25
Mar

Blockbusters!

Blockbusters!
Georgia Philharmonic & The Michael O’Neal Singers

The Georgia Philharmonic and the MOS came together to present an incredible evening at the Lassiter Concert Hall in Marietta. Any suggestion of collusion is just fake news; as they openly appreciate each other and their conductors take turns directing the 140 singers and the full orchestra of more than 50 players, all on the same stage.

The program was mostly oratorio works which are musical pieces that are usually based on some Biblical or religious event. It is a performance for voice and orchestra; but the story is told through the music, and not with scenery, costumes, and action.

The audience of about 800 was really enjoying the evening as they played and sang through a dozen famous works, including the Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, Handel’s Hallelujah and the one everyone could hum along to, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from his Symphony No. 9

Dr.Michael O’Neal conducted the MOS as he has joyfully done for 30 years, and the orchestra was under the baton of John Morrison, who has been their music director since 2010. When you consider that these 200+ performers are all volunteers, it is quite incredible.

Most of their gigs are one-nighters, so you need to plan ahead. On May 10th the MOS will present a concert of choral selections from well-known movies. It will be at the Roswell United Methodist Church, where they often perform. More info and tickets are at mosingers.com

And on June 1st, the Philharmonic will present a concert they dubbed “Tragedy and Rebirth.” It features music from Brahm’s Tragic Overture, as well as Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and some music from Navarra. The concert will be at Lassiter Concert Hall. More info and tickets are at GeorgiaPhilharmonic.org

23
Mar

Jersey Boys

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey Boys
Fox Theatre
through March 24, 2019

Jersey Boys, the Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons has hit the boards big time at the Fox. This huge touring company will play here just this week. The show has been seen by millions of folks around the world and, obviously, is about that group of performers who hit the #1 Charts big time in the 1960’s with numbers such as Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, and so many more. You will want to clap in time and sing along. Just don’t be too loud . . .

Things weren’t easy in Jersey in those days, and working out deals with record labels and promoters and buying air time wasn’t for sissies. The principals are Jonny Wexler as Frankie, and Jonathan Cable as Nick Massi, Eric Chambliss as Bob Gaudio and Corey Greenan as Tommy DeVito. They were the Four Seasons.

The show is presented with great energy on a set which changes somewhat as the team works through gigs in their career. There may be only 15 players on stage, but the amount of gear they haul from town to town is huge and they must have plenty of grips touring with them.

This is not one for tots, nor Ms. Prim, as the “F word” is the universal modifier and the show is scripted with real street lingo from them days in Jersey. But, older adults will revel in the tunes, dress, movements and all that kind of stuff when we used to actually be able to understand the words that groups were singing.

More info at FoxTheatre.org

22
Mar

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi
Capitol City Opera Company
through March 24, 2019

Giacomo Puccini wrote three one-act operas in 1918, and the best known of the three is Gianni Schicchi, which premiered in NYC at The Met 100 years ago. It is pretty much an opera buffa where most things that could go wrong, do so. Buoso Donati is a wealthy gent in Florence, circa 1299. He’s in his final hours and the family is concerned because the existing will doesn’t do much for them. He plans to give it all to the Friars.

The townies are not aware of Buoso’s passing and the family figures they can employ Gianni to pull off a deal where he will pose as Buoso, and instruct the notary and witnesses to write his will just before his “passing.” The gang gets upset when they find that Gianni plans to scam most of the money for himself and they will get a pittance. They’re pretty screwed, as each of them was involved in the scheme and every one of them could be held accountable. It is a sort of warning that when you lie with dogs you may get fleas.

The opera is sung in Italian with English super-titles. And after a brief intermission they take the stage again to present Buoso’s Ghost, also a one-act opera but written by Michael Ching in 1966. This not-often-staged work is sort of a game of Clue. Sung in English and staged in present day appearance; Gianni becomes concerned that maybe some of them helped to poison Buono and that now he might be the next victim. He got some nice treats delivered to him, but learns that you have to be careful what you choose to eat.

Iván Segovia is Gianni Schicchi, and the presentation the cast of 18 others, includes Buoso’s cousin Simone (Christopher S. Connelly), his son, Marco (Michael Lindsay) and Gianni’s daughter, Lauretta (Megan Mashburn), who sings the most remembered aria, O mio babbino caro; a tune you will recall.

Michael Nutter directs both operas and the chamber orchestra at stage left is conducted by Michael Giel. These operas will play only this weekend at the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. Easy to get to, free parking, and good view from any seat. More info at ccityopera.org

19
Mar

Ragtime

Ragtime
Kennesaw State University
through March 24, 2019

The KSU Department of Theatre and Performance Studies has brought a really Broadway quality production to their Stillwell Theatre. Ragtime, a musical based on the book by E. L. Doctorow, is directed by Amanda Wansa Morgan and it is hard to believe that almost every actor is actually a current student at KSU.

