Theatre Review: “Murder and Mystery in the Mansion” at the PBHH

On Friday, April 16, 2010, I drove to the Old Northside neighborhood of Indianapolis to see “Murder and Mystery in the Mansion.”  It was presented by Victorian Theatre by Candlelight as a President’s Theatre Production at the President Benjamin Harrison Home.

The show is a unique and very enjoyable evening of theatre: three short mystery plays are presented in three different styles by three different casts under three different directors to three small audiences that rotate to see the plays in three different rooms of the beautiful, historically rich house where our 23rd president lived in the late 1800s.

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Theatre Review: “Grace & Glorie” by the Hendricks Civic Theatre

On Sunday, April 11, 2010, I drove west from Indianapolis to Danville in Hendricks County to see “Grace & Glorie” at the Longstreet Playhouse, new home of the all-volunteer Hendricks Civic Theatre.  This play was written by Tom Ziegler, directed by Joan Kimbley, and produced by Jan Van Paris.

It is an intense and inspirational two-hander about Grace (Susan Page Freeman), an illiterate mountain woman nearing the end of her life, and her hospice volunteer, Glorie (Nancy Kotarski), a slick career woman transplanted from New York against her will. 

As I mentioned in my “Quick Thoughts” post right after I saw this production, I went to see it for two main reasons: the cast and the space.   Both were rewarding. 

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Season Preview: Indiana Repertory Theatre 2010-2011

Holy smokes!  My first scoop!  The stars are almost never aligned in such a way that I, a part-time theatre blogger, can post something before anyone else does, but I think this time I am first.  Is this what professional journalists feel like?  Oh, scoop, scoop, scoop!

Enough about me, though.  Guess what was in my home email box when I got off work from my day job just now…the following exciting press release from Kelley R. Young, my contact for news about the Indiana Repertory Theatre!  It is the announcement of their 2010-2011 season.

It looks like a good one, don’t you think?

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Theatre Review: “Yankee Tavern” at the Phoenix

A couple weekends ago, I drove downtown to the Mass-Ave theatre district of downtown Indianapolis to see the opening performance of “Yankee Tavern” at the Phoenix Theatre.  It was written by Steven Dietz and directed by Bryan Fonseca. 

I liked this creepy-funny show so much that I went back to see it a second time this past Thursday night.  (Thursday and Sunday performances are always “Duke Energy Cheap Seats” this season at the Phoenix: tickets are only $15.)

I love that it is a play about conspiracy theories surrounding what happened in and to the United States on September 11, 2001, but also about unusual coincidences and conspiracies in general.  A certain line about a potential Abraham Lincoln conspiracy made me bark with laughter, it was so preposterous, but I also agreed with my friend, Anne, who said as we were leaving the theatre, “I want to know which ones of those are true!”

I also love that “Yankee Tavern” is a play about all forms of communication, including communication with ghosts.  Also, the design elements and everyone in the show are very attractive, which is icing on the layered cake of the story.

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Quick Thoughts on “A Chorus Line” at Clowes Hall

I saw “A Chorus Line” on stage for the very first time last night.  However, I had been a fan of the songs for a long, long time because when I was in high school, almost every girl I knew sang “Kiss Today Goodbye” for her Junior Miss talent and every guy I knew sang “I Can Do That!” for his musical theatre audition piece and…well, more about my high school memories of “A Chorus Line” later. 

In any case, finally seeing the actual show for the first time was a little like meeting Elvis in person or something except that the dancers last night were very much alive.  Many, many strong emotions and images came up for me. 

I am looking forward to writing about the experience in more detail, but it probably won’t be until after the Broadway Across America tour leaves Clowes Hall and Indianapolis, so I wanted to give you a quick heads-up about this show right away and quickly say three, no, six things about it: 

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Quick Thoughts on “Mansion,” “3$Bill,” and Jay’s Article

I spent my writing time this morning conversing with computer people about my home computer, unfortunately, so this is another “Please don’t give up on me!” post, pounded out on a borrowed computer during a tiny window of opportunity.  Three quick items:

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Quick Thoughts on “Yankee Tavern, “Grace & Glorie,” and Phil

You know that I can maintain this theatre reviews blog right now only because I work my butt off at another, fulltime-plus, job which I also love and for which I am paid, right?  So I hope you will again forgive me for being behind in my review writing.   I have to/get to work at my fulltime job this weekend, too, so I won’t be caught up with my theatre blogging any time soon.

In the meantime, then, I’d like to say quick word about the two new shows I saw last weekend:

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Theatre Review: “Hello, Dolly!” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

On March 27, 2010, a friend met me at the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre on the northwest side of Indianapolis to see “Hello, Dolly!” – a funny, Tony Award-winning musical about a matchmaker in Yonkers, New York, around the beginning of the last century.

We had a lovely time.

This was my first experience seeing a professional staged production of “Hello, Dolly!” Barbra Streisand was delicious in the movie version that I saw several years ago and I enjoyed an all-volunteer, community theatre production last year while I was an Encore Association judge.  In both of those experiences, the title character, Dolly Levi, was a funny busy-body who a) knew how to have a good time and b) missed being able to afford good times as a widow.  I felt sympathy for her, but not necessarily empathy.

I came away from the Beef and Boards production feeling empathy and affection for Dolly Levi.  Actress Iris Lieberman gives her a warm humanity that is very appealing.  Also, Iris is physically tiny but she gives Dolly a big, likable presence.  I didn’t know that Iris Lieberman had won a Jefferson Award, presented to outstanding artists each year in Chicago, for her role in “Robert & Elizabeth at the Forum Theatre until I read today the “Fun Facts” sheet provided by Patricia Rettig in my press kit.  During the B&B show I just scrawled “I like Dolly!” in my notebook.

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Theatre Review: “Becky’s New Car” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

I saw “Becky’s New Car” when it opened here in Indianapolis at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on Friday, March 26, 2010.  It was written by Steven Dietz and directed by James Still.

Dear Reader, I LOVED IT. 

My friend did, too.  We stayed “high” on it all the rest of the weekend.  And I have been saying “Becky’s New Car!” without equivocation whenever anyone asks me “what’s good?” rather than first asking my usual cautious theatre advisory questions about what kind of show they are in the mood for and so on.

“Becky’s New Car” is so funny and well done, and I think it appeals to a wide variety of people.  If you like to talk about shows and/or relationships, for example, this piece offers a lot to talk about at intermission and afterwards:  there is good stuff about love, grief, infidelity, inevitability and more to chew on, plus it is a pleasure to re-hash the show’s interactivity and other fun design elements.  However, you can also just enjoy the show, too, without having to talk about it.  It moves fast and there are all kinds of situations in the show that both men and women can relate to easily. 

Best of the all, the tension in the serious moments is deftly released – but not diluted – by smart humor that doesn’t make you feel guilty for laughing at/with these very human and likable people.

I didn’t want it to end.  I went back to see “Becky’s New Car” again the following weekend by myself and loved it just as much the second time.  There is only one weekend left, starting tonight (Wednesday); I may try to squeeze in a third visit before the show closes.

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Storytelling Review: “A Feast for the Eyes” by Peter Cook

On Saturday, March 13, 2010, I drove downtown to the Indiana History Center to see bilingual storyteller Peter Cook in “A Feast for the Eyes.”  This event was presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana Historical Society.

This was my third or fourth time hearing/seeing Peter share stories here in Indianapolis.  He is based in Chicago, but he has shared his performance art all over the world and has been a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

I love his work.

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