“Annie” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

I have to admit, I have seen Annie more than a few times. The perennial favorite musical, which opened this week on the Beef and Boards stage, seems to be a regularly scheduled item at theatres and, in its movie form, on television. It is a wonderful show, in itself – always uplifting, with a familiar “sing-along-in-your-head” type score. I like it, but…I’ve seen it, ya know?

So…what a pleasant surprise to see that Eddie Curry has directed this current local version to be a refreshing and sparkling edition of the show, with first class talent in every role, and a fine doggy performer to boot!

Mr. Curry, accompanied by Ron Morgan as choreographer, has let out the stops and coaxed big performances from even the smallest members of the cast. Some performers do approach cartoonish renderings of their characters – but hey, the show is based on a comic strip – so it all works!

Claire Kauffman takes the role of Annie. The experienced young actress (this is her third time performing in Annie, her second time in the title role) has a marvelous stage presence, and her strong, clear voice pays dividends as the orphan girl hoping to find her parents. Her comfort on stage shows as she handles all the comic and musical aspects with aplomb.

Annie and Daddy Warbucks

Ty Stover (Daddy Warbucks) and Claire Kauffman (Annie) star in Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

Joining Miss Kauffman is local favorite Ty Stover as Daddy Warbucks. This stage veteran is a marvel to watch, and to hear. His confident Warbucks is a reflection of the man himself – and is likely the best I have seen, personally.

Other standouts include Jeff Stockberger as an outrageous Rooster, Deb Wims as his conniving cohort, Lily St. Regis, and Kelly Teal Goyette, hilarious as the troubled Miss Hannigan. John Vessels is delightful as he brings his typical extra something to Warbucks’ butler, Drake; and Bobbi Bates is perfect as Warbucks’ secretary, Grace.

Easy Street

Kelly Teal Goyette (Miss Hannigan), Jeff Stockberger (Rooster) and Deb Wims (Lily St. Regis) in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

One of the highlights of any production of Annie  is the group of young girls who play the orphans. Curry’s corp of Bridget Bingham, Sadie Cohen, Macy Franklin, Kynden Luster, Sylvie Templet, Anna Wagner and Aliva Rose Williams fill the stage with wonderfully lively dance and song, and some sharp comedy as well. They open the show with a bang and are a joy to watch every time they have a scene.

Never Fully Dressed

The orphan girls sing “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

Kristy Templet (who is the proud mama of orphan Sylvie) expertly leads the B&B orchestra through the familiar score, Jill Kelly Howe’s costume designs are a colorful and bright perfection, and Michael Layton’s scenic design makes exacting use of the B&B facilities.

Chef Odell Ward has tipped the buffet menu toward a kid friendly selection for this B&B family production, and as usual, everyone on the B&B staff does all they can to make a visit to Beef and Boards a real pleasure.

Bottomline: This likely is not the last time I will see a production of Annie, but Mrs K and I agree, this will always be among the best. The strong cast carries the day and Curry’s direction makes for a truly fun show for all family members – we brought a 7 year old along and she was enthralled.

Annie continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through July 15th. 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

 

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“Singin’ in the Rain” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards continues their ambitious 2018 season with a return of their 2011 smash, Singin’ in the Rain. Director Eddie Curry and choreographer Ron Morgan once again join forces, and B&B favorites Timothy Ford and Sarah Hund reprise their roles from the ’11 production as Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont.

Joining Ford and Ms. Hund are Buddy Reeder, who was last seen at B&B in Mary Poppins and CATS and who here plays Don Lockwood’s sidekick, Cosmo Brown; along with Kimberly Doreen Burns, who made her Beef & Boards debut last season as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and who plays Lockwood’s love interest, Hollywood newcomer, Kathy Selden.

Good Morning

Buddy Reeder (Cosmo Brown), Kimberley Doreen Burns (Kathy Selden), and Timothy Ford (Don Lockwood) presnt the “Good Morning” number from B&B’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

The famous original film version of Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debby Reynolds, premiered in 1952. It was re-imagined as a theatrical production, presented in London in 1983 and brought to the US, directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, in 1985. Notably, the 2006 stage version of the show which I saw here was my very first visit to Beef and Boards, so it has a special place in my heart and memory.