There is a cast of 18 principal players plus and ensemble of 28 more, with a live orchestra of 13 players in the pit under the baton of Cristina Dinella; and they work their way through a score of 30+ numbers. It is not just a ragtime concert, but is a story of a man of a man who likes to play ragtime, at a time when racism was quite a problem and so many citizens were deprived of their rights, while the hoi-polloi just carried on business as usual.

You meet Coalhouse Walker (David Wilkerson III) who wants to find his place in society and at the keyboards. There is also a story of a husband and wife who take in a woman and her baby as part of their family, in a time when mixed families were not common. And then one person who is denied his fair chance to find success, goes off the deep end, which is not so uncommon these days.

The early 20th century in this nation was not a time of great personal satisfaction to every citizen; nor is it so these days. Do we not have people of color being detained or gunned down without cause, gay people being discriminated against, movie moguls with casting couches, and politicians who are for rent when the occasion should arise?

This is a true NYC quality production in a fairly small venue, but it works quite well and there are good views from every seat. It is easy to get to off Chastain Road west of I-75, but shows are selling out quickly as the word spreads. Remaining shows are Thursday 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday final show at 2pm. More info at Arts.Kennesaw.Edu/theatre/ragtime.php

19
Mar

the Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz
Alliance Theatre
through April 14, 2019

Once upon a time there was a story by L. Frank Baum about a young girl in a farm town who set off on a adventure and wound up on a yellow brick road.

I know you saw the film from 60+ years ago, and maybe read the Wonderful Wizard of Oz to your children, and seen it on TV, etc. But this production by the Alliance is quite a treat for young and old alike. Directed by Rosemary Newcott, a cast of nine players captures your eyes and ears from the first lines.

Phillip DePoy is the musical director and all the players are onstage. Jeremy Aggers appears as a scarecrow as well as two other roles. Niki Badua is Dorothy and she travels on to find good things for all. Glinda is played by Molly Coyne; and that cowardly lion and munchkin is Thomas Neal Antwon. The Woodman is Jeremiah Parker Hobbs and Lyndsay Ricketson is another munchkin and a Crow.

That wicked witch is Ellen McQueen who is also other roles; and the voice of that egotistical Wizard is Rob Lawhon, who is also 3 other characters.

While the story was banned many years ago for depicting women as strong leaders, it remains relevant as youngsters learn that family is what you make it, that you must first believe in yourself and that there really is no place like home.

The production may be aimed at an audience of K-12, but the story remains a standard to this day for the lessons it teaches one, be they 6 or 66, and it is enjoyed by all. Shows are Saturdays and Sundays afternoons, and there are shows mid-week in the first week of April. More info AllianceTheatre.org

16
Mar

Tokens of Affection

 

 

 

 

 

Tokens of Affection
Out of Box Theatre
through March 30, 2019

This is a show where everything comes together perfectly. Topher Payne’s Tokens of Affection, is a laugh riot; especially if you thought that your own family was the only dysfunctional one.

Then come to meet the Garretts. Charlie (Matthew Busch) is the son who lives in lower Manhattan and works from home designing computer animated gaming. His sister, Claire (Emily Sams Brown), is up in Connecticut playing housewife to her hubby, Bruce (Daniel Carter Brown). Their father, Frank (Bob Smith), shows up unexpectedly and you have the start of a riotous confusion akin to putting your lives in the blender and then having somebody turn the power on when you least expect it.

Mary Claire Klooster plays their testy mother, Jackie; and Emily Kalat is Charlie’s neighbor, the single woman Rita.  No matter what anybody says, every attempt to skew the facts seems to backfire. If you were a fan of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara you will certainly love this play.

The set designed by Carolyn Choe works perfectly in a Moliere style. It works very well even if Charlie’s ceiling fan or stove may not do so.

Zip Rampy directed the production and I really thought he knew the real Jackie. She’s must have been my daughter-in-law’s mother.

This is one that some day should go to film, it’s that funny. For tickets and more info visit OutOfBoxTheatre.com

15
Mar

I am My Own Wife

I am My Own Wife
OutFront Theatre
through March 30, 2019

While many of us may often think twice before attending a one-actor show, this isn’t that kind of production at all. Peter Smith is a highly regarded comedian/actor who plays regularly in NYC.  They come on here as the transgender Charlotte von Mahisdorf, who was a real person and she wrote her autobiography in 1992; detailing all the events of her difficult life trying to stay safe through the Nazi era and the Russian domination of east Germany after WWII before that wall came down.

The Nazis were trying to eradicate gay citizens and they were sought out akin to those of Jewish faith. And when the Stasi took over in the east Berlin area, where she had started the Gründerzeit Museum, she had even more problems.

The play by Doug Wright was crafted in 2003 from his interviews and conversations with the lady; and the following year he won a Pulitzer Prize for this one. Peter Smith shifts gears and personae instantly when onstage as more than 30 characters. The story starts with Charlotte, nee Lothar Berfelde, as a youngster who kills her father and has to deal with that for the rest of her life. But she was a survivor in every sense of the word.

