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whatzup2nite • Wednesday, April 1

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Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

Chagrin Comedy Showcase — Comedy at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 483-5526

Who Dat? (Paul New Stewart & Kimmy Dean) — at 4D's, Fort Wayne, 7-10:30 p.m., no cover, 490-6488


Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 422-5055

Shut Up & Sing w/Michael Campbell — Karaoke at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 483-1311


Stage & Dance

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Movies

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Art & Artifacts

Alexander Solomon: Temporary Tragedy — Landscape photography with the implication of tragedy ahead, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 17, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Contemporary American Family — Two and three dimensional mixed media pieces from fifteen area artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15, Mirro Family Foundation and Sauerteig Family Galleries, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Fame’s Fusion of Concert Colors — FAME artwork from Northern Indiana elementary school children, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15 (reception 2 p.m. Saturday, April), Freistroffer Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards — Student artwork and writing from the region, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 12, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Steven Sorman: Only When — Paintings and prints, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 14, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Travels in Plastic — Photographs by Cara Wade taken using Holga and Sprocket Rocket “toy” cameras, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 15, Freistroffer Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195


Featured Events

Fort Wayne Dance Collective — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574

IPFW Community Arts AcademyArt, dance, music and theatre classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977, www.ipfw.edu/caa

Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, $100 per month, 432-8176 ext. 1961, academy.sweetwater.com



Features

33 Variations

Life, Death, Music

33 Variations, directed by Gregory Stieber for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and performed at the new Auer Center Arts Lab (across Main Street from the Arts United Center main stage), offers parallels between past and present on the nature of art, ambition, obsession and hope. With equal parts humor and pathos, the fictionalized blending of one of Beethoven’s most brilliant feats of musicianship with a modern story of family, passion and how to live one’s life. Musicologist Katherine Brandt, stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) becomes obsessed with an obsession: Why did Beethoven write 33 variations on a mediocre waltz when one would have sufficed? As she attempts to solve this mystery, everything Dr. Brandt thought she understood about the nature of success, mediocrity, family, friendship and existence itself is turned on its ear as she nears the end of her own life. In 1819 music publisher Anton Diabelli made a proposition to the 50 great musicians of the day: write one variation on a theme (a simple waltz written by Diabelli himself) to be published in one volume of music. Forty-nine composers accepted. The only one to decline was Ludwig van Beethoven who, according to his servant and biographer Anton Schindler, considered the waltz to be a “cobbler’s patch.” However, something changed Beethoven’s mind, and he wrote not one but 33 variations on the theme. Dr. Brandt, despite her rapidly declining health, travels to Bonn, Germany, to study Beethoven’s original sketches, hoping to discover the reason for this extravagance. What she discovers changes her outlook on life. Julie Donnell, a brilliant musician in her own right, brings the perfect blend of strength and stoic vulnerability to the role of Dr. Brandt. Donnell’s delivery of the musicological lectures feel natural from her, and her physicality as Brandt’s body begins to betray itself is nothing short of devastating to watch. Stuart Hepler’s Beethoven is appropriately temperamental and sometimes gleefully difficult. Hepler has some nice moments with his co-stars in scenes between Diabelli and Schindler and in several existential scenes when he and Dr. Brandt “meet.” He even gets to interact with the onstage pianist (Hope Arthur or Kenneth Xiaoling Jiangin in alternating performances) who serves as Beethoven’s musical “voice,” playing the variations as underscoring throughout the entire play. In a long monologue, Beethoven composes the penultimate variation as the onstage pianist plays it. He describes each passage while it is being played (“That’s the wrong tempo. It must be double time … and faster … Allegro … Forte ...”) and gives the audience an exhilarating, albeit brief, lesson in musicology. It may seem dry, reading it on the page, but it compels the listener to hear and understand the music in a far more complete way. James Del Priore’s Diabelli is a flamboyant, self-important popinjay who balances disdain and respect for Beethoven while getting some of the play’s bigger laughs. Paul Faulkner plays Anton Schindler (“Friend of Beethoven”), the composer’s biographer, servant and go-between during the negotiations for the variations. His chemistry with Del Priore and Hepler works very well, and Schindler’s affection for his master is evident through Faulkner’s performance. Eileen Ahlersmeyer and Cody Steele are convincing as the two young lovers. Mike is sweet, patient and understanding. Clara is tough as nails and standoffish, but like her mother, she secretly wants to connect, if only she could let down her emotional barriers. Ahlersmeyer and Steele also have some funny moments as they enter their awkward courtship and struggle to make their relationship work under strained circumstances. Susan Domer is touching and hilarious as Dr. Brandt’s colleague and eventual best friend, Dr. Gertie Ladenburger. Initially stern, the German musicologist occasionally drops her guard, with sometimes unexpected results. The performances – along with Stieber’s clever and intimate staging (including innovative and entertaining scene changes), a simple but multi-purpose set designed by Robert Shoquist, authentic looking props designed by Del Proctor and costumes designed by Schellie Englehart – make 33 Variations an unusual, moving theatre experience that is anything but mediocre.

