Thoughts on two iconic Indianapolis productions.
I delayed an out-of-town-trip in order to catch "Evening with the Stars," the world-class performance staged each year by the Indianapolis City Ballet. A surprising audience favorite seemed to be students in the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program in a performance of choreographer Myles Thatcher's "Stone and Steel." Mine? A toss-up between Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin (both from the San Francisco Ballet) in a seemingly friction-free "Diving Into the Lilacs" choreographed by Yuri Possokhov; Herman Cornejo of the American Ballet Theatre teaming with Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet on the playfully competitive "Les Lutins"; and the Royal Ballet's Melissa Hamilton and Eric Underwood's "Qualia," created by Wayne McGregor. But there was plenty of excellence to choose from and the program this year was briskly structured. Added up-close-and-personal video segments were a nice addition this time around.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre's annual production of "A Christmas Carol" is up and running and all the familiar elements are there–the snow, the giant frame, the exposed back wall of the theater. The only significant difference I felt in this year's version–directed by Courtney Sale and running through Dec. 26–is a youthful vigor. Ryan Artzberger has returned as a Scrooge (without the shaved head he brought to his first Ebenezer incarnation) who seems to have plenty of years left in him to do good in the world post-haunting, while Matthew Brumlow and Emily Ristine play Cratchits who clearly got down to child-making early in their romantic career. It's nice to see former Scrooge Charles Goad return, this time as the ghost of Jacob Marley (in makeup that borders on kabuki,) and IRT vets Milicent Wright and David Alan Anderson provide moments of joy in a production that once again earns its holiday tradition status.