Indy Theatre Habit


Q Artistry’s “Bomb on a Bus” (Nuvo review)

I saw Q Artistry’s “Bomb on a Bus: a Speedy Musical” (book and music by Paige Scott) at the Irvington Lodge the first weekend it opened.  I was on assignment for Nuvo. Here is a direct link to my review.

Director Ben Asaykwee gave the curtain talk.  I was delighted to hear that Q’s “Bunny Spectacular” show for families will be back this April and their “Zirkus Grimm” will be back this summer.  You may remember that I loved “Zirkus Grimm” so much that I saw it three times during its first sold-out run.

I was also  delighted to hear Ben talk about their next “Q Kids” (I think he called it) production: “East Side Story.”  Ben said that each of the twelve (I think) kid actors would be paired with an adult mentor for the rehearsal process.  During the show itself, the kids would be the Jets and the adults would be the Sharks. (Or vice versa, I forget.)

“There is no sex in this version,” Ben scolded us, which made everyone laugh.  “It’s a story of FRIENDSHIP here on the East side of Indianapolis.”

 Three of my next four assignments for Nuvo are shows I probably wouldn’t have made time to see on my own but now that I’ve accepted the assignments, I am very much looking forward to them.  I’ll try to link to them from here on my blog, too, once they’re up, with whatever bonus news I might have that didn’t make sense to put in the official review.

I think I’d also like to put the basic “who did what” from each show here on my blog, too.  It will be more searchable that way than merely keeping paper programs in a drawer or relying on theatres to keep the info on their own websites once a show is over.

But I find that kind of record-keeping tedious so we’ll see.

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.


“I and You” by Lauren Gunderson at the Phoenix Theatre (Nuvo review)

My first review for Nuvo went up on Friday!  It was of the rolling world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s “I and You” at the Phoenix Theatre.  Read the review for yourself here:

It wasn’t as hard as I had expected to decide the stars. (Whew!)  And my editor, Scott Shoger, gave me some kind, clear feedback on my words, which was lovely.

As I mentioned when I first shared the news that I would be reviewing for Nuvo, Scott said I could share additional thoughts here on my own blog if I wanted to.


I don’t actually have a lot more to say about “I and You” except that if you are a high school theatre teacher or coach, I would encourage you to consider this script for your students.  There are some curse words but no one has sex. (‘Sorry if that’s a spoiler.)  The adults in your audiences will laugh at different things, probably, from your students but that’s okay.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.


For PLA Librarians Visiting Indianapolis Who Also Love Live Theatre and Storytelling

Whenever I go to a Public Library Association conference (or American Library Association conference or Young Adult Library Services Association conference or any conference, for that matter) in another city, I try to set aside some time and money to check out the local theatre scene.

Multiple conferences in Washington, DC, for example, gave me wonderful experiences at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the Studio Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company. In Denver I fell in love with the Curious Theatre Company and also enjoyed a show at the Garner Galleria Theatre.  In Philadelphia and Chicago…well, the show I wanted to see at Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre turned out to be sold out the night I was there, and let’s just say I was disappointed by the one show I saw in Chicago.  But I’ll get to those cities again some day because there are only a few cities that are able to handle hordes of librarians and anyway, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.  Life is an adventure and anything can happen with live theatre.

This week the Public Library Association’s biennial conference is going to be in my area – Indianapolis, Indiana – for the first time.  I’ve been thinking about what I would want a local to tell me about the theatre scene here this week, especially the scene relatively close to the Indianapolis Convention Center, if I were me but visiting from out-of-town.

I am delighted to report that this is a particularly excellent week for theatre-goers in downtown Indianapolis, especially theatre-goers on a budget.

Here are my recommendations, night by night during the PLA conference:

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A New Chapter In My Theatre Writing Life: Writing for Nuvo

I am very excited.  This morning I met with Nuvo Arts and Entertainment Editor Scott Shoger and signed an “Editorial Freelance Agreement” to write for them about theatre.  In case you’re reading my blog from some other city, Nuvo is Indianapolis, Indiana’s weekly alternative newspaper/website.

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2014 Directory of Shows

Sushi with umbrella re-sized

(last updated July 23, 2014)

I am late getting my 2014 directory started because I am part bear and we have had a record-breaking winter here in Indianapolis, Indiana.  45 inches of snow and below-zero(F) temperatures make me want to just stay in bed and sleep until spring.

