Theatre Review: “The Giver” at the IRT

Fred Marshall and Garrett Mckenna in "The Giver" at the IRT.  Photo by Julie Curry.

I met my friend Chris in downtown Indianapolis at the professional Indiana Repertory Theatre for opening night of “The Giver” on Friday, October 23, 2009.  I apologize for taking so long to write and post this review.  I have had home computer problems on top of having a weird schedule the past two weeks.

Anyway, “The Giver” is based on the Newbery Award winning novel by Lois Lowry, which is about a post-apocalyptic world in which everyone is safe, healthy, and comfortable because they are prevented from making wrong choices.  The adaptation is by Eric Coble.   The IRT’s resident dramaturg, Richard J. Roberts, directed this production.

After the show, Chris turned to me and said, “I’m going to tell everyone I know about this.  Everyone at work tomorrow…everyone.”

I wiped my cheeks and said, “I want to tell everyone I know about this, too.  Let’s see, what’s the best way…oh, right: I have a blog!  Yay!”

So I’m telling you: this show is excellent. 

Now you may have the following three or four questions about this show in addition to the usual “What did you like about it?” question:

Continue reading Theatre Review: “The Giver” at the IRT

Writing Plan

I usually write my reviews in the order that I saw the shows.  However, I am going to break that rule a bit this week and therefore wanted to give you a heads-up.  Here is my blogging plan for the next few days:

Short version:  If you are already a fan of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award winning author by the same name, then you MUST see this adaptation written by Eric Coble and directed by Richard J. Roberts.  It is very, very satisfying.  If you have never heard of Lois Lowry’s book, I bet you would like this show if you like futuristic explorations of utopia/dystopia.

  • Tweeting of the Encore Awards event  Monday night. 

It shouldn’t take me too long to transfer my @IndyTheatre tweets from that night to an easily re-readable story form here on my blog.  I will feel better knowing that that content is here, where I can more reliably get to it.  (Twitter is fun, but it conks out much too frequently!)  Also, I like being able to have almost all of my content in one searchable place.

  • Storytelling Review of “The Flame of Love: the Legend of Tristan and Iseult” told by Patrick Ball and The Medieval Beasts last Sunday afternoon. 

This was a beautiful, one-night only show presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana Historical Society.

  • Highlights from the “Jersey Boys Sneak Peek Event” at the Murat Theatre a week ago Monday. 

“Jersey Boys” won’t be here in Indianapolis as part of the Broadway Across America series until next summer but I am already counting the days after hearing two actors and the stage manager from the Washington, D.C. company talk with IBJ’s arts editor Lou Harry about the show.  “Oh, what a night!”  I floated home from that fun event with a huge souvenir book and music sampler CD under my arm. 

There are a lot(!) of shows going on this weekend that I would like to see, but I am only going to have time to review one of them: “Elephant Man” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre.

What have you seen lately that you loved?  (or hated?)

Hope Baugh –

11/20/09 – It looks as if I will not have time to write more about the “Jersey Boys Sneak Peek Event” after all, so I ‘ll just say again that I enjoyed it very much, that I learned a lot of intriguing things about a show that was new to me, and that I am therefore VERY much looking forward to seeing the show itself when it comes through Indianapolis next summer!

Review: “Carmina Burana” at Clowes Hall

Kenoth Shane Patton in "Carmina Burana"

Last Sunday afternoon, I met a friend at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus on the north side of Indianapolis to see and hear a six-group collaborative presentation of “Carmina Burana,” by Carl Orff.  It was a transformative experience.  This might sound silly, but it’s true: at one point in the program, I could actually feel my chakras clicking into balance.  Bliss!  After the show, I happily walked into walls a bit until I found my way back to my car. 

My friend loved the show, too. When we met back up at a restaurant downtown for an early dinner, we both said that we hadn’t wanted to turn on the radio while we were driving because we were so enjoying the music from the show that was still running through our heads.

Neither of us had had any first-hand experience with “Carmina Burana” before this, but my friend said that when he lived in Germany, everyone he knew was very familiar with it.  He was glad to have a chance to finally experience it for himself.

I hadn’t known a thing about it except that Dance Kaleidoscope was involved with this production of it, and it had been too long (last January!) since I had seen a DK show.  When I heard that there would be live musical accompaniment to the dancing, I thought, “Well, won’t that be nice.”

I was unprepared for – but exhilerated by – the level of stimulation that a stage filled with powerful, graceful dancers gorgeously costumed and lit and framed by overflowing banks of live, talented musicians would provide.  This was definitely a case where the sum was even bigger than its parts.

Continue reading Review: “Carmina Burana” at Clowes Hall

Theatre Review: “Shipwrecked” at the Phoenix

Eddie Curry (L) and Charles Goad (R) in "Shipwrecked" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Saturday night, my friend David picked me up and we drove to the professional Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the Midwest premiere of “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As told by himself)” written by Donald Margulies.  Bryan Fonseca directed.

This is a charming, richly nostalgic, back-to-creative-basics show that delights with, among other things, its use of sound effects that are made in the moment by a “soundscape crew” you can see.  (I.e. – the sounds are not pre-recorded or hidden.)  It is based on a real person in history and on various intriguing layers and versions of what really happened to him related to his adventures at sea.

I thought the ending was odd, and I still don’t know if that was because I was distracted by the two people that got up to use the restroom at pivotal moments or what.  I have been having a heck of a time trying to write this review because of that.  However, one thing I can tell you for sure is that I enjoyed the show very much. 

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Shipwrecked” at the Phoenix

Theatre Review: “Rabbit Hole” at Carmel Community Players


Last Friday night I drove north to Clay Terrace shopping center in Carmel, Indiana, to see the inaugural production of the 16-year-old, all-volunteer Carmel Community Players in their new space, the Carmel Community Playhouse.

