Fresh off the holiday season, theaters in the Urban Times zone are preparing for a new round of opening nights. Those include:
* Wednesday, Jan. 11 – The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s OneAmerica Mainstage will host Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage, a tale of the strength of sisterhood. The play tells the story of four brave African-American women homesteaders and pioneers who settle together in the all-Black town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Fighting a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, they work hard to till the soil and build better lives for themselves. Their courage is tested when an unexpected and deadly threat invades their home in this surprising story set in the Old West. Flyin’ West is part of IRT’s INclusion Series: Celebrating Diverse Storytelling, and runs through Feb. 4.
The cast features Kayla Mary Jane, Enoch King, Dwandra Nickole Lampkin, L’Oreal Lampley, Lanise Antoine Shelley and Allen Tedder.
Note: Flyin’ West contains profanity, racial and ethnic slurs, and frank discussions about slavery and murder. There are depictions of domestic violence, gun usage, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Recommended for patrons 9th grade and above.
* Opening Friday, Jan. 13. The annual cabaret production of FOOTLITE MUSICALS is Songs for a New World, with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. With seven performances through Jan. 22, the production of contemporary songs weaves characters and history together, illuminating the timelessness of self-discovery. The first musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (Bridges of Madison County, Parade), this moving collection of powerful songs examines life, love and the choices that we make. Brown transports the audience from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue to meet a startling array of characters that range from a young man who has determined that basketball is his ticket out of the ghetto to a woman whose dream of marrying rich nabs her the man of her dreams and a soulless marriage.
* Opening Friday, Jan. 13 – American Lives Theatre will present Heroes of the Fourth Turning, to be presented through Jan. 28 in IndyFringe Basile Theatre. As the play begins, it is nearing midnight in Wyoming, where four young conservatives have gathered at a backyard after-party. They’ve returned home to toast their mentor Gina, newly inducted as president of a tiny Catholic college. But as their reunion spirals into spiritual chaos and clashing generational politics, it becomes less a celebration than a vicious fight to be understood. On a chilly night in the middle of America, Will Arbery’s haunting Pulitzer-nominated play offers grace and disarming clarity, speaking to the heart of a country at war with itself.
Recommended 18+ for adult language and themes. This play runs just under 2 hours and will have no intermission. Note: Masks and proof of vaccination will be required for the performance on Sunday, Jan. 15, only.
* Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29. The DISTRICT THEATRE’s Cabaret Stage will host In The Life: Songs of Gay Harlem, featuring James Benn who gives voice to the jazz and blues songs from the Harlem Renaissance including works by Bessie Smith, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington as well as songs popularized by Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters and Ma Rainey — all of whom had, to different degrees, same-sex inclinations and involvements, though married during portions of their lives. Age recommendation: 18+. Curtain times: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and 3:30 p.m. Jan. 29.
* Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29. The Athenaeum Basile Theatre will host The Bodyguard, an Indiana Performing Arts production featuring songs such as Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love and I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The musical focuses upon Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
PHOTO ABOVE: The Indiana Repertory Theatre is an anchor of Downtown culture at 140 W. Washington St.