Director Curry’s choice to keep the tone of the storytelling style very mid-fifties and rather close to the original film version is spot-on. Aided by Jill Kelly Howe’s marvelous array of costumes, we are transported to a more carefree era of silent film productions. The style is dated, to be sure, but works wonderfully well here. Michael Layton’s fine and effective set design completes the picture.

I had my lawyers go over my contract

Eddie Curry (Roscoe Dexter), Sarah Hund (Lina Lamont), and Douglas E. Stark (R.F. Simpson) ina a scene from B&B’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

Ford and Ms. Burns make a lovely stage couple – their duets are sharp and lively. Ms. Burns impresses with her immense talents. She is a genuine triple-threat for the stage – with high proficiency in her acting, dance and vocals. Her song “You Are My Lucky Star” is a standout in the show. Ford makes his stage work look easy, and has true leading man qualities. We last saw him here in B&B’s Into the Woods, and The Drowsy Chaperone, and he more than matches those fine efforts, especially in his very wet and iconic “Singin’ in the Rain” number, which closes the first act and is presented on a well designed, self draining, rain-on-the-stage set piece.

Buddy Reeder takes on the Donald O’Connor role from the film with an appropriately energetic approach. His “Make ’em Laugh” is a strong mimic of the movie original and his impressive dance skills are a spotlighted treat. As always, Sarah Hund is delightful in her comedy role as not-ready-for-the-talkies Lina Lamont. Over the years, we have seen Ms. Hund do every type of stage role, and whether she is dramatic or comedic, she invariably finds just the right levels to provide an outstanding performance. When she finally gets her chance to solo with Lamont’s witty lament “What’s Wrong With Me?”, she makes every note and every nuanced move count for comedy.

Beautiful Girl

Some of Jill Kelly Howe’s lavish costume designs are on display in the “Beautiful Girl” number from B&B’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

Ample support is provided by a cadre of performers: Susan Boilek Smith is perfect as Hollywood maven, Dora Bailey; AnnaLee Traeger provides Lamont gal-pal Zelda Zanders with a lively persona; Michael Shelton has fun with the Diction Teacher role; Douglas E. Stark is just right as film mogul R.F. Simpson; and Eddie Curry plays film director Roscoe Dexter with inordinate understanding!

Choreographer Ron Morgan’s routines are sparkling and lavish, especially those employing the talents of his entire dance corps. The lead trio of Ms. Burns and Mssrs. Ford and Reeder lay out some exacting and nimble tap numbers, which please the audience no end.

As usual – the awesome buffet and unfettered attention of the B&B wait staff add to the outing’s enjoyment. And the desserts are way too tempting!

Bottomline: Even a major technical glitch (these things happen occasionally in live theatre) couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm this cast received from the audience. The show has plenty of sparkle and smash, plus a nice balance of comedy and romance, and the familiarity of the score is a definite plus.

Singin’ in the Rain continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through May 26th. 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

 

 

“Mamma Mia” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Many of us, maybe most of us, have seen the 2008 film version of Mamma Mia, the romantic comedy about a young bride’s attempt to find her father, set in Greece, and festooned with songs by the Swedish pop group ABBA. Fewer of us have seen the stage version, at least locally, unless you are among the estimated 60 million who have attended the show worldwide since it opened in 1999.

Beef and Boards brings us a grand opportunity to attend and enjoy a top-level edition of the show, which, under the inspired guidance of director/choreographer Ron Morgan, rocked the packed house at the local dinner theatre last evening with a breathless and eye- popping presentation.

Mamma Mia is, in a word, fantastic, with a prize cast of outstanding singers, dancers and actors, who carry us away with their amazing vocal talents while performing some of the most inspired choreographic work I have witnessed from Mr. Morgan.

Mamma Mia at Beef and Boards

Donna Sheridan (Amy Bodnar), left, is shocked to see three former lovers (from left) Sam Carmichael (Mark Epperson), Harry Bright (Don Farrell), and Bill Austin (Jeff Stockberger). Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Rachelle Rose Clark), seated, watches her reaction.

