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A&E SEASON PREVIEW: Lou Harry's critically selected highlights

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Welcome to IBJ’s 2013/14 A&E Season Preview

As those who read IBJ A&E—in print, online at IBJ.com/arts, or in the weekly A&E email—know, my style isn’t to just reprint listings and press releases supplied by arts organizations. Or to take wild guesses at what might prove interesting and engaging.

Instead, I try to share information on offerings I’m truly looking forward to attending based on past experiences, talent involved, additional research and other factors.

In preparing this year’s look ahead, I’m happily overwhelmed by the number of events I anticipate attending and reviewing. And I hope that enthusiasm shows.

In the following pages, you’ll read about more than 100 such events, from solo shows to big-budget tours, from concerts with people you’ve heard of, as well as from others where a leap of faith might be required. These choices might seem exhausting, but the list is not exhaustive—what I’ve included here is just a starter set of potentially terrific presentations.

My hope is that it all inspires you to get out more often and argue the merits of what you’ve seen. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments about what you’ve seen, whether on my blog at IBJ.com or via email at lharry@ibj.com.

— Lou Harry

Warm Fest
Aug. 31-Sept. 2
Broad Ripple Park

You might not notice the disappearance of the long-standing Rib America Labor Day weekend concerts, thanks to this new fest in town. It features five stages for dozens of musical acts, including The United States Three, Lily & Madeleine, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters. And in case you’re looking for these other events, know that Warm Fest incorporates the Broad Ripple Music Fest and the Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace.

Mumford & Sons
Sept. 2
Klipsch Music Center

The arts season theoretically begins in September. But there’s also an overlap for a month or so of summer concerts, including this visit by this U.K.-based folk rock phenomenon. Expect to hear just about everything from the band’s first two albums, plus it’s been known to drop a few covers into the mix, including Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”

Gin Blossoms
Sept. 6
Georgia Street

The Colts season—its 30th in Indy—is kicked off with a free concert by the Gin Blossoms (“Found Out About You,” “Follow You Down”) in downtown’s continued effort to keep that Super Bowl spark alive on Georgia Street.

Penrod Art Fair
Sept. 6-7
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Yes, the dates (two of them) are correct. For the first time, the usually one-day Penrod Art Fair is adding an evening-before event giving those who want to pay a higher price a first look at the artwork while munching on food samples, listening to the music of Todd Snyder and the Butler University Orchestra, and drinking Penrod Twenty-Two, an ale brewed by Flat 12 Bierworks for the occasion. The evening event is for 21-and-up.

“Icons & Irony”
Sept. 6-Nov. 11
Long-Sharp Gallery

The gallery housed at the Conrad Indianapolis isn’t just for visitors temporarily staying in the high-end digs. It also offers high-profile shows throughout the year, usually opening during First Friday. For the fall, it’s highlighting works by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso.

“Pippin”
Sept. 6-21
The Tarkington

With the “Pippin” revival all the rage on Broadway, expect greater interest in Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of Stephen Schwartz’s young-man-searches-for-meaning musical.

“Evening with the Stars”
Sept. 7
Murat Theatre

We might not have a full-time, world-class professional ballet troupe (yet). But, once a year, we have one of the best ballet evenings on the planet, thanks to this Indianapolis City Ballet benefit. Among the companies represented this time around: American Ballet Theatre (Gillian Murphy and Cory Stearns), San Francisco Ballet (Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith), Berlin Ballet (Elisa Carrillo Cabrera and Mikhail Kaniskin) and, a favorite from the past, Stuttgart Ballet (Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly). New to the Murat stage Sept. 7 will be dancers from Norwegian National Ballet and England National Ballet, as well as Demitra Bereveskos, an Indy prodigy now studying in New York.

Toby Keith
Sept. 7
Klipsch Music Center

“Red Solo Cup.” “Beer for My Horses.” “Haven’t Had a Drink All Day.” See a pattern forming here?

“Quest for the West”
Sept. 8-Oct. 6
Eiteljorg Museum

This annual gathering of artists and art buyers from around the country showcases commercial work from some of the leaders in the field. Fifty artists once again will be featured, some with work specifically created for this event. Also included: a special exhibition of the work of last year’s Artist of Distinction John Coleman.

Jeffrey Eugenides
Sept. 16
Butler University Atherton Union

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Middlesex,” “The Virgin Suicides” and “The Marriage Plot” reads as part of the impressive Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series at Butler. Also on the lineup this fall: poets D.A. Powell, Tomaz Salamun and Alicia Ostriker; novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff; and “Swamplandia!” author Karen Russell.

Indy Jazz Fest
Sept. 12-21
Various locations

In the past, it was usually a day-long outdoor concert in Broad Ripple. This year, it's Allen Toussaint at the Schrott, Ramsey Lewis at the Madame Walker, Diane Schuur at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, Brian Nova and Ravi Coltrane at the Jazz Kitchen, The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra at the Indiana Landmarks Center, Eddie Palmieri at the IMA, and more.

