Don Farrell Takes the Stage In and Out of Carmel
In the wake of Actors Theatre of Indiana’s announcement a couple of months ago, I caught up with ATI co-founder Don Farrell to discuss what’s next for him post-resignation as the Artistic Director and his vision for his entertainment company, Crossroads Entertainment.
Celebrating Legends While Building a Brand
Farrell spoke about his gratitude for his years with ATI and the equity theater he and his co-founders Judy Fitzgerald and Cynthia “Cindy” Collins developed. He also shared how the relationships he built in and around Carmel over the last two decades have enabled him to explore new and exciting avenues and opportunities for his company.
Many of Farrell’s friends and fans have seen Farrell perform at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael over the last several years. You can be sure that he has many more performances to come, and Farrell teased that there will soon be exciting news coming from Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael and from Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre!
“I’ve enjoyed a good relationship with the management and staff at Feinstein’s [at Hotel Carmichael], and that has grown exponentially,” Farrell expressed. “The team at Hotel Carmichael and Feinstein’s is amazing. I feel like we’ve been hitting on all cylinders with what we’ve been doing over there and what Terry Woods and I have been putting together. I’m just so thrilled. Terry’s writing out all these arrangements and charts and what he brings to the piano is unbelievable. And thankfully, by the grace of God and the amazing support of the patrons, our shows have been selling out at Feinstein’s!”
Farrell’s tributes to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, and, most recently, Neil Diamond have been wildly popular to the point that management added a matinee for Farrell’s Frank Sinatra Christmas show that will likely be sold out by the time this article goes to press.
Though not claiming to be an impersonator of these iconic performers, Farrell puts his touch on their classic songs while honoring their original scores and showmanship. Audiences are amused and deeply touched by the backstories Farrell shares between numbers on the men’s lives and careers.
“Keep an eye out for more programming that’s going to be happening next year in 2024!” Farrell exclaimed. “The shows that Terry and I create will have their world premiere at Feinstein’s [at Hotel Carmichael]—Carmel will be home base. I am excited to go out and perform these shows outside of Carmel and in other states, but they will never be experienced the same way as they have been and will be at Feinstein’s. Additionally, I couldn’t be more honored and ecstatic to have these projects going on, as well as other projects that will be coming online and are growing!”
With more time to create and perform his shows, Farrell will be hitting the road more often. I told him that he is becoming an ambassador for Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael and the City of Carmel in showcasing his talent and that of his supporting musicians, highlighting the caliber of talent that Carmel, Indiana, has to offer to the rest of the country.
“I’ve taken the Sinatra show out of state twice and the Manilow show out of state once,” Farrell shared. “And the other shows that have been recently created will eventually go out of state as well. I plan to travel with Terry and the amazing musicians who work with me on these shows. Ideally, you have your music director [Woods] at every show. It’s money well spent to bring the musicians who know the show like the back of their hand because then it’s a sound check and you’re ready to go. Otherwise, there’s more money and time spent on hiring musicians from that area and on rehearsals.”
Success Is Built on Having a Solid Team and Foundation
Farrell humbly equated the success of his recent tribute shows to the talented musicians he has and/or continues to perform with: Terry Woods, Greg Gegogeine, Fred Withrow, Dorothy McDonald and Greg Wolfe. He also spoke highly of the management and staff at Hotel Carmichael and Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, including but not limited to Jamie Hopwood and Derrick Pfeister, with whom Farrell enjoys collaborating.
“I can’t talk enough about Derrick,” Farrell praised. “He’s a great asset to the hotel and Feinstein’s, and when working with him, I feel like we have an amazing team player and that we’re all in this together.”
Faith is also an important aspect of life for Farrell.
“Everyone’s been given different gifts, and that’s what makes this world so beautiful,” Farrell mused. “The goal is to try to find out what those gifts are that you’ve been given and to find ways to best use those gifts to the best of your ability, and hopefully to glorify God through that. Tony Bennett once said, ‘To me, life is a gift, and it’s a blessing just to be alive. And each person should learn what a gift it is to be alive, no matter how tough.’ If I’m able to use the gifts that I’ve been given to make somebody’s life a little easier when they come to see a show and feel a lot better when they leave, then yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. For me, it is very humbling to know what my gift is, and the ideas keep coming as to how I can better use those gifts. I’m currently working on those [ideas] in ways that are obvious and some that are not so obvious.”
Community and socially minded projects are also of importance to Farrell. As he works at his work/life balance, he continues to contribute his time and enthusiasm to local boards such as the Carmel International Arts Festival and a newly formed board for which he is vice-president for Roundabout Fitness, whose mission is to improve lives through shared knowledge about physical, financial and mental health.
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements from Farrell and Crossroads Entertainment as we turn the page on another year! For more information on Don Farrell and his company, visit crossroads-ent.com. For tickets to his upcoming shows at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, visit feinsteinshc.com.