Bah, Humbug! (Missed the IRT show last night)

Ben Tebbe (L) and Chuck Goad (R) in "A Christmas Carol" - photo by Julie Curry

(Updated with photo and final paragraph on December 2, 2009.)

So last night, my friend David and I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” adopted by Tom Haas, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

I had actually plotted out a different reviewing weekend, with the opening night of “Our Stockings Are Stuffed: A Very Phoenix Xmas 4” on Friday night, “A Beef and Boards Christmas” on Saturday night, and the IRT on Sunday afternoon.  I hadn’t been to a show with David in a while, so I gave him first dibs on being my guest to any or all of these shows.  I knew that David is rarely available to see shows on Sunday afternoons, but I also knew that he has enjoyed going to the Phoenix and B&B with me in the past, so I thought he would pick either or both of those.

He did, but he also mentioned in passing that he has never been to the IRT.

“What?!  Really?” I said. “How can you be one of my best theatre buddies and never have been to the IRT?! How can I be your best theatre source and have let that happen?!”

I emailed my IRT and Phoenix contacts to see if I could switch my media passes.  They both very graciously agreed.  (Thank you again, Kelly and Lori!)

David and I left for the theatre in PLENTY of time…except that it was Tree-Lighting Night at Monument Circle.  The traffic was beyond bad, and although David drove expertly, and simultaneously kept me in hysterics with his jokes, when we finally pulled up at the IRT for the 7:00 show, the valet parking guys were long gone and the house manager was locking the front door.

Drat, drat, drat!

I ran through the Indianapolis theatre map in my mind to see what other shows were starting nearby at 8pm – shows that I wanted to see but didn’t have room for on my calendar, shows that I would be willing to just pay to see since I suddenly had an opening – and there were several.  “Peter Pan” at Footlite Musicals came immediately to mind, for example.  “A Christmas Carol Unscripted” would open at Comedy Sportz at 10 pm that night.  Maybe we could linger over dinner and then see that.

Shoot, maybe we could just go see a movie.

But I had really had my heart set on seeing Chuck Goad in the newest iteration of “A Christmas Carol” at the IRT.  This would have been my third time seeing this rich and wonderful holiday tradition. 

Drat.  Drat.  Drat. 

Ultimately, no other show would do right then, so we just decided to call it a night and go on home.

I don’t have an opening in my calendar until late December (February, really), so I guess I won’t be getting in on a media pass for this one after all, but I am determined to see it before it closes.  Maybe I (and David, too, if he is available) can show up some other time an hour before curtain and get half-price tickets.  I forget what the official theatre jargon word for that bargain is, but I know the IRT offers it.  You take your chances on where you will sit, but they can usually squeeze you in somewhere.

If I had a photo from the show I would post it here, but for some reason, the IRT does not provide me with photos until after I have actually seen each of their shows and emailed them again to ask for photos, so all you get are my words today.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com. 

P.S. – I just heard Sharon Gamble interviewing the IRT’s managing director, Steven Stollen, on her and Matthew Socey’s FM90.1 radio show, “The Art of the Matter.”  Steven said that Ben Tebbe plays Bob Cratchitt this year!  How did I not know this?!   Ben Tebbe AND Chuck Goad?!  I MUST see this show! Even if I have to put on knee socks and a plaid skirt and sneak in with the 1800+ school children that are seeing this show on field trips.

I just realized that the IRT has never sent me a press release about a show ahead of time, “only” media passes and invitations to parties.  I am very, very grateful for party invitations, but what I treasure even more is information.  My holy trinity as a theatre blogger is information, photos, and media passes.  I am going to talk to Santa about this.

But right now I’d better get going so that I don’t make David and me late to the Beef and Boards show tonight!

‘See you at the theatres…

P2S2 – Kelly Young sent me oodles of fun photos to go with this show, plus put me in the loop to receive IRT press releases. Yay!  (Thanks very much, again,  Kelly!  I really appreciate it.)  That is Ben Tebbe on the left, up there in the photo, and Chuck Goad on the right.  The photo was taken by www.JulieCurryPhotography.com.

Theatre Review: “Curse of the Starving Class” at the Indy Fringe Building

Matthew Ballinger and Gail Bray in "Curse of the Starving Class" - photo by Kari Ann Stamatoplos

Last Sunday afternoon I drove to the Indy Fringe Building in downtown Indianapolis to see a production of “Curse of the Starving Class,” by Sam Shepard.  There is only one “the” in the title.  It was directed by Gregory Howard and produced by him and Kari Ann Stamatoplos as a labor of love.

