Theatre Review: “Chicago the Musical” by Actors Theatre of Indiana

On Saturday night a friend and I drove to the new Studio Theater to see the Actors Theatre of Indiana production of “Chicago the Musical.” 

The Studio Theater is part of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana.  Carmel is just north of Indianapolis.  Actors Theatre of Indiana (ATI) is the Center’s resident professional theatre company.

The book for “Chicago the Musical” was written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse.  The music is by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb.  Judy Fitzgerald directed ATI’s production.

I loved the intimacy of this production!  I recognized many of the performers from other professional shows in larger venues around town over the years.  It was a treat to be able to see and hear these beloved performers doing their thing up close in a cozy space and in a show that highlights their singing and dancing talents.

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Theatre Review: “The 39 Steps” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

On Saturday afternoon I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “The 39 Steps.”  It was adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchanon, from the movie of Alfred Hitchcock licensed by IV Global Entertainment Limited, and from an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble.  Peter Amster directed it for the IRT, where Janet Allen is the artistic director and Steven Stolen is the managing director.

I now know that the stage show was nominated for the 2008 Tony Award, and I now know that one of mystery master Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous noir films is “The 39 Steps,” but I didn’t know anything about either of these two facts going in to the IRT on Saturday.

And it didn’t matter.  This show is very accessible and so much fun!  It is a suspenseful, funny treat for stage fans and film fans alike, not to mention mystery fans.

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Theatre Review: “Bunny Spectacular” by Q Artistry

On Friday, April 1, 2011 I drove to the Historic Irvington Lodge on the near east side of Indianapolis to see the world premiere of Q Artistry’s “Bunny Spectacular.”  It was directed by Ben Asaykwee, with segments directed by Maria Meschi.  Ryan Powell and Carrie Morgan were the assistant directors.

If you are a regular reader of Indy Theatre Habit, you know that I almost never have time to write about shows for children.  However, I made time for this show because a) I love Q Artistry’s work in general and b) a giant bunny came to visit me with free tickets to opening night.

“Bunny Spectacular” is definitely a treat of a show for families with little kids, but this solo adult had a great time, too.

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Theatre Review: “Annie Get Your Gun” at Beef and Boards

Last Sunday evening I drove to the northwest side of Indianapolis to see “Annie Get Your Gun” at the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre.  The music and lyrics for this 1948 Broadway musical were written by Irving Berlin.  The book was written by Herbert and Dorothy Fields. It was directed for Beef and Boards by Doug Stark. (Douglas E. Stark)

It is a beautiful, beautiful production and it piqued my interest in Annie Oakley.

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Theatre Review: “I Hate Hamlet” by the Carmel Community Players

Last Sunday afternoon I drove to the Carmel Community Playhouse in the Claypool Terrace shopping area of Carmel, Indiana (just north of Indianapolis) to see the Carmel Community Players’ production of “I Hate Hamlet.”  This comedy was written by Paul Rudnick.  It was directed for CCP by Lori Raffel and produced by Risa Krauter.

It was so good!  I leapt to my feet to applaud even before the house lights came up for the curtain call.  I drove to my next appointment with a wet but smiling face, feeling grateful for every person that answers the call to be a stage actor.

The following Thursday I went back to see the show a second time and enjoyed it tremendously again.  I wish it ran for three weekends instead of just two.  (I also wish I had a photo from the show to share with you, but never mind.)(Update 4/10/11 – Lori Raffel emailed me the above rehearsal photo.  Thanks, Lori!)

Tonight and tomorrow afternoon are your last chances to see this funny and exceptionally well directed all-volunteer production. 

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Theatre Review: “Auntie Mame” at Buck Creek, Plus 2011-2012 BCP Season

Last Saturday night I drove to the southeast side of Indianapolis to the Buck Creek Playhouse to see the Buck Creek Players’ production of “Auntie Mame.”  It was written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, based on the 1955 bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis.  It was directed for Buck Creek by Andrew Ranck and produced by Cheryl Kern.

I love the 1974 movie version starring Lucille Ball and I would like to read the novel some day.  Now, after seeing this non-musical stage version, I am fonder than ever of the irrepressible title character and her story. 

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Theatre Review: “This” at the Phoenix Theatre

Last Thursday night I drove to the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the Midwest premiere of “This,” by Melissa James Gibson.  It was directed for the Phoenix by Dale McFadden, assisted by Jonathan James Courtemanche.  It was produced by the Phoenix’s Producing Director, Bryan Fonseca.

It is a smart, delicately funny show that made me wish I had brought a whole box of tissues with me.

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Theatre Review: “The Gospel According to James” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

 

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)

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Theatre Review: “Cabaret” by the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

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.

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Indy Theatre News, Expanded Writing Plan, and a Bunny

 

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:

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