“The Great Bike Race” at TOTS

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

In July 1904, the second Tour de France bicycle race was held. It was plagued by cheating and scandal. Participants broke rules on many stages, everything from catching illegal rides by car and/or train, to finding unauthorized nourishment along the route, to nails thrown out on the course to cause flat tires. Some of the riders’ conduct was so bad that the race’s organizer stated that it would be the last time the race was run. In the end the top finishers were disqualified and the youngest rider in the contest, Henri Cornet, was declared the winner.

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From left: Carrie Bennett Fedor, Evan Wallace, John Kern, Frankie Bolda, Sonia Goldberg, Paige Scott, Craig Kemp, Ben Asaykwee and Joshua C. Ramsey make up the cast for Zach Rosing’s production of “The Great BIke Race” at TOTS

Playwright/director Zack Neiditch has taken this amazing sports story from the distant past and turned it into the lively and original production, The Great Bike Race – which is produced by Zach Rosing and currently on the bill at Theatre on the Square. The show first appeared at the 2014 Indy Fringe Fest and has been elongated somewhat for this run.

The story is told as a series of episodic vignettes and the fit cast of 9 actors and actresses zooms through the race’s action with aplomb. The over-the-top activity is stuffed with comic turns, silly songs, a motion picture background, a virtual cow, love story sidebars, looney characterizations, a popular 1904 radio program and lots of high powered racing action.

The comedy is uneven at best, ranging from cheap fart jokes and profanity to really inspired situational humor. The songs are actually quite good (original music is by Paige Scott) and they move the story along nicely, plus they are offered by some very talented voices. The background is ingenious and very much a part of the storytelling. The cow speaks for itself. The love stories tend to be uno-gendered and a bit forced. The looney characterizations are a delight and are fully rendered. The radio show is a nice twist of contemporary insanity (cleverly anachronistic was their pitch) which adds to the mayhem. The high powered cycle racing looks exhausting – but this cast is, as I said, fit. And I must make special mention of Peachy Keen Costuming as their added touch is a vital one.

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From left: Paige Scott, Frankie Bolda and Ben Asaykwee in a scene from Zach Rosing’s production of “The Great Bike Race” at TOTS

I do applaud the production team on their penchant for taking chances. Some concepts fall by the way-side, but a good many of the ideas land truly and provide a worthwhile entertainment. The team of actors functions well as an amazing ensemble, but standout performances by Frankie Bolda as winning rider Henri Cornet, Ben Asaykwee as a likeably villainous Maurice Garin, and Paige Scott (whose mustachioed image in the publicity ads and posters for the production has become nothing short of iconic) as the dastardly Hippolyte Acoutrier, lead the way. Additionally, Josh Ramsey does an impressive job – his hands full with a trio of very varied rider depictions.

Bottomline: this was a perfect Father’s Day afternoon entertainment – full of laughs, a few groans, and much quirky and imaginative story-telling. I enjoyed it!

The Great Bicycle Race continues at Theatre on the Square for two more performances, June 23 & 24, 2017 at 8:00 PM. For tickets and information, go online to https://zrpevents.vbotickets.com/events

  • – Photos provided by Zach Rosing Productions

“Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at Westfield Playhouse

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reviewed by Larry Adams

The skies were clear, the moon was bright and full, and the temperature was just right. It was one of those beautiful Indiana summer evenings, and so I closed up the office and took the short drive out to the hundred-year-old church that now serves as home to Westfield Playhouse. A jog up the steps and through the lobby, and I quickly found myself in the fictional town of Bunyan Bay, Minnesota for a performance of Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married.

Which reminds me- before I even get to the play, a word about the venue: the refurbished little church in and of itself is a charming place to see a show, but board president John Sampson consistently impresses with his sets, in this case creating a mammoth, high-ceilinged interior of a small-town drinking establishment complete with tables and chairs, a full- size bar and a separate stage for the occasional entertainer or local singer. I’ve been on this stage a few times over the past couple of years and I know it isn’t big enough to hold this set. It’s easy to forget the contribution of the peripheral elements in a production as we focus on the actors, but, with the help of tone-perfect set decoration by director Doug Davis, this impressive set draws the audience into the fictional world of Bunyan long before the actors first take the stage.

