Only In Indiana: Carmel theatre troupe is truly one of a kind

Michelle Yadon leads the action for the Roundabout Playback Troupe.
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If we were truly honest with ourselves, many of us would love to be actors. It takes a special person to bare their heart and soul on the stage.

That is what makes the new Roundabout Playback Troupe in Carmel so interesting. It is the only one of its kind in America.

"They are going to ask you, 'What's your name?'," Karen Kaser reminds her 30-year-old daughter, Kelly.

"I know my name," Kelly retorts as a group of parents and actors huddle in the hallway.

In fact, you would have to go to Hong Kong to find another one like it.

"Happy. Sad," Kelly practices.

It has all the excitement of "American Idol" or "The Voice," but this is Carmel, Indiana.

"My name is Kelly," she shouts as she introduces herself to the judges and she is wearing what her mom calls her "attitude hat."

"How many are you looking for," one of the judges asks.

"Six. At most 12," comes the response from Michelle Yadon, the theatre supervisor.

"If she wants to do it, then we are excited about that," Karen Kaser observes while she waits in the hallway outside the room where the tryouts are taking place.

"Action, go. Happy Birthday Jessica," the actors say as they begin acting out the instructions they were given.

It's Roundabout Playback Troupe tryouts. In playback, the troupe uses their bodies and their voices to interact with the audience. They interact to act. This is the only troupe in the country to include those with and without disabilities.

"Show me with your body what your personality is like. Excellent. Very good," Michelle Yadon says with great enthusiasm. "Please use your voice and your body to show us the emotion surprised. Oh yeah."

Each applicant is given the opportunity to display their talents in another way at the end of the tryout. Twenty-three-year-old Ned Halberstadt has worked "Eight Days a Week" on his.

"Oh, I need your love, babe. Hope you know it's true. Hope you need my love babe, just like I need you. Hold me. Love me. Ain't got nothing but love, babe. Eight days a week," Halberstadt performs the Beatles favorite on his guitar and sings the lyrics.

But just as he seems to be hitting his stride, he stops strumming to make a point for the judges.

"It's eight days a week, but usually seven days. But in that song, it's just a joke. Eight days of the week," he explains. Once that is over, he goes on to finish the number.

"We choose people who lead with their hearts. Who are passionate and kind. People who don't know judgment. People who really listen to people," Yadon says.

Two weeks later, we come back to the Monon Center in Carmel to find out who made it.

"Kelly. Kelly. Kelly," Kaser bellows as the group participates in a get acquainted name game. The hat worked. She's in. So is Ned.

"How was your day, Ned?" Yadon asks.

"Perfect," Ned responds.

Now it is up to the troupe to act out perfect, which they did - to perfection.

"I am proud of myself," Kelly exclaims.

"Did that give anyone else goosebumps? We've only been doing playback for five minutes and I feel like we've been doing it for weeks," Michelle Yadon boasts.

This show will take to the road, to nursing homes, schools and performances right here at the Monon Center beginning in March.

In fact, the troupe's first performance is set for March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Monon Center. Admission is by donation.