8
Dec

Christmas at Sweet Apple

Christmas at Sweet Apple
Stage Door Players
through December 17, 2017

Playwright Phillip DePoy was really taken by the works of Celestine Sibley, who wrote for the Atlanta Journal. Celestine was a small town girl who watched with very mixed feelings as Atlanta’s population exploded from less than million to more than 4 million. We can attribute a lot of that to Hartsfield-Jackson and usually comfortable weather.

But, as we get stressed with the traffic jams, she was watching the local lands getting built on akin to what’s going on in each suburb of the northern perimeter.

Shelly McCook directed this cast of five players, which includes Scott DePoy as Ollie Reeves and Paige Mattox as Celestine. Karen Howell is Patience, even when she is not so patient; and Kate Johnson is Beth. Jeremy Wood plays Dave and strums along to provide background music.

In Act I the action is taking place in an urban area, but by Act II they’ve all scampered up-country to the cabin in Sweet Apple, which may just be in the days when parts of north Fulton County were still agricultural.

It’s not your average Christmas production, as it sees and portrays life through different lenses. But, all comes right in the end and they all find a meaning in the holiday.

More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

7
Dec

Another Night Before Christmas

Another Night Before Christmas
Art Station Theatre
through December 17, 2017

This musical spoof of the season by Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto has a pretty different view of the holidaze. As it starts off we meet a social worker who is stressed to the max. Karol (Liza Jaine) is on the way home and has had enough of the syrupy tunes invading every mall, elevator and dining facility. She may not be ready to sing along, but she’s certainly ready to grab a glass or two. After all it is Christmas Eve.

As she is on the way home she sees this street person in rags. He looks like he could use a meal or something else, and she offers up her left-overs. The guy, played by Jeff LeCraw, accepts her gratuitous offering and they each get on with things.

But “things” don’t go as might be expected when this guy drops into her home, unannounced and without setting off her state-of-the-art new alarm system. Does he have a name? He says he is Santa Claus, but she isn’t buying that. She tries many times to get rid of this uninvited guest, to no avail. Even the cops think she is nutty when she calls in to have them come arrest an alleged Santa for breaking and entry.

There are a dozen numbers in the two acts, and what she finds when Act II begins is nothing like what she may have wished for, nor imagined. What kind of hard-nose is this lady? And is this nut-case really a Santa? You’d have to sit through the show and enjoy the trip from reality to insanity and back again.

David Thomas directed this clever show on a really cool stage with great props by Michael Hidalgo. It ain’t Nutcracker nor Christmas Carol, but it is a delight. Art Station is right in Stone Mountain Village, with free parking, good concessions, and comfy seats. More info at ArtStation.org

6
Dec

Madeline’s Christmas

Madeline’s Christmas
Horizon Theatre
through December 31, 2017

Ludwig Bemelmans’ tale of a young girl in Paris at Christmas time has become a standard right up there with A Christmas Carol. This musical version is directed by Spring Mason, who has brought together a wonderful cast or more than two dozen players; most of whom are young ladies of incredible talent.

A collaboration presentation with The Atlanta Children’s Theatre Company, it is a pure delight whether you may be 8 or 88 years of age. On a neat set by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay, twelve girls who are students at a Parisian ecole, carry off the songs and the dance movements with great aplomb. Nicole Johnson choreographed the girls and Keena Redding Hunt is the music director.

The headmistress, Miss Clavel, is played by Lauren Rosenzweig for the 5th time and she works so well with the girls that she could be their headmistress in real life. Her assistant, Miss Murphy is played by Vallea Woodbury and Orlando Carbajal Rebollar comes on both as Monsieur Brun and the genie Harsha.

What is really interesting is that there are two casts of 12 girls, referred to as the Red Cast and Green Cast. Not sure which one I saw, but I can rest comfortably that each of the 12 young ladies pulls it off just right.

This is the tenth year that the Horizon has presented this show, and it is a one-act show which runs about 80 minutes. Show times are designed for the youngsters with morning shows and afternoon presentations. If you want to introduce a youngster to theatre it is a perfect first-timer. But, I saw every one of the adults having a great time as well. The cast is charming and nobody gets hurt, and there are no politicians involved.

More info at HorizonTheatre.com

3
Dec

Invasion: Christmas Carol

Invasion: Christmas Carol
Dad’s Garage
through December 30, 2017

Who else, other than Dad’s Garage, would have the cajones to stage a show with a substantial cast and a full script, and then let different unscripted characters invade the show in each performance. The uninvited visitors are not known to the scripted actors and so once the invasion occurs they have to make up their own story lines and actions to deal with it.

