This week, Artistic and Managing Directors of the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Janet Allen and Steven Stolen, invited members of the press for an intimate gathering in which they previewed their upcoming season. As Around the World in 80 Days heads into its final weekend, and their 2009-10 season comes to a close, it seemed an apt time to reflect on the past and look to the future. This Indianapolis theatre will have a hard time topping the amazing productions that filled this past season. But Allen and Stolen shared an enthusiasm for the future that makes their upcoming season seem as promising as the one that has just passed.
Before we look forward, let’s pause a moment to reflect on the Indianapolis performing arts offerings from the IRT. Their season started with a bang as they presented James Still’s newest play The Heavens Are Hung in Black. This historical drama about the challenges faced by Abraham Lincoln as he worked tirelessly to preserve the union featured wonderful performances, a stunningly clever set and intelligent writing. On its heels was The Giver based on the children’s novel by Lois Lowry. The show was a smash hit with student audiences, as a well formed ensemble took audiences on a journey through a drab world gaining color.
The IRT’s annual production of A Christmas Carol was, as usual, a timely Christmas tradition. Dickens’ classic story came to life on a snow filled stage with a parade of local actors. The tragic romance Love Letters featured the lasting correspondence of two childhood friends. Brought to life by personable and emotional performance from two of the most talented actors to grace the IRT stage, it was one of my top picks of their season. Unfortunately, the tragic tale of star crossed lovers that followed in their three hour production of Romeo and Juliet did not live up to the high standards set in their previous show.
The IRT found a hit with their Going Solo Festival, which feature three one person plays. Millicent Wright astounded audiences with the frightening and joyful story of Charlayne Woodard in Pretty Fire. Joan Didion’s best selling book The Year of Magical Thinking took audiences on through the illogical journey of grief, with a somber sense of reality that hit home. And finally NUVO’s own David Hoppe premiered an original work on the IRT stage with the brilliantly written After Paul McCartney.
After a heavy season of humanistic drama, the IRT finished up with two light and airy comedies featuring hilarious characters. Becky’s New Car brought Steven Dietz to the Circle City with the mini-Dietz fest in collaboration with the Phoenix Theatre’s Yankee Tavern. And Around the World in 80 Days offered a high flying adventure tale, perfect for the Indianapolis kid in us all.
So what’s on tap for next season at the IRT. Read on for a preview of what you can expect to enjoy on this Indianapolis stage.
Holes by Louis Sachar
This beloved Sachar novel turned movie turned play plays the IRT’s main stage September 25 through November 6. This season opener isn’t just for kids, as hidden treasure, a multi-generational curse and racial injustice are the components of this quirky, yet thought provoking comedy. After being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Stanley is sentenced to hard time at a mysterious correctional facilities where kids dig holes. But he is bound to uncover more than just dirt as he finds the truth of his parent’s past and a host of new friends. Don’t miss this storytelling centric “tall tale” of one family’s hidden legacy.
Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte
Mary’s Wedding takes over the IRT’s upper stage November 3 to December 4. The night before her wedding, Mary wakes repeatedly from a recurring dream about her childhood love. Set against the backdrop of World War I, this Canadian play is a surreal journey through love, heartache, passion and heroism. Caught in a time of stunning change, Mary finds herself torn between the boy she loved and lost and the man she is betrothed to marry. As the lines of truth are blurred as she moves between dreaming and waking, ultimately she must face reality.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Haas
A Christmas Carol returns to the IRT stage for another year November 26 through December 26. This timeless tale of the industrial age features the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as Scrooge learns once more to overcome greed. After years of playing Scrooge, local Indianapolis actor Charles Goad will not be returning to the miserly role. Instead, the mask of Scrooge will be donned by one Mr. Ryan Artzberger (of Romeo and Juliet and The Heavens Are Hung in Black). Don’t miss this ninety minute retelling and retooling of a favorite holiday story.
The Diary of Anne Frank by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman
The Diary of Anne Frank graces the IRT stage for the first time in many years. In correspondence with the 50th Anniversary of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the IRT remembers to legacy of a one little girl with a lot of heart. Her diary stands as a triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. It offers lessons that should not only never be forgotten, but should be revisited time and again. Produced in conjunction with the Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City, the IRT’s production will pack up and move West after a successful run on the IRT stage. This retooled version of the 1956 script incorporates many of the lost passages excised by Otto Frank before the diaries original publication in the 1950s.
Going Solo Festival
The Going Solo Festival returns to the IRT’s stage with three intimate one person plays brought to life on the IRT’s upper stage February 10 through March 13.This year, the IRT expands the festival offering two weekends (instead of one) where it is possible for patrons to see all three shows. Millicent returns to the role of Charlayne Woodard in the sequel to Pretty Fire titled Neat, February 10 through March 6. In it, Charlayne’s brain damaged aunt, Neat (short for Beneatha), moves in with the Woodard family. Through a process of learning acceptance and love, Neat changes Charlayne with her enormous love, energy, simplicity and magnificent clarity.
Fire in the Garden by Ken Weitzman plays February 12 through 27 and shares one man’s story as he undergoes the transformation to fatherhood during his wife’s pregnancy. As he steps into the new role of “Dad,” his understanding of the world shifts in unimaginable ways. And lastly, In Acting Shakespeare takes the stage February 19 through March 13. Written and performed by James DeVita, this romp through one actor’s preparation to enter the world of Shakespeare on stage takes a humorous look at one thespian’s relationship with the Bard.
The Gospel According to James by Charles Smith
The Gospel According to James plays the IRT’s main stage March 22 through April 10. As part of the IRT’s ongoing Indiana series, the play
was commissioned by the IRT and will experience its World Premiere on the IRT stage. In 1930, James Cameron and Mary Ball emerged as the two sole survivors of an atrocious racial crime in Marion, Indiana. Teenagers when the crime occurred, the event changed their lives forever. They reflect, more than fifty years later on the traumatic events, reveling a strange gap in memory and in truth, even though their experiences were the same.
39 Steps by Patrick Barlow
This Tony award winning play graces the IRT stage April 20 through May 14. A send up of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror films, the play has been called “a Hitchcock masterpiece. . . with a dash of Monty Python.” Four actors don multiple characters, navigate outrageous special effects and pay homage to some of Hitchcock’s most iconic contributions to movie history. This tongue-in-cheek rendering of a classic Hitchcock film will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter.
IRT’s 39th Season
As the IRT heads into its 39th season in Indiana, it offers a range of challenging, insightful and sometime funny topics for Indiana audiences. Make your trip to the IRT complete with a dinner and drinks from any of these Indianapolis restaurants or Indianapolis bars. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Events and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. Get out in Indy and find some fun!
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