You-review-it Monday

June 4, 2012
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For me, the weekend included a First Friday gallery trek and a trip down Beef & Boards' Yellow Brick Road.

I also read playwright Frank D. Gilroy's memoir "Writing for Love and/or Money," which made me want to read his play "The Subject Was Roses" again (or, better yet, see it) and to rewatch his charming independent film "The Gig." (There was also a stage musical version of "The Gig" kicking around a few years back, but to my knowledge it hasn't been performed around here).

What about you? What did you hear, see or otherwise experience, arts-wise, this weekend?

  • Go Ape at Eagle Creek Park
    This is a blast. Two long zip lines, over water and thru the trees, a Tarzan rope swing 40 feet in the air, rope bridges. Absolutely brilliant!
  • The tired old yellow brick road
    I also caught the Wizard of Oz at B&B last week. It's not a year in Indianapolis without some local production of The Wizard of Oz. *sigh*
  • Violin Wall to Wall
    On Wednesday night I attended Bella Hristova's Violin recital at the Studio Theater across the green from the Palladium, where Michael Bolton was drawing a slightly larger audience. She and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute played a varied and interesting program. The first work was Robert Schumann's Sonata in A minor, and I was immediately struck by her energy and connection to the music without ever sounding the least bit harsh, even in the intimate space. This was a masterful performance. The second work was one that was written for the Indianapolis Violin Competition a few years ago by Joan Tower titled String Force. For violin alone, it gave the soloist a lot of room for interpretation and featured extremes of dynamics. The first half closed with a work by one of my favorite composers that I was hearing for the first time, Leos Janacek's Sonata for Violin and Piano. It was a wonderful performance of a most agreeable work. After intermission was the Brahms Sonata in G, a large scale masterpiece that showed the depth of musicianship and glowing sound that the Bulgarian violinist possessed. She is an Indiana University graduate who studied with Jaime Laredo.
    Saturday night was the final performance of the ISO with Music Director Urbanski of the season. The opening work was the intense and dissonant Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki, a composer with whom the conductor shared both a first name and a national heritage. As usual, Urbanski conducted without score, bringing lots of emotion and demanding huge dynamic extremes from the string section. For the first time in my experience, the bass section was at the back of the orchestra, and I must admit I did not hear them as well as in the usual setup with the basses to the right. The second violins were moved to the right, opposite the firsts, and this presented a couple of problems with rhythmic precision, but did allow for separation of sound during antiphonal passages. Joshua Bell played a wonderful Brahms Violin Concerto, and Urbanski followed him brilliantly. Bell wrote the first movement cadenza, and it was memorable both in construction and in execution. He really captured the breadth necessary for Brahms, and added to the work without resorting to technical fireworks, which suit many works well but not Brahms. The Hungarian dance inspired finale was especially exhilarating, and the big audience gave a warm ovation. Bell responded with a solo encore in Vieuxtemps' Souvenir d'Amerique, which prominently featured variations on Yankee Doodle.
    The second half of the concert consisted of an expansive and glowing performance of Beethoven's Third Symphony, the Eroica. Urbanski gave a straight forward version of the first movement, letting Beethoven's gigantic development section speak for itself and not giving in to the overwrought tempo shifts that are often heard. The second movement, a funeral march, was where he molded the emotion effectively, really setting off the minor main theme with the major key episodes that follow. This was a brilliant performance of one of the greatest and most beloved of classical works. I assume that the first oboist on the Beethoven was one of the finalists for the open Principal Oboe chair, and she had a lush and beautiful tone at all dynamics with superior intonation and breadth of sound. Again the basses were a bit hard to hear from the front of the main level, but it was nice to have the timpani moved closer to the front of the stage.
    What an incredible year this has been for violin performances, with Hilary Hahn's fantastic recital and the chance to hear Joshua Bell both at the Palladium playing the Beethoven Concerto and with the ISO in the Brahms.
  • The Drowsy Chaperone
    I saw an opening weekend performance of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Buck Creek Playhouse. What a hilariously fun production. The set, costumes, and especially the talented cast deserved the standing ovation they received at the end!
  • disclosure
    When you directed the show you are praising, don't you think it appropriate for you to disclose that fact?
  • Not HIding
    I wasn't trying to hide anything, Lou. It seems that the only way to get any amateur theater listed in your column is to list it ourselves.
    • hiding
      You posted a rave of a show without indicating that you directed it. Do you really think that that isn't deceptive? As a theater artist in this town--and as an audience member--you are most welcome to comment on blog posts here. I just ask that you state your affiliation when commenting--and that you not review your own work.

      And to your other point: The very nature of You-review-it Monday is that audience members can comment on anything they've seen, amateur, pro, or in between.

      As to my own writing on the blog and in print, yes, most of what I cover is professional work. But I've gone beyond that many times in previews and reviews--including to your theater. And I'll continue to do so.

      Thanks for reading,

      • Thanks
        Great - thanks for the clarification. I did mention the work of others, if you will notice...not my own direction. I mentioned my set designer, costumer, and my hardworking actors because I thought that they deserved praise, not because I was tooting my own horn. I think you have made a mountain out of a molehill with this one. I would definitely love for you to come back to the playhouse. It has been four years since we have been mentioned in IBJarts, and would welcome you with open arms. Media support of community theater in Indianapolis has gone downhill significantly since Gannett bought the Indy Star. Small community theaters unfortunately do not have the budgets to purchase advertising in order to be catered to by reviewers.

        My post was simply a quick note to get word out about our production. Sorry you interpreted as something else.
        • further clarification
          I still think a few things are unclear for you. Hope this helps:
          First, this forum was created for audience members to talk about the work they see. Regardless of whether or not you touted your own contribution, you still praised a work you were directly involved in without identifying that fact. It's like setting up a blind date for a friend with "the most wonderful, gorgeous, fun guy in the world" without disclosing the fact that he's your brother.
          Second--your most recent post implies that the purchasing of advertising influences editorial here at IBJ. I can tell you for certain that it does not. To state otherwise is an attack on my integrity at that of this paper. When you buy ad space at IBJ, you buy ad space, not editorial attention.
          All that being said, I appreciate the fact that, unlike many involved in community theater, you invite critical commentary rather than just promotion. I've always thought of Buck Creek as a theater that has the guts to bring to the area some shows that aren't available anywhere else locally (Still sorry I missed "Gray Gardens" but glad I saw "Parade"). I'll take a look at your 12/13 season and see what looks interesting. I hope to visit soon.

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