I don’t think this chewy, for-adults-only, three-act play about a dysfunctional family that loses its farm gets produced very often, so I am very glad that I got to see it.  The poetry in Sam Shepard’s writing was an unexpected pleasure.  The production itself resonated with me on many levels and stimulated all of my senses.  Technically, I guess, this play is a downer, but there are several funny parts and I didn’t leave feeling only depressed.  I also left feeling eager to talk about the play, and eager to think about it in terms of my own life and in terms of American society.  There is something paradoxically uplifting about witnessing truth told well, with all its layers, even if the truth itself is upsetting. 

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Curse of the Starving Class” at the Indy Fringe Building

Theatre Review: “Chicago” at the Murat Theatre

Bianca Marroqui'n as Roxie Hart in "Chicago" - photo by Stephanie Pfriender Stylander

This season, as part of my on-going efforts to educate myself and become more effective as a theatre blogger, I am going to accept media passes for (and therefore write about) every show that Broadway Across America brings to Indianapolis.  Unfortunately, I made this resolution too late for me to see “Mama Mia!,” the first show in their 2009-2120 season, but I have marked my calendar for the rest. 

This means that I will see professional productions of five hit Broadway musicals that I have never seen before, including “Chicago the Musical,” “The Color Purple: the Musical,” “The 101 Dalmatians Musical,” “A Chorus Line,” “Legally Blonde: the Musical,” and “Jersey Boys.”

Pardon me a moment while I gloat…

Okay, now I’m putting my service hat back on and realizing that since most of these shows will only be here for a few days, I may not be able to write about them in time for you to use my reviews to help you decide whether or not each show would be something you would like.  I’ll just do the best I can and hope that even if an individual review comes too late, my series of reviews will give you useful information overall about this series of shows.

And Now About “Chicago”

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Chicago” at the Murat Theatre

Theatre Review: “In Bed with Chuck and Lois” at Theatre on the Square

LtoR back row - Juli Inskeep, Cindy Phillips, Paul Wallace, Darrin Gowan.  Front - Anthony O. Dalton II

Last Sunday evening I drove to Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis to the Theatre on the Square (TOTS) to see “In Bed With Chuck & Lois.”  It was written by Joni Hilton and directed by Thomas Turner, with assistance from stage manager Sharon Cruz.

It was Thom’s directorial debut.  He did a great job!  This show for adults is odd (what TOTS show isn’t?) and hilarious.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “In Bed with Chuck and Lois” at Theatre on the Square

Theatre Review: “Into the Woods” by Butler Lyric Theatre

"Fairy Woods" photo by Steve Weaver

Last year, when I interviewed local costume designer Stephen Hollenbeck for a “Conversation With” post, he mentioned a musical called “Into the Woods.” I had never heard of that show before, but what Stephen (and later, others) said about it intrigued me because it seemed to be about the many layers of meaning that are embedded in folk and fairy tales, and about what happens after “and they lived happily ever after.”  As an oral tradition storyteller myself, these two topics have fascinated me for decades.

So…I am very glad that I got to see Butler Lyric Theatre’s production, directed by D. Scott Robinson*, in the Broad Ripple High School auditorium last Thursday night.

It was an odd yet ultimately exhilarating experience.  The first act was just “meh” but the second act was “wow!”   I think that my mixed experience of the show may have been due to a number of factors related to both this production and the show itself.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Into the Woods” by Butler Lyric Theatre

Season Preview: Indianapolis Civic Theatre 2009-2010

Mark Fishback as the Lion, Rick Shinkle as the Tin Man, Rory D. Shivers as the Scarecrow in Indy Civic's 2008 Wizard of Oz

Ulrike Steinert, Director of Marketing for the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, emailed me the following press release on August 10, 2009.  I am ashamed to say that I put it away in a folder and forgot about it.  I am posting it now (with the introductory message and media contact info removed), even though some of the shows are already over, for two reasons:

a)   The librarian in me wants it here on Indy Theatre Habit so that when someone looks in the “Seasons Previews” category it will be there, and when someone puts this theatre’s name or any of these show names in the Search box, they will come up.

b)   You might not have already heard about the Indy Civic’s 2009-2010 season.

As always, I recommend that when you get ready to actually go see one of these shows, you call the theatre or visit the theatre’s own website to confirm dates, times, and other details.

