Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The 2008-2009 Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette MainStage Season

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette has announced its 2008-2009 MainStage season. The five-production season includes:

Honky Tonk Angels by Ted Swindley
Performance dates: September 12-28, 2008

Proof by David Auburn
Performance dates: November 7-23, 2008

The Man Who Came To Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Performance dates: January 30-February 15, 2009

Children Of Eden by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird
Performance dates: March 6-22, 2009

Private Lives by Noel Coward
Performance dates: May 8-24, 2009

To learn more about these Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette shows or order season tickets, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette box office at 765-423-PLAY (7529). You can also join the Civic e-mail list, which provides updates on upcoming performances, auditions and other Civic-related news.

The 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre Season

Civic Youth Theatre (CYT) has announced the shows in its 2008-2009 season, with all performances to be held at the Historic Monon Depot Theatre on the corner of 5th Street and North Street in downtown Lafayette, IN. Area students aged 18 and under act, produce, design and serve as running crew members on the productions, under the guidance of adult directors.

The four-show season includes:

Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Joseph Robinette
Performance dates: October 10-12, 2008

Title TBA
Performance dates: December 5-14, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Performance dates: April 3-5, 2009

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales
by Jon Scieszka, adapted by Kent Stephens; music by Gary Rue
Performance dates: June 5-7, 2009

To learn more about these CYT shows or order season tickets, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette box office at 765-423-PLAY (7529). You can also join the Civic e-mail list, which provides updates on upcoming performances, auditions and other Civic-related news.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Audition Information for Civic Theatre’s Disney’s High School Musical.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette has released audition information for its production of Disney’s High School Musical, which comprises the 2008 season of Civic Under the Stars at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater. Laurie Russell is the director, John Satterfield is the musical director and Melanie R. Buchanan is the choreographer.

Auditions will be held at the old Teachers Delight store at Market Square on Elmwood Avenue. Actors can audition either Sunday, May 11, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. or 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Monday, May 12, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; or Wednesday, May 14, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

Actors must sign up for a five-minute audition slot and prepare a memorized monologue that lasts no more than one minute and a song, both verse and chorus. Accompaniment will be provided; a cappella singing will not be accepted — actors must bring sheet music.

Actors must stay at the location for dance auditions, which will take place at the end of every hour. They should bring appropriate clothing and shoes.

Actors must sign up for an audition appointment; they can sign up — or learn more about auditions or the show — by calling 765-423-PLAY (7529). No one under age 14 will be allowed to audition.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Audition Information for Civic Youth Theatre’s Young Directors Project.

Civic Youth Theatre has released audition information for its Young Directors Project, which closes the 2007-2008 CYT season.

Michael Freels and Margaret Duvall are auditioning actors aged 10 and above for their productions of Jack Frakes’ Final Dress Rehearsal and Eugène Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano. Auditions will be held Sunday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m., and Monday, May 5, at 8:30 p.m. Both nights of auditions will take place at Civic Theatre’s space at Market Square — next to CVS — on Elmwood Avenue. The shows will be performed June 6-8.

Actors must call 765-423-PLAY (7529) to schedule an audition time. Scripts for Final Dress Rehearsal and The Bald Soprano are available in the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In the Wings: The Odd Couple. Meet Speed, Roy, Vinnie and Murray.

In The Odd Couple, Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar play a weekly poker game with their friends Speed, Roy, Vinnie and Murray. Poker night and the friendships change, perhaps irreversibly, when Felix agrees to move in with Oscar.

Duane Baldwin plays Speed, one of the poker buddies who is most frustrated with the changes. He explained why he auditioned for The Odd Couple.

“It’s a classic. I love Neil Simon; he writes great shows. Rehearsals are going very well. It’s a good cast, we have strong direction and it’s a very good show," Duane said.

Aaron Dubois is making his debut at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette, playing Roy, Oscar's accountant. He said rehearsals are going very well and everyone is developing their characters.

Aaron said he loves the role of Roy because “his personality changes from scene to scene. One night he can’t stand the dirt in Oscar’s apartment, the next night he can’t stand how clean it is.”

Civic veteran Arliss Jeffries plays Vinnie, whom he calls “a dichotomy.”

“Vinnie is so different from everyone else. He’s an epicure who is discovering that he likes good food and surprising situations. He likes things just so," Arliss said.

