News Column

Indiana Festival Theatre offers a family friendly summer of shows

May 5, 2013


May 05--We're on the cusp of summer when Bloomington becomes a little quiet, and it's much easier to get a table at your favorite downtown restaurant.

Things in the entertainment calendar slow down as well, but that just means the few events happening around town will be even more crowded than usual.

So now is the time to get your tickets for the Indiana Festival Theatre, which will bring you everything from doughnuts to Shakespeare to keep you entertained.

Doughnuts? I had the same reaction, but "Arnie the Doughnut" is a new musical you and your children will enjoy.

"This year we went that extra mile to try to make sure all of the shows are really family friendly," said Drew Bratton, arts administrator for Indiana University's Department of Theatre and Drama and managing director for the Indiana Festival Theatre.

Last year's "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!" was a huge success, selling out its 11 performance run. To help meet the demand, Bratton said an extra week of performances have been added for "Arnie the Doughnut."

The musical is based on the book of the same name by Laurie Keller. Arnie is a lovable doughnut, with sprinkles, who is happy to be selected by a new owner. But when Mr. Bing tries to eat Arnie, the fun begins.

The season will kick off June 12 with "Swing! The Musical."

"Swing is really one of those shows that can totally fill up the space," Bratton said of the show that will be performed in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. The show will feature a big band on stage along with partnered couples who will dance to jazz music of the 1930s and '40s. The show will be directed and choreographed by George Pinney, who heads IU's musical theatre.

Two classic comedies will also be staged with Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker."

With both productions, the cast will be dressed in period costumes -- different from previous years when the costumes would transport the players and audience into a different era than what was originally intended by the writer. Bratton said using period costumes will be a little more of a challenge since the same resources aren't available in the summer as are available during the school year.

"Much Ado About Nothing" will be directed by Jonathan Michaelsen. The comedy centers around two couples and the love surrounding them.

The final production of the season, "Island Song," is a new musical that has been going through workshops over the past few years.

The new musical will be directed by Chad Rabinovitz, artistic director for the Bloomington Playwrights Project. It tells the story of five people caught in a love affair with New York City.

Bratton said the theater department looks for musicals in development and utilizes students to help work out any kinks.

"It really works out nicely, and we've done several really well-received shows," Bratton said.

Done in partnership with the Bloomington Playwright's Project, the show will be staged in late August. Six months later, BPP will bring the play back to its own stage.

"It's a great teaching element for them (students) because for the first part they're working with someone that's actually creating it," Bratton said.

And while lyrics and instrumentation may change or evolve, the students involved in the festival production have an opportunity to truly create the characters.

"For historical sense, if the play gets produced and published, their names would be the first one. We like that for the historical significance because it's a great opportunity," Bratton said.

This year's festival is also seeking to expand beyond performances. Bratton said there are plans to include pre-show activities and other ideas that would give attendees a greater experience.

"Everything that we're doing this summer is this growing attempt to make it a fully realized festival," Bratton said.

Arts editor Marci Creps can be reached at or 812-331-4375.


Indiana Festival Theatre shows

"Swing! The Musical" -- June 12-30

"Arnie the Doughnut" -- June 22-July 13

"Much Ado About Nothing" -- July 5-27

"The Matchmaker" -- July 12-28

"Island Song" -- Aug. 22-25

For specific performance dates and times or to purchase tickets for the performances including season tickets, check out http://

The performances are part of the Summer Festival of the Arts. Learn more about other events including movies, art and dance at


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