Smokey Joe’s cafe

Smokey Joe’s café
Stage Door Players
through August 5, 2018

If, like me, you were around in the 1950’s and playing the part of Fonzi, you will remember fondly the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Although, if you are like me, you will not have a clue who they were but you will recognize their music when you hear it.

Smokey Joe’s Café is an exuberant cabaret rendering of more than thirty numbers that will take you back to days of your youth. If you are a youth and you were not around in those days it will take you to a never-never land when life was simpler, when people could hear the music and actually understand the words being sung, and we all moved to the pace which we thought was frighteningly fast in those days, but which in hind-sight appears to have been almost prehistoric.

Yes, these were such songs as Kansas City, Fools Fall in Love, On Broadway, and Hound Dog. You may not remember the words but you certainly know lines like “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog.” In fact, most of the audience was singing along in Yakety Yak and again in Charlie Brown (you’re a clown). There is hardly any dialog in this and there is a straight presentation of musical numbers that are stitched together. As a result there are no character names associated with the performers.

The singing and dancing are spot-on. Directed by Robert Egizio, the five guys (Fenner Eddy, Trey Getz, George P. Roberts, Kendrick Taj Stephens and Brian Wesley Turner) and four gals (Solita Parrish, Kiona D. Reese, Lyndsay Ricketson and Xylina Cassandra) run through the numbers with great singing and choreography; while the live band upstage, directed by Nick Silvestri blows down the house.

Suffice it to say that you certainly will recognize and applaud their ambition; so dig out your old Elvis records, rehearse the words, get into your best bell-bottom pants and Nik-Nik shirts and get over to Dunwoody to take in this evening of musical memory. Free parking and good seating. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net


Black Nerd

Black Nerd
Dad’s Garage Theatre
through August 4, 2018

Dad’s Garage regular, Jon Carr, penned this scripted wildly eruptive saga about a guy trying to find himself in today’s world. The nerd is played by Avery Sharpe, who is an actor, improve artist and a writer, whose play will premier at Essential Theatre next month. He is NOT a geekish type of nerd, no does he relate to the rock band who come on as N.E.R.D. some years ago.

He has to play off against family members including a cousin and a grandmother, and the daily angst of how to fit in. Is he black enough to be in the hood? Does he get into all the everyday stuff going on; or is he more into weirder and maybe more intellectual stuff? He doesn’t know, but he is on a trip through life to find out. And while the clock is ticking, he controls what happens timewise.

The show really hits big time in Act II, when they go to Dragon Con and some of the attendees may not be posed as the characters one might expect.  It is hilarious. Andrene Ward-Hammond, Freddy Boyd, Cole Wadsworth, Mandy Butler, Jon Wierenga and Candy McLellan round out this hyper-active cast, all directed by Tiffany Porter.

Some of the themes being dealt with are the friendship of two men of different color, racial profiling, and parental guidance. The show runs about one hour 45 minutes with an intermission. Plenty of nice stuff at the concessions stand, including drinks of your choice if you are over 18.

Having said that, the show is more for Dad’s Garage regulars and those who may attend Dragon Con, come Labor Day Weekend; and probably not for kiddies or those who wouldn’t get the drift of the story or don’t understand what WTF may mean. Theatre is located at 569 Ezzard Street in the Old 4th Ward and has plenty of free parking. If you go on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, you can even hang in for their improve gig which starts about 10:30


The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon
Fox Theatre
through July 22, 2018

When this show came to town 4 years ago it sold out most performances; and it is playing to very full houses this time around. The Book of Mormon opened 7 years ago on Broadway and has generated more heat and press than most shows could wish for. Mainly because of its no-holds-barred satirical attack on the proselytizing activities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone brought us South Park, which has become a standard TV offering. They were brought up in Colorado area, and had a lot of interaction with the LDS church. They hooked up with Robert Lopez and the three of them crafted this winner. It won nine Tony Awards the first year it played, and the album won a Grammy. The music and dance is terrific, as well as quite unique.

This is the one of the few shows in which the eye candy dance troupe is all male. They’re the 10 young men, “Elders”, who are sent out to Uganda to bring some of the natives into the faith. The time is set during the days of Idi Amin, albeit he is not included in the script. But, abuse, murders, and every other problem is present for the folks in the rural community.

Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson play the two Elders who are sent out from Salt Lake City to join forces with the others who are already there and getting nowhere in a hurry. It isn’t quite what they had dreamed of when they were in training. These two play off each other for much of the humor, and they sing and dance as well. The female lead is Kim Exum who plays the young Nabulungi, the girl whose name Elder Cunningham (Peirson) can never get right. The script is slightly updated to include reference to a well known politician.

This is a world-class production. Sets and costumes couldn’t be better and some of them remind one of Lion King. It moves with ease through many scenes and never lacks in ear and eye appeal. Having said all that, you need to know that this is not for Ms. Prim, or the Bible Thumpers. There are enough expletives to impress even a teenager, and plenty of single entendres. If you are one who is easily offended then this might rub you the wrong way.