Broadway veteran Amy Bodnar stars as single mom Donna Sheridan, alongside Rachelle Rose Clark who plays her daughter/the bride – Sophie. These two uniquely gifted performers give remarkable turns, especially Ms. Bodnar’s show-stopping “The Winner Takes It All” and Ms. Clark’s lovely “I Have a Dream”. They are supported onstage by a plethora of talent – beginning with Donna’s cohorts from a past incarnation – Donna and the Dynamos: the thrice married Tanya, played by the lovely Jalynn Steele and the nebbish Rosie, played with great comic skill by Lanene Charters. The combined trio offer up outstanding renditions of “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper”.

Super Trouper

The Dynamos, Donna (Amy Bodnar), center, Tanya (Jalynn Steele), left, and Rosie (Lanene Charters) sing “Super Trouper”.

Add in a talented trio of males – the prospective fathers (all having had romances with Donna, the better to confuse Sophie’s search for her dad) played by Mark Epperson as architect Sam Carmichael, Jeff Stockberger as travel writer Bill Austin, and Don Farrell as Brit banker Harry Bright. Then – count in Sophie’s fiance, Sky, played by Will Leonard, and her bridesmaids – Ali and Lisa, Chloe Kounadis and Lauren Morgan, respectively. All in all – with the 10 additional ensemble members, you have a huge cast onstage, performing incredible dance routines and songs, wearing Jill Kelly Howe’s vibrant arrangement of costumes, to the orchestral offerings of Terry Woods’ fine B&B orchestra – I tell you, it was pretty darn remarkable and impressive!

Voulez-Vous

One of Ron Morgan’s incredible creations: “Voulez-Vous” with the entire “Mamma Mia” cast.

There are way too many highlights from the show to include them all. The entire female ensemble’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” was a standout number, as was “Does Your Mother Know?” with Jalynn Steele and company. Jeff Stockberger and Lanene Charters join forces for a hilarious encounter, as Bill and Rosie discover each other in “Take a Chance on Me”; and certainly the grand finale is an unbelievable display of talents, colors and sound.

Does Your Mother Know

Jalynn Steele as Tanya is spotlighted in her rendition of “Does Your Mother Know?”

Bottomline: You simply do not want to miss what has to be near the top of the list of superior productions that Beef and Boards has offered us over it’s 45 year history. And that goes for Chef Odell’s exceptional buffet for this show, as well. There is not much more I can say to get across what a truly phenomenal theatre experience this is. I loved it – go see it!

Momma Mia continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through April 8th. 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

“Greater Tuna” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

First of all, I want to wish ASOTA readers a very Happy New Year. I hope 2018 is full of blessings and opportunities for you all!

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre opens its 45th season with the zany comedy, Greater Tuna. Written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, the 1981 play is a tribute to attitudes and foibles of small town life in rural America. Set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas – we are introduced to a series of rather broadly conceived characters with an array of problems and outlooks that are ripe for the stage talents of Eddie Curry and Jeff Stockberger (who also directs the show). These two familiar actors play all of the 20 or so eccentric citizens we meet during the proceedings.

Mssrs. Curry and Stockberger actually have a rather long history of performing together, going all the way back to their first venture together at a summer theatre production in Galveston, Texas in 1988. As many of us have previously seen in their frequent appearances together on the B&B stage, they have developed a natural feel for each other’s talents and the results are always a pleasure to watch.

Greater Tuna2

Arles Struvie (left) and Aunt Pearl Burras are just two of the nearly 20 zany characters from Tuna, Texas played by Jeff Stockberger and Eddie Curry in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “Greater Tuna”.

Working through a very 1980’s toned script, the two gentlemen create characters that are at once identifiable – from the overwrought mother with the delinquent son and the disappointed cheerleader-wannabe daughter, to the wordy reverend, the self-righteous morality campaigner, and the kind-hearted animal shelter worker. All are broadly written and played, with a good measure of the fun being the way these two actors are costumed for their roles.

