A&E PREVIEW: Dozens of events that should be high on your priority list

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The elephant in the room this season is, of course, Carmel’s Palladium, the anchoring concert hall for the Center for the Performing Arts. The problem is, the center won’t be announcing most of its lineup until October.

While this lack of timely information leaves us wondering what more we’ll have on our cultural plate this year, it doesn’t diminish the excitement of what’s happening at existing institutions, as you’ll see in the upcoming pages.

So get your planners out and start circling dates. There’s a lot we do know about the upcoming season. And here are some of my early must-do front-runners.





Art Vs. Art
Sept. 24
The Vogue

Not for the faint of artistic heart, this brutal battle matches up artwork (created at a City Market paint-out on Sept. 11) in a fight to the death. Works that don't find popular approval or don't get purchased at auction are destroyed in a wide range of creative ways. Yes, drinks will be served. Details here.

"Andy Warhol Enterprises"
Oct. 10 to Jan. 2
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Probably the most in-your-face of this season's cultural offerings will be this celebration of the collision between art and consumerism in the works of Andy Warhol. The show will feature 150 original works plus archival materials.

But wait. There's more. Keep an ear out for ancillary events, including an "Andy Warhol: TV Mastermind" discussion with filmmaker Vincent Fremont, the vice president of Andy Warhol Enterprises, and a musical performance called "Most Beautiful … Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests" featuring music ensemble Dean & Britta.

Plus, the show won't be confined to the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The IMA is recruiting a street team to spend time each week in Warhol wigs passing out literature around town. You've been warned. Details here.

"Nikon Small World: Exploring the Beauty of Science"
Oct. 15 to Dec. 12
Indiana State Museum

Microscopic elements are biggie-sized in this touring exhibition featuring work from Nikon's 35th annual competition. Details here.

"Play with Your Food"
Nov. 6
Central Library

"Terry Border: Bent Objects"
Jan. 17 to Feb. 11
CDFAC Art Gallery at the University of Indianapolis

Last year, Terry Border's book "Bent Objects" (Running Press) was an unexpected treat that still has a place on my family room coffee table. Now an exhibit based on the book will be seen in Border's hometown, thanks to the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. He'll also been helping kids create their own food art as part of a Spirit & Place event at the Central Library. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Pixar should be calling any minute. Details here and here.

"Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial"
Feb. 17-May 15
Indianapolis Museum of Art

A highlight of the 2008 Indianapolis International Film Festival was the documentary "Mr. Dial Has Something to Say." Now, two years later, the IMA is showing us exactly what has been on Mr. Dial's artistic mind before and after he was discovered by the outsider art movement.

In the largest retrospective ever of Dial's work, more than 75 works by the self-taught contemporary artist will be featured. Included among the paintings, drawings and found-art sculptures are 25 works that have never been shown publicly before.

One piece will be sticking around after the show leaves: The IMA recently acquired Dial's "Don't Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together" for its permanent collection. Details here.

"Shot by Warhol"
March 1-8
IU Art Museum, Bloomington

If the Indianapolis Museum of Art show isn't enough, consider a road trip to Bloomington, where more than 150 black-and-white photographs will be displayed. Details here.





International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
Sept. 10-26
Various locations

Black tie Opening Ceremonies are Sept. 10. The Gala Awards Ceremony is Sept. 26. And in between, there's lots of great music from violinists traveling here from Russia, Armenia, China, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary and other parts of the United States. It's the eighth quadrennial event for the only North American violin competition recognized by the World Federation of International Music Competitions. Want to cut to the chase? Catch the finals with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Sept. 22-23 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center and Sept. 24-25 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. Details here.

Sibling Revelry
Sept. 17-19
Hilbert Circle Theatre

We've had the pleasure of hearing Broadway great Liz Callaway when she performed at the Cabaret. And we've enjoyed the company of Anne Hampton Callaway when she hosted Yuletide Celebration two years back. Now the two talented sisters return to Indy, together, for a weekend of shows with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Details here.

Itzhak Perlman
Oct. 2
Hilbert Circle Theatre

The legendary violinist who last played with the ISO 25 years ago helps kick off the season at the Opening Night Gala. The program features music by Mozart and Dvorak. Details here.

