A&E SEASON PREVIEW: Critically selected highlights

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Too much to fit in. No time for a long- or even medium-winded introduction. Let’s get right to the events I’ve already got circled on my calendar. (yes, I use a calendar, not a mobile device. It’s my way.) Of course, this is only some of what’s happening this season. Keep an eye on www.ibj.com/arts and sign up for my weekly e-blast to stay in the creative loop.

“Young Stars of Ballet”

Sept. 9

“Evening with the Stars”


Murat Theatre

The jaw-dropping, make-your-friends-in-New-York-jealous annual event now becomes two events. The first features Ashlee Dupree and Indy-native Chris Lingner (from the touring cast of “Movin’ Out”) along with a tribe of local dancers. The latter includes dancers from the San Francisco Ballet and Joffrey Ballet as well as a new piece choreographed by Marcelo Gomes. Both feature renowned soloists from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and more.

“The Drowsy Chaperone”

Sept. 9-24, Tarkington Theatre

The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre (formerly Indianapolis Civic Theatre) offers the local premiere of a Tony winner that skipped Indy on its national tour. With plenty of room for splashy song and dance numbers, the story focuses on a non-singing character, Man in Chair, who escapes his personal sadness through listening to a rare recording of a 1920s musical—which comes to life around him.

ISO/Earth, Wind and Fire

Sept. 11, Lawn at White River State Park

No matter who you are (shining star), you’ll be able to say you remember (ba de ya) dancing in September when the great Earth, Wind and Fire join the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra as part of the band’s 40th anniversary world tour,

And while there have been changes in the group over the years, long-term members Maurice White, Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson are still leading the group and going strong. Let’s just see if the ISO can keep up.

Angela Brown

Sept. 11, Madame Walker Theatre

ITthe Verdi-specializing Hoosier soprano who has played Aida at the Met, in Cape Town, in Berlin, and beyond, performs in concert as part of the Walker's season.

“Quest for the West”

Sept. 11-Oct. 9, Eiteljorg Museum

The Eiteljorg’s always-interesting annual show and sale brings to town some of the top western artists—and buyers—in the world. As is tradition, the work of last year’s designated “Artist of Distinction” (George Hallmark) will be featured in a concurrent exhibition.

Indy Jazz Fest

Sept. 17, Opti Park

This year’s all-day affair (capping a week of activity on area stages), includes sets by Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyra, George Benson and more. For a blast of hope for the future, get there early for the emerging artist performances featuring top local student ensembles.

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Opening Night Gala

Sept. 18, Hilbert Circle Theatre

Top-tier pianist Garrick Ohlsson will be on hand, but the focus will be on new music director Krzysztof Urbanski as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra kicks off the first season of the Urbanski years. He’ll be sharing the podium with Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly in a program that includes music by Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, Bernstein and more. String trio Time for Three, an ISO favorite, will also appear.

Australia’s Strange Fruit

Sept. 21, PMU South Lawn, West Lafayette

Theatre? Dance? Circus? You decide as you watch elaborately costumed performers on 16-foot-high, swaying poles.

“Spring Awakening”

Sept. 22-Oct. 23, Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix Theatre does what the Broadway in Indianapolis series didn’t do: Brings Duncan Shiek’s Tony-award-winning musical to the Indianapolis stage. (The tour, in its later, non-Equity state, only made it to a one-nighter in Bloomington.) It’s about a bunch of teens wrestling with just about every teen problem, which makes it like many Phoenix shows, only this one is set in late 19th-century Germany and features an intense, rocking score with parental-warning lyrics.

“Anthony Rapp: Without You”

Sept. 29, University of Indianapolis

The star of Broadway’s “Rent” speaks on love and loss.

“The Circus in Winter”

Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Ball State University Theatre, Muncie

Hoosier Cathy Day’s acclaimed novel about life under and around the big top is transformed into musical theater for this world premiere.

“Stuffed and Unstrung”

Sept. 30, Clowes Hall

This year, Clowes Hall introduces Clowes Off Center, an alternative series of shows that promise not-quite-mainstream entertainment. This one seems perfect for that rubric. It features improvised songs and sketches (for mature audiences) featuring puppet mastery from The Jim Hensen Co. If you grooved on “Avenue Q,” this could be the variety show you’ve been, without realizing it, waiting for.

“Art vs. Art”

Sept. 30, The Vogue

The annual, semi-masochistic art show/auction/demolition derby pits works of art (all created Sept. 10) against each other in a contest where the winner moves on and the loser, if not successfully auctioned off, is destroyed. A blast, but not for the feint of artistic heart.

