Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Fox Theatre
through May 29, 2016

The young girl from Brooklyn, Carol Jean Klein, is the grown up star composer, singer and entertainer you know as Carole King. Now 74 and still going strong, she’s been called The Queen of Rock, and has won scores of awards and had plenty of #1 hits in her long career.

She released her life story 4 years ago in A Natural Woman: a Memoir, and a lot of that, albeit not all the not-so-nice-parts, has evolved into Beautiful which opened a couple of years ago and is now touring.

Like Beehive which is all music, this is a compilation of more than 2 dozen numbers, many of which you will recall and want to sing along with as you rock away. With a cast of 24 players and a live band as well as some canned segments, the show moves effortlessly along from her days of getting from under Mommy’s control, to hooking up with hubby #1 at an early age, and the tough times that ensued. But, the production does not get into the abusive behavior, albeit one scene deals with husband Gerry’s roving eyes.

Abby Mueller is Carole King, and Andrew Brewer is Gerry Goffin with whom she hooks up personally and professionally at age 17. Another greatly talented songwriting couple, Cindy Weil and Barry Mann (Becky Gulsvig and Ben Frankhauser) share a lot of the person-to-person scenes through the years. The stage setting slides easily from producers office to sound stage and other venues. For the story isn’t the story, it is the music.

For this is the woman who created numbers such as Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, You’ve Got a Friend and her signature piece, A Natural Woman. Tickets and info at FoxTheatre.org and you know you can avoid the Park Atlanta cockroaches if you take Marta to North Ave and walk around the corner.


Beehive – The 1960’s Musical

Beehive – The 1960’s Musical
Lyric Theatre
through June 5, 2016

It was the 1960’s and female singers were taking the stage and rocking the house with songs that had all the young folks joining in. This is a tribute to the classic tunes of the era, and the women who brought them to light. There’s no plot, as it is more of a cabaret show; and it is staged in the black box studio theatre which is at the back of Theatre in the Square in Marietta.

Six brassy gals run through more than 40 numbers, some in clips and most in full. Allison Dixon, Jamie Wood Katz, Lisa Manuli, Chimere Scott, Xyline Stamper and Kayce Grogan-Wallace have the beehive hairdos of the era, the sequined gowns, and the energy of a bunch of people at Woodstock.

So, if you didn’t get there in 1969, you can still feel as if you shared the pleasures. With a five member band just off stage every number is live in every aspect. Choreographer Ricardo Aponte directed and Paul Tate is on the keyboard and directs the band.

I saw the older folks really enjoying it, but one of the fascinating sights was a little girl who might have been 3 years old, who wound up keeping time and dancing with one of the performers in the curtain calls.

This facility is easy to get to with free parking after 7pm on the local streets and other open parking areas. It is an unique show that you just have to R-e-s-p-e-c-t. You will really feel as if It’s Your Party. More info is online at AtlantaLyric.com


The 39 Steps

39 Steps
The 39 Steps
Stage Door Players
through June 12, 2016

This camped up version of The 39 Steps is a laugh a minute. Once there was a novel written 100 years ago by John Buchan, which was adapted into a famous 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. And the more current play is crafted for only four actors, doing dozens of roles with incredibly fast costume changes and using different voices and accents.

In this version you meet Richard Hannay (Jacob York) a bloke who has a posh flat in London. A strange but beautiful woman named Annabella (Stephanie Friedman) intrudes upon his privacy when she says she’s being pursued by a couple of men with intent to do her harm. Those two men, as well as many other men and women are played by Tony Larkin and John Markowski, and they are a riot.

In this production director George Contini has included two “ushers” (Ryan Stillings and Jillian Walzer) who mostly move props and provide some off-stage lines when a carnival scene is in progress. You may have seen The 39 Steps on stage before, but not quite like this one. Whereas Hitchcock treated the story line as a mystery thriller, this modern adaptation is more akin to The Three Stooges meet Alfred Hitchcock.

