Marie and Rosetta

Marie and Rosetta
True Colors Theatre
through December 30, 2021

As Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company comes back to live shows, they bring to the stage the show previously scheduled but delayed by the Covid pandemic problems.

George Brant wrote this one about the life history of the Godmother of Gospel, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A woman of color who dealt with plenty of stress in her life in the South and on tours years ago. She had a huge following and performed until she had a couple of terrible strokes at age 55 and passed at 58 years old, after working with and inspiring quite a few famous performers of the 40’s and 50’s.

The show is set in the basement of a funeral home in Alabama, where we meet her doing some numbers in rehearsal with Marie Knight, who she had hired from the crew of Mahalia Jackson and she and Marie worked together and shared a lot of their lives together as objects for some speculation as to their relationship.

Amitria Fanae comes on as Rosetta and Jasmine Renee Ellis as Marie Knight. The show is one act directed by Andrea Frye with the music provided by S. Renee Clark on the keys and Spencer Bean as guitarist.

As the ladies work though their own design for the performance, they do present more than a dozen songs, some written by Rosetta. If it sounds like a lot of gospel, the truth is that it is; albeit Rosetta handled jazz and other pop genres as well in her career.

The theatre follows Covid protocols, so bring your CDC card or proof of testing as well as photo ID and you will need to keep your mask on while on the premises. The facility is part of the Southwest Arts Center on New Hope Rd. Parking is free, seats are all good views and everything is comfy. For more info and tickets go to TrueColorsTheatre.org


Christmas Canteen

Christmas Canteen
Aurora Theatre
through December 23, 2021

Let’s jump to the bottom line . . . . go online or on the phone and get your tickets ASAP; for this is a world class production as good as anything you might see in NYC or London.

They hit the stage in the new theatre at the Lawrenceville Arts Center with such high energy that you can’t lose a minute of it. With a great cast of a dozen players who sing, dance and work their way through more than 3 dozen oldie numbers, you will be thrilled. The six gals are Amy Duffy, Mona Swain, India Tyree, Brie Wolfe, Kymberli Green, and Isa Martinez and they work so well with the six guys, Joe Arnotti, Peyton McDaniel, Juan Carlos Unzueta, Cecil Washington, Jr, Cole Ferguson and Cameron Smith.

We salute them all, especially David Rossetti who choreographed the spectacle and directs it, along with associate Candy McLellan. And they also have the wonderful 4 band members onstage with Brian Smith on guitar, Fuji Fujimoto on bass, and Mark Biering on the drums; all working to perfection with Ann-Carol Pence directing and on the keys.

There is no plot, per se, and the show is basically done cabaret style, with the players working the audience from time to time. If you loved the Tony winning musicals of the past years, and respect the USO performers who brought holiday cheer to our military families, then you will really love this one.

Okay. Enough said. Call them at 678-226-6222 or go online to them at AuroraTheatre.com. Cheers!


A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
Alliance Theatre
through December24, 2021

Some folks these days may think of all the Yuletide activities and just want to regard each of them as pure humbug. But be assured this is not the Christmas Carol you have seen before. Award winning David H. Bell, crafted this script based on Dickens’ beloved story. The usual office set and the old sitting room at Scrooge’s manor are not as usually seen, and the story line has been camped up a bit.

The set, designed by Todd Rosenthal is absolutely incredible. It is rotated on the new stage so that one huge set equals 4 sets as it turns from office to manor, to street, etc. And it is eye capturing as if you were on Broadway. There is a cast of 20 players who come on in 30+ roles. Andrew Benator is Scrooge who has to deal with the ghosts of the past and present, although he isn’t in his PJs when Marley comes to call.

Mr. Fezziwig is played by Neal Ghant, and Bob Cratchit is played by Christopher L. Morgan. The story does move forward as Scrooge finally turns from being the penny pinching miser to a generous and caring human being. Yes, there are impolite responses from the old geezer to those poor street people, and those who owe him money. Dickens knew of work houses and debtor’s prisons in London in olden days, and he may even have based Scrooge on one he heard of.