Chris Tucker

Sept. 30, Murat Theatre

The star of the “Rush Hour” films, who recently returned to stand-up stages, brings his new act to the Murat.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “The Four Elements (Redux)”

Oct. 6-9, Indiana Repertory Theatre

It’s usually an added pleasure when live music is used at dance performances. This should be one of those occasions when 2006 American Pianists Association Classical Fellow Spencer Myer joins Dance Kaleidoscope for a program that includes works by Chopin.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s “My Gypsy Soul”

Oct. 7-8, The Tarkington

The company moves into its new home at the Center for the Performing Arts with this concert featuring music from Romania, Greece, Ireland and points between.

“Do You Hear the People Sing?”

Oct. 7-9, Hilbert Circle Theatre/Palladium

If this were just a collection of fully orchestra songs by “Les Miserables”-creators Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, then it might not be on the gotta-go list. But it’s elevated because, 1. It’s a world premiere show, 2. The composing team will be here to help develop the program, and 3. Broadway heavy hitters Terrence Mann (“Les Mis”), Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Stephanie J. Block (“Wicked”) will be joining maestro Jack Everly.

“The Way”

Oct. 13, Heartland Film Festival at IMA’s Tobias Theatre

The annual festival kicks off in a big way with a screening of “The Way,” directed and starring Emilio Estevez and co-starring his father, Martin Sheen—both of whom are expected to be attending the event.

Jason Robert Brown

Oct. 14-15, Cabaret at the Columbia Club

Although he hasn’t had a breakout hit show yet, Jason Robert Brown established himself as the composer-of-choice for a generation of musical theater auditioning actors. The talent behind “Songs for a New World,” “The Last Five Years,” “13” and the Tony-winning “Parade,” Brown is also a terrific singer, as evidenced by his solo disc “Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes.” I happily accepted an invitation to moderate discussions with Brown on stage after these shows even before it was announced that he’d be bringing along killer vocalist Shoshana Bean.

“The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition”

Oct. 15-Feb. 19, Indiana State Museum

If you think an Indiana winter can be rough, then imagine 18 months stranded in the Antarctic. Assisting your imagination at this show will be images by the ship’s photographer, 3-D models, videos and interactive stations.

Adrian Belew

Oct. 27, Birdy’s

The King Crimson frontman and former guitarist for Frank Zappa and David Bowie has had a thriving solo career since 1981. Birdy’s offers a rare chance to see him live locally.

“Music of the Night”

Oct. 28, North United Methodist Church

OK, so a large group of harmonizing young people isn’t the scariest thing in the world (at least, to most people). Still, credit to the Indianapolis Children’s Choir for mixing things up a little for this non-subscription celebration of spooky music featuring the ISO’s symphonic organist, Martin Ellis.

“Red Hot Patriot; The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins”

Oct. 28-Nov. 18, Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington

Indy theater fans know not to miss an opportunity to see actress Diane Kondrat on stage (see “Clutch Hitters, pg. 10B). Well, she’s the whole show in this celebration of the Texas newspaper columnist, produced by Cardinal Stage.

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds

Oct. 29, Palladium

You drive on his downtown Indy highway. Isn’t it about time you see him in concert?

Michael Schelle TBA premiere

Oct. 30, Palladium

It doesn’t have a name yet—and I’m not sure how it will fit into a program called “Hollywood and Halloween Treats”—but Butler University’s Composer in Residence Michael Schelle’s latest piece will be given its world premiere by the Indiana Wind Symphony.

John Green

Nov. 1, Clowes Hall

Perhaps Indianapolis’ hottestliterary light of the moment, John Green, speaks as part of the Butler University Visiting Writers Series. Okay, so he’s not visiting from far away, but that’s no matter. It should be interesting to hear the thoughts of the author of “An Abundance of Katherines” and co-author of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.”

“Bhagvadajjukam (The Priest and the Prostitute)”

Nov. 2-13, Butler University Theater

The 7th Century Sanskrit farce will be developed by Butler theater students guided by visiting artist Kunju Vasudevan Namboodiripad (who will offer an introduction to classical India dance/drama in “An Evening of the Kathakali” on Sept. 22-24).

Luna Negra Dance Theatre/Turtle Island Quartet

Nov. 4, Clowes Hall

The Grammy-winning music group teams up with the acclaimed dance company for a program celebrating the work of Latin American choreographers.

“Bon Appetit!”

