Musical revues back at Athenaeum

February 23, 2010
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Indianapolis theater watches will recall the names Bob Harbin and John Austin Butsch from their work at the former American Cabaret Theatre, which up until about a year ago had a long history of staging revues and musicals at the Atheneaum. (Not to be confused with the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, the latest permutation of ACT that is now housed on Monument Circle, where it focuses on presenting cabaret acts).

Harbin and Butsch just announced that they are joining with producer Joyce Licorish to bring musical revues and other entertainment back to the Athenaeum. Their first show, "Classic Soul," featuring the music of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and more is slated to run April 2-11. The cast includes ACT favorite Karlton D. Turner.

Under the company name Bobdirex, Harbin, a former casting V.P. for the Fox Network in Los Angeles, will also be presenting a summer run of the musical comedy "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," beginning July 16. More info here.

With little being heard from some of the small, local companies that have been birthed in Indy over the last few years (HART? Sapphire?), it's good to see some initiative being taken even in these tough economic times.

Here's hoping for engaging productions, satisfied audiences, and a healthy run for the fledgling company.

Your thoughts?

  • Joyce at Fringe Friday
    Great news! Joyce Licorish will be performing this Friday night at the FringeFriday. Accompanied by John Austin Butsch, the selections include music from Dreamgirls, the Color Purple, Aretha and more. The event is free and also features previews of the Theatre Within and IRT's upcoming shows. Feb 26 5:30 - 7:30 @ IndyFringe Theatre.
  • Good news!
    Delighted to hear Bob Harbin and crew will be bringing shows back to the Athenaeum! We always enjoyed their ACT musical performances, and the theatre at the Athenaeum is the perfect venue. Hope they decide to do a holiday show, too.
  • Clarification Please
    Lou, just a clarification for your readers. I am chair of the board of ACT. We are not "the former American Cabaret Theatre." We remain as we have been for more than 15 years, the American Cabaret Theatre, now branded as "The Cabaret at the Columbia Club" where as you noted we present American and European cabaret performers and performances. Thanks for mentioning us again! Best wishes, Barbara Weaver Smith
    • correction
      Ms. Smith,
      Thanks for the clarification. I've edited the original post to reflect it.
      P.S. Next up at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club is Amanda McBroom, offering an evening of Jacques Brel music March 5-6.
    • Location
      Is this in the newly renovated theater that is next to the Rathskellar where there have been several types of show lately?
    • ACT- Weaver Smith
      Barbara - what you do doesn't fall consistent with what American cabaret did in the 90s and early 2000s. Your organization is nothing like the old ACT - Even reviewers have pointed it out. Your tying what is done now to the old ACT that did many original shows is an insult to the artists, staff and creative people involved when it was a thriving organization.

      Jumping in saying "We are the same" is a bit ridiculous at this point.
      • Congrats
        Looking forward to the new show, and wish Weaver Smith the best - It just seems hard to see Weaver Smith discuss consistency when things have changed so much.
      • Not the old ACT
        As someone who has attended shows at both venues, I would have to agree that trying to compare the two organizations is like comparing apples and oranges. Shows at new The Cabaret are not consistent with the old cabaret because they are actually cabaret. While the shows at the old ACT were fine, they were not true cabaret---they were musical revues and book shows. I myself, am glad there is someone doing true cabaret.
      • Thriving Company?
        It is interesting to hear a reader say that the old ACT was "thriving." How could it have been thriving if the company had to shut its doors and start over? Everything I have seen says that the previous company was losing tons of money...I wish the company well, but it seems that they are just doing the same shows that didn't work before. (Motown, Soul)
        • Thriving Company???
          NicoletteM... I'm just reading the comments at face value and from a buisness point of view. You mentioned the "old" ACT could not have been a thriving organization because they had to close their doors. Due to losing tons of money, and the shows not working... But since the board of the "new" ACT is the same as Mrs Smith stated, it doesn't matter the kind of show, if they are following the same failed business practices. Just an observation...

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