But now it is almost March and I have seen enough shows even with the weather challenges that I want to at least make a note of them here on my blog.  So…

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Three Playdates at Indy Actors Playground

11-18-13 Indy Actors Playground at Indy Reads Books - H Baugh

I attended my third Indy Actors Playground last week.  Lou Harry and Bill Simmons host it, usually at 7pm on the third Monday of every month at Indy Reads Books, which is at the northeast end of Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.  The Best Chocolate in Town store stays open until 7pm on Mondays, so after work you can pick up some exotically flavored chocolate truffles for later and then cross the street to eat crawfish etouffee’ or red beans and rice at the new YATS location before you walk a few steps to the bookstore to hear some of Indy’s best professional actors reading aloud a play just for the fun of it.

Actors take turns choosing the play and casting it. They may or may not rehearse it together ahead of time, but since they are donating their time and talent and since most of them are working a lot already professionally, it is not meant to be a big time commitment for them.  No one except the hosts and that month’s participating actors know what the play will be ahead of time.  This is so the selecting actor does not have to think about a play’s marketability.  He (or she) can choose a play for his own reasons, simply because he likes it.

There is no charge.  There are also no promises to the audience about appropriateness so leave your kids at home and keep your mind open.

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Two Vacation Days (includes a review of Claire Wilcher’s show at Chef Joseph’s at the Connoisseur Room)

My storytelling went well, if I do say so myself.  Thank you, again, to all who participated in any part of the Basile Emerging Stories Festival earlier this month!  If you missed Matthew Roland’s lovely preview article about it in the Indianapolis Star, here is a link that should let you read it for free if you haven’t already read 30 free articles from the Star:   Its headline is “Storytelling is slow entertainment in fast-paced age.” Slow entertainment like slow food.  I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.

After that very full weekend and the anxiety leading up to it, I successfully completed a very full week at my day job.  Then I finally went on vacation and…I RESTED.  No Facebook, no Twitter, no work email, no clocks, no appointments, no promises, no plans, no expectations, no lists, no goals, no answering questions of any kind from anyone, no public sharing, no promoting, no entertaining, no coaching, no managing, no work, NO COMMITMENTS for a whole week.

Well, okay, I had two commitments.  And of course they were theatre-related.

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Storytelling Preview: “Hoosier in Tokyo: a Tale of Leaving Home and Finding It Again” and the Basile Emerging Stories Festival

Photo by Christopher Anderton

“I usually tell people that I moved to Japan because I wanted an adventure…”

That’s how my “Hoosier in Tokyo” story begins.  I’ll be telling it again this Saturday, November 2, at 7pm in the Indy Fringe Theatre building as part of the Frank Basile Emerging Stories Festival.  The tickets are only $5 per telling, with your choice of eleven different tellers over the course of the three-day festival.  There is more info on the Storytelling Arts of Indiana website.  If this kind of thing interests you, I hope you can come!

In the meantime, I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had as I’ve been revisiting this piece in preparation to tell it again.

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“Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” – Theatre Review Part One

Several years ago I applied for a job at the public library in Seymour, Indiana.  I met a LOT of people during the interview process, including some of the regular patrons (customers), and at some point I brought up the topic of rock star resident John Mellencamp.  I said something gushy like, “Maybe I’ll run into him at the grocery store!”

Whoever I was talking with made a face and said, “He’s no saint, you know. We’re proud of him, but he’s no saint.”

Now, years later, after driving down to Bloomington, Indiana last night for the premiere performance of the Midwest tour of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” that’s kind of how I feel about the show: it’s not perfect, but I’m proud of John Mellencamp (music and lyrics) and Stephen King (libretto) for trying something new while still letting their audiences enjoy their musical and storyelling strengths.  I’m glad I paid $65 and drove two hours there and back after work to be with a gazillion other excited fans in the Indiana University Auditorium on opening night of the tour.

Should you go see “Ghost Brothers” when it comes through Indianapolis next week?  Well, you know my first answer is always, “Of course you should go see a show that interests you.  Go see it and form your own opinion!”

