What a Difference A Year Makes

On August 28 of last year, I posted my opening article for Bravo, Bloomington! Happy belated anniversary to my little blog!

The stated purpose of this blog is to celebrate Bloomington’s inspiring theater and performance culture, and during this past year, I have met wonderful, talented people, promoted shows I believed in, and gained a little foothold in the Bloomington theater world.

On a more personal note, though, this blog had a bigger purpose. When I started the blog, I had just made the hardest decision of my life, to withdraw from my PhD program. For me, this was more than just quitting a job. I didn’t really know who I was outside of school. I had to rediscover my skills, my career goals, and my place in the world.

Bravo, Bloomington! was a key element to my emotional recovery. Read more

With Fire, Joe Schmoe Owns the Stage 

With Fire, Joe Schmoe Owns the Stage 

Sometimes a piece of art enters your life at the exact right moment. The experience brings your life and your place in the world into focus. Brett Ryback’s musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World is just such a piece. The mirror it holds up to modern American culture reflects back an all too real image that is at once critical and hopeful. With relatable characters, hard-hitting imagery, and a soundtrack I’ve been listening to on repeat for almost a week now, Joe Schmoe Saves the World transforms and inspires. 

Read more

Double the Pleasure: IU’s Summer Repertory Theater

For me, there are few things more rewarding than losing myself in the lively action and joyous laughter of a well-staged, well-crafted play. When done right, an enjoyable play can make the troubles and anxieties of the everyday just melt away. Right now, Indiana University Summer Theater gives not one but two opportunities to forget our cares and throw ourselves into another world with Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost and Jane Austen’s Persuasion (adapted for the stage by Jennifer LeBlanc).

During the month of July, Indiana University Summer Theater presents two shows in the repertory style. Typically during the school year, productions are staged one at a time allowing the actors, directors, and assistants to focus on one individual production before moving on to another. Each production typically features a unique cast, crew, staging, and scenery. Repertory theater, on the other hand, is a form of theater where the cast and crew keep a stock or repertoire of shows prepped and always ready for performance.

For IU’s summer theater, this means that one group of actors prepares two different shows, and they alternate performing one then the other for three weeks. The audience may only be vaguely aware that something is a little different. They have the opportunity to see a wider variety of plays in a shorter amount of time. Sometimes they can see two different plays in one day. Audiences may also notice familiar faces as the actors from yesterday’s Love’s Labour’s Lost perform in today’s Persuasion. Read more

On Stage this Week: July 5-9

Happy (belated) 4th everyone! I hope your 4th was filled with good food and good friends. I know mine was.

Let’s keep the celebration going with two romantic comedies presented by IU Summer Theater. Nothing promises theatrical fireworks like the witty banter found in Shakespeare and Austen. If that’s not enough, Shimmy Con presents shine and sparkles with Spectacular Shimmies, a weekend of belly dancing. Checkout the listings below for more information, and comment here to let me know what you thought about the show. Enjoy!

~Jen

Love’s Labour’s Lost

 

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Jonathan Michaelsen

In one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies, the King of Nevarre and his three male friends have pledged to swear off the company of women for three years and focus on a life of study. But when the Princess of France and her ladies show up on the scene, the men and their intentions of living a life of abstinence are tested.

Presented by Indiana University Summer Theater on July 7 and 9 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 per person and $10 with a student ID.

Buy tickets here!

 

Persuasion

Based on the novel by Jane Austen

Directed by Dale McFadden

In this adaptation of Jane Austen’s romantic novel, Anne and her former fiancé, Captain Wentworth, are thrust back into each other’s lives after seven years apart. As the plot thickens, Anne and Captain Wentworth must wrestle with their true feelings and decide whether or not they were wrong all those years ago.

Presented by Indiana University Summer Theater on July 8 at 7:30 pm and 9 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 per person and $10 with a student ID.

Buy tickets here!

 

Spectacular Shimmies

Sparkles, shimmies, earthy, and elegance briefly describe the complex and wonderful world of belly dance. Spectacular Shimmies is the performance series of Shimmy Con, an annual Belly Dance Conference. Enjoy one or two nights of amazing performances and experience everything that shimmies.

The Friday evening performances will showcase a variety of Belly Dance styles by dancers and troupes from Indiana and surrounding states. Included with your ticket is access to Shimmy Con’s keynote address. Ruby Jazayre will reflect on the changes she has seen in the Middle Eastern Dance World since she began her dance career in 1978. The keynote address starts at 7:30 pm.

On Saturday, listeners will enjoy live music by Salaam. Performing dance artists will include the amazing instructors and speakers of the conference. After the show, get up and join us in open dancing with Salaam.

Shimmy Con presents Spectacular Shimmies on Friday, July 7 and 8. Tickets are available before the performance dates for $15 for Friday and $20 for Saturday or both for $30. On the day of the performances, tickets are $18 for Friday, $23 for Saturday, and $35 for both.

