“Harvey” at The Cat Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Improbable Fiction Theatre Company’s production of Harvey by Mary Chase is the latest American classic to be performed at Carmel’s very busy The Cat Theatre. Well directed by Dana Lesh, the show revisits one of theatre’s favorite characters, Elwood P. Dowd – famously rendered by James Stewart in the 1950 film adaptation of Ms. Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize winning play.

Let me start by saying that Harvey is a beautiful old play – gently comic, slightly philosophical, never edgy or terse. The Elwood character portrays someone we all wish we could know, or even perhaps be at times! Most of the play’s other roles reflect us audience members – people who may be caught up in the world’s endless swirl, whether professional or social, or perhaps endeavoring to attain what one cannot attain. Elwood prefers the pleasant approach to life – collecting friends and congenial experiences. Several times in the course of the script he is asked by someone “Can I get you anything?”, and he invariably replies: “What did you have in mind?” – such a beatific answer. And let us not forget the pooka, Harvey – the invisible rabbit who reveals that anything is possible.

Elwood P. Dowd (Daniel Shock) meets with Dr. Sanderson (Matt Hartzburg) in a scene from Improbable Fiction Theatre’s production of “Harvey”.

Daniel Shock is a wonderful choice for the Elwood part, he makes the man a cheerfully amiable gent, squarely capturing what I can presume was Ms. Chase’s intent. Shock’s timing and delivery are perfect for the softly tender humor Elwood conveys, and his mannerisms are spot-on. For the most part, he is able to create his own version of Dowd, apart from the iconic film depiction. I did sense a time or two where I feel Shock slipped into a Stewartian cadence or vocal quality, but in any case – he stays far from being a parody in his choices.

(from front-left) Myrtle Mae (Becca Bartley), Veta Louise (Diann Ryan) and (back) Dr. Chumley (Scott Prill) in a scene from Improbable Fiction Theatre’s production of “Harvey”.

There are many other fine performances, as well. Diann Ryan is splendid as Dowd’s social climbing sister, Veta Louise. Ms. Ryan continues her status as one of our finest area comic actresses with her precisely ranged portrayal. Becca Bartley, is a delight as Veta’s persistent daughter, Myrtle Mae and she matches Ms. Ryan step for step in their scenes together. Scott Prill expertly shows a wide span of emotional conditions in his full portrayal of the harried sanitarium director, Dr. Chumley. Caity Withers and Mark Hartzburg make the most of their characters’ strange love relationship as they face off as Nurse Kelly and Dr. Sanderson. And Josh Gibson plays the put-upon orderly Duane Wilson with obvious relish.

Elwood P. Dowd (Daniel Shock) has a word with Nurse Kelly (Caity Withers) in a scene from Improbable Fiction Theatre’s production of “Harvey”.

Though uneven at times, the entire proceeding is a good example of what a large ensemble can do with prized material. Characters flit in and out and are never far from the humorous plot-line. A certain energy drop occurred in the final scene – usually that happens due to the rehearsal schedule spending more time on the early scenes than on the later ones – but the show as a whole is still very pleasing and, as full as it is with great performances, it was well appreciated by the audience.

Harvey runs through May 26th . The CAT Theatre is located at 254 Veteran’s Way (formerly 254 1st Ave SW) in Carmel. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at https://www.iftheatrecompany.org/where-to-see-us/ or buying them at the door.

  • – photos by Becca Bartley and 4th Wall Players
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“See the Music, Hear the Dance” at Schrott Center

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Last evening See the Music, Hear the Dance opened it’s very limited run at Schrott Center for the Arts on the Butler University campus. The show is offered as a tandem performance by artistic director David Hochoy’s Dance Kaleidoscope company and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Matthew Kraemer. The program consisted of a trio of DK works accompanied by the ICO, plus one orchestral piece without dance.

It was my first chance to ever hear the ICO and I must say, they have an exquisite sound – rich and clear and perfectly blended. Their accompaniment for the DK offerings added a truly dynamic factor. The opening piece, “Ancient Airs and Dances” by Ottorino Respig (1879-1936) and the act two closer, “Ma Mere l’Oye (Mother Goose)” both benefited from the alliance between the two groups.