Clara (Karen Webster,) Trigger (Doug Stanton,) Bernice (Tanya Haas,) and Kanute (Kevin Shadle)

Clara (Karen Webster,) Trigger (Doug Stanton,) Bernice (Tanya Haas,) and Kanute (Kevin Shadle) in a scene from Westfield Playhouse’s production of “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Married”.

Ok. On to the show. Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married, by Phil and Paul Olson, is apparently the fifth in a series of Don’t Hug Me plays, all revolving around the same six characters, who presumably must therefore have some sort of longstanding intimacy problems. (I say “apparently” and “presumably” because I haven’t actually seen any of the other plays or bothered to do any research beyond asking the actors after the show. I’m on a deadline here, and my internet barely beats dial-up.) Westfield staged one of the previous shows in the series a few years ago and has brought back three of the original four actors to reprise their roles in this sequel. DHMWM takes a look at three different relationships among the characters: a new one just starting along the wedding track, a longstanding marriage that has lost its spark, and a, well, semi-reluctant romantic entanglement. Throw in a stun gun and a plague of encephalitis infected mosquitoes and, as they say, hilarious hijinks ensue.

This ain’t Shakespeare. It’s pure fluff, which makes it perfect entertainment for a summer evening after a long week at work or dealing with the kids. And although that’s not usually my favorite cup of tea, I have to admit this production has such an endearing quality to it that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. Partly that’s a credit to the script, which is filled with winks at the audience, almost early David Letterman-esque winks (kind of a “sure, it’s stupid, but what the heck, it’s just a show” sort of thing) which serve to reassure that no one, including either of the writers, is taking this too seriously. But it’s more than that. The cast just has a palpable chemistry, a comfort level perhaps developed in the previous production, that allows them to play it with abandon. They just look like they’re having fun on stage, and that fun is infectious. Like elephantitis. (Alright, you won’t get that one unless you see the show.)

Kevin Shadle shines in what I think is his best role yet as the rich and lonely Kanute, while Mike Green, who impressed me years ago in A Nice Family Gathering, again lights up the stage as the new groom-to-be Aarvid. Karen Webster and Tanya Haas, two ladies with whom I have had the absolute pleasure and honor of sharing a stage or two, show why they are among Indianapolis’s most enjoyable and dependable actresses as Clara and Bernice respectively, nailing both the laughs and the occasional poignant moments. Doug Stanton, however, gets the juiciest role (roles?) of the show as both Clara’s husband Gunner and his “identical twin sister” Trigger, and he revels in the latter. Cheap laughs? Sure, but he embraces them fully and makes them work to the point of being scene stealers. Put together, the five (six?) work together so smoothly and naturally you suspect they didn’t need a director- which, of course, is generally the hallmark of good directing. Credit Doug Davis here for both inspired casting and deft direction.

Aarvid (Michael Green) and Bernice (Tanya Haas)

Aarvid (Michael Green) and Bernice (Tanya Haas) in a scene from Westfield Playhouse’s production of “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Married”.

Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married was advertised during the previous production as a “play with music” rather than a musical, a distinction which, after watching it, seems somehow accurate even if I can’t quite put my finger on why. The show mixes a surprisingly lengthy set of short songs into the fun through the gimmick of a karaoke machine that can supposedly read the thoughts of the characters. If that sounds a bit hokey, well, it is, but not to worry- the writers aren’t particularly wedded to the idea and don’t seem to mind ignoring or completely disregarding it if it gets in the way of a joke. The cast, to their credit, does an admirable job of voicing the songs and pulling off what little choreography goes along with them.

In terms of pure musical talent, the ladies, I must say, outshine the gentlemen; however, even if the guys are not in great danger of becoming The Next American Idols, they still prove themselves perfectly capable of carrying a tune and are infinitely better dancers than Yours Truly (that last part’s not saying much, guys). Fortunately, the songs themselves don’t require major feats of operatic virtuosity, and, in fact, would probably be lessened by them. Even with the occasional missed note or chopped rhythm, there is a certain charm and, if I may say so, “authenticity” in hearing the thoughts and dreams of these simple characters revealed in pleasing but untrained voices.

