Theatre Gives Us “Reasons To Be Pretty”

The Phoenix Theatre, located in the Indianapolis cultural district Mass Ave, closes out its 2009-10 season with Neil LaBute’s Reasons to be Pretty. This Indianapolis theatre has produced an entire season of hits. Here’s hoping they keep their streak going. With the deck stacked in their favor (Ryan Artzberger steps into the role of Greg after a twice extended run in Reasons to be Pretty at the Studio Theatre in Washington DC), it seems the Phoenix is set to pull off another wonderful Indianapolis theatre production. The show opens July 8 and runs through August 1. Tickets are $15.00 on Thursdays, Sundays and everyday for Indianapolis people 24 and under and $20.00 on Friday and Saturdays. The curtain goes up at 7:00 pm on Thursday, 8:00 pm on Friday and Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday. Don’t miss your last chance to see some wonderful Indianapolis art at the Phoenix Theatre.

Reasons to be Pretty is the first Neil LaBute play to be produced on Broadway. It finished out a trilogy of LaBute plays centered on America’s modern day obsession with physical appearance, preceded by The Shape of Things and Fat Pig (produced by the Phoenix Theatre a few seasons ago). The story centers on four working class friends and lovers who become increasingly aware of and dissatisfied by their dead end lives and each other. The play premiered at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in June of 2008.

Celebrated as Labute’s greatest work to date, the show was described by New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley as having an “adolescent awkwardness” that makes for a “relatively easygoing sprawl. . . [which] allows his characters to talk naturally and at leisure as they ponder their own less than pretty natures. . . In the course of these conversations, you realize anew what a sensitive ear Mr. LaBute has for the uncommonness in common speech – of the individuality within everyday language – and for how people of all levels of education and eloquence use words as instruments of power.”

The show opens in a firestorm argument between Greg and his long time girlfriend Steph. After comparing her “regular face” to a new knockout employee at work, a timeline of events is set in catalyst offering the perfect framework for each character to ruminate on beauty, relationships and personal frustration. As Greg, a warehouse packer, attempts to navigate his newly single life, he depends on advice from co workers Kent and Carly, a married couple with issues of their own who just don’t buy his story. All the while, La Bute has his characters bandy words about as if they were daggers.

LaBute’s Reasons to be Pretty was a wild success in the New York Theatre scene. It was nominated for countless awards including Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Performances by a Leading Actor in a Play, Best Performance by a Features Actress in a Play, Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play and Director of a Play. It won the Theatre World Award in Marin Ireland. The show is now making the rounds at regional theatres across the United States.

The Phoenix Theatre’s upcoming production features Indianapolis artist and actor Ryan Artzberger, as he returns to the Circle City from a very successful run of Reasons to be Pretty at the famed Studio Theatre. Peter Marks of The Washington Post remarked, “It’s and indication of Artzberger’s charming hold on us that we identify with Greg even when he feels compelled to corroborate the lies of a truly reprehensible buddy.” Live DC stated that, “Artzberger is completely convincing and perfect for the role.”

With support from a cast of local actors including Angela Plank (last seen in Sunlight on the Phoenix Theatre stage), Shane Chuvalas (last seen in Yankee Tavern on the Phoenix Theatre stage) and Marianna Fernandez, Artzberger tackles the role once more. Don’t miss Reasons to be Pretty on stage at the Phoenix Theatre July 8 through August 1.

Located in the heart of Indianapolis downtown’s Mass Ave, the Phoenix Theatre has prime Indianapolis real estate near a host of other Indianapolis performing arts venues including Theatre on the Square, the IndyFringe Theatre and the Old National Theatre (formerly the Murat Theatre). Treat yourself to dinner before the show at any of the yummy Indianapolis restaurants near by like Yats Cajun Restaurant, Agio’s Italian Restaurant or Bazbeaux Pizza. After the show, discuss the missed signals and wrong steps by the characters of Neil Labute’s Reasons to Be Pretty over drinks at any of these Indianapolis bars.

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Reasons to be Pretty
July 8 to August 1, 2010

The Phoenix Theatre
749 North Park Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202