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. 

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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.


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!

On Stage This Week: April 10-16

Hello all,

Despite a super busy schedule, I’m trying to make Bravo, Bloomington a bit more active. For this reason, I am starting “On Stage This Week.” On Monday or Tuesday of each week, I will post a list of the shows being performed during that week. As of now, I am focusing mainly on theatrical performances, but I am more than happy to promote any and all local performances and productions here on the site. If you want your event added to the list, please feel free to message me or comment here.

Are you a fan of musicals, then this is the week for you to go to the theater! This week is musicals week in Bloomington, or so it seems. Check out the listings below, go see a show, and sing along to some fun musicals. It’s the perfect cure for whatever ails you.



Calling all Kates

Book by Emily Goodson
Music & Lyrics by Jeremy Schonfeld

Marc gets dumped by his fiancé, Kate McBride, right before their wedding and honeymoon around the world. He’s now single and left to travel the globe alone since his plane tickets are non-transferrable and non-refundable. In an act of desperation, Marc posts an ad online for the only companion who could legally join him… someone with the exact same name as his ex-fiancé. Set loose in a bunch of different foreign countries, strangers Marc and Kate must get to know one another and learn to get along in the wake of Marc’s heartbreak. Will they fall in love? Probably not. Will they have a heck of a good time? Definitely. (musical)

Produced by the Bloomington Playwrights Project on Thurs 4/13-Sat 4/15

Buy Tickets Here!


The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Music & Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison

Gangsters-turned-pastry-chefs, seductive Spaniards, and a well-oiled chaperone will have you roaring like the 20s! In this “musical within a musical”, IU Theatre icon George Pinney takes the stage to share his talent one last time, as the melancholy “Man in Chair”. As he listens to his favorite record, his drab apartment gives way to the sparkling sets and lavish costumes of The Drowsy Chaperone. (musical)

Produced by the Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance on Fri 4/14 – Sun 4/16

Buy Tickets Here!

Flower and Sword

By: Ma Sen

Flower and Sword is the story of a Child returning home to visit her father’s grave. The Child is met in sequence by their Mother, Father, and Father’s Friend. A deadly love triangle is revealed as masks drop and characters merge into each other. Is the Child doomed to the same deadly fate as their parents? Taiwanese playwright Ma Sen’s one act play questions the boundaries between love, family, fate, and gender. (play)

Performed as part of the China Remixed festival Mon 4/10 – 4/12

This is a FREE event. Find out more information here!


The Music Man

By Meredith Wilson

One of the most joyous family musicals ever! Professor Harold Hill’s a slick but charming con man who’s got the perfect get-rich-quick scheme. First, get the folks of Iowa’s River City to invest in a marching band for the kids, complete with instruments and uniforms. Then, take the cash and skip town before anyone figures out that he doesn’t know a note! But figure him out they do—especially lovely Marian the librarian and the hard-nosed mayor. Does tragedy ensue? Of course not, because the flimflam man turns out to have a heart, romance blossoms, and that mythical band turns out to be real after all! (musical)

Produced by the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music on Fri 4/14 and Sat 4/15

Buy Tickets Here!


The BSO Tells the Best Stories in Scene Change

Alejandro Gomez Guillen, BSO Artistic Director and Conductor

Once again, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is changing up the way we think about symphonic music. Their most recent show, Scene Change: Untold Musical Stories of Latin America was a lush celebration of the numerous riches contained in the archives of the Latin American Music Center (LAMC) and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

The collaboration between the BSO and the LAMC created a beautiful program that changed the way I understood Latin Music. I will admit that I know little about Latin symphonic music. Like most people, I tend to associate the term Latin American music with the traditional street or dance music that surrounded me when I would visit places like San Antonio. I envisioned stereotypes like mariachis and salsa dancers, but instead I got a night of wonderfully unique and diverse symphonic orchestrations that ranged from the classical (Bachianas by Adolfo Mejia) to the experimental (Introduccion y Allegro Concertante, Op. 117 by Juan Orrego-Salas) all created and performed with the passion and energy of Latin America.

The main event of the evening was, of course, the world premiere of Juan Orrego-Salas’s Ash Wednesday. Originally written in 1989, Salas’s composition has never been performed before a live audience due to a number of mishaps, but at the age of 98, Salas was finally able to hear his lovely work performed while surrounded by family and friends.

Salas based this composition on T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name. Written when Eliot was older, Ash Wednesday is a contemplative poem about the nature of faith and belief. Eliot expresses his desires to put his doubt aside and become a true believer through introspective and metaphysical poetic prose for which he is famous. Salas combined selections of the poem with musical orchestration to explore the depths of doubt, the transcendence of faith, and the individual’s struggle to sublimate one to achieve the other. The result was haunting, moving, and beautiful.

Reader Tony Brewer and Soprano Alejandra Maritinez on stage for Salas’s Ash Wednesday.

Prior to song’s first performance, Tony Brewer, chair of the Writer’s Guild at Bloomington, took the stage to read a selection from Eliot’s poem. Poetry itself is meant to be heard not just read, so I really enjoyed this part of the show. I love hearing poetry read out loud. Not only did it allow the audience to hear the music present in the original words, but it also gave us the ability to compare the original to Salas’s composition.

