On Monday night I attended the Spotlight 2009 gala at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus. It was presented by the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis and Efroymson Family Fund: a CICF Fund.
According to my program, the event was “One extraordinary night of singers, dancers, musicians and actors to benefit the Indiana AIDS Fund.” In other words: “One Night. One Stage. One Reason.”
It truly was extraordinary. A sampler of many artistic treats, from music to dance to theatre and more.
I had intended to give myself a night off and NOT write about an arts event for once, but now I find that I really want to record at least a few comments about Spotlight 2009 here on my blog as a souvenir.
Here is a list of the arts organizations that donated their performances. I wish I had time to write about all of them in detail. They were each a pleasure:
- The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra played the Prelude to Act 3 of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner. Actually, this was the one act I missed because I had had to park in the next county over and hike back to Clowes Hall. However, based on the other times I have heard the ISO, I’m sure this was a pleasure, too. Note to self: If you do buy tickets to “Wicked” at Clowes, leave an hour earlier than you think you need to so that a) you will be able to nab one of the very limited parking spaces, b) you won’t miss any of the show, and c) the Clowes box office lady won’t yell at you again. Who needs a shaming on top of sore feet?
- Actors Theatre of Indiana performed the hilarious “Lion King” segment from their currently-running production of “Forbidden Broadway.”
- The Indianapolis Opera Ensemble performed the Finale, Act II of La Boheme by Giaccomo Puccini. Note to self: I have got to find a way to incorporate going to the opera into my theatre habit.
- The Phoenix Theatre performed a funny excerpt from their currently-running production of “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot,” only they did it in Spanish with English supertitles. This was brilliant: it freed people who might have felt uncomfortable hearing the sexual references and other adult material in the show in this setting to relax and laugh. It also let people know that the Phoenix takes interesting risks artistically.
- The Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre performed a gorgeous excerpt from “Hooray for Bollywood.”
- A duo from the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra performed “Zigeunerweisen” by Pablo Sarasate. Such magnificent fingering and bowing!
- The Indianapolis Children’s Choir performed “Georgia On My Mind,” by Hoagy Carmichale, arranged by Ken Berg. In my mind, children are different from teens, and these were teens. But in any case, they sang beautifully.
- Brenda Williams and the Pride of Indy Jazz Ensemble performed “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” by George and Ira Gershwin. Another treat, and a lively way to bring us all back together after intermission.
- Dance Kaleidoscope performed an excerpt from iconoGlass that left me breathless.
- The Butler Ballet performed the beautiful Grand Pas de deux from “Cinderella.”
- Kenyetta’ Dance Company performed a piece called “Calling You.” I don’t know what it is about this young company, but they had me in tears again Monday night just as they had at the Indy Fringe festival last summer.
- The Indiana Repertory Theatre shared a musical excerpt from their production of “Crowns,” by Regina Taylor. Note to self: You have GOT to write a detailed review of this wonderful show before it closes.
- The Indianapolis Men’s Chorus sang “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “Who Are the Brave?” which made me think of the service of soldiers everywhere.
- Steven Stolen of the Meridian Song Project sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein with Gary Walters on the piano. Steven’s singing voice always makes me swoon!
- The Indianapolis Civic Theatre performed the “Tonight Quintet” from their production of “West Side Story.”
- Poet Tasha Jones shared a strong poem called, I think, “This is a Casting Call” or “AIDS Is Having a Casting Call.”
I enjoyed all of these performances very much, and I am proud to have contributed my little $32.50 to the more than $350,000 raised by the Spotlight event to benefit the Indiana AIDS Fund.
However, the main reason I was there was to see my friend Asia LaBouche of “The Ladies of Legends of Talbott Street” perform. Asia is the glamorous and exquisitely detailed creation of Douglas Mellinger. Doug’s partner is a friend of mine from college; we sometimes go to theatre shows together. I felt privileged to be part of the Friends-Family-and-Fans-of-Asia row Monday night at Clowes.
And Asia? She was STUNNING. Doug is a tall man to begin with, but on Monday night Asia must have been eight feet tall in her heels and wig.
When she first appeared on stage, Asia wore a chin-to-toe, black-and-white feathered coat. She danced and lip-synched elegantly to a Celine Dion song while three male dancers and three female dancers in simple clothes gyrated around her. Eventually the feather coat fell into a fluffy pile to reveal a trailing, floor-length, deep purple gown encrusted with pearls and sparkling jewels.
Asia and the other dancers all looked great together. Asia told me after the show that Brent E. Marty from the Indianapolis Civic Theatre had organized the dancers for her. The program also says that Marty staged Asia’s piece and that Holly Stults choreographed it.
After the show, in the lobby, it was wonderful to just bask in Asia’s graciousness and gracefulness. Many, many people wanted to talk to her and have their photos taken with her. She chatted calmly and kindly with them all, and did not topple over. (I would have!)
It was also fun to notice and admire even more of the details in her presentation up close: the huge, jeweled rings on her fingers; the sparkly red lipstick on her perfectly lined lips; the baubles around her neck; the beadwork on her gown; the jeweled chopsticks in the back of her hair; and more.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the art of drag – especially drag done with wit and skill – fascinates me.
Oh! I also want to record that at intermission I got to chat a bit with several other artists, including choreographer/dancer Nicholas A. Owens from Kenyatta’ Dance Company. I was sorry again that I had not been able to see “American Modern” presented by Dance Kaleidoscope earlier this year, because Nick had choreographed a piece for that. However, he told me that DK has asked him to choreograph another piece. I was delighted to hear this!
And finally I would like to publicly say “thank you!” to David Hochoy and everyone else that made Spotlight 2009 happen. It was a very special, very enjoyable evening.
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com