What if some gal gets murdered in the Hannay’s flat in London, or if a vicious spy has a finger missing, or that most of the characters may not be quite what they seem to be at the outset? This is one trail of laughter as it wends its way from Mr. Hanney’s flat in London all the way up to Scotland where the hapless visitor strives to save the UK from a disaster. Not sure what disaster, but it must be complicated, inasmuch as it consists of 39 steps.

Tired of politicians mouthing off or TV shows with people getting killed? Time for a good laugh? For more info go to StageDoorPlayers.net


The City of Conversation

city of conversation
The City of Conversation
Horizon Theatre
through June 26, 2016

This tale of politics and relationships is brought to us in a stately home in the Georgetown area of DC, and it starts in the days of the 1970’s and runs up to the early part of this century.

I think most of us might agree that ours is not a democracy, but an oligarchy. Politics is a business and politicians are for sale. Think about it. Why would somebody want to be an elected official? I was taught at an early age that it was always good to have a friend at court. Ergo, if you have a hefty wallet you may want to donate to both parties and thereby insure your continued welcome sign.

So we meet a superb cast under direction of Justin Anderson, who are coming and going from the home of Hester (Tess Malis Kincaid) who has her libertarian agendum. Her son, Colin (Justin Walker) has shown up on a day when she is expecting some special guests with whom she wishes to discuss some pending legislation. It’s not that sure what her connection is, but she is working with help from her sister Jean (Carolyn Cook) who is helping her out in so many ways. Hester comes off in some aspects as an adult spoiled child.

Colin has his fiancé, Anna (Rachel Garner) with him. They’ve both been graduated from the highly esteemed London School of Economics, and while they know that their diplomas can be a green card for posh jobs in DC, they have significantly divergent views from Mommy-Dearest, who takes exception to Anna’s apparel and deportment and to Colin’s hair style.

The big shot dinner guest is Chandler Harris (Chris Kayser) who is a proper gent, but does have some non-governmental interests in Hester. Then the other political couple come to dine. They are Carolyn and George Mallonee, played by Deborah Bowman and Allan Edwards. While Chandler and George are up for following the old boys procedure to discuss matters after dining, that isn’t going to get them an escape from Anna. And Carolyn and Hester are obviously not cut from the same cloth.

Some of the political jazz relates to the days in the 1980’s when Reagan wanted Robert Bork confirmed for the Supreme Court, and all the aggravations that it stirred up. The nomination was not confirmed. Then we meet the players in a scene when Colin is also in the political circus but is not on the same team as Hester. But, Hester is grandmother to their 6 year old son, Ethan (Vinny Mantague). All hell breaks loose over some words which may have passed to, or been overheard, by the youngster; and the family then evolves into a truly dysfunctional gang. And as the years pass we find the grandson Ethan, now 27, coming to visit Grammy. He’s accompanied by his partner, Donald (Joshua D. Mitchell), and as the scene evolves we understand the nature of their partnership. Where will this go, and who will connect with whom, may be the question as the act closes.

But, after all is said and done, we have a situation in which a parent is condemned in some manner by an offspring for unacceptable behavior; and who is going to seek redress, who may wish to atone, and all the sort of angst that so many families can stir up in our time. And it makes one think about our government and those who run it that as the French may say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” C’est la vie.

For more info and performance times, visit them at HorizonTheatre.com


Diary of a Madman

Diary of a Madman
Diary of a Madman
Metropolis Theatre
through June 5, 2016

Metropolis Theatre is a local company out of Austell, GA. But for this production they are presenting in Atlanta where Syncronicity Theatre now plays at 1545 Peachtree Street.

Founding artistic director Prodan Dimov chose this work for some obvious reasons. Not that he is mad; just that he grew up in eastern Europe, knew the works of Nikolai Gogol, and had previously presented this show with the same leading actor about 7 years ago, and it received great praise. We thank him for bringing it back and directing it again.

The play is based on a sort story penned 180 years ago. You meet Poprishchin, who is a minor clerk in a local government office in Russia, in the days of Czar Nicholas I, and when the elite led very special lives compared to the serfs and peons who got minimum wages and respect.