Paige Robinson (center) in the finale of Ma Mere l’Oye (Mother Goose)

The latter piece was officially noted as a world premiere. Based on a series of Mother Goose tales incorporated into this lyrical piece by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) we visit Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and Beauty and the Beast, among others, in a soft and colorful array of dances. Costumes by Cheryl Sparks, Barry Doss, and Lydia Tanji aid the storytelling.

The highlight of the program is a presentation of George Gershwin’s masterpiece, “Rhapsody in Blue” featuring pianist Drew Petersen. This work is among my personal favorite compositions and the ICO and DK dancers absolutely wow the audience with their performance of it. Mr. Petersen is flawless as he masterfully interprets the classic Gershwin piece.

Dance Kaleidoscope dancers present a section of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”

This is a work with many sections and the DK troupe expressed a myriad of ideas in showing choreographer Hochoy’s explications. Some conceptions work better than others, but those that ‘click’ are a joy to watch. For example, a famous section, the melodic interlude which Paul Whiteman adopted as his orchestra’s theme for many years, is presented as a formal dance – the men in blue tails and the women in billowing gowns (yet another nod to costumer Cheryl Spark’s prowess) as the dancers swirl as in a 1940’s musical number. It was unexpected, perfect, and refined. The long and thunderous standing ovation for all involved in the piece was well deserved.

Bottomline: the balance between musical production and dance is well presented on this occasion. Both the dance troupe and the orchestra are precisely rehearsed and give exciting performances. You will need to rush to see this coupling of live music and dance though, as it closes May 19th.

See the Music, Hear the Dance continues through this weekend with a final performance on May 19th. Go to https://dancekal.org to find performance schedules and to reserve tickets or call 317.843.3800.

  • – photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography

“The Children” at Phoenix Theatre

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reviewed by Adam Crowe

2019’s Indianapolis theatrical season has seen several shows that are popping up in cities all over the country. Local productions of A Doll’s House Pt. II, The Christians, and Newsies are just three examples of shows that are new and very popular everywhere. Another such example is playing for two more weekends at Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre. Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children is playing this season in most major American cities and the Phoenix production is an exquisite explanation of why.

Directed by Artistic Director Bill Simmons, The Children features Indianapolis’ own Charles Goad, Chicago’s Donna Steele, and former Hoosier Diane Kondrat. Over its 100 minutes, The Children uses a realistic, if somewhat heightened situation and explores mortality, duplicity, and what we all owe “the children”. Playwright Kirkwood is interested in how we live, both with ourselves and with others, and how our preconceptions about our own mortality can have devastating effects on others.

Hazel and Robin reside in a seaside British cottage and receive a surprise visit from long absent friend Rose. We soon discover that the idyllic cottage is located quite close to the site of a not-so-natural disaster, and these characters have ties not just to each other, but to the site itself. I won’t disclose why Rose is back for her visit, but the revelations come fast and hit hard once all three characters occupy the same room.

from left: Diane Kondrat, Donna Steele, and Charles Goad rehearse a scene for Phoenix Theatre’s “The Children”

While the themes are serious, there is a lot of humor in the play. More importantly, the themes are thoughtful and entirely accessible, despite the scientific pedigrees of all three characters. Kirkwood has created a story that is captivating and the cast’s performances are all excellent. All three actors are in top form, and they make it easy to understand why the play is being performed in so many theaters across the country. I always enjoy productions at the Phoenix, and this was certainly no exception. I cannot recommend this production highly enough. It is an enthralling evening of theater.

The Children runs through May 19th. Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre is now located at 705 N. Illinois Street. Free parking is available at the theatre’s own parking lot, just across Illinois street. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website www.phoenixtheatre.org or by calling (317) 635-7529. 

  • – photos provided by Phoenix Theatre

“Forbidden Broadway” at Actors Theatre of Indiana

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reviewed by Larry Adams

Trying to get laughs is dismal

Specially when the lines aren’t there.”

Parody is a uniquely risky thing on stage. While most theatrical endeavors rise or fall on their own, parody stands in constant relation to that which it is lampooning, thus inviting- almost demanding- continual comparison. In the right comedic hands, this can be a true joy to watch. The problem comes when the parody itself is not nearly as inventive or witty as that which it’s attempting to skewer. Unfortunately, the final show of ATI’s 2018-2019 season, “Forbidden Broadway,” falls squarely in the latter camp.