And it is a hoot. Andy Coen is the lead as Scrooge. But, he ain’t the Scrooge you and your kids know. In fact, this is not for the kiddies, but for open-minded adults who would like an evening of randy enjoyment. Ed Morgan directs this ooopus which also features various characters played by Rickey Boynton, Perry Frost, Mel Hardy, Whittney Millsap, Joshua Quinn and Maged Roushdi.

Yes, it does have a Tiny Tim and a Fezziwig, and Scrooge thinks a holiday such as Christmas is a pure humbug. But there’s plenty else that’s new in this one.

Dad’s Garage is located in a former church on Ezzard St, down in the Old Fourth Ward. You can get online driving directions. Plenty of free parking and come early to enjoy the concessions area with cabaret style seating. This one runs about 2 hours, which includes an intermission. More info and tickets at DadsGarage.com

1
Dec

Miss Bennet – Christmas at Pemberley

Miss Bennet
Christmas at Pemberley
Theatrical Outfit
through December 24, 2017

This seasonal work by award-winning Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon takes you back to Pemberley, some years after Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet girls had pretty much hooked up with men, except for Mary (Amelia Fischer) who finds solace in books and playing piano. She says she is happy; but maybe things could get better. And the story goes forward ala Moliere with one door opening as the other closes.

The Darcy home of Elizabeth (Julissa Sabino) and Fitzwilliam (Lee Osorio) is the site of the Christmas event.. It seems their visitors hadn’t seen a tree growing in a living room before. Jane (Maria Rodriguez-Sager) and Charles Bingley (Juan Carlos Unzueta) try to stay out of the line of fire, as Lydia (Devon Hales) and Mary, and Anne (Galen Crawley) try to find out who may wind up hooking up with that chap down from Oxford, Arthur de Bourgh).

Since this is a work of intrigue, and directed by Carolyn Cook, I shall tell you not how things get resolved; but can tell you that all comes right as Christmas begins. The cast is in great costumes on a set designed by Seamus M. Bourne. I can say that as Act I progresses you may be asking yourself where this group is going. But, hold on; as in Act II you make your decisions and wait to find out if you may be correct.

For back around 1815 things weren’t always as they first seemed at the Pemberley Estate.

Theatrical Outfit is downtown on Luckie Street, and can provide discount parking vouchers for the garage next door. Just be mindful that traffic can be a nightmare as you worm around Centennial Park or if there is a game that night. More info and tickets available at TheatricalOutfit.org

1
Dec

Santaland Diaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Santaland Diaries
Horizon Theatre
through December 31, 2017

The turkey is unfriended and the lights start to shine on the trees and it’s that time when the malls are full of Christmas Carols, the retailers are hustling you to run up your credit card bills, and most of us just wish that things would change for the better for everybody all around the world. Especially, considering current political situations.

Years ago playwright David Sedaris actually did work as an elf at Macy’s. His humor is great; albeit is loaded with single entendres and occasionally loaded with expletives. So, this is not for the little people, nor the prudes among us.

Directed by Jeff Adler, they have an outstanding cast. Harold Leaver who played Crumpet for 18 years has now retired from elfdom but he is replaced by incredible local performer and playwright, Topher Payne. He is another perfect Crumpet who accepts the original Sedaris plan as a monologue. Topher does the job with aplomb and some updated ad-libs and works the house by interacting with some of the audience.

Enoch King returns as Crumpet’s sidekick and maybe a half a dozen other cameo roles, much to the delight of the audience.. And, Lala Cochran is the female sidekick as well as agent provocateur, in many guises. And two interns get to share center stage with them in several schticks.

Each of these players “owns” their roles, and has played them on a yearly basis. But, WTF? Hasn’t Chris Kayser come on as Scrooge for umpteen years? It’s a standard; akin to going to see the lights at the Botanical Garden or the Nutcracker Ballet. Who says older folks can’t have fun?

It’s 90 minutes of fun and laughter and that’s something we all could use more of these days. And coming up December 2d through 31st they will present Madeline’s Christmas in collaboration with Atlanta Children’s Theatre Company. For tickets, times and full info for both shows just go to horizontheatre.com

1
Dec

Love Never Dies

 

 

 

 

 

Love Never Dies
Fox Theatre
through December 3, 2017

Let me start by skipping to the bottom line. This is one you MUST see! Just imagine that the Cirque du Soleil and the Metropolitan Opera joined hands to present an English language opera with full background of incredible sets, props, costumes and performers and that it was penned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had previously brought you Phantom of the Opera.