DL Hughley
Sept. 14
Hoosier Park

The comedian known from sitcoms (“The Hughleys”), movies (the voice of Inspector Gadget’s Gadgetmobile), competitive TV (“Dancing with the Stars”) and stage (one of “The Original Kings of Comedy”) headlines a concert capping the Indiana Comedy Festival. The fest itself features 20 pro comedians competing in shows in 14 Indiana cities beginning Aug. 27.

Chicago and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Sept. 15
The Lawn at White River State Park

In summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra frequently can be found paying tribute to a Top 40 band (Witness the Symphony on the Prairie performance of Rolling Stones tunes.) It also occasionally gets to play with a Top 40 act, as with this downtown concert featuring the hit-makers behind “Saturday in the Park” and “25 or 6 to 4.” And although current Chicago vocalist Keith Howland joined in 1995, some of the core band members go back to the group’s 1960s roots.

Imagine Dragons
Sept. 16
The Lawn at White River State Park

Rethink your idea of a “Las Vegas band.” The Nevada-birthed group that charted with “It’s Time” and “Radioactive” stops in Indy while winding down an aggressive summer of festival playing (including Lollapalooza) and heading overseas for near-constant concertizing through the end of the year. FYI: The band is also set to play a private event for ExactTarget at Lucas Oil Stadium on a bill with The Avett Brothers.

Indy Actors’ Playground
Sept. 16 and third Monday of each month
Indy Reads Books

This is an event I co-organize every month, but since there’s no financial gain, I feel comfortable sharing that, time and again, the Indy Actors’ Playground is a highlight of the month for me. For each edition, a local professional actor is selected who picks a play he or she has long wanted to do but hasn’t gotten the opportunity. The actor assembles a cast and the play is read to an audience that doesn’t know what it will be until the players take their seats.

Faculty Artists Gala Opening
Sept. 16
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

Maestro Raymond Leppard leads a free concert featuring The University Festival Orchestra and Choral Ensembles, soprano Kathleen Hacker, violinist Austin Hartman and other stand-outs from the University of Indianapolis faculty.

“Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike”
Sept. 18-Oct. 20
Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix shrewdly delays picking its season until well into the summer in part in order to nail the latest from New York stages. This year’s coup: the most recent Tony-winning Best Play, a comedy by Christopher Durang. In case you are keeping score: This is the eighth time the Phoenix is staging a work by the acerbic playwright.

Lang Lang
Sept. 19
Palladium

How popular is pianist Lang Lang? You can buy Lang Lang Adidas sneakers. His biography has been published in 11 languages. Time magazine (you remember Time, don’t you?) named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Steinway named a piano after him—something it hadn’t done for anyone in its 150-year history. That’s how popular he is.

Dana Gould
Sept. 19-22
The Comedy Attic, Bloomington

This off-campus comedy room has, in only five years, become one of the top stand-up clubs in the country, luring some of the smartest comics on the circuit. This time, it’s Dana Gould, a former “Simpsons” writer, mainstay of L.A.’s alt comedy scene, and co-creator of the am-I-the-only-person-who-remembers-it MTV puppet series “Super Adventure Team.” Bonus: Gould will also create the latest edition of his popular podcast live while in town.

Lotus World Music & Arts Festival
Sept. 25-29
Various locations, Bloomington

It’s the 20th anniversary for this world-class event featuring performing artists from around the world. Truly. Acts this year come from, among other places, Cuba, Tunisia, Ukraine, Corsica, Mongolia, India, Poland and Sweden. The kick-off features a reunion of the Bloomington a cappella group Monkey Puzzle. Never been to Lotus? You can get a free sample at Saturday afternoon’s Lotus in the Park.

“Combat Paper”
Sept. 25-Nov. 16
Herron Galleries

Veterans transformed their uniforms into paper, which they used to create artworks as part of this innovative touring exhibition that has seen gallery action both in the United States and overseas.

“Parks and Recreation” season premiere
Sept. 26
Television

Sure, the town of Pawnee is a fictional creation. But that’s no reason not to appreciate the fact that “Parks and Recreation” has put an Indiana location on the pop-culture map in a way not seen since the creation of Hickory for “Hoosiers.”

Bill Cosby
Sept. 27
Murat Theatre

The dean of storytelling comedy and the guy whose recordings kept my family laughing for many a long road trip tells tales at the Murat.

Buena Vista Social Club
Sept. 27
Clowes Hall

IBJ travel columnist Frank Basile trekked all the way to Cuba to see the Buena Vista Social Club perform. You can do it without the plane fare and travel restrictions when the legendary musicians come to Clowes.