Jen Poiry-Prough







Suzan Moriarty

Practice Makes Perfect

Suzan Moriarty can’t pinpoint the moment she became interested in performing. But the self-described “very quiet little girl” remembers loving to imitate TV commercials. “There were many times that I would watch something on TV and then go to a mirror and try to mimic what I just saw,” she says. “If I didn’t like the way I looked, I’d try it a different way.” Unbeknownst to her, she was laying the groundwork for a lifetime of performing. When she was a little older, she saw a local community theater production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in her hometown, Findlay, Ohio. “They used children as the dwarfs, two of whom I knew,” she says. “I loved everything about it – from the costumes to the special effects of the ‘magic mirror.’ I walked away thinking, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” In the third grade, she entered her school’s talent show, created her own dance routine and won first place. “People who know me now find that hard to believe. I seemed to have developed two left feet over the years,” she says. Like the well-worn TV trope, her first role in a play was that of a tree. “I was in a children’s production of Chicken Little,” she recalls. “I remember thinking how much fun it was and how seriously I took it.” She performed in her first community theater production, No Sex Please, We’re British, when she was 17 years old. Moriarty studied ballet for 11 years, took voice lessons and studied theater performance at the University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University. She performed in 17 productions throughout her college career, including summer stock. She moved to Fort Wayne in 1988 and took a long break from theater. Then fate stepped in. “In 2000, one of my theater professors passed away very unexpectedly,” she says. “At his memorial, I reunited with my former theater classmates. I realized how very much I missed [performing].” Within weeks she auditioned for Steel Magnolias at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and was cast as M’Lynn. To prepare for a role or an audition, Moriarty admits to researching other theaters’ performances online. Much like her younger self experimenting with line readings in front of a mirror, she says, “I try different ways to deliver a line and spend time thinking about how we normally speak to each other when we’re having a conversation.” She has played a wide range of characters, some similar to her own personality, others completely different. “I think with every character I’ve played there is a bit of method acting that takes place,” she says. “[But] when the character is really different from me, it almost requires a temporary transformation off-stage to reach the comfort level I need to perform effectively.” Like most actors, the role she cites as her favorite was also her most difficult. “Berta in Boeing Boeing was a very challenging role,” she says. “She needed a French accent and had a very dry delivery and, on top of that, it was a very physical show. I was very nervous to play her.” She experienced a different kind of challenge when in a play called Chapter Two. She and fellow actor Jim Matusik played a dating couple who were drinking glasses of wine. “We actually used apple juice in the glasses,” she explains. “But on one particular night, our ‘wine’ didn’t taste the same. That was because our director, Brian Wagner, didn’t have enough juice to fill our glasses, so he gave us actual wine instead.” Unfortunately, Wagner forgot to tell them about the switch. “While sipping the drink, I began to get a bit warm,” she says, “and I noticed that Jim hadn’t touched his past the first sip. I realized I had been drinking the real thing and began to panic.” Fortunately, Moriarty’s professionalism kicked in, and it didn’t affect her performance. Her current role is Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Arena Dinner Theatre, and like many Arena veterans, Moriarty appreciates the intimacy of the space. “You can feel the emotions coming from the audience because everything is so close to the stage,” she says. “You know immediately whether the audience has connected with your character and I love that.” Although they may not follow in her performing footsteps, Moriarty has passed along her love of theater to her 18-year-old twins. “Both have dabbled in performing,” she says. “My daughter has a beautiful singing voice and has performed in the musicals at Homestead and two shows at Arena. We even got to do one together.” Their theatrical appreciation started early. Just before their fourth birthday, the twins attended their first production, the previously mentioned Steel Magnolias at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. Director Phillip Colglazier was somewhat apprehensive about the youngsters’ ability to focus on the show without disrupting the audience. “But they sat glued to their seats watching me on stage,” Moriarty says. “Their support has been amazing as they’ve gotten older.” In addition to her familial support system, Moriarty takes comfort in the support of her fellow actors, both onstage and off. “I have some local favorite [actors] that I adore,” she says. “The people who take it as seriously as I do are so wonderful to work with. You know that regardless of what happens on stage, they have your back.” She says she had expected Fort Wayne theater to be a different experience than what she’d had in Findlay. “But the truth is, there is closeness that all theater communities seem to observe,” she says, “and Fort Wayne is no different.”

