18
Aug

War Paint

War Paint
Lyric Theatre
through September 1, 2019

This musical about two leading ladies of the cosmetics industry is based upon a true story which was the subject of a 2007 film, The Powder and the Glory. It is about the rivalry between Helena Rubinstein (Mary Nye Bennett) and Elizabeth Arden (Pamela Gold)

Elizabeth Arden moved to NYC from Canada in the 1930’s, about the time when Polish immigrant, Helena Rubinstein emigrated; and both were intent upon making their names and their fortunes with their own branded products. It was a bitter rivalry and things got worse when their business-personal mates, Tommy (Lowrey Brown) and Harry (Brian Kurlander) each defected to the other side, and things started to get more difficult.

It was in the 1930’s when women were secretaries, not executives; when TV wasn’t yet a factor, and a woman’s persona was defined by her appearance. Especially when dining at the St. Regis with the hoi polloi.

In addition to a cast of 15 actors, there is a full band in the pit working through the two dozen numbers. The first act doesn’t really define the story, as there is so much more in Act II. For WWII is about to change the world of those days. And as Rosie became a riveter, both of the ladies stepped up to plate to help the women who were helping to serve.

There are underlying problems such as anti-Semitism, failure to comply with FDA regulations to make it known what compounds were in their products, how to hang on to product recognition while trademarks may not be the factor, but rather the colors and the names.

And while we often hear that especially in families there may be more that binds us together than divides us; you know that isn’t always the outcome. But, in the 1960’s when both of the ladies were to be honored for their achievements, they managed to discover their common interest and goal.

This is not one for the kiddies, as the story would be lost for them; and the running time is almost 2.5 hours. It is not Annie, or Cats, or the type of show where you will leave the theatre humming the tunes and wanting to sing the words, as it is a more modern approach. But, it gets the job done and with good costumes, choreography, music, voices and sets. More info at AtlanticLyric.com

17
Aug

Sundays on the River

Shemekia Copeland
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Sundays on the River

The Sundays of the River concerts at Chattahoochee Nature Center are a really good summer evening event. They host one a month in good weather, and the final event will be September 8th, when famous blues singer Shemekia Copeland takes to the pavilion stage.

Shemekia is the famous blues singer whose latest album, America’s Child won this years award as Best Blues Music Album. She’s been on tour with her crew for quite a while and is a woman who knows no boundaries. She will be in Texas just prior to hitting Roswell, and then she hits the road again all over the country.

If you didn’t get to see Sam Lewis and his band this month, then this is final gig for this summer. There are seats under the pavilion or you can bring folding chairs and blankets and loll about on the adjacent green. And, it is a perfect place for the picnic. Bring whatever you wish for fine dining, and if you run short of libations they also have a concession stand.

Help is available for those with mobility problems, and they do a good job of discouraging annoying insects in the performance area. But, you might wish to have some Off or an After Bite stick with you if you are pretty sensitive.

The facility is right on Willeo Road, and more info is at ChattNatureCenter.org

17
Aug

Disenchanted!

Disenchanted!
Marietta Theatre Company
through August 31, 2019

If you can recall all those cute princesses who had problems while they awaited discovery and rescue from some Prince of a man; then maybe you’ll enjoy the real deal as these princesses recall those days of yore.

Zac Phelps directed this cast of ten female players who work through 14 parody type numbers in a cabaret style setting. Cinderella (Leah Boresow), Snow White (Leah Keelan) and Sleeping Beauty (Bekah Medford) are the lead trio; albeit each of the actors has her minutes of stage fame as they relate their experiences, feelings, regrets and wishes.

Angela C. Rodriguez is Pocahontas and Kelsey South is Rapunzel, and their numbers, like the others, are an audience hit. The costumes are really good, and some of these princesses can actually tap dance in Act II. Rachel Shiffman, Jada Grier, Sarah Grace Valleroy, Tecia Chavez and Keeley Adkisson round out the cast, and Cristina Dinella is on the keyboard to stage right.

So forget about that girl with the long hair in a castle, the one swimming in the bay, or one who worked wonders by smooching a frog. The stories that were told to you when you were young may not be as the frustrated ladies relate their tales.

The theatre performs on the Lyric Studio on the Square, just off the Square on Powder Springs Street. Park on the streets adjacent if you can. All seats have good views and it is a small house, so you feel truly drawn in to the action. More info at MariettaTheatre.com

11
Aug

Disaster!