By the way, the photo above is from a group of photos that Ulrike sent me last year with her press release about Civic’s 2008 production of “The Wizard of Oz.”  (Thanks, Ulrike!)  Mark Fishbeck was the Lion, Rick Shinkle was the Tin Man, and Rory D. Shivers was the Scarecrow in that production.  I am sorry that I did not have time to see it.

At a party not too long ago, someone connected with this year’s production said, “It’s going to be gayer than ever.”

“Good!” I said.  I didn’t ask if by “gayer” he meant more stylish, more campy, or more light-hearted.  I just made a mental note to put this year’s production on my calendar as soon as I got home.  As you’ll see from the press release below, this year’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” opens at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre on Friday, December 11, 2009.

Continue reading Season Preview: Indianapolis Civic Theatre 2009-2010

Season Preview: Theatre on the Square 2009-2010

In Bed With Chuck and Lois at Theatre on the Square

Below is a press release that I received from Executive Artistic Director Ron Spencer on September 2, 2009 about Theatre on the Square’s upcoming season.  I am ashamed to say that I put it in a folder and forgot about it.  I am posting it now (with some bolding added by me and some of the media contact info removed), even though one of the shows is already over, for two reasons:

a)   The librarian in me wants it here on Indy Theatre Habit so that when someone looks in the “Season Previews” category it will be there, and when someone puts this theatre’s name or any of these show names in the Search box, they will come up.

b)   You might not have already heard about TOTS’ 2009-2010 season.

As always, I recommend that when you get ready to actually go see one of these shows, you call the theatre or visit the theatre’s own website to confirm dates, times, and other details.

By the way, the photo accompanying this post is from the show that is currently running at TOTS:  “In Bed With Chuck and Lois.” Ron sent me some photos from that show when he sent me the press release for that show.  (Thanks, Ron!)  I am looking forward to seeing this show tomorrow afternoon.

Anyway, here is what is going on at TOTS this season:

Continue reading Season Preview: Theatre on the Square 2009-2010

‘Sorry and Grr! (Two Related Little Stories)

Well, color me embarrassed:   

I have been grumbling for a while now about the fact that out of the 50-some theatres in the Indianapolis area, only three or four bother emailing me press releases of their season announcements, even though I have said many times that I will post season announcements here on Indy Theatre Habit.  I’ve been growling at my house plants and saying things like “Who does a person have to sleep with around here to get on every theatre’s media distribution list?” and “Do you think they’ll take me seriously as a theatre writer after I’ve been doing it for FIVE YEARS, since two years is obviously not long enough?”

This morning when I went to the “Mailbox Monday” folder in my email to pull up a photo to go with a review I’m working on, I found not one, but TWO press releases about theatre season announcements that I had put in there and forgotten about.  Drat! 

I apologize.  I promise to post each of them immediately following this post so at least they will be here when someone looks in the “Season Announcement” category.

Also color me annoyed:

I have six radio stations “bookmarked” on my car radio – two talk/classical/blues/jazz stations, two country stations, and two oldies stations.  I flip back and forth between them depending on my mood.

My favorite oldies station is (was?) 107.9, aka The Track. I “met” and was attracted to host Greg Browning when I saw him in an Indy Fringe show a couple summers ago and ever since then I have enjoyed listening to his sexy voice and funny patter in the mornings on my way to my day job.  I even went out of my way to request his friendship on Facebook (and I almost NEVER request people’s friendship on Facebook; I wait for them to ask me.) 

On weekend nights on my way to and from theatres, I like the sexy-in-a-different-way voice and nightclub-y mix of a host called “J.C.”  

I also like the fact that some anonymous woman matter-of-factly states the name and artist at the end of every song.  As far as I know, no other radio station (or iPhone app) offers that.  You’d think that since it is an oldies station I would know the name and artist of every song, but I often don’t, especially since they actually play a broader mix than just oldies.  Hearing that info at the end of the song is much better than trying to read it on the radio screen while I’m driving (although I do appreciate radio stations that offer that service, too.)  It’s fun to try to remember the name and artist while I’m listening to the song, and comforting to know that I can count on being told whether I was right or not at the end.

The Track plays (played?) too much Fleetwood Mac and not enough Aretha Franklin, but that is true of the other oldies station I listen to, too.  Nobody’s perfect.  I accept that.  That one quibble is why I have more than one oldies station bookmarked.

But the head honchos at my favorite oldies station have apparently fired all of my favorite DJs and replaced the station’s formerly just-right music mix with… 24-7 Christmas music.

I like Christmas music very much…the week before Christmas.  I do not care to listen to it in November.  Or January.