“Touchy Subjects”
Sept. 27-Nov. 24
Indianapolis Art Center

This fall exhibition series explores why artists opt for edginess. Included are Jedidiah Johnson’s “The Makeout Project,” Kyle Herrington’s “Catcalls” and “Art, Sex, and Humor: Selections from the Kinsey Institute.”

Arlo Guthrie
Oct. 2
Palladium

I know first-timer Arlo-goers might be hoping to hear “Alice’s Restaurant.” But as someone who has attended his concerts since the 1980s, I’d prefer those 18-plus minutes be spent on other tunes—and he has plenty of endearing ones to choose from both from his own pen and from Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and his father, Woody, that he frequently covers.

Sutton Foster
Oct 5
Palladium

While this benefit for Actors Theatre of Indiana marks her first concert in the area, Sutton Foster—best known to non-theater audiences as the lead on ABC Family’s series “Bunheads”—is no stranger here. The Broadway leading lady (“Anything Goes,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”) has not only taught master classes at Ball State University, but she also co-directed a production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and has been involved in the development of the Ball State-incubated musical “The Circus in Winter.”

Valerie Pettiford
Oct. 3-4
Cabaret at the Columbia Club

A Bob Fosse-trained dancer who also will star on the new season of TV’s “True Blood”—how’s that for a resume? Pettiford appeared on Broadway in “Fosse” and in London in “Chicago.” A shame there’s not more room on the Cabaret stage for some dance to go along with the songs.

“Classical Europe: Celebrating Violette”
Oct. 4-5
Musical Arts Center, Indiana University

A former New York City Ballet principal dancer under George Balanchine, Violette Verdy served as artistic director for the Paris Opera Ballet and the Boston Ballet before turning her attention to teaching at IU. With this concert, the school acknowledges her brilliant career and influence on generations of dancers with a concert featuring “Variations for Eight,” which she choreographed to the music of Brahms.

“Les Miserables”
Oct. 4-Nov. 24
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Make all the jokes you want about watching a musical about starving people—after your second trip to the dinner lane. Quip about how the buffet carts can be used as the barricade. When you are done, though, remember that this is the first professional regional production of the musical here in Indy. And the B&B folks have the resources to attract strong vocalists.

“James Wille Faust: New Work”
Oct. 4-25
Gallery 924

Some may only know Faust as the artist whose sculpture was commissioned and then removed from a prime airport escalator spot. Here’s a chance to get to know his more modestly scaled work in a solo show at the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ gallery.

Jack Johnson
Oct. 5
Murat Theatre

I’ll admit, the “Curious George” soundtrack was a major influence in endearing this low-key singer/songwriter to me. A more mellow fall evening you are unlikely to have.

“Fearless Furniture”
Oct. 5-May 27
Indiana State Museum

Careful where you sit. That chair could be the work of one of the studio artists highlighted in this juried show. Rest assured: All the artisans featured in this exhibition were born here, relocated here or trained here.

“The Threepenny Opera”
Oct. 11-20
Basile Opera Center

Corey McKern, a staple at Santa Fe Opera and Opera Birmingham, takes the role of Macheath the thief at the center of Kurt Weill’s edgy underworld opera, sung in English. Yes, it’s the show that birthed the song “Mack the Knife,” but don’t expect anything like the hit Bobby Darin version when Indianapolis Opera stages this up-close-and-personal version.

“Matisse, Life in Color”
Oct. 11-Jan. 12
Indianapolis Museum of Art

The big-name potential blockbuster of the arts season is this exhibition of paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Henri Matisse. Organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art, it features more than 80 pieces as well as ancillary events including lectures and a music series inspired by Matisse’s “Jazz” works.

“Potted Potter”
Oct. 17
Loeb Hall, Purdue University

Billed as “The Unauthorized Harry Experience,” this parody show has proven a hit in New York and elsewhere. It now hits the road, stopping at Purdue to play to a generation of Muggles that barely remembers a world without the boy wizard.

Heartland Film Festival
Oct. 17-26
Various locations

Sorry, but the lineup isn’t announced until Sept. 19. I will say, though, that a truly moving documentary that was screened earlier in the year at another festival is scheduled to be back.

“Ghost Brothers of Darkland County”
Oct. 18
Clowes Hall

What happens when supernatural scribe Stephen King, Hoosier bard John Mellencamp and music legend T Bone Burnett decide to write a musical? I didn’t think we’d find out after the Atlanta premiere proved problematic. But a revamped, re-amped version, described by director Susan Booth as a “gothic story-driven rock concert,” launches Oct. 10 at Indiana University and comes to Clowes Hall just over a week later.

The Eagles
Oct. 18
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

The “History of the Eagles” tour kicks off July 6 just down the road in Louisville. But if you’d rather have the iconic band come to you, wait until October. That’s when Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit visit downtown Indy.

“Singin’ in the Rain”
Oct 18-19
Hilbert Circle Theatre

Want a glorious feeling? Want to feel happy again? Well, you can’t beat the classic movie musical “Singin’ in the Rain” for that. Well, maybe you can. What about the classic movie musical accompanied by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra?

