19
Apr

The Buddy Holly Story

 

 

 

 

 

The Buddy Holly Story
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through April 29, 2018

This was one of Robert Farley’s favorite shows, last produced at GET in 2010 and now onstage again in his memory.

Buddy Holly was one of the first white guys to break into Rock & Roll back in the 50’s He came out of a Lubbock, Texas to skyrocket to fame in a brief and tragic career. Buddy was one who may have left us at age 23, but when you look at what he did, you know that at least he lived life before he died. No cultural barriers would stop this young performer. He played at the Apollo in Harlem in the days when honkys weren’t generally found there. He met Maria Elana Santiago (Andrea Mora) who was from Puerto Rico and quickly married the lovely woman. He wrote and played his music the way he heard it, rather than the way the producers might have preferred.

His final concert was in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959. After the concert he and his friends, Ritchie Valens, and J.T. Richardson a/k/a The Big Bopper took off in a chartered Cessna bound for Fargo, North Dakota. The plane crashed just a few miles after take-off and that was the day the music died.

Jeremy Aggers is great as Buddy. Ricardo Aponte, who directed this show also brings the house down as Ritchie Valens, and Ethan Ray Parker makes the walls shake as The Big Bopper. They are backed up by a great cast and a wonderful band. The sets are right on, and in the second act the show plays to the audience as if you were actually sitting in on the final performance in Clear Lake.

There are very few times when you will see a show that exudes such energy and provides so much great fun. Don’t sweat it if the first act seems a bit quiet. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Even if you don’t recall the days the girls wore poodle skirts and the boys all thought they were Fonzi, you shall not be disappointed in any respect. More info at GET.org

18
Apr

Something Rotten!

Something Rotten!
Fox Theatre
through April 22, 2018

Do you like musicals? Have you seen some of the works of The Bard? Do you get a kick out Mel Brooks films? How about some of best SNL sketches? Well, if any/all of the foregoing ring your chimes, then you have to see Something Rotten!

I can’t give away all of the schticks, or the puns; but alas, Something was rotten. Brothers Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti) are trying to eke out a living as writers and producers; but this is back in the 90’s. Oops . . . did I mention 1590’s? It was the times of the renaissance and was when the peasant stood up through the entire show, women could not take to the stage, and puritanical rules were being imposed. Not quite what we have today.

But, you’ll find Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) trying to do all the research and using as many investigative opportunities as possible to cobble together more shows. He gets into it face-to-face with the Bottom Brothers.

Shylock (Jeff Brooks) is pressing them for overdue payment, and they even seek advice from Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) as to what the future holds and how to achieve success.

There is a cast of 27 players, with live music, great costumes and great choreography. If you recall a lot of the standards from Broadway musicals, you may find it hilarious how the numbers in this work, relate to the oldies.

OK. I am not telling you any more, other than I attended this performance with no idea of what was to come, and it was a total delight. This is one you’ll see now and again when it comes back to town some day. For the play’s the thing and you can get more info at FoxTheatre.org

17
Apr

Always . . . Patsy Cline

Always . . . Patsy Cline
The Lyric Theatre
through April 29, 2018

The true story of Patsy Cline has been around quite a while, but hasn’t loss a spot of impact to this day. This show, conceived by Ted Swindley deals with the small town gal who rises to stardom, yet has a fairly brief stay there.

Directed by Mary Nye Bennett with a live six man band on stage, the show moves along as Patsy, sung by Laura Hodos, takes us for the ride on her Honky Tonk Merry-Go-Round, and through another two dozen numbers, each of which has become a standard oldie.

You’ve listened many times to I Fall to Pieces, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Crazy and others, and they’re still as good as when she first did them. Laura Hodos “owns” the role and has played it for some year in many venues. Even if you’ve seen the single performer cabaret version of Patsy Cline, this one also brings in her BFF, Louise Seger, played by Karen Howell. She’s another good ole gal, and Patsy was the highlight of her life.

Both of these actors are top class and the show moves along with great ease and pleasure.

Alas, Patsy Cline passed away at an early age in an airplane crash. But, her memories and talents will live on. This is a VERY entertaining couple of hours and everyone in the audience had a great time.

More info at AtlantaLyric.com

17
Apr

Ripe Frenzy

Ripe Frenzy
Synchronicity
through May 6, 2018

With all the insanity in this world, little time seems to pass from one mass killing or atrocity to another. Maybe there were terrible things done ages ago when every event wasn’t thrown at us by the media. As you know, ever since the OJ days, the modus operandi has been “If it bleeds it leads.” And any evening you can tune to the news and that’s the lead story, whereas the good news about a youngster or some other beings comes in after the sports and local stuff.

Jennifer Barclay brought all this together and Synchronicity presents it as part of a rolling premiere. Rachel May directed the production which is set in a small town sort of like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. There may be but 5 players on stage, but it took a crew of 24 more to get this one to our town.

