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: “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: “A Christmas Carol” at the IRT

On Saturday, November 27, 2010 I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the professional Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Tom Haas and directed by Richard J. Roberts.

It was the opening night of this annual holiday treat AND “alumni night” so every seat was filled.  The seat I was given was at the far end of the very last row of the balcony, so the actors’ faces were blurry and I could only see 2/3 of the stage.  I couldn’t see the entrances of the first two ghosts at all and the very dramatic entrance of the third ghost was barely within my line of sight.  I was glad that I had not paid for this seat or chosen this night to introduce a friend to the IRT, and I confess that I spent the first few minutes of the show muttering “Bah, humbug!” and trying to breathe through my resentment instead of paying attention to the performance art itself.

However.

Even from a bad* seat, this year’s “Carol” is enchanting.

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Theatre Review and News: “Holes” and “Mary’s Wedding” at the IRT

On Tuesday, October 26, 2010 I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the professional Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “Holes,” by Louis Sachar.  It is based on a novel, also by Louis Sachar, which I enjoyed very much when I read it a few years ago.  Louis Sachar also wrote the screenplay for the movie, but I have not seen the movie.

The IRT’s production was directed by David Bradley.  It was presented by the IRT’s artistic director, Janet Allen, the IRT’s managing director, Steven Stolen, and Oxford Financial Group, Ltd.

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Theatre Review: “Becky’s New Car” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

I saw “Becky’s New Car” when it opened here in Indianapolis at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on Friday, March 26, 2010.  It was written by Steven Dietz and directed by James Still.

Dear Reader, I LOVED IT. 

My friend did, too.  We stayed “high” on it all the rest of the weekend.  And I have been saying “Becky’s New Car!” without equivocation whenever anyone asks me “what’s good?” rather than first asking my usual cautious theatre advisory questions about what kind of show they are in the mood for and so on.

“Becky’s New Car” is so funny and well done, and I think it appeals to a wide variety of people.  If you like to talk about shows and/or relationships, for example, this piece offers a lot to talk about at intermission and afterwards:  there is good stuff about love, grief, infidelity, inevitability and more to chew on, plus it is a pleasure to re-hash the show’s interactivity and other fun design elements.  However, you can also just enjoy the show, too, without having to talk about it.  It moves fast and there are all kinds of situations in the show that both men and women can relate to easily. 

Best of the all, the tension in the serious moments is deftly released – but not diluted – by smart humor that doesn’t make you feel guilty for laughing at/with these very human and likable people.

I didn’t want it to end.  I went back to see “Becky’s New Car” again the following weekend by myself and loved it just as much the second time.  There is only one weekend left, starting tonight (Wednesday); I may try to squeeze in a third visit before the show closes.

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Theatre Review: “The Giver” at the IRT

Fred Marshall and Garrett Mckenna in "The Giver" at the IRT.  Photo by Julie Curry.

I met my friend Chris in downtown Indianapolis at the professional Indiana Repertory Theatre for opening night of “The Giver” on Friday, October 23, 2009.  I apologize for taking so long to write and post this review.  I have had home computer problems on top of having a weird schedule the past two weeks.

Anyway, “The Giver” is based on the Newbery Award winning novel by Lois Lowry, which is about a post-apocalyptic world in which everyone is safe, healthy, and comfortable because they are prevented from making wrong choices.  The adaptation is by Eric Coble.   The IRT’s resident dramaturg, Richard J. Roberts, directed this production.

After the show, Chris turned to me and said, “I’m going to tell everyone I know about this.  Everyone at work tomorrow…everyone.”

I wiped my cheeks and said, “I want to tell everyone I know about this, too.  Let’s see, what’s the best way…oh, right: I have a blog!  Yay!”

So I’m telling you: this show is excellent. 

Now you may have the following three or four questions about this show in addition to the usual “What did you like about it?” question:

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Theatre Review: “The Heavens Are Hung In Black” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Jason Bradley (L) and Nicholas Hormann (R) in "The Heavens Are Hung In Black" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Friday night I drove to the Indiana Repertory Theatre – a professional theatre in downtown Indianapolis – to see a new play about Abraham Lincoln.  It is called “The Heavens Are Hung In Black.”  IRT playwright-in-residence James Still wrote it on commission for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.  It premiered there last spring as a three-act play.  Indianapolis is only the second place for it to be produced, and this time it is a two-act piece, so in a way, this is another world premiere.  We are the first audience to see it in its tightened form.

At the end of the performance on Friday night, I was not the only one who made an affirmative little moan before leaping to my feet to applaud.  I think that both theatre buffs and history buffs would enjoy this piece.  I loved it because I am both.

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