spun is the next rung on the ladder.


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 May 11 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.
Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-PLAY (7529). Prices range from $18 to $28. The play has one intermission and contains adult language.
Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing.

April 9, 2014

Broadway Across America Announces 2014/15 Season


Broadway Across America is thrilled to announce the 2014/15 Indianapolis season. Season tickets are now on sale.

ELF THE MUSICAL (December 16-21, 2014 - Old National Centre)
Elf is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf.

THE ILLUSIONISTS (January 20-25, 2015 - Old National Centre)

Direct from Broadway, the world’s best-selling magic show is coming to Indianapolis. This mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of seven of the most incredible Illusionists on earth. The Illusionists has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.

ANNIE (February 24-March 1, 2015 - Old National Centre)

The world’s best-loved musical returns in time-honored form. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin and choreographed by Liza Gennaro, this production of Annie will be a brand new incarnation of the iconic original. Annie includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (April 7-12, 2015 - Clowes Hall)

One of the most enduring shows of all time, This Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber is the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son. Directed and choreographed by Tony® production will feature Broadway/television star Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, Hair) as The Narrator and Broadway star Ace Young (Grease, Hair) as Joseph. Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colors, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including “Those Canaan Days” and “Any Dream Will Do.”

DIRTY DANCING (June 9-14, 2015 - Clowes Hall)

Dirty Dancing is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring the hit songs, “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do you Love Me?” and the heart stopping “Time of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!”

MAMMA MIA! (October 3-5, 2014 - Clowes Hall)

It’s the ultimate feel-good show that has audiences coming back again and again to relive the thrill. Now it’s your turn to have the time of your life at this smash-hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All,” with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship. Whether it’s your first visit or your fourteenth, see the show that has the whole world coming back for more, because every time feels like the first time.

DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (May 1-3, 2015 - Clowes Hall)

The romantic Broadway musical for all generations, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the smash hit Broadway musical, is coming to Indianapolis! Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of over 35 million people worldwide. This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song.

 
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


April 7, 2014

Anything Goes

 
As mismatched lovers board an ocean liner audience members know there will probably be some partner swapping before everyone gets their happy ending and disembarks. Anything Goes has been entertaining crowds for 80 years and is on stage now at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. The show contains a selection of charming well-known songs, like “It’s De-Lovely” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” by Indiana’s own Cole Porter.
Timothy Ford plays the pining lead, Billy Crocker. He has fallen for a debutante who is out of his league and engaged to someone else. His desperate attempts to win her are sweet, but he seemed to be singing a bit out of his range during most numbers.  Deb Wims plays the brash night club singer Reno Sweeney. Her strength lies in the dance numbers and she’s particularly good in the title song, a big number that closes the first act.

Sarah Joy Ledtke’s turn as the ditzy Erma was an unexpected delight. Her performance of “Buddie Beware” turned the throw away number into a fun and playful treat. Michael Layton’s set design is spot on as well. Cruise ship railings, strings of international flags and port holes turn the stage into a steamer. There’s also a clever rotating set piece that quickly turns from a cabin interior to an upper deck.
The musical is 80 years old this year, so there are some unavoidably dated jokes. The caricature versions of “chinamen” are particularly regrettable. Fans of Jeff Stockberger, Douglas E. Stark, and Jack Milo will be thrilled to see the trio ham it up in their parts: Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Elisha J. Whitney, and Moonface Martin respectively.
The plot raps up with the tidiness of a Shakespearean comedy. Everyone finds their perfect match and audience members are able to escape into the enthusiastic romantic comedy.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until May 11. 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.
 
Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prices range from $38.50 to $63.50 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet.

Photos courtesy of Beef & Boards

April 2, 2014

Memphis

 
From the first soul-soaked moments of “Memphis” it's clear that Jasmin Richardson and her powerful pipes are the heart of the show. The musical, a Broadway Across America production is currently on stage at Clowes Memorial Hall. The show opens in the 1950s as Huey, a na├»ve white man, stumbles into a Beale Street blues club. He's there for the "race music" which he’s drawn to, despite the racial conflict that’s coming to a boil in his southern city. He decides to promote the controversial music despite the objections of his mother and the heads of the local radio stations.


Joey Elrose provides comedic relief with shouts of “Hockadoo” in his goofy portrayal of Huey, but it's Richardson’s performance as club singer Felicia that blows you away. Her renditions of “Someday” and “Colored Woman” are incredible.  I would have loved to have heard even more from her during the show. There are moments that feel like a friendlier version of “West Side Story” and others that reckon back to “Hairspray’s” race-fueled TV station drama, but it's Richardson’s performance that takes the musical to the next level and sets it apart.


“Memphis”feels extremely refreshing. Audience members aren’t saddled with any preconceived notions, as is the case when there’s a famous movie version to compare it to. Instead they can sit back and enjoy the music as the plot unfolds. In addition to the talented Richardson, Jerrial T. Young shines as Bobby when he belts out his number “Big Love.” And Avionce Hoyle’s performance of “Say a Prayer” as Gator is sure to give you chills. There’s also a live band on stage performing each song with gusto.
The story reminds us that music can rise above cultural differences and prejudices. It’s easy to get caught up in the songs and forget just how dangerous it was in the south for mixed race couples only 60 years ago. The show does a wonderful job combining great music, humor and a powerful message without losing the balance between those elements.  
 

Don't Miss the Show
 
The show runs until Sunday, April 6 at Clowes Memorial Hall 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