Yours truly, Steve Martin, plays Murray the cop. I auditioned for The Odd Couple because there are some shows that you know will be fun taking part in. I figured this would be one of them — a classic comedy, a story about friendship, well-defined characters — and it’s lived up to my expectations.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of The Odd Couple opens Friday, May 9, and runs three consecutive weekends: May 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25. For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In the Wings: The Odd Couple. Meet the Pigeon sisters.

In Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, Oscar complains that he hasn’t had any fun since Felix has moved in. This prompts Oscar to call the Pigeon sisters, whom he met in the apartment building's elevator, for a double date. The young English women — Gwendolyn and Cecily — accept the invitation and arrive at the apartment expecting a fun-filled evening with the guys, but things don’t go exactly according to plan.

In Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette’s production of The Odd Couple, Gwendolyn and Cecily are played by two actresses making their debuts at Civic: Sandy Dubois and Calle Hack.

One reason Sandy enjoys playing Gwendolyn is that she gets to be a sister in the production.

“I also like that Gwendolyn giggles and laughs. Rehearsing has been a fun process. It’s interesting to learn how everything comes together,” she explained.

When describing Cecily, Calle said, “She’s a delightful character and a very fun-loving girl.”

Calle has always had a passion for theatre, which led her to audition.

“I thought being involved would be a great experience, and it has been; it’s been wonderful,” she said.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette’s production of The Odd Couple opens Friday, May 9, and runs three consecutive weekends: May 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25. For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In the Wings: The Odd Couple. Meet Oscar and Felix.

The Odd Couple by Neil Simon tells the story of best friends Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar who move in together when Felix’s wife asks for a divorce. The two men are polar opposites, with slovenly, irresponsible, inconsiderate Oscar and ultra-tidy, obsessive, fragile Felix almost driving one another crazy with their habits.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette veterans Mark Allen Carter and Allen Banning portray the characters. Mark directed the 2007-2008 season’s opening production, Steel Magnolias, while Allen was last seen on stage — opposite of Mark — in Lend Me a Tenor.

“Oscar Madison is a role that I have wanted to play since I was 22 years old. Everything in the production is going very, very well. It’s been fun working with everyone,” Mark said.

Allen agreed that rehearsals are going well, complimenting his fellow cast members. He explained the attraction of being in The Odd Couple and playing Felix.

“I love comedies because of the great reactions from the audience. It’s great to play Felix because our personalities are so different: He’s neurotic, anal-retentive and emotionally unstable,” he said.

The Odd Couple opens Friday, May 9, and runs three weekends: May 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25. For more information about the production or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529).

Monday, April 21, 2008

In The Wings: The Odd Couple. Meet the director and assistant director.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of The Odd Couple by Neil Simon opens Friday, May 9, and runs three consecutive weekends: May 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25. The classic comedy tells the story of best friends Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, who move in together when Felix’s wife asks for a divorce. For more information about the play or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit

Director Camilla A. Cripps, a veteran of several productions with Chancel Players, says rehearsals are going very well, especially as the eight actors — six men and two women — work on their characters.

“The characters are evolving from dialogue written on the page into flesh-and-blood beings,” Camilla said.

Camilla explained what drew her to The Odd Couple.

“I was the first female in three generations born into a family of filled with men. I can relate to each man — both the characters and the actors — in The Odd Couple. Being involved with this show is like being home in Michigan with my Polish/Scottish-Canadian relatives,” she said.

Assistant Director Rod Dimmick, most recently seen on stage as Reverend Parris in Civic’s production of The Crucible — was brought onto the production team by Camilla.

“I’m enjoying rehearsing The Odd Couple because it is very, very funny and Camilla has put together a very, very good cast,” Rod said.

The rest of this week will feature articles about the cast and characters, beginning with Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, played by Mark Allen Carter and Allen Banning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Up Next: How to Eat Like a Child -- in their own words

The Civic Youth Theatre production of How to Eat Like a Child, and Other Lessons in NOT Being a Grown Up opens in two days. What should audiences expect? Are the performers enjoying themselves? Directors Melanie R. Buchanan and Laurie Russell as well as some cast members talked briefly about the production.

Melanie Buchanan is the director of Civic Youth Theatre and has been involved with a previous production of the script. She said How to Eat Like a Child is different from other musicals done by CYT because there will be live musicians — a guitarist and pianist — accompanying the performers, rather than a recording.

