23
Jul

Heathers, the Musical

Heathers, the Musical
OnStage Atlanta
through August 13, 2017

This is NOT the usual family style musical, in any way. Based on a 1988 cult film, it is a show noir.   Suicide, bullying, murder, and more pervade the plot. And in a culture where teen suicide is rising at alarming rates, one may have some concerns about this topic for certain potential viewers. It is not for depressed youngsters or others who have had losses in their families or suffered in their teen years in schools.

Having issued the above warning, I can tell you that Onstage has produced this one with great effort and talent.  Directed by Charlie Miller, with a live band and a cast of 19 players, the show moves quite well.

There are three bitchy girls each named Heather and they are played by Janine DeMichele Baggett, Sarah Watkins and Molly Wiley. They are totally self-possessed in every way. The two jocks are played by Joshua Jones and Austin Basham and Hannah Lake is Veronica, the girl who gets drafted into the Heather’s club.

The score of two dozen numbers is possibly best remembered for the Candy Store number; and you can infer what you wish from the title. Other sordid numbers include Dead Girl Walking, and the Me inside of Me.  It is all about teens trying to find themselves, and their raison d’etre. And, there is some question as to the personalities of two of the boys, as to their sexual preferences or orientations.

Be advised that the show includes some of the 7 words you can’t say on TV, teen sex, fighting and shooting.   But, the bottom line is that most of the audience had seen the film, and enjoyed the stage production.

More info at OnstageAtlanta.com

22
Jul

Life Could be a Dream

Life Could be a Dream
Art Station Theatre
through July 30, 2017

Art Station has put together a really neat production of Roger Bean’s opus dealing with the doo-wop singers of days gone by. Under the direction of Karen Beyer, a cast of five players sing, dance and clown their way through 19 numbers, with live band just off-stage.

Jacob Jones is a nerdy young man living with his mother. He wants to enter a contest being run by a local radio station where the winner will get a record contract. He hooks up with two buddies, played by Nathan Hesse and Rodney Witherspoon, II. After some back and forth decision making, The group, Denny and the Dreamers start to prep for the gig.

Then a fourth guy shows up. Clay Mote plays a garage guy who works for the firm that is going to sponsor the contest, and he and the boss’s daughter (Joy Walters) have eyes for one another. There’s a lot of teen age stress. Like the girls’ parents wanting to control her choice of boyfriends, and mother of Denny who keeps nagging him to get a job.

But the show is about the music, starting off with Life Could be a Dream (Sh Boom), including Runaround Sue, Unchained Melody and so much more. Even Rama Lama Ding Dong. If you have an AARP card, you’ll probably try to sing along.

Patrick Hutchison, Dik Holland and Jonathan Mills are the band, just off stage left. You’ll enjoy the songs, the dance routines and the acrobatics; nobody gets killed in this one.  Art Station is easy to get to in Stone Mountain Village and they have goodies available and art galleries as well.
More info at ArtStation.org

21
Jul

Blackberry Daze

Blackberry Daze
Horizon Theatre
through August 27, 2017

We are soooo fortunate in our area to have so many local theatre companies working so hard to add to our quality of life. This work is another example of a high energy story being presented by a cast of superb actors, with good costumes, sets, music and choreography.

It is a story set in Virginia after WWI, where you meet up with Herman Camm (TC Carson) a slick talking and snazzy dressing scum-bag womanizer who is working his routines with several local ladies. He gets involved with May Lou (Naomi Lavette) and also with her daughter, Carrie (Ayana Reed). But, there’s also an attraction to a local singer named Pearl (Brittany Inge) who he has the hots for. He wants you to believe everything that comes out of his mouth. Even though he is not a politician.

Things get dodgy when Willie (Christian Magby) comes home from the war, and sees what is going on in town. Things get testy and Herman gets what he deserves. But, you’ll know that from the start as then the tale goes back to weave together the fabric of deception which created the outcome. Christy Clark rounds out the cast playing four supporting roles.

The show is a difficult story set to music by William Knowles and with a script by Ruth P. Watson and Thomas W. Jones, II, who also directed this production derived from the book, Blackberry Days of Summer by miss Watson. And TC Carson was in the cast as Herman Camm when the show premiered last year, and has come to town to reprise the role. S. Renee Clark on piano and Spencer Bean on guitar provide the on-stage music and the story moves on with great aplomb.

There are some very harsh segments, and this is not one for the kiddies. But, it does take you back in time to hard days for many people trying to find their ways through the forest of life.

The Horizon is in Little Five Points, with free parking and easy to get to. More info at HorizonTheatre.com

14
Jul

Between Riverside and Crazy

Between Riverside and Crazy
True Colors Theatre
through August 6, 2017

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer for Drama for this work about a former cop and his somewhat dysfunctional family and friends. Eric J. Little directed this high quality work with a cast of eight well known players.