IBJ A&E Road Trip: “Once”
Oct. 19
Chicago

We hit the road again for the fifth IBJ A&E Road Trip. I’ve joined again with Interlude Tours to offer a trek to Chicago, this time to see the national tour of the Tony-winning Best Musical “Once.” The deadline to sign up is Sept. 3. And drop a note to me at lharry@ibj.com, and I’ll keep you posted on future out-of-town arts excursions.

Deborah Voigt
Oct. 19
Palladium

Brunnhilde in “Ring” at the Metropolitan Opera and on PBS. Isolde in “Tristan and Isolde” at the Washington National Opera. It’s been a Wagnerian year for Deborah Voigt. One of the world’s leading sopranos is the latest in a lineup of opera greats lured to the Palladium for recitals.

Mariza
Oct. 22
Palladium

If you know what fado is, then you probably know Mariza. For the rest, fado is a kind of Portuguese blues that usually focuses on loss and yearning. Mariza is perhaps its best known performer. Quick: Head over to YouTube and give a listen to her performance of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”

“The Trojan Women”
Oct. 22
Schrott Center

Butler University Theatre alumni gather for a one-night-only reading of Euripides’ anti-war drama.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “New Dimensions”
Oct. 24-27
Indiana Repertory Theatre

DK turns over the opening spot on this program to Butler Ballet students, who perform choreographer Cynthia Pratt’s hypnotic “The Whole Against the Sky.” It closes with David Hochoy’s iconoGlass. In between, there’s “Riverboy” by guest choreographer Christopher Dolder, who studied under Hochoy while with the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Tito Puente Jr. with the Pacific Mambo Orchestra
Oct. 25
Palladium

If you like your Latin Jazz with a big-band bent, then this 19-piece company—paired with the son of the salsa legend—could be your ticket. Founded in 2010, PMO features four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, piano, bass and, of course, timbales, congas and bongos. Plus vocalist Alexis Guillen.

Whoopi Goldberg
Oct. 26
Clowes Hall

If your primary image of Whoopi Goldberg is as commentator on “The View,” perhaps a reminder is in order that she first broke through as the star of a very funny, very poignant one-woman show on Broadway in which she played a wide range of smartly written characters. Here, one of only a handful of people in the Emmy/Tony/Grammy/Oscar-winner club will offer a comedy set and, if consistent with previous shows, an audience Q&A that could go in any of many directions.

“Venzago Returns!”
Nov. 1-2
Hilbert Circle Theatre

After his departure as music director for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2009, Mario Venzago was named principal conductor of the Northern Sinfornia in Newcastle and chief conductor of the Bern Symphony Orchestra. Even with a still-busy schedule, he’s found time to come back to Indiana for a weekend of performances that includes music by Mahler and Schumann. Guest violinist Vadim Gluzman will also be on hand.

Spirit & Place Festival
Nov. 1-10
Various locations

The theme this year is “Risk.” And what arts, culture, social and religious groups from around the city will create from that theme is entirely up to them—that’s the nature of this unique festival scattered among venues across the city. Improvised music, graffiti art, an appearance by puzzle master Will Shortz, and an exhibit about sex and humor are just the beginning. A difference this time: Five festival projects will square off for $2,500 in prize money, awarded based on the strongest use of the “risk” theme.

Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “The Odd Couple”
Nov. 1-17
Studio Theatre

It used to be that Neil Simon comedies were as omnipresent as Annie and her fellow orphans. But somehow the hit-maker’s rep has waned. That’s a shame, since Simon produced far more than his share of sharp, funny, character-driven plays including this, his most famous one. For the uninitiated, it concerns a pair of men separated from their wives, trying to share an apartment.

America’s Got Talent
Nov. 3
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Yes, it does. And while I wouldn’t want to see some of the acts on the show try to fill out an hour-and-a-half set, watching many of them together sounds fun.

Patti LuPone
Nov. 3
Palladium

Don’t expect just a rundown of her greatest Broadway hits. “Far Away Places,” the theme of LuPone’s latest concert, also sends her through such jazzy numbers as “Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking” and “I Cover the Waterfront.”

“From the Journals of Delacroix”
Nov. 4
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

The Ronan Chamber Ensemble and University of Indianapolis musicians team up for a concert examining music that the French painter wrote about in his journals. Slide projections and readings round out the multi-sensory experience.

David Sedaris
Nov. 7
IU Auditorium

In the world of writers, few draw the kind of consistent, rock-star-size crowds as David Sedaris. The author of, most recently, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” and “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk,” continues to find new ways to share stories from his North Carolina childhood to his present overactive imagination.

John Lithgow: “Stories by Heart”
Nov. 9
Clowes Hall

The star of “The World According to Garp” and “Third Rock from the Sun” hits the stage as a storyteller, sharing personal tales as well as the words of Ring Lardner, P.G. Wodehouse, and more.