"Audiences at the show will see that every child has very similar situations and deal with them in similar ways," Melanie said.

Laurie Russell was on the CYT Season Planning Committee and said the show was one of many that the group read.

"The show is a lot of fun and the songs are great," Laurie said. "We have a wonderful cast and a great crew. There are 11 girls and 4 boys in the cast; the youngest is 8 years old and the oldest is 17."

"How to Eat Like a Child is an instructional guide about how to behave like a kid. It's filled with vignettes like how to ride in a car, how to torture your sister and how to eat an animal cracker. It's filled with lessons about childhood," she said.

Justin Habben, the oldest cast member in the show, plays George. He said other lessons in the show include how to brag and how to get a dog.

"George is one of the leaders of the group. He's the rock-and-roller," Justin said.

Sydney Cason plays Kimberly, whom she calls an eccentric character because of some of the lyrics she sings.

"Kimberly is one of the sisters who sing 'I Feel Sick.' I'm having a great time," Sydney said.

For more information about How to Eat Like a Child, and Other Lessons in NOT Being a Grown Up, go to and click on the "Season Schedule" link on the left-hand column. Or call 765-423-PLAY (7529) during business hours.

The show runs Friday, April 18 through Sunday, April 20. There are four performances: a Friday evening show at 7 p.m., a Saturday afternoon matinee at 2:30 p.m., a Saturday evening show at 7 p.m., and a Sunday afternoon matinee at 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Missing How To Eat

I am so thrilled that Steve Martin took the time to do a post on the upcoming production of How To Eat Like a Child, and Other Lessons in NOT Being a Grown Up, the delightful show that opens on Friday. Civic Youth Theatre is truly one of the greatest treasures in the Greater Lafayette Community. Every year well over 100 youth participate in shows, classes and camps, not to mention the hundreds more that attend the shows.

In my two years here, I have found the Civic Youth shows to be delightful, well produced, well performed and a great learning opportunity for the youth who participate. The fact that almost every single participant, excluding the directors, of these shows are all under the age of nineteen make them all the more impressive.

I sadly will miss the festive events on Friday, as I am in Richmond Virginia designing lights for a production of Peter Pan. The rather large production is taking place at Theatre IV, not only the largest theatre in all of Virginia, but also one entirely dedicated to producing shows for family. Not only shows that are family friendly, but shows that are programmed to appeal to the entire family. Some of the shows that Theatre IV has produced over the years include, The Wizard of Oz, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Cinderella, The Magic Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and many many more. The shows at this theatre are all performed by adults, but with the young attendees clearly in mind. The theatre company also puts out several touring companies every year, in fact at least one tour a year performs in our very own Long Center of the Performing Arts each year, so several area youth have been exposed to this wonderful company through school field trips. Working at Theatre IV for several years (1996-2004) gave me an appreciation of how theatre can touch people and affect their lives, especially when they are exposed to the art in their young, formative years. This is what CYT does.

Please support these youth as they embark on yet another wonderful show.
How To Eat Like a Child - Schedule:

Day Date Time

Thursday 4/17/2008 7:00 PM – Pay What You Can preview performance

Friday 4/18/2008 7:00 PM – OPENING NIGHT

Saturday 4/19/2008 2:30 PM

Saturday 4/19/2008 7:00 PM

Sunday 4/20/2008 2:30 PM

Tickets Adult $7.00 –

Youth $5.00 – 18 and under

Monday, April 14, 2008

Up Next: How to Eat Like a Child -- the set in progress

The next show at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will be the Civic Youth Theatre production of the musical How to Eat Like a Child, based on the book of the same name by Delia Ephron. The story is by Ephron, John Forster and Judith Kahan. The lyrics and music are by John Forster.

Civic Youth Theatre's production is directed by Melanie R. Buchanan and Laurie Russell. The show opens Friday, April 18, and continues through Sunday, April 20. The Friday show is at 7 p.m., the two Saturday shows are at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the Sunday show is at 2:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529).

Here are photos of the set in progress at Civic Theatre and of lighting designer Beth Grimes and assistant Brent Wick.

Auditions for Lonely Planet staged reading

What: Auditions for the final installment of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's inaugural Staged Reading Series -- Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz; directed by Steve Martin. Actors will be asked to read from the script.

When: Saturday, April 19, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office, 313 North 5th Street, Downtown Lafayette.

Who: The director is looking for two men between the ages of 30 and 45.

Lonely Planet
tells the story of two friends who attempt to cope with an unnamed scourge in their community in different ways. Jody isolates himself from all neighborhood activity outside the doors of his map store; Carl collects chairs from the homes of those in their neighborhood who have died from the disease. Lonely Planet examines how the bonds of friendship between these two gay men are stretched, snapped, and reformed.

In his author's note for the play's premiere in 1993, Steven Dietz wrote, "So, what do we affect during our lifetime? What, ultimately, is our legacy? I believe, in most cases, our legacy is our friends. We write our history onto them, and they walk with us through our days like time capsules, filled with our mutual past, the fragments of our hearts and minds. Our friends get our uncensored questions and our yet-to-be-reasoned opinions. Our friends grant us the chance to make our grand, embarrassing, contradictory pronouncements about the world. They get the very best, and are stuck with the absolute worst, we have to offer. Our friends get our rough drafts. Over time, they both open our eyes and break our hearts."

Questions can be addressed to the director by sending e-mail messages to:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why Have Staged Readings?

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is on the verge of completing its inaugural season of staged readings. The first Tuesday evening after a MainStage show opens, audiences have seen staged readings of the following:
  • Home of the Brave by Arthur Laurents
  • Love Letters by A. R. Gurney
  • Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
  • Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin by Deborah Gray, the world premiere of a script written by a local playwright, performed in conjunction with A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth
  • A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth by Scott Haan, the world premiere of a script written by a local playwright, performance in conjunction with Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin
The final staged reading for the 2007-2008 season is Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz. It will be held May 13, 2008, at the Monon Depot Theater in downtown Lafayette.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette has numerous productions throughout the year, including five MainStage shows, four Civic Youth Theatre shows, two shows at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater during the summer in its Civic Under the Stars season, and even an occasional performance by the community improv group. Additionally, it offers several classes for youth in the surrounding area and hosts an annual fundraiser called The Tour of Terror each October. With so many productions already offered, why create a staged reading series?

For any number of reasons, there are scripts that may not be good candidates for a full production — expansive requirements for sets, lights, costumes, props — at Civic. Some scripts have casts that are too large or too small. Some have thematic elements that may be considered controversial. Still others may not have the name recognition that initially piques an audience’s interest. But many of these types of scripts are worthy of an audience’s attention in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and the extended area. The staged readings series was implemented to provide a forum for audience, actors and directors to be exposed to these scripts.

The pared-down feeling of a staged reading may at first seem a distraction — the actors keep their scripts in hand at all time and read from it, props are often pantomimed, there is a minimal set and very little staging — but it only enhances the words in the scripts themselves. Audiences can focus on the subtle shifts in tone in Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin, the rat-a-tat rhythm of quips and comic zingers of A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth, the subtext and hidden meanings of words and phrases in Doubt and Love Letters, and the heart-wrenching agony of soldiers at war in Home of the Brave.

Finally, staged readings expose the audience to the people presenting the script. At each staged reading there is a talk back session during which the audience asks questions of the actors, directors and — in the case of the world premieres — the playwrights. The process of putting on a show is laid bare for any audience member who wants to ask about it.

Keep looking to this blog to learn about the staged reading series for the 2008-2009 season. The committee has put in a lot of hours, and there are some exciting plans in the works. There will also be posts about the staged readings previously held during this season.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

World Premieres opening night!

Tonight is the night.

Tonight we will see not one, but two world premiere readings. Every year as part of the Staged Reading series, Civic Theater will have at least one evening reserved for original works by local playwrights. I believe that the world premiere evening will always be the 4th show of the year. For the purposes of this series, Civic Theatre will define "local" as the 14 county area encompassed by Tippecanoe Arts Federation.

This first year will feature two one-act plays:

Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin - by Deborah Gray
This one act drama describes a loving, but strained, relationship between two middle-aged sisters of completely different temperaments. One is seen as the family failure and the other as the family star. Past relationships, family influences and deep secrets all play part in this compelling play.

Directed by John David Collier

A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth - by Scott Haan
Brandon Butterworth has been “playing the field”. When his multiple girlfriends all discover each other on one fateful night a plan is hatched for revenge. Brandon is about to have a very bad day indeed.

Directed by Julia Colby

The show starts at 7:00 pm at the Monon Depot Theatre (320 North 5th Street). Following the performances there will be a talk back session with the casts, directors and playwrights. The event is free, but donations will be accepted to help cover the overhead costs of the program.

This is a wonderful opportunity to take a sneak peak at the creative process of developing a play. It is also possible that your comments could influence the writers themselves.

Both Deborah and Scott have great talent. I fully expect to hear more from both of them as writers.

I hope to see many of you tonight, it should be a very exciting evening.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Crowns is a hit!

The review for Crowns is out today in the Journal and Courier.
Click here for the full review.

'Crowns' is a must see at the Long Center this weekend

"A talented and sparkling cast of six women and one man brought the preview audience at Long Center to its feet in a long-lasting ovation that was well deserved."

I could not be happier with the process, the response, everything.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Crowns and Poetry Readings

Early morning, April 4th
shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free At Last They took your life, but
They could not take your pride.

-Pride (In the Name of Love), performed by U2

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is a coincidence that it is also the opening night of Crowns, but it is a very serendipitous coincidence. In addition to the performances this weekend at the Long Center, Civic Theatre is also participating in a poetry reading at the Tippecanoe Public Library of A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson. This is a weekend where we will celebrate, in part, the legacy of the Civil Rights movement in America.

Last night we had the Pay What You Can Preview for Crowns. There were approximately 300 people in attendance (I think, we are still trying to figure out the exact count), including several Purdue students, Arts Directors, former Mayors and the ambassador to the United States from the Kingdom of Swaziland, Ambassador Ephraim Hlope. Not a bad cross section of audience. The show went very well, and the audience loved every moment. I was happy to see a very diverse crowd and happy to see the show so well received. It was a wonderful evening.

Now we have made it to opening night, tonight at 8 will mark the beginning of a new chapter at Civic Theatre. This is the first show we have done in out 77 year history that features a cast of African American actors, and is written by an African American woman, the talented Regina Taylor. This would have never happened in the pre-civil rights days. The truth is we are still a far way from realizing Dr. Kings dream, but we are closer today than we were before.

Tomorrow is the poetry reading. This started with a request from the Library to assist in presenting the poem in celebration of the beginning of National Poetry Month. A new found relationship with the Beacon Academy made this collaboration complete. The Beacon Academy is a charter school in Lafayette that has been growing recently. The youth enrolled at the school have not found success in more traditional school settings, Beacon has given them a place to thrive. I have been working with them for the past few weeks. Five of the kids will be performing this powerful set of 15 sonnets tomorrow at 2.

Emmett Till was a 14 year old African American boy from Chicago who was brutally murdered while visiting family in Mississippi. Emmett was guilty of the horrible crime of talking to a white woman. Three days after saying "Hey Baby", or whistling possibly, at the woman in question, her husband and his half brother kidnapped Emmett Till, beat him, shot him and dumped him in a river with a 75 pound mill wheel tied around his neck with barbed wire. Emmett's body was found a few days later, horribly disfigured and mutilated. His mother, Mamie Till, insisted on an open casket funeral service so that the world would see what those men did to her boy. Pictures that appeared in Jet magazine stirred a national reaction of revulsion and anger. The trial that followed sadly followed the same story as any other trial of a white man who is accused of a crime against an African American, the two men were acquitted despite overwhelming evidence against them. The outrage at the crime and verdict helped start a national revulsion that came to a head on a bus in Montgomery just a few months later, where a young woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, she was arrested for not giving up her seat. A young, pastor at a local church was chosen to lead the boycott that followed the arrest. This young preacher soon became a national leader of the Civic Rights movement. Dr. King would go on to win a Nobel Peace Prize, take on issues of race, poverty and the Vietnam War and to this day is revered as one of the greatest speakers and leaders in our nations history. Thanks to Dr. King, a lot has changed, not to the level that Dr. King dreamed of, but still significant change has occurred. Mississippi is the unfortunate scene of the brutal murder of young Emmett Till, but 54 years later another African-American traveled from Chicago to Mississippi, and he walked away winning the states Democratic primary.

The poetry reading is only the beginning of a budding relationship with The Beacon Academy, there will be more to report in the coming months, stay tuned.

There is much more I would like to say, about Crowns and about the reading of A Wreath for Emmett Till, but because of the phones ringing so much, it has taken me 4 hours to write this already.

Have a good weekend, I hope to see you at the Theatre and at the Library.