The upside is that while G-d may not be initially respected by the natives, that the essence of the satire is not the religious beliefs, but the sales promotion thereof. Oops. . . . just heard my door bell ring, and there’s two guys there with white shirts and neckties . . . .


Boys Night OUT on Broadway

Boys Night OUT on Broadway
TEN Atlanta
July 18 & 25 only

The TEN dance club has started running Wednesday night cabaret gigs and this week and next you have a chance to attend a spectacular show. The group of five singers is comprised of Director Robert Ray, Matt Brooker, Truman Griffin, Clay Mote and Rick Mallory.

They run through a load of numbers from shows such as Les Miserables, South Pacific, Moulin Rouge, Oklahoma and many more. The music is provided onstage by the Robert Strickland Trio and the pre-show entertainment is Sam Dunaway on the keyboard.

There are 2 one hour shows, 7 and 9 pm, and parking might be a problem so try to get down there early. If you understand the word OUT in caps and the location then you know a lot about those who may not dig it. But if you have an AARP card, and love theatre, then this is a Must See for you.

The club is located near 10th Street and Piedmont in Midtown, and full into is found at TENAtlanta.com


Titanic, the Musical

Titanic, the Musical
Serenbe Playhouse
through August 19, 2018

Serenbe Playhouse has already created a history of totally enormous productions, so while this one may be expected, it is nothing like what you might imagine. Directed by founder Brian Clowdus, the Titanic is staged on a lake, and the ship is four decks high and seems to be almost as long as a real ocean liner.

The orchestra of 11 players under the baton of Chris Brent Davis, is in a facility built for them on the other side of the lake. They perfectly work through more than 30 numbers as the tale of Titanic portions takes place. This is a production where every actor is first class and the costumes and choreography never stop your enjoyment of a true tale of great remorse.

For it was in April 1912 that the largest passenger ship in the world was on its maiden voyage from the UK to New York. You know some of the story, as it ran into an ice berg which ripped the ship apart and caused it to sink within a couple of hours in the middle of the night. The majority of passengers could not be saved and 710 were saved, 1514 were lost. About 80% of all male passengers and crew were lost. A lot of public outrage erupted and many of our generations may not know the whole story, including exceeding normal at-sea speeds, moving the route further north to shorten the journey, receiving several warnings of danger on new route, failure of old radio signals and/or use of Morse code to reach recovery ships, some of the world famous multi-millionaires who had been on the ship.

The setting is unique and incredible. The set is built on the water, and you see it move about a bit. The lighting from onshore towers keeps your view quite clear and the sound system has every player-singer fully heard. While Act I deals with the pre-boarding and the different amenities of the first class as compared to those on lower decks; Act II deals with the final day of the trip and you can’t miss one second of it. I could say it is as good as any show in a major house; but that would not do it credit. It is a LOT more than almost any other show you’ve ever seen. It runs about 150 minutes with one intermission, and may not be for the very young; but will wow the rest of us.

More info at SerenbePlayhouse.com


The Bikinis






The Bikinis
Art Station
through July 29, 2018

Even if you’re too young to remember all those hits of the 60’s and the flower children, you have heard about those Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikinis. And this new musical is about the group of four young women who became The Bikinis.

They sang at weddings, bar mitzvahs, proms and even under the boardwalk. The show was written by Ray Roderick and James Hindman with more than 30 musical arrangements by Joe Baker. It is an evening of pure enjoyment where nobody is killed and no political orations are presented.

It is a story about four gals who live in or near Sandy Shores Trailer Park which is being yuppified and renamed the Sandy Shores Mobile Home Beach Resort. And just as in real life, a developer has made an offer buy up all the land rights and build some new condos. Sounds like everyday business in south Florida. The residents have to vote and a majority vote wins. But they are split like the Senate on this one. 183 on each side. These four a performing a show for the residents trying to save the park.

Meet Annie (Aretta Baumgartner), Karla (Wendy Bennett), Jodi (Adena Brumer) and Barbara (Janelle Lannan. Karen Beyer directed and also fashioned the choreography. The revue is presented with plenty of comedy and some terrific costume changes. I assure you that you’ve not seen these kinds of swimsuits before.

More info at ArtStation.com


Dog Sees God






Dog Sees God
OutFront Theatre
through July 15, 2018

Full title is Dog Sees God, Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, and while it may be somewhat of a parody of Charlie Brown and the peanuts characters, it certainly is NOT for the kiddies nor for Ms. Prim.

James O. Conner plays C.B. and you can guess from whence those initials came. His dog has died and he is totally in the deepest grief. His sister is played by Madison Smith. The story gets into homophobia when the piano player, Beethoven (Austin Lee Windolph) gets into some situations with Matt (Kalonjee Gallimore). Are either of them attracted or abhorent of the other?

The other cast members are Van and his siter, played by Alex Barrella and Eva Rubin; and Tricia (Madison Cook) and Marcy (Naiya McCalla) who are classmates. To say the story is loaded with expletives would be a modest suggestion. While everybody keeps their clothing on, the references to sexual practices among these teenagers, is quite stage front; as is the use of pot and other drugs. And bullying is a major issue as well as physical development of these youngsters.

