October 31, 2016

Young Frankenstein

Mel Brooks fans and those missing Gene Wilder should be flocking to Carmel this month, where the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s current production of Young Frankenstein hits all the right notes. 

First off, can we just take a moment for the sets? They are incredible! They are based on the original Broadway scenic design, but there were no corners cut in recreating them here. From the gorgeous laboratory with a winding staircase to a Transylvanian village, the sets just keep coming. There’s  a ship, train, cave, horses, a giant monster puppet, a forest; you name it and it was probably in there. It was easy to get sucked into the story with the elaborate scenery.

The cast is a blast. Saucy Frau Bleucher (played by Vickie Phipps), na├»ve Inga (Devan Mathias), and earnest Frederick Frankenstein (Steve Kruze) all seemed like they were made for these roles. My particular favorite is Damon Clevenger as the forever loyal Igor. He was hilarious as he nimbly followed his Master’s crackpot plan. And B.J. Bovin could give Peter Boyle a run for his money in the role of the Monster. 

Audiences who love the original movie won’t be disappointed as they wait for their favorite lines. The story follows the film closely with a few more song and dance numbers added to the mix. There were a few moments when the live music overwhelmed the performance, drowning out all the lyrics, but other than that there were no technical issues.

It’s certainly not for kids. Brooks is known for his movies heavily-laden with innuendos and the knockers jokes all make it into the musical as well. The style of the show is similar to Spamalot or The Producers in that sense. 

Don't Miss the Show: 
Performances: The show runs until Nov. 5. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Thursday 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 $24.50 to $45.50 and can be purchased by calling (317) 843-3800 or visiting www.civictheatre.org.
Photos courtesy of the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

October 26, 2016

American Players Theatre Announces its 2017 Season

American Players Theatre (APT) is excited to announce its 2017 season, which will run June 10 – October 22, 2017.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Langs

A Flea in Her Ear
By Georges Feydeau
Adapted by David Frank
Translated by Abbot Chrisman
Directed by David Frank

Cyrano de Bergerac
By Edmond Rostand
Adapted by James DeVita
Directed by James DeVita
Cyrano de Bergerac is a fearless

Three Sisters
By Anton Chekhov
Translated by Susan Coyne
Directed by William Brown

Pericles, Prince of Tyre
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Eric Tucker

The Maids
By Jean Genet
Translated by Bernard Frechtman
Directed by Gigi Buffington

The Unexpected Man
By Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Laura Gordon

A View from the Bridge
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Tim Ocel

The Creditors
By August Strindberg
Translated by David Greig
Directed by Maria Aitken

Tickets will go on sale March 13. APT is a professional repertory theater devoted to the great and future classics. It was founded in 1979 and continues to be one of the most popular outdoor classical theaters in the nation. APT is located in Spring Green, Wis., on 110 acres of hilly woods and meadows above the Wisconsin River. The APT amphitheater is built within a natural hollow atop an oak-wooded hill. Under the dome of sky, 1148 comfortably cushioned seats encircle three sides of the stage. In 2009, APT opened the indoor Touchstone Theatre, offering a different type of play and experience

For more information, visit www.americanplayers.org

October 24, 2016

Finding Home: Indiana at 200

In a year where election campaigns can leave you feeling little love for your country and state, the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s unique production “Finding Home: Indiana at 200” is a welcome respite. I’ve never felt so misty-eyed about my Hoosier heritage. The play was created to celebrate the state’s bicentennial and is a combination of the work of dozens of artists. It compiles original music, created by Tim Grimm and performed by his family band, with short plays about Indiana’s history. 

There are no restrictions on content, except it has to be about Indiana. From Cole Porter to James Dean, Princess Mishawaka to Eli Lilly, the richness of Hoosier history unfolds beautifully.  They touch on the Indy 500 and IU basketball, but the other pieces are thankfully not heavy on sports; even those two focuses on lesser known elements. 
Many of the pieces are based on facts familiar to Hoosier, but the writers give those common stories a face and bring them to life.  I’m grateful the stories didn’t paint all of Indiana’s past in a rosy light. There are pieces on Ryan White and the Ku Klux Klan. Like any state, we have heartbreak threaded throughout our history. 

The ensemble cast works so well together. There is a live band on stage performing Tim Grimm’s original pieces. The rest of the cast takes on a new role with each new skit. Two IRT newcomers, Aaron Kirby and Michael Joseph Mitchell, were particularly good.  Robert Mark Morgan’s set design weaves hints of Indiana into every inch of the stage. It’s a piece of art in its own right. 

There is so much history packed into the show, but it rarely feels like a classroom. Some of the pieces could have used a bit more editing, especially since they were attempting to cover so much ground in the production. Some work better than others, but as a whole the production is a strong one. 

The one frustrating thing is that there were so many contributors they decided to split the content into two separate productions. I saw the “blue” production, but there is also a “gold” production with 70% different material. It’s certainly a good problem to have, but if you can’t make it to both you’re left wondering what you missed. 

Don’t miss this chance to see your state’s history come alive on stage! Hearts. Land. Indiana. Here’s to the next 200 years. 

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. "Finding Home" runs until Nov. 13 on IRT's Upperstage. 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 the IRT

October 17, 2016

Into the Woods

Fairytales are familiar fare at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, but the darker stories in Into the Woods are not. The theatre is currently producing the Stephen Sondheim musical for the first time. The show explores the lives of Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel, etc. with a much more realistic twist. What happens after the happily ever after

Don Farrell and Meaghan Sands play the baker and his wife. The pair is the heart of the show. Their struggle with infidelity drives them into the woods to break a curse. The two work well as a married couple, frustrated with each other and loving in equal measure. Sands is particularly good, providing a grounded center in the midst of chaos. Her vocals are beautiful. Farrell finds his voice during the number “No More”.

“Agony” sung by Cinderella’s Prince (Timothy Ford), and Rapunzel’s Prince (Mickey Rafalski), is one of the highlights of the show. For me it blends the production’s tongue-in-cheek humor, excellent singing, and sarcastic tone perfectly. Amanda Downey as Cinderella is another stand out. The troubled girl goes from one bad situation to another, with only the birds as her friends. 

The costumes are elaborate, just right for this fantasy world. The show is a long one, but director Jeff Stockberger keeps things moving along. The theatre recommends the show for audiences members age 13 and older.

Don't Miss the Show 

Performances: The show runs until Nov. 20. 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 $41 to $66 and include the show, tax, coffee, tea and the buffet. 

Photos courtesy of Beef & Boards