It was a thrilling experience, not only because the new space is so nifty but also because the acting in this particular production is exceptional.  And by “exceptional acting” I don’t just mean in terms of community theatre.   The acting, especially the pacing, in this show is excellent by anyone’s standards.

The Show

The show is “Rabbit Hole,” David Lindsey-Abaire’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner.  It is a moving, thought-provoking, even surprising and funny piece about the changing dynamics in a family that has lost a young boy to a traffic accident.  Ken Klingenmeier directed it for the Carmel Community Players.  Lori Raffel produced it and designed the programs and posters for it.  Donna Klingenmeier is the stage manager. 

I have seen and loved two professional productions of this piece – first at the Curious Theatre in Denver, Colorado and more recently at our own Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.  Both of those theatres are relatively large.  CCP’s new space is smallish and quite intimate.  This means that the set (which was designed, built, and decorated by the director) feels more like an apartment than a huge suburban house, but both the humor and the pain in the interactions of the characters feel more personal.  We feel even more powerfully how much they all love each other and yet how distanced they are from each other emotionally now, even when they are physically close to each other.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Rabbit Hole” at Carmel Community Players

Theatre Review: “Joseph” at Beef and Boards

 Rick Desloge sings "Close Every Door" in "Joseph" at Beef and Boards - photo by Julie Curry

Last Sunday afternoon I drove to Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre on the northwest side of Indianapolis (near the Pyramids) to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics.) 

I have had more experience with this show than with any other in my short career as a theatre blogger.  I wrote about the Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s production for Indiana Auditions in 2007 and about the Hendricks County Civic Theatre’s production here on Indy Theatre Habit in 2008.  B&B’s is the first fully professional production I’ve seen in the Indianapolis area, but I also saw the professional touring production that starred Donny Osmond when it was in Chicago around 1994 or 1995.*

I confess that I went to B&B’s production just because I like to see every B&B show if I can, and because I knew that Scot Greenwell was going to play one of the brothers.  I loved his work as Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” last year at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre.  This is his first time to be in a Beef and Boards show.

However, I wasn’t particularly excited about seeing “Joseph” again because there were so many other, new-to-me shows around town that I wanted to see…until I got to the theatre and the rainbow children came on stage to frolic while the orchestra played the overture.  The children and teens in this production are all cuties and the musicians reminded me of all the different, fun songs in this show.  “Hopie,” I said to myself, “you drag yourself whining every time but you LOVE this show!” Suddenly I knew there was no place else I’d rather be that afternoon.  I settled in and felt lucky to be there.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Joseph” at Beef and Boards

Storytelling Review: “Disquieting, Disturbing, and Dreadful Tales” on the Canal

Last Saturday night, my friend David picked me up and we drove to downtown Indianapolis to the Indiana History Center to hear “Disquieting, Disturbing, & Dreadful Tales” told outside on the canal.  We shivered more from the cold than anything else – neither of us was fully prepared for the sudden dip in temperature that night – but we enjoyed the stories, too.

The event was co-sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.  There were five professional storytellers, including the mistress of ceremonies, Sue Grizzell.  They live in various parts of Indiana.  All five are recipients of the Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories grant sponsored by the two organizations over the years.  On Saturday night the featured tellers took turns standing or sitting before a microphone on a small raised platform decorated with pumpkins and bales of hay under two poles of bright theatre lights plus the regular lights from the IHC’s patio area.  As a group, the tellers offered a nice sampling of subtly different telling styles and stories from all over the world.

Continue reading Storytelling Review: “Disquieting, Disturbing, and Dreadful Tales” on the Canal

Theatre Review: “The Heavens Are Hung In Black” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Jason Bradley (L) and Nicholas Hormann (R) in "The Heavens Are Hung In Black" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Friday night I drove to the Indiana Repertory Theatre – a professional theatre in downtown Indianapolis – to see a new play about Abraham Lincoln.  It is called “The Heavens Are Hung In Black.”  IRT playwright-in-residence James Still wrote it on commission for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.  It premiered there last spring as a three-act play.  Indianapolis is only the second place for it to be produced, and this time it is a two-act piece, so in a way, this is another world premiere.  We are the first audience to see it in its tightened form.

At the end of the performance on Friday night, I was not the only one who made an affirmative little moan before leaping to my feet to applaud.  I think that both theatre buffs and history buffs would enjoy this piece.  I loved it because I am both.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “The Heavens Are Hung In Black” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Mailbox: New Theatre Partner and “Mamma Mia!”

Mama Mia! National Tour 2009 - Monette McKay, Liana Hunt, Nicole Laurenzi - photo by Carol Rosegg

Guess what?!  Broadway Across America is adding me to their media distribution list!  (Thanks very much, Nancy Parrott and Elizabeth Truitt!)  I have included an excerpt from their first press release to me at the bottom of this post.  I love reading press releases, don’t you?  Beyond their content, as pieces of writing they are as fascinating and enjoyable to me as theatre reviews.

Now if you have been reading my blog from the beginning, you may be thinking, “Hope!  The focus of your blog is live theatre in the Indianapolis area.  You don’t have time to see and write about every locally-produced show as it is!  What are you doing negotiating for media passes with a touring organization?”

Continue reading Mailbox: New Theatre Partner and “Mamma Mia!”

Mailbox: Scary Story Events Around Indy This Month

Scary Stories by Kurtfagerland

There is a LOT going on in terms of performance art in the Indianapolis area this month, especially since October is traditionally THE month for ghost stories.  In this post I would like to share excerpts from four emails that I received from people doing “scary” shows that sound interesting.

  Continue reading Mailbox: Scary Story Events Around Indy This Month