Sunday, October 18

Theatre on the Square 2015 - 2016 Season Includes Gothic, Gulch and Guns

Theatre on the Square's 2015 - 2016 season brings a fresh look to the tiny theater, as well as the lineup. Recent fundraising efforts have made it possible to revamp the lobby into a cozy area welcoming theatergoers. In case you are not familiar with the Indianapolis staple, its location is 627 Mass Ave., in the heart of theaters, shopping and restaurants.

Enter Love
September 12 – 27

A musical about the ever-changing nature of romantic relationships in the first decade of the 21st century. It is set in an international airport, located in a large city somewhere in the Midwest. The production consists of a series of encounters—with dialogue and music—that take place between an assortment of couples and individuals at various locations—arrival and departure concourses, waiting lounges, baggage check, observation deck, and the central location, a bar—in the airport.

CABARET POE – The Musical
(co-production with Q Artistry)
October 3 – 31
Murder, insanity and comedy come together as Q Artistry and Theatre on the Square join forces for the 7th appearance in Indianapolis of this deadly original musical.
(Read my review of Cabaret Poe here)

October 23 – November 8
Stage Two
Brent Marty revives his one-man/one-woman musical comedy written and originally performed by Fred Barton. It is a loose parody of the character of Almira Gulch from the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz as portrayed by Margaret Hamilton. Blurring the line between fiction and reality, the show builds on the premise that Gulch was an actress - rather than a character portrayed by an actress - who appeared in the film (as herself). Songs include: Born On A Bike, Pour Me A Man, and I Can Be An Icon, Too.

November 12-22
Stage Two
Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something original. Helped by friends Susan and Heidi, Jeff and Hunter write a show about writing a show. [Title of Show] - taken from the space on the festival’s application form which asks for the [title of show]. The musical received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Book of a Musical in 2009.

November 27 – December 20
Humorist Jean Shepherd’s memoir of growing up in the Midwest during the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family’s temperamental exploding furnace; the boys’ experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin and Ralphie’s father winning a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg in a net stocking.

November 27-December 20
Stage Two
Eight reindeer dishing about the real Santa Claus. All those rumors you’ve heard about him and the elves? About Rudolph’s little secret? About Vixen’s story that was leaked to the press? All true. Yes, the reindeer finally speak up and – believe us – they do not hold back.

January 22 - February 13, 2016
Kyra is a young woman surprised to see the son of her former lover at her apartment in a London slum. He hopes she will reconcile with his distraught, now widowed, father. Tom, a restless, self-made restaurant and hotel tycoon, arrives later that evening, unaware of his son’s visit. Kyra, who was his invaluable business associate and a close family friend until his wife discovered their affair, has since found a vocation teaching underprivileged children. Is the gap between them unbridgeable, or can they resurrect their relationship?

February 19-March 5, 2016
Stage Two
Hired by the dissolute Smith family to murder the matriarch for insurance money, Killer Joe takes the daughter to bed as a retainer against his final payoff which sets in motion a bloody aftermath as the “hit man” meets his match. The first play by the author of August: Osage County, which premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf before going on to acclaimed productions in London and New York. 

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
March 11 – 26, 2016
Set in 19th century Italy, this dramatic musical concerns a young soldier and the changes in him brought about by the obsessive love of Fosca, his Colonel’s homely, ailing cousin.

April 1- 23, 2016
Stage Two
All those people who live fantasy lives up there on the not so silver porno screen ~ what might they be like at home, away from the tacky lighting and cheap interiors of their workaday world? What might they fantasize about? One wants to be discovered as a serious actress; one, a star of gay porno, is actually heterosexual and wants to be recognized as such; another wants a child. At Georgia Lloyd Bernhart’s birthday party which wish, if any, will come true?

BATBOY: The Musical
April 29 - May 28, 2016
Inspired by a series of tabloid headlines published in 1992 by The Weekly World News, a group of spelunking West Virginian teenagers discover a creature and the sheriff brings it to the local veterinarian’s home. He begins to assimilate to human life and become a part of the Parker family while trying to keep his penchant for sucking human blood under control. When Edgar tries to ingratiate himself with the townsfolk of Hope Falls, he is quickly rejected, and he and Dr. Parker’s daughter (who fall in love) run away together. After a single night of joyous freedom, tragedy strikes when Meredith finds them and reveals the dark secret of Bat Boy’s origin.

June 17 - July 9, 2016
Sarah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent, are trying to find happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy. Theirs is a partnership based on telling the toughest stories and, together, making a difference. But when their own story takes a sudden turn, the adventurous couple confronts the prospect of a more conventional life.

