Thursday, September 19

Theater Review: Phoenix Theatre: The Legend of Georgia McBride

An Elvis impersonator, a couple of drag queens and a curmudgeon all meet up in a bar one night ...

Sounds like the beginning of a very bad or very good joke, depending on the ending, right?

In fact, it is the basis for a new production at Phoenix Theatre, Indianapolis. The Legend of Georgia McBride, written by Matthew Lopez, brings in dance expert Kenny Shepard as choreographer, and a few of the best local performers to rip up the stage with antics and talent.

Set in a dying bar, owner Eddie, the straight man in this comedic gem, is played perfectly by Ty Stover. The crotchety businessman is desperate to find that winning live show to draw crowds and save the venue. At first he hires a local guy whose passion is impersonating the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

Elvis impressionist, Casey, played by Sam C. Jones, just isn't popular with local patrons. Although Jones personifies the late music legend superbly, bar regulars aren't entertained. Casey returns home to reveal to his fiancee' (Bridgette Ludlow) he is fired, when she interrupts him to reveal she is pregnant.

Enter new performers Miss Tracey Mills and Miss Anorexia Nervosa --impersonators of a different sort. Drag Queens, to be precise.

Mills is portrayed impeccably by John Vessels. Vessels has wowed audiences in numerous roles and productions, including Smoke on the Mountain,  Hello Dolly and Chicago. As a queen of dressing in women's clothing he is uproarious and outright fabulous.

Tutoring the Elvis he-man into becoming a she-man is seamlessly played by Vessels and Jones, with - let's call them feisty debates - is an interaction of pure joy for the audience.

Add in drama drag queen Anorexia, played royally by Jonathan Studdard, makes it's a performance definitely worth attending. Studdard, who's portrayal can only be described as fierce, is a feisty and welcome change to Indy's stage productions.

Side note: Complimentary parking across the street, intimate venue and efficient box office are pluses for visiting the new Phoenix Theatre.

Other notes: Jim Parsons will produce and star inn the upcoming film version of the same name.

Bottom Line: The Legend of Georgia McBride is an absolute must-see for anyone who has even an inkling of a sense of humor.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, July 7

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Maybe it is because I grew up hearing the Don McLean song, American Pie, but I have always had an interest in Buddy Holly. Now, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis, is featuring Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story on stage through Aug. 18.

Although McLean's lyrics were woven throughout more than a decade of disappointments, they all started because of that fateful night when Holly, an early pioneer of the Rock 'n' Roll genre, was killed at age 22, in a plane crash. The crash included other up-and-comers Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Jr.

Kyle Jurassic dons the iconic black-rimmed glasses portraying Holly with enthusiasm and deft ability. Drawing you in with his exuberance and pace. Jurassic matches Holly's style perfectly.

Valens is portrayed superbly by Edward LaCardo, while Chuck Caruso turns in an impressive performance as The Big Bopper.

Tarra Conner Jones and Joshue L.K. Patterson rock the audience as performers at the Apollo Theatre when Holly and The Crickets perform due to a misunderstanding that Holly and crew were African-American. D.J. Hipockets Duncan, portrayed by Indy favorite John Vessels, brings his radio listeners (and the audience) updates on Holly's life and career throughout the show.

In just under three years, Holly rocketed to the top of the charts, producing hit singles, albums and appearing in top television shows American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. Touring was added in to reach audiences across the nation. With a frantic pace and bitterly cold winter conditions, Holly chartered a plane to take himself, Valens and Bopper to the next location. Just after takeoff, the plane plunged into the frozen ground immediately killing all upon board.

Featuring almost two dozen of Holly's hits, including Peggy Sue and Rave On, Valens' La Bamba and Bopper's Chantilly Lace, this production is easy to get lost in. It is family friendly, which means it is safe to take your grandma and older children.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, with its powerful talented cast, is certain to become a summer hit.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, December 2

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: ELF the Musical

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre continues on the path toward reinventing itself by switching its typical variety-style holiday production with a modern holiday classic: ELF the Musical.

The musical (and well known film, ELF (2003), starring Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart and Zooey Deschanel), retraces the life of an orphan human named Buddy, portrayed brilliantly by Dan Bob Higgins, who is raised by elves at the North Pole.

Walter Hobbs, Buddy's birth father, is given top-notch treatment as an insensitive and stressed out corporate executive by Mark Epperson.

Bringing an (at first) subdued-but-increasing exuberance match to the holiday-happy personality of Higgins' Buddy, is Lanene Charters as Hobb's personal secretary Deb. She and the elf are kindred spirits and Charters shines as Buddy allows her to show Christmas spirit once again. Jonathan Fluck is spectacular in his explosive, and too short, appearances as Hobbs' angry boss Mr. Greenway.