Some of the more specific points of the show, which in the 80’s bit hard on certain conventions, are not nearly as relevant today – some outlooks even feel a bit cruel by today’s standards. But, the outlandish characters are played with comedic relish and suitable pathos. The second act is a bit stronger than the first, mostly I think as act one spends a good deal of time in story setups, while act two sets the characters free.

Charlene doesn't make cheerleader

Bertha Bumiller (Eddie Curry), left, scolds her daughter Charlene (Jeff Stockberger) for sulking that she didn’t “make cheerleader” in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “Greater Tuna”.

A crew of four dressing assistants (Cindy Mollencupp, Bradley Keiper, Shaun McIlquham and Sandra Belles) keeps the action seamless, while Michael Layton’s simple set works well enough for the many locales. Costumes provided by Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre are indeed one of the pleasures of the show.

Bottomline: An entertaining evening of jokes and physical comedy make this a good start to the 45th B&B season. Curry and Stockberger always provide me with a lesson in stagecraft.

Greater Tuna continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through January 28th. 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

“A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017

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reviewed by Mark Kamish

Dorothy wanted to go over the rainbow, only to discover there is no place like home, and beauty sometimes lies in your own backyard. Sure, I’ve been many times to other Indy holiday favs like IPL’s “Yuletide Celebration” at the ISO and IRT’s A Christmas Carol. Unsure why, especially having lived on the north side now for six years, this is my first time experiencing A Beef & Boards Christmas.

It’s the show’s silver anniversary production this year, for goodness sake. Add to the significance of that milestone the fact that this Indianapolis holiday tradition will not return in 2018 (life is seasons, isn’t it?), I was so glad to have had the opportunity to finally enjoy seeing this heart-warming production with Patricia and Marina. Thanks so much to Patricia Rettig, B&B’s Director of Marketing & Media Relations, as well as to the entire theatre and production staff, for working so hard to ensure that we and the rest of Saturday’s full house had a lovely evening of food, drink and excellent holiday entertainment.

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Santa makes an appearance in “A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017.

Doug Stark, owner of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre (and an integral part of this year’s show, donning the red suit to personally extend his heartfelt holiday wishes as jolly old St. Nick himself), reflected by saying, “A Beef & Boards Christmas has been our own original Christmas greeting to our guests for 25 years. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our audiences for making the show part of their holiday tradition.”

And whether you are returning to make A Beef & Boards Christmas part of your family holiday tradition, or are experiencing it for the first time like I am, the cast and crew will not disappoint.

Kenny S

Kenny Shepard hosts the 25th annual “A Beef & Boards Christmas”

Kenny Shepard, who is truly part of the fabric of this show (having performed in it since its second year in 1994 (when it was still called the Beef & Boards Christmas Spectacular) is once again the featured host.

Other faces familiar to Beef & Boards faithful take the stage as well. Principal singers Kyle Durbin, Betsy Norton and Peter Scharbrough all return from the 2016 production. They are joined by Marisa Rivera, who was just seen on stage as Anita in B&B’s production of West Side Story. These four perform the vocal yeoman’s work of this musical variety show beautifully. Norton’s “Tennessee Christmas,” Scharbrough’s “Santa’s Back” (with members of the gorgeous and talented dance ensemble), Rivera’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Durbin’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (the latter two pieces with full Ensemble) were among my favorites.

Renee Jackson - Santa Coming Town

Renée Jackson performs in “A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017.

The featured singer this year is Renée Jackson, a Brooklyn-based actress (and Ball State B.F.A. Musical Theatre program alum), who just made her Beef & Boards debut in Ghost, The Musical (as Oda Mae Brown). Her vocal and physical command of the stage is moving. “O Holy Night,” performed with the entire Ensemble, is a showstopper. One often watches professional actors, singers and performers without a thought as to the struggles and hardships they have had to endure and overcome to be onstage. Ms. Jackson’s story certainly sounds to be one of those personal journeys marked with dark days and hurdles. Judging by her performance, she sure seems to have emerged on the other side with grace and radiance.

Quartet

The B&B Christmas Quartet: (from left) Peter Scharbrough, Marisa Rivera, Betsy Norton and Kyle Durbin.