Max Weinberg Big Band
Oct. 20
The Jazz Kitchen

The E-Street Band drummer, who found new audience via his stint as bandleader for Conan O'Brian's late, lamented show, takes on new challenges with a 15-piece band playing swinging, big band, instrumental jazz. If you've never been to a jazz club, this promises to be a great passport. Details here.

"The Seasons Project"
Oct. 23
Loeb Playhouse, West Lafayette

Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is paired with "The American Violin Concerto no. 2," by Philip Glass, in this performance by the Venice Baroque Orchestra. Robert McDuffie, who commissioned the latter piece, is the featured violin soloist. Details here.

"The Mikado"
Oct. 15, 17
Clowes Hall

Indianapolis Opera's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta makes it into this season after being bumped from the last one (see Talking Points). William Fabris, who directed the Opera's popular "Pirates of Penzance," returns to IO, as does the very busy baritone Robert Orth. Details here.

Liza Minnelli
Oct. 30
Hilbert Circle Theatre

The legendary star of "Cabaret" makes her debut fronting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Argue all you want whether she's still got the voice; she's still Liza. With a Z. Details here.

Contemporary Circuit Concert
Oct. 30
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra is joined by University of Indianapolis faculty soloists and visiting composer William Bolcom for an evening of new works by Bolcom and others. Details here.

John Mellencamp
Nov. 8 at Clowes Hall
Nov. 11 at Hinkle Fieldhouse

You've got two chances to see the Indiana favorite on the first leg of his "No Better Than This Tour." Actually, you've got a third if you want to head down to IU Oct. 29. Details here.

Tokyo String Quartet
Nov. 10
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

The international traveling group stops in for an Ensemble Music Society concert between gigs in Austria and Japan. Details here.

A Holiday Extravaganza with the Leisure Kings
Dec. 3-12
The Cabaret at the Columbia Club

No matter how crowded the holiday A&E season gets, there's always room for another fun, alternative event. This one features the nutcase duo (which has built a reputation for alternative arrangements of popular songs) joined by Red Barron and his 13-piece big band, The Midtown Blowers—including Brent Wallarab and members of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. No matter how frightful the weather turns, this should be delightful. Details here.

Manhattan Transfer and John Pizzarelli
Feb 19
Clowes Hall

The long-standing gold-standard vocal jazz quartet comes to town, with guitarist John Pizzarelli in tow. Matt Pivac, director of Butler's Jazz Ensemble, and Tim Brimmer, director of Jordan Jazz, lead a pre-show chat. Details here.

April 8-16
IU Musical Arts Center

When was the last time you saw the world premiere of a major opera?

Indiana University Opera will present the first-ever production of this opera about Vincent van Gogh with music by Pulitzer-Prize-winner Bernard Rands and libretto by poet and "Yale Review" editor J.D. McClatchy. Details here.

American Pianists Association Jazz Fellowship Awards
Finals April 15-16
Various locations

Five finalists—including Indianapolis' own Zach Lapidus—compete for $50,000 in prize money in events that span the season. Each gets his own "Premiere Series" concert, then they come together in April for the big event. Details here.

Joshua Bell
May 6-7
Hilbert Circle Theatre

The violin master performs Tchaikovsky for a pair of ISO concerts led by conductor Chrisoph Eberle. Details here.

Indianapolis Children's Choir 25th Anniversary Gala Concert
May 7
Clowes Hall

The internationally recognized organization, well older than all of its performers, celebrates a quarter of a century of music making. Details here.





"Mary Poppins"
Sept. 23 to Oct. 3
Murat Theatre

Peter Pan has some serious competition when it comes to theatrical airspace now that Disney's stage production of "Mary Poppins" has proven such a hit. The nanny-with-attitude will be flying into the Murat to anchor the Broadway in Indianapolis series. Caroline Sheen, who played Mary in the UK Tour, will be taking the lead here. Details here.

"In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)"
Sept. 30 to Oct. 24
Phoenix Theatre

Oct. 6-10
Butler University Theatre

"Dead Man's Cell Phone"
Oct. 14-24
Carmel Community Players

Could Sarah Rule be the new Neil LaBute? The hot playwright (and MacArthur Fellowship recipient) seems to be everywhere this fall. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could see three of her plays in a single weekend here in central Indiana in community, college and professional productions. Details at www.phoenixtheatre.org, www.butler.edu/theatre and www.carmelplayers.org.

Oct. 22-30
University of Indianapolis Ransburg Auditorium

UIndy music professor Pete Schmutte and theater professor Brad Wright try their hands at an original musical based on "The Scarlet Letter." Details here.

