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Arts & Entertainment, etc. / Indiana Repertory Theatre / Phoenix Theatre

Reasons to be praised: local actor earns raves in D.C.

Ryan Artzberger called 'wonderfully complicated.'

April 12, 2010

I shouldn't have even opened the Washington City Paper. After all, I knew that my drive-there-Tuesday, visit-a-college-possibility-with-my-daughter Wednesday and a drive-back Thursday left me no time for theater attending or museum hopping.

But I opened the paper anywhere and not only were there a half dozen D.C. shows I would have liked to see, but there in a photo accompanying the featured review was Ryan Artzberger, a familiar face from Indianapolis theater.

The Indy-based actor who has appeared here recently in the Indiana Repertory Theatre's "Romeo and Juliet" and HART's "In a Dark Dark House" is playing the lead role in Neil LaBute's "Reasons to Be Pretty" at the Studio Theatre through May 2. Artzberger, it turns out, is no stranger to D.C. He has appeared at the Shakespeare Theatre in "Pericles," "Cyrano" and others.

I did already see the play on Broadway and fully planned on seeing it again when the Phoenix Theatre stages it here in Indy later this season. But when the City Paper reviewer (who had qualms about the play itself) raved about one of our own, well, I regretted not being able to catch it. Quoting critic Trey Graham: "I hear the guy who played Greg in New York was terrific, but he can't have been much better than Ryan Artzberger, who's creating a wonderfully complicated portrait of a regular guy here. He's stubborn and glib early on...then he's convincingly broken... his struggle to do the right thing is kinda heartbreaking."

Once home, I read that The Washington Post's Peter Marks and was kicking myself even harder for having missed it: "It remains on a gratifyingly strong footing because of the splendid anchoring performance of Ryan Artzberger, whose Greg comes across as an appealing manual on how to make a bad situation worse. It's an indication of Artzberger's charming hold on us that we identify with Greg even when he feels compelled to corroborate the lies of a truly reprehensible buddy."

Out of curiosity, I called the Phoenix Theatre this morning to find out who would be playing the part in Indianapolis.

Turns out they've already cast...Ryan Artzberger.

I feel better.

The show runs at the Phoenix July 8-31.

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