Love interest Jovie, a young woman who has stopped believing in anything happy or Christmas-y, is played by Emily Grace Tucker. Tucker knocks it out of the ballpark with her solo, "Never Fall in Love."

A few differences from film to stage include Santa (Doug  E. Stark), rather than the top elf, shares Buddy's tale. Also ... there isn't an angry elf racing across the boardroom table to throttle Buddy. Disappointing certainly, however Peter Dinklage is committed elsewhere these days (Game of Thrones, anyone?).

This zany and delightful production runs through December 31 at the north-side venue. However, if you plan on getting a table, buy tickets immediately. At last check there are verrrry few tickets left.

There's definitely a transformation this season at B&B. New talent, new shows and a new direction aimed at retaining its core audience while attracting the younger demographic. 
Check out the 2019 season lineup by clicking here.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Elf: The Musical is the perfect family show to capture the holiday spirit. Don't miss it.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a fine-living, travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, performing arts, wine and restaurant critic. She also is a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, October 21

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: Man from La Mancha

Beef and Boards, Indianapolis, steps out of its goody-two-shoe image to bring the dark comedic production of Man of La Mancha to the north-side stage. Also taking things up a notch the powers that be brought in Disney film talent Richard White. 

White grabs the audience's attention as soon as he steps onto the stage and doesn't let go. Smoothly doubling as both Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quijote de la Mancha, awaiting his fate in the depths of a castle prison, and Alonso Quijano, slipping from the book's pages into the dismal prison. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes acts out the story of Quijano, whose greatest desire is to be knighted as Don Quixote, rescue lovely maidens and provide chivalrous services. Unfortunately, he has so become immersed in the life he wishes to lead, his grasp on reality has slipped more than a little. White's soothing baritone brings joy to "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)," providing goosebumps to more than one person, I am certain.

Sidekick and faithful servant, Sancho Panza, is portrayed delightfully by Eddie Curry, bringing comedic relief to the tale. In fact, this story line and character remind me of another Curry role many years ago ~ Shipwrecked ~ (read review here).

Bar wench/prostitute/rape victim Aldonza/Dulcinea is brought to life by Erica Hanrahan-Ball. As Quixote's love interest, Hanrahan-Ball tries too hard in the beginning, seeming to try to outdo her male counterpart, bringing a sharpness and unnecessary volume to early songs.
She shines brightest when she shares a softer side to the character, allowing her vocals and acting chops to complement the others on stage, rather than compete.

Portraying Innkeeper, and reluctant knight-bestower, Chuck Caruso brings a droll humor to the role, drawing the audience into his angst of being forced to play along with the delusions of White's Quixote. The pair were absolutely harmonious with their interactions.

Special Note: Costumes by Jill Kelly and set design by Michael Layton are to be applauded as well as the cast of talented performers.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards breaks its own barriers with the production style and level of talent in its version of Man of la Mancha ~ well done.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a fine-living, travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, performing arts, wine and restaurant critic. She also is a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Monday, September 10

Broadway in Indianapolis: 2018-2019 Season

Far off lands, dancing in numerous locations and learning to live the life you want, are all included in the Broadway in Indianapolis: 2018-2019 Season.

Lions, Mormons, and waitresses find love, life and lasting friendships with strangers and loved ones. I am truly liking the diversity in this year's lineup. We have classics (The King and I), children-friendly (Lion King, Grinch), new to Indy (School of Rock, Waitress), and fan favorites (Mormon).

Broadway in Indianapolis: 2018-2019 Season

Old National Centre
September 12-29, 2018
Winner of six Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, THE LION KING brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway. Tony Award®-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals.  THE LION KING also features some of Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award®-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice.

Old National Centre
November 27-December 2
 Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is the record-setting Broadway holiday sensation which features the hit songs, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the original animated special. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Whos. Magnificent sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville and remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season.

Clowes Memorial Hall
December 18-23
This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. Now with standing room only productions in London, on Broadway, and across North America, THE BOOK OF MORMON has truly become an international sensation. Contains explicit language.

Clowes Memorial Hall
January 29-February 3, 2019
Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew LLoyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I
Clowes Memorial Hall
March 5-10, 2019
Two worlds collide in this musical, set in 1860’s Bangkok. The musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist king, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, THE KING AND I boasts a score that features such beloved classics as “Getting To Know You,” “Hello Young Lovers,” and “Shall We Dance."

