Covering the performing arts in the Indianapolis area is a broad pursuit, considering the myriad of organizations, large and small, and the many disciplines that constitute this reporter’s beat.
This selection of the 10 most special events of this past year is based on the overall quality of each presentation, as well as its entertainment and inspirational value.
Owing to the fact that it was impossible to attend every event scheduled in a market rich with arts and entertainment opportunities, this list is certainly not definitive, but it is one that represents this reviewer’s most memorable experiences in 2011.
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1. ISO opening-night gala
The opening-night concert featured the new music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conductor Krzysztof Urbanski, renowned pianist Garrick Ohlsson, pops conductor Jack Everly and Time for Three in a program of classical works and pops. Making it even more special was a surprise appearance by ISO conductor laureate Raymond Leppard.
2. An Evening with the Stars
For the third consecutive year, the Indianapolis City Ballet showcased internationally known dancers in a gala program that featured classical and contemporary works.
3. Do You Hear the People Sing – The Dream Concert!
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by principal pops conductor Jack Everly, was joined by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and noted Broadway performers in a tribute to the music of lyricist Alain Boubil and composer Claude-Michael Schonberg, who were actually present at the concert.
4. That’s Entertainment
This concert opened the Tarkington Theater at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts and featured renowned singer/musician Michael Feinstein (also artistic director of the center) and television and Broadway star David Hyde Pierce in That’s Entertainment. Dancers from the American Ballet Theatre also performed.
5. Avenue Q
A season hit at the Phoenix Theatre, this heartwarming yet provocative coming-of-age story used puppets to take a satirical look at the trials and tribulations of entering adulthood and the search for purpose that often comes with it.
6. La Traviata
The Indianapolis Opera, joined by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by James Caraher, presented this lavish production of Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic love story about a courtesan whose love affair ends in tragedy.
7. A Wicked Cabaret
Stephanie J. Block, who made her name playing Elphaba in Wicked and other shows on Broadway, gave an unforgettable benefit concert for the Cabaret at the Columbia.
Dance Kaleidoscope performed to music made popular by French chanteuse Edith Piaf in this popular Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival presentation.
9. Diary of Anne Frank
Directed by Janet Allen, this Indiana Repertory Theatre production of the play based on the diary of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who died during the Holocaust, was powerfully gripping.
10. Drowsy Chaperone
The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre opened its new home at the Tarkington Theater at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts with a Broadway-quality production of this Tony award-winning musical comedy.
To see reviews of these productions, click on the hyperlinks for each title. Also, check out the accompanying slideshow featuring photos of each show or concert.