You-review-it Monday

November 23, 2009
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For me, it was no-contest between a spunky Roxie and an creepy Velma in the tour of "Chicago" at the Murat. Meanwhile, a well-grounded, believable Mimi proved more compelling than her boisterous buddies in Indianapolis Opera's well-sung, well-played "La Boheme."

And then there were two viewings of Pike High School's "Guys and Dolls," which reminded me once again how important high school musicals are not just to their players but to the audience as well.

Such was my weekend. How about yours?

What music, movies, theater, art, dance or books did you experience?

  • Rhythm!
    I took my 16 month old son to the Rhythm! Discovery Center. We had a great time. The Gong, Gong Drum, interactive percussion area, and the old Paramount Theatre organ were all huge hits.

    This is a wonderful new resource and addition to downtown.
  • weekend
    Started by trying to see Precious with my teenage daughter Friday night. Forty-five minutes in, she ran from the theater sobbing. The story and its graphic depictions were way too much for her, and terribly unsettling for me as well.

    Lightened the mood with a far more frivolous take on domestic violence: Chicago. (This sounds more flip than I'm intending it to. Just an observation that similar subject matter can be presented to inspire vastly different audience outcomes.) Anyway, loved the show - and I'll take the firely little red-headed Roxie over a marquee blond (Melanie Griffith on Broadway) any day. Very entertaining, although disappointing that the matinee yesterday was less than 1/3 full...and all the people who bought the cheap seats decided to fill in the rows in front of us, obstructing our view.
  • Weekend
    My weekend included going and seeing "Hairbangers Ball" at The vogue on Friday. If you are into 80's cover bands, this one is pretty good. I spent the time with friends jammin to the music and will go again next year.
  • Chicago
    Went to Chicago on Saturday night and loved it! Thought that the cast did a great job. Both the singing & dancing were excellent.
  • Billy Elliott, White Christmas and Girl Crazy
    My wife and I just returned from a wonderful weekend in New York City where we saw three fabulous productions.

    First, we went to see WHITE CHRISTMAS at the beautiful Marquis Theatre, and the special holiday production, right on Times Square, did not disappoint. This was a bit of research on my part as I will be directing the Beef & Boards production in 2010. The next night we went to the Imperial Theatre to see the Tony award winning BILLY ELLIOTT.

    Selfishly I have been looking forward to seeing this show, because it has Indianapolis area connections. The little girl who played Annie for me last summer at Beef & Boards, Kara Oates, is now one of the ballet girls in this Broadway production. She is so perfectly awesome in the show and the production is worthy of all it's hype. Wow.

    Finally, I had the special treat of seeing GIRL CRAZY in the New York City Center Encores series. The NYCity Center is huge, and was packed to the brim with subscribers enthusiastically watching the show. The George and Ira Gershwin 1930 show was done in concert style with the orchestra on stage. Minimal set and lights, but fully and beautifully costumed. The actors carried binders, but never referenced them. I have been involved with two seperate productions of CRAZY FOR YOU, and it was really interesting to see the show from which C4U came from. The Gershwin music carries any show, but it makes sense to me that Girl Crazy was reworked into C4U, because the 1930 book is light and does not hold up very well in 2009. It starred Ana Gasteyer (SNL and Wicked), Wayne Knight (Seinfeld's Newman) and Becki Newton (Amanda on tv's Ugly Betty). Gasteyer has an amazing belt voice, Wayne Knight was his usual funny self and I was really suprised by the beautiful voice of Becki Newton. It was a lovely production.

    I am now looking forward to all of the Christmas shows going on in town. We are planning to take in as many as possible.
  • La Boheme was amazing!
    We did see La Boheme on Friday night --- what a wonderful production! The sets were spectacular, the voices were killer, and the entire evening was just great. I went with a first-timer to the opera, and he loved it. It was a great start to the weekend. Indianapolis is lucky to have a spectacular opera company and such talented individuals, from the singers to the orchestra. I hope that the city continues to support such an outstanding organization.
    • 2 shows and a book
      I loved the sexy-funny "Chicago" at the Murat, too. Velma WAS deliciously creepy, wasn't she! That is the perfect word, Lou - one that eluded me when I was trying to describe her on my own blog.

      I also, for different reasons, loved "The Curse of the Starving Class," by Sam Shepard. It was directed by Gregory Howard and presented at the Indy Fringe building. It is a chewy, three-act play for adults about a dysfunctional family that loses its farm, so I guess it doesn't get produced very often. But it is more relevant today than ever, and I didn't realize that this playwright was so poetic. Also, Gail Bray rocks as the mother. Anyway, for a number of reasons, I am glad I got to see this piece. It has one more weekend - not this coming weekend, but the first weekend in December.

      I also made it about halfway through Stephen King's new 1074-page novel, UNDER THE DOME. I borrowed it from my local public library.

      I still love the play "Midwestern Hemisphere," by Lou Harry, and I am very glad I got to experience that first. However, I also have to agree with a librarian friend who said, "Stephen King's writing is (I imagine) as addictive as crack" and "You don't want to carry around his hefty new bestseller, but you don't want to put it down, either."

      Hope Baugh
      Indy Theatre Habit
    • Chicago
      I too caught Chicago at Murat - 2nd row - WOW! Choreography is pure Fosse at his best and this touring company carried off the sharp movements perfectly. The signing was spectacular. I want to point out the poignant rendition of Mr. Cellophane. Not an all out show stopper, but one of the more deeply emotional songs of the show. Kudos also to Tom Wopat for his Billy Flynn portrayal.
    • La Boheme
      I saw La Boheme and I have to say I agree with you, Lou, Mimi was the biggest treat of the night.

      I also visited Midland Arts & Antiques for the first time ever. I really enjoyed looking around, especially the mid-century items.
    • La Boheme
      We saw La Boheme on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed it very much. It's no wonder that this opera is one of the most popular in the world. Mimi's death scene wasn't quite as melodramatic as some (and that's part of the fun of opera) but O'Flynn's performance was quite delicious nonetheless.
    • Continued support, Jen?
      Let's just hope the city stops CUTTING its support for arts and culture before it's too late for Indianapolis to avoid turning into Detroit!
    • Stop dissing Detroit!
      As I prepare to head to Detroit for the Thanksgiving weekend, I would ask that people stop associating Detroit with everything negative.

      The city has a great arts and cultural community - including an art museum, symphony orchestra, opera company and a host of great theaters. (The Fox and The Gem come to mind.) Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in suburban Dearborn team up to be a fantastic living history museum.

      The city has its fair share of problems, but since City Hall is now populated by a mayor (Dave Bing) who has Detroit's interest at heart and not his own, maybe they can begin to turn around some of their problems.

      So, I agree - stop cutting support for the arts; but do it so that Indianapolis can be a better place to live, not to avoid becoming worse than some other city.
      • Apology to Detroit
        I apologize. It's almost become a stereotype to view Detroit in a negative light. You are right, there are many first-class cultural attractions there. Mea culpa!

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