Jen Poiry-Prough







Boat Show

All Hands on Deck

He saunters across Broadway in steel-toed Chucks, cutoff army vest and twisted leather fedora. A post-apocalyptic apparition in the snow, he no doubt has even the crusty, downtown blue-collar commuters craning their necks or checking their mirrors as they drive by. It’s a path from the front door of the Brass Rail to the corner of Wilt that Tom McSod, lead singer and principal songwriter for local folk-punk outfit Boat Show, makes every day, every night. His home away from home – that is to say, his actual house – is a mere block away. But that domicile is an afterthought, a place to sleep, eat, write music and occasionally socialize with friends. There is zero doubt that McSod does most of his living, and certainly all of his bread-winning, at 1121 Broadway Avenue where he pulls double-duty as “sanitation technician” and bartender. It’s a contented life for the 33-year-old McSod. His needs and wants are simple: music, drink, foosball and friends, plus more music … with a dash of music on top of the music. In the five-plus years I have become closer to this walking enigma, I can honestly say that 90 percent of our interactions, conversations and doings have centered on music in some capacity. In fact, all the aforementioned McSod essentials are typically enjoyed in almost mix-tape fashion. Make the mistake of taking him up on the challenge at a game of foosball at the Rail, and McSod will quietly slip a couple of dollars into the digital juke and tap out a soundtrack that ranges from Motorhead to the Singing Loins and then proceed to trounce you within the breadth of maybe two tracks; take the block-long walk to his home and he will invite you up, pour you a drink and walk you through whatever half dozen original songs he has recently recorded or treat you to whatever latest, often obscure world-folk artists he has uncovered. Through the conversation, the “foos,” the booze, even the work flows one river, one theme: song. To avert the chaos of trying to interview McSod on a barstool, I devised a plan: Hand him my ZoomQ2 recorder, a list of questions, and a deadline of a few days. It worked. I got 40 minutes of him talking in a relaxed and slowly developing inebriated state, his eloquence improving with each drink, in the relative quiet of his room. Of course, a constant soundtrack of some obscure metal band played quietly throughout as McSod patiently addressed a list that ranged from basic bio (a topic he eschews) to literature (a topic he adores), but the mix of voice to background music, like the booze and reflection, was perfect. “I’m going to pour another shot and tell you why I’m a geek.” This is the kind of nugget a writer lives for. One he will sift the detritus of the normal small talk for hours to find. It comes in the middle of the interview and provides succinct segue into the present which, as McSod indicates, is a time of perhaps his greatest musical contentment with Boat Show, but also a period of heartbreak. Once again McSod has managed to grow a band and break his own heart, in a year’s time, in typical grand fashion, as he never does anything halfway. “If I’m telling a story in a song, it’s either about love or it’s about the fantastical. I’m either trying to get you to feel the feelings