The Cake

The Cake
Horizon Theatre
through June 23, 2019

A few years ago there was some character who ran a bakery in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. He actually got sued and won the case based on his First Amendment rights to his religious beliefs. And while Bekah Brunstetter wrote this play based on that weird news story; it seems that nothing much has changed.

In our county, which is allegedly a non-religious nation, we do have a god blessing the nation, and our nation’s trust in the almighty is engraved on every unit of our currency. So, if you think that Archie Bunker is history you may need to keep up with the insane daily news.

In this comic drama we find that the baker lady, Della (Marcie Millard), owns a shop in Winston, NC; and the daughter of a dear friend, who has passed away, shows up to ask if she’ll bake her a cake for her upcoming nuptials. The girl, Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver), is really attached to Della who was always sort of like an aunt to her. But, when Della meets her fiancé, Macy (Parris Sarter), she freaks out. It seems that Macy is black as well as female. Not quite the usual in Della’s world. She’s torn between what she wants to do and what she wants to avoid doing.

Hubby, Tim (Allan Edwards), is the Archie Bunker of the saga, and the life of Della and Tim isn’t quite what either may have wished for. They’re pretty much a Henny Youngman couple. But, as the story progresses you enjoy how Della seeks to bring some physical joy back to her life, even if Tim isn’t that into the idea at the outset.

What is so thought provoking is that the days of bigotry are hardly gone from our society. Just listen to some of those politicians and you’ll know that the more things change the more they may stay the same. The set by Isabel and Moria Curley-Clay is superb and the show runs about 100 minutes without intermission. But, hang in there as all comes right in the end.

More info at HorizonTheatre.com


Ain’t Misbehavin’

Stage Door Players
through June 16, 2019

In 1904 a young man named Thomas Wright Waller, was born in New York as a son of a preacher man. By the time he was six he started at the piano, and went on to organs and other instruments. But, he’s better known as “Fats” Waller, and in his short life of only 39 years he wrote more than 400 pieces, some of which are still jazz hall standards.

This a splendid cabaret style performance directed by Robert Egizio, starring five wonderful singer-dancers and a live 6 piece band on stage. The cast runs through more than two dozen of his famous numbers, including some you want to sing along to, such as Honeysuckle Rose, This Joint is Jumpin’, Your Feet’s Too Big, and the most remembered, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.

Alyssa Michele, Vallea E. Woodbury, and Melissa Youngblood are the three hot chicks who be playin’ off them two gents who are played by Spencer G. Stephens and Fenner Eaddy. Each of these five has great pipes and know them steps they supposed to take. I felt like I was in the jazz halls in Boston and New York in the old days, and sure am glad that some of them, like The Apollo, are still around.

Nick Silvestri is on the keys and is the conductor. David Anthony Kelly, Jr. is bass and Adam Wolfe is on the drums. Off to the left behind the scrim are Jonathan Swygert and Paul Poovey on trumpets and Joseph Jenkins on sax. You hear them but they ain’t stage center.

A really terrific show for all ages. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net


A Musical Journey Through France

A Musical Journey Through France
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
through May 25, 2019

Under the baton of Donald Runnicles, the ASO takes us on their musical journey through France. The concert quite naturally features Claude Debussy’s La Mer, which has been a classic standard for 100+ years.

The opening work is a name you won’t recognize, as it says in French, “The cow on the roof.” But, you will certainly recognize some of the often repeated bars which bring a sense of flamenco to the work by Darius Milhaud. He deliberately wove several Brazilian/Argentine dance segments into the work, and when they play the number his name will pop up in your mind, even though the name of the opus may not be widely known.

Soprano Kim-Lillian Strebel then comes to the stage to sing six numbers from Songs of the Auvergne, by Joseph Canteloube. She sings these somewhat randy numbers in the native dialect of that region of France, with English super-titles overhead. The Auvergne is a area in the south-central region of France, which is a bunch of small towns, hardly ever visited by tourists, who mainly hit on Paris and Provence areas. These are basically somewhat cute peasant numbers which you won’t learn the words to, nor leave the hall humming the tunes. But, she does a great job and it is a new experience for all.

