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whatzup2nite • Monday, April 21

Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

Community Orchestra & IPFW Opera Ensemble — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7 (free for IPFW students w/I.D.), 481-6555


Karaoke & DJs

Fort Wayne

After Dark — Karaoke, 10:30 p.m.


Stage & Dance

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Movies

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Art & Artifacts

38th Annual SOCA Student Exhibition — Over 500 art, music and performance-based works by students at the School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 27, John P. Weatherhead Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne, 497-0417

BFA Exhibition — Senior fine arts BFA graduates exhibit senior projects, daily thru April 27, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, 481-6709

BFA Exhibition — Seniors graduating from IPFW’s Department of Visual Communications and Design display senior thesis projects, Monday-Saturday, thru May 18, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Branch, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709

Decatur Sculpture Tour Features 20 sculptures on display, daily thru May 31, 2nd & Monroe Streets, Decatur, 724-2604

John Wade — Figurative, expressive acrylics, daily thru April 30, Firefly Coffee House, Fort Wayne, 373-0505

School of Creative Arts Masters Program Highlights Exhibition — Annual showcase of artwork by graduate students in the School of Creative Arts Masters program, Monday-Friday thru April 27, Lupke Gallery, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999

Spring Fever — Featuring Caitlin Crowley, Joe Driver, Dan Gagen, Joel Geffen, Dawn Gerardot, Alexandra Hall, Sam Hoffman, Patricia Matterns, Karen Moriarty, Ginny Piersant, Lisa Ransom-Smith, Terry Ratliff, Curtis Rose, Gedda Starlin and Dale White, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Northside Galleries, Fort Wayne, 483-6624

Wabash County Schools — Student artwork, daily thru April 30, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102


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, www.ipfw.edu/caa

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, academy.sweetwater.com



Features


American Idiot

A Green Day on Broadway

In addition to the usual list of musical classics which fill Broadway theatres each season – from the traditional charm of Rodgers & Hammerstein to edgier fare like Chicago and Cabaret – there has been a steady stream of productions to win the hearts of baby boomers, shows with familiar, well-established songs known long before they took the Broadway stage. Everyone from Pete Townshend to Abba have found new audiences and stretched the boundaries of their solid fan base by reinterpreting their music for a new medium.

A less likely entrant to that club has been 1990s juggernaut Green Day. Although their concept album American Idiot may have reminded some of The Who’s similar excursions into musical narrative with Tommy and Quadrophenia, it may not have occurred to the band’s fans that a trip to Broadway was part of Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong’s career path. Six years after American Idiot was first released as an album, the show hit Broadway in 2010, bringing it with it other Green Day songs to round out the program.

Now touring the country, American Idiot comes to the Embassy’s Broadway series next week, bringing with it a young and talented cast which includes newcomer Michael Pilato in the role of Favorite Son. Less than one year removed from college graduation, Pilato has been steadily employed since he finished school in May, a boon for anyone in the entertainment industry. His road to the stage began during a visit with family in Long Island, where the Florida resident had his first taste of the arts.

“I was 11 years old, and I was visiting family and there was an arts day camp where they did arts and crafts and music. They also had an improv class which I took and generally thought I was pretty funny in it. So when I got home, I asked my parents to find something like that for me, and they found a summer theater camp.”

Pilato was also active in sports and enjoyed both hobbies through middle school, but he knew he eventually had to make a choice. By his freshman year of high school, he heard of a program that would chart the course for his further education and career.

“One of the directors at the arts camp was the head of a performing arts program at a magnet school where I could focus on theatre, and he encouraged me to audition. So at the end of my freshman year, I auditioned and got a full ride to finish high school there. I knew then it was time to take it more seriously.”

As he began to look for college programs where he could continue the work already started in Fort Lauderdale, he knew he wanted a change from his life in Florida. He researched various schools and their teaching philosophies while watching videos which showed their programs in action. He found himself drawn to Penn State University where he also knew a friend already in the program.

“I saw that the kids that went there were doing very well professionally, and it was a great program and a great community.”