Initially, I couldn’t quite decide if the whole musical concept of the show was working for me, with some of the first act songs seemingly rather forced and pedestrian; but the second act numbers, including Doug Stanton’s hilarious “The Day That Bob Dylan Was Here” and the show-stopping “We’re All Gonna Die,” easily won me- and clearly the rest of the audience- over. Again, it’s not Shakespeare, and it’s not Les Miz either; but, in a word or two, the music and the actors’ performances of it are, like the rest of the show, simply “great fun.”

Bottom line (as A Seat on the Aisle’s glorious leader Ken Klingenmeier would say): if you’re looking for a night of no-thought, pure fun entertainment, head out to Westfield Playhouse’s Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married.

Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married continues through June 18th. You can get theatre information and reservations at http://www.westfieldplayhouse.org or by calling 317.402.3341 .

  • – Photos from Westfield Playhouse’s Facebook page

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Dance is a Contact Sport” at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Dance Kaleidoscope completes it’s 2016-17 season with a compilation of pieces presented on Indiana Repertory Theatre’s OneAmerica Stage. Dance is a Contact Sport features two excerpts from DK Artistic Director David Hochoy’s catalogue of works, along with a creation by guest artist Kiesha Lalama and the premiere of a new work by choreographer Stephanie Martinez.

The evening begins with a selection from Hochoy’s 1991 work, First Light. This dance is presented over a spectacular piece of music – “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by John Adams. The composition, described as “a fanfare for orchestra”, gives the DK troupe an intense musical bed full of rising action with which to convey their most energetic movements. Propelled by this force of ever-increasing tension, the dancers are very successful in raising our pulses and taking our breath away. Of special note is the dynamic lighting by Laura E. Glover coupled with the intensely colorful costuming by Cheryl Sparks.

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DK dancers perform David Hochoy’s “First Light” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

The mood changes to a smooth and romantic pace with Jillian Godwin and Zach Young’s sublime performance to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” from Mr. Hochoy’s Deep in the Heart of Country (2014). This familiar ballad’s message of helpless love is sweetly imparted by the dancers’ skillful work and it provides a needed resting point between two very lively selections.

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Jillian Godwin and Zach Young perform “Crazy” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

Kiesha Lalama’s Catapult, which she created with the DK troupe in 2015, begins with stillness. But this quietude is very much like a launch pad before the rocket blast. Soon enough the music (“Forget Your Limitations” by Rishi and Harshil) rises and the troupe catches fire, launching into a powerful display of energetic imagery. The assorted combinations work through amazingly vigorous sets of group dance, and featured solos, duets and trios. I was left breathless for a second time as DK’s corps of performers showed just why they are so highly regarded.

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Mariel Greenlee performs Kiesha Lalama’s “Catapult” with fellow DK dancers as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

Intermission followed with an open discussion by Stephanie Martinez about the piece we were to see next – her new False Start, Pass Interference.

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DK dancers perform the rollicking conclusion of Stephanie Martinez’s “False Start, Pass Interference” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

This long form work examines, celebrates, and satirizes sports in our culture, with good humor and raillery. Costumes by Michele Hankins emphasize “team” and the accompanying sound track features everything in sports – from field action and arena celebrations, to commentaries, tv commercials and congratulatory fan-songs. Very free-form and abstractly original in style, Ms. Martinez’s creation shows us aspects of sports participation, viewing, and fandom. And in the midst of all the frenzied hoopla, it slows down to take time for a beautifully sensitive look at a couple (Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman) dealing with a situation due to sport fixation. Some of the composition’s highlights include Jillian Godwin’s feisty referee, Brandon Comer’s wild and wordy commentator, and something I believe I have never before witnessed – a singer dancing the national anthem! False Start, Pass Interference is a wonderfully imagined and perfectly presented new piece. Its unique and thoroughly enjoyable form presents a program dance on subject matter that surrounds us, but which is rarely featured in a format such as this. I’ll hope to see more from Ms. Martinez’s interesting creativity.

Dance is a Contact Sport only runs thru Sunday June 4th, so you will need to get your tickets rather quickly. You can get performance and ticket information by going to http://dancekal.org/features/concerts/dance-is-a-contact-sport-june-1-4 or by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.

  • — Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography

“Shrek – The Musical” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre continues its 2017 season with a very ambitious production of Shrek – The Musical. Based on the 2001 DreamWorks film, “Shrek”, the show is directed and choreographed by Ron Morgan, with musical director Terry Woods conducting the lively score. Book and lyrics are by Pulitzer-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and music is by Jeanine Tesori.

As I say, the show is an ambitious endeavor, especially relating to costuming (provided with many flourishes by Travis Grant and MSMT Costumes), makeup design (accomplished here by the incomparable Daniel Klingler) and wig design (rendered by Kurt Alger). Michael Layton provides the swamp, forest, and castle scenic design, and Ryan Koharchik handles the lighting.

Donkey urges Shrek to Make A Move

From left: Emily Grace Tucker (Fiona), Julius Thomas II (Donkey) and Peter Scharbrough (Shrek) in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Most of the characters from the film come alive onstage, led by Peter Scharbrough as the stoically grumpy ogre, Shrek. Scharbrough overcomes the necessary encumbrance of his extreme makeup to give a fully realized performance. His strong voice is well-suited for the part, and he comes through with a truly fine rendition of Shrek’s various emotions in his quest to save a princess in order to save his swamp. On the way, he meets Donkey, played with an original flair by Julius Thomas III. Thomas manages to incorporate all the silly fun of the movie’s character while never copying the Eddie Murphy depiction. His animated dynamism resulted in many of the laughs the show generated for a younger than normal audience.

Princess Fiona, whose release is the object of Shrek’s travels, gets three portraits in the story-telling. We meet Young Fiona and Teen Fiona – done in brief but skilled portrayals by Emery Allen and Reagan Minnette, and Fiona (the impatiently-waiting-in-a-tower-for-her-prince maiden) in a spirited offering by Emily Grace Tucker. Ms. Tucker finds just the right measure of spunkiness for the princess, topped off by her sensational vocal talents.

What's Up Duloc

John Vessels (as Lord Farquaad, center) and members of the ensemble in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek”.

John Vessels is dastardly and comical as the height-disadvantaged Lord Farquaad. Vessels’ penchant for physical comedy is somewhat stymied by his visually humorous but physically demanding short-guy costume, which seems to put him at a disadvantage at times. His energetic performance is just what is needed though, and he comes through it all in fine stead.

Donkey meets Dragon

From left: Julius Thomas III as Donkey faces Dragon, voiced by Kelly Teal Goyette, in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Kelly Teal Goyette plays a number of roles but is most notable as the voice of Dragon – a huge three-man puppet that dominates the stage during its scenes. Cody Knable ably takes front and center as Pinocchio, complete with a tricky wooden nose. And Sean Seager is a standout as a cross-dressed Big Bad Wolf. At times, there is a stage full of fairy tale characters, well-played by the ensemble of actors and dancers, and by the corps of young school-aged players. A total of 20 performers are needed to tell this story and they are all graced with talented voices and feet.

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Fairy tale characters in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Bottomline: This may have been a tough show to mount, but with rare exception B&B has given us a superb event for kids and family. Some great features for young audience members are that the story is so familiar, and that all the characters come to life with such vivid panache.

Shrek – The Musical continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through July 2nd. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

“First Monday in October” at Epilogue Players

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Epilogue Players continues its current season with First Monday in October, the 1978 play by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee, who are perhaps best known for their Inherit the Wind (1955) and Auntie Mame (1956). The play is a behind the scenes look at the U.S. Supreme Court while imagining the conflicts resulting from a woman being named to the august body for the first time. It was not until 1981, that this actually happened when President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the bench.

Ganza Duprey

Ken Ganza and Veronique Duprey star as Justice Daniel Snow and Justice Ruth Loomis in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

The conflict in the story is rooted in a staunch liberal justice, Daniel Snow (played by Ken Ganza), having a battle of ideologies with the new justice, the conservative Ruth Loomis (portrayed by Veronique Duprey). Their disagreements are over legal procedures and principles, and frankly take quite a bit of concentration to keep up with. Mr. Ganza does a respectable job with his role, making Snow an irascible sort of legal genius, used to having his way and to being the smartest man in the room. Ms. Duprey presents a rather haughty and equally smart justice, who feels out of place at first, but quickly finds that she is a voice for the opposition in terms of her dealings with Snow. These two actors work well opposite each other in their lively exchanges about legalities and temperament.