Oct. 29 to Nov. 14
Cardinal Stage Company at Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington

What do you do when you have no talent but love to sing in front of an audience? If you are socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, you ignore the audiencesand critics and bankroll your own music career. Cardinal Stage Company, the professional Bloomington-based up-and-coming troupe, offers the local premiere of this unusual comedy. No word if earplugs will be sold in the lobby. Details here.

"Madea's Big Happy Family"
Oct. 31
Conseco Fieldhouse

You may not hear it from most mainstream theater reviewers (who often ignore his work), but the fact is that Tyler Perry may well be the most popular playwright in America. Yes, the guy who dons grandmotherly drag at the movies has proven adept at filling theaters.

Take this musical for instance, which is bypassing such tiny, tiny theaters as Clowes Hall, the Murat, and IU Auditorium to, instead, play Conseco Fieldhouse. Nobody short of Cirque du Soleil can pull that off. Attention must be paid—especially if you think commercial theater is dead.

The show concerns a woman who, after finding out she has cancer, takes her family on a vacation. True to form, it includes play-to-the-rafters jokes and raise-those-same-rafters music. Details here.

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"
Dec. 29 to Jan. 30

Feb. 3 to March 27

Two very fun, school-centric Broadway musicals get their Indy regional theater premieres in early 2011 at "the Beef." The quirky, interactive "Spelling Bee" contains some decidedly PG-13 material and the least-traditional score I can think of for any B&B show—which makes the selection all the more interesting. The cast is set to include Sarah Hund and Jayson Elliott, two B&B regulars best remembered for their outstanding "Smoke on the Mountain" performances. Hot on the heels of "Spelling Bee," "Hairspray" should be a huge (pardon the expression) crowd pleaser thanks to its infectious score, spirited humor, and you-go-girl attitude. Details here.

"Spring Awakening"
Feb. 22
IU Auditorium

One of the most anticipated tours of the last few years bypassed Indianapolis completely. You might use one of the show's songs and say we were totally … well, maybe you shouldn't. Instead, to see the non-Equity touring company still on the road, you can journey to Bloomington, where the Duncan Sheik musical is stopping in for a one-night appearance. Details here.

"Superior Donuts"
Feb. 25 to March 26
Theatre on the Square

TOTS offers the Indianapolis premiere of the recent Broadway show from playwright Tracey Letts (who also penned the Pulitzer-Prize winner "August: Osage County," which has yet to be presented here. Don't get me started.). The play concerns the immigrant owner of a run-down bakery in Chicago and his sole employee. TOTS high-profile local premieres this season also include Christopher Durang's play "Why Torture is Wrong … and the People Who Love Them" in December and "Jerry Springer: The Opera" in June. Details here.

"The Gospel According to James"
March 22 to April 10
Indiana Repertory Theatre

Based on the lynching depicted in the famed Lawrence Beitler photograph, this drama involves the fictional meeting between a witness and a survivor of that terrible moment in Indiana history. After its world premiere here, Charles Smith's play will be staged at Chicago's acclaimed Victory Gardens Theatre. From there, who knows? Smith's plays have been performed around the world (His "Free Man of Color" recently premiered in Australia). Details here.

April 29 to May 22
Actors Theatre of Indiana at the Center for the Performing Arts

OK, we do have some information from Carmel's new Center for the Performing Arts. The professional company in residence there, Actors Theatre of Indiana, has been granted the rights to perform the hit Kander and Ebb musical (still running as a revival on Broadway) as its inaugural CPA production. The ATI schedule, performed at other venues, also includes an original musical about Hoagy Carmichael, a return of its delightful "A Year with Frog and Toad" and more. Details here.

"Avenue Q"
June 2 to July 10
Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix scores a double coup by landing two recent Broadway shows that each treaded the line of mainstream acceptability. The first is the aforementioned Victorian-era comedy from Sarah Ruhl. The second is an irreverent (but relevant) "Sesame Street" spoof focused on troubled 20-somethings. Details on both here.





"Evening with the Stars"
Sept. 11
Murat Theatre

This year's benefit for the Indianapolis City Ballet features, as did last year's, an amazing lineup of talent. Performers scheduled include dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Berlin Ballet and more. Details here.

