Last Friday I drove to the Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the opening night performance of the world premiere of “The Gospel According to James.” It was written by Charles Smith and directed by Chuck Smith. It was commissioned by the IRT and its artistic director, Janet Allen, after she read two books by Indiana historian James Madison: The Indiana Way and A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America. It is the tenth new play in the IRT’s Indiana Series.
It is a powerful, richly layered, surprisingly multi-issue drama that left me exhilarated.
I agree whole-heartedly with what some person I don’t know (@Dime30) tweeted right after the Friday night performance: “OMG,” he wrote. “Go and see ‘The Gospel According to James’ @IRTlive. Powerful, gripping, awe inspiring, emotional, it’s not what u think, it’s better.” (bolding is mine)
Last Sunday afternoon I drove to the Marian College campus on the west side of Indianapolis to see the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Cabaret.” I had never seen this Tony award-winning musical before.
It is so poignant! Also, both the quality of the performers (all volunteers) and the quality of the design team (all paid professionals) in this production are excellent across the board. I just stood right up at the end to applaud.
Ellen’s father (Midge’s husband) passed away on Wednesday. I can’t find the obituary yet in the Indianapolis Star (IndyStar.com), but when it appears, I will add a link to it here. The memorial service will be at 4pm this Sunday at the Church of the Nativity, 7300 North Lantern Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46256.
I didn’t know Fred as well as I knew Midge but I do know that, like her, he supported Ellen’s passion for the art of storytelling. He and Midge supported Ellen’s work in many, many ways. For one thing, he set up and put away at least a million rented wooden folding chairs during the 20+ years of the annual Hoosier Storytelling Festival!
He made it possible for me to hear the best of the best storytellers over the years, and I will always be grateful.
He and Midge also welcomed me into their home many, many times. Their home is an exceptionally pleasant place to be, both inside and out. I remember Ellen talking more than once, and with such fondness, about working with her dad in their gardens.
I will miss Fred and Midge. My heart goes out in sympathy to Ellen and her siblings.
I made the little video above with my trusty iPhone. Visiting stage director/production designer Joachim Schamberger was very gracious about giving me some of his time during a very busy week for the Indianapolis Opera. Thank you again, Joachim!
I am going to indulge myself with an even-longer-than-usual post about my first experience of the Indianapolis Opera a) because it was such a core-shaker, b) because I usually only write reviews of performances, not rehearsals, c) because I really have no business reviewing opera at all, and d) did I mention it was a life-changing experience?
If you don’t have time to read something long, at least let me tell you that this particular production of “Carmen” in the intimate space at the new Frank and Katrina Basile Opera Center is a profound and accessible treat. There are only four more chances to experience it yourself. Tickets are $34 and $60 and may be purchased through the Indianapolis Opera’s website: www.IndyOpera.org.
Okay, so here’s the detailed version of my night at the opera (if you want to know only about the show itself, jump down a few screens to “The Show”):
Believe it or not, I have been plugging away at the items on my Writing Plan from March 2. In the meantime, however:
*** A giant bunny visited me in my workplace with an invitation to see Q Artistry’s next show, “Bunny Spectacular” when it opens on April 1, 2011. (See video, above.) I suspect this is a kids’ show, and you know me, I don’t normally review kids’ shows, but I do love the Q folks’ work in general – they are the people that brought us “Cabaret Poe” – and this warm and delightful marketing gimmick totally worked on me. As soon as the Bunny left, I had my iPhone out and was rearranging my April calendar.
*** One of my favorite playwrights, James Still, told me that his new play, “Love Me Some Amnesia,” will get its world premiere at the American Blues Theater in Chicago this spring. I feel a road trip coming on!
*** One of my Twitter friends, Scott Semester ( www.twitter.com/sssemester), and I got to attend the final dress rehearsal of the Indianapolis Opera’s production of “La Tragedie de Carmen” in their intimate new space, the Frank and Katrina Basile Opera Center. This very beautiful (and sexy! and action-packed!) yet very accessible experience was – I am not exaggerating – a life-changer for me. I was wearing just my everyday jewels and my hair was still silver, but by the end of the opera I was weeping like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” or like Cher in “Moonstruck” all the same.
I want to write a LOT more about my night at the opera, so add that to the Writing Plan. And think about buying a ticket to see “Carmen” yourself. It only runs this weekend and next.
(Photo above of Darren K. Stokes as Escamillo and Ariana Chris as Carmen was taken by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr. – www.deniskelly.com)
And, of course, there are several other new shows that I would like to see this coming weekend:
On January 29, 2011 I drove over to the west side of Indianapolis to Wayne Township Community Theatre’s presentation of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in the Ben Davis High School Theatre.
That was the last night of its run, and I didn’t accept a media pass for it, so I never planned to write a full review of it, but I would still like to record a few quick thoughts and the full “who did what” from the program so that that information will be searchable here on Indy Theatre Habit months from now if I want it.
I wanted to see WTCT’s production of this piece for three main reasons:
Last Thursday I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the Midwest premiere of “The Storytelling Ability of a Boy” at the Phoenix Theatre. It was written by Carter W. Lewis and directed for the Phoenix by Bryan Fonseca, assisted by Raphael Schwartzman.
As with just about every show I see at the Phoenix, I loved the layered-ness of it.
(Photo is of Jonah Winston in “Diaspora.” Photo provided by the director, Michael Hosp. See below for more info about the show.)
Well, I have been tweeting fairly regularly (@IndyTheatre) but I am way behind in my blogging! What can I say? My fulltime day job and my personal life have demanded most of my attention lately. I haven’t accepted many media passes this year so far because I knew I wouldn’t have much time in which to write about shows.
I have not stopped seeing live theatre and storytelling and I hope you won’t give up on checking Indy Theatre Habit for Indianapolis-area theatre and storytelling news, reviews, and reflections. Here is my writing plan for the next few days: