Dramatic battle in Carmel

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Carmel Community Players, a volunteer theater founded in 1993, has announced an ambitious season of all Pulitzer-Prize-winning shows — even though a chunk of its funding was shot down by the Carmel Support the Arts Fund and its performance venues in question.

The drama goes back a while, but became public when the city of Carmel announced grants to 11 arts organizations, including the yet-to-produce-a-play Carmel Repertory Theatre, a company with a number of former CCP-ers at its core.

The Carmel Community Players $10,000 allocation was the only one denied. Those who scored cash include Carmel Brass ($10,000), the professional Actors Theatre of Indiana ($35,000), Carmel Symphony Orchestra ($175,000), and the aforementioned Carmel Repertory Theatre ($70,000).

(Unrelated note: The cringe-worthy J. Seward Johnson sculptures that plague downtown Carmel cost the city nearly $1 million, but that's another subject.)

The CCP shoot-down has been the buzz of Indianaauditions.com, a popular site for discussion of community theater and local film production. Check out the main thread here.

Despite the uncertainty, CCP's 2009-2010 season includes "Rabbit Hole," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Crimes of the Heart," "How I Learned to Drive," and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Venues to be announced.

The new CRT has announced its first production, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," to be performed at University High School in June. The musical "Oliver!" is slated to open July 17.

I'll confess to not having seen any of the work by CCP, so I can't speak to the quality of its productions or to the artistic importance of the players who left to form the new group.

So, Carmel-ites (and other interested parties), where should the money have gone? To the established group or its fledgling spin-off? Or, contrary to what the funders seem to think, is Carmel a big enough town to support both?

Finally, which, if any, should find a home at the new performing arts center?

Your thoughts?

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