The product of a series of Broadway song parodies originally performed in New York City nightclubs, Forbidden Broadway began its formal theatrical run in 1982. Since then, author Gerard Alessandrini has attempted to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of Broadway musical hits by continually refreshing his show with new material, resulting in twenty-one different “official versions” over the past three-plus decades. According to the program, Alessandrini has now taken a hiatus from the project (to work on- what else?- a “Hamilton” spoof), and after watching the latest iteration at Carmel’s Actors Theatre of Indiana this past Friday night, one gets the feeling that even he can sense this gravy train has just about run out of track.

The cast of “Forbidden Broadway” – from left: Don Farrell, Cynthia Collins, Logan Moore and Judy Fitzgerald

After an introduction I didn’t quite get, involving two men apparently lost in New York City while looking for theater- or something- the show thankfully abandons any pretense of a cohesive storyline and goes straight for the song parodies. This starts fairly strong with a solid send-up of Matt Stone, Trey Parker and “The Book of Mormon,” but then takes a long and deep dive into mediocrity for most of the first act, beginning with a virtually unintelligible riff on West Side Story… I think. Fortunately, the show is saved just before intermission by what has to be at least a ten-minute hunk on “Les Miserables” and its famous (though long retired) turntable stage, featuring the most popular song of the evening, “It’s Too High,” a spoof of Jean Valjean’s plaintive “Bring Him Home.”

clockwise from top: Logan Moore, Cynthia Collins, Don Farrell and Judy Fitzgerald satirize “Les Miserables” in a scene from ATI’s production of “Forbidden Broadway”

The second act fares slightly better, with long takes on “The Lion King” and “The Little Mermaid.” The jokes tend to be fairly obvious, telegraphed, and strung out a bit too far, particularly in a sequence on “Man of La Mancha” (We get it! He’s old! Start the song, already!), but some solid jabs are landed, especially concerning the Disneyfication of Broadway. A final piece on Sondheim edges toward poignancy but was maybe too inside baseball for me- or maybe just too late in the game to grab me back.

It’s not that the production itself was particularly off. Though occasionally pitchy- and surprisingly often committing the theatrical sin of overreaching when laughs were clearly not coming- all four actors threw themselves into the multiple roles required of them Friday night with gusto, throughout what must surely be an exhausting show night after night. The clear standout in both voice and manner was Indiana’s own Logan Moore, but castmates Cynthia Collins, Judy Fitzgerald and Don Farrell all gamely tackled the material on stage about as well as anyone could.

from left: Judy Fitzgerald, Don Farrell, Cynthia Collins, and Logan Moore with Keith Potts at the piano in a scene from ATI’s “Forbidden Broadway”

Pianist Keith Potts was truly a bright spot in the evening, and though the set was somewhat uninspiring, the lighting worked well with the scenes and Donna Jacobi’s costuming was nothing short of fantastic. No, the problem is that quite frankly Alessandrini’s songs just aren’t that funny. Simple word switches substitute for actual wit: The “Les Miserables” tearjerker “On My Own” becomes “On My PHONE” (Ah! I see what you did there!). “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” drags on interminably as the one-joke “Can You Feel the PAIN Tonight,” with Alessandrini mining the mega-hit “Lion King” for comedic gold and apparently deciding it’s in the orthopedic problems caused by the costumes- pretty astoundingly weak cheese for a theatrical quarry that offers more easy targets than an NRA convention. Unfortunately, most of the show’s humor rises only to about this level, reminiscent more of Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer than the genius of Tom Lehrer.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the mood for some really light fluff, and you REALLY like Broadway, this show might be for you.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Forbidden Broadway continues at ATI’s Studio Theatre in the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel through May 19th. You can get information about the schedule and tickets by calling 317.843.3800 or by logging on at http://www.atistage.org .

  • photos provided by Actors Theatre of Indiana

“You Can’t Take It With You” at IRT

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reviewed by Adam Crowe

Indy in springtime brings us the season closing production at Indiana Repertory Theater. And like my foray last week to Carmel Community Players, IRT is finishing its 2018-2019 season with a 20th century classic. Unlike the drama in Carmel, however, IRT is re-visiting a comedy classic, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You.

from left: Aaron Kirby (Tony Kirby), David Lively (Mr. Kirby), Alice (Jaynce Caraballo), Carmen Roman (Mrs. Kirby), and Joey Collins (Boris Kolenkhov) in IRT’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You”.

