24
May

Georgia Brass Band

Georgia Brass Band

Eighteen years ago, trumpeter Joe Johnson founded the Georgia Brass Band.  He’d played in British-style brass bands in New England and has brought this local group to national prominence.

Many of us know what a chamber orchestra is like.  It is a small group that can play in one large room and usually baroque style music.  But, we don’t often come across string orchestras nor brass bands.  But, it can be a delight when you have a group of 29 players, 3 of whom are percussionists and all the rest on horns; some of which you may never have seen before.

The Georgia Brass Band presented a concert at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center as this year’s finale.  If you think of a brass band as the Marine Corps marching band parading down the street playing something by John Philip Sousa, then that is just one part of their repitoire.  The concert this week presented works by John Williams, R. B. Hall and several others, and did have some march passages as well as classics such as Shenandoah and God of Our Fathers.

We must stand and salute these musicians, each of whom is a volunteer.  Ergo, they play because of their individual passions, not for a pay check.  You can find more info about this fine group at GeorgiaBrassBand.com and try to take in one of their concerts next season.  The first one will be September 23 at Mercer University.

22
May

Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing  
Stage Door Players
through June 11, 2017

Playwright Marc Camoletti was raised in Geneva of French and Italian heritage.  He wrote a few plays; with this one being his signature work and in 1991 it was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most often performed French play.  He was clearly influenced by Moliere.  It is a classic French farce.  Every time one door closes, another opens, and anything which could go wrong certainly does.  The story line deals with Bernard, a randy American in Paris (Jacob York) who is getting it on with three different women, each of whom is under the impression that they are engaged to him

Each of them is a “G” girl.  Gloria (Bekah Medford) is an American stewardess working for TWA, Gabriella (Shelli Delgado) is an Italiana stew working for Alitalia, and Gretchen (Suzanne Zoller) is a Fraulein working for Lufthansa.   Bernard has things worked out on a flimsy time schedule arranged to insure that no two of his lasses would be in Paris at the same time. He relies on his abilities to utilize alternate facts, but things don’t always work out as planned.

He is visited by an old school chum, Robert (John Markowski) who gets dragged into the abyss as things start go off-sked.  And through it all the domestic servant, Berthe (DeniseWhelan) strives to keep things in order;  albeit most days that seems a somewhat impossible task.

The show is directed by Robert Egizio, and staged on a set designed by Chuck Welcome.  The costumes by Jim Alford are spot-on, providing some great eye candy; and the two guys provide some fight scenes which take a lot of energy.  I can’t get into details of the plot, because that’s for you to see and enjoy.

I can tell you that the show runs about 2.5 hours, and this is a high energy gig with a zillion laughs in each of the two acts.  It is a great comedy opus.  For more info and tickets visit StageDoorPlayers.net

20
May

My Son the Waiter

My Son the Waiter
7 Stages Theatre
through June 18, 2017

Actor, writer, comedian Brad Zimmerman put together this show which is somewhat the story of his life.  It isn’t easy to go from wanting to be on stage, to arriving center stage; and it has been the subject of many a play.

So Brad interacts with the house to tell how he started out, how he had to work as a waiter to make ends meet for much longer than he aspired to do so; and how he actually got the joy of opening for stars such as Joan Rivers and Billy Crystal.

After all, what Jewish mother wouldn’t wish that her son might become a doctor-a-doctor or a lawyer?   So the full title of the show is My Son the Waiter; a Jewish Tragedy.   But life is what happens while you wait for your plans to turn out.

A lot of the schticks are reminiscent of the Borscht Belt days and old Henny Youngman routines, and while you may know what the punch line might be, it’s still fun to be part of the evening.

The show is in Little 5 Points, and runs as a one-act 90 minute gig.  More info and tickets at 7Stages.org

18
May

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland
Fox Theatre
through May 21, 2017

The musical which deals with how J. M. Barrie came to creating Peter Pan, had a Broadway run of about a year and a half, and since then has been a touring company.

The book is by James Graham and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy.  There is a fairly large cast of about 35 players, and the costumes designed by Suttirat Anne Larlarb provides the great eye candy for this production.  This is not a Cats nor Phantom; in that the music is nothing you will leave the theatre humming, nor probably recognize if heard without lyrics on a radio.

Twenty six musical numbers are the drive chain that moves the story along, about how Barrie is being pressured to create a new show for a London producer, and the stresses in which he becomes submerged on the trip from nowhere to Neverland.

