Two Super Funny Shows

The 46th Super Bowl was in Indianapolis for the first time this whole past week.  The game itself is happening as I write this on Sunday night, but I confess I don’t care much about that.  However, some of the people that I’ve written about here on Indy Theatre Habit over the years will be performing with Madonna in her halftime show.  THAT makes me wish I still had TV in my home.  And many, MANY more of my fellow Hoosiers worked hard to make sure that everyone involved with the Super Bowl – from fans to players to owners to media and more – had a fun, safe, rewarding time all week, starting last weekend.   I admire the heck out of all of them.

So I’m going to resist the urge that sometimes comes over me to make fun of professional sports and tell you instead that I’ve been thinking a lot about humor in general.

What makes a show funny?

Last Sunday I saw two very funny shows:  “Current Economic Conditions” (written by Don Zolidis and directed by Bryan Fonseca, runs through February 12, 2012 at the Phoenix Theatre) and “Debbie Does Dallas: the Musical” (book by Susan L. Schwartz, music composed by Andrew Sherman with additional lyrics by Tom Kitt and Jonathan Callicut, directed by Andrew Ranck, music/vocal directed by Roger Smith, ran through last night at Theatre on the Square.) 

Because I saw them on the same day, I was struck by the fact that they each made me laugh often and hard, yet they were very different from each other.

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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.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “This” at the Phoenix Theatre

Theatre Review: “The Storytelling Ability of a Boy” at the Phoenix

Last Thursday I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the Midwest premiere of “The Storytelling Ability of a Boy” at the Phoenix Theatre.  It was written by Carter W. Lewis and directed for the Phoenix by Bryan Fonseca, assisted by Raphael Schwartzman.

As with just about every show I see at the Phoenix, I loved the layered-ness of it.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “The Storytelling Ability of a Boy” at the Phoenix

Several Quickie Reviews and a Writing Plan

(Photo is of Jonah Winston in “Diaspora.”  Photo provided by the director, Michael Hosp.  See below for more info about the show.)

Well, I have been tweeting fairly regularly (@IndyTheatre) but I am way behind in my blogging!  What can I say?  My fulltime day job and my personal life have demanded most of my attention lately.   I haven’t accepted many media passes this year so far because I knew I wouldn’t have much time in which to write about shows.


I have not stopped seeing live theatre and storytelling and I hope you won’t give up on checking Indy Theatre Habit for Indianapolis-area theatre and storytelling news, reviews, and reflections.  Here is my writing plan for the next few days:

Continue reading Several Quickie Reviews and a Writing Plan

Theatre News: Assistant Director Intern Program at the Phoenix

A few days ago I received a press release from Lori Raffel at the Phoenix Theatre. The news was of their new assistant director internship program.

Reading it brought back good, rich memories of my own assistant director experiences at the Phoenix in the late 1980s, before it was a professional theatre with Equity contracts and all that.  I first assisted Bryan Fonseca when he directed “The House of Blue Leaves,” by John Guare, and then “Bouncers,” by John Godber.  Then I assisted Rock Mers when he directed a show called “Nightbreath,” by Dennis Clontz. 

It was a pleasure and a privilge to work with both of these directors.  I learned a lot about myself as well as how to make theatre art.  I also had a wonderful time.

So…this new A.D. internship program sounds very cool.  Congratulations to each of the seven new interns!

Here is the full press release:

Continue reading Theatre News: Assistant Director Intern Program at the Phoenix

Theatre Review: “My Name is Asher Lev” at the Phoenix

On Friday, October 29, 2010, I drove to the Mass. Ave. theatre district of downtown Indianapolis to see the Phoenix Theatre’s production of “My Name is Asher Lev.”  This Midwest premiere was directed by Martha Jacobs and produced by Bryan Fonseca.  The script was adapted by Aaron Posner from the novel by Chaim Potok (which I have not yet read, but now want to.)

I loved this show!  Here is what I wrote right away the next Monday morning on Lou Harry’s arts & entertainment blog for the Indianapolis Business Journal:

“I felt lucky, later in the weekend, to be at the Phoenix Theatre to see ‘My Name is Asher Lev.’ The three actors in it are outstanding, and the story of a Hasidic Jew who becomes a revered and reviled painter in the larger world had me fighting back sobs.  I am looking forward to writing about it on my own blog soon.”

