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:

“Yankee Tavern,” written by Steven Dietz and directed by Bryan Fonseca – at the Phoenix Theatre (professional) through May 1, 2010.

I loved getting to see this Steven Dietz piece so soon after seeing another new Dietz piece, “Becky’s New Car,” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. I was a Steven Dietz fan before.  Now I am a Steven Dietz fangirl.  (I.e. – He is now a “destination playwright” for me and if I ever get a chance to talk to him in person about his work I will probably stutter and spit and spill my drink and otherwise make a fool of myself.)

Mind you, “Yankee Tavern” is very different in tone and subject matter from either “Becky’s New Car” or the other two Dietz plays that I have seen: “Dracula” and “Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure.”  It is dark…but also funny in a shivery way.  It is a deliciously creepy personal mystery with global implications, complete with live-in ghosts and a slew of conspiracy theories.

As my friend Anne said on her way out of the theatre, “I want to know which ones of those are true!”

Speaking of ghosts, here is who is in “Yankee Tavern”:

I am pretty sure the bartender (played by too-gorgeous-to-be-legal Shane Chuvalas) is alive, as is his Lois-Lane-beautiful-and-intelligent fiancée, Janet (Carrie Schlatter), and his crazy-as-a-prophet godfather figure, Ray (Stephen Hunt.)  I am also pretty sure that the eerie customer-of-few-words who comes into the bar one day (Doug Johnson) is alive.  I still have no idea about the guy drinking a Rolling Rock on the barstool next to him.

But I have no idea why my cursor in Windows 7 keeps jumping around and deleting things for no reason as I write, either.  At least the unanswered questions in “Yankee Tavern” are a lot more entertaining and interesting to ponder.

“Grace and Glorie,” written by Tom Ziegler and directed by Joan Kimbley – at the Longstreet Playhouse, home of the Hendricks Civic Theatre (all volunteer) through this Sunday, April 18, 2010.

I drove west of Indianapolis to Danville to see this dramatic two-hander for two main reasons: the cast and the space. 

The Hendricks Civic Theatre worked for several years to obtain and renovate a former church into the Longstreet Playhouse.  Before that, they put on their shows in whatever space they could find.   I always cheer when a well-loved community theatre company can put down physical roots.  I was curious about the new space.

It is charming!  Four steeply-raked rows of pretty, padded, teal, folding chairs hug the tiny stage, making for a delightfully intimate theatre experience. 

I knew the two actors (or actresses, if you insist) in real life in deeper ways than I know a lot of actors.  I.e. – I have shared several experiences and conversations with them outside of the online theatre community.  Susan Page Freeman, who plays an illiterate mountain woman nearing the end of her life in “Grace & Glorie,” shares my interest in Abraham Lincoln and in history in general.  Nancy Kotarski, who plays a transplanted-against-her-will New Yorker volunteering as Grace’s hospice helper, served as an Encore Association judge with me last year.  I treasure both women’s kindness and friendship.

So yes, going in I was biased in favor of the production.  And I would have applauded at the end no matter what.

But I am never “polite” about tears.  My face was covered with them both at intermission and at the end.

Adjectives for this piece:  intense and inspirational.


Well, that’s gotta be it for today…

Oh, no, wait!  I also want to post a virtual hug to stand-up comic/philosopher Phil Van Hest.  He is in Indianapolis this weekend from Los Angeles to do one of his hilarious “Phil the Void” shows at the Indy Fringe building tonight and tomorrow night.  I heard from the Fringe people that Saturday’s show is sold out Saturday night but that there are still a few tickets available for tonight’s show. (PM update: a late-night tweet from @IndyFringe said there were, actually, a few tickets left for the Saturday night show.)   If I didn’t already have previous commitments on both nights, I would be there both nights.  He is that brilliant.  Accessibly cerebral.  Anal in a yummy way.  A bad and good influence on me.  Makes me shake with adult laughter and child-like desire.

Okay, now I really must go take a shower and get ready to work at my day job.  No time to add photos.  ‘Sorry!  More soon.  In the meantime…

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – Indy Theatre Habit

Follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com, too.

Other PM update: I forgot to provid links to what I wrote after seeing Phil’s shows in 2007, 2008, and 2009 (scroll down in the 2009 post to see my thoughts on “Phil the Void: the Great Brain Robbery.”  The tweets tonight from the  @IndyFringe tweeter during Phil’s show said he is doing all new material this weekend, including singing and piano playing!  Good heavens.   If I didn’t have to be at my “day” job tomorrow night, I would definitely be at the Indy Fringe building cheering for Phil Van Hest.

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

  1. Thanks Hope!
    I figured you must be dead or busy when i didn’t see you this weekend!
    It was a hoot for sure, and we’ll just have to content ourselves with August, again.

  2. Thanks, Phil. ‘Glad to hear you’ll be at the Indy Fringe Festival again this summer. I’ll hope to hear you SING in August, too!

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