Deborah Henson-Conant with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Nov. 9
Athenaeum Theatre

The flamboyant, Grammy-nominated electric harpist—yes, you read correctly—joins the ICO for a one-nighter. And, by the way, that thing Henson-Conant is holding is an 11-pound carbon-fiber electric harp designed especially for her. She sings, too.

Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
Nov. 9-Jan. 12
Eiteljorg Museum

Just a month after the commercial “Best of the West” show closes, the more esoteric side of Western art is showcased at this biennial exhibition. Some of them may even stick around: Many pieces in the Eiteljorg collection were culled from past fellowship exhibitions.

“Romeo and Juliet”
Nov. 13-17
Schrott Center

A college theater department staging “Romeo and Juliet” is not particularly surprising. But this production marks Butler Theatre’s first full production in the Schrott Center, which adds an exciting element.

“Wicked”
Nov. 13-Dec. 1
Murat Theatre

Rumors of the death of the Wicked Witch of the West have been highly exaggerated. And even the success of the far-less-interesting movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful” doesn’t dim her musical’s ability to draw crowds. Unlike most touring shows that come through Indy, this one is staying for more than a week—which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get tickets quickly if you want prime seats.

Rioult Modern Dance Company
Nov. 15-16
The Tarkington

It’s a rare treat to watch a dance company perform to live music. Here, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra teams up with the New York-based contemporary dance troupe Rioult Modern Dance Company as the latter tours in celebration of its 20th anniversary. The offering: An all-Bach program choreographed by company founder Pascal Rioult.

Design Galleries opening
Nov. 21
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Focusing on design after 1980, the new IMA galleries will feature more than 400 objects, including a Michael Graves tea and coffee service, a Dyson vacuum, a Robert Venturi chest and other familiar but innovatively and artistically designed pieces.

Roxane Gay
Nov. 21
Schwitzer Student Center, University of Indianapolis

The Kellogg Writers Series brings strong—if not always high-profile—writers to Indy for free readings. This year’s lineup includes Roxane Gay, whose work appeared in the 2012 “Best American Short Stories” anthology as well as “Best American Erotica” and “Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer.” (For the record, two—no, make that three—of the stories in that last book could have fit in this space with words to spare.)

Betty Buckley
Nov. 21-22
Cabaret at the Columbia Club

The star of Broadway’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “1776” and, yes, “Carrie,” lends her voice to songs usually sung by guys in her cabaret show “Ah, Men!”

“Celebrating Hoagy Carmichael through Film and Music”
Nov. 22-24
IU Cinema, Bloomington

The Hoosier singer/songwriter’s cinematic legacy is celebrated with screenings of the 2013 documentary “Hoagy” as well as the classic Hollywood films “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “Topper.”

Wei Yu and Keun-A Lee
Nov. 25
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

Cellist Wei Yu of the New York Philharmonic is joined by pianist Keun-A Lee from the Metropolitan Opera’s young artists development program to team up for a free concert.

Justin Timberlake
Dec. 11
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Do I really need to say anything here?

Straight No Chaser
Dec. 21-22
Murat Theatre

The IU-birthed a cappella group returns for a two-nighter.

“Tribes”
Jan. 9-Feb. 9
Phoenix Theatre

There’s nothing like a good post-holidays family drama to spark January. I have high hopes for this play by Nina Raine about a deaf man and his excessively loud clan.

Madeleine Peyroux
Jan. 25
Palladium

The former Parisian street singer has found a balance between her self-penned songs and jazzy covers of tunes by Leonard Cohen, Edith Piaf, Bob Dylan and more.

“Who am I This Time?”
Jan. 28-Feb. 23
Indiana Repertory Theatre

This isn’t the first adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story about an actor a bit too into his characters. A then-unknown Christopher Walken played the lead in a production for PBS’ “American Short Story” series back in the 1980s. But here, that tale is just one of a trio from Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House” collection. IRT Artistic Director Janet Allen directs.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Feb. 7
Clowes Hall

Do you like Dance Kaleidoscope? Credit Martha Graham for helping develop DK’s leader, David Hochoy. Do you like modern dance? Then see Graham’s pioneering company.

Purdue Glee Club/The Singing Hoosiers
Feb. 9
Warren Performing Arts Center

No need to pick sides. For one night only, the signature singing groups from IU and Purdue team up for a concert.

“The Tale of Lady Thi Kinh”
Feb. 7-15
Musical Arts Center, Indiana University

Jacobs School of Music faculty composer P.Q. Phan turned to Vietnamese folk tales for this original opera, getting a full, main-stage world premiere by IU Opera.

Midwinter Dance Festival
Feb. 12-16
Schrott Center

The go-to Butler dance event moves to an appropriately sized venue this year with a program that includes work by George Balanchine and a new piece by guest choreographer Gustavo Sansaro.