River North Dance Company
Sept. 12

Russian National Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet"
March 23
Emens Auditorium, Ball State University

It really isn't that long of a drive to Ball State, particularly for north-siders. And once you expand those horizons, it's worth watching what Emens Auditorium brings to the area.

Yes, there's later-runs of such been-to-Indy-already shows as "Legally Blonde" and "Monty Python's Spamalot," but there's also stops by top dance companies, including these two, one from our north, the second from the other side of the globe. Details here.

"Mad for Musicals"
Oct. 7-16
Dance Kaleidoscope at Indiana Repertory Theatre

Choreographers David Hochoy and Nicholas Owens offer their takes on Broadway tunes.

Details here.

"Once Upon a Time in India"
Oct. 29-30
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre at Pike Performing Arts Center

For years now, GHDT has developed a sub-specialty in India-inspired dance. This year brings another program, opening a season that, if all goes well, will include a GHDT tour of, yes, India. Details here.

"The Nutcracker"
Dec. 2-4
Clowes Hall

Butler Ballet is joined by the Butler Ballet Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children's Choir–and, of course, Tchaikovsky's music–for this holiday tradition. Details here.

The Joffrey Ballet
April 9
Clowes Hall

The program has yet to be announced for this visit from one of the top ballet companies in the country. But, come on, this is one of the top ballet companies in the country. Details here.





"Welcome to Heaven"
Sept. 17-25
White Rabbit Cabaret

Katie Angel, producer of last year's sold-out "What Would the Neighbors Think?" has launched a new company, Angel Burlesque, focused on burlesque with a contemporary attitude. When I reviewed her earlier show, I said, "Don't be surprised if old-school burlesque becomes the next big form of alternative entertainment here. Think roller derby without the risk of bruising."

Thanks to Angel and her angels (both women and men), you'll have a chance to experience the bumps and grinds for yourself at this and future shows at the recently opened Fountain Square venue. Details here.

Yusef Komunyakaa
Sept. 23
Clowes Hall-Krannert Room

The Pulitzer-Prize winning poet (and former IU professor) comes to town as part of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. Details here.

"Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition"
Sept. 25 to Jan. 16
Indiana State Museum

Right up there with King Tut on the list of museum-exhibitions-that-attract-people-who-don't-normally-go-to-museum-exhibitions is this tour of items from the famed sunken ocean liner. While I'm no fan of the James Cameron movie (it still bugs me that she throws away the necklace rather than, say, endows a hospital), I won't deny the pull of these objects, each carrying the echo of lives—and an era—lost. Expect crowds. Details here.

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Opening
November TBA
Emelie Bldg, 340 N. Senate Ave.

This celebration of the works of one of our town's favorite literary sons takes up residence in the former home of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition to books, the library's collection will include Vonnegut's typewriter, an art gallery and gift shop. No need to reread "Slaughterhouse-5" before the opening but, come to think of it, that's not a bad idea. Details here.

"Polar Bears to Penguins"
Oct. 9 to Jan. 2
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

One of my favorite areas of the Indianapolis Zoo is the building where the polar bears and penguins live. This fall, the Children's Museum gets a piece of that action with its own celebration of cold-weather creatures. The interactive exhibition isn't just for animal lovers. The show also explores the scientific research being conducted in chilling climates. Details here.

"The Bride of Frankenstein"
October 29
Indianapolis Museum of Art

When it comes to black and white horror films from the classic monster era, it gets no better than James Whale's crazed sequel to the original "Frankenstein." See it in its ghastly glory Halloween weekend. Details here.

"You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story"
Nov. 6
Arthur M. Glick JCC

Comedian Annabelle Gurwitch, who grew her experience of being fired by Woody Allen into a documentary, book and theater production around the theme, comes to town with a different project. Here, she's joined by husband Jeff Kahn (a fellow "Huffington Post" blogger who wrote for "The Ben Stiller Show") for a discussion of their book, which looks at relationships and parenting. Details here.

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra
Nov. 6
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Yes, it makes music from produce. See (and hear) for yourself. Details here.

"The Idle Class" and "The Kid"
Feb. 4
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra continues its annual series of classic silent comedies with live musical accompaniment. This time, it's a pair by Charlie Chaplin. Details here.

"Warthogs" and "Bats"
Opening March 19
Indianapolis Zoo

Do we see the gross land creatures first or the gross flying creatures first? A tough call, but I'm looking forward to having to make that decision. Details here.

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