Buy tickets here!

 

On Stage This Week(end): June 29 – July 2

It’s a very light weekend for theater most likely because is it the weekend before Independence Day. However, I highly suggest that in between the cookouts and fireworks you check out Bella Bravo’s play As Bad As They. I recently did a piece for the Limestone Post about the play, and I personally can’t wait to see it on Friday. Get more information below.

~Jen

As Bad As They

Written by Bella Bravo

In As Bad As They, Jordan Ternin tries to decipher the fine line between her impulses to help and control after her brother Caleb decides to quit using. This play is set in present-day Bloomington, Indiana—in the midst of the Midwest’s opioid-heroin epidemic. The play begins with the estranged lives of Caleb and Jordan. The siblings are reunited on the most dangerous day for an addict, the day he’s released from state custody. On this day the dosage that Caleb handled comfortably two weeks before could cause his death.

Presented by Monster House at the Blockhouse on July 3o. Tickets are $5 and an addition $5 donation is encouraged. All proceeds go to Courage for Change, peer-run, sober-living, and low-barrier halfway house in Bloomington.

Get Tickets Here!

And We’re Back!

Hello all! Sorry I was away for so long, but there have been so many big life events this past month that I’ve not had the time to attend theater events, much less write about them. What did I miss? Did you guys see any great performances while I was away? If you did, you should tell me all about them in the comments. I’d love hear what performances inspired you this past month.

Now that I am back, I will resume posting “On Stage This Week,” and I will post an article or review here once a week, barring a lack of events or an over-abundance of writing work for other publications.

Also, I want to try to make Bravo, Bloomington! a bit more interactive. Please tell me if there is something you would like to see here. Perhaps you want me to feature an organization near and dear to your heart, or maybe you are really interested in theater lighting techniques and would like me to put a spotlight on that topic. Whatever the case may be, please drop me a line and let me know. I am always on the lookout for new, interesting projects.

Bravo, Bloomington! Will Now Take a Short Intermission

Hello all,

First, I want to say thanks to all my readers and all the organizations that have supported Bravo, Bloomington! for the past few months. When I started this project, I did not expect for it to bring so many new and interesting opportunities for me so quickly. This really has been a wonderful experience, and I love how truly welcoming Bloomington’s performance organizations have been when I come visit for interviews or shows. I also want to say thank you so much to the Limestone Post for seeing something useful in this little blog. Writing this blog and for the Post has been wonderfully rewarding, and I look forward to doing more.

That said, I have to take a little break from writing. As much as I hate the idea of taking time off, I feel like it is a necessity. With a wedding coming up and my increased responsibilities at the Limestone Post, it has been hard to keep up with Bravo, Bloomington! these past few weeks. Do not fear, however, I will be back towards the end of June. Starting July, I hope to offer up more articles, subscription options, and an updated site.

Thank you all again for your support, and I will see everyone again at the end of June.

~Jen

The Good, the Bad, and the Confusing in Happily After Ever

After seeing a new play, I like to give myself a little time to digest the piece. I do not like knee-jerk reactions. They are usually shallow and oversimplified. Instead, I like to give myself a little time to let the play work on me. I go about doing other things (yard work, painting, hanging out with the family, etc) while in the background my brain processes and finds meaning. Usually, I uncover a richness in the play that I did not see right away. Sometimes the flaws of the play become more visible. Either way, I know I can expect, after time, for the play to start to make some sort of sense to me. I start to “get it.”

Well, it has been almost 36 hours since I have seen Happily After Ever, Bloomington Playwrights Project’s newest production, and I find myself no closer to “getting it” than when the house lights went up after the show. This is not to say it is incomprehensible. In fact, I understand what the play attempts to do from a theater critic mindset. I also found some of the depictions to be not only stimulating but also relevant. Yet, I think I am getting ahead of myself. It’s easy to do with a play as confusing as this one. Read more

On Stage This Week: May 1-7

It is a quiet week for theater, but then again it is finals week for the university and the school year is coming to a close. However, we do still have some great theater options for your entertainment. I am intrigued by the New Voices Opera Double Bill, and Frog and Toad is tons of fun. Go support local performance this weekend. 🙂

Look out for Bravo Bloomington’s review of the new season announcements for IU theater, opera, and ballet coming soon.

~Jen

2017 Double Bill

NVO is a vehicle for new opera through the collaboration of emerging student composers, performers, and administrators in an experiential learning environment. The 2017 Double Bill is presented in part by The BUEA Zone Arts Grant, the Bloomington Arts Commission, and Bloomington Playwrights Project.

