Theater | Year in review Looking back over the past year of theater (entire year here, not season), there were many standout shows presented. Back in April, Main Street Productions of Westfield succeeded with the musical The Civil War. Theatre on the Square drew laughs with the ensemble of five women in ugly bridesmaids" dresses in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress in May. Of course, ShadowApe Theatre Company"s Gorey Stories returned in June, this time on the Indiana Repertory Theatre stage, with another superlative showing. Footlite presented a sexy rendition of Chicago in October, and the IRT presented a sparsely populated yet lush Cyrano in September.
WNo. 1: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the Phoenix Theatre, STILL PLAYING, GO SEE IT. (Pictured: Blaine Hogan as Hedwig)
But I am supposed to relate the best of the best, so, in ascending order, these are my top three picks of the year (interesting note: they all deal with "freaks" in one way or another): No. 3: Side Show at Buck Creek Players, September. Kudos to this small theater for premiering such an amazing musical in Indianapolis. The large cast, headed up by Robyne Ault and Amanda Lawson as conjoined twins Daisy and Violet, took the show to heart, conveying all the emotion contained in the songs. The production was very professional: a big-Broadway feel was in the house. No. 2: Bat Boy at the Phoenix Theatre, June. Pure camp done right. Mocking the big-Broadway musical, the show was a hoot in every way. Pure fun, but especially for those of us who thrive on musicals. You could make a drinking game out of it: Every time you spot a parody, take a drink. With the cast playing their roles poker-faced, the hilarity just grew and grew. Kudos to the Phoenix for nabbing it. No. 1: Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Phoenix Theatre, STILL PLAYING, GO SEE IT. I see a lot of theater. Often people will tell me that I have a cool job. My answer: Yes Ö most of the time. I have to sit through my fair share of dreck, too. It"s my job. But then there are moments - moments like sitting in the Phoenix"s underground theater, all the aisles of chairs pulled and re-set cabaret-style, where Ö I cry. I cry because something so deep and pure is being translated to me. Hedwig is such a show. Blaine Hogan as the transsexual rocker, backed by local band The Common, is nothing short of amazing, belting out songs, from the rock ballad "The Origin of Love" to swingy "Sugar Daddy." If you fear the transsexual issue, don"t, because the show transcends gender. If you aren"t a fan of rock music, forget about the genre and listen to the words. Hear the story. Different, innovative, heart-wrenching, yet funny in so many ways, and presented by impeccable talent: Isn"t this what we want from our theater community? Support it by seeing Hedwig, onstage through Dec. 29 (635-PLAY). Plus, there will be a special New Year"s Eve party showing. Marc"s pick The theater scene in Indy is growing stronger, gaining depth and slowly blossoming into an expressive community of artists and patrons. The scene is offering more than boring productions like My Fair Lady and Arsenic and Old Lace (forgive me if those are your favorites). Today, we can choose from an array of stimulating, entertaining and, at times, cathartic performances. Take my 2002 favorite, Indiana Repertory Theatre"s Copenhagen (November/December). Here was a class act demonstrating all the ingredients necessary for a thought-provoking and clever theatrical production. Its profundity was matched by a trio of actors who understood not only their characters, but also the way to transform a stage into a small slice of space existing somewhere in a dreamlike reality. IRT"s Copenhagen was the sort of play that sits with you months and, perhaps, years after viewing. The issues and challenges somehow become a part of your own intellect. It possessed the same inspirational spirit that is now becoming a part of Indianapolis" growing theater community. -Marc McAleavey