Old National Centre
April 23-28, 2019
 Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna - a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage.  A baking
contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

Season tickets for the 2018-19 Broadway in Indianapolis Season are on sale with three convenient ways to purchase season tickets:

1. Select your seats in person at the Broadway in Indianapolis Box Office in the Old National         Centre at 502 N New Jersey Street, Monday – Friday, 9:30am-5:00pm

2. Order online 7 days a week/24 hours a day at

3. Call the Broadway Across America toll-free Indianapolis Season Ticket Hotline at 800-793-7469. The Hotline hours are Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm.

Photos/Broadway in Indianapolis

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, September 9

Theater Review: Cirque du Soleil: Corteo

Theater review, Cirque du Soleil, Corteo, 2018, indy, indianapolis, All good things must come to an end at some point. Even life. Mauro the clown has passed on and his friends and family gather to celebrate his life and career.

Cirque du Soleil: Corteo reveals what goes through the mind of a parade clown when his time has come. Will he go to Heaven and receive wings to become an official angel, or slide down into the hotter location?

Climbing ladders into the skies, silk performers, chandeliers and bouncy beds are all brought into the mix as this classic is renewed for today's audiences.

Having seen several Cirque shows, this ranks No. 2 on my list of favorites for the story line and addition of the chandeliers and more multi-performer sets. (No. 1 still is Quidam, about the stranger on the street whom you never notice.)

Although I do not expect perfection, and understand these are skilled gymnasts and acrobatic performers, a few slips and drops in this show made it seem as if a few more rehearsals were needed.

Upcoming shows within the one-tank distance from Indy, include: Evansville and Detroit.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts, hotel and restaurant critic. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Monday, January 1

Broadway in Indianapolis: 2017-2018 Season

Flying children, a boy with his tongue frozen to poles, and a green-faced young girl are just a few of the reasons Broadway in Indianapolis' 2017 - 2018 season is interesting this year.

Returning for a tour is Rent, new shows are a majority of the list, and the musical numbers are well known in more than one show.

Below is the schedule, with ticket information following.

Broadway in Indianapolis
2017-2018 SEASON SHOWS

Finding Neverland
October 17-22, 2017
Clowes Memorial Hall
Finding Neverland tells the incredible
story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M.
Barriestruggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful
widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. 

A Christmas Story, The Musical
November 28-December 3, 2017
Old National Centre
A Christmas Story, The Musical chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he
schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action
200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”).

The Carole King Musical
January 30-February 4, 2018
Clowes Memorial Hall
Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl
with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by
the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career
writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t until her personal life began to crack
that she finally managed to find her true voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in pop music history.

Les Misérables
March 13-18, 2018
Old National Centre
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story
of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament
to the survival of the human spirit. Seen by more
than 70 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe, Les Misérables is still the world’s most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere in its 32nd year.

RENT 20th Anniversary Tour
June 12-17, 2018
Clowes Memorial Hall
In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway... and forever
changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s Rent
continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the
world. And now, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning masterpiece returns to the stage
in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A re-imagining of Puccini's La Bohème, RENT
follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their
dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear,
this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with love.

April 25-May 13, 2018
*Old National Centre
Wicked, the Broadway sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz...but from a
different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with
emerald-green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood and possessing an extraordinary talent. When
she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the
unlikeliest of friendships...until the world calls one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

Group sales information is now available for all shows. Reservations may be made by calling
Group Sales Manager, Chris Schneider, at 317-632-7469 x 103 or email at For more information visit
Tickets for individual shows typically go on sale to the general
public 4-6 weeks prior to the opening of the show.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Monday, October 23

Goelzer Investment Management Donates 70,000 meals to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana

Food presentation to be held at Hurst Bean Field
Tues., Nov. 21 to kick off the 2017 Holiday Season 
Goelzer Investment Management will donate 70,000 meals to the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana again this year to feed Hoosiers in need. This year will bring the total number of meals donated close to the halfway mark of Goelzer’s pledge to contribute one million meals by 2026.

In continuing the firm’s long legacy of giving back to the community, Goelzer has committed to donating six skids of NK Hurst beans each year to reach its ultimate goal of providing one million meals to families in central Indiana. Since the program began in 2006, Goelzer has donated 430,000 NK Hurst meals to Gleaners.

The donation event will take place with representatives from Gleaners, Goelzer Investment Management, and NK Hurst Beans Tues., Nov. 21 at 11 am at the NK Hurst Bean Field located at 230 W. McCarty Street (directly across from Lucas Oil Stadium).

“Hundreds of thousands of families are still struggling to put food on their tables,” said John Elliott, president and CEO of Gleaners. “We’re committed to feeding them, but also looking at not just the amount of food we provide, but the quality and nutritional value of that food. The complex carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients in beans are of high value to those we serve.”