If there was some kind of announcement about a programming change on the radio station itself, I missed it.  Also, I have had such a hectic week this past week that I haven’t had a moment in which to look around on the Internet for an official announcement or news coverage.  So…I probably shouldn’t be ranting about this until I have all the facts.  But what I do know is that now when I push the button on the end of my radio menu, ALL I get is all Christmas music and no Greg, no J.C.  If the anonymous woman is still there, I don’t know it because I have yet to stay tuned long enough to get to the end of a Christmas song.

Bah, humbug!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com.

P.S. – I’m listening to Pandora on my iPhone as I write this, and I like it very much. However, when I’m driving I prefer not to have to futz around with extra technology.  So does anyone have a recommendation for a different radio station to be my sixth bookmark from now on?

P.S. 11/15/09 – I’ve been thinking some more about why I prefer to listen to a radio station with a live host instead of Pandora – which is only one song after another – while I’m driving my car:  A host with an engaging, likable personality (such as Greg Browning and J.C. have/had) makes me feel as if I have a friend in the car with me. 

This is especially true if I have seen that host in person at some local, community event – such as Greg’s performance in the Indy Fringe show – or if I have interacted with him in some other way – such as on Greg’s Facebook wall.  (Another example is WIBC guest host Lou Harry’s arts and entertainment blog for the Indianapolis Business Journal.  I sometimes write comments there.)   I would not enjoy them as much if they were in, say, Chicago or Seattle.

I also like knowing that other people in their own cars are listening to the same songs that the host and I are listening to.  Pandora personalizes the playlist to my specifications, which is great…but I am the only one listening to it.  I might not have picked every single song that a radio host chooses to play on a given day, but when I am listening to a radio station, I know that someone else is listening to a song with me in that exact moment in time, even if we aren’t interacting directly with each other.  And sometimes, if I arrive at my destination, pull out my iPhone and tweet “Hope Baugh is singing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction…'” or whatever, one of my Facebook friends will comment, “Hey!  I was just listening to that, too.”  So I know it was not just me and the radio host who shared that moment in time.

I know that this is probably a very challenging time to be trying to run a radio station and I’m sure the managers/owners of 107.9 are doing the best they can to make what they believe are good decisions for their stakeholders.

I’m just really going to miss “my” favorite oldies station.

Theatre Review: “The Elephant Man” at Indianapolis Civic

LtoR - Carrie Bennett Fedor, Joshua Ramsey, Chris Goldfarb

Last Sunday afternoon I met my friend Chris and his family on the west side of Indianapolis at the “hybrid” (volunteer actors/paid designers) Indianapolis Civic Theatre to see “The Elephant Man.”  It was written by Bernard Pomerance and directed at Indy Civic by Robert J. Sorbera.

While I was waiting for my group, local actress Erin Cohenour came up to say hello.  She told me that “Elephant Man” was the very first show she had ever acted in.  “I was fourteen years old,” she said.  “I was a nurse.  This is a sad one, Hope.  Get ready to cry.”

Chris told me after we had settled into our seats that he wasn’t sure he would be able to sit through the whole play because the movie had been so unbearably sad.

So I was all set to cry, but…

Continue reading Theatre Review: “The Elephant Man” at Indianapolis Civic

Mailbox: Congratulations to Playwright James Still!

Playwright James Still

I am delighted for one of my favorite playwrights:

********** 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

www.nationaltheatreconference.org

November 3, 2009

 JAMES STILL ELECTED TO THE NATIONAL THEATRE CONFERENCE

 Playwright James Still is a newly-elected member of the National Theatre Conference and was inducted on October 30, 2009 at the historic Players Club in New York City.

The National Theatre Conference, founded in 1925, is a cooperative association of distinguished leaders of the American theatre — university, community, and professional.  Membership in the conference is by invitation only, and is limited to 120.  The conference operates as a theatrical “think tank” and meets annually to review and confer on matters pertaining to the welfare and development of the theatre and to honor outstanding achievement of organizations and individuals in the field.  For more information, see www.nationaltheatreconference.org.

Of special note to Mr. Still is that the National Theatre Conference meets annually at The Players Club at 16 Gramercy Park in New York which was where Edwin Booth lived (and died).  Audiences will remember that Edwin Booth was a character in James Still’s recent play THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK.  For more information about The Players Club see www.theplayersnyc.org/.

********** 

James Still, as you probably remember, is the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. He was one of my first interviews for this blog.

Yay, James!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and @IndyTheatre