Directed by Jacob Demlow, the cast does a good job of bringing this opus to life; but it runs only to July 15th. The play opened in NYC more than ten years ago, to mixed reviews in Variety and other publications. It can also offend many holding fixed religious beliefs on the afterlife. It runs about an hour and 20 minutes in one act. Then there’s time to have a drink and discuss the issues raised.

More info at OutFrontTheatre.com



Alliance Theatre
through July 15, 2018

Due to public demand the Alliance has extended the run of this classic work to July 15th. It is a musical based on the story by A. A. Milne, and is produced in collaboration with the High Museum, which is hosting an exhibition of Milne’s drawings for Pooh-Bear.

This production is being staged at the Rich Theatre at Woodruff Arts Center, which is a smaller theatre but with unobstructed views from every seat in the house. Leora Morris directs a cast of 7 players who seem to love their characters as much as kids loved the story. Grant Chapman is Pooh, who is living in the Hundred Acre Wood. His human friend, Christopher Robin is played by Caleb Baumann.

The story does feature Eeyore (Joe Sykes), who has lost his tail and is going crazy trying to find it. While that goes on, Kanga (Maria Rodriguez-Saber) is trying to get offspring, Roo (CJ Cooper) to behave. Sake Akanke doubles as Rabbit and the Owl in the tree; and Mabel Tyler exudes incredible energy as Piglet. This may be a show mainly for the youngsters, but the cast is fully professional and the set works quite well.

There are many children in the audience and some of them may have some problems during the production, which runs about an hour. But, they do have a “quiet room” adjacent to the theatre where parents and wee tots may do their thing, including being fed in private.

If you can get there early for a show and find a parking meter, it will save plenty of money, as the garage rates are now insane. Up to 59 minutes for $2 then any more and you’ll pay $12. Sort of like being in NYC. Whatever else you may decide to do, you may rest assured that the kids and grands you may bring will thoroughly enjoy the show. More info at AllianceTheatre.org



Lyric Theatre
through June 24, 2018

Come into the jungle and really go ape over this wonderful staging of the Tarzan musical based on the Disney film. With music and lyrics by Phil Collins and directed by Chris Brent Davis, this show really delivers up to the audience. Great costumes by Amanda Edgerton West and super exciting choreography by Cindy Mora Reiser, the cast of more than 20 players take to the stage designed by Daniel Patillo to tell the story of the boy raised by the primates.

When we first meet the young Tarzan (Vinny Montague) he is incredible. This young man does it all; acts, sings, dances, and does acrobatics with ease. He is taken into the tribe by Kala (Leslie Bellair) and allowed to stay after Kerchak (Marcus Hopkins-Turner) finally agrees to have a different species residing with his family.

As the show progresses the older Tarzan comes to the stage. He is played by Stanley Allyn Owen, who also can do it all. After all, what else would a homo sapiens do if living in a primates tribe in a jungle. Then he meets Jane (Alison Wilhoit), who is there with her father’s safari group on some research; and some of his human emotions start to develop.

Things go awry when Jane’s father, (Steve Hudson) gets into a problem with his safari manager (Hayden Rowe) has a different plan of activity than that of the Professor Porter. You probably recall the grand scheme of the story by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and while one of the gorillas does get done in, in the last scene; it is a scenic delight for all the kids from 3 to 93.

You will really enjoy all the flying done in the scenes, and the music managed by Preston Goodson is spot on. Forget about New York, it doesn’t get any better than this production. For more info: AtlantaLyric.com



Out of Box Theatre
through June 17, 2018

Come back about 15 years, when we went to war with Iraq, and there was almost as much political unrest as we experience today. Wendy Wasserstein’s play is set in an Ivy League type of college in Massachusetts.  Professor Laurie Jameson (Mary Claire Klooster) is drowning her students in analysis and interpretation of King Lear.

One of her students is Woodson Bull, III (Michael Sanders) who prefers to go by Third as opposed to Woody or some other name. He’s caught up in a fix because there is to be a filming of some special from the BBC on a day when he is supposed to be in the ring as a wrestler. What’s to come first? Athletics or academics?

He’s supposed to write an essay on Lear, and when he delivers it up, the professor suspects plagiarism, and sends him to a review committee. Third goes through a lot of life changes, as does the professor.

A colleague, professor Nancy Gordon (Mia Kristin Smith), also has some issues both with her health and the school environment. Are we dealing with just students, or with the privileged elite heirs of hoity-toity families? It might make you think of Yale with some who became presidents and you wonder how . . .

Some of Laurie’s problems are also her daughter, Emile (Emily Styron) who wants her own life, and her father Jack (Rial Ellsworth) who has lost most of his marbles and lives with Laurie.

As the scenes progress we are compelled to reflect on issues of how we see others, as well as how we relate to others. After all, most of us have families, and we know how that can work out.

Zip Rampy directs this well done play, and the theatre is easy to get to on Cobb Parkway south of The Big Chicken. More info at their website, OutOfBoxTheatre.com