Directed by Leora Morris, with loads of good costumes, caroling and dancing, it is a delight for the eyes, ears and what may left of our brains. But as The Bard would opine, the play’s the thing; and the story here hasn’t changed except for some of the details of how it may have come to fruition. This is one you really want to experience at the Alliance. They have pretty strict Covid protocols, so make sure you have a CDC card, photo ID, and masks are required in any part of the building. You will love the show, and not want to wait for some Figgy Pudding and to get ready for Boxing Day. More info and tickets at AllianceTheatre.org


Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Theatrical Outfit
through December 19, 2021

Playwright Ken Ludwig is renown for his love of taking on classic stories and bending them his way. In this case (no pun intended) he delved in the character created by Arthur Conan Doyle; who was actually derived from a forensic scientist Doyle had studied under at University, and took many turns from terror to comedy.

Shannon Eubanks directed this work which has dozens of characters; albeit a cast of 5. John Keabler takes to the stage as the brilliant gent from London’s Baker Street. He calls up his side-kick, Dr. Watson, to help figure out what is going on at the Baskervilles. You may know that in olden days, a woman on stage in London had to be played by a male. But, you will be awe struck when LaLa Cochran pulls off the role of Watson. All of the other characters who come and go in rapid succession are played to the hilt by Robin Bloodworth, Kathryn Tkel and Gina Rickicki.

The stage setting is manipulated most times by the actors as the scenes rapidly change, and you are kept in suspense wondering what might happen next. But, rest easily, for all shall come clear in the end.

It’s a really good production by a really fine company. Theatrical Outfit is downtown on Luckie Street. Easy to get to, but plan on traffic; and they offer parking vouchers to use the garage adjacent to their facility. It is a comfortable venue with appropriate protocols; so make sure to bring your CDC card and be ready to mask up during the show. More info and tickets at TheatricalOutfit.org


Atlanta Symphony

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Copland and Gandolfi
through November 20, 2021

What an incredible evening when you can see the ASO with an audience of more than 1,000 and everybody in total rhapsody with every note. Robert Spano has returned to conduct the ASO and they opened with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. It may be a short piece but it is as named and always instantly recognizable.

Then the ASO premiered Michael Gandolfi’s piano concerto. This was commissioned in honor of Maestro Spano’s twenty years with the orchestra; and it is fantastic. With the incredible Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin on the keys. It draws you in from the first bar, and never eases up until the final note. Gandolfi has the talent of a current day Camille Saint-Saëns.

And then the ASO went full power into Copland’s Symphony No.3, which is another one of those works which draws you in from note one to the coda. If you want a night of music you will never forget, then get your seats online, bring your CDC card and masks and head down to Symphony Hall. It just doesn’t get any better!


Raising the Dead

Raising the Dead
Essential Theatre Festival
through November 21, 2021

The Essential Theatre Play Festival brings to stage award winning new works by local playwrights. Although there are but a few days left, you can still find seats to see either of this years winners.

Raising the Dead is by Erin K. Considine and will be on stage only on the 19th. It is a saga about two middle-aged women who are neighbors in some area around New Orleans. One of them, Harlowe, (Ellen McQueen), is a woman who has been through many years of angst and abuse and is ready to call it quits. She is ready to just write off her husband and kids, one of whom is in jail; and hit the road for someplace where she can rediscover and rebuild herself.

Her neighbor, Myra (Laurie Beasley), is an aging spinster with not much life. She has been through the quarantine days and some days doesn’t even leave her house. While Harlowe is highly vocal and always ready to duke it out to the finish; Myra is usually ready to accept whatever it may be and go back in the house, which may be her form of self-induced psychotherapy.

The show runs about 90 minutes without intermission, and it is a high energy job where both of the actors can remember all the lines, while most of us can’t recall our former straeet addresses. The co-founder of the Essential Theatre, Peter Hardy, has co-directed this one with Ellen McQueen; and it is a really good production, albeit it may be hard to swallow some of the aspects of it.

The other show they will stage is Calming the Man, which will stage only on November 20 and 21. This is a show written by Anthony Lamarr White, and starring Sundiata Rush as Daddyo, who has lived his life through the miserable days of racism, and the scars that have been left still bleed within him on a daily basis. The cast also includes John Doyle, Jr., Anthony Nash and Kourage Cooper; and Brenda Porter is director. Be warned that you will also experience some nervous moments when there violence and/or gunfire take place.

These shows are presented at the Fulton County West End Performing Arts Center on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. It’s an easy venue to get to and all seats have good views. More info and tickets ast EssentialTheatre.com


Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Lionheart Theatre
through November 21, 2021

It is such a delight when a small local theatre brings a really professional comedic production to the stage, especially in the lousy days we all know from watching the news.

This work brings to mind the works of Chekhov. Especially the three sisters and the cherry orchard. When this show opened on Broadway it won the Tony for Best Play in 2013, and it’s a non-stop riot. Set in a small town, you meet a brother and sister who live alone in the family home. Grumpy old geezer, Vanya, is played by Michael Miller. He’s a little difficult at times. Just ask his sister, Sonia (Peggy Marx), but not while she’s having her coffee in the morning.

They’re half-siblings who seem to live in different worlds most of the time. The maid is Cassandra (Kathleen Seconder) who is also a psychic and purveyor of doom when it suits her to be so. And she’s very effective in what she does; albeit culinary arts are not her best talent.

Their sister, Masha (Phyllis Giller) comes for a brief visit. Masha is an actress who has followed her passion, made some money, and helped out financially, if not psychologically or physically. Now that the parents have passed on, she wants to reassess her relationship and she knows who is most important to her. She’s thinking about selling off the family home and moving on in life.

She shows up for the weekend with her toy boy, Spike (Jason Pulley) who provides the eye candy for many in the audience. Spike may not necessarily share Masha’s attachment; and he’s also a few years younger than her.

The other bit of discourse is the neighbor girl, Nina (Emily Zart) who wants to follow her dreams to act. But, Masha may not be the best advisor in that regard. All hell breaks loose when five of them get invited to a party that night and Masha wants to control the type of costume that each may use. After all, she has to be center stage.

Myrna Feldman, directed this production, which moves easily on a set by Ray Reboulet, and the laughter can bring down the house. This may be a small local house but the production quality is great and it is a wonderful value to a community to have them present. Speaking of “present” you may not know that they seem to always provide some goodies for the guests at intermission. It’s a can’t lose engagement. Locate off the square in Norcross. Good seats, free parking, plenty of food joints, and more info and tickets at LionheartTheatre.org


Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof
Fox Theatre
through November 14, 2021

So what if you have seen the show before? Does that mean you don’t have to see it again? Of course you do. Because it is good for you. No? The Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta has brought us the gift of bringing this fine touring company to town.

Tevya comes to town played by Yehezkel Lazarov, who is a little different from Topol or Theodore Bikel, but his Tevya is a good Tevya and he has incredible vaudeville animation to make the part over the top whether it is in his dealings with Golde (Maite Uzal) or dealing with the townsfolk; or even the despair that visits him in the final scenes. He worships his G-d; … but would it hurt if maybe things went a little easier for him? Nu?

The eldest daughter, Tzeitel (Kelly Gabrielle Murphy) gets her leave to wed Motel (Daniel Kushner) the poor tailor. Hodel (Ruthy Froch) does get involved with the oddball teacher Perchik (Solomon Reynolds) but not every road is paved with gold as they discover. And wouldn’t you know it that the younger Chava (Noa Luz Barenblat) gets into a relationship with one of the local Gentiles, Fyedka (Jack O’Brien) which is a real no-no in the shtetl of Anatevka.