Nov. 4-13 , Basile Opera Center

Here’s something you haven’t seen before: An opera based on a cooking show. Yes, Lee Hoiby’s one-act, one-performer opera is based on an episode of Julia Child’s TV program explaining how to make a chocolate cake. The Indianapolis Opera oddity is paired with another solo show, “A Water Bird Talk” by Dominick Argento. Members of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra provide the music for both.

“Bodies of Waters”

Nov. 4-30, Big Car Gallery

Yes, that’s Waters, plural. The reference is to John Waters, the outrageous filmmaker best known for his charming “Hairspray” and his disturbing “Pink Flamingos.” The show celebrates contemporary pop surrealists inspired by Waters’ films. Also part of the program: a visit from the man himself for a program titled “John Waters: This Filthy World” Nov. 12 at the Madame Walker Theater as part of the Spirit & Place Festival.

Richard Price

Nov. 8, Reilly Room, Butler University

The biggest star of the semester for the Butler University Visiting Writers Series is Richard Price, who penned the screenplay for “The Color of Money,” the novels “Freedomland” and “Clockers” and has had work appear in just about every major magazine in the country.

Bands of America Grand National Championship

Nov. 9-12, Lucas Oil Stadium

There isn’t much different to say about this each year except to remind you that it’s the best halftime show, sans game, that you’ll ever see. About 100 marching bands from around the country converge on Indy for the competition.

Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble

Nov. 10, Madame Walker Theatre

Come early for this one. Since it’s part of the annual Spirit & Place Festival, there must be conversation. In this case, members of the ensemble will join with locals for a discussion about how dancers bodies are perceived. Then you can perceive for yourself during a full-length performance by the acclaimed company.

“Universe is Flux: The Art of Tawara Yusaku”

Nov. 11-April 1, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Our IMA has the power to move an artist to the next level of international recognition and that should be the case with this, the first large-scale solo exhibition of the thick brushstroked work of Japanese artist Tawara Yusaka. Seventy-seven mostly ink-on-paper works will be featured, primarily focused on work from the 1990s but also including pieces created when he returned to painting before his death in 2004.

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra with Cathy Morris and Jenny DeVoe

Nov. 12, Athenaeum Theatre

It sometimes seems as if every fair or festival in central Indiana has either electric violinist Cathy Morris or singer/songwriter Jenny DeVoe as part of its program. But, strangely, the two high-profile Hoosier musicians haven’t done a show together. Until now, thanks to the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and conductor Kirk Trevor.

Vladimir Feltsmen

Nov. 13, American Pianists Association at the Indiana Landmark Center

We know that APA brings to town and helps foster the careers of world-class pianists. This year, though, the draw for the season opener may be as much about venue as it is about the artist. APA is one of the local arts groups taking advantage of the newly restored Indiana Landmarks Center’s Cook Theater.


Nov 15-17

“In the Heights”

Feb. 28-29, IU Auditorium

Two more big Broadway musicals whose tours skipped Indy stop in Bloomington. The first sets the ogre’s tale to a surprisingly strong score. The later fuses old-fashion theatrical storytelling onto contemporary Brooklyn characters.

John Mellencamp

Nov. 19, Clowes Hall

You can call yourself a Mellencamp devotee and go to this concert. But the true fans are already plotting a trip to Atlanta in April to see the world premiere of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” the musical he penned with Stephen King.

Jeff Dunham

Nov. 26, Conseco Fieldhouse

My gut reaction is to scoff at the idea of seeing a ventriloquist at Conseco Fieldhouse where it’s not a question of seeing his lips move but of seeing his face at all. But when you consider that ventriloquist stars of yesteryear became popular on radio, that reaction seems beside the point.

“Jack Milo’s Baggy Pants Burlesque”

Dec. 28-Jan.8

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

I’ll admit it: I have a weakness for old jokes. And I expect them to be flying fast at this new show concocted by Jack Milo, a sad sack comic whose friendship with Tom Hanks led to parts in “That Thing You Do!” and “Larry Crowne.” Milo promises a PG-13 show with the emphasis on music and comedy.

“Hello, Dolly!” in Concert

Jan. 13-14, Hilbert Circle Theatre

Jan. 15, Palladium

The last time the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra offered a concert version of a classic musical, it proved one of the highlights of this or any other season. The Nathan Detroit from that production of “Guys and Dolls” returns to star opposite Sandi Patty in “Hello, Dolly!” Expect the fully orchestrated score to sound stronger then you’ve ever heard it before.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Jan. 22, The Tarkington

Two former Alvin Ailey company members formed this group in 1994 and have been breaking boundaries—and playing to cheering crowds—ever since.