There is a lot about this play that resonates with a lot of the angst which is permeating our society these days. We start off meeting Pops (Earl Billings) who was a police officer in New York City. He is having a tough time pursuing a case against the department for discrimination, after being shot up by a white cop.

Pop’s wife died and his son, Junior (Keith Arthur Bolden) just got out of jail. They live in a rent-controlled apartment on Riverside Drive in New York City. And the city wants to take back the flat and cancel the rent control lease. And that sort of thing happened a lot in NYC.

Junior’s girlfriend, Lulu (Annamaria Dvorak), and Oswaldo (Cristian Gonzalez), a recovering druggie also often hang out at Pop’s pad. Andrew Benator comes on as Lt. Caro, who used to work with Pops, and is trying to get him to accept a settlement proposal from the city. But, that isn’t going anywhere very fast. The other two players are Diany Rodriguez who poses as a church lady but has another agendum, and Jerri Tubbs, as a NYPD detective who gets called in after some problems arise.

The show is staged on a terrific set by Moriah & Isabel Curley-Clay, and the work is first quality in every way. You do wonder where things are going, and what may happen; but you are not correct. But all will come around in the end, even though the denouement may seem a bit longer than needed.

Staged at the Southwest Arts Center on New Hope Road, which is just off of Cascade Rd reached easily from 285. Like many shows that Kenny Leon has staged, there are racial issues; and that is nothing less than a mirror of the world in which we live.

More info and tickets easily found at TrueColorsTheatre.org

10
Jul

She Kills Monsters

She Kills Monsters
Out of Box Theatre
through July 22, 2017

Playwright Qui Nguyen loves to write about nerds and geeks, and this opus is quite a voyage into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re an old geezer who thought nothing could get more complicated than a remote control for your TV, then get ready to travel through time and space into a world you’ve not seen before.

Or, just find somebody under the age of 40 and ask them to explain it all to you; because back in the days of Happy Days and the Fonz, we weren’t all sitting in front of an iPad or playing war games on a Galaxy Phone. Most of us never even messed with Pong or Pac-Man.

So be prepared, as the Boy Scouts would advise. For this work, which runs about 90 minutes takes you deeply into the netherworld. Directed by Will Brooks with terrific costumes, and exciting fight scenes; it is a story of Agnes (Kristin Storla) whose family, including her younger sister, Tilly (Ali Olhausen) perished in an accident. Tilly had been into D&D, and Agnes new not of the experience.

She hooks up with Chuck (Nick Cothran) who becomes her Dungeon Master and descends into her quest to find and restore the soul of Tilly. There is plenty of combat, some stress, some humor, and lots of somewhat gothic essence. It is NOT for the little ones, nor for the dowagers among us. But, it is extraordinarily well done, and the minimalist set works fine for the cast of 12 players as the tale unfolds.

Out of Box is easy to get to on Cobb Parkway up near the Big Chicken, and parking is free. More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com    And, if you like comedy, next up will be The Only Light in Reno by Topher Payne. Check it out.

16
Jun

Libby at Actor’s Express

Libby at Actor’s Express
through June 18, 2017

Libby Whittemore’s final cabaret of the season is this weekend at Actor’s Express. The show, The More the Merrier, features numbers done by more than one female singer dating from the 1940s to 1990s.

Libby is joined by Lisa Paige and Shawn Megorden, with a five piece band on stage under direction of Robert Strickland. Strickland is not only her music director but he does some creative compositions when he weave medleys for the show.

If you enjoy comfortable close-up cabaret shows, and songs where you can actually understand the words being belted out, then this may be spot-on for you. Libby has had a very faithful audience here for many a year, and she, and her crew, still provide enjoyable evenings.

These shows start at 7:30, and run a little more than 2 hours, so you can plan accordingly. Last night the ladies even managed to easily work through an unusual wardrobe malfunction, but nobody lost their footing.

More info at Actors-Express.com

15
Jun

Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!
Fox Theatre
through June 18, 2017

They’re back again, again! Thank you Fifth Third Bank for bringing such a smash hit back to town. It was last here in 2014, with pretty much the same set. I had said then that the show is a pure delight from the opening number to the closing curtain; and that is just as accurate now . This is a show that really has “legs.”

The real star of this show is the music of ABBA which seems as relevant today as it was years ago. The playwrights took the songs of ABBA and wove a fine tapestry of a plot around them to delight the audiences. The show is a theatrical buffet, featuring a wide array of music, costumes, dance, humor, great lighting and one very versatile set. They’ve spiced up the repartee a bit with a lot of almost single-entendre slightly off-color gags, which adds a little kick to the show. If you have seen it before, you’ll enjoy it again. If you have never seen it, you’ll find it an evening of great joy.

