You-review-it Monday

June 8, 2009
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So what did you do this weekend?

From "Janis Rocks" at Birdy's to the Indianapolis Symphony's "Pictures at an Exhibition" to "Wicked" at the Murat, there was a lot to do. 

I caught "Wicked" on Thursday (review coming up next week in the print IBJ) and spent Friday evening at the glorious Liz Callaway concert at the Connoisseur Room, following that with a trip through "Installation Nation" in an empty lot on College Ave.

On Saturday, I had a blast playing softball with many of the Colts, a couple of Pacers, and some local TV folks at Victory Field  in a benefit for the Indiana Children's Wish Fund. (If you don't think this qualifies as A&E, you should have seen my comical throw to first base after forcing out an opponant at second.)

Sunday afternoon was spent with Dance Kaleidoscope, whose "Rite of Spring" program felt more like an appetizer than an entree, thanks to a first act devoted to what was labeled "Class: A Lecture Demonstration of the Martha Graham Technique."

I'm all for education, but the material felt targeted at a middle school level ("These are called 'leaps'") and would have been better suited to a pre-show bonus rather than taking up half the bill. The intention was good and noble, but I felt cheated out of seeing half a DK program. I may have been a bit more tolerant if the after-intermission "Rite of Spring" was more inspiring and engaging. Watching the warm-ups helped me see the work, but I missed the magic.

So what did you see, hear or do since the end of the last work week?
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  • Attended the 2:00 Saturday performance of Wicked...it was wonderful, no need to say more about that. Just a review for the Murat - how about a little more A/C when the house is over packed (chairs-in-the-aisles packed)? It was really uncomfortably hot and everyone fanning their programs was annoying - myself included!
  • I headed up to Chicago to see Jersey Boys and it was FABULOUS!!! Tying in the story with music from the Four Season and Frankie Valli was a true delight!! Can't wait to see the production when it comes to Indy!!

    This upcoming weekend is Zoobilation and Berlin at the ISO! What a true treasure the ISO is for Indy!!
  • Sunday's at the Rathskeller this summer!

    This has to be one of the best deals in town. Last night kicked-off the Rathskeller, summer concert series on Sunday nights. $3 cover.

    I know this sounds like a commercial, but honestly I'm just a live music fan. Watching it outdoors on a nice summer evening... you can't get better than that in Indy!

    The Rathskeller has live music lined up for June and July on Sunday nights. Last night featured contemporary pianist Michael Kirkendoll. It was the first time I experienced contemporary piano and what a treat!

    Next week they have live from Jamaica - Gullibanque!
    Check out the summer schedule at: http://www.rathskeller.com/events.htm

    What a perfect way to finish the weekend!
  • I was among the nearly 500 people attending one of the final concerts ever by the Guarneri String Quartet that was at the Christel DeHaan Center and presented by Ensemble Music. Gracefully articulated Haydn, lush and warm tones of Kodaly and the Ravel Quartet so wonderful it made you feel you were in a painting by Monet. Post concert was like a rock concert: all the CD's sold out in minutes and people lined the room to get them autographed. What a spectacular event.
  • Took in two special events this weekend. Saturday matinee of Wicked, which I have not seen before. Production value was great, performances were fine, but the book just did not grab me at all. Music isn't memorable, story line seems trite--whereas Wizard of Oz was immensely imaginative!

    Then Saturday evening at the early show performance of Liz Calloway at Cabaret at the Connoisseur Room. Disclaimer--I am the chair of the board of American Cabaret Theatre, so I am not unbiased. But I thought Calloway was superb--to bring a great stage voice into the intimate cabaret setting is a challenge. Her choice of music was eclectic, fun, surprising--showcasing the range of her talent but actually coming across as a true gift to the audience. I mean, who do you ever hear singing Frank Mills from Hair--one of my all-time favorite campy songs?

    Liz Calloway is a gracious woman as well as a fine performer, and she made everyone feel that she was truly happy to be in Indy and entertaining us. Kudos once again to Shannon Forsell for producing an awesome season of national talent interspersed with the best of our locals!
  • Lou!
    Hey, old co-hort...
    I read you column religiously and with great interest. love the things folks write.
    No longer in the mainstream media, I've found an outlet willing to abide by my hearing disabilty, while feeding my passion for pets.
    This weekend I traveled with a producer to the Katrina pet resuce story, a documentary soon to come to Indy.
    This volunteer work for ...www.petpalstv.com (blatant plug) has awakened me to the best and worst in people..and it's great.
    Continue your fine work..no one covers local entertainment anymore, but you. So I love reading your 'stuff'! plus the comment from intelligent readers...you have many!
    Patty Spitler
  • For me the weekend included attending Vintage Indiana on Saturday and savoring the wines from wineries from the farther corners of the state. I was very pleased to see that many of the wineries opted for larger booth spaces allowing for much less crowding and more time to taste all of the offerings and not just one or two at each booth. I was very impressed with Winzerwald's Little Rhineland Red and Schweizer Spice. The big surprise at Vintage was the addition of 1-year old Best Winery. They have an ambitious name to live up to and from what I tasted, they certainly are on the right track. I hope to see and taste more from Best at future events.

    On Sunday, we took my husband's little sister to see Annie. While I am personally somewhat tired of this old show, it was great to see it through the eyes of someone totally unfamiliar to the show and its history. This is only her third live performance experience, the other two being Civic Theatre's Wizard of Oz and the Children's Theatre's Anne Frank demonstration - both of which we took her to last year. I was impressed by the talented young cast, however, and found myself singing the songs throughout the afternoon - that is, until the Tony's started.