Written in 1937 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, You Can’t Take It With You introduces audiences to the Vanderhof/Sycamore family. Headed by Grandpa Vanderhof, the family and their live-in guests probably serve as the template for most of the wacky families created in later 20th century fiction. The central plot finds daughter Alice in love with her wealthy Boss’ son and when the two mismatched families come together, the comedy is both ridiculous and sublime. You’ll likely never play a word game again without thinking of them. Kaufman and Hart aren’t just playing at farce. Underneath the comedy are lessons in understanding, acceptance, and what constitutes the real things of value in life. It may have been written over 80 years ago, but You Can’t Take It With You is as relevant as ever. No arch, post-modern irony or sarcasm here. The comedy is broad, absurd and delightful.

Mehry Eslaminia (Essie) and Robert Elliott (Grandpa Vanderhof) in IRT’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You”.

IRT regular Bob Elliot plays witty and wise Grandpa. His daughter Penny is played by Milicent Wright. Both performers beautifully hit every laugh and every moment of heart. James Leaming is Penny’s husband Paul Sycamore and Janyce Caraballo is daughter Alice, in love with young Mr. Kirby (Aaron Kirby), who’s parents are played by David Lively and Carmen Roman, and who seem to represent the more logical, conventional viewpoints of “society”. All eventually fall to the irresistible powers of the Vanderhof/Sycamore influence.

Adam Tran (Donald), Carlos Medina Maldonado (Ed), Milicent Wright (Penny), and (on bed) Molly Garner (Gay Wellington) in IRT’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You”.

Also residing in the Vanderhof house, a fantastic bit of scenic design and execution, are Mr. Depinna (Ansley Valentine), Rheba (Brianna Milan), Alice’s sister Essie (Mehry Eslaminia), and Essie’s husband Ed (Carlos Medina Maldonado). Visiting guests throughout the two act play include Mr. Kolenkhov (Joey Collins) – who is Essie’s ballet instructor, Rheba’s boyfriend Donald (Adam Tran) and Grand Dutchess Olga Katrina (Jan Lucas). I won’t try to explain how all of these characters intersect and move the story along, as I don’t wish to spoil the fun. Suffice to say, Director Peter Amster’s inspired choreography of this menagerie is theatrical magic and his cast is a joy to watch. And I can’t forget those in smaller roles, who get less stage time, but are just as much fun to watch. Kudos to Scot Greenwell, Michael Hosp, Zachariah Stonerock, and especially Molly Garner.

Ansley Valentine (Mr. De Pinna), James Leaming (Paul Sycamore), and Scot Greenwell (Henderson) in IRT’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You”.

Special recognition also goes to the designers, especially Linda Buchanan, who, with the help of the IRT scene shop and props department, has pulled out all the stops. Tracy Dorman’s costumes tell just the right story for each character, and Michael Lincoln and Andrew Hopson’s lights and sound are equally evocative.

I strongly encourage you to make a date with this amazing family. At a time when it feels like all there is between Americans is division, a couple of hours with this bunch will lift you spirits and your heart!

Kauffman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You continues on the IRT Mainstage through May 19th at 140 West Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at http://www.irtlive.com or by calling (317) 635-5252.

  • – photos by Zach Rosing

“A Streetcar Named Desire” at Carmel Community Players

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reviewed by Adam Crowe

Carmel Community Players continues to seek a permanent home. In the meantime, it is still producing captivating live theater in Hamilton County. Its latest offering can be found at The CAT, a theater space located near Carmel’s Arts and Design district. That offering is the American theatrical classic, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

Even for infrequent theater goers, the characters of “Streetcar” are iconic. Brutish Stanley Kowalski and his wife Stella live in post-war New Orleans’ French Quarter, near the streetcar line of the title. Williams’ play concerns the impact of a visit to the Kowalskis by Stella’s older sister Blanche. A schoolteacher, Blanche makes an unannounced appearance at her sister’s modest tenement, unleashing a torrent of secrets and lies that change the lives of these three, as well as others in their orbit.

Stanley Kowalski (Jonathan Scoble) and his wife Stella (Addison Adherdts) share a tender moment in a scene from CCP’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

Film performances by Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando have dominated the modern perception of Stanley and Blanche and they present a daunting challenge to actors assuming these roles. CCP has found more than sufficient talent to populate Williams’ world.