Betsy Padamonsky is just wonderful as Donna Sheridan, the single mom, who’s daughter, Sophie (Lizzie Markson) is to be wed. Sophie wants her dad to give her away, but there’s one problem. Nobody knows which of three former lovers may be her father. So, without telling her Mom, she just invites all three to attend and everything goes somewhat whacko.

The three potential dads, as well as the trio made up of Donna and her 2 BFFs, all have just great voices as well as stage presence; and the choreography is top notch as well.

So, sit back, relax, soak up the lyrics and revel in the joy that transcends the production. This one is a real winner and don’t we wish every visiting show would be just as good.

Warning. . . . Don’t be in a rush to leave at the end of the show. The cast comes back after curtain calls to reprise many of the numbers for another 15 minutes, as the audience joins in. And, if you really liked the songs but couldn’t catch all the lyrics at the Fox, just listen to the CD and you’ll enjoy it all over again.

It closes this weekend, so book your tickets now and enjoy a tradition right up there with Fiddler, Phantom and Cats.

13
Jun

Robin Hood

Robin Hood
Serenbe Playhouse
through August 13, 2017

Serenbe Playhouse is an outdoor theatre company which produces many very original shows in various areas around the village located in the Palmetto – Chattahoochee Hills area off 85 south of town.

You read about, or watched, Robin Hood in various media and adaptations; but this is quite different. Jordan Patrick is the title character and his side-kick, Little John is played by Brady Dunn. A lot of the action is on zip lines as RobinHood, Little John and the Captain of the Guard (Madison Welch) fly from one area in Sherwood Forest to another.

The nasty Sheriff of Nottingham is Kenny Tran, and he is a model for many current day politicians, who have adopted the creed of In Greed we Trust. Kendra Johnson as Scarlet and Casey Shuler as Maid Marian round out the cast.

Paul McGill directed this unusual one-act production which features original music by John Burke. There are some great fight scenes and the archery contest is right out of circus side-show style. The youngsters especially enjoy it as they sit up front on the ground covers and can almost touch the actors.

Keep in mind that all performances run about 50 minutes and are rain-or-shine, so check the weather, wear appropriate clothing and enjoy it. Performances are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More info and tickets at SerenbePlayhouse.com

11
Jun

Race

Race
Out of Box Theatre
through June 24, 2017

Race, by David Mamet, is an exceptional production. The plot deals with a wealthy white gent who has been accused of raping a young black woman in a hotel. The defendant, Charles Strickland, (Bob Smith) has sought counsel from a firm of two lawyers, a black lawyer, Henry Brown (Erwin Thompson), and his white partner, Jack Lawson (Zip Ramp).

Erica Dee Ragsdale plays Susan, a young black woman recently hired by the firm as an associate. The story is how we see race differences privately as opposed to publicly. This is one that makes one think, not sweat. . . .

The cards are stacked against Strickland. The DA already has sworn statements from the cops, the hotel maid, the alleged victim and others. One lawyer wants to take the case while his partner wants not to do so. It’s obvious that the reason to want the case is the big bucks from Strickland. The question of how a jury may see the events, and how they may process what they see and hear is the central point of the argument between the lawyers.

The script has plenty of typical Mamet expletives, but that’s life these days. The business of law is a business. It is not about justice nor morality and for most lawyers it never has been. I’m won’t tell you how the plot resolves itself. This is one of those scripts that as you sit and listen you can conceive of several different endings. But, you are wrong.

This production is staged in two acts, and is directed by Mia Kristin Smith and Carolyn Shepard Choe. It is a static set, and that’s because it is the spoken lines that are the grit and gist of this story. And the four actors put their ALL into it. It is really a real life drama if you read the news these days. And that says a lot about it’s content. More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com

10
Jun

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Lyric Theatre
through June 25, 2017

It is such a delight when you attend a local theatre only to find the quality of the production is right up to Broadway standards. Right now the Lyric is doing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical;  and even if you saw the touring production last year, you will still marvel at this one.

There’s not much memorable about the music, but the sets, props, costumes and choreography are all top quality. Robert Adams directed this cast of 26 highly professional players. Logan Denninghoff as the Beast (albeit he previously had been Gaston in a national tour) Lauren Hill as Belle, Brian Jordan as the clownish LeFou and Larry Cox as the Trumpish Gaston.

Cindy Mora Reiser’s choreography provides real eye candy and some of the line kicks can make you think you are at Radio City Music Hall. The show is performed to recorded music tracks but it is fully synchronized.

The Lyric performs just south of Marietta Square with plenty of free parking and comfy seating. This is a very special treat for kids from 5 to 95. More info at AtlantaLyric.com