“North of the Boulevard”
Feb. 13-March 9
Phoenix Theatre

Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I could always count on a new, character-driven play every year from Bruce Graham (perhaps best known for “Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill”). In this newer work, Graham explores the lives of three blue-collar guys who get an opportunity to make their move.

“The Strong Man”
Feb. 14
Indianapolis Museum of Art

The delightful annual series of Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra-accompanied silent movies returns to comedy with this early film by director Frank Capra starring Harry Langdon as a soldier in love with his blind pen pal.

“The Graduate”
Feb. 16
Marian University

LA Theatre Works, the outstanding company that stages script-in-hand readings with top talent, hits the road with a theatrical adaptation of the “What-do-I-do-now?” story.

“The Essential Robert Indiana”
Feb. 16-May 4
Indianapolis Museum of Art

The IMA launches the first touring retrospective since 1969 of the famed artist and New Castle native whose iconic LOVE statue graces the museum grounds. One of the things that’s different about this show is that it pays particular attention to the stories behind the work, using interviews with the artist to elaborate on the 57 prints on display.

Allegra Kent master class
Feb. 23
Performer’s Edge

In addition to staging a high-profile, world-class benefit in September, Indianapolis City Ballet also brings some of the top names in dance to town throughout the year for master classes. Young dancers aren’t the only ones to benefit: For $10, you can watch these greats in action. The venues and stars change each time. This one is led by legend Allegra Kent, a former New York City Ballet dancer for whom George Balanchine created many of his major dances. But just about every other name in the lineup—including Tiler Peck, Gillian Murphy and Darci Kistler—should make dance lovers salivate with anticipation.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Kings & Queens of Country”
March 6-16
Indiana Repertory Theatre

Two world premiere pieces by choreographers David Hochoy and Cynthia Pratt make up this double-bill set to the music of hit country songs.

“Other Desert Cities”
March 12-April 5
Indiana Repertory Theatre

The set-up isn’t terribly original: Writer returns home and breaks the news that her latest book is a memoir about the family. But Jon Robin Baitz (“The Substance of Fire,” TV’s “Brothers and Sisters”) is savvy enough to create full-blooded characters, giving actors (can’t wait to hear the cast for this one) plenty of room to find penetrating, funny, painful truths about loyalty and family. I saw the Broadway production and am looking forward to the IRT’s take on the material.

“The Girl of the Golden West”
March 21, 23
Clowes Hall

No, it’s not some contemporary director’s high concept. Puccini actually did write an opera set in the Old West. And a popular one at that. And it will be the only production this season for Indianapolis Opera that will be staged at Clowes Hall.

“Hamlet”/“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”
March 29-30
Loeb Playhouse, Purdue University


March 31, April 1
Pruis Hall, Ball State University

Two theatrical powerhouses, The Acting Company and the Guthrie Theatre, team up for this double-bill pairing Shakespeare’s tragedy with Tom Stoppard’s comedic companion piece. For me, the only questions are whether to go to Muncie or West Lafayette for it and whether to drive up both days or stay overnight.

“Memphis”
April 1-6
Clowes Memorial Hall

“The Book of Mormon” isn’t the only Tony-winning Best Musical coming to Indy for the first time. This non-Equity tour tells of the star-crossed relationship between a singer and a DJ in a story that, unlike most of Broadway, isn’t based on a hit movie and doesn’t feature pre-existing music.

Butler ArtsFest
April 3-13
Schrott Center

“Fables, Fairytales, and Physics” is the theme of the second annual festival bringing together Butler arts groups, faculty and other community professionals, including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performing “Quantum: Music at the Frontier of Science.” An encore weekend, April 25-27, has also been added to the schedule this time around.

Mandy Patinkin
April 11
Palladium

I know it’s tempting. But when you’re in the lobby for this concert, think before you blast, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” If Patinkin—who has done a lot more on Broadway, film and TV than just play the revenge-seeking Montoya in one of the most endearing films of the past few decades—chooses to say it, that’s fine. But let’s leave it up to him, OK?

“Art from the Heartland 2014”
April 11-June 8
Indianapolis Art Center

$2,500 in awards—and a future solo exhibition—are up for grabs in this biennial regional event.

Heather Styka
April 19
Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis

Chicago-based singer/songwriter Heather Styka made a strong impression at the Phoenix Theatre in 2012’s “Forever Sung.” Here, she returns with her own material for a concert in the Indy Folk Series.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Picture This”
May 1-4
Indianapolis Museum of Art

DK pairs pieces from its repertoire, both inspired by paintings, for its season-closer in the IMA’s Tobias Theatre. The first, “Jimson Weed,” takes its name from Georgia O’Keefe’s work. The second was sparked by Theodore Roszak’s “Girl at the Piano: Recording Sound.”