There is a full orchestra in the pit, and the staging and lighting is Broadway quality.  But, . . . . if you think this is just a spin-off of Peter Pan that will draw in all the youngsters, you may need to rethink it.

It is well done, and even though it has some great youngsters and a wonderful canine actor, it just is not one of those Tony winners that we all cherish and need to see again and again.

Full info and seats at FoxTheatre.org

14
May

Father Comes Home from the Wars

Father Comes Home from the Wars
Actor’s Express
through June 11, 2017

Prize winning Suzan-Lori Parks, crafted this work from the story of The Odyssey, but with a time warp into the days of the War Between the States in the 1860s.

Set in the south, Evan Cleaver plays Hero, a slave who opts to join the Rebs in support of his Boss-Master who has promised to grant him freedom should they survive.  But, the owner has reneged before, and there are other problems which abound.

Rob Cleveland shows up as the Oldest Old Man on the plantation, and there are some others with some classic names, such as Homer (Marcus-Hopkins-Turner) Penny, as maybe from Penelope (Brittany Inge).  The show is staged in 3 acts, named “parts”, although the author had opined that she could envision it running into a 9 parts eventually.  In Part 2 you meet a captured Union soldier (Richard McDonald) and the Rebel Army Colonel (Bryan Davis).  Each of these officers has his own thoughts as to where things are going.

And in Part 3, we find Hero coming back as Ulysses after his faithful dog had found him.  Jason-Jamal Ligon is a hoot as the overly energetic canine.  The cast also includes some slaves who have elected to run away, not knowing of any emancipation proclamations or enactments.

The show is staged on an open space with few props, for it is the story which moves things along.  And, it does draw an audience into contemplation of how far things may have changed and how quickly, since those days.  And, considering where we “are at” these days, what the future may hold for us.

Martin Damien Wilkins has directed this extensive saga, which runs about 3 hours 15 minutes with 2 intermissions.  It is one for those with a sense of history and race relations; probably not for the average youngster, nor some politicians.

Actor’s Express is downtown, easy to get to, with garage parking and valet service available.  More info at Actors-Express.com

13
May

Camino Real

Camino Real  
Atlanta Ballet
final performance May 14, 2017

As often said, Art Isn’t Easy . . . and this is a prime example.  A huge amount of work has gone into designing this ballet, which has a run of 3 days only.   Note that the closing performance on the 14th, is a matinee.

With a score by Peter Salem, choreography by Helen Pickett and an intriguing set by David Finn and Emma Kingsbury, this is not your Swan Lake, nor Nutcracker kind of production.

Tennessee Williams was a weird-o and this is based upon his strange opus of some 60+ years ago, when he has a WWII cartoon character, Kilroy (Heath Gill), coming to the Camino Real (Royal Highway), which is somewhere between here and nowhere; and perhaps loosely derived from US-101 which ran down the California coast toward Baja.

The other lead dancers are Tara Lee as Esmeralda, Nadia Mara as Marguerite, Christian Clark as the Casanova and Jacob Busch as the Gutman guy.   There are more then 20 dancers, great costumes and set; and a story line (if you want to call it that) which is VERY convoluted and leaves you wondering what is going on and why.  You will see a couple of unfortunates removed from the stage, like a passenger from a recent flight.

It is also unusual in that there are spoken lines and some of the dancers are miked.  Alas, this is one time when you might wish there were projected titles so you got every word.  But, don’t sweat it, for the dance is what ballet is about.

This is a reprise of the Atlanta Ballet’s world premiere, staged in 2015, and we salute all who dedicated their work and talents to it.    It is an adventure of dealing with reality and existence and getting from nowhere to somewhere.  Maybe.

Performances are at Cobb Energy Center and more info at AtlantaBallet.com

12
May

CUT

CUT
Out of Box Theatre
through May 23, 2017

Well this certainly isn’t your grandma’s kind of play.  The story is about three folks in LaLaLand who are working on a reality TV show, and they have to redraft the final episode of The Ladies of Malibu in a matter of just a few hours.

The editor, Danno (Brian Smith), has brought on a newbie, Colette (Bryn Striepe) to work on the script along with Rene (Melissa Rainy).  Each of the trio is a piece of work.  It’s interesting that Brian Smith majored in theatre but also had a minor in psychology; for these three could all benefit from that.

