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ISO announces all-star musical

August 28, 2008
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For years, other cities have been experiencing the unique pleasures of seeing musicals in concert. In New York, they call it Encores! In L.A., it's Reprise!

Finally, Indianapolis is catching on. And while there is no exclamation-marked name for our version with the cast the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has lined up, excess puncutation isn't needed.

The show, running Oct. 10-12, is "Guys and Dolls." And while the material may be familiar, safe to say it has never been seen in these parts with this credentialed of a cast.

-Gary Beach, from the original companies of "The Producers" and "Beauty and the Beast."

-Ashley Brown, original title star of Broadway's "Mary Poppins."

-Vincent Pastore, aka Salvatore Bonpensiero from TV's "The Sopranos." (I don't have to repeat that character's nickname, do I?)

-Hal Linden, star of TV's "Barney Miller" and Broadway's "The Rothschilds" and "I'm Not Rappaport."

-Hugh Panaro, seen of Broadway in "Side Show," "Phantom of the Opera" and as the title character in the ill-fated Elton John musical "Lestat."

-Megan Lawrence, from "Urinetown" and the recent New York revival of "The Pajama Game."

How can the ISO put together a company like this--one that will be making New Yorkers salivate with jealousy?

Well, the idea behind these in-concert shows is to offer a full musical--only without sets, elaborate costumes, or sometimes even memorized scripts. What you lose in trappings, you gain in musical might, with an on-stage orchestra the size of which no Broadway theater could afford. (And where would they put them if they could?)

Because of the short run and minimal memorization and rehearsal demands, it's easier to assemble a world-class cast.

I'm thrilled that the ISO has added this offering to the mix and hope, if all goes well in October, that we can count on at least one such show a season.

And maybe other theater companies might consider other such shows--as supplemental programming, I would hope, and not as a replacement for full productions.

Your thoughts?
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