“War Requiem”
May 3
Palladium

Start with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, add in the power of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, mix in the Butler University Chorale, top with the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus, and you have a stage overflowing with talent at the service of Benjamin Britten’s stirring piece about war and peace.

Black Violin
May 4
Warren Performing Arts Center

Bach plus a turntable? The talents behind Black Violin proudly announce that their concerts are more like parties, and for them that means a mix of hip-hop and classical that actively encourages dancing in the aisles.

“Anything Goes”
May 9-10
Hilbert Circle Theatre

The cast has yet to be announced, but if the concert version of the Cole Porter smile-fest is on par with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Hairspray” or “Guys and Dolls,” then expect big, big fun and big, brassy music.

Broad Ripple Art Fair
May 17-18
Indianapolis Art Center

It’s too early for details, but for 22,000 annual visitors, the details aren’t all that important. What’s known is that this juried art fair features plenty of live music, opportunities to create in the IAC studios, and a chance to find out from arts organizations what they have in store for 2014/2015.

Joshua Bell and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
June 5
Hilbert Circle Theatre

The violin virtuoso—and IU alumnus—helps close out the ISO’s downtown season with a performance of Sibelius’ “Concerto in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra.” Also on the bill: Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9 in E. Minor” (aka “From the New World”).

“The Book of Mormon”
June 17-22
Murat Theatre

Yes, it’s as outrageous—perhaps more so—than you’ve heard. It’s also surprisingly sweet, packed with terrific songs, and very, very funny. Still early in its national tour, expect an uncompromised production when the Tony Award-winning Best Musical closes out the Broadway in Indianapolis season.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s “La Casa Azul”
June 27-28
The Tarkington

In an ambitious, end-of-the-season move, the contemporary dance company offers a world premiere, including original music by Hancock and lyricist Kate Ayers. Based on the life of artist Frida Kahlo, it includes GHDT dancers plus guest artists.

Eclectic Pond’s “The Wars of the Roses”
Summer
Irvington Lodge

And I thought NoExit’s “Oedipus” trilogy was ambitious. Eclectic Pond throws down a gutsy gauntlet with eight one-hour versions of Shakespeare’s history cycle beginning with “Richard II,” traveling through the Henries and ending with “Richard III.” And, yes, there will be a day when you can see all eight in a row.

Eyebrow Raisers
Adventurous patrons alert

Here are a few oddities from the season lineups that also may be worthy of attention.

“Are There More of You?”
Sept. 19
Schrott Center

Butler University for years has been bringing top-notch international theater talent to town to work with its students. The rest of us benefit when those artists offer the non-academic public a look at their work. In this case, writer/actor/director Alison Skilbeck offers up her acclaimed one-woman/four-character festival favorite.

“Art vs. Art: The Main Event”
Sept. 27
The Vogue

Brace yourself for this one-of-a-kind, created-in-Indiana event that pits, as the title says, art vs. art. Popular vote moves each work up in the bracket or sends it to the crowd for auction. If it’s not bought, it suffers a fate dictated by the Wheel of Death. Not for the culturally faint of heart.

“An Iliad”
Oct. 16-Nov. 16
Indiana Repertory Theatre

The IRT isn’t staging its Going Solo festival this year. But that doesn’t mean it’s eschewing the one-person show. In this one, you hear Homer’s epic tale—at least, as the title article implies, a version of it—performed by a single actor. And, if everything goes right, you’ll experience one of the world’s oldest tales of war in a way you can’t by watching even the biggest-budgeted movies.

Three Dollar Bill Holiday Show
Dec. 13-21
Indy Fringe Building

The irreverent sketch comedy tribe behind “Schoolhouse Wrong” sold out its “Fancy Shmancy Razzle Dazzle Hoity Toity Black Tie (optional) Christmas Affair Show” last season. It promises to return with a new show—and a shorter title.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Jan. 10-26
Hedback Theatre

The scrappy community theater tries its hand at, for me, one of the smartest, funniest, edgiest, most movingly outrageous musicals of the last 20 years.

“Tarantino in Concert”
Feb. 15
Clowes Hall

No, the director of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” won’t be singing in this show. But songs that helped fuel his movies—including “You Never Can Tell,” “Baby It’s You,” and “Son of a Preacher Man”—are included in the mix.

“One Slight Hitch”
April 18-May 28
Theatre on the Square

Curmudgeonly comic Lewis Black is among the last people I’d expect to pen a play about wacky goings-on at a 1980s wedding. When Theatre on the Square offers the local premiere of this recent play, we’ll find out whether Black has adjusted his acidity for this comedy or tempered the formula with his world view.

“Middletown”
April TBA
Location TBA

Sorry about the uncertainties, but with its site-specific bent, NoExit Performance often knows what it wants to do months in advance but not always where and exactly when. That’s OK. Because it’s unlikely that any other company in town would confront audiences in the way NoExit has historically done—and the way Will Eno does in his play about small-town life.