Shortly after graduating last spring, Pilato found work in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before securing his role in American Idiot which began just days after he finished at Fulton. Having been with the show since September, and signed for the tour through May, Pilato has been able to work steadily his first full year out of school. He has also been able to take advantage of what his Penn State professors called his “contemporary rock” voice for the part. While he says he’s well familiar with more traditional musicals through his college experiences, he feels an affinity for the newer shows like Joseph and American Idiot.

“I like being in shows that are accessible to today’s audiences. I love traditional pieces and in school became very familiar with shows like Carousel and South Pacific, and those shows were very bold in their own way when they came out. But I like being able to perform in shows that resonate with contemporary audiences.”

Pilato is one of three Penn State grads in the current American Idiot cast, and the friend who helped inspire him to attend the college toured with the show last year, providing him with great familiarity with the show and the songs.

“I think I saw the show about 13 times when she was in it, and so I was intimately familiar with all of it. I always liked Green Day and knew all the songs from American Idiot, but being in the show has definitely given me a new appreciation for Billie Joe’s music.”

Having spent his first year on the road, Pilato says he loves the travel aspect of his current gig, taking advantage of the opportunity to see the world.

“I really hadn’t seen anything other than Pennsylvania since I left home, so this has been great for me. We’ve been to Midland, Texas and Portland, Oregon, Washington state and the Midwest. We all like to sample the local foods and beers wherever we go, and my understanding of the world has been expanding a lot through this experience. It’s a great time in my life to be able to do this, and I wouldn’t mind doing more of it in the future.”

Of course, what he does in the future has yet to be determined. Pilato finishes the show’s run on May 25, and from there he plans to move from Florida to New York City to allow for more auditioning. It’s an uncertain life, but he’s ready to take the chance.

“It’s the life of an actor, you just have to hope that your next job will come soon. I know I’ve been very lucky so far. It doesn’t always go with way for all of us, and it won’t always go this way for me in the future. But I’ll just keep auditioning for new projects and hold on to the excitement that I’ve always had for it.”

Michele DeVinney







Mick Foley

8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23
Snickerz Comedy Bar
5535 St. Joe Rd., Fort Wayne
Tix: $25 thru Snickerz box office, 260-486-0216

Mick Foley

Ringside Stories

If you were asked to write up a short bio on a man who calls himself a storyteller, you would not expect that storyteller to have racked up a list of injuries that would make a pro football player blush. Multiple concussions, broken teeth, shattered bones, lacerations, a lopped-off ear. Physical damage of this sort is not the usual bullet list of accomplishments you associate with your typical storyteller. Then again, Mick Foley is not your typical storyteller.

Foley is a three-time World Wrestling Federation champion who performed under the names Mankind and Cactus Jack, among others. He is also a New York Times bestselling author, actor, voice actor and activist. The first two volumes of his memoirs each sat atop the bestsellers list in the early oughts. He writes novels and children’s books. Over the past few years he has taken his love of storytelling on the road. That road brings Foley on Wednesday, April 23 to Snickerz Comedy Club in Fort Wayne. His show, Tales from Wrestling Past, has won rave reviews for it’s humor, wildness and warmth.

Foley will tell you he’s always been a storyteller. He sees little difference in his work in professional wrestling and his spoken word performances.

“It’s just another way of telling stories,” he said in a phone interview from hotel room in Baltimore. “Connecting to an audience in any way is fun.”

The elaborate storylines in professional wrestling are acted out physically and with psychology facial expressions, Foley said. Professional wrestling has drama, intrigue, betrayal, comedy, mystery and triumph. Oh. There’s action, too. Lots of action.

Foley was born in Bloomington, Indinana in 1965 and moved with his family to Long Island, New York when he was very young. He wrestled in high school, and after a trip to Madison Square Garden to watch a pro wrestling show he decided to make a career in the sport.

After a few years of training during college, Foley started touring on the independent circuit. His intelligence, affability, good looks (he looks like a cross between a hefty Jim Morrison, Jerry Garcia with the glasses and a young Santa Claus) and dedication to providing entertainment soon caught the eye of bigger promoters. In 1996 he joined the WWF and created the character Mankind, a character inspired by Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the music of Tori Amos. His three WWF championships came in the late 1990s.

