Articles

A&E: ‘Scoundrels’ con at Clowes; we play games at home

This week, thoughts on “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at Clowes Hall,” new games from Indiana manufacturer Fundex, and a handful of holiday movie releases. The con game musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” jauntily bounced into Clowes Hall on Dec. 11 for a week-long stay and withstood a lifeless opening 15 minutes or so before at last making a connection with the crowd. Swinging charts, clever lyrics, relatively foolproof physical comedy moments and a patient crowd willing to chuckle at every smutty line…

Read More

A&E: Patty melts ‘Yuletide’ hearts

It’s been a good number of years since I’ve joined what seems like half of central Indiana at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Yuletide Celebration.” That’s no slight to the institution, just a reality of my arts going-I tend to gravitate toward the new experience rather than the familiar. And traditions of any kind are built on familiarity. Which sets me against the flow of concert- and theatergoers this month. After all, December is the time of Nutcrackers, Scrooges and carol-based…

Read More

A&E: A&E goes on a road trip: ‘Wicked’ in the Windy City

Musical-theater buffs in Indianapolis know that an occasional trip to Chicago is a must. Savvy ticket buyers willing to schlep up Interstate 65 have gotten advance looks at such longrunning Broadway hits as “Mamma Mia!,” “Aida,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “The Producers” before they opened in New York (and years before their tours arrived here). Right now, though, the big musical draws in Chicago-“Wicked” and “Jersey Boys”-aren’t pre- but, rather, post-Broadway. And more than just stopping in the Windy City…

Read More

A&E: Shakespeare gets Kaleidoscoped

Not to give too much credit to the venue-it’s the Dance Kaleidoscope company and choreographer David Hochoy who deserve the credit-but the upper stage at the Indiana Repertory Theatre provided an ideal place to bask in DK’s “Ashland Dances” (Nov. 15-18). With seating on three sides, the company connected not just to the material-pieces first staged as part of the company’s now-ended 10-year gig with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival-but to its enthusiastic audience as well. There’s something wonderful about seeing…

Read More

A&E: A Mass Ave gallery showcases poster artist

One of New York’s premiere poster designers is featured in a solo show at the Dean Johnson Gallery, while one of the most popular stand-up comics in the country stops at Conseco Fieldhouse. Last week I wanted to tell you about the Paula Scher show at Dean Johnson Gallery. Alas, space was short and there wouldn’t have been room to show you any of the work. Where’s the fun in that? Now, with more space, we can show you some…

Read More

A&E: Skid Stuff at the IMA (via the IMS)

This week, a California artist visits the IMA (via Indianapolis Motor Speedway), a British playwright hits hard at Washington, and a Swedish singing group’s tunes become a Broadway sensation. When you call a piece “2005 Indy 500 Victory Donut: Traces of Dan Wheldon,” you aren’t just suggesting that audiences look beyond your abstractions, you are demanding it. The Wheldon piece is part of “Ingrid Calame: Traces of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” the latest exhibition in the IMA’s Forefront Gallery. The…

Read More

A&E: Survival in bronze at IAC

I had hoped for more when I stopped into the Indianapolis Art Center to see “Freedom’s Struggle: The Underground Railroad along the Ohio River in Kentucky and Indiana.” The photos by Willie Johnson-featuring, real-life locations with, occasionally, models portraying slaves-are accomplished, up to a point, but evoke little beyond what is presented. Where, I found myself asking, is the artist? More powerful by far are the sculption just down the hall. “Fresh from Julieanne’s Garden: Bronzes from Preston Jackson” offers…

Read More

A&E: Scorned women on stages at IU and Fountain Square

Perhaps the most performed American opera, “Susannah” tells of a good woman brought down by the hypocrisy of her Appalachian town. Spotted bathing nude in a creek by townspeople looking for a spot for revival meeting baptisms, the parentless 19-year-old’s reputation and spirit are soon destroyed by gossip-and the visiting preacher. It’s an opera with sex (implied), death (thanks to an angry brother), religion (including a revival service) and-something you don’t see in many operas-square dancing. What it also has…

Read More

A&E: Beckmann benefits while McLaughlin comes home

The Beckmann Theatre has an impressive board, a unique mission and, judging from the benefit performance staged Oct. 15 at the American Cabaret Theatre, the goodwill of a strong talent pool. What it could use are some actual theatrical productions. Launching in 2002 and carrying the name of Bob Beckmann, the late arts and civic leader who helped transform downtown, the Beckmann Theatre has offered about a show a year, plus a handful of readings, since its inception. The company’s…

Read More

A&E: Bible-based beauty at Butler:

A&E Bible-based beauty at Butler This week, two non-linear theatrical events. Bookended by brilliance, the fourpart “Lamentations” (Oct. 3-7) offered another example of the importance of Butler University to Indy’s artistic life. Here’s a trivialized rundown of how this production worked. First: “The Book of Lamentations,” the wail of a conquered city and a people played out through ritualistic dance, music and sound. Second: A drummer and actress performed Sam Shepard’s series of character monologues, “Tongues.” Third: A pair of…

Read More

A&E: ‘Hamlet’ halved; a flute sans magic:

A&E ‘Hamlet’ halved; a flute sans magic This week, I empty the notebook on IRT’s truncated “Hamlet,” the Indianapolis Opera’s “The Magic Flute,” an iconoclastic singer/songwriter at the Egyptian Room and passion in Chicago. At about half the play’s full length, it’s difficult for “Hamlet”-a great work-to be more than just a good one. With every minute reduced, the classic runs a greater risk of becoming more external and less internal. Text cutting is expected in just about any Shakespeare…

Read More

A&E: A Roman Louvre affair at the IMA

It’s often easier to talk about artists than it is to talk about art. What was he thinking? What were her influences? What life events made them make those choices? Once we’ve got some personal details about an artist’s life, we can play armchair psychologist and try to figure out what the artist meant when he or she created whatever was created. In short, it’s easier for most of us to think about Van Gogh’s ear than his brush strokes….

Read More

A&E: Familiar faces in a familiar ‘Town’

It’s called a ghost light. Little more than a light bulb on a pole, it’s there to keep actors from fumbling around in the dark. And, for the superstitious, it’s there to keep the ghosts at bay. The ghost light is an apt opening and closing image for the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s season-opening production of “Our Town,” a play whose ghosts in act three remind us of the things we mortals miss. And a play whose light shines without the…

Read More

A&E: Diva delivers at ISO opening gala

They ran out of food early in the pre-concert reception. They ran out of programs in the theater. But once the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Opening Night Gala concert started, there was no shortage of powerful music. Indianapolis’s own Angela Brown headlined the sold-out event Sept. 9. After she played the lead in Verdi’s “Aida” at the Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews you wouldn’t think she’d have trouble with “Ritorna vincitor,” and she didn’t. Brown proved herself adept at not only…

Read More

A&E: Welcoming audiences

This week, more thoughts on the Fringe and its attendees. It took me a while to figure out why the audiences at this year’s IndyFringe festival were so friendly. I don’t mean friendly as in walking up to you, shaking your hand, and asking how your family’s doing. I mean friendly in the sense that they seemed to warmly welcome whatever was being presented on stage. Don’t get me wrong: They didn’t love everything they saw or feel obligated to…

Read More

A&E: Clown jewels highlight IndyFringe

About halfway through “Party of One,” an IndyFringe performance by a clown called Captain Melisande, things started to get uncomfortable. Melisande (real name Noel Williams) had already established herself as a loser in love, ready to get out of town and escape her past. Saddled with uncooperative baggage and a desire to keep gabbing even when she had nothing to say, she was the picture of every needy, confused person you ever wanted to help-but stayed away from for fear…

Read More

A&E: The ‘Hunch’ is back This week, a dancing bellringer and a musical madam

It’s unlikely that anyone attended Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (which ran Aug. 17-18 at the Pike Performing Arts Center) with any goal in mind except to see choreographed dancers in graceful, compelling action. Yet other factors come into play beyond the foot- and body-work, and those factors, for good or ill, can enhance or undermine the dancers’ work. Take lighting design. In this case, the masterful work of lighting designer Ryan Koharchik turned a minimal…

Read More

A&E: Fringe characters meet Fringe Film

By the time you read this, Gen-Con-one of our town’s largest conventions-will have packed up its multisided dice, folded its cowled costumes, and drunk its final Mountain Dew (at least for this year). How you feel about this convergence of game players will influence, in part, how you feel about “A Great Disturbance,” a feature film to be screened Aug. 17, 24 and 31 as part of Fringe-Film, the new movie component of the 3-year-old IndyFringe Festival. To be clear,…

Read More

A&E: ShadowApe visits Vonnegut’s ‘Monkey House’

This week, a Harrison Center art opening, a visit to the “Monkey House” and an improv nightcap. If, today, you stop into the Harrison Center for the Arts (1505 N. Delaware St.) to see the multi-artist exhibition “Unusual Animals,” the experience will be very different than if you popped in, as I did, during its First Friday opening. For starters, there won’t be as many gummy bears and animal crackers (opening night snacks are matched to the show’s theme). Second,…

Read More

A&E: Elvis has left the production

For many people, the sign of a good musical is that you leave the theater humming the songs. But what are we to make of the recent onslaught of shows where you hum the songs going in? These “jukebox musicals” raid the song catalogues of singers, composers or bands (The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, et al.) to cobble together a score. While the practice of creating a musical out of preexisting songs goes back through music and film…

Read More