For PLA Librarians Visiting Indianapolis Who Also Love Live Theatre and Storytelling

Whenever I go to a Public Library Association conference (or American Library Association conference or Young Adult Library Services Association conference or any conference, for that matter) in another city, I try to set aside some time and money to check out the local theatre scene.

Multiple conferences in Washington, DC, for example, gave me wonderful experiences at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the Studio Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company. In Denver I fell in love with the Curious Theatre Company and also enjoyed a show at the Garner Galleria Theatre.  In Philadelphia and Chicago…well, the show I wanted to see at Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre turned out to be sold out the night I was there, and let’s just say I was disappointed by the one show I saw in Chicago.  But I’ll get to those cities again some day because there are only a few cities that are able to handle hordes of librarians and anyway, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.  Life is an adventure and anything can happen with live theatre.

This week the Public Library Association’s biennial conference is going to be in my area – Indianapolis, Indiana – for the first time.  I’ve been thinking about what I would want a local to tell me about the theatre scene here this week, especially the scene relatively close to the Indianapolis Convention Center, if I were me but visiting from out-of-town.

I am delighted to report that this is a particularly excellent week for theatre-goers in downtown Indianapolis, especially theatre-goers on a budget.

Here are my recommendations, night by night during the PLA conference:

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Rich’s Review of “A Very Phoenix Xmas 7: Getting’ Figgy With It!”

Last August, someone named Rich came across Indy Theatre Habit when he was “scouring the web for feedback” on 2012 Indy Fringe Festival shows.  I was delighted that not only did he appreciate my “Planner’s Guide” post, he also came back to my blog more than once that week to leave comments about his own experiences of the Indy Fringe Festival shows.

Yesterday, I was delighted and complimented again when I received notice that Rich had added another comment to that August post (perhaps he has it bookmarked on his computer?)  This time he shared his experience of a more recent show from the downtown Indianapolis area:

It’s Xmas time! Went to “A Very Phoenix Xmas”. It was well worth it. Just when you think you’ve seen creativity at its best, The Fourth Wall takes creativity in a new, fresh direction. The sock monkeys were awesome, spiced up with some ‘Gangnam’. The skits in general were clever and funny. The “War on Xmas” home invasion was hilarious. Plus an extra bonus is the Phoenix theatre itself. The audience is close, so there’s natural interaction with the show’s MC and sometimes the actors. The other block-buster Xmas shows are great in their own way, but it’s so worth it to add “A Very Phoenix Xmas” to your Xmas experience.

Rich, I don’t think I know you in face-to-face life, but you made my day with your contribution to Indy Theatre Habit.  Thank you!

I also want to thank the handful of other theatre-goers that have either asked me in person or elsewhere online, “Have you seen such-and-such show? Are you going to write about it?”  I have not been able to write much this fall, but it means the world to me that you want me to.  

If you’re just curious about what I’ve seen, you can scroll through the somewhat messy notes in my ongoing 2012 Directory of Shows post.

I’m definitely curious about what shows YOU have seen.  Feel free to use the comment box if you want to tell me about them.

Happy holidays!  ‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – and

P.S. – I also received an email from the Phoenix Theatre telling me that there is a 7pm performance of “Gettin’ Figgy With It!” tomorrow (Wednesday, December 19) in addition to the final Thursday-Sunday performances this weekend. 

© 2012 Hope Baugh

Photo above of Scot Greenwell was taken by Zach Rosing and provided by the Phoenix Theatre. I have used it with their permission.

Indianapolis Dreamgirl Moya Angela!

You probably already know that Broadway Across America’s professional touring production of “Dreamgirls” opens this week (tomorrow, actually) at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Center. 

Matthew J. Porter, BAA’s director of public relations for the Midwest, asked if I would like to interview one of the stars of the show, Moya Angela.  He thought I would be particularly interested because she is originally from Indianapolis.

Of COURSE I was interested!

Continue reading Indianapolis Dreamgirl Moya Angela!

2010 Indy Fringe: Day What? (2 more videos, a new venue, and some tweets)


I haven’t had much writing time during the past two days, but I was able to make two more little videos with performers from the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival.

In the above video, playwright-performer Dan Bernitt talks about his solo staged reading of “Swan Balloon,” a fairy tale for adults. 

Continue reading 2010 Indy Fringe: Day What? (2 more videos, a new venue, and some tweets)

2010 Indy Fringe – Day One – Four Shows


I had a wonderful, wonderful first day of shows at the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival yesterday.  I met some lovely new people (including Australian comedian Lou Sanz – see the little informal video we made after her first show, above) and reconnected with some dear friends.

And…I saw four satisfying shows!

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“Premiere-itis,” Several Mini-Reviews, and Plans

Erin Cohenour, Brandon Alstott, and Parrish Williams in "Bus Stop" at Civic

I was sick the opening weekend of “Bus Stop” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre so I reluctantly cancelled my media passes and stayed home.  However, a friend had turned me on to William Inge’s work a couple years ago so I very much wanted to see a live production of this William Inge play.  I got over my bug eventually and was able to buy a last-minute ticket to one of the final performances in the run. (I attended Thursday, February 4, 2010.)

I want to thank Civic for producing this 1956 Tony-nominated play about a group of people that get stranded at a small town bus stop in Kansas during a blizzard.  It is thought-provoking in new ways, I imagine, now that it is an historical rather than contemporary piece.  And, except for the lighting design (or perhaps just its execution), which sometimes mystified me, all of the design elements – set, costumes, etc. – in this particular production were excellent.  The acting was excellent, too.  All of the characters engaged me with their life stories and their interactions with each other.  The last line knocked me over in a way that it wouldn’t have, I’m sure, if I had simply read the script. 

I am not going to take time to write a full review of this show because a) I have been having home computer problems and therefore b) I am now several posts behind, but I do want to record who did what.  I’ll do that at the end of this post.

I would also like to use this mini-review of Civic’s “Bus Stop” to explore a comment that contemporary playwright Eric Pfeffinger made on a thread on recently.

Continue reading “Premiere-itis,” Several Mini-Reviews, and Plans

Unexpected Gifts at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

"A Christmas Carol" at the IRT - photo by Julie Curry.

Christmas Eve…

Last Sunday I had been sick in bed for more than three days.  My body ached, my soul ached, I couldn’t write, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying.

But on Sunday afternoon I dragged myself out of bed and spent time at a party with friends whose love always makes me feel safer and stronger.  If not healed, exactly, then on the mend.

LtR - Matthew Brumlow, Cora Vander Broek, Mark Goetzinger, Lilia Vassileva, Ryan Artzberger, with Milicent Wright at the piano.  Photo by Julie Curry.

So then I thought, “Hopie, why not see if you can make it in to see the 5 o’clock performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Indiana Repertory Theatre?  Just to see it, not to write about it.”

Continue reading Unexpected Gifts at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Theatre Review: “A Very Phoenix Xmas 4: Our Stockings Are Stuffed”

Cast of "A Very Phoenix Xmas 4" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Sunday afternoon, a new friend and I met at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see “A Very Phoenix Xmas 4: Our Stockings Are Stuffed.”  It was conceived and directed by Bryan Fonseca, with musical direction by Kevin D. Smith and technical direction by Christopher Hansen.

In years past, I wrote about Xmas 3 here on my blog, Xmas 2 for Indiana Auditions, and the first one in my private journal. 

Xmas 4 is the best one yet.

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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. 

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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