After intermission the ASO delivers up two really good renditions of some of Debussy’s best known works. They do four excerpts from books 1 and 2 of Préludes and finish up with the high powered La mer, which delves deeply into Debussy’s love of the sea.

This concert closes Sunday and you can grab tickets by phone or online. Visit them at AtlantaSymphony.org


Ad Nauseam

Ad Nauseam
Dad’s Garage
through June 1, 2019

Get your buns in gear and get yourself down to Dad’s Garage for one of the funniest shows of the year. This is a scripted play written and directed by Megan Leahy. The poignant comedy deals with how women have been seen as breeders while men were the top guns.

This was true even after Rosie the Riveter retired post WWII. In high schools the boys took Shop while the girls took Home Ec. If a young woman wanted a job that didn’t include cooking, sewing and cleaning; then she had better go on to become a stenographer for then she’d be able to find a job where she could be seated and work at a machine that no guy had a clue how to use.

And so the playwright brought us into the 1960s in The Big Apple, except that everything related to genders is topsy turvy. They are in the advertising agency business in The Big Apple. And the firm is right on Madidaughter Avenue, and is run by the women, who show up in appropriate office attire. On the other hand the men are working in the hourly wage jobs as secretaries, go-fers, and coffee bearers. While the women have the brains, the boys have the bodies; and to advance their possibilities of getting some notice they are in the sexiest outfits they can find and they gossip, dance, and show off to everyone.

Amber Nash, Tara Ochs, Amanda Lee Williams and Leslie Johnson are the four bossy women you don’t want to mess with; while Freddy Boyd, Joshua Quinn and Taylor Roy are those who know their motto must be, “Yes Ma’am”

While the status of women in the workplace has advanced in the past couple of decades, there is still a wage gap in this country, and in some places like Saudi Arabia and India things are still in the middle ages. But, come and laugh as you watch the Mad-Women pitch various themes to promote a new brand of cigarettes designed for sale to men. You will see many of the proposed ads for other products you knew so well, such as tooth paste, low calorie soda and even some panty liners from Johndaughter & Johndaughter. Some of the adaptations of brand names almost make you think of Spooner being involved.

Dad’s Garage is in the Old 4th Ward, easy to get to, free parking, plenty of goodies, and easy seats with good views. More info at DadsGarage.com


A Public Education






A Public Education
Out of Box Theatre
through May 19, 2019

Playwright Jeff Talbott spent hundreds of hours researching the teaching environment in our schools, and he interviewed many teachers as he crafted this work. Zip Rampy directs a cast of six players as they meet up in the break room at the high school.

Shaun Maclean plays a new math teacher who has problems interacting with adults as well as children. He seems to want to analyze everything in mathematical terms. But that’s not always a good sine. His cohort is Doug McGowan (Bob Smith) who sees things from a different perspective, albeit he may not have all the answers. For it seems that the students are tweeting as if they were politicians, and the trash they are posting is not what their teachers might wish to deal with. Duh! I was once a teacher, and very thankful that Facebook, Instagram and all that stuff with hashtags (whatever that is derived from) didn’t exist in olden days.

We meet only one student, Tommy (Zach Kuebler), who is a real piece of work. I would have sent him to detention. But, he remembers all his lines, and knows how to send text messages.

The Principal lady is played by Mia Kristin Smith, and she is fighting hard to inject some amount of sanity into the situation, although that ain’t so easy to do. A lot of stresses come out quite angrily and the yelling sounds pretty real. The two teachers are played by Bryn Striepe and Amanda Cucher.

This is an interesting work that makes one want to think about how we run schools in these days. For there are no secrets in this word. That doesn’t mean that everything you read or hear might be true; for we all have seen the news in the past months. Will things change anytime soon? Not unless all networking is done away with.