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, a member of the national Feeding America Network of food banks, was founded in a three-and-a-half car garage in 1980 with the purpose of fighting hunger in our community. On an annual basis, Gleaners provides food and critical grocery products for more than 260,000 people, providing more than 20 million meals.

Gleaners also provides specialized programs for the most vulnerable populations—children and senior citizens including, BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids, After-School and Summer Meals for Kids, School-Based Pantry programs, and senior-only Mobile Pantry and Food Pantry distributions. Specialty programs include CARR Mobile Pantries and Bags with IMPD and public safety offices, and ProduceHope, a component of the Feeding America Regional Produce Processing Center operated by Gleaners. Lean more at

Goelzer Investment Management provides high-quality investment advisory services to institutional and high-net-worth private clients. The firm manages discretionary and non-discretionary portfolios that can be customized to meet client-specific investment goals.

Monday, July 10

Theater Review: Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre: Ring of Fire

At first glance, Ring of Fire, opening this past weekend at Beef and Boards, Indianapolis, looks to be a glorious night filled with a guy who sounds and looks a lot like music legend Johnny Cash. Be forewarned. It's not.

It is not a Cash tribute band. It isn't an imitation of the Man in Black, with all of his hits performed fully while you reminisce about the times you saw him live.

Featuring three female and five male performers, the group of eight walk you through his life, via both well known and some lesser known songs written by, sung by, and/or related somehow to Cash. Each musician plays no fewer than two, some as many as five different instruments in the show. Mandolins, fiddles, various guitars, drums and a ukulele are just a few of the instruments used throughout the production. Collectively, these eight are John R. Cash.

The bio-musical skims the more well known personal bits of Cash's life, drug use, and the relationship and eventual marriage to June Carter Cash, delving more into the whys and wherefores.

Melody Allegra Berger, Tim Drake, Brian Gunter, Jill Kelly Howe, Allison Kelly, Jeremy Sevelovitz, Travis Smith and Zack Steele bring their talents together, blending harmoniously with songs such as "Oh Come Angel Band," Standout duets and solos include "Ragged Old Flag" (Drake) and "Jackson" (Steele, Kelly).

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Ring of Fire brings forth the more obscure songs of Johnny Cash with a healthy dose of instrumentals sharing the limelight.


Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, May 7

Theater Review: The Phoenix Theatre: The Open Hand

Guest Review: John Simmons

The Open Hand Phoenix Theatre Now Through May 14

Robert Caisley’s The Open Hand is a play filled with surprises – and that may be part of its undoing.

The play opens simply enough with two friends, Allison (Leah Brenner) and Freya (Julie Mauro) lunching at an expensive Asian restaurant. When Freya rushes out to a super-important job interview, Allison is stuck with a check she cannot pay because she can’t find her billfold. Suddenly, a dapper middle-aged stranger named David Nathan Bright (nicely played by Charles Goad) appears and gives Allison both the money for the check and an umbrella for the rain that is pouring down outside … all without asking for a thing in return.

After that, The Open Hand becomes a play in three parts. Part I channels the comic banter from classic sitcoms (the old Dick Van Dyke Show comes to mind) where we learn about the trials facing Allison in her relationship with her talented-but-edgy boyfriend, Todd (Jeremy Fisher), and Freya in her relationship with her laid-back-but-unhappy boyfriend, Jack (Jay Hemphill). Allison, in particular, struggles with expressing her emotions and accepting love from others. She also has a birthday fast approaching … but Allison never, ever celebrates her birthday.

A chance meeting in the park with David Nathan Bright and Allison’s decision to invite him to her “not-birthday” party (two of the play’s somewhat awkward contrivances) lead us into the play’s hilarious and dramatic Part II. David’s seemingly endless affability and generosity lead to feelings of suspicion, jealousy and, finally, anger among his fellow party-goers, as they try endlessly to discern his “real” motives. Here, The Open Hand asks a great question: Have we become so insecure and competitive as a society that we can no longer accept simple acts of kindness from one another? Are we that cynical?
That question goes unanswered, as the play’s closing act moves it away from being a comedy of manners and more towards a story about personal forgiveness. Allison’s birthday-averse behavior and emotional rigidity, it seems, are the results of a traumatic event from her past, an event that is so traumatic (and, like other plot twists, somewhat contrived) that it almost feels like “too much”.

Phoenix’s The Open Hand is a marvelously well-told tale. The cast are all excellent, and Jeffrey Martin’s revolving set − which does quadruple duty as a restaurant, two city apartments and a townhouse – is a wonder to behold. It’s just that, with one too many plot twists on the part of the playwright, you may find yourself wanting a more satisfying resolution to the tale.

Images: Phoenix Theatre

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.