    I am sure the fact that I wore my HAIR T-shirt all day Sunday was of absolutely no consequence, but I was still thrilled to see the tribe take best revival last night. I was also happy to see the three Billys win for Billy Elliot and that the show took the top prize for best musical. Wish I had time to have seen Billy when I was in NYC, but getting to see 3 Tony-nominated shows out of the 4 we saw in one weekend was pretty good odds for us.
  • After covering a conference for work in SE Indiana for three days, I was very much looking forward to see Grey Gardens with a friend on Sunday (my day off) and was not disappointed!
    Not knowing hardly anything about the Broadway interpretation/version beforehand (other than a chance hearing of the song with the lyrics And that's Grey Gardens from a cat's eye view), and having never attended a Buck Creek Players show, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.
    But as a fan of the documentary of a cousin and aunt of Jackie O, and recent HBO docudrama starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie, I couldn't help but laugh at the tongue in cheek lyrics based on quotes from the 1970s film starring a very co-dependent mother and daughter.
    The smallish cast and limited set changes between the first and second act make it the perfect show for a community theatre, and like another commenter, I was pleasantly surprised by the talent of the actors. I hope other community theatres in Indy will consider it for future seasons.
    Three more shows: June 12, 13 and 14 -- I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different, even those unfamiliar with the real Beale mother and daughter duo.
    www.buckcreekplayers.com
  • I made it to Louisville Thursday for Spring Awakening. An incredible show, too bad Indy will have to wait even longer to get it.

    Friday I went to Cincy for CincyFringe. I saw a bizarre only at the Fringe type show by a trio of guys from the UK. The better news was the 7(x1) Samuri, which is coming to IndyFringe in August was a sell out hit and critics pick. As was Sex, Dreams and Self Control which comes this weekend to the Fringe Building for a special Pride weekend showing.
    Dan Bernit and Les Kurkendal, two past IndyFringe solo performers teamed up for another sellout. They will both be returning to IndyFringe as well, albeit in separate shows. Plenty to look forward to in August!
  • Decided to take advantage of the weekend’s spectacular evening weather by seeing two concerts (actually six, counting warm-up bands!) at Verizon Wireless Music Center. Coldplay's show on Friday night was ASTONISHINGLY good - a fabulous production from top to bottom. I don’t know how anybody could attend a Coldplay concert and not become an instant fan. There was a lot of audience involvement (think “cell phone light wave”), and it was easy to get lost in the magic of the evening. Chris Martin is one amazing performer – versatile, energetic beyond belief, funny and sincerely GRATEFUL for the audience. He referred to us as “Indianans” at the beginning, and then was sweet and humble later when he confessed he had neglected to learn in advance the right term for our “collective group.” I’m not sure he lost anyone with the slip, but he certainly endeared himself with the apology. To top it off, everybody got a free sampler CD (with 9 live tracks including Viva La Vida) as we left. What a generous spirit these guys have.

    The Rascal Flatts concert on Saturday was a huge disappointment to me. While the “production” was impressive, the show fell short on musical substance, and the sound quality was terrible. I heard very little of the old style and beautiful harmony that made me an early fan of these guys. The loud, rock-oriented emphasis of the newer songs (and most of the concert) is not for me.

    However, Darius Rucker (from Hootie & the Blowfish) opened for Rascal Flatts, and listening to him was pure delight. Darius brings a distinctive and fresh voice to the country genre. Ironic that Darius delivered a truer country performance than Rascal Flatts!
  • Saw the Friday night performance of Wicked. The two female leads were outstanding. Some good, some not so good performances by the rest of the cast.

    Overall, big show, big music, big fun. I thought it a little flat after intermission. Was it me, some not so memorable songs, or the heat? The Murat was slightly on the toasty side. For a big venue and $90 a seat -- a little surprising.

    One of those oh, you know that guy moments. The wizard was that guy from Frasier and Raymond...Tom McGowan is it?

    Staging was great, but I'm not sure of the purpose of the pterodactyl or dragon-like creature above the stage. It was no flying monkey. Anyone? Guess it was window dressing to set the mood.
  • For once, Lou, I think you were way off with your review of Dance Kaleidoscope.

    The demonstration of the Martha Graham technique showed how much concentration, fitness and agility is required of the dancers. What other artistic fields require such dedication and mastery? This was not 'middle school stuff at all. Furthermore, it ws intensely beautiful.

    The Rite of Spring portrayed -with gut-wrenching power, thanks to David Hochoy's inventive choreography- the pertinent issues of our time relating to war, sacrifice, gender discrimination and much more. In the estimation of many,this performance took Dance Kaleidoscope to a new level.

    The arts community of Indianapolis will only grow if this type of work is encouraged. We need to be jabbed into thought and reflection. This is precisely what Dance Kaleidoscop eachieved with this production.
  • I have to agree with the disappointed comments about the Murat. Our seats were uncomfortable and had a limited view. It was hot and the woman in the seat next to me was fanning herself with her hat all evening, which affected the view at times, but felt good. The two leads were good singers, but the songs were not as catchy or memorable as I expected them to be. Maybe I was just let down by all the excessive hype. Clearly, from the audience reaction, everyone else loved the show. I enjoyed it, but it just didn't live up to my expectations.

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