Sad Theatre News: Jean Engstrom

The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s resident costume designer, Jean Engstrom, died on Thursday, February 7, 2013.  This message appeared on Civic’s Facebook page the next day:

Civic will open THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY this evening with a heavy heart.  Our dear friend and Resident Costume Designer Jean Engstrom passed away yesterday.  As Bob Sorbera reported to the staff, “In a fashion becoming of a theatrical she passed away at the precise moment that the steel magnolias of the costume shop were raising their glasses in her honor.”  Our condolences to Jean’s family and friends.

I offer them my condolences, too.  I don’t think I ever met Jean in person, but I felt as if I knew her, or at least a part of her, through her beautiful costume designs.  I always looked forward to seeing them and invariably they wowed me.

Here are just a few examples (for most of these, if you click the link you can see a photo or two of Jean’s costumes in the full review):

Continue reading Sad Theatre News: Jean Engstrom

Celebrating Five Years of Indy Theatre Habit

I have been writing this blog for five years as of today.  Happy birthday, Indy Theatre Habit!

And to everyone that reads my blog: thank you for reading!

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.

©2013 Hope Baugh

Photo above was taken by Chris Gladis (MShades on

Theatre Review: “Arsenic & Old Lace” at Beef and Boards

On the last Friday night in 2012 I drove to the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre on the north side of Indianapolis to see the opening night performance of “Arsenic & Old Lace,” by Joseph Kesselring.  It was my first time to see this classic show and my first time as a VIP member at B&B.  This is also the first show in B&B’s 40th season. (40 years!  Congratulations, B&B!  Here’s to 40 more!)

I had heard of this play before, of course – I think we read it aloud in English class when I was in high school – but I had missed other opportunities to see it produced in the five years that I’ve been writing this theatre blog. 

Now that B&B’s delightful production, directed by J. R. Stewart, has set the bar for me, I’ll try harder to see it wherever it is on stage.  I will also look for the film that made it famous – the 1941 Frank Capra film starring Cary Grant – at my local public library. What a darkly comic romp!

The Brewsters At Home In Brooklyn

The casting in this particular production is lovely across the board, with performances that are consistently strong and believable:

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Arsenic & Old Lace” at Beef and Boards

Three Shows I’d Like to See This Weekend

‘Think all of the holiday shows are over for the season and there’s no live theatre happening in the Indianapolis area?  Not so!  If I could, I would like to see all three of the following shows this weekend:

“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” through this Sunday, December 30, 2012, upstairs in Acting Up Productions’ very intimate “Hidden Door Theatre” out in Greenfield, Indiana.  Directed by R. Brian Noffke, this one-man show stars Scott N. Russell, another actor that is fairly new to me, but in any case, aside from the fact that I almost always love solo shows, I’m intrigued by the fact that Tom Mula’s script tells Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” from Scrooge’s long-dead friend’s point of view.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” by the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre runs through January 5, 2013 on the Tarkington stage in the Center for the Performing Arts up in Carmel, Indiana.  Yes, yes, I know: we have all seen “Joseph” a gazillion million times.  But you know director Michael Lasley and Civic’s professional design team will have made this community theatre production visually gorgeous in more ways than one, and the guy playing Joseph (new-to-me Patrick Clements) seems to have a gorgeous voice.  You can watch and listen to him in this segment from Channel 8’s

“Arsenic & Old Lace” opens at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre tonight and runs through February 3, 2013.  I think we read this aloud in my high school theatre class or English class or something somewhere along the way, but I have missed several other, more recent, productions of this classic.  Plus, I almost always have a great time at B&B, so this show, too, is on my wish list for this weekend.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on Twitter.


Sad News: Brian Benson

I am very sad to write that Indianapolis actor Brian Benson died Tuesday night, hit by a car as he was walking through the Fountain Square area. 

When his name started coming up with shock and condolences in my Facebook feed yesterday as Brian Patrick Benson, I didn’t recognize it at first, but then Zach Rosing mentioned that Brian had been in two shows that Zach had helped to produce…

And then I did remember: Brian was that tall, slim boy with the shy but joyful smile and beautiful voice that had starred in “Bare: the Musical” and “Edges.”  “Edges” was produced at Theatre on the Square by a company called Programs.  “Bare: the Musical” was produced at the Wheeler Arts building by a company called All Alike Productions.  Zach still has a nice curation of images and info about the “Bare” show on his website here:

I didn’t know Brian at all outside of those two shows, but I feel privileged to have seen and heard his talented work in those two.  I am very sorry that he’s gone.

My heart goes out to his family and friends, wishing them peace and comfort.

Hope Baugh –

P.S. – I don’t have any information about a memorial service but if you do, feel free to share it in the comments.  I will update this post if I receive the info another way.

Celebrating 30 Years of Indy’s Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix Theatre is celebrating its 30th season here in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.  This weekend, people came from all over the planet to help celebrate this theatre that has meant so much to them.

This theatre that has meant so much to us, I should say.  My involvement with the Phoenix is miniscule compared to some people’s but, as in so many things, comparisons are not the point.  I treasure my involvement with the Phoenix, which includes:

Continue reading Celebrating 30 Years of Indy’s Phoenix Theatre

A Planner’s Guide to the 2012 Indy Fringe Festival

If you love live theatre as much as I do, you want to see EVERYTHING, including all 56 shows in the 2012 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival also known as Indy Fringe.

But after fringe-ing for five years I know that there is a limit to the number of stories and creative manifestations of artistic visions that I can absorb in ten days – let alone write about them – without being reduced to a quivering pile of brain jelly.  I’m taking ten days’ vacation from my day job for this and I’m buying all of my tickets rather than accepting a media pass, so I won’t be able to take more time off or pay for a spa vacation to recover from Fringe-ing.

So…I need a plan for doing the Fringe.  Maybe you do, too?

There are several possibilities:

Continue reading A Planner’s Guide to the 2012 Indy Fringe Festival

Anticipating Blog Indiana 2012

I’m looking forward to attending the annual Blog Indiana conference in Indianapolis tomorrow and Friday (August 9 and 10, 2012.)

Blog Indiana began the same year I started this blog: 2008. I have attended every year except one and I have learned a lot every time, even though most of the people that attend are marketing/social media professionals rather than hobby bloggers like me.  I learn a lot from the official presentations and even more from the informal interactions.

Last year’s education was unintentionally drama-filled.

Continue reading Anticipating Blog Indiana 2012

In Memory of Storyteller Mark Wilson

Storyteller Mark Wilson passed away from cancer earlier this week in California.  June 11, 2012, to be precise.  He wasn’t from Indiana but I want to write about him here on Indy Theatre Habit because my blog is about live, oral tradition storytellers in general as well as about live theatre in the Indianapolis area.  And because this blog is the main place I write these days.

Continue reading In Memory of Storyteller Mark Wilson