It's been a pretty good year for live theater here. There were several beautiful shows at the IRT, several thought-provoking ones at the Phoenix and a few bucket-listers from Broadway Across America. The IndyFringe Festival celebrated its 10th year. The Cupboard Presents sent its talent-packed The Color Purple on tour to cities as far away as Atlanta.
Director/writer Zack Neiditch and producer/videographer Zach Rosing established themselves as a collaborative force, first with their hilarious Fringe show, The Great Bicycle Race, then with their exhilarating take on The Rocky Horror Show at the Athenaeum.
NoExit's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea in the Piccadilly Penthouse cemented their reputation for doing unusual, site-specific work. And all-volunteer community theaters such as Footlite Musicals and Buck Creek Players pulled off shows such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Carrie: the Musical, respectively.
We saw three new fests: Claire Wilcher and friends created the Gal Pal Comedy Fest to showcase local female comics at ComedySportz. EclecticPond Theatre Company offered The Wars of the Roses — eight hour-long adaptations of eight of Shakespeare's history plays with just eight actors playing all of the roles. The Phoenix partnered with The One-Minute Play Festival to feature local playwrights, directors, and performers.
It was also a good year for longer work by Indy playwrights. I especially admired the two hour-long plays that Bennett Ayres wrote for separate companies in the IndyFringe Festival. The Useful Woman was a powerful historical piece about Carrie Nation while Jen/Con was a funny yet poignant piece about online gaming and relationships.
Storyteller Stephanie Holman researched comedian Red Skelton's Indiana years to create and perform Good Night and May God Bless. Paige Scott's whacky spoof Bomb on a Bus: a Speedy Musical was given its premiere by Q Artistry.
Earth Charter Indiana's Jim Poyser used a live game show format to address climate change in his The Ain't Too Late Show. And Q Artistry's Ben Asaykwee worked with vets to respectfully put their stories to music in a solo piece he then performed, called My Name Is ____.
Also worth mentioning are several items from behind the scenes:
Ron Spencer stepped down from helming Theatre on the Square after decades of artistic service and is now enjoying life in Mexico.
Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project became the resident company at the Indy Fringe Theatre and hit the ground running with three satisfying shows.
The IRT, longtime experts at growing audiences via school field trips, ventured into the preschool arena with playwright-in-residence James Still's adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit.
EclecticPond Theatre Company announced plans to partner with Black Acre Brewing Co. to lease and renovate a black box theater space within the Irvington Coal Factory project.
After exquisite productions of Streetcar and Hamlet earlier this year, Acting Up Productions seems to be hibernating. The all-volunteer Spotlight Players also folded, at least for the time being.
After 17 years as a beloved dancer with Dance Kaleidoscope, Liberty Harris changed to a new role as rehearsal director and education coordinator.
This month, Asia LaBouche gave her final performances at Talbott Street Night Club. She will still occasionally make special appearances but she wants to spend more time with her husband. Everyone who enjoys late-night live entertainment will miss her greatly.