The Ensemble of vibrant and talented singers and dancers include a pair of Carmel sisters (Kari and Maggie Baker), accomplished professional actors, half a score or more of returning B&B veterans and, well, that guy in the red suit and white beard, coming to you directly from the North Pole.

Supporting the show throughout is a fabulous orchestra, perfectly suited for this variety-show format. Thank you, Kristy Templet, Terry Woods, Dorothy McDonald, Rick Hajduk, John Huntoon, Brad Koser, Fred Withrow and Nathan Shaw. You guys and gals are amazing!

Orchestra

The B&B Orchestra is back in full force, skillfully led by Kristy Templet (at left piano).

From familiar songs (some maybe not so familiar) to great choreography to cute sketches to dazzling costumes (and quick costume changes) to feel-good emotions, A Beef & Boards Christmas is, I now know for myself, another great Indianapolis holiday tradition. You owe it to yourself and your family to experience it one more time this season. ‘Cause you never know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.

A Beef & Boards Christmas will continue its run of 36 total performances in the intimate atmosphere of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre through December 23 (and includes Chef Odell Ward’s holiday dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, unlimited coffee, tea and lemonade – as well as adult beverages and gourmet desserts available for purchase). For more specific information on dates and show times, visit beefandboards.com.

Reservations may be made by calling the box office at (317) 872-9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays.

Merry Christmas!

#bbchristmas2017

  • Photos by Julie Curry

“Ghost The Musical” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Ghosts, those various spirits, apparitions and other-worldly beings we are endlessly fascinated by, have long been “seen” in entertainments. From Hamlet’s father’s ghost, to Marley’s ghost, to George and Marion Kirby in the movie/television series “Topper”, to Casper in cartoon form, to “we ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts” in “Ghostbusters” and on and on – the spirits of the dead have provided endless story situations in novels, shows, comic books and movies.

In 1990, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore starred in the film “Ghost” which swept the country as a box-office winner. Ghost The Musical, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, followed with a West End opening in London in the summer of 2011. Now, this production has found its way to haunting the Beef and Boards stage.

Three Little Words

Molly Jensen (Andrea Laxton) and Sam Wheat (Eddie Egan) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Directed by Douglas E. Stark, with musical staging by Ron Morgan, B&B’s production is a decidedly modern stage offering. Set on Michael Layton’s slick set design, with dynamic lighting effects from designer Ryan Koharchik, everything has the feel of a new era style of theatre, raising the bar in B&B’s production history.

The show is very well cast. Eddie Egan and Andrea Laxton make their Beef and Boards debuts starring as Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen, young lovers on the verge of taking the next big step in their relationship when a street confrontation turns everything around. Sam dies, but is left in a phantom state where he cannot leave Molly until he has taken care of the many loose ends his demise has brought about. Egan is impressive in his portrayal of the ghostly Sam. He covers all the emotional bases in his arc with sensitivity and, when necessary, good humor. Ms. Laxton skillfully weathers her emotionally charged course as she is left to lament her fate, highlighted by her mournful “With You” and the hopeful “Nothing Stops Another Day”. These two performers’ voices blend extremely well on a number of shared tunes, and Ms. Laxton, especially, has a smooth vocal quality one could listen to all day.

More

Carl Bruner (Patrick Michael Joyce), center, and ensemble members in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Patrick Michael Joyce takes the part of antagonist Carl Bruner, a friend of the couple who has dug an ever deepening hole for himself at his job. Joyce is a perfect choice for the crooked Carl and is well up to the task for all levels of his role. Likewise, Renée Jackson is ideal as psychic medium Oda Mae Brown, who forms a communication connection with Sam and helps solve the problems he has left behind. Ms. Jackson’s far-fetched Oda Mae is delightful, and exquisitely extreme, adding a comic touch to a most often poignant story.

A superb group of supporting ensemble members completes the cast list. B&B veteran John Vessels is brilliant in his characterizations of both the Hospital Ghost and Lionel Ferguson. Joshua L.K. Patterson creates a fierce and psychotic Subway Ghost with unfettered aplomb. Kelly Teal Goyette has great fun as a duped psychic client of Oda Mae Brown, Logan Moore is deadly and intimidating as gunman Willie Lopez,  and Ayana Bey and Christine Zavaskos deftly pair up in their various secondary roles.  Furthermore, this group is charged with skillfully performing the precision-like Ron Morgan choreography on a number of occasions.

