Articles

A&E: A&E road trip: A batch of Broadway

Heading to New York on business or pleasure? Here are four new shows from the current theater season-three on Broadway and one off-Broadway-worth catching. While “South Pacific” may seem like a staple show out here in the Heartland, the new production at Lincoln Center is its first B r o a d wa y a p p e a r a n c e since it debuted in 1949. And a glorious production it is, offering breathtaking set design, lighting…

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A&E: ‘Victor/Victoria’ wins despite itself

A little bit of history before I get to the specifics of American Cabaret Theatre’s production of “Victor/Victoria”: The movie on which it is based, concerning a woman who finds success-and romantic complications-pretending to be a female impersonator, proved a surprising cinematic hit for actress Julie Andrews and her director/husband Blake Edwards in 1982. Thirteen years later, again directed by Edwards, the movie was turned into a musical for Andrews, who hadn’t been on Broadway since “Camelot” in 1963. The…

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A&E: Pulling a Purdue Theater all-nighter

The sun was pretty close to shining in when the audience emerged from the midnight performance of “Hair” April 18 at Purdue University. But the nodoubt Red Bull-fueled crowd didn’t seem to mind. College students, of course, are used to keeping these sorts of hours. But even those of us accustomed to more traditional curtain times came out exhilarated. The drive-and the groggy Saturday morning-were well worth it. So why did Purdue’s student production of the 40-yearold, easily dated musical…

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A&E: Take your seats: Best of the fest

OK, so maybe what follows isn’t the absolute best of the Indianapolis International Film Festival. After all, with 137 movies in the lineup, it would be a full-time job to screen everything being shown at this year’s event, which runs April 23-May 3. However, we did get our eyes on many of this year’s offerings and picked films well worth your festival time. Think of these widely varied films as strong anchors for your IIFF experience this year. Look for…

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A&E: What the butler saw, heard and felt

At times, “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” (at Indiana Repertory Theatre through May 3) feels less like a play and more like a very good afterdinner speech. The speaker in this one-man show, penned by IRT playwrightin-residence James Still, certainly is worth listening to. He’s Alonzo Fields, an Indiana native who spent 21 years as a butler in the White House, serving four administrations. A humble, hardworking man, Fields has snippets to share – about Churchill’s nude swimming habits, Errol…

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A&E: Local duo creates sticker shock

Anyone with young kids knows the value of a sticker. Whether a reward for a hissy-fit-free afternoon or a gift from a friendly grocery bagger, a sticker is a deceptively simple object that brings a surprising amount of pleasure. I’ll admit, I didn’t give stickers a whole lot of thought until I wandered into Alias, the unique Fountain Square gallery created by Dave and Holly Combs. The couple has been obsessed with stickers since spotting-and pondering the implications of-an “Andre…

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A&E: DK’s French program accented by Pratt piece

Yes, we are still early in the calendar. But it would be unfair of me to expect to see anything on stage in Indy this year that is more beautiful, more h e a r t – w r e n c h i n g , more exquisitely executed, and more complete than the third movement of “Tangled Web,” offered March 20-23 by Dance Kaleidoscope as part of its “The French Connection” program. I try to refrain from loading…

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A&E: Seeing ‘Tosca’ from the terrace

I try to avoid leading this column with commentary on productions that have come and gone. While I steadfastly believe it’s valuable to keep such productions in the mix, I appreciate that many of you aren’t as interested in what happened as you are in what’s still happening. Still, I think there’s use in talking about some weekend-onlys and onenighters. If I share, for instance, that Indianapolis Opera’s production of “Tosca” (March 14, 16) offered a compelling, entertaining, and often…

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A&E: Bend it like Bob Lang: Origami at the IMA

Like the people who can solve a Rubik’s Cube behind their backs, origami artists have thought processes the rest of us mere mortals can’t fathom. Even more so than with chess masters, it’s difficult not to be awed by people who can think 50 steps ahead in order to make recognizably representational beasts out of paper, without the use of scissors. The new Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibition “Squares-Folds-Life: Contemporary Origami by Robert J. Lang” (through July 20) illustrates the…

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A&E: IRT ‘Piano Lesson’ well tuned