Graham Miller has directed this work and an incredible amount of energy goes into this one-act play. And while you may know where it is going; the journey is never as expected. A lot of patrons would gladly have stayed on for a discussion group. Alas, many of the younger members of the audience had not lived through the great war, nor been in Soviet occupied East Germany or been through Checkpoint Charlie on the Friedrichstraße.

This is another thought provoking fine production by the OutFront Theatre Company. Easy to get to off 10th Street with valet parking. More info at OutFrontTheatre.com

12
Mar

Joe Gransden

Joe Gransden
Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Joe Gransden and his 16 piece big band hit the stage at Georgia Ensemble this week for their Fly Me to the Moon concert, which featured a lot of oldies and many you would want to sing along with.

This well known band plays 4 concerts a year at Georgia Ensemble and generally to a full house. They really know how to work the audience and the folks enjoy it fully.

This was their 3rd concert so if you want to catch up, plan ahead as their final concert will be Songs of the South on April 22, 2019

More info at GET.org

11
Mar

South Pacific

 

 

 

 

 

South Pacific
City Springs Theatre
through March 17, 2019

The classic musical, South Pacific, is playing right now to very happy audiences at the new Byers Theatre at Sandy Springs. The show is one that hit the boards in 1949, winning 10 Tony’s and a Pulitzer. Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin were the leads in the show and are remembered to this day for their performances as the French plantation owner and the navy nurse.

This production is directed and choreographed by Baayork Lee and brings more than two dozen performers to the stage, as they perfectly run through all 18 numbers, every one of which is a standard to the day. It is a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein being played somewhere in the world every day.

William Michals plays Emile de Brecque, who lives in that plush estate on the hilltop, overlooking the beach and with a view of Bali Ha’i. He falls for that navy nurse, Ensign Nellie Forbush, played by Kristine Reese and they both sing their way through attractions, doubts, and final resolutions.

A lot of the humor comes from that tough Tonkanise Bloody Mary, played by Yvonne Strumecki. Bart Hansard appears as Captain Brackett who is trying to get something accomplished. But, as you know the sailors are lonely and deeply feel that there is nothing like a dame; but some of the women would wash those men right out of their hair. What underlies the story line is how people feel about others and how children have to be carefully taught; especially if they expect to grow up into some enchanted evening.

The full orchestra in the pit is under the baton of Brandt Blocker, who is also the Artistic Director of this fabulous new company and venue. Easy to get to on Roswell Rd just outside the perimeter with plenty of garage space, and every seat with a clear view. HC drivers should drive up to main entrance and they have a discounted valet rate, which is a nice deal.

More info at CitySpringsTheatre.com

9
Mar

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Picasso at the Lapin Agile
Lionheart Theatre
through March 24, 2019

Steve Martin wrote this play and it is sooooo Steve Martin in so many respects. The Au Lapin Agile was a real bistro in the Montmartre area of Paris; and in the days when Montmartre was a colony of now famous artists, it was a hangout for artists as well as musicians, students and a variety of weirdos. Of course these days it is more like Yuppieville, but still loaded with tourists who go to visit Sacré Cœur and then stroll down the rue Lepic past the galleries and souvenir shops to the Moulin Rouge.

As the show opens we find Einstein (Grant Carden) coming into the bistro where he decides to await a lady friend who is to meet him elsewhere. Only Einstein can really understand his own reasoning. Bartender, Freddy (Aaron Sherry) serves him up, and at the same time tries to deal with his wife and the joint’s waitress Germaine (Jamie Goss). A local ne’er do well sot named Gaston (Doug Isbecque) watches and joins in except when his over active bladder seems to interfere.

Picasso’s art dealer, Sagot (Gregory Nassif St.John) shows up for a dink and he and Einstein start to criticize the sheepish landscape that Freddy has hung on the back wall of the bar area. Enter Picasso (Daniel Cutts) who also needs a drink and the discussion seems to turn from art to sex; especially after sexy Suzanne (Jessie Kuipers) drops by. In real life Pablo was a bit of a womanizer and had relations with a good number of ladies. You’ll also meet Charles Schmendiman (Colton Combs) who is a real schmendrick and Steve Martin named him accordingly; pun intended. Cat Rondeau appears as a countess. And you shall get to meet one unnamed visitor (Briana Murray). Who that might be becomes quite obvious, but I shall not spoil the pleasure of discovery for those who have yet to see the play.

For if it is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then pleasure is in the mind and heart of the attendee; and it is an evening of really fine performance by a dedicated cast directed by Scott King on a really good set by Tanya Moore. The theatre is easy to get to, with free parking, good view from any seat and even home baked goodies at intermission. More info at LionheartTheatre.org

And, if you wish to visit Au Lapin Agile, which dates from the 1860s, they are still in business at 22 rue des Saules, as a cabaret.