Around that time, Foley began writing the first volume of his memoirs. Without a ghostwriter or the benefit of a computer, Foley scratched out some 800 pages of longhand in a matter of weeks. Called Have a Nice Day, his story of life in the ring went on to top the Times bestseller list for non-fiction. The second volume, called Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker than Wrestling, soared to the top of the list as well. A third and fourth volume followed. Foley has also written four children’s books, the most recent being 2012’s A Most Mizerable Christmas, which features characters based on friends from his professional wrestling days, and two novels.

Foley does not like to be called a “standup comedian.” In a video on his Youtube channel, he said he tried telling jokes for a while but realized he had a trove of material from his personal and professional life that allowed him to be more natural – and funnier – in his show. The transition from pro wrestler to author to live storytelling came easily. For a time he toured colleges across the country giving talks at places like MIT, Syracuse University, Notre Dame and University of Miami.

“I’ve had a lot of practice with a microphone and in telling stories with my books,” he said. “And I had a sort of training period speaking at universities. I got to try out different things and I discovered the humorous stories worked best. But nobody knows what to expect from me.”

Indeed. Foley is currently co-writing WW Comic Book and has made a documentary about Santa Claus. (Foley is fascinated with Christmas. He even has a permanent Christmas room in the home on Long Island he shares with his wife of 21 years and their four children.) He’s also made more than two dozen appearances on television as himself or characters from his wrestling career, including an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap. He considers himself a feminist and is active with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and ChildFund International.

Despite having spent many years performing on television and in front of large arenas packed with tens of thousands of people, Foley relishes his current gig playing to mere hundreds.

“I’m really flattered that people trust me enough to come and see my show,” he said. “And I really enjoy being able to see the faces of the people in the audience, to see and hear their reactions. I love the intimacy. But I’m not claiming I would pass up the opportunity to perform in front of 20,000 people. If that happens, great. In the meantime I’m perfectly content to play the small clubs.”  

Mark Hunter









Maggie Kole Hunter

She’s Only Acting Naturally

“I think I came out of the womb singing but can’t swear to it,” says Maggie Kole Hunter. “Actually I knew I wanted to be an actor from a very early age.”

She was a natural actor. 

“I was very curious and always making up stories and playing and becoming different characters,” she says. “I loved books and invented worlds and creatures in my mind. I always knew I would be an actor and creator of characters.”

Hunter drew inspiration from screen legends such as Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman. But one actor made a lasting, and more personal, impression on her.

She saw James Earl Jones on Broadway in The Great White Hope and was not only moved by his performance but by his generosity with her high school group who had the opportunity to meet him after the show.

“I was expecting a larger than life person,” she says. “Actually, he was very soft spoken and kind. I will always remember, no matter what I achieve in this business, to always take the time with others. It was magical!”

She also admires Meryl Streep for her ability to balance a film career with family and Olympia Dukakis who was “discovered” later in her life.

Hunter performed in her first major production – an Irish play called The Far Off Hills – while a sophomore in high school. “It was my first big production and I loved every minute of it,” she says. “It was a great experience and one that set me on the path to the theatre.”

She went on to earn her BFA at Kent State University and then moved to New York to work as a professional actor. “I did quite well,” she says, “but now I’m a little older and a little wiser and much more daring than when I was younger.”

In 1996, she and her husband Michael moved to Fort Wayne where they raised their sons Brett and Colin.

Brett has followed in her theatrical footsteps. “He’s in New York City living the actor’s life,” she says. “He is doing well and is loving every minute. He is gradually getting roles and is working at a restaurant that is called the West End Café, which is a favorite hang-out for producers, directors, agents and actors.”

Her other son, Colin, is a project engineer for a construction company in Indianapolis. “Truth be told,” she says, “Colin was in show choir during high school and is an amazing dancer. He is very artistic and creative.”

Hunter currently works as the interim director of personal and professional development in the IPFW Division of Continuing Studies. “Our department handles all of the non-credit courses for the university,” she says.

