Sign Language at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre

“I love you” in American Sign Language - photo by Matt Seppings

I saw sign language interpreter Joyce Ellinger in the lobby of the Indianapolis Civic Theatre last Thursday night.  We were both waiting to see “Little Shop of Horrors.”

I have long admired Ellinger’s signing of programs offered by Storytelling Arts of Indiana.  I was glad to hear that she and her colleagues will again be signing for the Hoosier Storytelling Festival, coming up October 8-11, 2008.

I was delighted to hear that she and her colleagues are now also working with the Indianapolis Civic Theatre.  Ellinger was going to watch that night’s performance of “Little Shop” on a monitor backstage in order to practice signing it for the Saturday night performance.

Later, I asked Civic’s director of marketing, Ulrike Steinert, for more information.  She told me that Civic is “now working with Interpreting Services, Inc. to provide a signed performance of every mainstage show.  These are typically the last Saturday of the run (except for the holiday show The Wizard of Oz.)”

Steinert also gave me a list of scheduled interpreted performances during the 2008-2009 season at Civic:

Golda’s Balcony – November 15, 2008

The Wizard of Oz – December 27, 2008

Enchanted April – February 14, 2009

West Side Story – March 28, 2009

Twentieth Century – May 16, 2009

I really admire the Indianapolis Civic Theatre for offering this!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Theatre Review: “Little Shop of Horrors” at Indy Civic

Scot Greenwell and Mikayla Anne Reed in Little Shop of Horrors at the Indpls Civic Theatre

Last Thursday night I drove over to the northwest side of Indianapolis to the Marion College campus to see the Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”   I hope you got to see it, too, because it was a real treat, and it closed today.

This musical is based on the film by Roger Corman, with screenplay by Charles Griffith.  The book and lyrics for the stage version are by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken.

Civic’s production was directed and music directed by Brent E. Marty.  I admired Marty’s acting work in Theatre on the Square’s production of “Die! Mommy, Die!” and ever since he and I and several other people were stranded in a movie theatre without power during a thunderstorm, I have felt as if I know him.  However, I didn’t actually meet him until right after this show.

He told me that he is looking forward to working with the Munchkins in Civic’s upcoming holiday-time production of “The Wizard of Oz” but that he has also started preparing to music direct Civic’s production of “West Side Story” in March, 2009.

“I want Leonard Bernstein to be able to look down from heaven and be proud of me,” Marty said.

I don’t know if all of the people who were originally involved with “Little Shop of Horrors” are still alive or looking down or what, but in any case, I’m sure they would be proud if they knew about Marty’s direction of this show.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Little Shop of Horrors” at Indy Civic

Theatre Review: “Dracula” by ArtBox Productions

Joshua Ramsey and Allison Reddick rehearsing “Dracula”

Last weekend was an impromptu Steven Dietz festival for me.  First I saw his adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories: “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre downtown last Friday night.  Then last Saturday night I met my brother at the Asylum House in Greenwood on the south side of Indy to see Artbox Productions’ presentation of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” which was also written by Steven Dietz.

I had not heard of Steven Dietz before last weekend, but any playwright who makes me want to read the books on which his plays are based is okay by me.  In other words, I am now a Steven Dietz fan.

I am a fan of the newly formed ArtBox Productions, too.  This community theatre company was established by two men, Jason Hignite and Ryan Reddick.  Hignite told me that they hope to provide a venue for new plays.  However, they decided to go with an established script by a proven playwright for this, their first production. 

Hignite directed “Dracula.”  Reddick produced it.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Dracula” by ArtBox Productions

A Dazzling Opening Night at the IRT

People dress UP for opening night at the IRT! - Photo by Samira Khan

Last Friday night I drove downtown for the opening night of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  To read my thoughts about the show itself, please go back one post, here.

I want to share some thoughts about the razzle-dazzle of the first opening night of the season at the IRT, too.  It was a particularly thrilling experience.

Continue reading A Dazzling Opening Night at the IRT

Theatre Review: “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure” at the IRT

Jonathan Gillard Daly and Mark Goetzinger in “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure” at the IRT - photo by Steven Hill

Last Friday night I hurried home after work to shower and change for the opening night of the opening show of the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s 2008-2009 season:  “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure,” adapted by Steven Dietz and directed by Peter Amster.   (Amster is the same person who directed the IRT’s blissfully fresh production of “Our Town” last fall.)

I hereby apologize to everyone I know in real life for not inviting anyone else to accompany me after the first person I asked told me she would be out of town that night.  This show, this whole event, was a real treat.  I should not have let my extra media ticket go to waste.

I am going to write about the show itself in this post, and then about the “razzle-dazzle” of opening night in another post.

What I love most about this show is this: its portrayal of the iconic Sherlock Holmes as fully human; the blend of quirky characters, including two strong females – a villain and a heroine; and its clever stagecraft – the dance of the Victorian set pieces in particular.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure” at the IRT

Theatre Review: “Perfect Wedding” by Actors Theatre of Indiana

Clockwise from knife: Jamison Kay Garrison, Cynthia Collins, Christa Shoot, Don Farrell - photo by Julie Curry.