Out Of Box is locate on Cobb Parkway south of The Big Chicken, and there is free parking and plenty of beaneries nearby. More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com


Pump Boys and Dinettes

Pump Boys and Dinettes
Lionheart Theatre
through May 19, 2019

Urgent Warning: This one should be sold out every performance so you may want to go online or phone them to grab seats for a really engaging show.

This is not a play in the usual sense. It is a musical cabaret performance done on a stage setting which looks like some old gas station which had a diner section attached; akin to the old 7-11’s. The show is set on a road between Frog Level and Smyrna, NC; not that it couldn’t be anywhere they wanted it to be. But, that’s where the gents who created the play set it.

When it opened in New York in 1981 it had a good run, and was nominated for best musical although it didn’t win. It also played off-Broadway, and overseas and has from time to time been revived for appreciative audiences. It is a set of 19 country-rock numbers, very few of which you will recall. Probably the ones which you may remember would be Be Good or Be Gone, Drinkin’ Shoes and/or The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine

In this version there are five good ole boys who work at the station and repair shop. They are also the ones who sing like the Barbershoppers. John B. Connell, Gregory Fitzgerald, Mark Hyde, Paul Milliken and Jen Smith are the guys. The five look-alike diner waitresses are Tanya Caldwell, Lisa Gordon, Courtney Loner, Rachel O’Dell and Nancy Lowery Powell. They sing like Sweet Adelines, dance and also double on glasses, cups, and other implements.

The show is directed by Scott Rousseau who also designed the really perfect set. The music is live with Lennard Martin, Joseph Hast and Sam Clamp working through every number. The show runs about 2 hours with one intermission. Easy to get to in Norcross, free parking, free goodies, and nice venue. For times and tickets visit them at LionheartTheatre.org


Ragtime, The Musical

Ragtime, The Musical
Serenbe Playhouse
through June 9, 2019

If you have been to Serenbe then you know they perform out of doors. But, with the lousy weather right now, please be advised that this show is performed under a tent, as many of the characters are like old time carnies.

The early 1900’s were not easy days. Factory workers felt they should be paid, women were discriminated against, black folks were considered as all low class, and new immigrants were about as welcome as they may be in these days.

This musical was based upon the book by E. L. Doctorow, who was an incredible writer, professor and researcher. You’ll find his works in every public library. He was the son of immigrants, lived in the Bronx, and knew of what he wrote.

Brian Clowdus, as Director, brings together a cast of 25 players, who are staged on a cabaret styled open stage and backed up with an eight piece band onstage under the baton of Chris Brent Davis; who with the great voices of the players work through 31 numbers in this opus which runs a little more than 2.5 hours.

Coalhouse Walker, Jr. wants to find his place in society and also at the keyboards. But that is not easy for a black gent in New Rochelle in 1902. Another part of the story deals with a white woman who takes in a black woman and baby; not to the greatest pleasure of her husband. And another story line is about the black man who goes wild and decides to become a terrorist at the J. P. Morgan Library.

So we deal with racial profiling and discrimination and the failure of our governments to provide equal justice to all. As the French might opine, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Just turn on the news and see where the crazy shooters were, how a woman can’t have control of her own body, the sexual pay differentials, difficulties for the LGBT, and politicians whose moving lips suggest they may be fibbing.

This major musical won 4 Tony’s when it hit the stage in NYC in 1998, and so much of it seems poignant even 20 years later. Serenbe is located off 85 south of Hartsfield, and is fairly easy to find. While they play in many areas in the community, there will be plenty of signage to get you to the open air free parking. Good views, plenty of goodies, and incredibly good productions. More info at SerenbePlayhouse.com


Director’s Choice

Director’s Choice
Atlanta Ballet
through May 12, 2019

This production is the finale for the Ballet’s current season. It will be at Cobb Energy Center today and tomorrow only.

Gennadi Nedvigin has brought Director’s Choice to the stage with a cast of more than 30 dancers, who work through 3 separate routines. An orchestra of more than 40 players is in the pit under the baton of Tara Simoncic.