Zoe (Taylor M. Dooley) is going through a difficult time. Her son is played by Parker Fox Ciliax, who also appears as Bryan James McNamara who had wreaked havoc on the local school like the recent tragedy at Parkland.

There are other mothers in the school, which is getting ready to stage a play they’ve done for 40 years, and Danye Brown, Megan Cramer, and Lizzy Liu come on as four ladies of the school group.

The story is that it’s not just the lives of students that could be lost; but the lives of survivors is permanently and deeply affected. And when we come away from this production we realize even more that we must find ways to see antisocial behavior and to get help for those who need it.

It can be a bit confusing as the audience senses they are both watching and being drawn in to the happenings, and whether or not a character may be real or ghostly. But, the essence of the play is to bring forth that these kinds of vents can arise at any time and in any place, and we must all remain observant. When dealing with some people we need to do as they say in the airports, and if you see something suspicious you call it in.

More info at SynchroTheatre.com

14
Apr

Disney’s the little MERMAID

 

Disney’s the little MERMAID
Serenbe Playhouse
through April 22, 2018

Let’s skip to the bottom line . . . this is one you want to dive into NOW. The incredible Serenbe Playhouse obtained the rights to stage the Disney opus, and the production is as good as anything you would see at a theme park or Broadway. In this show every aspect is top grade; the acting, choreography, costumes, makeup, sets, props, and live orchestra. It don’t get much better than this . . .

Directed by Ryan Oliveti, with the orchestra under the baton of Chris Brent Davis, and captivating choreography by Bubba Carr, this production with a cast of 19 highly professional players brings to life the story told by Hans Christian Andersen, the film and the musical play. It is the story of that mermaid who had a desire to become a human as she was enamored of a local prince. But, life is not always easy; and the price she had to pay for an opportunity to achieve her desires is gruesome.

Niki Badua is the young mermaid, and Deb Bowman is the wicked Ursula who holds the key to the escape route for Mermaid Ariel. Chase Peacock is the handsome prince. Everyone plays off everybody else. The King of the Oceans, Triton (Derek Dixon) is a king, but also the father of a mermaid gone missing, and it is a dilemma. A lot of the action is moved forward by the crab, Sebastian (India Tyree) the flounder who starts off the act (Kenny Tran) and Scuttle, the seagull who is played by Austin Tijerina who does fly across the stage on several occasions. You’ll also crack up when Chase Anderson comes on as Chef Louis who is running the royal dinner. But, maybe things could go wrong?

The show is presented against real water on the Grange Lake at Serenbe. And we can take off our hats and salute Brian Clowdus and the cast and crew for using this show to get several messages across. Not only do we all need to treat one another nicely and humanly but we should also be more interested in protecting and preserving the ecosystem; ergo stop tossing all that trash in the oceans.

Their shows are always in open air; but they do have seating, and you can bring your goodies if you wish, and they do have help available for those with mobility problems. If you don’t know where Serenbe is, there is plenty of information and directions at their website, SerenbePlayhouse.com; but get to it. Most of their performances were sold out, but they added some more seating on the beach. If you are 8 years of age or 98, you are going to thoroughly enjoy this one

14
Apr

Murder at the Strand

 

 

 

 

 

Murder at the Strand
Strand Theatre
through April 15, 2018

Playwright/Director Corey Bradberry came up with the plan to let theatre folks figure out a whodunit which would occur right before their eyes. With an escape room designer, Jeremy Ledbetter in association they put together this 75 minutes of false leads, real clues, weird guesses and more.

The show is more an “event” than a show; inasmuch as you aren’t sitting placidly by in your seat while all action is presented in front of you. You will be on a team of colleagues who try to figure out who offed that poor victim at the start of the event, and how.

There is a sort of egg hunt for real clues versus false leads, and all will come clear at the end, as Agatha would have done. This is a premiere of this creation in The Strand Theatre at Marietta Square, and is a short run, with fewer than 75 investigators permitted in to partake of the adventure.

More info at EarlSmithStrand.org But, they are selling out, so if you snooze you lose.

10
Apr

Out of Darkness; Two Remain

Out of Darkness; Two Remain
Atlanta Opera
through April 15, 2018

This English language opera with music by Jake Heggie and a libretto by Gene Scheer, is being presented by the Atlanta Opera at the Balzer Theatre on Luckie Street, the home of the Theatrical Outfit.

Based in part on the true stories of two Holocaust survivors: the Polish dissident Krystyna Zywulska (1914-1993) and the gay German Jew, Gad Beck (1923-2012); The opera is about two holocaust survivors who tell their stories in the two acts. As the Opera website sets it forth, “the survivors are visited by ghosts of their past. In Act I, Krystyna (Maria Kanyova) shares her gripping story of survival with a journalist, and is helped by the ghosts of Auschwitz who were inspired by her written lyrics.

