whatzup2nite • Friday, March 27

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Things To Do

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National Shows

Jeff Jena — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216

Music & Comedy

After School Special — Rock at Piere's, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m., , 486-1979

Brother — Rock at Checkerz, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 489-0286

Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 483-1311

Grateful Groove — Grateful Dead tribute at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526

He Said She Said — Variety at Beamer's, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002

Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m., no cover, 489-2524

Mid-American Guitar Ensemble Festival Opening Concert — Guitar at Rhinehart Recital Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555

Small Voice — Variety at Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537

Tandem Acoustic Duo — Acoustic at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 5 p.m., no cover, 422-5055

Twisted Aversion w/Walk on Darkness — Rock at 4D's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 490-6488

Karaoke & DJs

Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055

Stage & Dance

33 Variations — Imaginative play following a modern day musicologist diagnosed with ALS as she races to finish her work on Beethoven, presented by Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 27-28; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 29; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 3-4, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne,  $17-$26 (includes ArtsTix fees), 424-5220

Don Quixote — Fort Wayne Ballet performance based on the classic Spanish novel by Cervantes; musical accompaniment by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $33-$38.50, 422-4226

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike — Comedy about two middle-aged siblings living together, their movie star sister and her newest boy toy, rated mature, 8 p.m. (7 p.m. dinner) Friday-Saturday, March 27-28, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $35, includes dinner and show, 424-5622


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Art & Artifacts

Alexander Solomon: Temporary Tragedy — Landscape photography with the implication of tragedy ahead, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 17, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Art Madness — Pieces from CW Mundy, Rick Wilson, Fred Doloresco, Forrest Formsma, B. Eric Rhoads, Robert Eberle, Pamela C. Newell, Diane Lyon, Jody Hemphill Smith, Katy McMurray, Michael Poorman, Mike Kelly, Joey Frisillo, Shelby Keefe, Doug Runyan, Susan Suraci, Terri Buchholz, Andrea Bojrab, Bill Inman, Terry Armstrong, Mark Daly, Dan Woodson, Donna Shortt, Lori Putman and Mark Burkett, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru March 31, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568

Contemporary American Family — Two and three dimensional mixed media pieces from fifteen area artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15, Mirro Family Foundation and Sauerteig Family Galleries, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Fame’s Fusion of Concert Colors — FAME artwork from Northern Indiana elementary school children, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15 (reception 2 p.m. Saturday, April), Freistroffer Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards — Student artwork and writing from the region, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 12, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Travels in Plastic — Photographs by Cara Wade taken using Holga and Sprocket Rocket “toy” cameras, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15, Freistroffer Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Featured Events

Fort Wayne Dance Collective — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574

IPFW Community Arts AcademyArt, dance, music and theatre classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977,

Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, $100 per month, 432-8176 ext. 1961,


Don Quixote

The Men Take Center Satge

Each year Fort Wayne Ballet follows a successful pattern of main stage performances at the Arts United Center. Although they have an increasingly busy schedule – which now includes three Family Series entries in their own studios and three intimate performances at the ArtsLab black box theatre – many fans of the ballet look forward to the lavish productions they have come to expect from FWB. The fall typically brings an eclectic sample of everything the company has to offer, from classical to contemporary, while December brings the beloved and traditional staging of The Nutcracker. But each spring Fort Wayne Ballet stages a story ballet, and while recent productions include the well-known and oft-performed classics like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, this spring Fort Wayne is in for something brand new. New to our local stages, that is, because the story of Don Quixote is as well-known and adaptable as any story in literature. From the Cervantes novel to the popular musical Man of La Mancha, the character of Don Quixote has been revisited time and again. But only recently has the ballet, which features the music of Ludwig Minkus and the choreography of French master Marius Petipa, come to Western stages. First performed in Moscow in 1869, it remained a captive of the former Soviet regime, only recently being shared with the world. “To my knowledge this ballet has not been performed in this area in its entirety before now,” says Karen Gibbons-Brown, executive and artistic director of Fort Wayne Ballet. “That’s the case with many of the Russian ballets which did not come here to the West until the Iron Curtain fell, and we gained access to all of these ballets that had never been performed in their entirety. There have been some pieces, some pas de deux, which have been performed, but it’s only recently that all of the pieces have been available.” Although the full story of Don Quixote runs the gamut of human emotion, Gibbons-Brown says the ballet offers a slice which still offers everything from comedy to tragedy to romance while providing the happy ending audiences so crave. Gibbons-Brown calls it a “snapshot of a young Don Quixote and his quest for love. It’s very much like The Nutcracker in that it focuses more on the light and happy aspects rather than the darker themes.” The cast for Don Quixote is, also like The Nutcracker, large enough to allow Fort Wayne Ballet to spotlight not only their corps of professional dancers, but also those students who have reached performance level classes. The ensemble, which features about five dozen performers, will also include some familiar faces from the community, including Phillip Colglazier, executive director of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. Gibbons-Brown offers a few other surprise guests to those who attend one of the three performances.   While there will be guest performers from the area, people known within our community, what this spring production lacks is guest artists filling the male roles of the show. For the first time, Gibbons-Brown didn’t have to look elsewhere to put men on the stage. “During one of our rehearsals there was a line of seven men, and I just looked at them and enjoyed the fact that they’re all ours,” she says. “They’re from our professional company and from our school’s upper level classes, so for the first time, we have not needed to bring in a guest. It’s just thrilling to see that.” One reason for that accomplishment is the growing men’s program, helmed by David Ingram, which is drawing more dancers from not only the Midwest, but from around the country. Gibbons-Brown recently finished her national tour in which she auditions dancers interested in the ballet’s summer intensive program, its growing company of professionals and its still-new dance major program through the University of Saint Francis. The young men already in the program have also been gaining attention around the country. “Our boys and men have been dancing around the country, from San Francisco to Chautauqua, New York, and that’s not to mention the success that our women are having. We have many dancers from our own program who are gaining experience elsewhere, but we also have dancers coming to us from other cities because we’re earning a reputation outside our community. I recently had a young woman come here to audition, and I asked her how she came to us. She said her teacher at Butler University told her that she really needed to come here, that we could take her to that next level. So that’s very gratifying to know that dancers are interested in coming here to further their study of dance.” Education is a key component to the Fort Wayne Ballet mission, another reason Gibbons-Brown is happy for the opportunity to bring Don Quixote to our city. “There are many fun and interesting components to the show, like the Art of the Fan and castanets, which allow us to teach the dancers about other aspects of culture. And they get to understand some of the history about how these Russian ballets weren’t available for so long because it’s a world that many of them don’t know or remember. It was a time long ago, but it’s pertinent to what they’re doing. It’s good for them to learn about the past struggles that these artists went through. As usual, the spring production is also a collaboration with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic which also joins the ballet for the opening weekend of The Nutcracker. But the Philharmonic will be on hand for all three Don Quixote performances, both the two evening performances and the Saturday matinee. An opening night reception, held before the Friday evening performance, will take place in the gallery above the Arts United Center stage, and the post-matinee party for children (and the young-at-heart) will be held on Saturday afternoon. Gibbons-Brown knows audience members of all ages will enjoy this show and will be happy to finally have it available in the years to come. “It really is such a joyous, happy ballet,” she says.

Michele DeVinney

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

A Perfectly Cast Character Study

You don’t have to have seen or read Chekhov to appreciate Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now running at the Arena Dinner Theatre, but it may help to at least be aware that the Christopher Durang comedy makes many allusions to Chekhov characters and plays. Chekhovian characters tend to be privileged people living in remote locations with feelings of discontent and an inability or unwillingness to do anything about it. Such is also the case in Durang’s comedy about sibling rivalry, aging gracelessly and wasting one’s life. Vanya (Todd Frymier) and Sonia (Nancy Kartholl) are 50-somethings living together in the Pennsylvania cabin they grew up in and cared for their elderly parents in for 15 years. They are visited by their sister Masha (Suzan Moriarty), a famous movie star, and her extremely physically fit boy toy and aspiring actor Spike (Mason Dillon). Spike meets an ethereal young lady named Nina who also just happens to be an aspiring actress herself. Meanwhile, psychic cleaning lady Cassandra (Renee Gonzalez) spouts dire, Greek-tragedy-style warnings about the future. Durang is not trying to make a flat-out Chekhov parody, but there is just enough surrealism in the play’s literary and Chekhovian references (Spike’s real name is Vlad; nobody believes Cassandra’s prophetic warnings until it is too late) to almost count as absurdist satire. Masha invites her siblings to a costume party with the secret intention of outshining them (she will be dressed as Snow White and the siblings as dwarves). Sonia, however, steps out of herself and dresses as “the Evil Queen as played by Maggie Smith on her way to win an Oscar.” She is a bigger hit than Masha, who has a bombshell to share with her brother and sister. It seems that Cassandra’s warning “Beware of Hootie Pie!” is about to come true. The plot is thin, but the play isn’t about plot; it’s about relationships, aging and finding the motivation to live life. Director Christopher Murphy has assembled the perfect cast. Frymier is quiet and thoughtful as Vanya, and he absolutely nails his impassioned, show-stopping soliloquy near the end of the play. Kartholl’s Sonia shifts effortlessly from mousy to hysterical to enraged within the span of seconds. Her shining moment is during and immediately following an act-two telephone call that provides Sonia a glimmer of hope for her future happiness. Kartholl conveys so many emotions successively and simultaneously – fear, self-doubt, giddiness, apprehension, pride, and hope – that it’s breathtaking. Moriarty plays Masha as a larger-than-life narcissist. For all her sarcasm and cruelty, Masha’s insecurity as an aging actress with five failed marriages and dwindling movie roles is just beneath the surface. Mason Dillon is perfect as Spike. Even more self-absorbed than Masha, Spike is playfully open with his sexuality, but uses it (and his youth) almost as a weapon. Sophia D’Virgilio is lovely as the young and ethereal Nina, an “old soul” who inspires Vanya and Sonia to create and to hope. As the fiery Latina cleaning lady Cassandra, Gonzalez hilariously switches accents when she goes into long psychic tears. The costumes, designed by Pam Good, and the set, designed by director Christopher J. Murphy, lend authenticity and charm to the production. Even the scene changes are done entertainingly by way of silent vignettes by Gonzalez and Dillon. The dinner, catered by Goegleins, included Caesar salad, spaghetti with meat sauce, Key West blend vegetables, garlic bread, and Italian crème cake.

Jen Poiry-Porough

Memphis: The Musical

Building a Bridge of Music

In Memphis: The Musical, Keith McCoy portrays Delray, the black owner of a River City club who isn’t exactly pleased for his sister Felicia when she begins dating a white DJ named Huey Calhoun. Delray is as overprotective, as every brother probably should be, McCoy says, but he’s also a realist. The show, a touring edition which pulls into Van Wert’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center for performances on March 28 and 29, is set in mid-1950s Memphis. Being a realist in mid-1950s Memphis (not to mention mid-1950s everywhere else) meant understanding that people from all walks of life and both sides of the tracks were in agreement about at least one thing: They were not comfortable with interracial romance. “He recognizes the dangers,” McCoy says of Delray. “Yes, he’s overprotective, but he recognizes the dangers that come with that relationship.” And Calhoun (who is based loosely on real-life DJ Dewey Phillips) is dangerous for reasons that may seem bewildering to many of us today: He wants white people to experience black culture. “He uses music to bring the races together,” McCoy says. “He has a vision of what he’d like to see.” Memphis: The Musical pays tribute to the blues, R&B and proto-rock of that place and time, but it is no jukebox musical – which is to say, it is no greatest hits package held together by the flimsiest narrative fibers. “It’s a true musical theater piece,” McCoy says. “It has a solid book. It has great music, but it also has a great story a lot of people can relate to.” Broadway’s theater professionals unanimously agreed with that assessment in 2010 when the show won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. McCoy’s own professional theater odyssey began a decade and a half ago when he was studying mass communications at Norfolk State University. He journeyed to New York City to see his first Broadway show, Smokey Joe’s Café, and everything changed for him. “You often hear religious figures say that they felt like they had a calling,” he says. “Well that’s how it was for me. My heart and my mind knew what I would be doing for the rest of my life.” McCoy shifted his academic focus to theater and vocal performance. A week after he graduated in 2000, McCoy took his first job as an actor and has worked nonstop ever since. Among his favorite roles thus far: Javert in Les Misérables, Curtis Taylor Jr. in Dreamgirls and the plant Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors. He has no fixed address, and he likes it that way. “I’m based in nowhere,” he says. In the summer he teaches acting and voice at a Georgia theater academy. He believes theater training has value far beyond preparing people for performing. “If (my students) plan to continue acting, then they walk away with great tools to be actors,” he says. “If they don’t plan to continue acting, then they walk away with great life skills. Theater training helps you function with other people – it helps you learn how to relate and collaborate.” We have come a long way in race relations and collaborations in the last 60 years, McCoy says, but the desire in certain circles to limit human rights based on superficial human differences is still distressingly strong. McCoy says he tries to avoid talking about the “message” of Memphis: The Musical because it’s like telling people that there’s only one way to respond to the material. But he says music was and always will be a great unifier. “Everybody loved James Brown,” he says. “Everybody loves Aretha Franklin. When music touches you and ignites a feeling deep within you, you aren’t thinking about race. “Great art does that,” McCoy says. “It doesn’t need to beat us over the head. It just creates a common bond.”

Steve Penhollow

Mid-American Guitar Ensemble Festival

IPFW Super-Sizes Music

When you hear about a monster event, you think about a guy screaming on the radio about trucks crushing cars atop mud. You don’t think about something hosted by the IPFW music department. But on March 20, IPFW will present a concert that – despite being free of trucks, crushed cars and mud – is, nevertheless, a monster. It’s called 50 Hands Monster Piano Concert and it’s happening at Auer Performance Hall. It’s one of two monster-sized events the university will be presenting in the coming weeks, the other being the 23rd Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival The 50 Hands Monster Piano Concert happens March 20, and the 23rd Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival happens March 27-29. Hamilton Tescarollo, assistant professor and director of keyboard studies for the music department at IPFW, says the idea of doing a monster piano concert came about when music department faculty members were looking for ways to commemorate IPFW’s 50th anniversary. The monster piano concept isn’t exactly new. Monster piano concerts were presented as early as the 19th century, Tescarollo says. Then, as now, a monster piano concert was usually put on for commemorative or fundraising purposes. So what exactly is a monster piano concert? It’s multiple pianists playing multiple pianos at the time. It’s also multiple pianists, as many as three, playing the same piano at the same time. There will be a gradual and dramatic escalation of this concept through the course of the IPFW show until eight pianos and 28 pianists will occupy the stage simultaneously. Thirty-one pianists in all – alumni, current faculty and students – will participate in the concert, Tescarollo says. That’s 62 hands, technically, but let’s not get mired in details. Many of the players have never performed in a monster concert before, he says, and it’s a good bet that many people in the audience will have spent much of their lives failing to realize that such a thing was even possible. A concert like this is a lot of work for the people involved, Tescarollo says. There are logistical issues that just don’t come up during most university music concerts or during the preparations for such concerts. “Especially because everyone has their own schedules,” he says. “Orchestras have rehearsing schedules,” Tescarollo says, “but in a piano orchestra, so to speak, every member has his or her own schedule.” One thing about a monster show that should ease the mind of anyone who has a slight or acute classical music phobia: it’s all in fun. “Well, I think it really comes down to the party of it and the entertainment of it,” he says. A week after that monstrous ivory tickling is perpetrated, the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival will return to IPFW. For 23 years, the festival has been touring Midwestern universities, showcasing the guitar talents of students and faculties. It last visited IPFW in 2007, says Laura Lydy, director of guitar and guitar studies at IPFW. This year 19 schools will be represented and 145 guitarists have registered to play. The ensembles that are scheduled to perform will have as few as two and as many as 20 players, Lydy says. In addition to the concerts happening at Auer Performance Hall and Rhinehart Recital Hall, there will be guitar master classes at Sweetwater Sound all day on March 28. The difference between classical guitar playing and rock guitar playing are significant, she says. In a rock band, one guitarist plays lead and another rhythm. In classical playing, “each guitar has a voice of it’s own,” Lydy says. “Each player is a little bit more balanced.” Lydy says that everyone seems to love some form of guitar music and that love is an excellent “gateway” to classical guitar. “The guitar’s popularity makes [classical] more approachable,” she says. Unlike some guitar music, Lydy says, classical guitar wasn’t meant to melt into or meld with the background. “It’s more intellectual,” she says. “It’s more for the mind.” Lydy points out that even the most committed lover of American popular music probably doesn’t listen to anything composed more than a hundred years ago. It’s more like 50 years for most people, she says. Classical guitar repertoire, on the other hand, goes back centuries. And it comes from all over the world, not just Spain, as some people might assume, Lydy says. The festival will assume monstrous proportions during the closing concert on March 29. One-hundred and forty five guitarists will simultaneously perform a composition written for the festival by Patrick Roux called “Thunders and Strums.” “That is going to rock,” Lydy says. She means it.

Steve Penhollow

33 Variations

Life, Death, Music

33 Variations, directed by Gregory Stieber for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and performed at the new Auer Center Arts Lab (across Main Street from the Arts United Center main stage), offers parallels between past and present on the nature of art, ambition, obsession and hope. With equal parts humor and pathos, the fictionalized blending of one of Beethoven’s most brilliant feats of musicianship with a modern story of family, passion and how to live one’s life. Musicologist Katherine Brandt, stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) becomes obsessed with an obsession: Why did Beethoven write 33 variations on a mediocre waltz when one would have sufficed? As she attempts to solve this mystery, everything Dr. Brandt thought she understood about the nature of success, mediocrity, family, friendship and existence itself is turned on its ear as she nears the end of her own life. In 1819 music publisher Anton Diabelli made a proposition to the 50 great musicians of the day: write one variation on a theme (a simple waltz written by Diabelli himself) to be published in one volume of music. Forty-nine composers accepted. The only one to decline was Ludwig van Beethoven who, according to his servant and biographer Anton Schindler, considered the waltz to be a “cobbler’s patch.” However, something changed Beethoven’s mind, and he wrote not one but 33 variations on the theme. Dr. Brandt, despite her rapidly declining health, travels to Bonn, Germany, to study Beethoven’s original sketches, hoping to discover the reason for this extravagance. What she discovers changes her outlook on life. Julie Donnell, a brilliant musician in her own right, brings the perfect blend of strength and stoic vulnerability to the role of Dr. Brandt. Donnell’s delivery of the musicological lectures feel natural from her, and her physicality as Brandt’s body begins to betray itself is nothing short of devastating to watch. Stuart Hepler’s Beethoven is appropriately temperamental and sometimes gleefully difficult. Hepler has some nice moments with his co-stars in scenes between Diabelli and Schindler and in several existential scenes when he and Dr. Brandt “meet.” He even gets to interact with the onstage pianist (Hope Arthur or Kenneth Xiaoling Jiangin in alternating performances) who serves as Beethoven’s musical “voice,” playing the variations as underscoring throughout the entire play. In a long monologue, Beethoven composes the penultimate variation as the onstage pianist plays it. He describes each passage while it is being played (“That’s the wrong tempo. It must be double time … and faster … Allegro … Forte ...”) and gives the audience an exhilarating, albeit brief, lesson in musicology. It may seem dry, reading it on the page, but it compels the listener to hear and understand the music in a far more complete way. James Del Priore’s Diabelli is a flamboyant, self-important popinjay who balances disdain and respect for Beethoven while getting some of the play’s bigger laughs. Paul Faulkner plays Anton Schindler (“Friend of Beethoven”), the composer’s biographer, servant and go-between during the negotiations for the variations. His chemistry with Del Priore and Hepler works very well, and Schindler’s affection for his master is evident through Faulkner’s performance. Eileen Ahlersmeyer and Cody Steele are convincing as the two young lovers. Mike is sweet, patient and understanding. Clara is tough as nails and standoffish, but like her mother, she secretly wants to connect, if only she could let down her emotional barriers. Ahlersmeyer and Steele also have some funny moments as they enter their awkward courtship and struggle to make their relationship work under strained circumstances. Susan Domer is touching and hilarious as Dr. Brandt’s colleague and eventual best friend, Dr. Gertie Ladenburger. Initially stern, the German musicologist occasionally drops her guard, with sometimes unexpected results. The performances – along with Stieber’s clever and intimate staging (including innovative and entertaining scene changes), a simple but multi-purpose set designed by Robert Shoquist, authentic looking props designed by Del Proctor and costumes designed by Schellie Englehart – make 33 Variations an unusual, moving theatre experience that is anything but mediocre.

Jen Poiry-Prough

Suzan Moriarty

Practice Makes Perfect

Suzan Moriarty can’t pinpoint the moment she became interested in performing. But the self-described “very quiet little girl” remembers loving to imitate TV commercials. “There were many times that I would watch something on TV and then go to a mirror and try to mimic what I just saw,” she says. “If I didn’t like the way I looked, I’d try it a different way.” Unbeknownst to her, she was laying the groundwork for a lifetime of performing. When she was a little older, she saw a local community theater production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in her hometown, Findlay, Ohio. “They used children as the dwarfs, two of whom I knew,” she says. “I loved everything about it – from the costumes to the special effects of the ‘magic mirror.’ I walked away thinking, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” In the third grade, she entered her school’s talent show, created her own dance routine and won first place. “People who know me now find that hard to believe. I seemed to have developed two left feet over the years,” she says. Like the well-worn TV trope, her first role in a play was that of a tree. “I was in a children’s production of Chicken Little,” she recalls. “I remember thinking how much fun it was and how seriously I took it.” She performed in her first community theater production, No Sex Please, We’re British, when she was 17 years old. Moriarty studied ballet for 11 years, took voice lessons and studied theater performance at the University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University. She performed in 17 productions throughout her college career, including summer stock. She moved to Fort Wayne in 1988 and took a long break from theater. Then fate stepped in. “In 2000, one of my theater professors passed away very unexpectedly,” she says. “At his memorial, I reunited with my former theater classmates. I realized how very much I missed [performing].” Within weeks she auditioned for Steel Magnolias at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and was cast as M’Lynn. To prepare for a role or an audition, Moriarty admits to researching other theaters’ performances online. Much like her younger self experimenting with line readings in front of a mirror, she says, “I try different ways to deliver a line and spend time thinking about how we normally speak to each other when we’re having a conversation.” She has played a wide range of characters, some similar to her own personality, others completely different. “I think with every character I’ve played there is a bit of method acting that takes place,” she says. “[But] when the character is really different from me, it almost requires a temporary transformation off-stage to reach the comfort level I need to perform effectively.” Like most actors, the role she cites as her favorite was also her most difficult. “Berta in Boeing Boeing was a very challenging role,” she says. “She needed a French accent and had a very dry delivery and, on top of that, it was a very physical show. I was very nervous to play her.” She experienced a different kind of challenge when in a play called Chapter Two. She and fellow actor Jim Matusik played a dating couple who were drinking glasses of wine. “We actually used apple juice in the glasses,” she explains. “But on one particular night, our ‘wine’ didn’t taste the same. That was because our director, Brian Wagner, didn’t have enough juice to fill our glasses, so he gave us actual wine instead.” Unfortunately, Wagner forgot to tell them about the switch. “While sipping the drink, I began to get a bit warm,” she says, “and I noticed that Jim hadn’t touched his past the first sip. I realized I had been drinking the real thing and began to panic.” Fortunately, Moriarty’s professionalism kicked in, and it didn’t affect her performance. Her current role is Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Arena Dinner Theatre, and like many Arena veterans, Moriarty appreciates the intimacy of the space. “You can feel the emotions coming from the audience because everything is so close to the stage,” she says. “You know immediately whether the audience has connected with your character and I love that.” Although they may not follow in her performing footsteps, Moriarty has passed along her love of theater to her 18-year-old twins. “Both have dabbled in performing,” she says. “My daughter has a beautiful singing voice and has performed in the musicals at Homestead and two shows at Arena. We even got to do one together.” Their theatrical appreciation started early. Just before their fourth birthday, the twins attended their first production, the previously mentioned Steel Magnolias at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. Director Phillip Colglazier was somewhat apprehensive about the youngsters’ ability to focus on the show without disrupting the audience. “But they sat glued to their seats watching me on stage,” Moriarty says. “Their support has been amazing as they’ve gotten older.” In addition to her familial support system, Moriarty takes comfort in the support of her fellow actors, both onstage and off. “I have some local favorite [actors] that I adore,” she says. “The people who take it as seriously as I do are so wonderful to work with. You know that regardless of what happens on stage, they have your back.” She says she had expected Fort Wayne theater to be a different experience than what she’d had in Findlay. “But the truth is, there is closeness that all theater communities seem to observe,” she says, “and Fort Wayne is no different.”

Jen Poiry-Prough

Boat Show

All Hands on Deck

He saunters across Broadway in steel-toed Chucks, cutoff army vest and twisted leather fedora. A post-apocalyptic apparition in the snow, he no doubt has even the crusty, downtown blue-collar commuters craning their necks or checking their mirrors as they drive by. It’s a path from the front door of the Brass Rail to the corner of Wilt that Tom McSod, lead singer and principal songwriter for local folk-punk outfit Boat Show, makes every day, every night. His home away from home – that is to say, his actual house – is a mere block away. But that domicile is an afterthought, a place to sleep, eat, write music and occasionally socialize with friends. There is zero doubt that McSod does most of his living, and certainly all of his bread-winning, at 1121 Broadway Avenue where he pulls double-duty as “sanitation technician” and bartender. It’s a contented life for the 33-year-old McSod. His needs and wants are simple: music, drink, foosball and friends, plus more music … with a dash of music on top of the music. In the five-plus years I have become closer to this walking enigma, I can honestly say that 90 percent of our interactions, conversations and doings have centered on music in some capacity. In fact, all the aforementioned McSod essentials are typically enjoyed in almost mix-tape fashion. Make the mistake of taking him up on the challenge at a game of foosball at the Rail, and McSod will quietly slip a couple of dollars into the digital juke and tap out a soundtrack that ranges from Motorhead to the Singing Loins and then proceed to trounce you within the breadth of maybe two tracks; take the block-long walk to his home and he will invite you up, pour you a drink and walk you through whatever half dozen original songs he has recently recorded or treat you to whatever latest, often obscure world-folk artists he has uncovered. Through the conversation, the “foos,” the booze, even the work flows one river, one theme: song. To avert the chaos of trying to interview McSod on a barstool, I devised a plan: Hand him my ZoomQ2 recorder, a list of questions, and a deadline of a few days. It worked. I got 40 minutes of him talking in a relaxed and slowly developing inebriated state, his eloquence improving with each drink, in the relative quiet of his room. Of course, a constant soundtrack of some obscure metal band played quietly throughout as McSod patiently addressed a list that ranged from basic bio (a topic he eschews) to literature (a topic he adores), but the mix of voice to background music, like the booze and reflection, was perfect. “I’m going to pour another shot and tell you why I’m a geek.” This is the kind of nugget a writer lives for. One he will sift the detritus of the normal small talk for hours to find. It comes in the middle of the interview and provides succinct segue into the present which, as McSod indicates, is a time of perhaps his greatest musical contentment with Boat Show, but also a period of heartbreak. Once again McSod has managed to grow a band and break his own heart, in a year’s time, in typical grand fashion, as he never does anything halfway. “If I’m telling a story in a song, it’s either about love or it’s about the fantastical. I’m either trying to get you to feel the feelings or take you somewhere you aren’t. Those two things to me are the only two things worth writing about.” While his previous and still most well-known band, The Staggerers, were a local favorite known for raucous, sweaty, loud shows all over town, McSod, at times, felt like the range of what he wanted to express was limited. Pegged early on as an Irish punk band, it was a label that McSod embraced somewhat reluctantly, although he admits now that it fit and the band, for the most part, was a joyous riot. After five years, and much to the chagrin of many, The Stags hung it up after a series of “final last shows.” For two years after the Stags, McSod played in several local bands, primarily on bass. It was a fun distraction, but all the while he was fantasizing, almost meditatively, on what his next project would be. While mopping, scrubbing, pouring a stiff cocktail or even thumping out a steady harmony on stage, a vision and sound were taking shape. As he has done for nearly a decade, he turned to the one local songwriter he has worked with the most consistently: multi-instrumentalist savant Bart Helms. After a few failed practices with a few different band configurations, some time in February 2014, the first official Boat Show practice took place in a studio on Calhoun. “I had this vague instrumental idea for ‘Almost Home’ that I showed to Bart, and he took it and ran with it and had the other lead players put layers on layers on it at that first practice, and when I heard it I cackled like a maniac. I knew, right then, that this was it.” With Boat Show, McSod – along with Jon Ross on guitar, Eric Ehlers on bass, Felix Moxter on fiddle, Helms on banjo and Dave Trevino on drums – is going for the guts and the living with an intensity and verve that I personally have not seen from a local, all-original band in quite some time. Songs like “Wish on Falling Stones,” “Love You Till I Don’t” and the new, metalesque “The Highwayman’s Daughter” capture “the feels,” while “Almost Home,” “Dead All Along” and “The Black Company” take listeners to places they aren’t and might not want to be: besieged schooners, marauding Mongols, and mercenary outfits. “The Black Company” in particular is inspired by one of McSod’s favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors, Glen Cook, and his popular series of the same name as it follows a mercenary unit through 500 years of blood-letting. Every word, every note, every accented stop and rhythmic change in these and the other handful of songs the band performs screams truth, tells a story, conjures the spirit of something lived, loved and believed – past or present, real or imagined. This band is (damn you, cliché) special. Dare I say important? I’ll stand by both and defend both with vigor. Go see Boat Show, then e-mail me your thanks – or tell me I’m full of it. I welcome both. No mercy, no compromise. As McSod writes in “The Black Company”: “Soldiers live / and wonder why / We stand and we fight / and we try not to die.” This band is fighting for something, and in some way I feel like I am fighting with them every time I see them on stage. Sail long and prosper, Boat Show. Try not to die. Please. The band sets sail next on April 4 with Unlikely Alibi and May 8 with The Mutts at the Brass Rail. Show time is 10 p.m.

Darren Hunt

Jay Bastin

Drawing from Disorders

Eight years ago, Jay Bastian stepped into a world that swept him over, turned him upside down and set him on a new life path. That place was one inhabited by people with minds that had been altered by traumatic brain injury. “You’re going to enter a world that’s going to completely capture you,” said Bastian’s mentor as he began his first practical training experience in mental health. She was right. Bastian fell completely in love with the population and has committed his life to serving people with these precious, yet atypical minds. Bastian grew up in Fort Wayne, graduated from Paul Harding High School and began his college career at IPFW. He finished his graphic design degree in Bloomington, then headed to Chicago where he followed a traditional path that led him through a successful career in advertising. Things worked well for Bastian, but he felt something missing from his life. He moved back to Fort Wayne and continued to work in design, again finding success. Everything seemed to roll along just fine for Bastian until, he says, “My chakra exploded.” The explosion was a shift, a complete turn in thinking that made him decide to give up his successful career. He felt a calling to make art and knew he wanted to do something to help people. The urge to return to his earlier days of painting was strong. Ultimately, he entered the field of mental health where he could combine both of these needs into one, fulfilling career. While working toward his master’s degree, Bastian worked at Parkview Behavioral Health. “It was an interesting experience,” he says. “I worked with some very violent people. I was wrestling people who were violent. I was sitting with people who were in a manic state.” Bastian’s love of art and painting led him to share his talent with his clients. “I would sit and draw with these people, and that was always common ground. They could express needs even when they couldn’t express themselves in other ways,” he says. As the hours spent drawing and painting with patients passed, Bastian witnessed the power of art. He saw people with scrambled thoughts begin to focus, calm down and express their needs. Even those profoundly affected by their disease had positive reactions to the act of creating art. “This power just fueled my education,” says Bastian. At the Life Adult Day Academy he held art classes during which he made art both with and of his students. His classes were made up of students representing a broad spectrum of disorders. Some were profoundly disabled and simply sat in the room, soaking up the energy of the art being created. Each person in the room was distinct in both appearance and personality. “Some were quite argumentative,” says Bastian. “They weren’t always fun to be around.” One gentleman had the appearance of a boxer because he had banged his head so many times. With seemingly no common thread other than disability, Bastian was able to find commonality through art. He sketched the scene of his class and captured the images of his students in both pencil and paint. “These are people who normally wouldn’t have a portrait done of them.” By painting portraits of people who are pushed out of society, often only seen by medical and health professionals, Bastian validates lives. He brings attention to faces that would normally go unseen or be purposefully ignored. He makes the rest of us stop and take notice of souls that are swept away and kept behind closed doors. Bastian’s passion for caring for his clients is matched by his love of creating art. He is a perpetual student of technique and history who constantly seeks new information that will push his own skills to a higher level. With compulsive drive, he draws and studies, often focusing on one shape or form with obsessive pursuit. During a recent show at Wunderkammer Company, Bastian displayed a small sample of his human hand studies. He tends to hone in on one form, drawing it over and over and moving on to a new subject only after he feels satisfied and at least incrementally more confident with his progress. The trend is predictable, as Bastian listed his past preoccupation with skulls. “I drew skulls and I painted skulls and I drew skulls and painted skulls until my friends and family said, ‘no more,’” he says. He is an artist concerned mostly by form and uninterested in narrative. “Everyone feels like there needs to be narrative, but that’s not me, so if I do it, it will feel forced. For me, there is enough in form,” says Bastian. “I will never be bored with drawing because I can explain objects and see how they are made and what makes up a whole person.” Bastian is an artist who paints from observation. “I can’t make things up. I’m not creative that way. I paint what I see.” What he sees during the summer months he captures in watercolor. From his kayak, Bastian can observe the details of nature. “I bring my paints and paint right from the boat. My water is all around me.” What he sees in winter, he captures in oil. “I’ve been studying Rembrandt and techniques of scumbling and glazing.” Creating a recent, and rather amusing, portrait of a vulture, Bastian layered lightly pigmented linseed oil over and over again to build up color. “It’s funny to paint a very grotesque image with such a formal technique,” he says in reference to the ornately framed and sly-looking bird. Developing his painting and drawing skills keeps Bastian motivated, but the therapeutic aspects of art are what seem to evoke his strongest feelings. He is determined to share his knowledge with others, knowing that the creative process is an extremely effective healing tool. “I can work with someone to help build skills, and in a matter of weeks they can have something they are proud of, even if they have never drawn or painted before. The process helps a person conceptualize who they are,” he says. When talking about clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bastian explains that making art can change a brain at a neurobiological level. “Once an event is depicted with art, the memory of that event is actually changed,” he explains. “You are adding to that event. That ownership of the event will give the person a sense of control. The power of art is unreal.” Bastian says he hopes to one day have a space in which he can expand his work with people with intellectual disabilities. He wants to have a space where group drawing sessions can be shared and, together, clients can process different events in their lives. He envisions a place where art is the stimulant to help people help one another heal. “Drawing and painting happen on a level that has to do with emotion and experience,” he says. “It doesn’t really involve language. By bypassing that at least for a little while, it is a more profound and meaningful interaction with someone. I can sit down with someone who doesn’t want to talk to me. When I hand them a pencil they will go at it; it just opens up.” Bastian is an artist who feeds others through his work and experience. In turn, art also feeds him. He explains, “After a day of giving and giving, I can come home and, through creation of art, give back to myself.” Look for Jay Bastian’s work at the Bird show opening at Artlink on April 24 and running through May 27.

Heather Miller


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