The performance contains two different creations. The first creation is Marilyn’s Room by Kyle Peter Rotolo.Fame and stardom can bring riches and rewards, but for many the pressure and exposure bring loneliness and sorrow. Some of America’s most famous starlets have struggled with depression, addiction, abuse, or all of the above and the public can’t seem to get enough. Marilyn’s Room explores the world around the star, the people behind the scenes whether they are calling the shots or just cleaning the sheets. These are the people who see the real star, the real human being underneath the fancy gowns and facades. They are the individuals who get to experience fame at its worst every day, but leave it at work every night.

Marilyn’s Room will be followed by In Memoriam by Matthew Recio and Molly Korroch. Nearly every family in today’s society has watched a loved one struggle through the stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. It isn’t easy for anyone to watch the person you once knew slip away. Fear and uncertainty pepper every interaction and it can put serious strain on families and friends. Science is struggling for effective treatments, let alone an actual cure. Families are desperate to preserve the person they know and love, and In Memoriam tells the story of the Adams and their search for an alternative treatment.

Produced by New Voices Opera on May 4. This is a free event, but a suggested donation of $10 is greatly welcomed.

Find more information here!

 

A Year with Frog and Toad

A hit on Broadway, A Year With Frog And Toad was nominated for 3 Tony Awards – including Best Musical. Based on Arnold Lobel’s well-loved books and featuring a hummable score by Robert and Willie Reale, this whimsical show follows two great friends — the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad — through four, fun-filled seasons.

Waking from hibernation in the Spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding, and learn life lessons along the way. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in their differences that make them unique and special. Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, A Year With Frog And Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

The jazzy, upbeat score of A Year With Frog And Toad bubbles with melody and wit, making it an inventive, exuberant, and enchanting musical for the whole family.

Produced by Cardinal Stage on 4/28 -29. All performances take place in the afternoon to better accommodate younger audiences.

Buy Tickets Here!

On Stage This Week: April 24-30

This week’s offerings include lots of singing and dancing with choreographers showcases in ballet and modern dance and some beautiful choral music. As for theater, parents, Cardinal has a great event for you and your children. Art of Africa is offering a fantastic play about the apartheid in South Africa that is a must see for all. Check out these performances, and support our local performing arts.

~Jen

African American Choral Ensemble Spring Concert

From traditional African songs and spirituals to formally composed works, the African American Choral Ensemble Spring Concert celebrates the journey from Africa to America. The concert will include composed works by Rosephanye Powell, Andre Thomas, Ysaye Barnwell, Rollo Dilworth, John Kee, Richard Smallwood, and Dr. Raymond Wise.

The African American Choral Ensemble (AACE), one of three performing ensembles in the African American Arts Institute, has been inspiring and uplifting audiences for more than 40 years. AACE continues to perform a broad repertoire including choral anthems, hymns, spirituals, inspirational, pop, gospel, and formally composed works composed and/or arranged by, for, and about African Americans.

Produced by the African American Choral Ensemble on 4/29.

Buy tickets here!

 

Ballet at the BCT – The Choreography Project

Produced by Indiana University’s Department of Ballet on 4/26.

Find out more information about this free event here!

 

My Children! My Africa!

by Athol Fugard

“Fugard’s toughest and most moving political play. One of the theatre’s most affecting dissections of social upheaval.” –Linda Winer, New York Newsday conflict over the most effective means for ending apartheid in South Africa leads to an explosive confrontation between a gifted but impatient black township youth and his devoted but “old-fashioned” black teacher in this deeply felt and richly imagined drama. The unexpected involvement of a young white woman who befriends and learns from both men strips away the political trappings to reveal the human trauma at the heart of South Africa’s ongoing tragedy.

Produced by Art of Africa on 4/27th – 3oth.

Buy tickets here!

 

New Moves: Student Choreographers Showcase 2017

Collaboration and innovation take center stage in this original choreography by IU Contemporary Dance seniors. Fresh tracks on the trail toward the future of dance creation and performance, including sound, film, visual art, performance, and text – the newest tools for the newest moves!

Produced by Indiana University Department of Theater Drama and Contemporary Dance on 4/28 and 29.

Buy tickets here!

 

A Year with Frog and Toad

A hit on Broadway, A Year With Frog And Toad was nominated for 3 Tony Awards – including Best Musical. Based on Arnold Lobel’s well-loved books and featuring a hummable score by Robert and Willie Reale, this whimsical show follows two great friends — the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad — through four, fun-filled seasons.

Waking from hibernation in the Spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding, and learn life lessons along the way. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in their differences that make them unique and special. Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, A Year With Frog And Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

The jazzy, upbeat score of A Year With Frog And Toad bubbles with melody and wit, making it an inventive, exuberant, and enchanting musical for the whole family.

Produced by Cardinal Stage on 4/28 -29. All performances take place in the afternoon to better accommodate younger audiences.

Buy Tickets Here!