December 22, 2015

Top 2015 Shows and 2016 Events

I’m so grateful for the diverse theatres throughout Indianapolis. Whether its classic musicals or cutting edge productions from off Broadway, each one offers something unique. Here are my favorite shows from 2015. Make sure you keep an eye on these theatres in 2015!  

Also, there are a few great events coming up in 2016 to watch for. Sitelines is a new venture. It will feature plays that have never been performed in Indy in spaces that enhance the production. HART will present The Winter's Tale in White River State Park July 21, 22, and 23, 2016. The Indianapolis Fringe Festival takes place every August. Going...Going...Gone is a monthly improv show based around an auction.

1) Cabaret Poe (Q Artistry) at the Theatre on the Square

2) The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Indiana Repertory Theatre
3) Pride and Prejudice at the American Players Theatre

4) Spamalot at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre 

5) The Drowsy Chaperone at Beef & Board Dinner Theatre 

6) Titus Andronicus an EclecticPond production 

7) Breakneck Hamlet part of IndyFringe (Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre)

8) What I Learned in Paris at the Indiana Repertory Theatre 

9) Twelfth Night a Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre production

December 7, 2015

A Very Phoenix Xmas X: O Come, Let Us Adore Us

A Very Phoenix Xmas celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The irreverent Christmas show has become an audience favorite as a nontraditional entertainment option during the holiday season.  Anyone familiar with the show knows not to expect sugar and spice, but there are moments of quiet reflection worked into the production that hit all the right notes.

In honor of reaching the decade milestone, the show features longtime Phoenix regular Gayle Steigerwald in a unique role. Between skits she provides some behind-the-scenes tidbits and fun looks back at how the show has evolved over the years. The walk down memory lane is equally entertaining for those who have been at every show and for those attending for the first time.

For those unfamiliar with the structure, imagine a theatre version of a Saturday Night Live Christmas special. Each section features a new story, song, dance, or funny skit. Regulars will recognize the sock monkeys dancing the can-can and the Tron-like light costumes, but the choreographed numbers for each are brand new.

Eric J. Olson and Olivia Huntley were two vocal standouts during the show. The entire ensemble sang beautifully, but those two led the numbers.  The Elohai N’tzor and Happy Xmas songs provided lovely, peaceful moments. Others bits, like The Happiest Christmas Tree, work because of the unbridled enthusiasm of Paul Hansen.

Sometimes the simplest concepts are the best. A skit built around the idea that someone shows up on Christmas Eve with an unexpected present is so instantly relatable. Another shares a common Christmas workplace wish in a way that would make any disgruntled employee grin. The timely Comandeer in Chief poked fun at the current presidential debates by reimagining them with reindeer.

There’s a reason this show has become an Indy Christmas tradition. Leave the kids at home and enjoy a night at the Phoenix to poke fun at a little bit of Christmas cheer. 

Don't Miss the Show 

For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit The theater is located at 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Ave. 

Performances: The show runs until December 20th and offers five performances a week. Wednesdays and 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) 635-7529 or visit Prices range from $22 to $35.

Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing.

October 31, 2015

April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream

On the night of April 4, 1968 Bobby Kennedy was scheduled to give a campaign speech in Indianapolis. Instead, he announced the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to a stunned crowd. In this world premier play by James Still the audience sees the events of that night unfold through the eyes of one small family.

At the heart of the play is a married couple, John Henry and Addie, transplants from Kentucky, raising their two kids who are Hoosiers by birth. I loved their interactions. From the first moment they made you feel as though they were a family you knew, bickering and teasing in equal measures. Tracy N. Bonner's performance as Addie was particularly moving. She has a complexity, as a mother, wife, neighbor, and a woman, and she conveyed that beautifully.
The generational difference of our characters is one of the most interesting parts of the play. This heartbreaking news, along with the impact of the Vietnam war and the racial struggles the country is facing all elicit different reactions depending on the characters' point of view. A teenager, a young girl, an elderly woman, an adult couple, each one has their own experiences and opinions through which they filter the news.

Christina D. Harper plays Geneva, the couple's earnest 16-year-old daughter. She is passionate and confident in a way that only the young can be, while they are still naive and have yet to be disappointed by the world. It is an age where you think no one understands you and only you truly know what's right.
The production uses audio from Kennedy's actual speech, a powerful addition to the show. It also incorporates frequent references to Indianapolis , making this a meanful play for any Hoosier to see. Russell Metheny's set design incorporates a backdrop of neighborhood homes in a beautiful way. With telephone wires and street lights, he reminds us that the family is part of a neighborhood and each family on the street will be coping with the tragic news that night. 

This historic moment in Indiana's history was a shared experience throughout our nation. There have been few notable ones in the past century; Pearl Harbor, the Challenger explosion, 9/11, each one of which stopped people in their tracts and made them reflect. They are joined together for a brief moment, grieving as one, and James Still captures the tense spirit of that night.

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. "April 4, 1968" runs until Nov. 15 on IRT's Upperstage. 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 the IRT

October 19, 2015

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus is the Reservoir Dogs of Shakespeare. It’s the most violent of the Bard’s plays and a perfect fit for October. Director Thomas Cardwell has set the story of two warring clans in a post-apocalyptic world and the show sucks the audience in from the opening scene.

The Indie Artist Colony provides a stark world in which EclecticPond can build its gritty new society. Everything from the costumes to the set design is intentionally rough, suggesting haphazardness to its creation. The costumes, an assorted mix of layered leather, fur, scarves, and vests enforces the scavenged look of a society that’s been put together in a piecemeal fashion.
The show hosts a large cast on the small stage and as the bodies start to pile up, the revenge plots grow darker. The play includes one of the most infamous dinner scenes in all of western literature. 

Tamora is played by Kelly Gualdoni, in a wildly different role than the last time audiences saw her perform for EclecticPond in The Speckled Band. She nails the performance of a manic femme fatale set on revenge. She is vicious and haughty, seducing and destroying people as she desires.  Joanna Winston is equally enthralling as Aaron the Moor. She’s unapologetically conniving, but she brings a humor to the performance. Matt Anderson (Marcus Andronicus) and Zachariah Stonerock (Saturninus) give stand out performances as well.
It’s hard to find live production of this play and even harder to find one that is so well executed. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, a fan of dark comedies, or just a fan of great live theatre, don’t miss this one. Leave the kids at home, but bring your friend who only knows Shakespeare through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They’ll be in for quite a bloody surprise.

Don’t miss the show

Performances run until Oct. 31. Tickets are $19. Performances are held at the Indy Indie Artist Colony, 26 E. 14th St., Indianapolis, In 46202. For more information, a complete schedule of the shows or to purchase tickets, visit ETC’s site here. 

Photos Courtesy of the EclecticPond Theatre Company