Matthew Busch directed this highly energetic cast of three players, who come and go in a heartbeat as the action moves on.  But, be forewarned that this is a one-act production which is rife with stress, yelling and the constant use of the “F-word” as the universal modifier.

It is not for Ms. Prim, nor the kiddies.  What is really impressive is how the actors can spew out all the anger and dialogue at such a high rate of speed.  Bryn can yell out faster than I can think some days.

This show has been around for a few years and garnered differing reviews.  Do I think it has legs?  That’s for the jury a/k/a audience to decide.  What I can tell you is that the players deliver it up as author Crystal Skillman would have them do.  So just be prepared.

More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com

9
May

The Children’s Hour

The Children’s Hour
Lionheart Theatre
through May 21, 2017

Director Allan Dodson tells why this play by Lillian Hellman, which was created in 1935, may still be so relevant in today’s world.  For in this play, a couple of women who are teachers at a girls school are the subject of some malicious gossip which ruins their lives and infects the lives of those around them.

Are we, as a community, still entrenched in stories about politicians and celebrities?  As we say in the broadcasting industry, If it Bleeds, It Leads.  And nothing much seems to really change in the world when hatred, distrust and prejudices still survive.

Martha (Brittany Walker) and Karen (Jilian Walzer) run a small boarding school and they live in the home where the school is run.  One of the girls, Mary (Hunter Lanius) is a real bitch and seems to hate everybody, and use everybody.  She blackmails another student, Rosalie (Margaret Thomas) into aiding and abetting her accusations of lesbian engagement twixt the teachers; albeit one of them is already engaged and planning to wed her fiancé in near future.

Being a small town, the news hits the streets and spreads like a plague.  The teachers even go to court claiming tort damages for the slander.  But, the trial doesn’t go right.  Even Martha’s aunt Lily (Christine Trent) keeps her distance, even though she might have been able to help them win their case.  It’s another one of those situations where you might be able to help but you are going to get injured if you try.

With a cast of 14 players, this is a pretty big production for this local theatre; but they do it quite well.  The set by Tanya Caldwell works very easily, and the action moves along with no problem.  It is not one for young kids, despite the title.  For it is rife with anger, manipulation and homophobia.  Lionheart is right off Norcross Square, easy free parking and even nice treats at intermission.  LionheartTheatre.org

8
May

Motherhood Out Loud

Motherhood Out Loud
Center Stage North
through May 13, 2017

OK.  So this weekend will be Mothers’ Day 2017.   And, several houses are playing works which may be dated but are relevant to current events.

In this production conceived and written by a team of 16, and directed by Judith Beasley and Karen Worrall, we find a cast if 15 women and 2 men who come and go in 19 scenes, most of which are monologues, and deal with motherhood, from preparing to give birth, to raising a child, to finding out that they all seem to grow up, and all the pitfalls and pleasures along the road as a mother.

It is not a show for the kiddies, and some guys may not quite relate to the tales as they spin out; as they are from the female perspective.  But, we all live in a real world, where the truth is that life is what happens while you wait for your plans to work out.

The show is well done, on a pretty static and stark stage, for the play is the thing, and it is an easy venue to get to with free parking and comfy seating.  More info and tickets at Center Stage North.com

7
May

Riverdance 20

Riverdance 20

Riverdance, 20th anniversary tour hit Atlanta for three days only this week, and filled the house with incredible energy.

With great rear screen projections, wonderful costumes and a live band on stage, the troupe of more than two dozen dancers brought a thrilling evening to all, and Michael Flatley would agree.

This show was slightly different than some earlier ones, inasmuch as it is not 100% Celtic.  In addition to mostly Irish numbers, they also brought on stage a couple of tap dancers (Tyler Knowlin and JL Williams) who were right out of the Earl Fatha Hines dance book.  And the competition between these two and some of the dancers from the Old Sod was a delight.  The object was to show how some dances could be similar in vastly different cultures; sort of akin to how some foods are so similar but in different cultures.

For instance Marta Ortiz Deusto does a great Flamenco number and both the steps and the score could be from Dublin or even Buenos Aires.  And six dancers do some eastern European numbers which could suggest they may be Turkish, Russian or other ethnicity.  They are referred to in the program as the Russian Ensemble, although they do not do the kazatsky.

The show runs about 2 hours with 18 numbers and believe me, you can’t imagine the amount of energy these dancers put out.  It’s no wonder why they have their own medical team on tour with them.

If you’ve missed this one, make a note that Finding Neverland, opens at the Fox on the 16th.