Disaster!
Act3 Playhouse
through August 24, 2019

This one is not a Mary Poppins musical; but is a musical comedy about a guy who builds a floating casino and disco club to be moored at a pier in Manhattan. It’s the late 1970’s when the guys were wearing bell bottoms and music rocked. Jason Meinhardt comes on as Tony Delvecchio, the street-wise honcho. He has two problem visitors.  Marianne (Kate Johnson) who is a reporter looking into various probable problems onboard the casino; and a professor who styles himself as a disaster expert, played by Stephen DeVillers.

It’s the opening night for the floating casino and the characters gather to gamble and dance, unaware of impending natural disasters, and the building’s lack of safety measures compounds these catastrophes. The professor, Ted, alleges the casino’s structure was built on a fault line, which causes earthquakes and more natural disasters.

For a small company this is very large and energetic show with a cast of 16 plus a live band of 5. Characters are dancing, screaming, running, singing and trying to figure out what lies ahead for them as they encounter problems from the fault line on which they are partying. A young waiter, Chad (Kyle Larkins) exudes energy like a tornado as he runs through songs, steps and relationships. He was once engaged to Marianne.

A couple of oddballs draw you in as Sister Mary (Alexandria McMath) a nun who has to figure out if she should save some quarters for orphans, or try the slots for a bigger bag of alms for them; and a singer, Levora Verona (Christy Robinson), who shows up hoping she can hit the stage on the ship and launch a career recovery.

You probably know Shirley & Maury (Tiffany Jarman Jansen & Jim Dailey). They live next door to you and have been a couple since the start of time. The show is directed by Spencer G. Stephens with music under the baton of John-Michael d’Haviland. And all the fast paced moves were choreographed by Johnna Barrett Mitchell.

They work through 34 numbers, in whole and sometimes just parts. You won’t recall most numbers, but know the beat. A few like I am Woman and I Will Survive are two you’ll still hear these days. So put on your bell bottoms and Nehru jacket and head to Sandy Springs where the theatre is right behind Trader Joe’s. More info at Act3Productions.com Note that this is a small house and selling out, so if you snooze. . . .

9
Aug

Sylvia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sylvia
Center Stage North
through August 17, 2019

A. R. Gurney’s Sylvia hit the stage about 25 years ago and has been pleasing audiences ever since. For many of us it comes off more as a reflection of real life, than as a really camped up comedy.

Meet Greg (Ned Thurman) who is a businessman in a situation which is not exactly what he wants at work; and he and his wife are now empty nesters and moved from the burbs into Manhattan.

His wife, Kate (Julie Forbes Resh) has landed some work as a teacher. The last thing she needs in her life and her marriage is some mutt that Greg picked up while he was goofing off at the park. They are 180 degrees apart on the adoption idea, but the more time Greg spends with the dog, the more enamored of the dog he becomes.

What is really cute is that there is no real canine in the show. Jessie Kuipers plays the adopted Sylvia. Greg didn’t name her that; she had a name tag on when she came to Greg that day; ergo the bitch knew who and what she was and what she wished for.

The story deals with the stresses the dog injects into the marriage. And, in one scene Kate goes to a counselor for help. LeeAnna Lambert plays three supporting roles. She is Tom, a guy Greg gets to know at the park, where Tom’s dog gets into it with Greg’s. Then she comes on a a visitor, Phyllis, who cuts her visit short due to some canine concerns. And she winds up as the shrink, Leslie, who tries to mediate Kate and Greg’s relationship problems after Kate had scored a 6-month assignment in London.

There was no way the three of them could go because of the 6-month quarantine rules in the UK. A decision is finally made to find another adopting family. But, whether or not that works out you have to see for yourself.

Amy Cain directed the show, on a very workable set. And you will wonder where Jessie Kuipers gets all that strength and agility. It’s a load of fun; even if you don’t have a dog. Think of your neighbor’s dog, and what his life is like. Or recall the famous line when a hotel manager tells Clouseau, “That is not my dog.” For that is where Kate starts off.

For more info and tickets visit CenterStageNorth.org

7
Aug

Cats

Cats
Fox Theatre
through August 11, 2017

We get so many road-weary re-heated shows visiting the Fox that when we get one which really shines it provides an evening of pure enchantment and entertainment for everyone. You know that Cats is a review of actors dressed up like foraging felines. You know the show stopping song “Memory” and quite a few of the others stick in your mind even though you don’t know any of the words. Perhaps you’ve seen the production on Public Television, or maybe your kids like the video tape and play it often.

This writer has seen Cats many times in various cities, but this version is a little different in that it is much more choreographic than some previous editions. The producers did themselves proud by rounding up so many very good dancers who can also sing and act. Their balletic skills are quite evident from the opening number.

Keri René Fuller as Grizzabella wasn’t quite the same as Betty Buckley in years past, singing “Memory” at the end of Act I. But after the half-time she came back like a house afire when she reprised the number near the end of act two. Tion Gaston, as Mr. Mistoffelees, really makes you want to jump up and sing, “Oh, my, was there ever a cat so clever as Mr. Mistoffelees. . .” when you get treated to his solo ballet segment. He’s easily the best dancer seen in a musical here in a long time. And when Ethan Saviet comes stage front as Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, we’re treated to a wonderful ensemble dance number in which parts of the stage trash magically become the railway train.

There isn’t any story line to concern yourself about. Cats is taken from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” which few, if any, of us have ever read, or would care to read. This is more like Lion King in that it is theatrical, spectacular, entertaining and allows one to escape from this world of lunatics into the make-believe world of Cats having their annual reunion in a junk yard. But what really is great is the dancing. They sacrificed none of the singing, sets or costumes and makeup but they added wonderful dance to further delight the eye.
There was a live band, and perhaps some canned segments, but all worked perfectly.

If you have children that you want to introduce to musical theatre, this is THE show to bring them to. Their eyes will open wide, their smiles will stretch from ear to ear and they will sit transfixed in wonderment, even if they get a wee bit edgy in a couple of slow numbers.

More info and tickets at FoxTheatre.org

3
Aug

Entertaining Lesbians

Entertaining Lesbians
Out of Box Theatre
through August 17, 2019

Sometimes a great work of art takes quite a while to perfect it. Topher Payne has worked on this one, and tweaked it for 8+ years, and now can yell, TADA! To jump to the bottom line, this one is a laugh riot as only Topher could write. The play is at a small theatre near the Big Chicken on Cobb Parkway, and you just have to go see this one.

There are seven characters who you will meet. Each of them is as full of it as any sitting politician; save Tad Tuttle (Daniel Carter Brown) who just has his steadfast character. But his wife, Rowena a/k/a Ro-Ro (Emily Sams Brown) is deep into recreating their stage family so that their daughter can finally get admitted to some socially acceptable private school which has previously turned her down.

It seems that neighborhoods and society in general may be changing and the school is now integrated and also has a couple of lesbians on the board; played by Kait Rivas and Amanda Cucher. So Rowena decides that their maid, Mrs. Kelley (Parris Sarter) will play the part of their best black friend, when they host the gay couple for a 2pm reception on their patio, a/k/a verandah. Nobody is who or what they really are. Just wait until Rowena’s mother (Carolyn Choe) shows up. It seems she is not dead, nor is she wanted at the elitist gathering. So she is pushed to become the German servant. Ach!

Then we have a tennis pro who may have a second career as a kidnapper. Oliver (Matthew Busch) would like a payoff for returning the daughter to Tad and Rowena; but that isn’t going to work out. Characters change, their baggage moves around, and the end isn’t quite what you might anticipate. But it is one hell of a funny journey.

Topher not only penned this one but designed and directed the production, and you can bet it will play in some other houses in the coming seasons. But right now you have a chance to see and interact with the presence of a fine cast in a small theatre where every seat has a great view. More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com   Just know it is MUCH better than the evening news or any debates.

18
Jul

East Texas Hot Links

East Texas Hot Links
True Colors Theatre
through August 11, 2019

This play is both written by and directed by Eugene Lee. It’s a one act show that dives deeply into the lives of a group of Black folks in some hick town in east Texas. It’s a poor town where the one local drinking hole is owned by Charlesetta Simpkins (Maiesha McQueen) who may be brewing up the hooch herself, just like they still do in many rural communities.

Seven local guys each have their own issues. The issues include seeing a White gal, maybe leaving town to move to Houston for a better job, being overworked and underpaid, and how they need to present themselves. The underlying issue is, of course, the white folks who figure they can call all the shots, even if some of the shots take down a Black person. This is set in the 1950’s and although things allegedly have changed for the better; a lot of what you see and hear makes you think of what you may have seen or read in the news recently.

Eugene Russell, IV plays Boochie, a guy who says he can read people and he sees omens which some fear may be true while others dismiss as being crazy. And Travis Turner comes on as XL, the guy you are thinking might turn on his own, or anybody else, if it were to be to his own advantage.

Wigasi Brant, Gerard Catus, Markelle Gay, Anthony Goolsby and Cedric Pendelton round out the cast of booze hounds. There are ties which bind, but thoughts that loosen ties, and then . . . All hell breaks loose. This is not one for the kiddies, and if your Grandma lived through those days it could be tough for her as well. And, you need to pay very close attention as things develop, for there are often two or more characters speaking/yelling at the same time. The sort of talent that is easier for the ladies than for the gents.

More info at TrueColorsTheatre.org

15
Jul

Tenderly

Tenderly
Art Station Theatre
through July 28, 2019

This is a journey into the tumultuous life and times of Rosemary Clooney. She was born in Kentucky into a dysfunctional family, which went through a marital separation which included some children being ripped apart from one another. She started singing when she was very young, but she didn’t come into the limelight until 1946 when at age 18 she was featured on a record with Tony Pastor’s band. And the story goes on from that point.

Her first big hit was Come On-a My House with Mitch Miller. And over the years she was seen and heard on just about every radio and TV show; and she was a very attractive woman to have at stage center doing her numbers. Her personal life, however, was a roller coaster; with two marriages, 5 children, and a terrible drug addiction.

When we meet her in this play she is with a shrink at a hospital that she was a big benefactor to. And the good doctor is played by Luis R. Hernandez, who comes on in loads of different personae and certainly seems to be enjoying each of them. Wendy Melkonian is great as Rosemary, on the time travel trip of her life, including her attraction and appreciation of some folks such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Robert F. Kennedy. It was being present at his assasination that year (1968) that puts her over the wall and gets her in the psych ward.

Once she fought off her innermost devils, she came back to the stage and performed when possible until her passing in 2002 at age 74. Many more years than one might have thought possible.

In this production Wendy moves the story along with many of Rosemary’s classic numbers, which anybody with an AARP card will recall and want to sing along. Patrick Hutchison, Dennie Durrett-Smith and Steve Florczykowski are the band upstage and everybody is in place and on tune with the action at all times. Directed by Karen Beyer, it’s a VERY enjoyable production celebrating the life of a well regarded performer who had won several lifetime achievement awards.

More info at ArtStation.org

13
Jul

Hairspray

Hairspray
City Springs Theatre
through July 21, 2019

It really is a tribute to our theatre community when we get to see real Broadway quality productions in our local venues. Most of us recall that Hairspray was about a chubby young lady from Baltimore who wanted to get onto a TV competition. Most likely we don’t recall the tunes until we hear the first few bars again, and maybe we didn’t think how this show dealt with the days of segregation in Baltimore and elsewhere. I lived in Baltimore in the late 50’s and when they mention certain streets and areas so much pops up in what’s left of my mind. Of course, like Atlanta, Baltimore has been very much rebuilt; and like Atlanta, certain things which we might have thought had been erased from our society, still quietly lie under, yet to be fully eradicated. So this one really resonates with the audience.

Tracy Turnblad (Jennifer Massey) is the chubby young lass who wants to get on the local TV show hosted by Link Larkin (Chase Peacock). Tracy’s parents fear she will become the object of public embarrassment and they want to dissuade her from her dreams. Greg London is a hoot as her mother Edna, and Steve Hudson is the somewhat wimpish father, Wilbur.

The story deals with two problems. One is the egocentric Velma (Deborah Bowman) who figures she must be crowned as Miss Baltimore, and she has the money and the contacts to ensure that. Maybe today she could have run for office. And another problem is racial division. Whites and blacks didn’t mix much in Baltimore in those days and the neighborhoods were pretty much segregated.

Brandt Blocker directed this superb cast of more than 30 players, and the live orchestra is under the baton of Chris Brent Davis. The costumes and all the production values are a real hit. You will feel as it you are right there in the TV studio as the beat goes on. I guess the bottom line is that it just can’t get no better. Unless they had some Baltimore crab cakes

The company performs at the new Byers Theatre in Sandy Springs. Just off 285 at Roswell Road. Great venue, comfy seats, huge garage, and goodies you may need. More info at CitySpringsTheatre.com