Jonathan Scoble’s Stanley is proud, hot tempered, and can be “as common as dirt”. Still, Scoble also masters the wounded vulnerability necessary for some of his scenes with Stella. Addison Ahrendts’ Stella is equally complex, in her own fashion. She may demur to her husband in many things, but she is no doormat, and fiercely defends her home and family. Stanley’s pal Harold Mitchell, integral to sister Blanche’s plot to redeem her lost fortunes, is well played by Adam B. Workman. In Workman’s performance, Mitchell’s basic decency and longing are clear and touching. Other Quarter residents and visitors are adeptly played by Scott Prill, Susan Yeaw, Addie Taylor, Nolan Karwoski, Susan M. Lange, and Sebastian Ocampo. Our friend Ken Klingenmeier makes a crucial appearance at the play’s end and does so with his usual panache.

from left: Eunice (Susan Yeaw), Stella (Addison Ahrendts) and Blanche (Laura Lanman Givens) in a scene from CCP’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

The entire cast is strong. Still, as in most productions of this classic, the night belongs to Blanche DuBois, and Laura Lanman Givens’ performance as Blanche is as complex and layered as the character herself. From the moment she appears at the Kowalski’s door, a bundle of nerves and aristocratic airs, Givens’ Blanche grabs the audience and does not let go. Givens dominates not just with Williams’ beautiful poetry, but with her every look and gesture.

Mitch (Adam B. Workman, standing left) confronts Stanley (Jonathan Scoble, center) as Steve (Scott Prill, lower left) and Pablo (Sebastian Ocampo) look on in a scene from CCP’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

The technical aspects are mostly on par with the production as a whole, though scene changes seemed to lag and some sound choices seemed out of place. Ron Roessler’s set design and decoration created a terrific mood and Linda Grow’s costumes let you know exactly who these characters are.

Directed by Brent Woolridge, A Streetcar Named Desire is demanding. With two intermissions and a run time of almost three hours, this is not an evening for those with an appetite for light and frothy. Still, for an audience seeking a full theatrical meal, this “Streetcar” should not disappoint.

from left: Pablo (Sebastian Ocampo), Stanley (Jonathan Scoble), Doctor (Ken Klingenmeier), Blanche (Laura Lanman Givens) and Nurse (Addie Taylor)
in a scene from CCP’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and closes Sunday May 5th. The CAT is located at 254 Veteran’s Way (formerly 254 1st Ave SW) in Carmel. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website http://www.carmelplayers.org or by calling (317) 815-9387.

  • – photos by Charlie Hanover

“Newsies” at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

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reviewed by Daniel Shock

Civic’s production of Disney’s Newsies, directed by Suzanne Fleenor – is spectacular. I wanted to relieve your tension right away so that you didn’t have to rush through the lengthier parts of this review to get to what you really want to know. Go see it!

Disney’s Newsies is a theatrical musical based on the 1992 musical film of the same name. Both are based on the very real story of the striking newsboys in 1899 New York City. The film, released in the spring of 1992, with music by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and many others) was not a box office success. The Rotten Tomatoes score for the film is 39%. Roger Ebert gave it a 1 and half star review. I confess that I clearly remember renting the VHS of the film when I was in college. I made it about 15 minutes in before giving up on it.

For most films with those statistics, that would be the end of the story. Newsies is not most films. If you look at the other rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score, you will see that 88% of audience members liked it. Over the years since its release, Newsies grew a rabid cult following. In 2012, the show debuted on Broadway. It was a smash success, becoming the fastest of any Disney musical to turn a profit.

In her director’s note, director Suzanne Fleenor reviews the historical events that inspired the film and the show. She writes: “In 1899 two of the most prosperous newspaper publishers in the country, Hearst and Pulitzer worked together to figure out a way to make even more money. The Spanish-American war, largely created by the press as a way to sell newspapers had ended; a dip in sales ensued. They targeted the bottom rung of the publishing ladder; newsboys and girls.” The publishers raised the price that they charged the newsboys/girls from 50 cents to 60 cents. She also notes that “Most of the kids who sold the papers were orphans or runaways living in tenement housing.” These kids were fighting for survival and the price increase threatened to push them over the edge.

