Theatre Review: “Crime and Punishment” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

LtR - Jenny McKnight, Andrew Ahrens, and Peter DeFaria in "Crime and Punishment" at the IRT

“Do you believe in Lazarus?”


“Do you believe that a man can be resurrected?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you believe in God?”

“Does it matter?”

“It might.”

So begins “Crime and Punishment” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  This exciting and streamlined adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s massive novel was written by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus and directed by John Green.  I have not read the novel, or even the Cliffs Notes, so I can’t tell you how this show compares to the original literature.  I can tell you that it is an engrossing evening of theatre.  When I saw the show on Sunday evening, February 15, I was weeping by the end, and on my feet applauding before the three actors had even taken their first bow.

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Mailbox Monday: A new HART show and more!

L - Andrew Ahrens R - Peter Defaria in "Crime and Punishment" at the IRT

I am using a photo from the IRT’s exciting production of “Crime and Punishment” to go with this Mailbox Monday post because I saw the show a week ago Sunday and yet have not made time to complete my full-length review of it.  Short version: It is worth seeing! 

Here are some selections and reflections from the news I received this past week:

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20 Albums – Indulge Me, Please

Identity Boxes photo by Jon Nicholls

I am not drawn to music stores.   Unlike book stores, music stores overwhelm me.  Even when I do manage to select an album and buy it, I forget to listen to it when I get it home.  Or I’ll put it on, but then I turn it off pretty quickly because it is not as fun as I thought it would be, and anyway, it is distracting me from doing what I really want to do, which is to read a book or write a letter.

So…I have never been one of those people who can speak passionately about “my” music.

However, today I have enjoyed remembering people who loved me enough at various points in my life to introduce me to their favorite music.  Below is my “7 Things About Me” list for Robby on Smaller Indiana, combined with my”25 Random Things About Me” list and my “20 Albums” list for various friends and relations who have tagged me on Facebook.  I’m posting it to my theatre reviews blog first, though, even though it is only a little bit about theatre.  I promise I will return to writing theatre reviews soon!

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Theatre Review: “Cats” at Beef and Boards

Jami Keck as Plato in B&B's "Cats" - photo by Julie Curry Photography

Last Thursday I met actor/singer/comedian/dancer/writer Claire Wilcher on the northwest side of town at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre for the opening night of “Cats.”  The show is based on the poems in “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot.  Its music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Buddy Reeder is the director and choreographer for the B&B production.  He restaged the show based on Marc Robins’ 2004 B&B choreography.  Kristy Templet is the musical director.  Dawn Rivard is the wig and makeup artist.  Brian Horton is the costumer.

I had never seen “Cats” before, but Claire told me she has seen several productions of it, beginning with a big, Broadway touring production of it when she was a child.  She loved the songs so much that she memorized them, listening to a recording of them over and over.

I had asked her to be my guest just because I knew I would enjoy her company.  It was an unexpected treat to find myself with a “Cats” aficionado!

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Theatre Review: “Durang-O-Rama” by InterAction Theater at the Fringe

Diane Kondrat and Bill Simmons in "Funeral Parlor" - photo provided by Bill Simmons

On Sunday, February 8, 2009, I drove downtown to the new Indy Fringe headquarters to see “Durang-O-Rama! 5 One-Acts by Christopher Durang” as presented by InterAction Theater.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to write about it before the show closed on February 14. I would like to record some thoughts about it now just because.

Before the show, several theatre people told me that almost nobody produces Christopher Durang around here because he is so “out there.”  I confess that I said aloud at the end of this show, “Well, that was ODD.” 

But…I like odd.  Christopher Durang must be a strange, strange man, but so what?  I admire his ability to capture and shape the bizarre stuff that runs through his imagination.  It makes me laugh.  And it makes me feel more accepting of the bizarre stuff that runs through my own.

I was glad to have seen this quirky collection of stories brought to life by such talented, professional actors, too.  The Fringe headquarters has come a long way as a performance space – and I appreciate the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, LISC, and Perkins VanDeylen Architects for their support of the ongoing restoration and renovation of the former church building – but it is still very much a work in progress.   There is no room to have a backstage area, for example, so just before the show starts, the lights dim, sunlight shines through tiny cracks in the walls, and the actors come up from the stairwell to the basement and run past the audience to take their places behind panels set at either side of the stage.  Yet it doesn’t feel at all like “Judy and Mickey have a barn.”  Or actually, maybe it does, and that is exactly what highlights the excellent quality of the acting.

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Theatre Review: “The Seafarer” at the Phoenix Theatre

LtoR: Michael Shelton, Doug Johnson, Rich Komenich, and Will Carlson in "The Seafarer" at the Phoenix - photo by Julie Curry Photography

Last Thursday night, a friend and I drove downtown to the Phoenix Theatre to see the opening night of the Indiana premiere of “The Seafarer,” written by Conor McPherson and directed by Erik Allen Friedman.

It is a rich and earthy show that grounds the audience with piles of satisfying attention to detail paid to everything from the Irish accents of the characters to the layers of symbolism in the story to the real fire behind the metal door of the wood-burning furnace on the skillfully dressed set.  Yet it is also a spiritual show that soars and dips and flies, taking the audience to heaven and hell, to land and sea, and all around the neighborhood, without us ever physically leaving the main characters’ cozy yet masculine front room.

The show left me feeling deeply sad about the Devil’s pride and subsequent loneliness, grateful for my own relationship with God, and giddy with a renewed belief in the healing powers of love – and communication – no matter what one’s belief system.  The ending of the show is slightly open to interpretation, however.   I have been chewing on it for days.

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Theatre Review: “Enchanted April” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre

UL - Theresa Koleszar, UR - Carrie A. Schlatter-Schwer, DL - Jolen Mentink Moffatt, DR - Marni Lemons - Indianapolis Civic Theatre

On Sunday afternoon, February 1, my friend Jack and I met at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre to see “Enchanted April.”  The play was written by Matthew Barber from the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim.  Civic’s production was directed by Jennifer Loia Alexander.

Jack and I both thought that the show felt as if it had been taken from a novel.  It had a “talky,” literary feel to it, especially in the first act.  Once we got used to it, though, we enjoyed it.

It is a lovely and romantic show, set in 1922 England and Italy.  On the afternoon that we went, the audience included several ladies from a Red Hat club, but I saw several other couples in the audience, too.  If I didn’t already have other plans, I would want to see this show again on Valentine’s Day.  It made me want to drink tea with my pinkie curled…and then hug my boyfriend.

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Theatre Review: “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Robert Neal and Tessa Buzzetti in "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the IRT - photo by Julie Curry Photography

On Thursday, January 29, I took a friend to the Indiana Repertory Theatre see “To Kill a Mockingbird,” adapted by Christopher Sergel from the novel by Harper Lee.  The IRT’s production was directed by Priscilla Lindsay.

My friend had seen the movie; I had not.  My friend had not read the novel since he was in high school; I re-read it fairly recently in order to participate in a discussion of it.  If you love either the novel or the movie and you go expecting the play to reward you in the same way, you will be disappointed. You don’t get to be inside Scout’s head as much in the play as in the novel, for example, and in the play you don’t get to see the whole, big crowd in the “colored” balcony stand up to honor Atticus Finch’s efforts to save Tom Robinson the way you do in the movie.

However, if you go to the theatre with an open mind, ready to experience the classic story in a different format, I bet the stage version will reward you in unique ways.  I bet you will leave with a fresh perspective on the characters and new food for thought about honesty.

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