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Mary Poppins

  Mary Poppins, the classic story of a practically-perfect nanny who comes to care for the neglected Banks children is on stage now at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. It’s a perfect show for families with young kids to enjoy. Statues come to life and kites are flown as the characters learn the timeless lesson of remembering what’s truly important in life.    The title role is played by Cara Statham Serber with just the right balance of steely reserve and cheekiness. She’s a calming foil to the blustering Mr. Banks. The musical production differs from the original film version in many ways, but the heart of the story is the same.    After seeing the touring Broadway show it’s hard to ignore that the big dance numbers are missing something on a small stage. The ensemble cast does a great job, but there’s only so much they can do with a song like “Step in Time”, which is traditionally a huge tap performance with two dozen dancers. The same is true for some magical elements in the show. Th
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Dear Evan Hansen

  High school is a different world from what many of us experienced growing up. Now, social media is an integral part of life and that fact is evident from the scrolling feeds presented on the hanging panels of the Dear Evan Hansen set. The story of a community coping with the suicide of a teenage boy took Broadway by storm when it premiered in 2016. It helped people feel seen and connected in a time when suicide and hopelessness run rampant in our society. The show is greater than its summary. The description doesn’t capture the grief and depth of loneliness the characters are facing. While the plot is relatable for so many, the show would fall flat without its incredible score. It was written by Grammy®, Tony®, and Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman). A live orchestra performs each number of the captivating composition on a riser above the stage. The Tuesday night production was entirely understudies except for the roles of Zoe and Con

The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin and 2022-23 Season Announcement

Two years ago this play, The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, was deep in rehearsals at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. It was set to open in March 2020… and then the world shut down. Miraculously, the entire original cast has returned for this production. Harry Chin was a real man who immigrated from China to Minnesota. His story inspired the playwright, Jessica Huang, to delve deeper into historical records and speak with his family members. By focusing on one man’s life Huang tackles the difficult subject of immigration while humanizing the people on the stage. It doesn’t become a big "I" issue play instead, it is the story of a family and a complicated relationship between fathers and daughters and first-generation Americans and their immigrant parents. The cultural differences feel insurmountable at times, but there are undeniable ties that bind a family. It is messy in the way that all real life is. There’s something powerful about the moment when a child discovers her parent

Kinky Boots

  If the name didn’t give it away, this is not your average Beef & Boards production. The Broadway hit roars onto the stage with drag queens in stiletto heels and a whole lot of sass. Based on a true story, the musical’s message of accepting people for who they are is more timely than ever. Jacob Butler plays Charlie, the owner of a shoe factory that’s struggling to make ends meet. He’s a traditional fellow who is not quite ready to have his views or opinions shaken by the unconventional and fierce Lola. The show comes alive when Jonathan Studdard makes his first appearance as that fiery character. Studdard can strut with the best of them, but it’s during the number “I’m Not My Father’s Son” that the audience is treated to the true depth of his talent. The beautiful quiet song was my favorite in the show. At one point, Charlie says of Lola, “Whenever you leave a room there’s a great big gaping gap.” The same is true of Kinky Boots. The production hums with life during Studdard’

Fahrenheit 451

  The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre is heating up these cold snowy days with a sci-fi classic. Fahrenheit 451 is on stage until Feb. 20 on the OneAmerica MainStage. One would hope that this play would become irrelevant in our world, but unfortunately, it’s more important than ever. Earlier this month a school board in Tennessee banned the Pulitzer-prize-winning graphic novel Maus. The book explores the Holocaust through the eyes of the author’s father. The essence of Fahrenheit 451 was born out of Bradbury’s fear that our society would become dependent on technology and lose its ability to learn and think. Now here we are, trapped in a cycle of relying on our screens for all interactions and choosing to remove books that teach the harsher details of our history from schools. It’s a disturbing realization and one that hits close to home when brought to life on the stage.  The original story is adapted by Tobias Anderson. As much as I adore Bradbury’s writing it was distracting to hea

A Christmas Carol

  Have we ever needed a return to this cozy tradition more? The familiar landscape of fake snow and glowing lanterns welcomes new and old audiences to the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. There are many new elements in the production this year giving it a fresh feel, full of hope and promise.  IRT regular Rob Johansen takes the reigns as Scrooge for the first time. Ryan Artzberger, who has played Scrooge for the past decade, steps into the role of Scrooge’s beleaguered clerk Bob Cratchit. IRT playwright-in-residence James Still directs Carol for the first time. There is also a more diverse cast than we’ve seen in the past, a great change! Johansen is a perfect fit for Scrooge. He captures the cranky character’s sense of sarcasm and scorn which transforms as the play unfolds. Johansen conveys a sincerity that makes Scrooge’s altered state believable and poignant. The talented cast members all play a slew of characters. Their narration of the show in unison and dedicati

Elizabeth Rex

  The finale of this year’s bard fest is Elizabeth Rex, a play based on the true story of the execution of the Earl of Essex, the Queen’s lover, for treason. This fictionalized account takes us into a barn holding Shakespeare and his players on the eve of the execution. They receive a visit from the Queen on this pivotal night in her rule. It’s a regional premiere production and an absolute coup for the Bard Fest and a testament to how the event has grown over the years. The scale of the production reaches new heights on every level. This is also the first time they have produced in the Theater at the Fort in Lawrence. It’s a beautiful space, and the set includes a two-tiered barn with lanterns and candles setting the mood. The story explores the delicate balance Shakespeare had to find between writing powerful stories and not offending the Queen. It also debates the societal expectations placed on a ruler who was a woman in a traditionally male position of leadership. Glenn Dobbs’ dir