28
Sep

The Illusionists

illusionists
The Illusionists
Fox Theatre
through October 2, 2016

If you enjoy magicians of various genres then this is a show that feels as if it is right out of Vegas. They started in Australia 4 years ago and have been touring around the world to some great audiences.

The principals consist of 7 performers, and there are another 5 assistants who help to move things along. One great aspect of the show is that they have live video coverage of what they are doing and it is projected onto a large overhead screen at stage center, so that every seat in the house has a great close-up view.

A few of the schticks are a little gross, and probably not for the kiddies. Like the Houdini type of escape from a water cell by Andrew Basso. Or, the one when Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror, moves a coin trough his eyeball to his arm. Like fire-eating; these are tricks you do not want to try at home.

Ben Blaque comes on as the Weapon master who uses his crossbow in a way that would make William Tell soil his underwear. And Colin Cloud does his mind reading as you figure he has to have background info in the audience participants; but if they’re shills we’ll never know.

The Inventor is Kevin James, and he is a delight with his origami and other creations. He can really snow the audience. And young Yu-Ho-Jin is probably the best card worker you’ve ever seen. It makes you glad they have the close-up shots for you to see.

And if you like somebody who comes off like a Liberace, then Jeff Hobson is your man. He is sort of emcee and also works the house as he is The Trickster.

Overall, it is a show with great production values, and there are plenty of seats available due to so many people watching politicians who seek to magically capture your mind, or what may be left of it.

For more info and seats, just Google or go to FoxTheatre.org

27
Sep

Joe Gransden

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Joe Gransden Big Band
Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Atlanta’s 16 player Big Band, under direction of Joe Gransden, has wowed audiences every time they take the stage, be it at a full theatre such as Georgia Ensemble or on the first and third Monday of each month at Café 290 in Sandy Springs.

For the third year they will play a series of four concerts at Georgia Ensemble. This week it was their Swing Central, with many of the arrangements by Wes Funderburk, a noted trombonist and faculty member at GSU.

If you like the big band sounds of groups such as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, you’ll flip out for Joe and the band as they go back in time to days when we didn’t have politicians and extra commercials thrown at us relentlessly.

Next up in this esteem concert series will be the Home for the Holidays one-nighter on December 12th. The band will be joined by Laura Coyle, a local jazz vocalist with quite a following. If you don’t know the band or Laura, I am pretty sure you can find plenty of clips at youtube.

For more concert and show info and tickets just visit GET.org

26
Sep

Barefoot in the Park

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Barefoot in the Park
Stage Door Players
through October 16, 2016

This is one of Neil Simon’s big winners. When it hit the boards in NYC more than 50 years ago, it ran for more than 1,500 performances. And it was made into that film you may recall with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the leads.

The story is one that covers just a few days in the lives of the people. Corie (Alyssa Caputo) is just married to Paul (Edward McCreary). She found a flat for them in the city which she thinks will be a good home for them. It has a few problems, inasmuch as it is a six flight hike from the streets, has some maintenance problems, and a weirdo neighbor.

Paul is a lawyer just starting out to try to build a practice, and he may need some more practicing. He’s kind of totally immersed in what he is doing. Corie wishes he could just loosen up a bit and be easier to deal with. Maybe like taking some chances such as parading barefoot in the park.

James Donadio is the not-your-average-type neighbor, Victor Velasco. He’s pretty funny whenever we get to meet him. Corie’s mom, Ethel is played by Ann Wilson. She’s single and Corie gets the idea of trying to hook her up with the nut-case next door. Could such a thing happen? What do you think?

The play is directed by Robert Egizio, and the set works fine for one of those NYC flats that are so small that you have to go out onto the stairs just to change your mind.

A typical Neil Simon work, it may have some problems, but they’re dealt with much humor and provide a very pleasant couple of hours without any politicians talking.

More info and tickets at StageDoorPlayers.net

26
Sep

Anne Boleyn

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Anne Boleyn
Synchronicity Theatre
through October 16, 2016

Playwright Howard Brenton takes us back to the days of King James when he goes in search of trying to find out what really went on with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn when she became his 2nd queen. The ghost of Anne Boleyn takes us back years to the entanglement among Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell and the reformation participants.

You may recall from school days how Henry had six wives. In order they are said to have divorced, beheaded, survived, died, beheaded, survived. Henry was immersed in trying to cast off his first wife so that he might wed Anne Boleyn. But it was the days of the Catholic Church as the state church of England. The Pope wasn’t inclined to grant an annulment, so what’s a monarch to do? With the advice of some supporters he accepts the idea that since he is king of England, he should serve as chief executive of the church in England, not a Pope sitting in a foreign country.

And so the story winds around as Wolsey and Cromwell try to undercut one another. We also get to meet William Tyndale who had translated a lot of the old testament to an English version. He never really finished the job and he lost his head as well. And this was before the King James version some years later.

A cast of ten high energy players, appear in 24 roles. Brooke Owens is Anne, and both Kings, Henry VIII and James I are played by Brian Hatch. Under the direction of Richard Garner, the players are in spot-on costumes as we’re used to in Shakespearian productions.

While we may know the outcome of Anne’s 3-year marriage, we may not have recalled that Henry was so bereft at her death that he waited an entire day before marrying Jane Seymour, in the hope that she’d bring a male heir into his empire.

It is a very well done production in a comfortable venue that is easy to get you, with plenty of adjacent parking. The location is right on Peachtree in the Invesco Building. More info available online at syncrotheatre.com

24
Sep

Ugly Lies the Bone

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Ugly Lies the Bone
Alliance Theatre
through October 9, 2016

Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino grew up on the Space Coast area of Florida, where she could watch space shuttles launch from the NASA station. She’s a gutsy playwright willing to take on difficult schemes while finding solace in such problems as in this opus.

It was Albert Einstein who opined, “Beauty is but skin deep, ugly lies the bone. Beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own.” and in this play we met Jess (JulieJesneck) a female veteran who has returned from three tours of duty in Afghanistan where she endured terrible injuries from an encounter with an IED (improvised explosive device) which left her with a right arm in a sling, a deformation on the side of her head, and loss of use of her right foot so that she moved uneasily with a walker.

If I told you no more, you may decide this isn’t a very engaging story. But, under the direction of Jessica Holt, and with a really fine cast of five players, the story does move along in an acceptable manner. Jess is now home where she is with her sister Kacie (Wendy Melkonian) and she’s going through some strange video game therapy sessions trying to mentally move away from pain to find pleasure and relaxation. It may not be working that well, it seems.

She runs into an old boyfriend, Stevie (Lee Osorio) who is working at a gas station. It’s the only job he can find, now that the space station has closed down and the town isn’t what it was in the days of it’s glory. She has some feelings left for Stevie, but things aren’t what the once were and he’s moved on with his life, as well.

Kacie has a boyfriend, Kevin (Hugh Adams) who is a sort of weirdo. He comes off as a real dork, but as things develop we find that people are not always what they appear to be at first meeting. The voice-overs for the therapy sessions are done by Megan McFarland, who also comes on in the final scenes as Jess’ mom, who no longer lives at home and has dementia.

At first sight one sees a totally stark stage, and may think they are about to sit through a 105 minute monologue. But, the set designed by Alexander Woodward is really cool. Projected imagery works on the back screen, and the scenes change from home to gas station, to therapy center, and even up to the roof to view a launch, with great aplomb.

The show runs with no intermission and is on the Hertz Stage. And while Jess deals with her PTSD, it is not overwhelming the audience. But, you need to know what it is all about before opting to attend. More info at AllianceTheare.org

23
Sep

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
with Garrick Ohlsson, piano

The first of the Classical Subscription Concerts took place this week at Symphony Hall under the baton of Robert Spano.

The program opened, as usual, with a fairly short opus. This one was very short little piece by John Adams featuring several duets of various instruments. It is not a particularly memorable work; but was well received.
The first set then moved on to Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No.5

After intermission the full house audience was treated to a wonderfully energetic performance of Rachmaninov’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, No. 3 in D minor. This is a 45 minute piece in three movements, and widely hailed as a magnificent work.

Garrick Ohlsson is an incredible performer. It I said that he has total recall of the scores of more than 80 concertos. Hard to imagine recalling every single note of a 45 minute work, and never missing a key. While he is best known for his love of the works of Chopin, he doesn’t hesitate to pound out more vibrant works such as Rachmaninov’s.

The audience went wild, and he then offered up an encore of a Minute Waltz to please them even more.

Next week the Delta Pops! will present the ASO doing U.K. Rocks. Michael Krajewski will conduct more than a dozen favorites with Shem von Shroeck and Storm Large as vocalists. These concerts will be at Symphony Hall on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can always get more info at ASO.org

21
Sep

November

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November
The Process Theatre
through October 9, 2016

You have seen films, plays or TV shows created by David Mamet. He is a prize winning playwright who may be better known for Glengarry Glen Ross than for this one. But this is one you do not want to miss.

Had more than enough of political rubbish being tossed at you 25 hours a day? Can’t wait until this current tragic comedy in real time comes to an end? Ease up, old chap. Head out to Onstage Atlanta on East Ponce; where the Process Theatre is a resident company under the direction of DeWayne Morgan.

Meet a sitting president who is running for re-election but has some problems with funding and the polls. Turkey day is coming soon after the election and he is being asked to do that silly act of pardoning one turkey from becoming the main course for Thanksgiving. Larry Davis just exudes energy as President Charles Smith. He carries on like some kind of maniac. Gee, . . . that isn’t so far from reality, is it?

His right-hand man is Archer (Adam Bailey) who is good at skewing facts, designing photo-ops, and all the other stuff that is on the daily menu for a guy like Charlie who wants to keep his comfy office. The speech writer for the boss is Bernstein (Amanda Cucher) who would just like to get on with her life and away from the insane asylum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The two other players are Scott Rousseau, who plays the front man for the Turkey processors association, which wants every family to chomp up their offerings, and Al Dollar who shows up as Chief Grackle of some Native American tribe. They’re all trying to find a way through this maze, and it is a total laugh fest.

More info and tickets at TheProcessTheatre.org

20
Sep

Singles in Agriculture

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Singles in Agriculture
Aurora Theatre
through October 9, 2016

This is a regional premiere of a riotous show crafted by Abby Rosebrock, who may now be a New Yorker but she grew up in South Carolina and knows what some of the less urban folk can be like.

So in this comedy we meet Joel (Jeremy Aggers) who is attending the annual SIA (Singles in Agriculture) convention. He meets up with a hot chick named Priscilla (Lauren Boyd) who also is there on a solo mission. About the only thing that they both share is dealing with livestock. He has cows and she has goats. But, she has some other plans in mind when she visits Joel at his motel room.

They are both sort of observant Christians; albeit they see things through different lenses. She is ready, or more than ready, to seek comfort and enjoy some time with Joel. Joel, has a host of problems about dealing with the other sex. And, he’s not really street smart nor very understanding. These two main actors do a terrific job with a script that is not quite your usual boy-meets-girl type of play.

The show runs through several scenes in one act, and towards the end things get somewhat crazy whenthings erupt in such a manner that the security guard is called to the room. But, fear not. You’ll even enjoy the security guard, Lois (Vallea E. Woodbury). Justin Anderson directs this production in the smaller stage venue at Aurora, on a really good set by Trevor Carrier.

Easy to handle, good view from every seat in the house, and free parking. More info at AuroraTheatre.com I can assure you, it ain’t just about a bunch of good ole boys, and it ain’t quite what you might have expected.

18
Sep

The Women

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the women


The Women
Act3 Playhouse
through October 1, 2016

Clare Boothe Luce had quite a life. Possibly better known for being a suffragette than a playwright, she had been deeply into politics and journalism. Her husband controlled many major publications including Life Magazine, and she served as Managing Editor of Vanity Fair. She hobnobbed with the NYC upper class and the ladies who lunched. When Eisenhower became president she was appointed Ambassador to Italy and later on to Brazil. Before WWII, in 1936, she wrote this play about a group of upper class ladies who were, on the surface, good friends. And that’s where the tale starts to wind.

Johnna Barrett Mitchell directed this all-female cast of more than 18 players who can dish the dirt, twist the facts, and try to get on with life as it was for them all. Janie Young, Sarah Humphrey and Eileen Magee Hilling play three principal roles, while the strumpet is played by Jessie Kuipers and the nose-in-the-air Countess is Phyllis Giller.

The underlying story line is about a woman’s place in society in those days. For it was a time when women got married, had children, cooked food, and did homework. As late is the 1950s in schools across America the boys all took Shop classes while the girls took Home Economics. It wasn’t until Rosie became a riveter that doors started to really open more.

The show is probably more of a chick thing than a guy opus. But, if you can remove yourself from the sports and political fertilizer out there, and try to see things through the eyes of another, then you’ll get it.

Act3 is located right in Sandy Springs behind Trader Joe’s and easy to get to free parking. More info and times and tickets at Act3Productions.org

17
Sep

Ghost, the Musical

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Ghost, the Musical
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through October 2, 2016

I guess with all the early pre-Hallowe’en stuff around town, I guessed this all wrong before attending the show. It isn’t about tricks and treats. It’s about stiffs and cheats.

Sam (Chase Peacock) is a banker who has some second thoughts about some serious discrepancies he has found at work. He’s on his way home to a new flat in Brooklyn where he and his girl friend Molly (Kylie Brown) are going to live. But as he gets almost there he gets offed by some thug who steals his wallet.

And the story starts to get more involved, with their “friend” Carl, who may have an interest in Molly and in some info that Sam related to him. Sam may be dead, but his spirit refuses to take leave of Molly and he manages to get the help of a psychic, Oda Mae (Kandice Arrington), to get a warning to Molly that her life may be endangered. Oda Mae and her staff are poster-girl psychics with the moves and costumes.

And as the story progresses Sam and Oda Mae dive into an Enron roll where they have to move a large chuck of cash from a bank. Can’t tell you how or where it goes. That’s what a play is about.

Under the direction on Robert Farley, the cast of a dozen players pulls this one off with great aplomb, and with a live band under direction of Bethany Irby who is also on the keyboard. It isn’t a score you will recall much of, but the evening is a very pleasant one, and one where there are no politicians yakking away.

More info and tickets at GET.org