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(From left) Ken Ganza as Justice Daniel Snow and Duane Mercier as Chief Justice Crawford in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

The other main characters in the play are Chief Justice Crawford, played with an easy efficiency by Duane Mercier, and Justice Snow’s law clerk Mason Woods, offered in an equally easy fashion by recent IU theatre grad, Ryan Claus. Both offer stabilizing factors in the storyline, mostly to quell the more forceful side of Snow. The six other justices appear from time to time in minor roles, although Mike Harold does a fine job as Snow’s direct adversary, Justice Webb.

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(From left) Ryan Claus as law clerk Mason Woods and Veronique Duprey as Justice Ruth Loomis in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

As mentioned, the plot, while interesting, can be a bit difficult to follow – at least, it was at times for me. It was hard to grasp, in the face of recent events, that Justice Loomis, who had worked on the 9th Circuit Court in California, was the conservative in the story. I believe some of my confusion might have simply been due to the evolution of political terms and of the ideological standards of these divisive factions. The actors all do an exemplary job playing the script as written, but these political changes added to the necessity for my increased concentration.

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The cast of Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

Bottom line: this is a challenging play, as much for the audience as for the players. Half entertainment, half course in legalities – one does come away with a lot to think about.

First Monday in October continues through May 21st. Reservations and ticket information is available by calling 317.926.3139 or online at http://www.epilogueplayers.com.

 

CTC’s “Side by Side by Sondheim” at The Cat

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Carmel Theatre Company is back! Guided by the able hands of John Clair and June McCarty Clair, the recently homeless theatre company, displaced by the demise of its Studio 15 digs on 1st Ave NE, has found a new home on 1st Ave SW in Will Woods’ new venue – The Cat, formerly known as The Warehouse. Last night, Mrs. K and I had the pleasure of attending the kick-off show for this new alliance – Side by Side by Sondheim.

This celebration of premier Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim has been in the works since last December and was originally slated to be produced at a local church. But fate and some luck lead the production, directed by Ellen Kingston, to this comfortable setting in downtown Carmel, just across the street from the Indiana Design Center, where one may park to attend.

With fine keyboard accompaniment by David Duncan and Dede Mantock, the show features local singing talents – Thom Brown, Carolyn Lynch, Gail Payne, Matthew Vire and director Ms. Kingston – performing the 30 or so songs in the revue-style program.

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Every cast member has a chance to shine – Ellen Kingston leads the way with her emotional “Send in the Clowns”, Thom Brown presents a slightly quirky “Could I Leave You?”, Gail Payne offers a wistful “I Think About You”, Matthew Vire has great fun with the neurotic “Buddy Blues”, and Carolyn Lynch is perfect in the part of Maria (from West Side Story) as she shares the “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” duet with Ms. Payne.

The ensemble is best when performing scenes from the musicals Sondheim wrote. Mr. Vire and Ms. Lynch share in the humorous “Barcelona”, the three ladies end the first act with a rousing “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”, and Ms. Kingston and Mr. Brown join forces for “You Must Meet My Wife”. Mr. Vire, Ms. Lynch and Ms. Kingston share in the remarkable “Getting Married Today”.

There are a plethora of costumes to suit the many moods and scenes in the show. Ellen Kingston was at work on these as well, with notable assistance by Patricia Dorwin. Dresser Debbie Coon was no doubt a busy lady backstage.

All told, the show is a very entertaining 2 hours of memorable Sondheim tunes with added anecdotes and info from Ms. Kingston’s narration. The only marks against the proceedings might be what I saw as an unevenness in the energy set forth in some of the singing performances. I couldn’t tell if this was an attempt at subtlety or a genuine lack of spark after a long rehearsal week. Regardless, it didn’t detract from all that gleamed in the show – nor in the enjoyment the opening night audience obviously felt and showed at the curtain call.