She is also the head speech coach at South Side High School and was the drama director and speech coach for the now-closed Elmhurst High School. She does drama ministry for a local church and coaches and mentors high school students for college theater auditions.

Hunter has performed with most of the theaters in Fort Wayne but has a special place in her heart for the IPFW Department of Theatre. “I love working with the students,” she says. “I love their energy and exuberance. I also love the fact that I can be a mentor to the next generation of actors.”

She is currently in her seventh IPFW production, Into the Woods. Previous shows include Hot l Baltimore, The Music Man, Talking With and last year’s collaboration with the Fort Wayne Youtheatre, Oliver!

Hunter’s love of education as well as her childhood love of books and creating characters carries over into her theater work. She conducts extensive research into the era in which a play takes place and creates a back story for every character she plays.

Her ability to create characters can only go so far, however, something she learned as a very young actor. She was appearing in a Moliere play and inadvertently skipped a page and a half of dialogue. “You can’t make up Moliere on the spot,” she says. “I blanked and couldn’t think of anything else but to leave. So I said adieu to [my scene mate] and left the stage.”

Fortunately for everyone involved, the next actor to enter was already waiting in the wing, so the play went on with a minimum of awkwardness. “We had a good laugh over it [later],” she says, “but at the time it seemed hours passed on stage.”

Her easy sense of humor makes her a fan of comedy, particular physical comedy. “I was never the ingénue,” she says. “I was always the ingénue’s best friend or the sidekick. Character roles. That has always been my niche.”

She also acknowledges the serious side of her nature and her love of playing drama. “It’s been a while since I have done drama, but it’s the other side of the coin for me,” she says. “Drama helps me grow and provides the opportunity to show a character’s vulnerability to an audience.”

To Hunter, vulnerability is an important tool in communicating with the audience. “It’s about giving back,” she says. “Self-doubt can be my enemy but it’s not about me – it’s about the audience who came to be entertained, or to forget for a while what is going on in their world or the world around them.”

She is thankful for her God-given talent but is also grateful for having worked with some outstanding directors. 

“The best director I worked with was Dennis Deal in Ohio,” she says. “He cast me in a role [in a campy musical comedy he wrote] that would redefine me as an actor. His belief in my [comedic] talent was so strong that I believed and came out of my comfort zone. I will always be thankful to Denny.”

Actors who “like to play and come prepared to play” help bring out her best on stage as well. 

“I believe strongly in the creative collaborative process. It is the best moment in rehearsal when you and another actor hit that ‘aha jolt.’ It brings you to another level, and the commitment is so strong within that moment with the other person it’s like heaven.”

On the other hand, actors who lack commitment frustrate her. 

“They act because it is an egotistical high,” she says. “I have worked with several professionals [who feel that] is all about them and not the other professionals on the stage. That type of behavior is disrespectful.”

As for herself, she makes every attempt to have fun, to graciously give back to her fellow actors and to share her experience in creating an entertaining, thought-provoking show for the audience.

Right now she is putting her musical experience to the test with Into the Woods at IPFW. “You either love Sondheim or you hate him,” she says. “There is no in between. I happen to love him. All of his songs tell incredible stories of love, loss, loneliness, hope, salvation, life and relationships. And that can all be in one musical.”

Of all the roles she has already performed, she would love the opportunity to reprise the role of Mama Rose in Gypsy (which features lyrics by Sondheim).

“I’d also love to do August: Osage County,” she says, “or a Tennessee Williams play. More Shakespeare. And really anything, be it musical, comedy, or drama that this old soul can do until she can’t do it no more.”

Jen Poiry-Prough









Cirque Mechanics

Bikes & ’Bats Collide

If you lay out the two stages of Chris Lashua’s career in straight-forward terms, without explanation, the connection between them probably doesn’t seem very obvious. He started out as a freestyle BMX competitor with corporate sponsorship from a bicycle manufacturer and his face on BMX magazine covers. These days he’s a stage performer and acrobat who puts on shows with symphony orchestras. The transition from extreme sports to concert halls makes more sense when you look at Lashua’s career as an evolution; that’s when it all works together as logically as the machines that are a part of his shows.

In the 1980s, Lashua was living in Boston and working as part of the Mountain Dew GT Trick Team, a touring freestyle BMX group that put on shows around the Northeast. Eventually, Nashua bought the team from its founder, Rick Stebenne, and changed its name. The new name, the Mountain Dew Freestyle Performance Team, was indicative of the new emphasis that Lashua wanted to bring to his BMX work: he wanted to be a performer more than a competitor.

Lashua’s team toured broadly, not just in the Northeast and not just in the United States, but eventually, in the early 90s, it became much harder to make a living in freestyle BMX. Lashua was finishing college and looking for new gigs, so when Stebenne put him in touch with Tim Holst of the Ringling Bros. circus, Lashua had an open mind. Holst liked the idea of adding a bike act to his circus, and he sent Lashua and his team to a two-week festival in China. That’s where the shift in Lashua’s career began.

In China, Lashua met one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. The now-famous performing group was new and relatively unknown back then, but Lashua loved the idea of their performance-oriented acrobatics. He signed for a summer tour with them as part of a bike act, and when that gig was done, he wanted more. He spent a year working as a stage technician for the group in Las Vegas, and at the same time he started to spend less time on his bike and more time on a new acrobatic apparatus: the German Wheel, a big steel wheel in which an acrobat twirls and spins on stage.

“It was familiar territory and has a feeling similar to biking or skating,” Lashua told ESPN. “It is a German gymnastic discipline, but I blended my bike/street style with the technical wheel training and found my way back onto the stage as the opening act of Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Quidam.”

Lashua’s part in Quidam continued for five years, until 2000, and during that time he honed his traditional skills in the German Wheel, but he also began to innovate. He built a new contraption, a cradle that held the wheel so he could spin in place. Then he started adding things to the machine – gears, levers, cranks, a winch – that allowed him to interact with other performers while he was in the wheel.

As Lashua developed a new kind of performance aesthetic, he began to see differences between what he wanted to do and what Cirque du Soleil was doing. He appreciated what Soleil had accomplished, and he was glad to be a part of it, but he started to understand that he needed to form his own group.

“Touring with Cirque was pretty cushy,” he says. “They really know how to take care of their people. They created a whole new art form and made it possible for us at Cirque Mechanics to do what we do. They raised people’s expectations of what circus can be, and it was great to be part of that.”

The biggest difference he saw between his performance goals and those of Cirque du Soleil was the surreal vibe of Soleil’s shows. Lashua wanted something that was more down to earth, in contrast to the fantasy of Soleil.

“We don’t want to do that,” he told HK magazine. “The fantasy style is very popular, but we wanted to find a way to do something that was in a real time and a real place  – the 30s, in a factory, as opposed to a lyrical dream space.”

Lashua’s first machines were cobbled together from old bike parts that he found in his garage or in the trash, and everything had a gritty, vintage industrial feel. That aesthetic set the tone for the first show that he put together for his new group, Cirque Mechanics.

“This interaction between acrobat and machine is a kind of extension of all those years with bikes, and became the central theme of Cirque Mechanics’ first show,” he says.

That first show, “Birdhouse Factory,” had a very specific setting—a 1930s factory filled with workers, shadows and rumbling machines—and the entire show, with its acrobats, jugglers, mimes and contortionists, was built around the central theme.

“We used [the machines] to inform the decisions we made about everything, from colors to lighting and design,” he says. “We had this 1930s look. So it developed backwards. We started with a machine, then setting, context, time period, aesthetic, and then the story.”

As Cirque Mechanics developed new shows, Lashua worked on new ways for his performers to interact not just with each other and with the show’s contraptions, but also with musicians—and that involved building new machines. The latest addition is a gantry crane, a huge construction that provides both a platform for the acrobats to perform on and around and a frame for the symphony orchestras that Cirque Mechanics performs with. It’s a solution that melds the performances, musical and circus, into one immersive experience for the audience.

These new shows are a long way from flatland freestyle BMX—they’re more about artistic atmosphere than they are about caffeine-fueled extreme sports—but there’s no denying the common thread between the two, the synergy between human and machine in the service of thrilling performance. In that light, the idea of an orchestra-backed circus led by a former bike-riding superstar.

Evan Gillespie







Into the Woods

IPFW Department Of Theatre
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 18-19
& Thursday-Saturday, April 24-26
2 p.m. Sunday, April 27
Williams Theatre, IPFW
2101 E. Coliseum Blvd. • Fort Wayne
Tix.: $5-$17 thru box office,
260-481-6555

Into the Woods

Into the Deep, Dark Woods

I’ve been obsessed with the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods since the 1988 Tony Awards.

The musical weaves several folk tale characters’ stories into one. Act One ends with “happy ever after,” and Act Two explores the ramifications of what the characters had to do in order to achieve their happiness.

I bought the original cast recording, and every note, breath and nuance has become permanently etched into my brain. In 1991 PBS aired a performance of the Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters, and the show was more relevant to me than anything I had seen since The Breakfast Club.

It was all about young people being pushed around by domineering parents. Cinderella’s parents raised her to be “nice,” but where did it get her? Picking lentils out of the ashes to earn the privilege of attending a ball – and then not being allowed to go anyway. Who among us hasn’t been there?

Jack just wants to hang out with his best friend (a sickly milk cow), but his mother says he needs to find better friends. He steals from a Giant to earn her respect. Rapunzel, raised by the quintessential overprotective mother, just wants to leave her tower and go out with a cute prince, but her curfew is pretty restrictive. Little Red Riding Hood meets a sexy Wolf in the woods and lets herself stray from the path because he “seems so nice.” And we all know what happened to her.

Aside from robbing giants, I could relate to every one of these kids. 

In 1998, Craig A. Humphrey directed the show at IPFW, and I was thrilled to be cast as Cinderella’s Stepmother. With a little more life experience under my belt, I was surprised to realize the story was actually about a Baker and his Wife who so desperately wanted a child they would do just about anything to get one – even lie, cheat and steal. It was about being tempted by wicked charmers and about people not being who you thought they were.

Now, 16 years and a family of my own later, I have been cast in the current IPFW production of Into the Woods, also directed by Craig Humphrey, running April 18-27. And I have come to realize the show is actually about a mother who just wants to protect her daughter from the evils of the world and to keep her a child for as long as she can.

I am quite certain that in a few years, I will conclude that the show is about disappointing your children and realizing you have taught them all the wrong lessons and basically ruined their lives.

This is what theatre is all about – holding a mirror up to the audience and giving them a new perspective to ponder. Sondheim is a master at that. Perhaps inspired by his own strained relationship with both is parents (his father abandoned the family and his mother took her bitterness out on her young son), the show is about “the complicated and delicate nature of parent/child relationships,” says Humphrey. “[It’s about] the concept that ‘no one is alone,’ and the idea of sacrifice in the goal of getting what we want.”

Despite the familiar fairy tale characters, Humphrey hopes the audience recognizes the seriousness of the show’s themes. His production may be slightly “darker” than some other community theatre productions. “I’m trying very hard to stay away from a ‘Disneyfied’ production,” he says.

Visually, the costumes are distinctly un-Disney. “We’re taking an eclectic approach to the design of the show,” he says, “because to me it helps make the idea of ‘once upon a time’ timeless. These fairy tales live over a vast expanse of time.”

The costume and lighting design are by IPFW theatre alumni Jes Sokolowski and Corey Lee respectively. The costumes are based on Humphrey’s original designs from the 1998 show. In that production, Cinderella’s family dressed in 1950s fashion, the Wolf in a leather jacket and other characters in more traditional “fairy tale” garb.

One big difference in this production from the one 16 years ago is that almost all the cast members are IPFW theatre students. The 1998 cast consisted of a mixture of theatre students, one music student and several well-respected community theatre actors (Todd Frymier, Leslie Beauchamp, Anna Wood and Hannalies Hepler, to name a few). This time around, Humphrey realized the school “had the right group of students at the right time,” and all but two cast members are IPFW students or staff.