In Act II, Gad Beck (Tom Key) is visited by his first true love, the poet Manfred Lewin (Ben Edquist), who perished in Auschwitz. As Manfred implores Gad to remember and celebrate their love, the painful truth of their stories and fates emerges. Based in part on the true stories of two Holocaust survivors: the Polish dissident Krystyna Zywulska (1914-1993) and the gay German Jew, Gad Beck (1923-2012).”

It’s a pretty stark set, but then it reflects the inhumane sites being recalled. For the Nazis didn’t try to eliminate only the Jews; they also encamped gays, immigrants, gypsies, and anybody else who didn’t seem to match their idea of Aryan status.

Under direction of Tomer Zvulun with Joseph Machavich conducting, the stories are told; and the movements were choreographed by John McFall. For those of us, of a certain age, who lived through the years of WWII, it could be difficult. But, with the memories of the persecution this month and the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Israel, it is a perfect time for this one to be staged.

For it remains true to this day that the evils of the past may never be forgotten and as we hear so much these days, “Never Again.” And the words of George Santayana in 1896 ring in one’s ears as he proclaimed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” One need to look no further than Syria and some other venues of these days.

This is not just for the Jewish community. We are all people and need to treat one another as equals. For it is so often forgotten that even the Koran says that one should treat the stranger and he would his family.

For more info visit AtlantaOpera.org

8
Apr

An Evening with Patsy Cline

 

An Evening with Patsy Cline
Art Station
through April 15, 2018

Georgia native, Michelle Martin, takes to the stage in a cabaret performance delivering up all the great standards of Patsy Cline. The show runs in two acts, with the first being staged at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.

She’s been singing Patsy Cline’s numbers for many years and has quite a following. Together with three musicians backing her up onstage, she goes through maybe 25 or more numbers, which excite the crowd enough they keep yelling for encores when the show ends. The second act is being done as if she is working on the road and leading up to 1963 in Kansas City. She was a star, and it was such a sad event when at age 30 she died in a small plane accident in Camden, TN.

With Jonathan Mills on the drums, Mark Sims on bass, and Patrick Hutchison on the keys, they all play every number without a score, and Michelle does every number as if she were the real Patsy Cline. Saturday evening saw Jordan Manley sitting in on the drums, and he was also quite a treat.

The Art Station is easy to get to in Historic Stone Mountain area, with plenty of eateries nearby. More info at ArtStation.org

8
Apr

STOMP

STOMP

The classic STOMP returned once more to Atlanta to amaze a pretty full house with their one-of-a-kind type of show.

Hard to imagine these kinds of acts coming across the pond from Scotland. They would usually be thought of as coming from the Village. A company of eight players hit the stage with no character names. So you never really know who is who, as the personalities are irrelevant.

What the show is about is orchestration, choreography and athleticism. It is the show where they play on tin cans, huge rubber tires, waste baskets, trash barrels, kitchen sinks and anything else that one might find laying around in an alley someplace.

There are no spoken lines, and no plot. But, plenty of action and pretty high volume. If you’ve seen it before you know the routine, and not much has changed. It’s like a circus act; but so much longer than anything you would have seen under the Big Top.

It came to The Fox this past week for two nights only, and this company hits the road with such gusto you wonder how they could possibly do 5 of these shows in one week. But, it’s nice to be young.

26
Mar

Hospice + Pointing at the Moon

Hospice + Pointing at the Moon
Alliance Theatre
through April 15, 2018

These are two one act plays by Pearl Cleage, which delve into the lives of two women at different stages of their lives.

In Hospice we find Alice Anderson (Terry Burrell) who is in the final stages of her life. She has come back from Paris after many years to live with the daughter she abandoned to pursue her career abroad. The daughter, Jenny (Tinashe Kajese-Bolden), has vacillating feelings as she is also with child and due to deliver soon. The two women discuss their lives in general and in depth.

After an intermission the second play, Pointing at the Moon, comes to stage at the same home, but with a lot of interior changes. Jenny is now many years on and is now played by Terry Burrell. She’s visited by her neighbor-friend, Isabel, who is played by Tinashe Kajese-Bolton. The passage of those years hasn’t always been an easy trip and they are discussing the recent death of a gent they knew well. And it reflects upon the facts that when one is young they may seem irrelevant to others, yet when they get on with age they also seem the same way.

That’s life for so many of us. We weren’t closely attached to our grandparents and yet as we become them, we experience the same situation, but from a different perspective.

These two actors do a fine job in these works directed by Timothy Douglas. This is one of the Alliance’s on the road productions while their renovations are being done at the Woodruff Center. These plays are presented at the Southwest Arts Center on New Hope Road. This is where Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre calls home. Just west of 285 off Cascade Road (Exit 7). More info and tickets at AllianceTheatre.org