Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spotlight 2014 moves right along, tugs at heartstrings, opens pursestrings

Spotlight, the annual community variety show to benefit the Indiana Aids Fund, has more than goodwill in its favor. It draws on the talents and energy of some of the metropolitan area's most seasoned and most up-and-coming performing artists.

Artistic director David Hochoy designed the entertainment to occupy segments lasting no more than five minutes each, within a 90-minute span. The design was crisply executed in "Spotlight 2014 Out Loud" Monday night at Clowes Hall.

What to do about that untoward urge?  "Turn It Off"
Making a big deal of ranking the acts seems inappropriate to apply to a show in which all the talent was donated to the cause. Still,  I came away with a few impressions I'd like to shine a light on.

The forthcoming Broadway in Indianapolis presentation of "The Book of Mormon" got a bit of a preview — not so much of the touring production as the hit show itself — when the Indianapolis Men's Chorus, in dark pants, narrow dark ties and white shirts, performed "Turn It Off."

The song vigorously mocks the open-and-shut repression that is part of Mormon practice (along with many other religions). The staging was lively and nicely contrasted the mandated inhibitions with hints that they could be easily shed given the right catalyst. The entrance of a much larger group of straitlaced mock-Mormons behind the front line as the song proceeded brought it to a riotous peak.

"Diamante," a ballet that premiered Monday.
Another act offered a preview of a specific production. BOBDIREX Productions, the brainchild of a master of large-scaled musical theater, Bob Harbin, will present "Hair" this summer. The perennial "tribal love-rock musical" may have some life left in it. My suspicions that it might be too dated to capably project any kind of credible "dawning" were partly allayed by the gang that put across "The Age of Aquarius," but not entirely. Curiosity about how intact the Harbin magic might be with this decades-old piece might get me to the full production.

For inspired juxtapositions, a poised new piece called "Diamante" displayed some of the Indianapolis School of Ballet's most accomplished dancers. The piece, choreographed by company director Victoria Lyras, made inspired use of a piece for string orchestra. Similar idiomatic suitability of music and dance occurred in "Messing Around," the work immediately following, a sassy modern-courtship interpretation of  a couple of Ray Charles songs by Vanessa Owens and Nicholas Owens. Their troupes, Kenyetta Dance Company and Nicholas Owens Dance Company, blended seductiveness, coyness and bravado.

"Messing Around": Searching for love in a soulful setting
The show contained too many other fascinating bits to catalogue for the sake of completeness. It seems all right in this instance to bring forward just a few of the acts here.  Those who attended can arrrange their own bouquets from this annual garden of earthly and unearthly delights.
(Photo credit: Freddie Kelvin)

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