Last Thursday night, my friend Christine and I drove over to the Pike Performing Arts Center to see the Actors Theatre of Indiana production of “Perfect Wedding.”  It was written by Robin Hawdon and directed by Judy Fitzgerald.

We laughed a LOT.  Christine said she thought her husband would have enjoyed it, too.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Perfect Wedding” by Actors Theatre of Indiana

So Many Shows, So Little Time…

Scot Greenwell in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Indianapolis Civic

I am three shows behind in my reviewing because I have been working on a presentation of my own for a conference related to my day job.  If you happen to think of it, please send me “break a leg!” vibes at 10:30 on Monday morning.

I hope to complete my three detailed reviews soon, but in the meantime I will just give you three quickies:

Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production of “Perfect Wedding,” written by Robin Hawdon and directed by Judy Fitzgerald, is a wacky, professionally-executed farce whose style and hilarity reminded me of Carole Burnett’s ensemble comedy.  The last performance is today at 2:00 at the Pike Performing Arts Center, on the northwest side of Indy.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure” opened Friday night on the IRT’s Main Stage in downtown Indy and continues through October 11, 2008.  Peter Amstel directed.  He is the one who directed the IRT’s wonderful production of “Our Town” last year.  I would like to write two posts about this show: one about the show itself, which is excellent, and one about the razzle-dazzle of opening night of the new season at the IRT, which was, well…dazzling.

A new community theatre group, ArtBox Productions, is presenting “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” by Steven Dietz, at the Asylum House in German Park in Greenwood on the south side of Indy through next Sunday, September 28, 2008.  (Sunday performance at 6:30 pm.)  The director, Jason Hignite, told me that they have an agreement with the Asylum House to do a live theatre horror piece every year from now on, as a prelude to the opening of the haunted house attraction.  “Dracula” is a creepy-fun beginning to this new tradition.  It made me want to re-read and re-enjoy the original novel.

I’m glad I was able to see all of these shows!  I am also looking forward to seeing “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre next weekend, plus several Encore Association shows.  I will not be allowed to write about the Encore shows since I am a judge this year, so maybe that will give me a chance to catch up.

By the way, I would like to post a photo from one of these three shows with this mini-post, but the two professional companies sent me, basically, only one photo each, so I will save those for the full reviews.  The community theatre company is still working on getting me photos.   You don’t mind the occasional words-only post, do you?

Thanks for your patience.  More later…

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

(PS – 9/23/08 – I remembered after I had left for my conference that Ulrike Steinert, Director of Marketing for the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, had sent me more than one publicity photo to go with “Little Shop of Horrors.”  Now that I am back home, I have included one of them here, just for fun.  When I find out who took it, I will credit the photographer.  Zach Rosing also emailed me to offer several informal but high-quality shots, which I also appreciate.  Thanks Ulrike and Zach!  HB)

Theatre Review: “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” at TOTS

LtoR: Dannon Crews, Daniel Robert, Jay Hemphill, Jason Gloye, Nate Waldon in “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!”

Last Friday night, it worked out that my busy actor friend, Dane Rogers, and I could go see a show together.   He is rehearsing “South Pacific” for the Myers Dinner Theatre but he had Friday night off.

A lot of potentially worthwhile shows opened last weekend.  I didn’t have any Encore Association responsibilities and I had already made plans to see “November” at the Phoenix with another friend another night.  However, I had also received offers of media passes from Actors Theatre of Indiana (ATI) to see “Perfect Wedding,” from Theatre on the Square (TOTS) to see “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” and from the Indianapolis Civic Theatre to see “Little Shop of Horrors.”   I was pretty sure I would be able to see all of them eventually, so I left it up to Dane to decide which of the three we would see on Friday night.

He chose “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,” written by Noah Haidle and directed at TOTS by Ron Spencer. 

It was a good decision!  This bizarre show about love and identity is belly-laugh funny and “deeper” than you might think.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” at TOTS

Theatre Review: “November” at the Phoenix

Cast of November (LtR) - Stephen Hunt, Charles Goad, Diane Timmerman, Tom Beeler, Doug Johnson - Photo by Julie Curry Photography

Last Thursday night my friend Chris and I met downtown at the Phoenix Theatre to see the first post-Broadway production of David Mamet’s “November.”

It is wickedly hilarious: a real antidote for thinking, caring people who have been depressed by politics for too long.  You will probably still be depressed afterwards – this play doesn’t offer many answers – but you will feel much lighter from laughing so hard about it.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “November” at the Phoenix

Theatre Review: “Pizza Driver” at the Mystery Cafe

Mystery Cafe logo

Last Saturday night (9/5/08) my friend and sister storyteller, Sandra Harris, and I drove just south of downtown Indy to the Milano Inn to experience “Pizza Driver: Murder by the Slice” at the Mystery Café.

The executive producer, Joe Strange, had told me that some people say that his kind of interactive show is not truly theatre.  He invited me to see for myself.

My verdict: it is definitely theatre, but with a very specific appeal.  It is also a LOT of fun!  Sandra said she had a good time, too.  I am delighted to have discovered a whole new (to me) niche within the live theatre world: mystery dinner theatre.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Pizza Driver” at the Mystery Cafe