or take you somewhere you aren’t. Those two things to me are the only two things worth writing about.” While his previous and still most well-known band, The Staggerers, were a local favorite known for raucous, sweaty, loud shows all over town, McSod, at times, felt like the range of what he wanted to express was limited. Pegged early on as an Irish punk band, it was a label that McSod embraced somewhat reluctantly, although he admits now that it fit and the band, for the most part, was a joyous riot. After five years, and much to the chagrin of many, The Stags hung it up after a series of “final last shows.” For two years after the Stags, McSod played in several local bands, primarily on bass. It was a fun distraction, but all the while he was fantasizing, almost meditatively, on what his next project would be. While mopping, scrubbing, pouring a stiff cocktail or even thumping out a steady harmony on stage, a vision and sound were taking shape. As he has done for nearly a decade, he turned to the one local songwriter he has worked with the most consistently: multi-instrumentalist savant Bart Helms. After a few failed practices with a few different band configurations, some time in February 2014, the first official Boat Show practice took place in a studio on Calhoun. “I had this vague instrumental idea for ‘Almost Home’ that I showed to Bart, and he took it and ran with it and had the other lead players put layers on layers on it at that first practice, and when I heard it I cackled like a maniac. I knew, right then, that this was it.” With Boat Show, McSod – along with Jon Ross on guitar, Eric Ehlers on bass, Felix Moxter on fiddle, Helms on banjo and Dave Trevino on drums – is going for the guts and the living with an intensity and verve that I personally have not seen from a local, all-original band in quite some time. Songs like “Wish on Falling Stones,” “Love You Till I Don’t” and the new, metalesque “The Highwayman’s Daughter” capture “the feels,” while “Almost Home,” “Dead All Along” and “The Black Company” take listeners to places they aren’t and might not want to be: besieged schooners, marauding Mongols, and mercenary outfits. “The Black Company” in particular is inspired by one of McSod’s favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors, Glen Cook, and his popular series of the same name as it follows a mercenary unit through 500 years of blood-letting. Every word, every note, every accented stop and rhythmic change in these and the other handful of songs the band performs screams truth, tells a story, conjures the spirit of something lived, loved and believed – past or present, real or imagined. This band is (damn you, cliché) special. Dare I say important? I’ll stand by both and defend both with vigor. Go see Boat Show, then e-mail me your thanks – or tell me I’m full of it. I welcome both. No mercy, no compromise. As McSod writes in “The Black Company”: “Soldiers live / and wonder why / We stand and we fight / and we try not to die.” This band is fighting for something, and in some way I feel like I am fighting with them every time I see them on stage. Sail long and prosper, Boat Show. Try not to die. Please. The band sets sail next on April 4 with Unlikely Alibi and May 8 with The Mutts at the Brass Rail. Show time is 10 p.m.