July 15 - August 13, 2016
20th anniversary of RENT on Broadway! Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages. Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme.

Tickets and details are available at

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 media trainer for businesses, P.R. and tourism groups. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Wednesday, October 7

Theater Review: TOTS: Cabaret Poe

There are productions that catch my eye and are put in a mental "need to review" list. Unfortunately, time and scheduling does not allow attending every performance in the Indianapolis-metro area.

For the past several years (seven, to be exact), one show has piqued my interest and, yet, been that one I could never catch due to being out of town or otherwise committed ~ kind of my own Eleanor.

That production is Cabaret Poe. As a life-long fan of the works of Edgar Allan Poe the title of the show alone caught my attention. I have mulled over it, building it up in my mind as to how great it would be, which is not a good thing to do, but I am human. Finally, I was able to watch it this past weekend at TOTS, 627 Massachusetts Ave., to decide if it was all I had imagined it could be.

And it was. Even more so, if possible.

From the beginning to the finale, the show's performers were polished, talented and oozing with the correct amount of Gothic charm so necessary in a production of this type.

Ben Asaykwee, the creative genius behind the production, portrays Zoilus the leader of the Poe popgoth group. Julie Lyn Barber and Lauren Briggeman round out the ebony-attired trio as Berenice and Morella. (The roles of Berenice and Morella are alternately played by Jaddy Ciucci and Renae Stone, depending on the performance date.) Asaykwee and Rebekah Taylor (Shadow) perform on all dates.

Based on works by Poe with music written by Asaykwee, the musical's performers act and sing the author's most famous works and lesser known ones as well. People are hung, trapped behind walls and mourned over (or laughed at).
Tweaking the norm, The Raven is performed by a female, and the fourth wall is broken with numerous direct-to-the-audience comments, which keeps the show from being morose and bogged down.
The fast-paced Gothic-Pop musical will delight fans of Poe, musicals, Burton-esque shows and Rocky Horror Picture Show equally. It definitely lends itself to a cult-like growing fan base, which may result in a midnight showing with all attending dressed in death garb and tossing bird seed someday. Until then, you can catch it at TOTS through October 31.

Bottom Line: Beg, borrow ~ steal from your kid's Christmas account if necessary ~ but do what you must to get the money and go see Cabaret Poe.

Images provided by TOTS

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. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sunday, October 4

Theater Review: Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT): The Great Gatsby

Every year, Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) opens its season in a big way and 2015-2016 season is no exception. What better way to welcome its 44th season in Indianapolis than with the glamour and glitz of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

Attendees were encouraged to don era-appropriate fashion and join in on the festivities, including the Champagne toast afterward. Arriving in 1920's-inspired attire, flapper-styled ladies and bow-tied dapper-clothed men mingled in the historic lobby creating an energy unlike any this critic has seen before at the theater's season opening night. In fact, I am uncertain how this gala will be topped next year, but will be eager to watch the attempt.

The story of people's lives spinning out of control in a world of excess, money and glitz centers on the theory that everyone cheats at something in their lives. Moral compass Midwesterner (and distant cousin to Daisy) Nick Caraway is portrayed by Zach Kenney. Kenney brings a quiet energy to the role, filled with anticipated excitement at living among the wealthy and ready to be one of them.
Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are brought to life marvelously by Hillary Clemens and Teagan Rose respectively. These lifelong best friends are full of mischief, secrets, desires and love for each other's happiness. Whether lounging on a chaise sipping illegal liquor, looking for passion in their lives or giggling over an inside joke, Clemens and Rose shine as wealthy women of the post World War I era.

Tom Buchanan, husband of Daisy, is portrayed by David Folsom with slick, polished manners toward everyone except his ill-fated mistress Myrtle Wilson (Angela Ingersoll). Folsom creates a Tom with a thin pleasant veneer which he keeps in check except when his hot temper slips out for all to see. The actor's ability to portray a successful businessman ~ physically abusive bully ~ manipulator is a thrill to witness.

The mysterious Jay Gatsby's lies, a desire to break through the wall around the "beautiful people" and a desperate need to finally capture the heart of small town beauty Daisy Buchanan, are seamlessly portrayed by Matt Schwader. His lies become delusions, his need for the "perfect" love of Daisy an obsession and his drive to become rich a lifelong attempt to rewrite history.

Bottom Line: Everyone should catch IRT's The Great Gatsby twice. Once for the glitz and glamour and the second time for the moral of the story and wonderful performance. I predict this show will be on more than one Top 10 List for 2015.

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.Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.