Indianapolis Civic Theatre
Directed by Charles Ballinger
Through April 9
Mother and Little Boy (Bobbi Bates and Kurt E. Green, left), first encounter Tateh and Little Girl (J. Stuart Mill and Rachel L. Ornstein, right), with whom their lives will forever be intertwined, in Civic's production of 'Ragtime,' playing through April 9.
Indianapolis Civic Theatre presents a phenomenal rendition of Ragtime, the now-classic musical that tells the story of race and class at the turn of the century.
Beginning with the strong ensemble opening "Ragtime," the cast never lets up for this almost-three-hour performance, giving powerful and moving renditions of songs exploring life, including the final number, "Wheels of a Dream," which is just as energy-driven as the opener.
And the scenes are lush. A clean backdrop of newspaper clippings (scenic and lighting design by Ryan Koharchik) from the era is a constant reminder of the often turbulent nature of the times. Against this are put elegant costumes that reflect the status of each character (costume design by Christopher Arthur).
Todd Dillon as Father, Bobbi Bates as Mother, John O'Brien as Younger Brother, Karlton D. Turner as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Mia Mumford as Sarah, J. Stuart Mill as Tateh give performances of a lifetime. The entire cast is electric in this emotionally charged show, striking sparks and keeping the energy surging. Director Charles Ballinger (Civic's new artistic director) captures the atmosphere that makes a musical great. Brent E. Marty's music direction keeps the show at a high caliber.
This one goes on the "Best Of" list for 2006. See it through April 9. Civic is located on the campus of Marian College at 3200 Cold Spring Road. Tickets are $19-$28. Call 317-923-4597, www.civictheatre.org.
'Underneath the Lintel' a fun ride
UnderNEATH the Lintel
Indiana Repertory Theatre
Directed by John Green
Through May 6
In 1986, a Dutch librarian is being dogged by two things: Les Miserables and a 113-years overdue library book.
Underneath the Lintel is a one-man show starring Robert K. Johansen, who gives an animated performance in this dry version of The DaVinci Code, except that the Holy Grail is replaced by the myth of the Wandering Jew (not the plant, though it does come up).
Johansen as the librarian becomes obsessed with following the trail of this mythological character, a journey that started out with the overdue travel guide and its Chinese laundry pickup ticket-turned-bookmark. The dedicated librarian is a solitary man who has rarely left his small Dutch town, but who now takes on a veritable tour of the world in search of answers. We are presented with his findings in an eccentric slide lecture presentation, complete with a suitcase full of his "scraps" (evidence he has collected on his travels). Along the way his search turns into a reflection on the meaning of life.
Underneath the Lintel is a fun ride, if a little long at two hours for a one-man show. But director John Green keeps the pace frantic, and Johansen is up for the challenge - though his accent slips when he gets overly excited.
Underneath the Lintel continues at the Indiana Repertory Theatre through May 6. Tickets are $19-$49. Call the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., at 317-635-5252, www.indianarep.com.