“The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head”

Jan. 28-May 6, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

I know. I know. I’ve railed in the past against exhibits based on product marketing rather than educational value. But, come on, this is Mr. Potato Head. He’s different. You can change his nose or make his arm come out of his eye. And he’s a tuber!

Bernadette Peters

Feb. 4, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne

Feb. 14, Palladium

Feb. 25, IU Auditorium, Bloomington

A true Broadway baby, Bernadette Peters was terrific in “Into the Woods,” fun in the otherwise not-so-great revival of “Annie Get Your Gun,” and stunning both visually and emotionally in “Follies” (currently running on Broadway). This year, I’m looking forward to finally seeing her in concert. And I’ve got three choices. She’ll be flying solo in Fort Wayne and at IU. In Carmel, she’ll be joined by Michael Feinstein.

“Albert Herring”

Feb. 9-11, IU Opera at Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Indianapolis Opera isn’t the only company exploring creative ways to stage opera on a smaller-than-usual scale. This season, IU Opera moves its new production of Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring” to the smaller stage of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, offering a more intimate look at the 1949 comic piece.

Blair Clark

Feb. 16, Indiana History Center

The IHC expands its “Anything Goes” dinner concert series with six offerings this year, including shows with Shannon Forsell, ‘80s schlockmeisters American Cheese, and smooth R&B crooner Blair Clark

Playing for Change

Feb. 24, Clowes Hall

Over 20 million YouTubers have seen street musicians from around the world singing “Stand By Me.” That video, created by producer Mark Johnson, launched Playing for Change, which now comprises albums and a concert tour, dedicated to peace through music.

“August: Osage County”

Feb. 16-March 11, Phoenix Theatre

“God of Carnage”

Feb. 28-March 24, Indiana Repertory Theatre

Two of the biggest non-musical hits from Broadway and recent years get near-simultaneous Indy production

All the rage at regional theaters around the country—and, by the time it opens here, the source of a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster—Yasmina Reza’s play, “God of Carnage,” concerns two couples attempting a friendly meeting after a schoolyard incident involving their children. Tracy Letts’ epic “August: Osage County” (clocking in at over 3 hours on Broadway) is a comedy/drama about a family with more than a few issues.

“The Immortal”

Feb. 24, Conseco Fieldhouse

The most recent Cirque du Soleil show to come through town, “Dralion,” was the strongest I’ve seen here. Will the bar be raised higher with this new show, dedicated to the music of Michael Jackson? We don’t have many clues yet, since this potential thriller doesn’t launch until October in Montreal.

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “The Planets”

March 16, 17

Here’s the concert choice for classical music lovers who want to lure in the uninitiated. Krzysztof Urbanski conducts the popular suite in a program that also features Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.”

“Opera Goes to the Movies”

March 9-11, Clowes Hall

Indianapolis Opera mixes things up again with this concert featuring operatic tunes re-popularized in movies. Movie clips will be screened. Members of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra will play. And no doubt we’ll be in the audience saying, “So that’s why I know that piece.”

“The Intergalactic Nemesis”

March 29, Ball State Theatre, Muncie

Actors, a keyboardist and a sound-effects-creating Foley artist accompany over 1,000 hand-drawn comic-book images in this unique storytelling event.

“Les Miserables”

April 10-15, Clowes Hall

There’s no turntable this time. Instead, the latest tour is based on the recent Broadway revival, which shook up the traditional staging but sticks with the big drama and passions of the original. It will be particularly interesting to see if you also caught its composers with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the fall.

Bill Cosby

April 15, Palladium

Storytellers don’t get any funnier than Cos, who last was in the area wowing those kids down at IU a few seasons back.

“The Mark of Zorro”

April 20, Tobias Theater, Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra varies its annual silent movie program this year. Instead of a classic comedy, it’s going for action adventure with a screening of the Douglas Fairbanks film set to live musical accompaniment. Prepare your swashes to be buckled.

Mike Birbiglia’s “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend”

April 28, Clowes Hall

There’s a fine line between stand-up comedy and stand-up comics performing in self-written one-person shows. Actually, that’s not quite true. There’s really no line at all between those things. There’s only a line between those comics who can hold attention for that long and tell a structured extended story and those who can’t. Birbiglia, who scored an off-Broadway hit with his “Sleepwalk With Me,” will be presenting his latest love-life-focused monologue.

Yo-Yo Ma/Assad Brothers

April 30, Palladium

The master cellist is joined by pianist Kathryn Stott and guitarist brothers Sergio and Odair Assad for a program of Latin American music.

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