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 Log: “Norway” at the Phoenix

Here it is almost midnight on Wednesday and I still have two promised reviews from last weekend to finish writing plus a show or two coming up this weekend, plus, you know, my fulltime day job and my life outside Indy Theatre Habit, so I am not going to be able to write a full review of the co-world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s “Norway” at the Phoenix Theatre.

Even though I loved it.

I will instead start a new practice for 2011 that I’m going to call “logging” (as opposed to “reviewing.”)  For shows that I saw NOT on a media pass and for which I will not have time to write a full review, I will at least post the basic who-did-what from the show’s paper program so that it will be searchable here, plus I will copy whatever I happened to write about the show elsewhere (e.g. on Twitter.)

Here is what I tweeted the night I saw “Norway”:

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Theatre Review: “In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play” at the Phoenix Theatre

Dear Reader, I must apologize for again taking longer than a week to post a review.  I saw and loved Sarah Ruhl’s Tony-and-Pulitzer-nominated “In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play,” directed and produced by Bryan Fonseca, at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis on Sunday, October 3, 2010.  That was the weekend it opened here.  It is scheduled to run for two more weekends.

As wonderful as it is, it is not the sort of play that is going to be snapped up by community theatres here in central Indiana, and somehow I don’t see the other professional theatres picking it up, either, so if you want to see it, you had better make time to see it at the Phoenix.  But even beyond the Phoenix’s exclusivity, the Phoenix’s production of this play is lovely.  Truly lovely.

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Quick Thoughts on “Yankee Tavern, “Grace & Glorie,” and Phil

You know that I can maintain this theatre reviews blog right now only because I work my butt off at another, fulltime-plus, job which I also love and for which I am paid, right?  So I hope you will again forgive me for being behind in my review writing.   I have to/get to work at my fulltime job this weekend, too, so I won’t be caught up with my theatre blogging any time soon.

In the meantime, then, I’d like to say quick word about the two new shows I saw last weekend:

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Theatre Review: “A Very Phoenix Xmas 4: Our Stockings Are Stuffed”

Cast of "A Very Phoenix Xmas 4" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Sunday afternoon, a new friend and I met at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see “A Very Phoenix Xmas 4: Our Stockings Are Stuffed.”  It was conceived and directed by Bryan Fonseca, with musical direction by Kevin D. Smith and technical direction by Christopher Hansen.

In years past, I wrote about Xmas 3 here on my blog, Xmas 2 for Indiana Auditions, and the first one in my private journal. 

Xmas 4 is the best one yet.

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Theatre Review: “Shipwrecked” at the Phoenix

Eddie Curry (L) and Charles Goad (R) in "Shipwrecked" - photo by Julie Curry

Last Saturday night, my friend David picked me up and we drove to the professional Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the Midwest premiere of “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As told by himself)” written by Donald Margulies.  Bryan Fonseca directed.

This is a charming, richly nostalgic, back-to-creative-basics show that delights with, among other things, its use of sound effects that are made in the moment by a “soundscape crew” you can see.  (I.e. – the sounds are not pre-recorded or hidden.)  It is based on a real person in history and on various intriguing layers and versions of what really happened to him related to his adventures at sea.

I thought the ending was odd, and I still don’t know if that was because I was distracted by the two people that got up to use the restroom at pivotal moments or what.  I have been having a heck of a time trying to write this review because of that.  However, one thing I can tell you for sure is that I enjoyed the show very much. 

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Theatre Review: “The Most Damaging Wound” at the Phoenix

Shane Chuvalas (standing), Doug Johnson, Ricardo Melendez, Bill Simmons (LtR) in "The Most Damaging Wound" - photo by Julie Curry

What is it about reunions?  They stir things up in unpredictable ways.

Last Thursday night I drove to the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the opening night of the Midwest premiere of “The Most Damaging Wound.” It was written by Blair Singer and directed by Bryan Fonseca.  It stars six of my favorite professional actors – Shane Chuvalis, Scot Greenwell, Doug Johnson, Ricardo Melendez, Bill Simmons, and Karen Irwin – all of whom have worked together in Indy-area shows before.

I was, therefore, prepared to swoon at their reunion on stage, no matter what the play was about.

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Theatre Review: “Octopus” at the Phoenix

Ricardo Melendez in Octopus - photo by JulieCurryPhotography.com

Last Thursday night I met my friend, Chris, and his partner, Doug (who is also becoming my friend, I hope!) at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see the opening night performance of the Midwest premiere of “Octopus,” by Steven Yockey.  Bryan Fonseca directed it, assisted by Brandon Gelvin.

It is an intense show, full of satisfying surprises both in terms of the story and the staging of it.  After a lot of post-show discussion, Doug pronounced it “poignant.”  Chris pronounced it “genius.”  I loved it, too, but for maybe different reasons than they did. 

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A Conversation with Steven Yockey

Playwright Steven Yockey

I heard that playwright Steven Yockey (www.redkingdreaming.com) was in Indianapolis for the opening of his new play, “Octopus,” at the Phoenix Theatre.  On a whim, I asked if I could interview him on the day before the show opened.  He said yes!

So then I scrambled to read more about his work and to prepare questions beyond “Where do you get your ideas?”  It was interesting to read about his career on the Internet, so when we met at Henry’s on East coffee shop Wednesday afternoon, I had several questions.

He graciously answered all of them, even the ones that were really just for me rather than for my blog readers.  Steve listens like a playwright, or at least the way I imagine all good playwrights listen:  intently, compassionately, and with no nonsense but a lot of humor.

Our conversation was a great blessing to me.

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Theatre Review: “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” at the Phoenix

Melissa Solorzano and Noe Montez in "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot"

Last Thursday night, I met a friend at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to see Jose’ Rivera’s “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.”  It was directed by Bryan Fonseca.

It is an intriguing show, odd and sexy as a dream.  I will never look at the moon – or war – in the same way again.

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