Jon Hayden reprised the role of this worker who goes off his rocker. And it is an incredible job. Not only is this a one-man show and he has to recall every line of a 90 minute diatribe, but he also has to waiver back and forth through several personalities as he recites his diary entries. He eventually gets the attention of his superiors who decide to send him to the asylum; for he has determined that he is really the heir to the throne of Spain. He doesn’t even really know where Spain may be, however.

The energy that Jon Hayden projects to the audience is beyond all limits as he draws you in from one scene to the next. He falls for Sophie, the daughter of his boss. You’ll not meet her, but he becomes immersed in what he believes to be the spoken and written comments of her pet dog. It is interesting in that the animal speaks Russian, not Doglish. It really gives one paws to consider.

And his sense of time gets a bit warped since he starts off in early 1800s and final entries are on the 43rd of April 2000. How would I rate this one? I think if Evgeny Lebedev were sitting in the audience he would be the first to rise up in applause. Yes, there are underlying thoughts about the contemporary society, but as The Bard would say, “the play’s the thing.”

The venue is easy to get to, and you don’t have to feed the meters after 7pm. For more info on this show go to Madman2016.com


Significant Other

Significant Other
Significant Other
Actor’s Express
through June 19, 2016

This play is by Joshua Harmon, who wrote Bad Jews which Actor’s Express staged last year, and which has had a powerful run in NYC and elsewhere. Mr. Harmon writes about people who have idiosyncrasies and personality conflicts, and they are not autobiographical.

In this work the action centers around Jordan (Lee Osorio) who has been living with one woman and working with others who are all sort of BFFs; but one by one they drop off the list as they march down the aisle to take their vows. Diany Rodriguez, Brittany Inge, and Cara Mantella are at his back, but not so much in front, if you get the drift.

For Jordan has his eyes set upon a fellow worker. And grandma Helene (Judy Leavell) would just like the young man to find himself, get a wife, have some grand-kids and be a success. Not likely to happen.

Edward McCreary and Jeremy Aggers each take on three roles as the scenes shift in time from office, to apartment, to wedding receptions, to angst-ville.

Jessica Holt directed this busy-body show on a neat set by Shannon Robert; but many in the audience might have some problem rationalizing some of the quick moves through time and space. The show runs pretty long, and although the author has made some cuts, there may be some more tightening from which it could benefit.

This will play well to the AE’s audience, but isn’t for the kiddies, or Miss Prim. There’s no open sexuality but plenty of expletives and one smooch in act 2. The ladies present plenty of eye candy as they prep for their vows and get ready to take their bows. I didn’t think it as funny as Bad Jews, but it is one of those which clothes pathos in humor. Jordan just has to find himself, and let himself be what he is, not what others may wish him to be. Ergo, the plot thickens then boils over.

More info and tickets at Actors-Express.com


10 Ways to Ruin Everything

10 ways to ruin
10 Ways to Ruin Everything
Dad’s Garage
through June 4, 2016

Dad’s Garage has taken another break from their improv standard to stage another scripted work. This one, by Perry Frost, deals with ten of the historical screw-ups in the history books. It doesn’t bother with stuff like George Dubbya building a sort-of wall part way across Mexico, or deciding to invest in Enron. But, she did dig up some adventures from the olden days, such as Napoleon’s pre-imitation of a current political candidate, the problems with visiting Typhoid Mary’s beanery and a sticky situation in Beantown back in 1919.

Amber Nash, Reuben Medina, Harriss Callahan, Whittney Millsap, Andre Castenell, Jr, and J. Hill take the stage in more roles than I could count. But, what do I know? The show, directed by Matt Horgan, is a series of ten vignettes which one may say restates much of what happened in those days of yore, but with some updated rhetoric.

There are really more than 20 of the members of Dad’s Garage who toil like serfs to bring this evening to you. OK, so if you are an AARP member you might have a wee bit of difficulty catching on to some of it. But, WTF, that’s what it’s all about. If you can’t accept life and laugh at it, can’t endure failure and keep plugging along, then maybe you’d be better off watching TV pundits discussing those clowns who are playing to you on a daily basis.

