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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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: April 17-23

It’s a light week for the theater, but still you can catch two great shows from two great organizations. Check them out!

~Jen

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 4/18 – Sun 4/22

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 4/22 and 4/23 all performances take place in the afternoon to better accommodate younger audiences.

Buy Tickets Here!

IU’s Drowsy Chaperone Celebrates the Wonders of Musical Theater

Caroline Huerta as the Drowsy Chaperone (Left) and Claire Logan as Janet Van de Graaf (right) in IU's Production of The Drowsy Chaperone.
Caroline Huerta as the Drowsy Chaperone (Left) and Claire Logan as Janet Van de Graaf (right) in IU’s Production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

On Thursday, April 13, the Indiana University Department of Theater, Drama, and Contemporary Dance inaugurated the creation of the George Pinney Scholarship with a special pre-opening, fundraiser performance of The Drowsy Chaperone. Honestly, I think there is no better musical to honor a person who has dedicated his life and talents to the enrichment of musical theater. The Drowsy Chaperone is a love-letter to the musical theater genre that both pokes fun at the ridiculous and celebrates the joyful aspects of musical theater.

The play features Man in the Chair, an older man who sits in his apartment listening to the records…yes, records…of his favorite musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. Man in the Chair is the audience’s guide to the play within the play. As he listens, he extols on the history of the actors, the experience of going to the theater, the strengths and weaknesses of this particular show, and the wonders and benefits of musical theater. Pinney, himself, played The Man in the Chair in IU’s production, and the role was a perfect tribute. Read more

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.

Enjoy,

Jen

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!

 

IU’s Tempest is “Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On”

Shakespeare’s The Tempest has always been a favorite of mine both as a lover of plays and as a teacher of dramatic literature. Why? That’s easy. It’s full of beauty and magic. Prospero brings to life an “insubstantial pageant” in which he creates “the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself.” He is the playwright of his own performance, and this performative layering utilizes and embodies the magic of theater in ways that Shakespeare excels over the majority of other playwrights. By tapping into new art forms and technologies, the IU Department of Theatre and Drama delivered the beauty, artistry, and magic I would expect…nay…demand of a production of The Tempest. Read more

“Seems to Me a Strange Thing, Mystifying”: IU’s Jesus Christ Superstar

For the first time in the short history of Bravo, Bloomington!, I got an unprompted invitation to come see and write about a show. This felt great! I had previously decided that due to an overly-full schedule and an overly-empty pocket book I was probably not going to be able to see IU’s JCS. The invitation and the free ticket excited me beyond all measure.

From as early as I can remember, Jesus Christ Superstar has been my favorite musical of all time. I blame my mother. She had the original cast recording from 1970 on vinyl. Even as a little girl, I’d get all giddy when I saw her going to our record collection hoping beyond hope that I would get to hear the combination of trippy guitar solos and screaming rock vocals. I’d bug her incessantly until she would finally just give in and let me listen. I would jump and dance around the house belting out every word. I didn’t (don’t) just sing along with JCS; I embody, embrace it. I get so consumed by the music and lyrics that I can’t do much else (I can’t even write a review of JCS while listening to JCS because I’d rather just sing along). Read more