Joe M. Turner

Joe Turner
Joe M. Turner
Chief Impossibility Officer!

If you;’ve never seen this gentleman, then you’d find it hard to believe that a chap who was graduated summa cum laude with majors in physics and chemistry, and who has worked as a corporate development officer for some major firms; would wind up on stage doing card tricks, reading your mind and performing illusions that would bend your mind.

But, magic and the associated fields are what has been his love in life and he has merged them with his scientific background and his business experience to become an a-list candidate for many corporate events around the world. I’ve worked many trade shows and meetings and I can assure you that he can grab your attention and hold it firmly in his grip, where none of the usual blah-blah-blah presenters would.

He recently appeared in Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square. The crowd went wild, and a good time was had by all. The kiddies in the audience were thirsting after the schtick to see how they would wind up, as the adults who’ve seen it all, wondered why Joe was so much better than they had hoped for. He’s right up there with performers such as David Copperfield and Penn and Teller. Just doesn’t have the props they do.

You can easily google him or just visit youtube to watch some bits. But, if you see him being on stage around town, you just have to get to the show; as it will blow you away.

He styles himself as a magician, mentalist and speaker. And he’s first rate in all.

Next up at the New Theatre in the Square will be Hamlet which open September 29, with an unusual cast. Their website is TheatreInTheSquare.net


Shrek, the Musical

Shrek, the Musical
Lyric Theatre
through September 4, 2016

You’ve seen Shrek, the ogre, in one form or another; whether in book, film, or on TV or stage. And while it is a story that may be aimed at younger folks, it never fails to appeal to the kids within us; as we watch what Shrek and Fiona go through in life and recall our own roads we’ve traveled.

David Lindsay-Abaire who brought us quite a few good plays, including Rabbit Hole, crafted this one and tossed in some puns along the way. Ryan Everett Wood comes on just great as the ogre. And, as Kermit would tell you, it isn’t easy being green.

Princess Fiona (Randi Garza) hasn’t had such a great life, either. Like Shrek, her parents haven’t been the most caring and she’s been locked away like a Repunzel. Lord Farquaad (be careful in pronouncing that one) is a despotic piece of work, whose aims in life may be beyond his stature. He’s played to the hilt by Vatican Lokey.

And while Shrek may think he is smarter than some dumb-ass donkey (Quentin Avery Brown) he benefits greatly from the guidance and help of that critter as the tale unfolds.

But they’re not the only cartoon characters in this one. You’ll enjoy seeing Pinocchio, witches, blind mice, three bears, fairy godmother, and others. And, of course, Farquaad has his corp of guards who remind one of Tin Men. The story is of desires, lusts, and since it is a fairy tale, all must come out right in the end; and nobody, not even a Gingerbread Man suffers.

Directed and choreographed by Chase Todd, the costumes, staging and dance numbers are first class. And they do have some great puppetry work when the wanna-be nasty dragon comes on stage in Act II. It is a huge prop that reminds one of some of the work in Lion King. The music is recorded and perfectly managed so that it comes off as if a full orchestra was in the pit. Everything is spot-on as to appearance, timing and production values.

Performances run Thursdays through Sundays, with 8pm shows weekdays and a 2pm matinee on Sundays. The running time is about 2.5 hours, so if you are thinking of bringing the young tots, consider the Sunday shows. More info and tickets at AtlantaLyric.com


The Bonaventure Quartet

The Bonaventure Quartet
Sundays on the River Concerts
at Chattahoochee Nature Center

Local folks looking for a really pleasant Sunday evening in the Roswell area, just mosey on over to the Chattahoochee Nature Center on Willeo Rd, where they can bring their picnic, relax and enjoy a concert on the open air. There are reserved seats under cover, and each is close to the stage; and there is also lawn seating available so you can just bring a comfy chair.

In the summer months they present a concert each month, and this week they welcomed the Bonaventure Quartet. The “quartet” of 6 or more players was created by Charles Williams who is on guitar and has also composed some of the numbers they run through.

Much of their work comes off as a paean to the works of Django Reinhardt, and you will be keeping time with the score and quietly singing along to the numbers by Cole Porter and some other oldies.

They were joined by Amy Pike, who has great pipes and you could feel her affection for each one of the numbers that she sang.

The concerts run from 7 to about 9, so you can watch the sun go down as well as the temperature.

They also had an opening act, which was Dusty’s Ragtime. Dustin Cottrell on the keys and singing, took the audience back to the days of some great ragtime numbers and got the blood flowing for the main event.

These are one-nighters, so you may want to mark your calendar for September 11th, when the Montana Skies will be in concert at the Nature Center. For more info and tickets visit them at ChattNatureCenter.org


The Fantasticks

The Fantasticks
Act 3 Theatre
through August 27, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but this work is more than fifty years old and has incredible legs, running more times than any other so-called musical shows.

It is said to be derived from Rostand’s Les Romanesques, but also reminds one of the Bard and the Montagues and Capulets. And it really is a play within a play. It is most often performed on a very stark stage, with few props, and 2 or 3 musicians and a cast of 8 players, one of whom is a mute.

In this production, directed by Zip Rampy, the show is put forward by Jody Woodruff as El Gallo, a conniving actor/producer/etc. El Gallo is styled as The Narrator. And the story is about a couple of gents who are neighbors. One has a son, the other a daughter, and they want the kids to fall for one another. So what’s a parent to do? They say NO WAY and they build a wall between their properties and families.