Act One is a tooshie tester running 100 minutes. Tevya is the stereotype in some ways in that his word is law, . . . except when it doesn’t please Golde, in which case he changes his opinions to suit her. And when he makes a deal for Tzeitel to marry the local butcher, he has to figure a way to explain his change of mind. Especially since the matchmaker will want to be paid for the intro to the butcher. And that’s when he dreams up the dream sequence in which Fruma- Sarah (Rosie Webber) appears in an incredibly balletic scene to put the kibosh on the butcher deal.
Of course, there’s bad times as well, and the pogroms force all the Jews out of Anatevka and as the show grinds to a close and the people are dispersed to Poland, America, Palestine and elsewhere; and we wipe a little tear from our eyes knowing that what has gone before can always come again; and that nature of human beings hasn’t substantially changed throughout the ages. As the French would say, The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The show is VERY well done. The staging, lighting, costumes, music, choreography and performing are all first rate. So, how do we rate it on a scale of ten? Maybe a 9.9? Go see it. It’s good for you. And remember, I told you so. And be aware that the Covid protocols at The Fox may not be as strict as you have seen at some other local houses. As long as you have a mask and a ticket you seem to be OK. But bring your CDC card, license and/or negative test results just in case things tighten up. And with people permitted to ingest drinks or treats in the auditorium, you know that is difficult to do through a mask. Just be understanding, careful and considerate and all should end well.

More info and tickets at FoxTheatre.org/events


Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
Atlanta Opera
through November 14, 2021

Giulio Cesare in Egitto was the name of this Baroque Opera by George Frideric Handel in the days when he was living in Italy and dived deeply into the culture. It premiered at the King’s Theatre in London in 1724. As most operas of those days, you know somebody has to die, and indeed they do.

Caesar is thought to have been born in July about 100BC. He had been through a lot of turmoil and fled Italy after the Roman Civil War, going to Egypt about 48BC. Caesar is sung by Daryl Freedman, which is quite appropriate inasmuch as it was originally scored for an alto castrato, which is passe in our era. He is going after Pompeo (Megan Marino). The boy king of Egypt, Tolomeo (Daniel Moody) gets caught up in the stuff as does his sister, Cleopatra (Jasmine Habersham). Things go back and forth in intra-family contriving as well as forces of destiny visiting upon the nobility and the serfs.

The work by Handel is basically for a chamber orchestra and this one is under he baton of Gary Thor Wedow. The ballet scenes were choreographed by Donald Byrd and really well done by the cast. The opera was chosen to be staged here for the first time, as Director Tomer Zvulun had staged it some years ago when he was in Israel; and had it firmly engraved in his mind for the location, age, characters, and politics involved. Ergo this is a co-production with the Israeli Opera. It is also very moving in that in those olden days a woman was chattel and she belonged to the man who claimed her. Hopefully, those days may soon be history not just here, but worldwide.

This is a very moving, and well produced opera which plays only a few more nights at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Easy to get to, garage parking, good seating, and very strict security. Bring your CDC cards and masks with you and know that your belongings will be scanned upon entry. More info and tickets at AtlantaOpera.org


tick, tick, BOOM!

tick, tick, BOOM!
Act3 Productions
through November 21, 2021

This one is almost an autobiography, with book, music and lyrics all by Jonathan Larson. It opened in New York about 20 years ago and has been staged many times to audiences who can really understand how somebody searching for success in any of the arts fields seems to be climbing a mountain with no map.

A cast of 3 players take the stage and play quite few stand ins. Jon (Eddie Estrada) has been working on a script for a play he hopes may find acceptance. But that’s never a guarantee. His friend Michael (P J Mitchell) would like to get him hired into a day job with the firm he works for, but Jon is pulled apart as he feels he is aging quickly as his 30th birthday is on the horizon in 1990. Even his girl friend Susan (Izzi Robles) has problems with his lack of a game plan for life. So nothing seems too easy.

Michelle Davis directed the show which is staged on a static set, with few costume changes and you just have to imagine some of the props such as telephones when the actors come on in various roles. But, all is easy to deal with. They vigorously work through a dozen songs which lay out the story line quite clearly. It is a one act play about 100 minutes and really draws you in, as you reflect on your own career building attempts and your hits as well and misses.

Act3 is staged in Sandy Springs, right behind Trader Joe’s. Easy to get to, plenty of parking and all seats with good views. More info and tickets at Act3Productions.org