The first of the three offerings is entitled Sum Stravinsky and is choreographed by Kiyon Ross with more than a dozen dancers to a fairly obscure Stravinsky score. The production is danced with a blank colored screen backdrop. Although before each of the three productions there is a filmed interview projected to explain to the audience what they are about to enjoy.

The second one is named Denouement and is danced to the music by Benjamin Britten by three ballerinas and three danseurs. The music isn’t your typical Britten score and the work is choreographed by Gemma Bond. Regardless of the name, it is not the final wrap up of the evening.

For after a second intermission the full cast of dancers comes together to render a premier performance of Catch, which is choreographed by Liam Scarlett and done to the music of Philip Glass. It is very energetic both in the score and the choreography and the audience went wild for it.

They will perform at Cobb Energy Center near 285 and 75, and there is plenty of garage parking should the weather be inclement. More info at AtlantaBallet.com


Things My Mother Taught Me

Things My Mother Taught Me
Centerstage North Theatre
through May 18, 2019

We all can recall things our mothers may have tried to teach us; like dining table and bathroom manners, and how to respect one’s parents. Katherine DiSavino took many of these things and crafted a funny play about a young couple moving from NYC to Chicago, and how anything that could go wrong seems to do so.

Gabe Lawson (Alex Doriot) and Oliva Keegan (Sorcha Masters) are the couple in their late twenties who intend to cohabitate. After all, isn’t that the way most couple start out these days? Gabe drove the rental truck to the new place and they start to unload, when a piece of furniture clogs up the doorway making things ore difficult.

While the two deal with that problem, another problem arrives. It’s Olivia’s parents, Karen (Marge Krengel) and Carter (James Connor). Karen has the usual mothers’ considerations and warnings about her daughter’s activities. And the stress starts to build up, as her father tries to hunker down.

Who could guess that Gabe’s parents would then arrive on the scene? Lydia (Gisele Frame) and Wyatt (Jim Wilgus) find themselves drawn into a situation which seems not to have any easy resolutions. I can’t tell you what the young couple had in mind, or what next problem may arise; as the play’s the thing. I can tell you that the concept of the three couples trying to spend the night in a 2 bedroom flat with hardly any furniture, may make the Motel-8 look like the Ritz.

The building super, Max (Haley Masenthin) comes on as one who knows her way around most things and how to avoid things she prefers not to get sucked into. She’s not only funny, but she helps to resolve some difficult problem that the others couldn’t do.

Jerry Jobe directed this cute opus which has a very limited run. May 10 to 12, and May 16 to 18 only. Free parking, goodies to nosh on, and all seats have good views. More info at CenterStageNorth.com


Ride The Cyclone

Ride The Cyclone
Alliance Theatre
through May 26, 2019

OK, so this is not your grandmother’s musical. This work by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell hit the stage about 4 years ago in Chicago and The Big Apple, and won many accolades.

It’s not as funny as Cats, nor as dark as Phantom, but it does have a pretty good following. Leora Morris directed this one at the new Coca-Cola Theatre. The story line is that five teenagers were riding a roller coaster in Canada when it went off the rails and they died; only to find that they were in a weird sort of purgatory managed by The Amazing Karnak (Karl Hamilton) who is a fortune teller doomed to his own demise in a short time, and he knows how and when.

The students, all from the small town of Uranium, Saskatchewan are given a chance to see which one of them may be able to return to life, as they sing out stories of their lives, desires, and problems. The three girls are played by Lillian Castillo, Chaz Duffy and Tiffany Tatreau. The guys are played by Kholby Wardell and Scott Redmond.

When these five students wind up in nowhere land, they meet a headless lass named Jane Doe (Emily Rohm) who really has limited ability to recall anything. But, they all take a liking to her. The mechanical fortune teller in the carnival booth is like the usual carnie robot.

It may not be your usual musical experience, for you’ll not leave the theatre humming the tunes, nor recalling who told which story and the details thereof. But, . . . it is exceptionally well presented with live music, very strong and talented players, a set unlike pretty much any other one you’ve seen, and wonderful projected imagery. The technical details are really cool.

It is a new type of experience and very compelling. More info at AllianceTheatre.org