Theatre Review: “9 to 5: the Musical” at Clowes

(Left to right: Diana DeGarmo, Dee Hoty, and Mamie Parris.  Photo by Joan Marcus.)

Last Wednesday I drove to Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus in Indianapolis to see Broadway Across America’s touring professional production of “9 to 5: the Musical.

I had such a good time that night that I bought the original cast recording on my way out, listened to it in my car as I drove everywhere for the next few days, and carved out time to go back and see the show again on Saturday afternoon.  I responded positively to this fun, romantic, subtly substantive show on several levels, and I would have gone back to see it a third time if I didn’t already have other commitments for the rest of the weekend.

Unfortunately, the last performance of this tour in Indianapolis was Sunday night, so you won’t be able to use my review to help you decide whether or not to go see it yourself, but I would still like to record and share some of my experience of it.

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Theatre News: Health Foundation & Clowes

With just a few days left in 2010, I am going to follow the “better late than never” rule and quickly share with you a handful of press releases that I found particularly interesting.  Some of these have been sitting in my email box for a while but I think they are still interesting and you might not have seen their theatre-related news anywhere else.

This first one has been in my box since August (eep!) but the person who sent it to me, Lisa Sirkin Vielee, was correct in thinking that I “might be interested in learning about a non-traditional sponsor (The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis) trying to connect kids and performing arts…”  Thanks, Lisa, for sending this to me:

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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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Theatre Review: “The Color Purple” at Clowes Hall

Kenita R. Miller as Celie in "The Color Purple" - photo by Paul Kolnik

(Photo above is of Kenita R. Miller.  It was taken by Paul Kolnik.)

On Tuesday night I drove to Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus to see the Indianapolis premiere of “The Color Purple: the Musical about Love.”  It is presented by Oprah Winfrey, Scott Sanders, and several other producers as part of the Broadway Across America series.  Here is some basic background information from the press release that I received from director of public relations Nancy Parrott:

Nominated for eleven Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, THE COLOR PURPLE opened on December 1, 2005 at the Broadway Theatre where it ran for over two record-breaking years.  It is based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the moving film by Steven Spielberg.  It is the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who finds the strength to triumph over adversity, and discover her unique voice in the world.  With a joyous GRAMMY®-nominated score featuring gospel, jazz, pop and the blues, THE COLOR PURPLE is about hope and the healing power of love. 

As on Broadway, the North American Tour of THE COLOR PURPLE is directed by Gary GriffinTHE COLOR PURPLE features a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Grammy Award®-winning composers/lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, and choreography by Donald Byrd.  The original creative team of Tony Award®-winner John Lee Beatty (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Tony Award®-winner Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Jon Weston (sound), Jonathan Tunick (orchestrations) and Kevin Stites (Music Supervisor) was reunited for the tour.

I tweeted some first impressions the night of the show and then blogged some preliminary thoughts a couple days ago, on New Year’s Eve.  Today I would like to write in more detail about my experience of this moving musical.  It was a theatrical treat in and of itself, but I most loved the way it amplified my experience of Alice Walker’s inspiring novel, which I read two or three decades ago when I was in my early 20s.  The Color Purple resonated with me then as an empowering and hopeful coming-of-age story.  Now I am in my late 40s and I value letters, prayers, and other forms of communication with my loved ones even more.  Now, the novel – and this musical – resonates with me as a joyful and still empowering middle-aged survivor story. 

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Review: “Carmina Burana” at Clowes Hall

Kenoth Shane Patton in "Carmina Burana"

Last Sunday afternoon, I met a friend at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus on the north side of Indianapolis to see and hear a six-group collaborative presentation of “Carmina Burana,” by Carl Orff.  It was a transformative experience.  This might sound silly, but it’s true: at one point in the program, I could actually feel my chakras clicking into balance.  Bliss!  After the show, I happily walked into walls a bit until I found my way back to my car. 

My friend loved the show, too. When we met back up at a restaurant downtown for an early dinner, we both said that we hadn’t wanted to turn on the radio while we were driving because we were so enjoying the music from the show that was still running through our heads.

Neither of us had had any first-hand experience with “Carmina Burana” before this, but my friend said that when he lived in Germany, everyone he knew was very familiar with it.  He was glad to have a chance to finally experience it for himself.

I hadn’t known a thing about it except that Dance Kaleidoscope was involved with this production of it, and it had been too long (last January!) since I had seen a DK show.  When I heard that there would be live musical accompaniment to the dancing, I thought, “Well, won’t that be nice.”

I was unprepared for – but exhilerated by – the level of stimulation that a stage filled with powerful, graceful dancers gorgeously costumed and lit and framed by overflowing banks of live, talented musicians would provide.  This was definitely a case where the sum was even bigger than its parts.

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