Sunday afternoon found Mrs. K and I heading to the Studio Theatre in Carmel’s PAC for the first weekend matinee of I Love a Piano, the 2013-14 season closer for Actors Theatre of Indiana. The production is presented as a showcase for nearly 65 songs by the iconic American composer/lyricist, Irving Berlin. Directed and choreographed by Carol Worcel and Kenny Shephard, six lively performers portray this collection of Berlin’s quintessential compositions, offered in a pleasingly organized form, with divisions including love songs, wartime tunes, movie favorites and melodies centered around wedded bliss.

Judy Fitzgerald, Michael Dotson, Cynthia Collins, Bradley Reynolds, Mary Jayne Waddell and Don Farrell in ATI’s “I Love a Piano” at The Studio Theater.

All the performers are up to the task; ATI founders Cynthia Collins, Don Farrell and Judy Fitzgerald are joined by ATI regular Bradley Reynolds as well as frequent ATI contributors Michael Dotson and Mary Jayne Waddell. The varied voices offer a nice blend, the dancing skills of every cast member were on full display and the variety of colorful costumes coordinated by Margaret Ozemet add an extra dimension to this very entertaining program.

Favorite numbers included the comic “Oh How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning” featuring Mr. Farrell, “Any Bonds Today?” done in Andrew Sisters style by the trio of ladies, “A Couple of Swills” – a showstopper by Farrell and Ms. Collins, “Stepping Out With My Baby” showing off Mr. Reynold’s song and dance skills and “The Girl That I Marry” which displayed Mr. Dotson’s incredible voice talents. Although I found the second act to be curiously more “together” than the first, the entire show was very pleasing with many outstanding performances, and I highly recommend it for all ages.

Judy Fitzgerald, Michael Dotson, , Mary Jayne Waddell,  Don Farrell, Cynthia Collins and Bradley Reynolds in ATI's "I Love a Piano" at The Studio Theater.

Judy Fitzgerald, Michael Dotson, , Mary Jayne Waddell, Don Farrell, Cynthia Collins and Bradley Reynolds in ATI’s “I Love a Piano” at The Studio Theater.

If you are an Irving Berlin fan, this show is a must. If you are not a fan, you will be very surprised by how many familiar songs which have touched your life were composed by the great man. ATI’s production is a delightful journey through the Berlin songbook and it’s interesting to note, I believe: as I was leaving the auditorium I was thinking – “This is exactly the type of show I saw as a kid that inspired me to want to get up on stage and perform” – and, of course, ultimately that is just what I did.

I Love a Piano, which was conceived by Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley, continues for ATI at the Studio Theatre through May 11. Show dates and ticket information can be obtained at or by calling the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 317-843-3800.

* Photos by Julie Curry