The BSO’s performance of the piece was really lovely. Soprano Alejandra Martinez accompanied the BSO, singing Eliot’s words beautifully despite the obvious difficulty of the piece. Martinez, who had joined the BSO in the fall of 2016 for their opera showcase, sang with such emotion and expression that I couldn’t help but tear up a little. Her voice, along with the orchestra’s energetic performance, made Eliot’s poem even more impactful. I could hear the speaker’s struggle with doubt in the looming threat of the low brass, the flittering promise of happiness through faith in flutes and strings, and the speaker’s struggles find her place in the middle of all this noise surrounding her.

Composer Juan Orrego-Salas accepting applause after the world premiere of Ash Wednesday.

At the completion of the piece, the audience wildly applauded as the BSO presented Salas with a lovely bouquet of flowers. He stood and waved. I was not very far away from Salas; his happiness was practically radiating from him. It was such a special night for Salas, and it was such a special night for all of us that got to celebrate it with him.

Overall, Scene Change was another fantastic example of both the BSO’s commitment to music excellence, especially considering the difficulty of the program. According to Donna Lafferty, Executive Director and orchestra trombonist, not only were these pieces completely new to all of the musicians, but they were also some of the most difficult pieces they have ever had to prepare. The audience could tell, though, that this concert was a labor of love for all involved, and the richness of the program once again exemplified the BSO’s deep commitment to celebrating the cultural treasures of the Bloomington community.

You can experience the excitement and richness of the BSO at their next performance Beasts Among Us on Sunday April 2 at Bloomington High School South. This is a free concert featuring such beastly classics at Peter and the Wolf and The Firebird Suite. The concert will also include a lovely cello performance by Ethan Murphey, this year’s Youth Concerto second place winner.

How to Enjoy Opera in One Easy Step: A Review of the BSO’s “Happily Ever After?”

As someone who loves art, theater, culture, and performance, I have always wanted to like opera. It’s not that I ever disliked opera, but I couldn’t tell you I liked it either. The reason being, I had—or thought I had—very little experience with that particular art form. With a limited budget and innumerable entertainment choices, I just never got around to trying out the opera.

I only watched my first full-length opera just last year; it was Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte or as it is commonly translated, “Women are like that.” The opera was a comedy about two lovers that decide to test their betrotheds’ fidelity by “going off to war,” returning dressed as soldiers, and wooing the other man’s fiancé. As a Renaissance theater person, I understand this trope; I don’t like it, but I understand it. The trope is terribly misogynistic, but certain playwrights have been known to challenge the inherent misogyny and thus add complexity to the discussions of gender and heterosexual relationships. Mozart’s opera, as far as I could tell, had very little complexity to question the inherent misogyny of the piece. In addition, neither the music nor the performance was really engaging enough to distract me from these issues. At the end of the evening, I remember thinking, “Ugh, maybe I am just not an opera person.”

However, thanks to the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s most recent concert, I have thoroughly changed my tune. Read more

A Symphonic Fairy Tale

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is a treasure of the Bloomington music and performing arts scene. For their forty-seventh year, the BSO gives us Once Upon a Time, a season dedicated to music as a form of story-telling. In honor of this theme, I, too, want to tell a story, one about the history of the BSO, and it starts, as all good stories do, with…


Once upon a time (1969 to be exact), an ambitious young man named Geoffrey Simon left his home in Melbourne, Australia, to study music at Indiana University. During his first semester, Simon discovered, to his dismay, that this little town of Bloomington offered very few opportunities for musical performance outside of the university.  Rather than just be discouraged by what he found, this impetuous graduate student decided start a community symphony orchestra open to all serious musicians regardless of their profession.

Simon soon Read more

New Reference Page for Bloomington Performance Organizations

Hello all, I’ve put together a new page on the blog with a listing of performance groups and organizations in and around Bloomington. I am hoping that someday the list will be comprehensive, but as of now, it is definitely a work in progress. Your help would be greatly appreciated. If you know of any groups or organizations I may have overlooked or were unaware, please let me know. I will add them as soon as I can.

2016 – 2017 Season Preview

Despite the humidity and heat outside, the start of fall is almost upon us. The public school kids are back in classes, and the IU students fill our streets once more. The start of another academic year is exciting, but nowhere near as exciting as the year of entertainment Bloomington can expect in 2016-2017 season! The offerings put up by the university and the local organizations have me practically skipping with excitement. Read more

All Bloomington’s a Stage

Hello all! I am your host, Jennifer. Welcome to Bravo, Bloomington!: a blog that celebrates the surprisingly rich performance arts culture I found when I moved to Bloomington, IN, seven years ago. Like numerous other people, I came to Bloomington for school. At the time, I was a bright-eyed, incoming PhD candidate with grandiose dreams of changing the world one academic article on Renaissance drama at a time. Born in Michigan and raised in Texas, I knew very little about Indiana. In Michigan, Indiana was only memorable in that it wasn’t Michigan, and we liked to make fun of that fact. Oh but Michiganders did like to cross the border every once in a while to visit the natives. Those Amish folks made some fantastic quilts and furniture. For Texans, Indiana is just one of those little states somewhere in the middle of the US. Indiana could never measure up to Texas, but then most states couldn’t. Texas was its own country, you know! Read more