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Top 2017 Shows

Every theatre is unique and the shows that they produce there reflect that diversity. I’m grateful Indy has so many great ones to choose from. There were some wonderful shows in 2017 and here’s a list of my personal favorites. Make sure you keep an eye on these theaters in 2018!

1) J. Eyre: A New Musical Adaptation- EclecticPond Theatre Company

2) The Originalist - Indiana Repertory Theatre

3) A View from the Bridge - American Players Theatre

4) Kinky Boots - Broadway Across America

5) The Great Bike Race - Theatre on the Square

6) Richard III - First Folio Productions and Catalyst Repertory at the IndyFringe Theatre

7) Ring of Fire - Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

8) Elemeno Pea - Indy Actors Playground

9)
Drankspeare: Hamlet - EclecticPond Theatre Company

A Very Phoenix Xmas 12: Up to Snow Good

In May the Phoenix theater will hold its grand opening at its new location. That exciting fact makes this Xmas show particularly special. This year is the very last time audiences can see the holiday hit in the old church the Phoenix has called home for decades. There are years of new memories to be made on the new stage, but for those of us who have made A Very Phoenix Xmas part of our annual holiday tradition, there was something special about seeing this final show.
The Phoenix decided to bring back some crowd favorites from the previous 11 iterations of the show. They let people vote and the winners included "Tacobel Canon" and "Don't Eat the Baby". My personal favorite, "Les Miserabelves", was just as fantastic the second time around. The mash up of the Rudolph Christmas special and Les Miserables is beyond hilarious. Paul Hansen’s rendition of "Hallelujah" backed by a chorus of hymn singing cast members was incredibly moving. Moments li…

The Originalist

"The middle takes guts. The middle is where you go to sit down with monsters."
The Indiana Repertory Theatre's current Upperstage production, The Originalist, explores that middle, introducing us to a fictional relationship between Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a liberal law clerk. The play is about the absolutely essential nature of debate. Having the freedom to openly discuss political issues is something we often take for granted in our country as we get lost in the fight. We forget that the person you disagree with doesn't have to be the enemy. 

The play features two incredibly charismatic leads. Henry Woronicz is Scalia, the conservative judge famous for his love of opera and passionate dissents. Woronicz revels in the role. He is combative and playful, even when the discussion is heated he doesn't lose his wry sense of humor. Ayanna Bria Bakari is his counterpart Cat, whose desire to better understand the other end of the political spectrum opens …

Cabaret Poe

When the Theatre on the Square closed its doors earlier this year, the perennial fall favorite Cabaret Poe needed to find a new home. The show settled into the fourth floor of Circle Centre Mall. It's an unexpected choice, but they make it work. All the best elements are still there, macabre humor, a trio of cynical performers who share the lead, and a delightful selection of Edgar Allan Poe's work. The result is a production that will apparently work in any performance space. 
The staging is simple. There are multi-media screens that fill with sinister silhouettes or scribbles of writing in different scenes. A raised stage in the center works to enhance numbers as the actors strut up and down the stairs in heels and bustles. 
Ben Asaykwee, the show's creator, stars in each performance, while the other two roles rotate between four cast members. Julie Lyn Barber and Georgeanna Smith Wade were featured in the show I attended. Asaykwee, as always, is charismatic and creepy in …

Review and Q&A: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Indiana Repertory Theatre opened its season with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It's a murder mystery, but not in the traditional sense. The murdered party is a dog and the "detective" is a teenage boy named Christopher, whose developmental disabilities allow him to see the world through a unique lens. The show is at once emotionally exhausting and energetic. There's humor strategically placed in almost every scene to help break the tension.

Mickey Rowe is acrobatic as Christopher. He is the first autistic actor to tackle the role in an American production. Though that's an accomplishment in its own right, he's also spot on in his portrayal. His ticks, his conversations, his immediate strong reactions when anything in his world deviates from its comfortable patterns, all of these things give the audience an accurate look at the world of one person with a developmental disability. 

As much as this is clearly Christopher's story, the r…

The Biz Academy of Musical Theatre

There are many wonderful theaters in Indianapolis, but I want to spotlight one that is responsible for reaching a unique group of performers. The Biz, located on the west side of Indianapolis, has a program called My Time to Shine. My step-brother is part of the program and I've seen firsthand the great work that they do.

Here's their mission in their own words:
"The Biz believes that theatre is for ALL. In 2014, we introduced the summer My Time to Shine Program, a class for performers with special needs. The experience pairs these performers with experienced Biz Kid mentors to help them through the process. It all culminates with a performance."  
The last two years have included performances of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Peter Pan. The program wouldn't be possible without the hard work of volunteers and of director Julie Kays. I hope this is a program they will continue and that the community will continue to support!  You can make a donation or le…

Beef & Boards announces 2018 Season

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre is thrilled to announce its 2017 season.

Greater Tuna (Dec. 28, 2017 – Jan. 28)

Greater Tuna is a sidesplitting comedy about the Lone Star State’s third-smallest town. All 20 of its wacky residents are played by just two actors: Beef & Boards’ own comic duo of Eddie Curry and Jeff Stockberger. This hilarious send-up of small town morals and mores is on stage through Jan. 28, 2018.
Mamma Mia! (Feb. 1 – April 8) On stage for the first time at Beef & Boards and the headliner of the 2018 Season, Mamma Mia!, opens Feb. 1 for performances through April 8. Nominated for five Tony Awards and set on a Greek island paradise, ABBA’s greatest hits tell the hilarious story of a bride’s search for her birth father. This sunny and funny tale includes the songs “Honey, Honey,” “Dancing Queen,” “Take A Chance on Me” and the incredible title tune.
Singin’ In The Rain (April 12 – May 26) It may get a bit cloudy starting April 12, but that signals time for some splas…

Three Sisters

Humans yearn for what we do not have. It is the trademark of our species. We seem to never be satisfied, always longing for more, better, bigger. Though this play is set a century ago in Russia, it could not be more relevant to our current culture.

Three Sisters tells the story of Olga, Masha, and Irina (and to a lesser extent, their brother Andrei). They are trapped in the monotony of country life. There's something so relatable about their constant struggle to get to Moscow. They live dreaming of the glory of the past and longing for the hopeful days of the future. They never embrace the present. Kelsey Brennan is the disenchanted Masha. Her flashes of passion, whether they are caused by love or anger, are beautifully played in contrast to her default attitude of boredom. She is all fire and ice, there is no middle ground.
The only person who sees himself as happy is a classic fool. His refrain of contentment is an empty claim, repeated to convince himself that everything is alri…