Darren Hunt







Jay Bastian

Drawing from Disorders

Eight years ago, Jay Bastian stepped into a world that swept him over, turned him upside down and set him on a new life path. That place was one inhabited by people with minds that had been altered by traumatic brain injury. “You’re going to enter a world that’s going to completely capture you,” said Bastian’s mentor as he began his first practical training experience in mental health. She was right. Bastian fell completely in love with the population and has committed his life to serving people with these precious, yet atypical minds. Bastian grew up in Fort Wayne, graduated from Paul Harding High School and began his college career at IPFW. He finished his graphic design degree in Bloomington, then headed to Chicago where he followed a traditional path that led him through a successful career in advertising. Things worked well for Bastian, but he felt something missing from his life. He moved back to Fort Wayne and continued to work in design, again finding success. Everything seemed to roll along just fine for Bastian until, he says, “My chakra exploded.” The explosion was a shift, a complete turn in thinking that made him decide to give up his successful career. He felt a calling to make art and knew he wanted to do something to help people. The urge to return to his earlier days of painting was strong. Ultimately, he entered the field of mental health where he could combine both of these needs into one, fulfilling career. While working toward his master’s degree, Bastian worked at Parkview Behavioral Health. “It was an interesting experience,” he says. “I worked with some very violent people. I was wrestling people who were violent. I was sitting with people who were in a manic state.” Bastian’s love of art and painting led him to share his talent with his clients. “I would sit and draw with these people, and that was always common ground. They could express needs even when they couldn’t express themselves in other ways,” he says. As the hours spent drawing and painting with patients passed, Bastian witnessed the power of art. He saw people with scrambled thoughts begin to focus, calm down and express their needs. Even those profoundly affected by their disease had positive reactions to the act of creating art. “This power just fueled my education,” says Bastian. At the Life Adult Day Academy he held art classes during which he made art both with and of his students. His classes were made up of students representing a broad spectrum of disorders. Some were profoundly disabled and simply sat in the room, soaking up the energy of the art being created. Each person in the room was distinct in both appearance and personality. “Some were quite argumentative,” says Bastian. “They weren’t always fun to be around.” One gentleman had the appearance of a boxer because he had banged his head so many times. With seemingly no common thread other than disability, Bastian was able to find commonality through art. He sketched the scene of his class and captured the images of his students in both pencil and paint. “These are people who normally wouldn’t have a portrait done of them.” By painting portraits of people who are pushed out of society, often only seen by medical and health professionals, Bastian validates lives. He brings attention to faces that would normally go unseen or be purposefully ignored. He makes the rest of us stop and take notice of souls that are swept away and kept behind closed doors. Bastian’s passion for caring for his clients is matched by his love of creating art. He is a perpetual student of technique and history who constantly seeks new information that will push his own skills to a higher level. With compulsive drive, he draws and studies, often focusing on one shape or form with obsessive pursuit. During a recent show at Wunderkammer Company, Bastian displayed a small sample of his human hand studies. He tends to hone in on one form, drawing it over and over and moving on to a new subject only after he feels satisfied and at least incrementally more confident with his progress. The trend is predictable, as Bastian listed his past preoccupation with skulls. “I drew skulls and I painted skulls and I drew skulls and painted skulls until my friends and family said, ‘no more,’” he says. He is an artist concerned mostly by form and uninterested in narrative. “Everyone feels like there needs to be narrative, but that’s not me, so if I do it, it will feel forced. For me, there is enough in form,” says Bastian. “I will never be bored with drawing because I can explain objects and see how they are made and what makes up a whole person.” Bastian is an artist who paints from observation. “I can’t make things up. I’m not creative that way. I paint what I see.” What he sees during the summer months he captures in watercolor. From his kayak, Bastian can observe the details of nature. “I bring my paints and paint right from the boat. My water is all around me.” What he sees in winter, he captures in oil. “I’ve been studying Rembrandt and techniques of scumbling and glazing.” Creating a recent, and rather amusing, portrait of a vulture, Bastian layered lightly pigmented linseed oil over and over again to build up color. “It’s funny to paint a very grotesque image with such a formal technique,” he says in reference to the ornately framed and sly-looking bird. Developing his painting and drawing skills keeps Bastian motivated, but the therapeutic aspects of art are what seem to evoke his strongest feelings. He is determined to share his knowledge with others, knowing that the creative process is an extremely effective healing tool. “I can work with someone to help build skills, and in a matter of weeks they can have something they are proud of, even if they have never drawn or painted before. The process helps a person conceptualize who they are,” he says. When talking about clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bastian explains that making art can change a brain at a neurobiological level. “Once an event is depicted with art, the memory of that event is actually changed,” he explains. “You are adding to that event. That ownership of the event will give the person a sense of control. The power of art is unreal.” Bastian says he hopes to one day have a space in which he can expand his work with people with intellectual disabilities. He wants to have a space where group drawing sessions can be shared and, together, clients can process different events in their lives. He envisions a place where art is the stimulant to help people help one another heal. “Drawing and painting happen on a level that has to do with emotion and experience,” he says. “It doesn’t really involve language. By bypassing that at least for a little while, it is a more profound and meaningful interaction with someone. I can sit down with someone who doesn’t want to talk to me. When I hand them a pencil they will go at it; it just opens up.” Bastian is an artist who feeds others through his work and experience. In turn, art also feeds him. He explains, “After a day of giving and giving, I can come home and, through creation of art, give back to myself.” Look for Jay Bastian’s work at the Bird show opening at Artlink on April 24 and running through May 27.

Heather Miller








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