CTC’s Side by Side by Sondheim continues at The Cat (254 1st Ave SW in Carmel) weekends through May 13 with one Sunday matinee on May 7 at 2:30 PM. Evening shows are at 7 PM. For reservations go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2912415 or call CTC at 317-688-8876.

On opinion-giving: what, why, when?

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Opinion on Red Keyboard Button.

by Ken Klingenmeier

I am not sure what triggered this question/comment by a friend of mine, who is about my age. He left it in the comment section of my previous review, which celebrated my 250th entry on this blog. He wrote this: I haven’t read all of the reviews listed but I have a question. Is there one which is a pan? And then he followed with this question: Do you ever pan a play?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “pan” in this respect – it means to heavily criticize, especially a performance. The question got me to thinking how I would answer, and as a result I took rather a long form approach to it, to express a justification, I guess. Here is what I have to say:

Hi Paul: That is a fair enough question. And the answer is – no, I think not. Some may argue that I did not like THEIR show, and they felt bad about it – but that is just the nature of opinion giving, I think.

I, like you, have been in a lot of plays and even directed quite a few. Some have been better than others – all of them have been a lot of work. Every single person in every play I have been involved with – well, I actually can think of one, just one bad apple, who actually got removed from a cast for trying to undermine the production to his liking. (Not sure what his problem was, but he was a rare bird) – all but this one person worked their tail off to do their best in a show.

As I said, the resulting shows weren’t all stellar. Most were good, some were really very good – but some, a few at least, could have been a lot better – but not for any other reason than there was an uneven set of talent, or the cast was not directed with a good enough amount of experience or insight, or the script itself was lacking.

I consider myself to have a pretty good eye for what is right on stage and what could be better in a production. I can see when there is a struggle on someone’s or something’s account – it could be the tech is going wrong, or an actor has a brain fart, or what was planned had a flaw in blocking or intensity or pacing. None of these events happening would require me to pan (or write a negative review about) a show. Even if all these things happened in the same show, I wouldn’t feel like that was necessary.

This is not the big city, NYC – but, the area where we live is an extraordinary one, full of talented directors, actors, and designers – both professional and on the community theatre level. (These days I find it quite amazing that when I look at a community theatre cast list when it is announced, I see far more names of people I don’t know than members of “the old gang”! Where are all these people coming from?)

But, back to the matter at hand. Basically, I don’t feel it necessary – or productive – to pan any show I have seen. I have seen one show since I have been doing this review blog – one show that was very, very bad. The piece was a jumble of flawed decisions by the director, miscast actors, and a damn silly script. After watching it, I decided I could not find ANYTHING good about it – so I skipped writing a review. It was not my place to destroy the production so that whoever read such a review would tend to not buy a ticket (which would support the theatre) or give the show a chance for its own sake. The fact is, many other people might enjoy the show as an entertainment, and would likely overlook what I saw as problems.

That is not to say, I never write any negatives. I have disagreements with choices in shows and I address them. I find mistakes or lack of understanding in choices and I point those out – sometimes instructing the director or actor, directly or indirectly, on what I believe could be done to make it better. There are no perfect shows – or if there are, they are as rare as 5 carat diamonds. Also rare is the show that is all bad.

And that leads me to explaining the essence of my job as I see it – my mission, if you will, as a reviewer of Indianapolis area theatre. First of all, boost the wonderful theatre community we are SO LUCKY to be amidst. They are more often than not – astounding. Second, point out what might be a problem and if possible, give my opinion on what could make it better, in my perception. Third, do no harm.

I have actually lost a friend over a review. They failed to understand that I was giving them a critique of how their work might be better. I failed to do a good enough job expressing that idea. Luckily such a reaction is rare, but I learned the importance of clarity in this work. And if something is absolutely god-awful, it is better to concentrate on what is right in the matter than to destroy someone’s hard work and intentions just to prove a point.

So, bottom line: I craft my reviews to try to promote live theatre in Indianapolis. None the less, I give my opinion about things, but I never want to be so opinionated that I will wound someone’s impression of themselves or of their work. I praise loudly when I am wowed, and I am OFTEN wowed by this theatre community. Finally, I criticize carefully because, hell, it is just MY opinion, after all.

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