But what’s a kid to do? Climb that wall, of course; and the tale goes on. Luisa (Meg Harkins) is a 16 year old coming into herself, and Matt (Aaron Hancock) is now a 20 year old alleged adult. Except neither of them is particularly worldly.

Joel Rose is Matt’s dad, and Chris Davis is Luisa’s. They figure out how to run a scam on the kids to make Matt come off as a hero. And El Gallo brings in a couple of troubadours who will try to pass themselves off as abductors of a piratical nature. Evan Hussey and Mickey Vincent are the ones who pop out of the trunk.

The score is certainly not like big-scale musicals such as Show Boat, or Oklahoma. It is more a cabaret style and the one tune most will recall is Try to Remember. It was originally sung by Jerry Orbach and has since been recorded by a host of others. The rest of the numbers may be less memorable to most viewers.

Young Sarah Carroll is the mute, who brings to mind the old advice to an actor to never share a stage with a child nor a dog. They steal the focus, and she is really cute. The cast does a good job, with two players on keyboards and nobody dies in this one; and true love finds it’s way to the youngsters.

For more info and tickets visit them at Act3Productions.org


The Credeaux Canvas

credeaux images
The Credeaux Canvas
Out of Box Theatre
through August 20, 2016

This work by Keith Bunin hit the boards 15 years ago and garnered mixed reviews, albeit seems to have legs and was a daring choice for this local theatre group.

Stories of art forgeries are always around, whether a phony piece in The Louvre, or even in a local museum here. Forgeries and art heists are good reading and playing.

A yet to be discovered artist, Winston (Daniel Carter Brown) is living in a small flat in New York with a gent named Jamie (Matthew Busch) who is a not-so-great real estatenik. Jamie’s dad has passed on, and it seems that he’s been written out of the will. But, his father was an esteemed art dealer and Jamie thought he could perhaps interest one of his posh collectors to be interested in a painting by the under-appreciated Jean-Paul Credeaux.

Winston gets conned into abetting Jamie’s scheme to create a phony Credeaux, in a different genre than that artist’s prior works. So, instead of still life, he goes for the nude. It isn’t too hard to find a model, since he is involved with Amelia (Emily Sams) who is a former waitress and actor-in-waiting sans job.

As the plot proceeds the work is finished. As a former art dealer I can assure you it could never have passed; but the point is that they try, then fail, then seek to go on. Most of us understand that routine.

In Act II the collector, Tess (Mary K. Shaw), shows up at their dump of a flat, which is not exactly where Jamie wanted to display the painting to her. Tess is no fool. She examines the work closely, deduces some private information about the nude in the painting. Of course, the last thing the guys wanted was to have Amelia show up and maybe be identified as the model.

There are relationship problems between Amelia and Jamie, and Winston and Amelia, which help to make things even more difficult. Things go awry and loud confrontations ensue.

The set works easily, and Topher Payne has brought together a perfect cast who give it their all. Topher is best known as our star playwright in Atlanta and he excels at anything he undertakes.

There is frontal nudity, male and female, and some language which might offend some Ms. Prims. And when you may think that the climax of the show has occurred; stay seated for there is a denouement that we may not have seen coming, and may not really add much.

A very well staged production at a venue easy to get to, free parking, and comfortable seating. For times and tickets visit OutOfBoxTheatre.com


IF / Then

if then
Fox Theatre
through September 14, 2016

IF/THEN is a fast moving musical with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. The show premiered in 2014, had a run of about 400 performances, garnered several Tonys and possibly closed at a loss.

In this touring production the lead of Elizabeth is played by Jackie Burns. She’s a woman in her 30’s who has just survived a divorce and moves to New York to find herself. And therein lies the plot. For when she is playing as Beth, she is her old self, an urban planner. Her old friend, Kate (Tamyra Gray) suggested she follow the career path when she introduced her to Lucas (Anthony Rapp) who is a community organizer.

But later she seeks the road not before traveled. She is Liz, seeking romance. That was where and the roads diverge, ala These Woods I Know . . . We don’t know where this is going. For Beth is on the professional ladder and climbing up, Liz is more into messing with Josh (Matthew Hydzik) a returning soldier, and Anne (Janine DiVita). Nothing seems to work out as one might expect.

When the show opens it is a very stark set which looks like an elevated walkway and nothing on stage level. And while the set may seem that way, it actually works very well as it moves in and out and around to be various offices and flats, and the rear screen projections, which are now so often used, really bring the stage to light. The costumes are just average street wear, and the music is somewhat intriguing; but I doubt you will leave the theatre humming any of the tunes, nor recalling the lyrics except a few lines from numbers such as I Hate You and WTF.

It isn’t a show for the kiddies or Miss Prim, and if you have a hearing problem you need to be advised that many of the 22 numbers are quite fast paced and loud. It isn’t like the grandmother’s musicals with crooners stage center. It’s often yelling to a score. Some of the viewers thought it was more of a chick gig, as the women more easily related to the principal character trying to find herself. It is sort of a paean to the concept that life is what happens as we wait for our plans to work out.

More info and tickets at FoxTheatre.org