from left: Jack Kelly (played by Jake Letts) and Crutchie (David Cunningham) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s production of “Newsies”

The show opens with Jack Kelly (Jake Letts) telling his friend and fellow newspaper delivery boy, Crutchie (David Cunningham) of his hopes to leave New York for new horizons – Santa Fe. We learn that Jack lives with many other kids – orphans and runaways – who make their living selling newspapers. While the newsies are purchasing their papers to sell for the day, they meet Davey (Alex Brophy) and his sister Les (Emily Chrzanowski). Davey and Les are lucky enough to live with their family, who they intend to support with their newspaper sales. Jack notes that Les’ youth is an advantage and offers to help – for a cut.

from left: Hannah (Emily Schaab), Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Kruze), Seitz (David Brock) and Bunsen (Tanner Brunson) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s production of “Newsies”

Meanwhile, in tycoon Joseph Pulitzer’s (Steve Kruze) office we hear about slipping newspaper distribution and the economics of newspapers as justification for placing the burden of higher prices on the newsies. When we catch back up with Jack, Davey and Les we find that they are being pursued by the corrupt Snyder (Parrish Williams), Warden of “The Refuge” – a juvenile detention center. They seek refuge in the vaudeville theatre run by Jack’s friend Medda Larkin (Tiffany Gilliam). While the siblings watch a show at the theatre, Jack becomes infatuated with young reporter, Katherine Plumber (Ani Arzumanian) who is there to write a review of the show. She ignores his advances, but becomes curious when he leaves a portrait of her that he has sketched on a newspaper. In the morning Jack and the other newsies find out about the price increase. Jack, with Davey’s help inspires the newsies to strike and fight back against the powerful newspaper tycoons.

This production is a joy. There is not a weak link in the cast. Jake Letts as Jack is kind, tough and sings like an angel. I never once doubted his leadership abilities or that his Jack deserved the loyalty of these newsies. Ani Arzumanian as aspiring journalist, Katherine, gets one of the best songs in the show “Watch What Happens”. She finds humor, vulnerability and strength in just the right places. David Cunningham deserves recognition for his role of “Crutchie”. His gave a moving performance throughout and really shined in his solo “Letter from the Refuge”. When Tiffany Gilliam started singing “That’s Rich”… I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. She gives a performance that makes you question life: 1. Why is she not a star? 2. Why do I not get out to see shows more often? She was outstanding!

Katherine (Ani Arzumanian) and Jack Kelly (Jake Letts) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s production of “Newsies”

Another performance that really caught me by surprise was Emily Chrzanowski as 12 year old Les. She makes the very most of her part, bashing heads, delivering great comic timing, and I was stunned to see in her bio that she is 16 years old. She at once seems older and younger than that. Maybe 16 is just right. Alex Brophy as her brother, Davey, is genuine, sweet and loyal. He makes Davey the perfect balance to his friend, Jack. Steve Kruze has a great singing voice and he used it so well as Joseph Pulitzer. He was very effective portraying Pulitzer’s self-centered nature. I also enjoyed the Jimmy Durante flavor that Darrin Gowan brought as Wiesel, the unsympathetic newspaper employee that sold papers to the kids.

There were so many great moments from the company it would be impossible to mention them all. The singing was great all around. Harmonies were, to my ear, spot on and gave me chills. The choreography by Anne Beck was thrilling and so very impressive. (I watched to see if I could catch anyone a half step behind the others…but found nothing. Everyone was in perfect lock step.) Adroit musical direction was provided by Brent Marty while the orchestra, led by Matthew Tippel, was capable and added great energy to the performance.

Medda Larkin (Tiffany Gilliam) entertains the crowd in a scene from Civic Theatre’s production of “Newsies”

Technical aspects of the production were also very pleasing. The minimalist set by David McQuillen Robertson was perfect. Scene changes felt natural and were not distracting or over long. Adreienne Conces’ costumes were appropriate for the era. Tiffany Gilliam’s costumes stole the show, I think. Lighting was varied and natural. Sound was generally good with a few spots that seemed a little muddy – but that is a nitpick that should not in anyway discourage you from seeing this show!

I would not delay in getting your tickets to Disney’s Newsies. The show will run through Saturday May 11 at the Tarkington Theatre, 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN. Call the box office at 317.843.3800 for tickets.

  • – Photos by Zach Rosing

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