But in this case I’ll add that if you already are a Mellencamp and/or a King fan, then yes, you should definitely go, because the a) the songs are fresh but have that relatable, tormented-yet-honest Mellencamp feel and the singers and instrumental musicians performing them are outstanding.  And b) the story has that Ahh-I’m-so-comfortable-no-wait-I’m-in-a-nightmare-no-wait-no-what-oh-awesome feel that Stephen King does so well and it is told in this production by excellent actors.

As a theatre piece “Ghost Brothers” disappointed me a bit.  I always hope for a core-shaker when I go to the theatre, but this was merely interesting, not immediately transformational.  I’m going to try to figure out why by writing about it at length in another post without worrying about spoilers.  After I do that, I’m going to read and respond to two or more other local reviewers that I know blogged about last night’s performance, but first I want to see if I can figure out “what I think” all by myself.

So please check back for Part Two of this review, and in the meantime, if you go see “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” I hope you’ll leave me a courteous comment, too.

I suspect that even though I didn’t join in standing and cheering at the end last night, I will be thinking about this piece for a long time.  It is no accident that delayed transformation is one of the themes of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.”

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.


A Librarian’s Approach to the 2013 Indy Fringe Theatre Festival

(Update 8/26/13 – I saw twenty-seven IndyFringe shows this year at $10 each.  I got into Stewart Huff’s sold-out show because someone didn’t pick up their pre-paid ticket.  The volunteer at the box office told me as he took my ten dollar bill that he wasn’t allowed to sell over the established ticket limit so he would put my $10 for that show into the Fringe’s building fund and give me a donator’s button instead of a ticket.  No offense to the Fringe, but I would rather that $10 had gone to Stewart.  However, I didn’t see a way to argue effectively about it and the show was about to start and I wanted in, so I said okay.  I bought Stewart’s $10 CD after the show, but that was also just because I wanted it.  I saw one of the shows a second time – $10 more dollars.  I also bought two backer buttons at $5 each.  Oh!  And I also gave $5 to a busker (artist performing on the street.)  All in all, not counting refreshments, gasoline for 10 round trips between my home in Carmel and the Fringe neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis, and the occasional parking meter fee, I spent $305 on Fringe-ing this year.

It was worth every dollar.

Below I have added my thoughts on the twenty-seven shows I saw.  There were at least fifteen other shows I wanted very much to see.  Such is life.

To everyone that made Fringe13 such a pleasure this year:  Thank you!)


2013 is the ninth year of the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival here in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I have been attending and writing about IndyFringe shows since 2007, so this will be my seventh year of Fringe-ing.  I have seen over 150 IndyFringe shows so far, some of them twice.

There are many right ways to Fringe.

One way is to do what my friend Robby Slaughter (@RobbySlaughter) does and just find a place to park, look around for a theatre, and see whatever show is running next at that theatre.   He’s seen a few duds over the years, but he’s seen more treasures.  And a lot of them were shows he probably wouldn’t have chosen if he had read about them ahead of time.

Another way is to do what my friend, Twitter buddy (and a Twitter critic of Indy Fringe shows and other events) Heather Sokol (@JustHeather), does: Invite a friend to go with you to the Fringe and then make them pick what show you’ll see.  She calls it the “Let Your Date Pick Method.”

Another way is to do what my friend, actor Adam Crowe does: See one show where you know someone in it, and one show where you don’t.

I earn my living as a readers’ advisory librarian so my instincts are to:

First make one big list of the shows in some kind of order so that individual shows are easy to find again.  Fortunately, the Indy Fringe Festival staff  have already created a “Fringe13 A to Z” directory on their website.

Then put the shows into groups based on their appeal factors, if I know them, or at least by type of show.  Librarians are always creating lists to help patrons find books that will be a good fit for them.  “If you liked The Hunger Games, try these other books…” and so on.  We talk about quality in the reviews we write, and sometimes we form committees to identify the “best” books of the year, but in our day-to-day work with patrons (customers), we try not to judge books or people.  We’re human, and we do have opinions of our own, but when we’re on the job,  “best” means “best for YOU in this moment.”

Recreational reading, like theatre-going, is a very personal thing.

Below are some groupings (in alphabetical order, of course) that occurred to me as I went through the whole “Fringe13 A to Z” list.

As your self-appointed “theatre advisory librarian,” I hope this is helpful to you.

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