Get out of here - leave me alone

Storefront psychic Oda Mae Brown (Renée Jackson) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Jill Kelly Howe’s rich costume designs and Zach Rosings’ visual effects design (just wait until you see the comeuppances in store for the bad guys) complete the picture. And the entire show is enhanced by Terry Woods’ musical direction and the B&B orchestra which features the tear-inspiring work of violinist Kara Day. (Nice job, Ms. Day!)

Bottomline – a refreshingly modern approach to this boy-girl story makes Ghost The Musical a highly worthwhile production. Strong performances by all involved, both onstage and behind the scenes, are noteworthy.

Ghost The Musical continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through November 18th. 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

 

“West Side Story” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards’ production of West Side Story, which opened this week, is for me another of those very familiar shows for which I have long held an honest love and appreciation. Brought into the musical theatre world in 1957 with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, the show had so much energetic and romantic appeal that even as a youth, I fell in love with the stylized score, the perfect, heart-rending words and the emotional storyline. It was an undeniable masterpiece and remains so after 60 years.

What director Eddie Curry and choreographer Ron Morgan have brought to B&B’s stage is a faithful yet updated rendition of the classic. This dance rich production pays due homage to Jerome Robbins’ original movements, which were so new to the theatre world in the late 50’s, but here Mr. Morgan opens his own bag of tricks and brings a surprising and imaginative new vision to the work. Mr. Curry innovates with his employment of a reduced cast and a confined setting, still developing engaging relationships and filling the stage with every necessary action, whether it be rumpus or romance.

Somewhere

Maria (Courtney Cheatham) and Tony (Glenn DeVar) imagine a place “Somewhere” where they are free to love in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

All the performances are true. Led by Courtney Cheatham’s Maria and Glenn DeVar as Tony, the talented cast tells this sometimes painful story with impressive abilities. Ms. Cheatham is blessed with an angel’s sweet voice and an innocent countenenace, perfect for the coming of age Maria. DeVar brings a likeable boyishness to his role, finding new range in the part with his fervent approach to Tony’s changing life.

A Young Lady of America

Maria (Courtney Cheatham), left, is excited for the dance she is about to attend with Anita (Marisa Rivera) and her brother Bernardo (Dan Higgins), in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

Marisa Rivera is a sultry Anita, showing strong dance skills and vocal abilities; Dan Higgins is commanding as Maria’s protective brother Bernardo; and Ben Cullen was impressive with his honest performance as Riff, the Jets de facto leader.

Cool

The Jets, led by Riff (Ben Cullen), center, learn to play it “Cool” in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

The dance corps, comprised of Jets, Sharks, and their girls carry out their assignments with aplomb, raising the roof in the many dance numbers and songs they are party to.

Lew Hackleman, Peter Scharbrough and Doug King round out the cast with effective portrayals of Doc, Krupke and Lt. Shranke, respectively.

Doc Im in love

Tony (Glenn DeVar) reassures Doc (Lew Hackleman) that everything will be ok for him and Maria in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

Though much of the show is ensemble in nature, the 5 leads are due ovations for their thoughtful and emotion driven turns onstage. Under director Curry’s deft hand, every familiar song is a joy to experience again, and every well remembered turn of events in the storytelling is offered with truth and depth.

I would be remiss to leave out the contributions of the wonderful orchestra lead by Terry Woods, which delivers the heart of the show through their fine rendering of the complex score. From the first familiar pulses, to the emotive final notes, Mr. Woods and his players give noteworthy performances.

Likewise, Jill Kelly Howe’s costumes give the various characters texture and placement in the world of the street.

Bottomline: I am too often underwhelmed when I attend a show I know so well and love so greatly, but as I sat in the darkness at the end of this production, wiping the moisture from my eyes, I knew this cast had fulfilled my wish for this show to be something special.

West Side Story continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through October 1st. 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

 

 

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