After their good years on Elizabeth Street and scrounging around for venues, it is good news that Dad’s Garage has found and adopted a new home which is a former chucrch on Ezzard Street which is easy to reach off of Edgewood near Little 5 Points. They even have directions on their website, with plenty more info about their antics. So just visit them at DadsGarage.com


The Michael O’Neal Singers

MOS B'way
The Michael O’Neal Singers
Broadway Musicals
The Past 25 Years

The Michael O’Neal Singers, who go by the “MOS” acronym, put on quite a show this week at the Roswell United Methodist Church, where 149 members of the chorus presented numbers from musicals of the past 25 years.

The MOS are a grand asset and tradition to our community, and they draw huge crowds whenever they take the stage. The auditorium at RUMC welcomed probably more than 1500 patrons; who even got to sing along in three of the numbers.

If you take a seat up close, but on the side of the stage, you get a wonderful opportunity to observe Dr. O’Neal as he conducts; for his body language clearly expounds his joy in what he’s doing, as he dances, sings, smiles, and keeps the beat going.

Being home to the MOS as well as the ASO chorus, is a treat for our town. The MOS will start their 2016-2017 season on August 14th when their Summer Singers group will present Openers and Closers. Then the full chorus comes back in October with Music Fit for a King. This is truly a labor of love for the members; who rehearsed for seven weeks for this one-night gig. You have to not only be proud of their accomplishments but want to extend a big Thank You to each and every member of the MOS.

For more info and to keep up with their performances, check them out at mosingers.com



Center Stage North
through May 14, 2016

Hurry up. This one closes tomorrow.

Based on the film, “Some Like it Hot” it is a campy tale of a couple of down-on-their luck musicians in The Windy City. They happen to see a mob murder scene and run off, to be chased by the bad guys.

They try to get a gig with a band, but the only band with any seats open is an all-girl band; so what are they to do?: You guessed it. They come on in drag and it works out until the mobsters figure out what’s what and then it gets nuttier.

The principal female voice is Sugar Kane (Emily Decker) and she’s being managed by Sweet Sue (Mary Beth Morrison). The two musicians in the pits (pun intended) are played by Zachary Stutts and Joe Arnotti, and they have a ball (no pun intended) with the roles.

Chris Inker directed this one with plenty of eye candy, and a live musical duo onstage throughout the show. Alyssa Davis choreographed this one and the cast of many players does a good job with it.

It is zany, silly, and funny, and you’ll enjoy it. It may not have memorable numbers, but it will be a memorable evening.



I’m Not Rappaport

I’m Not Rappaport
Aurora Theatre
through June 5, 2016

Herb Gardner’s play has been a standard for the past 30 years. The old geezer sitting on a bench in Central Park and yakking away at the janitorial worker who would prefer some solitude.

What is truly amazing about this production in is that the two leads are the same two actors who played these roles 27 years ago at the Theatrical Outfit. Kenny Raskin is Nat, the old guy who keeps re-inventing himself on a moment’s notice; while the unfortunate Midge is played by Rob Cleveland. They absolutely “own” these characters, and nobody could do a better job, including some devastating looking prat falls.

Dan Triandiflou is the protagonist in Act I, as he is on the board of the co-op and has to try to lay off Midge. That’s when Nat comes to the rescue attempt as his attorney. They’re both getting on in years, and as I so often say; these golden years can often feel more like brass. Midge isn’t ready to take the severance package offer, and Nat isn’t ready to go into some senior living center.

Nat’s daughter is played by Wendy Melkonian, who is clearly worried about her dad. Nat quickly makes up a phoney story about emigrating overseas with a young woman he is involved with. One problem is he has to find somebody to show up and act as his intended. That’s when he finds that Laurie, (Brooke Owens) who is an aspiring artist but has been smoking weed, is being threatened by some character who calls himself The Cowboy (Marcus Hopkins-Turner). So he steps up to recruit her and face off against this thug. He also tries to calm down that young man named Gilley (Benjamin Davis) who feeds off these old folks in the park by running an odd sort of escort service.

David de Vries has directed this hilarious work which is staged on a great set by the sisters Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay. I don’t care what your family is like; there are things you’ll find so relevant. It’s about families, what we have lived through and what we may be seeing on the road ahead.

For more info visit them at AuroraTheatre.com