God laughed at my “soon” but I do finally have this morning free in which to write, so here is my more detailed response to “My Name is Asher Lev”:

Continue reading Theatre Review: “My Name is Asher Lev” at the Phoenix

Word of Mouth and Mailbox

As always, there was a lot going on in terms of live theatre in the Indianapolis area last weekend and I have a lot in my email box about events coming up. 

Here is my writing plan for the next few days:

  • Word of Mouth and Mailbox (today’s post)
  • IndyFringe DivaFest Overview
  • Spotlight 2010 For the Record
  • Theatre Review: “Dash Thirty Dash” at IndyFringe DivaFest
  • Theatre Review: “Madwomen’s Late Night Cabaret” at IndyFringe DivaFest
  • Theatre Review: “Always Patsy Cline” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre.  (And since this show runs through June 6, 2010, I will tell you right away that whether or not you are a country music fan, this show is a treat.  It is a satisfying musical tribute to the late Patsy Cline, but it also a moving and funny show about friendship and the power of musical storytelling in general.  Plus there are lots of beautiful dresses.)
  • If I have time, something related to the copious, compulsive notes I took at the Steven Dietz interview last month and the DivaFest panel of advisors this month.

In the meantime, here are a few items from last weekend’s gallivanting and from my email box, in random order:

Continue reading Word of Mouth and Mailbox

Theatre Review: “Yankee Tavern” at the Phoenix

A couple weekends ago, I drove downtown to the Mass-Ave theatre district of downtown Indianapolis to see the opening performance of “Yankee Tavern” at the Phoenix Theatre.  It was written by Steven Dietz and directed by Bryan Fonseca. 

I liked this creepy-funny show so much that I went back to see it a second time this past Thursday night.  (Thursday and Sunday performances are always “Duke Energy Cheap Seats” this season at the Phoenix: tickets are only $15.)

I love that it is a play about conspiracy theories surrounding what happened in and to the United States on September 11, 2001, but also about unusual coincidences and conspiracies in general.  A certain line about a potential Abraham Lincoln conspiracy made me bark with laughter, it was so preposterous, but I also agreed with my friend, Anne, who said as we were leaving the theatre, “I want to know which ones of those are true!”

I also love that “Yankee Tavern” is a play about all forms of communication, including communication with ghosts.  Also, the design elements and everyone in the show are very attractive, which is icing on the layered cake of the story.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Yankee Tavern” at the Phoenix

Phoenix Mentioned in Chicago Paper

Sharon Gamble, managing director of the Phoenix Theatre, sent me a copy of a very cool article by Chris Jones in today’s Chicago Tribune.  I learned from Renee Wilmuth’s session on “Blog Etiquette and Ethics” at the 2008 Blog Indiana conference that it is not good blogging ettiquette to copy someone else’s whole article, so I will just give you the link and the part that talks about the Phoenix:,0,4669313.story

The article talks about all the fuss that is made about world premieres.  Jones continues:

“But, you know, second productions of new plays are a much under-appreciated phenomenon. If a theater you trust is doing a second production of a new play, it’s a pretty good indication it’s worth seeing.

It’s frustrating when high-profile plays that have only been seen once don’t come to Chicago fast enough. The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, a shrewd outfit willing to turn on a dime, is producing David Mamet’s new “November” this fall. Although ideal for the election season, as far as I know this savage comedy isn’t slated for any Chicago theater. That’s partly because it’s already been seen on Broadway. The Phoenix is also doing Caryl Churchill’s latest, “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?” We’ve yet to see that in Chicago either.”

So do you suppose Chicago folks will be road-tripping down here for a change, instead of the other way around?

Anyway, congratulations, Phoenix, and thanks, Sharon, for sharing the article with me.

Hope Baugh –

A Wellness Weekend

I am still percolating on the ideas explored in the Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Well,” by Lisa Kron.   This is the show I saw last Thursday.  I spent less time reviewing shows this past weekend, and more time talking with family and hanging out with friends.  I feel more well, more balanced, because of this.

Mind you, a lot of my “down time” was still theatre-related or storytelling-related.

Continue reading A Wellness Weekend