Saturday, December 31

Theater Review: Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre: Shear Madness

Breaking from its typical offering of a British farce to jump start the year, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, opens its 2017 season with Shear Madness, running through January 29.

Originally adapted from Paul Portner's work Scherenschnitt, the play evolved over time to settle into its current format. A blend of an improv troupe's comedy, a whodunnit, and a roast of politicians, local events and nearby towns. No one and nothing is off limits as the butt of jokes.

Set in a stylish hair salon, in this case a Mass Ave spot, a retired concert pianist is murdered in her apartment above the unisex salon. Customers, owner and staff are all suspect, with two detectives grilling them, and the audience, for answers to the homicide.

The interactive performance derives much of its rhythm, jokes ~ and ending ~ from the audience, creating a different show nightly.

Stand out performances (besides the audience), include Suzanne Stark portraying Eleanor Shubert, the wealthy socialite from the town of Carmel. Stark's style of snootiness stops short of annoying, instead heightening the hilarity of the goings on.
Jeffrey Stockberger, as homicide detective Nick O'Brien, is best at interacting with the audience and keeps everything flowing smoothly.

Garnering most laughs, definitely, is Daniel Klingler's portrayal of shop owner Tony Whitcomb. Using every mannerism of the stereotypical gay hair stylist, Whitcomb sets the tone for the performance and never lets up.

I strongly recommend getting tickets immediately as this show was close to sold out capacity and an immediate success with the audience. Also, for more frivolity and collaboration with the on-stage antics, get seats close to the stage.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Shear Madness is certain to sell out numerous shows with its cutting wit and ever-changing finale.

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 Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Wednesday, December 7

Theater Review: Theatre on the Square (TOTS): A Christmas Survival


So many delightful, and deserving, events to attend and performances to review... in that vein, an opportunity has presented itself to me. A gentleman in the world of theater for whom I have much respect has transplanted from New York City to his hometown of Indianapolis and offered to relieve me of some of the numerous reviews worthy of attention in town.


Without further ado ~ enter a review by John Simmons ...

A Christmas Survival Guide has been a staple of many Christmases Past but, even if you’ve seen the show before, you haven’t seen the version now being performed at Theatre On The Square’s intimate, cabaret-style Stage 2 Theater. The TOTS’ creative team has refurbished this holiday chestnut with an assortment of up-to-the-minute pop culture references, well-placed four-letter words and sexy double entendres.

How much a particular sketch tickles your funny bone will, of course, depend on your particular brand of humor. Some standouts include: a hyper-sexed rendition of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ (with and Eric Brockett); a hilariously hyper-frenzied rendition of ‘Sleigh Ride’ (Anna, Shauna Smith and singing standout Josiah McCruistion); Mrs. Claus (Eric, in drag and employing an accent of undetermined origin) complaining about being neglected by her husband, especially on Christmas Eve; a lonely young woman (Gabby Niehaus) hitting up a department store Santa (Josiah) for a date to the office Christmas party; and a lusty Saint Nick himself (Josiah) extolling the virtues of being ‘the man with the bag’ when attracting the ladies.
Pet owners, in particular, will appreciate the holiday gift exchange between a dog, a cat and their human (Anna, Eric and Josiah). Those who’ve seen the show undoubtedly have favorites of their own (as will you).

The humor is broad and adults only, and some sketches work better than others. A Christmas Carol, it’s not. A Christmas Guide’s laughs also work best when they are shared with others. So, this holiday season – if you and your friends are looking for something more naughty than nice – why not trot down to TOTS and spend an evening with A Christmas Guide’s lively cast (ably assisted by Stage Manager and Cast Member Nikki Sayer and skilled piano man Levi Burke) in ushering in some Yuletide cheer?

The show’s setup is simple: the play’s characters are reading chapters from Dr. Holly’s self-help book, A Christmas Survival Guide, with pre-recorded voice overs letting the audience in on the advice being read. There’s no real story line, but a series of musical comedy sketches (with many offering new takes on classic Christmas songs) about maintaining a brave face when celebrating Christmas in the modern age.
Images: TOTS
John Simmons recently moved back to his hometown of Indianapolis from New York City, where he stage managed or produced numerous off-Broadway shows. John was also General Manager of The Active Theater. Active Theater alumni who have gone on to bigger and better things include Grace Gealey (aka Anika on Fox’s Empire) and Lucy Owens (now appearing in Miss Sloane).

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes magazine food and wine column: Destination Dining 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.