I was asked this morning to write about the passing of Bryan Fonseca. I tried my best to do that here.
What I didn’t have room for there was a list of my most memorable evenings and matinees at the Phoenix during Bryan’s tenure there. I wish I had the bandwidth right now to go into more detail but, frankly, it’s been a rough day.
So all I’m offering is a list. If you are an Indianapolis-area theatergoer, no doubt you have a list of your own. I think I’ve seen more Phoenix Theatre shows than I have of any other theater. So there’s a lot to choose from.
Here’s my list of favorites, chronologically (give or take) from when I dropped anchor here in Indiana. I’m sure I’ve missed a few. I’m sure you have your own list. Feel free to add in the comments.
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. My first exposure to the Phoenix and an impressive start.
Whoop-Dee-Doo! Pure, silly joy.
Three Viewings. Okay, so now I know Indy has a core of very talented actors.
Bat Boy. Enjoyed this one so much we sent the kids to see it later. Apparently, the cast let a certain scene get even wilder toward the end of the run.
Proof. A high-water mark. I can’t imagine that any production anywhere of these regional theater staple was stronger. Outstanding work by Kelli Walker, the late Rich Komenich, and Alissa Stamatis (who I wish had graced our stages for longer).
The Pillowman. That basement stage could get very creepy.
Stuff Happens. A difficult, very verbal play pulled off with great finesse.
Some Men. You never would have known this was considered a lesser Terrence McNally play.
The Zippers of Zoomerville. A locally written Gilbert & Sullivan parody about auto racing? Yep. And damn fun.
Pure Prine. As good as a jukebox musical gets. Wish they could have bottled this one.
August: Osage County. A master class of Indy acting talent.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. It rocked.
4000 Miles. A small play, beautifully and humanly delivered.
Cock. Design, meet talent. Talent, meet script. Script, meet design. Sometimes, it all comes together.
Butler. A Civil War play at the Phoenix? Sure, why not?
Acid Dolphin Experiment. An indescribable original.
Human Rites. A difficult subject in a well-written play, strongly cast, with plenty to discuss on the ride home.
Barbecue. Seeing audience members wrestle with this one was almost as fun as what was happening onstage.
Well, if I do a theater list- then it will be Charlotte shows. I have to rely on Charlotte’s Blumenthal just to see musicals. Yes, I sometimes see shows outside of Blumenthal, but for the most part seeing something at Blumenthal.
Here are the Blumenthal shows I saw: just some
1. La Bohème
2. Come From
3. Les Mis
5. Lion King
7. Mamma Mia
8. Wicked- 3x
10. Sound of Music
If the pandemic didn’t happen I would have tried to see Anastasia and Frozen. Frozen disappointed me more due to already having tickets
Bryan’s loss – and that of Ron Spencer – sadden me so much as an audience member and my sympathies go out to the artists, writers and technicians who knew them far better than I did. I agree with you, Lou, that the Phoenix has been the site of a significant portion of my attendance. My personal Top 10 under his directorship dating back to 2007-08 season (in chronological order):
1. The Housewives of Mannheim
2. Avenue Q
3. August: Osage County
5. The Cripple of Inishmaan
6. Buyer and Cellar
7. On Clover Road
9. Human Rites
So many other great productions there. I wish I had seen some of the ones in your list that predate my first visit there.