Theatre Review: “Midwestern Hemisphere” at the Artsgarden

Frank Shelton, Megan McKinney, Rob Neal, and Kelsie Coughlin in “Midwestern Hemisphere”On Friday, March 28, 2008, “Midwestern Hemisphere,” a smart and funny play written by Lou Harry and Eric Pfeffinger, had the opening night of its world premiere run.  The relatively new but fully professional Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre (HART) produced the show, with founding member Michael Shelton as director.  It was the first fully-staged theatrical production at the Indianapolis Artsgarden downtown.

And I was there!  It was even more thrilling than I had imagined it would be. 

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Odds ‘n’ Ends

Last Saturday night I went to the Easter vigil service at my church.  I hadn’t been to church in a while.  I was struck by the similarities between church and theatre.  However, I wanted to cheer and applaud at the end of the offertory anthem and Episcopalians don’t do that.  Ah, well.

On Tuesday night I was the guest storyteller for a Family Literacy Night for ENL (English as a New Language) families in my local school system.  Actually, I only read aloud a picture book.  I didn’t tell a story.  I gave up trying to explain the difference, though, and just had a good time. 

And, as it turned out, reading aloud was a better fit for this particular audience anyway, especially since I was able to use a document reader to project the pages of the book onto a large screen.  There were over 100 parents, teachers, and students of all ages.  They were all very excited to be there.  We turned the lights off, which helped focus everyone’s attention, and people who didn’t understand the words could still enjoy the pictures. 

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Theatre Review: “Praise the Lord…” at Epilogue

On Friday night I went to see “Praise the Lord and Pass the Peanut Butter,” written and directed by local playwright Marsha L. Grant, as presented by the Epilogue Players on the near north side of Indy.   Norris Wright was the producer, Terry Downey the stage manager, and Ron Rose the lighting and sound designer.

This was the show’s third weekend; it closed on Saturday night.  I know that my review will not help anyone decide whether or not to go see it, but I wanted to record some thoughts about it anyway.

In her curtain talk, Grant said, “Will this play give you a religious experience?  No.”  

She was right.  The show did not make me “see God.”  Not even close.  But it did give me some good food for thought about three things:  play structure, audience fit, and the purpose of art.  More about these in a moment.

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A Wellness Weekend

I am still percolating on the ideas explored in the Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Well,” by Lisa Kron.   This is the show I saw last Thursday.  I spent less time reviewing shows this past weekend, and more time talking with family and hanging out with friends.  I feel more well, more balanced, because of this.

Mind you, a lot of my “down time” was still theatre-related or storytelling-related.

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Theatre Review: “Well” at the Phoenix Theatre

Counterclockwise from top:  Deborah Sargent, Kai Mwaafrika, Danny Russel, Gayle Steigerwald, Michael H. Smith, and Gail Bray in “Well.”On Thursday night I drove downtown to the Phoenix Theatre for the opening performance of “Well,” by Lisa Kron.  When this autobiographical play opened on Broadway, the playwright played herself.  In this production, directed by Martha Jacobs and produced by Bryan Fonseca, Deborah Sargent plays the part of Lisa Kron, and Gayle Steigerwald plays her chronically ill mother.

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‘Had to get me another shot

Ernest Hemingway said, “What’s right is what feels good afterwards.”

I worked at my day job 9-7 today after going to a show last night.  (Review of “Well” at the Phoenix coming soon!)  I was going to stay in tonight and do a little writing, a little reading, a little laundry…you know, just take it easy and catch up on my life.  I would like to see and write about the shows currently running at Buck Creek and Epilogue, but I knew I couldn’t get to either of those shows by curtain time tonight.  And besides, there is such a thing as too much theatre, even for me. 

So I was going to go home, kick off my shoes, release my bra, slip into my sweats…  I was going to make scrambled eggs with onions and cheese, some steamed broccoli on the side, or maybe some wilted spinach a la Rachel Ray. (She adds nutmeg.)   

In other words, I had a plan.

But driving home, I suddenly realized that I could get to Studio 15 in Carmel in time to see “Art” again if I really wanted to. 

And I did!  I did want to see “Art” again.  And not only because I liked the show the first time I saw it.  I also just wanted to be around testosterone in a safe way.  Adult testosterone.  Maybe that was because at my day job I work mostly with women and teens, and because most of my friends are female.  For whatever reason, I just really wanted a shot of theatre AND a shot of the opposite sex.  Do you ever feel that way?

So I turned my car around.

I had to wait for a seat; they had a full house.  But some people with reservations didn’t show up, so I got one of the good seats after all.  (I was willing to sit in a folding chair by the coffee pot if I had to, though.)

And the three guys charmed me again. 

If Hemingway were here, I would tell him:  I feel great.  I can do laundry tomorrow.

Theatre Review: “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre

Melissa Schott in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”On Saturday night I drove over to the Marian College campus, near 38th Street, to see the Indianapolis Civic Theatre‘s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”  Here is my review in a nutshell:  Melissa Schott is completely delightful as Millie Dillmount!  There are several other visual and aural treats in this show as well.

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Theatre Review: “Jane Eyre” by Footlite Musicals

Warning:  This review contains several plot spoilers.  There is a lot of delicious suspense in this tale, so if you do not know the story, go see the show first and then let’s compare impressions.

On Friday I drove to the near north side of Indianapolis to the Hedback Theatre to see the opening night of “Jane Eyre: A Musical Drama” as presented by Footlite Musicals.  I had never read the novel by Charlotte Bronte, so I was looking forward to improving my cultural literacy.  Also, the costumer, Stephen Hollenbeck, had given me a sneak preview of the rich costumes months ago, and I was curious to see how they had turned out.

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IRT’s 2008-2009 Season

This morning I went to my first media event as a theatre reviewer.  It was an unveiling of the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s 2008-2009 season.

I think I am going to have to write a separate and more personal “Reflections” post about how thrilling it was to attend my first press breakfast.  (I felt so shy, but it was so much fun!)   However, first I am making a new post category – “Season Previews” – and giving you the scoop about what is coming up at the IRT.

There will be ten shows next year instead of nine, to give theatre goers even more choice.  As usual, a lot of thought went into selecting those ten shows.

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Theatre Review: “Art” presented by the Carmel Community Players

On Sunday afternoon I drove with my windows down (balmy weather!) to Studio 15 in Carmel, just north of Indy, to see the Carmel Community Players’ production of “Art.”  This play was written by Yasmina Reza and translated from the French by Christopher Hampton.  CCP’s presentation was directed by Ken Klingenmeier and produced by Kim Howard.

I felt lucky to see this play so soon after seeing “Six Degrees of Separation,” by John Guare.  Both plays are about art and intimacy.  In both plays, the characters sometimes speak directly to the audience.  The pieces are very different in other ways, but they complement each other well.

In “Art,” three guys figure out their friendship as they figure out their own takes on art – art in general and one painting in particular.  Their conversations are smart, funny and thought-provoking.

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