IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Myth-busting the Indy arts scene

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

In a meeting recently, the subject of Beef & Boards Dinner Theater came up and a co-worker commented that the food there was “terrible.”

“Myth,” I responded, and as I launched into a defense, I realized this was just one of many myths circling around the Indy arts and entertainment world. Time, I thought, to do some myth-busting:

Myth: The food is lousy at Beef & Boards.

No, it’s not gourmet. But I’ve never gone hungry or unsatisfied before a show at Beef & Boards, one of the few remaining professional dinner theaters in the country. Chef Odell Ward’s buffet could certainly use some more veggies on the salad bar (some cucumber, perhaps?), but the breads have gotten an upgrade, the meat is still freshly carved, and the multiple entrée options have always added up to a meal as good as that served at your average family dining restaurant.

My co-worker also thought B&B was expensive. That’s a relative thing, of course, but consider that last season the cheapest adult ticket to a Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre show was $26 and at Actors Theatre of Indiana, it was $40. For a B&B evening—with dinner—the cheapest was $37. Plus tip, of course.

Myth: There is nothing worthwhile culturally on the south side.

I heard this one almost as soon as I set foot in Indianapolis for the first time. But those who say this ignore the fact that there’s a steady stream of musicians (jazz, classical and more), and visual artists showcased—many for free—at the University of Indianapolis. UIndy has the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra as its ensemble-in-residence, has an impressive faculty artist series, and is home to the Kellogg Writers Series.

And that’s all before we get to the activities at Garfield Park Arts Center or venues southwest, such as Tibbs Drive-in.

Myth: All movies based on Kurt Vonnegut books are awful.

Granted, it’s difficult to sit through the film versions of “Slapstick” or “Breakfast of Champions.” But that doesn’t mean our brightest literary son’s appearance as himself in Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School” is the only worthwhile bit of Vonnegut on celluloid. Two of the best are 1972’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and the 1982 Christopher Walken/Susan Sarandon short based on Vonnegut’s “Who Am I This Time?”

Myth: In the summer, all movie theaters here show the same thing.

Yes, come summer, even the Keystone Art Cinema leans toward the latest Hollywood blockbusters—or Hollywood would-be blockbusters. But you can find more creative programming at the wonderfully retro Artcraft Theatre in Franklin (including, in July, “On the Town” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and at relative newcomer IU Cinema in Bloomington. Which brings us to ...

Myth: Bloomington, West Lafayette and Muncie are far, far away.

You have yourself to blame if you don’t have IU, Purdue and Ball State on your cultural radar. And you won’t be in the car for much more than an hour, depending on your departure point. All three offer programming in dance, theater, music and more that are great supplements to your arts diet here. Not only is there student and faculty work and a steady flow of touring activity at the universities’ respective auditoriums, but home-grown productions abound, including professional local theater from Cardinal Stage in Bloomington. That’s why I regularly include these nearby choices on my weekly A&E priority list and annual season preview.

Myth: Jenny De Voe plays at every festival in Indianapolis.

No, not all of them. But any festival is upgraded by her musical presence.

Myth: The Carmel Symphony Orchestra consists of amateur musicians.

Say that to the face of Larry Shapiro, the CSO’s concertmaster and a professor of music at Butler University, who toured as a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Or bass trombonist Jason Sulliman, who teaches workshops and clinics around the country. Or any of many other accomplished musicians who play for the Palladium’s resident orchestra.

Myth: All the best theater in the area happens in the professional theaters.

As a rule, I don’t go to many community theater productions. There’s just too much else to see and, honestly, the odds of quality are usually better with the pros. But that doesn’t mean civic or professionally managed theaters in the area don’t sometimes produce a show that holds its own with the big boys. Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s “Drowsy Chaperone” and Theatre on the Square’s “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” are two that come happily to mind.

Myth: Everything in the Broadway series comes from Broadway

Not always. The Broadway in Indianapolis series is usually anchored by the national tours of Broadway productions, but sometimes we get non-union follow-up tours (see last season’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Fiddler on the Roof”). These productions aren’t automatically of lesser quality—and sometimes these lower-budget productions are the only version of a Broadway show on the road—but the talent usually doesn’t have the credentials of those in the Equity companies and often the design cutbacks show. For the record, the upcoming Broadway in Indianapolis season offers a more-than-usual lineup of first-run Broadway fare, including “Billy Elliot” and “Sister Act.” But by the time we get “West Side Story” in June 2013, it will be a non-Equity tour.

Myth: ComedySportz does only “family friendly” shows.

Yes, the bread and butter at the Mass Ave comedy haven are shows for all ages where audience members get a brown-bag foul if they so much as utter a suggestive word. But on select weekends, after-hours shows, including the current “Oz—Unscripted,” are available for those who don’t mind more colorful language and topics.

On the other hand, there’s the myth that …

Myth: Everything at the Phoenix Theatre and Theatre on the Square is “edgy.”

Let’s hope the Phoenix and TOTS never shy away from boundary expansion or from presenting work that other theaters might shy away from. That’s a core part of their strengths. But last season’s “Forever Sung” at the Phoenix and “Working” at TOTS show clearly that envelopes aren’t always pushed at these two Mass-Ave-area mainstays.

Myth: It’s all cheese and crackers at the First Friday gallery openings.

If you think that, you’ve never sampled the spread at a Harrison Center opening.•

__________

Have another myth you’d like busted? Add a comment after the online version of this story at www.ibj.com/arts.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Yay for Comedy Sportz
    Great article...and nice nod to Comedy Sportz!
  • Thank you!
    Thank you, Lou, for "busting" some of these old myths! Someone definitely needed to! Loved your piece...and your opinions!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

  3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{grouponfunding@hotmail.com}

  4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

  5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {frankloancompany@yahoo.com} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{ Frankloancompany@yahoo.com} for help

ADVERTISEMENT