“Hamlet”
June/July
Location TBA

Acting Up Productions, which staged a fun “Twelfth Night” last season, ambitiously takes a shot at “Hamlet” this time, with the twist of having a woman, local Shakespeare vet Lauren Briggeman, playing the lead. Oh, and it’s set during a U.S. presidential election.


Talking Points
Want to get an arts conversation started?

As we enter the 2013-2014 season, I asked a cross section of arts professionals, patrons and philanthropists which questions they hope will be answered in the coming year. Here’s what they said.

• Will the orangutan habitat at the Indianapolis Zoo live up to expectations?

• Is the Indianapolis Museum of Art done with its staff changes and cuts? What impact will CEO Charles Venable have on programming?

• With its new team in place, will the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra be able to develop a plan for long-term stability?

• Will the pre-show banter at the Indiana Repertory Theatre be as fun without Managing Director Steven Stolen, who resigned to join Rocketship Education?

• Will there be a thinning of the herd of small theater companies? Will we see more efforts to combine design/tech and marketing/PR for these groups?

• Will the shifting politics in Carmel affect the health of the resident companies at the Center for the Performing Arts?

• Will the Indianapolis Star’s addition of a new arts writer mean reviews returning to the paper?

• What impact will the on-the-way Washington Street art gallery have on the downtown scene?

• What will the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in October determine to be the best use of Old City Hall? And will anyone listen?

• Will Indianapolis arts patrons, donors, audiences and performers finally demand the city of Indianapolis build a world-class arts facility downtown?


For the Young at art
Kids are patrons, too

Just because you’ve spawned children doesn’t mean your arts and entertainment choices have to suffer. There are plenty of promising options this season targeted to kids that also have the potential to please parents.

Curiosity Fair
Sept. 14-15
Conner Prairie

New on the Conner Prairie lineup, this celebration of the inquisitive includes hands-on science and technology areas—which might not sound very Conner Prairie-ish unless you’ve been there recently and have seen the transformation of the interior exhibition spaces.

The Wiggles
Sept. 20
Murat Theatre

The Beatles of the under-6 set return.

Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House
Oct. 10-31
Children’s Museum

This volunteer-run Indianapolis staple celebrates its 50th year. That means many who visited the first haunted house as preteens are now approaching retirement age.

Pixar in Concert
Oct. 27
Clowes Hall

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra leads an animated concert of music from the Pixar film library. Film clips, of course, accompany the sounds.

“Frogz”
March 7-8
The Tarkington

Acrobatics, mime, dance and creative costumes combine in the show that helped launch Montreal-based Imago Theatre. Yes, performers play frogs. Plus penguins. And alligators. And a cat trapped in a giant paper bag. It’s part of an impressive lineup of family shows at the Center for the Performing Arts that promise more theatrical creativity than most of what passes for adult touring theater these days.

Cashore Marionettes
March 22-23
The Tarkington

Everyday life is the prime subject of this remarkable company of puppeteers, who take audiences on an emotional journey set to classical music. Sound stiff? The preview alone is enough to bring tears.

“Terra Cotta Warriors”/“Take Me There: China”
May 10-November
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Considering how in debt we are to China, the least you can do is check out this pair of exhibitions. The first brings 10 to 12 of the famed statues to town, surrounding them with hands-on activities including an exploration of the science of paint. The latter re-creates Chinese buildings and environments—including a Shaolin Temple—for performances, lessons in Kung Fu basics, and more.

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  • Indy Acoustic Web address
    Sorry...should have included this with regard to the Indy Acoustic Cafe Series www.IndyAcousticCafeSeries.com for info/purchase tickets.
  • Nicely done Lou and...
    Great list here...thanks for putting it all in one place, Lou...while I am at it, let me toot the horn (again) for my favorite series in Indy...Mark Butterfield's Indy Acoustic Cafe Series, shows normally at the Wheeler Center for the Performing Arts in Fountain Square (bigger profile artists such as Shaun Mullins or Paul Thorn play at the Hedback)...17 years running, hosting 3 shows before Xmas with more to be added...Ellis Paul, who is one of America's best acoustic performers (chosen by Nora Guthrie to write music to lyrics Woody left behind) is first up Sept. 14, Acoustic Blues master Brooks Williams is October 19th, and Nashville's Michael Johnson is November 16th. (Disclaimer: I have no connection to the promoter other than I go to the shows, and he is a great guy...Mark is a music business insider who brings great, if sometimes not well known talent to Indy. Highly recommended). Also recommended...Will Hoge at the Grand Kellersaal Ballroom November 7th (he is terrific live, and you are about to hear his new single more than you want to, as it is the background music for the 2014 Chevy Silverado commercial...)...and how about October 17th at the Vogue?...Evan Dando (formerly Lemonheads), Soul Asylum, and the wonderful Fountains of Wayne...nice triple bill. Again Lou, thanks for keeping everyone posted on all the great events happening in Indy.

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