Theater reviews :: Thru June 16 / July 7

There are few things I can say about ShadowApe Theatre Company"s Gorey Stories that I haven"t said already. Gushing things. Superlative things.

This year, instead of the intimate Lilly Studio Theatre on Butler University"s campus, ShadowApe took over the Indiana Repertory Theatre"s upperstage. This presented two questions: Can they handle the larger space, and are they going to have the audience walk through the opening loop of actors onstage? The answer to both: yes. The integrity of the opening sequence is maintained by bringing the audience in through the "backstage." Patrons enter the theater across the stage through a seemingly random sequence of snippets, which serves as a signal: This is going to be a unique work that requires immersion by the audience from the get-go.

The rest of the show is an almost perfect reprise of last year"s production, with only minor changes. The entire cast returns to the Gorey stage, and sitting in the audience was like being in a time warp. Just as satisfying, with just as twisted a script performed just as meticulously by some of Indianapolis" best actors. This could happily become an annual event, with performances more anticipated than any Christmas Carol or Joseph.

Gorey Stories continues Thursday-Saturday, June 13-15, 8 p.m.; Sunday, June 16, 7 p.m.; and a show has been added on Saturday, June 15, 5 p.m. For tickets, well worth the $20, call the IRT box office at 635-5252.

More oddities

ShadowApe wasn"t the only group doing something a little different last weekend. Theatre on the Square presents Pageant: six men dolled up in women"s wear competing for the title of Miss Glamouresse.

The word camp could be used to describe this show, but I don"t think that small word can encompass the surreality of a man in a blond kinky-curl wig, decked out in red fringe, yehawing and slapping the rear end of a rocking horse. Are you getting a mental image yet?

The six compete in traditional beauty pageant categories, such as talent, evening gown and, yup, swimsuit. One unique category is the spokesmodel competition, where each contestant hawks the wares of Glamouresse cosmetics, such as edible lipstick, face spackle, female deodorant apparel, etc.

The whole thing is MCed by Ron Spencer as Frankie Cavalier, sporting a shock of black hair. While he has comedic moments of his own, the real stars of the show are the guys: Troy Horn as Miss Bible Belt, Chris Lacefield as Miss West Coast, James Hunter Rice as Miss Great Plains, D. Scott Robinson as Miss Texas (the aforementioned horsie-smacker), Giovanni Russo as Miss Industrial Northeast and Matt Winings as Miss Deep South. A couple of these guys are so convincing you won"t believe they are guys; others need to go back to "Walking in Heels 101." Bless Lacefield"s heart: While an attractive guy, he makes a woman only a paper bag could love.

My personal highlight: Rice"s talent piece was a maudlin dramatic interpretation on "I Am the Land" about the rape of our country"s natural resources, complete with a gown sprouting tiny trees and representations of waterways. For the finale, Rice pulled a full-sized American flag from the depths of his gown, pole and all.

One rather interesting thing about the show is that the judges are culled from the audience - and their picks really determine the winner. The favorite opening night: Consuela Manuela Rafaella Lopez, Miss Industrial Northeast, a spicy little Latina who stole the stage every time she graced it. Funny coming from a guy who states in the program that "Pageant is his first and possibly last time dressing as a woman." He does so with outrageous style.

Tons of laughs are to be had. Pageant continues through July 7, Fridays through Sundays. Call the TOTS box office at 637-8085 for tickets, $18.

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