Possibly due to the growth of IPFW’s music program over the past nine years (the John and Ruth Rhinehart Music Center was built in 2007 under the tenure of Dr. Michael Wartell), the theatre department has drawn more musical theatre students then it did in 1998, says Humphrey.

Despite the musical experience of the young actors, he says, “The music is very difficult.”

Maggie Hunter, an IPFW staffer who plays Jack’s Mother, agrees. “You have to focus [on the music] and never stop focusing,” she says. “The timing, the rhythms and the music are difficult, and you must become totally involved in what is going on. It’s fast-paced and it doesn’t stop. It is exhilarating but exhausting – and I mean that in a good way.”

Once the actors got the music learned, they could start to explore the themes in the show. “It’s amazing how well-crafted the material is,” says Humphrey, “and how truly multi-layered.”

Even the minor characters have multiple dimensions that are rare in musical theatre. Dotty Miller, who plays Cinderella’s Stepmother, describes her character as “a social climber who wants the good life at all costs, including living vicariously through her daughters and, eventually, her stepdaughter.”

Brady Schrock plays the dual role of the Wolf and Prince Charming, characters who are two sides of the same coin. “The Wolf is essentially what the Prince covers up under his dashing exterior,” he explains. “Elements of both characters can be seen in the other.”

Schrock especially enjoys playing the comedy of his princely role. “The Prince is completely sure-footed in absolutely everything,” he says. “He is completely unaware of the fact that he is an extremely arrogant, superficial and self-entitled person.”

Humphrey says that even though the show is funny and at times even silly, it is important to play the realism of the story – which includes infidelity, greed and murder. “I don’t think the humor works without the darkness,” he says.

This darkly realistic approach to the show is what allows the story to take on different meanings to different people at different stages in their lives. Humphrey says that the show always makes him think about his relationships with his own parents. 

“Maybe it’s my age,” he says, “but I think [the show is teaching me] more about forgiving and being forgiven.”

That is the brilliance of this musical. At first glance, it’s a fairy tale romp. But its “morals” speak to anyone who has ever had a parent, a child, a lover or a friend – or a desire to have a parent, a child, a lover or a friend. No matter what stage in life you happen to be in at any given moment, Into the Woods is your story.

Jen Poiry-Prough







Decatur Sculpture Tour

Daily thru May 31, 2014
2nd Street, Decatur
free, 260-724-2604

Decatur Sculpture Tour

Small Town Shows Off Big Art

A drive through Decatur may seem like a pass through any other small Indiana town, but if you look closely you will notice the downtown area is speckled with pieces of art. The sculptures that stand along 2nd Street have welcomed visitors to the area for a full year. On June 7 they will be removed and replaced by a new crop of creative work. The following day Decatur will host a public art event, the Decatur Sculpture Tour, a name which reflects the expansion of the sculptures’ footprint beyond the city’s immediate downtown area. 

Fifteen sculptures from nine artists will be celebrated with small town merriment. The tour officially begins June 8 with accompanying music, food, sculpture tours and a children’s chalk walk. The 2013 sculpture locations will line over two blocks of historic 2nd Street, with additional exhibits on Monroe Street. Visitors unfamiliar with the area can stop by any shop sponsoring a sculpture to pick up a map that includes a ballot for the People’s Choice Award. Winners will be announced in early October.

Artists involved in this year’s project hail from Indiana, Ohio and Missouri. Many of the sculptors are repeat participants, but the Sculpture Committee is happy to welcome two new artists to the mix.

The concept for the Sculpture Tour was inspired by the work of local artist Greg Mendez when he produced a commissioned piece for the Adams Public Library. The work, “It Must Be a Good Book,” was well received by the community and sparked enthusiasm for public art in Decatur. Mendez teamed with local leaders to organize the 2012 Decatur Sculpture Walk with intention to inspire, soothe, provoke, connect and involve the public through art. Last year eight outdoor and four indoor sculptures were displayed. Diane Macklin, who operates Sunshine Uniques Flowers and Gifts, sponsored a sculpture last year by artist Jesse Wolf and is excited to see what the Sculpture Tour will bring to town this year. “It is amazing what people around here can do,” said Macklin. 

Heather Miller








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