I am not going to get into the story line other than to say that the Phantom (Gardar Thor Cortes) has showed up 10 years after his assumed demise. He is still enamored of Christine (Meghan Picerno); but there’s a problem inasmuch as she has married and has a child, Gustave (Jake Miller) and as the plot thickens you find that they are not the only ones involved in lusting for the affection of another.

The score resounds with Phantom-like music, and there are some bars which appear to be derived directly from Phantom. The songs, however are more operatic than show tunes. The only one you may really pick up on if played on a radio may be Bathing Beauty when the ladies are all at the beach and Mary Michael Patterson sings the number backed up by a chorus of other ladies as they show off some wild costume changes.

There is a full orchestra in the pit, and one unique aspect is that what sounds as an overture starts off Act II, not Act I. When this opened in London a few years ago, it ran for less than a year and received mixed reviews. It was closed and re-tweaked and now is one of the most incredible evenings you could hope for.

It closes this Sunday, so hop to it, or you’ll be sorry to miss this one.

22
Oct

The World Goes ‘Round

The World Goes ’Round
Lyric Theatre
through November 5, 2017

This is a large scale cabaret type of show which presents man of the musical numbers composed by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb. You recognize many of them from shows such as Funny Lady and Chicago; but unless you are a real theatre and film fan there will be some you may not recall; as this team did a lot of work and not every show was a smash hit.

A really good cast of nine deliver up 30 numbers, including such favorites as All That Jazz, Cabaret, Money-Money and New York-New York. The 6 member orchestra is upstage under the direction of S. Renee Clark. And the lead singers include Mary Nye Bennett, Deborah Bowman and Adrianna Trachell with Jeff McKerley and Brad Raymond. There are constant costume changes, some neat dance segments and even a special number from the show The Rink.

This show is also unique in that Ricardo Aponte not only did the choreography but directed this one.

There is no story line,as it is strictly a musical cabaret of very entertaining numbers presented with aplomb on a very workable and posh stage setting. More info is available at AtlantaLyricTheatre.com

21
Oct

The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years
Marietta Theatre Company
through November 4, 2017

The newly formed Marietta Theatre Company performs at the Lyric Studio on the Square in Marietta. It’s a black box theater, but comfortable seats with good views, and they are really working hard to present enjoyable shows.

This show written and composed by Jason Robert Brown is basically a two person operetta staged cabaret style. It tells the story of Cathy (Stephanie Earle) and Jamie (J D Meyers) and their five years as a married couple. As most couples will agree that being together is not always every day of pleasure, it has to be that the glue bonding a couple surpasses the grit driving them apart.

Cathy is an actor trying to get recognized so her career may advance. It isn’t easy;  as in any of the cultural arts it is the few percent at the top who control more than 90% of the market, and celebrity is the promotional tool.

Cathy tells her story from the break-up time going back to the meet-up days; while Jamie tells his from days of wishing to find the right woman to the relationship and then the break-up. For, while Cathy is trying to be wife and actor, Jamie gets his manuscript accepted by a noted publisher and his street creds as a writer start to skyrocket. It is then that he and his trademark become of most importance.

There was a suggestion that the playwright fashioned a lot of the story line from his own life. But, notwithstanding that possibility; it is a truly unique offering under the direction of Zac Phelps, and it is a story that we all can easily understand.  It is not all pathos, as there is humor as well. But, humans are still human beings and we all have to try to accept that.

The performing duo have great pipes and they are backed up by a five-piece band of players under direction of Laura Gamble on the keys. It is a well staged unusual work for the adults, and easy to get to with street parking nearby.

You can get more info and tickets at their website, MariettaTheatre.com

20
Oct

The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show
Out Front Theatre
through November 5, 2017

Atlanta’s LGBTQIA Theatre is starting off their second season with one dynamic production. Richard O’Brien probably could never have anticipated that when he did the book, music and lyrics for this rock opera, that it would have run for years in London and around the world.

The story is about a couple; Janet (Ally Duncan) and her fiancé, Brad (Jacob Jones) falling into a Draculan abyss when their car breaks down and they try to find a place with a phone they might use. It’s there that they get into deep trouble in this weird place run by Dr. Frank N. Furter (Kiona Reese) and filled with a crowd of transvestite zombies.

The cast of about a dozen players fill the house with unending energy which is also sent back to them by the high levels of crowd appreciation. Matt Busch directed this show and it is a true power house. If you’re thinking of Sly Stallone, this certainly has nothing to do with him. And, if you are already a Rocky fan, you will enjoy seeing Max Mattox in that roll.

The venue is easy to get to and has valet parking available. Note: this sure as hell ain’t for Ms. Prim, the kiddies nor Potus. More info at OutfrontTheatre.com