It wasn’t by design, but this week I happened to find myself in the company of three different sets of young theater audiences. The good news: All were better behaved than most adult audiences with whom I’ve spent time-there was limited candy wrapper crinkling and not a stray cell phone ring in the bunch. Plus, each broke with the stereotype of uninterested youth, proving generous and very open to the events on stage. First was “The Piano Lesson” at Indiana…

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A&E: Do the math: This ‘Proof’ works

For the second time in as many months, a one-word, Pulitzer-Prize-winning play is being presented to Indy audiences. For the second time in as many months, audiences are eating it up. Both the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “Doubt” and Theatre on the Square’s “Proof” (running through March 15) are good examples of what has become a necessity in contemporary theater-the smart-but-not-intimidating, relatively easy-to-produce, small-cast, audiencefriendly, short-enough-not-to-challengethe-bladder, more-laughs-than-you’dexpect-given-the-subject-matter drama. “Proof”-which theater junkies may remember from the Phoenix’s outstanding production a few seasons…

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A&E: At Herron Gallery, you win some with Wirsum

Usually, the only souvenir you can take home from a gallery exhibition is an artists’ catalogue. Visitors to “Karl Wirsum: Winsome Works(some)” at the Herron Galleries can also buy Karl Wirsum ball-and-paddle toys. Get the message? This show is supposed to be fun, folks. And it is-without diminishing the fact that it celebrates the work of an important artist-in some ways the Midwest’s answer to Andy Warhol. Like Warhol, Chicago’s Karl Wirsum makes significant use of flat, bright colors with…

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A&E: Do you take this musical?

Let us now give two cheers to the good-enough musical. The good-enough musical usually has some fun songs, some laughs and maybe a sweet moment or two. The good-enough musical demands very little of its audience. The good-enough musical may do OK on Broadway despite harsh words from the critics, but it has a longer life in regional theaters, and community productions. The good-enough musical depends on a good-enough production to work. When it’s got one-and your expectations aren’t too…

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A&E: ‘Doubt’ convinces at Indiana Rep.

Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of John Patrick Shanley’s play “Doubt” (now playing at the Indiana Repertory Theatre), is how quickly it transcends its hot-button issue. Yes, this is a show built around the suspected despicable actions of a parish priest, but it’s really not about that. It’s about, as its title bluntly states, doubt. And it’s about certainty. And it’s about faith. And it’s a show I’d love to see again, since I suspect the show will get even…

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A&E: Laughing in the new arts year

If you’ve seen stage farces under less-than-optimal conditions, you know how difficult they can be to pull off. Off-color jokes slide into offensiveness. Characters slip into stereotypes. And the harder the push for laughs, the more desperate it all seems. Because in farce, it’s not about unique characters, it’s not about surprising plots and it most certainly isn’t about any sort of insight into human behavior. It’s about creating a mechanism that makes an audience laugh until its collective sides…

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A&E: One more added to Best of 2007

Last week, I expounded on 11 of the most intriguing performances and exhibitions that I caught in 2007. But that list was compiled before I visited the Eiteljorg Museum for its Fellowship show. Having stopped in during the final days of 2007, I’m compelled to add the show as a 12th item on that list. And so, for the record: 12. “Diversity & Dialogue: The Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship for Native American Fine Art” The idea of Native American artists shattering…

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A&E: Lingering effects: The year’s best A&E

When I came on board as IBJ’s arts and entertainment editor back in May, I had no idea to what degree critical coverage of Indianapolis’ cultural offerings would be embraced by the publication and its readers. Well, I’m happy to report that the response has been terrific. And so, shortly after this weekly A&E column of reviews began appearing in IBJ, we launched a Thursday e-mail blast of previews and ticket giveaways (sign up for free at www.ibj.com/enews). That, too,…

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A&E: Actors Theatre of Indiana goes green

Frog is confident. Toad is selfdoubting. Frog gets mail. Toad doesn’t. Frog is willing to take some risks. Toad is cautious. Frog looks funny in a bathing suit. Toad looks funnier in a bathing suit. And then there’s an actionpacked fight sequence in which … No, that doesn’t happen. Frog and Toad are friends. They love each other. They are happy when the other is happy. But then the villain comes to town, a giant … Nope, no villain. Over…

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