La Cage aux Folles

La Cage aux Folles
Out Front Theatre
through November 9, 2019

It was 36 years ago that La Cage hit the stage in New York. Some things were quite different in those days; but then it does bring to mind the old French saying that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The show title actually translates to a cage of mad women. And you may interpret the word “mad” as crazy or as riled, or maybe both.

A truly spectacular production directed by Paul Conroy, with a cast of 15 incredible players, most of whom come on a drag queens. What you probably don’t get is that most of these alluring females, have appeared in many theatre productions as just average guys. What is such a delight to the eyes, is both the costumes by Jay Reynolds, and the exciting choreography by Jordan Keyon Moncrief.

The story is about a gay couple who live above a night club, La Cage, and Georges (Tony Hayes) the he/him of the duo is the owner and emcee for the club. His “wife” is the ego-centric Albin (Clint Clark) who comes on stage at the club as ZaZa and is always stage center. There is a son, Jean-Michel who has fallen in love with a girl, Anne, and they are engaged to be wed.

But, Anne’s parents would be terribly against such a son-in-law in that the father of the bride is a politician who heads up the Tradition, Family & Morality Party. And the parents of this young man would be a publicity problem for her parents. Jean-Michel wants his parents to come off as “normal” so he gets Dad to invite his long lost Mother to the meet-up; except she had other plans. So what to do? The gent who has acted as his mother for most of his life, decides to show up in drag and come off as Mum.

Some things get even crazier, as the media has found out that the politician is in town and they learn where he is, and the have stormed the premises to grab many shots of Mr. Homophobic at a gay club. So what to do, again? You have to see the show to see how they handle it. Needless to say that all comes out right iin the end (no pun intended).

With a full band under the baton of Nick Silvestri, this one comes off as good as anything you’d see in NYC or London. You will enjoy them all standing up to let folks know that they are what they are and that some days may even be the best of times. Just have to deal with the other days. Remind you of family or some currently in office?

Out Front is easy to get to downtown, valet parking, open bar and goodies, and all seats unobstructed views. More info at OutFrontTheatre.com



Fox Theatre
through November 17, 2019

You know it is an audience magnet when one of the big touring companies comes to town for more than three weeks, when most of them are booked in for a 5-night run. And the opening night of Wicked played to more than 4,000 patrons, each of whom thoroughly enjoyed it.

With a cast of more than 30 players, a fantastic first-class set and props, live orchestra in the pit and superb lighting and imagery, the company moves through 20 numbers and delights young and old alike.

I doubt that Frank Baum could have imagined not only that his tale of the Wizard of Oz might be the inspiration for Gregory Maguire’s The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West; but that the later revision would find it’s way to Broadway and become one of the highest grossing plays of all time. Right up there with Lion King and Phantom.

Directed by Joe Mantello, you’ll be engulfed in the tale, where Elphaba (Talia Suskauer) and Galinda (Allison Baily) get in each other’s faces. You know one of them had a strange birth defect and that caused her a lot of concern when interacting with others. Some of the other characters you will enjoy are that goofy teacher, Doctor Dillamond (Tom Flynn) , Madame Morrible (Sharon Sachs) and Fiyero (Curt Hansen). Of course you get to see those monkeys and some munchkins and even the Tin Man shows up in Act II.

It’s one of those where the audience yells, claps and screams out and at the end want to stand up and shout out CONGRATULOTIONS to all.

More info at FoxTheatre.org


Joe Gransden: One for the Ladies

Joe Gransden : One for the Ladies
October 27 at Theatrical Outfit
October 28 at Georgia Ensemble

Joe Gransden and his 16-piece Big Band take the stage in two different venues in tow days, to bring down the house with singer Robin Latimore, who belts out dozens of oldies from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Sarah Vaughan and others.

Joe not only works his magic with the trumpet, but loves to sing as well, doing some of the oldies by Sinatra and others. The show promises to be a great couple of hours, and each of the venues has good views from all seats.

Theatrical Outfit is downtown in Luckie Street and they will provide discounted parking at the garage just north of their theatre. If there’s some big bashes going on downtown just allow some extra time for the drive-through.

And Georgia Ensemble Theatre is north of town, in Roswell, and easy to get to with free parking. So no matter what part of town is your ‘hood, you’ll find a way to a terrific evening.

More info is available at TheatricalOutfit.org or GET.org



Safety Net







Safety Net
Theatrical Outfit
through November 10, 2019

Safety Net is a new work from prize winning playwright, Daryl Lisa Fazio, and this is it’s premiere staging. We get to listen in to the love, stress and chaos which occurs among three women. Set in Jasper County, Alabama it is about a woman who is up for promotion to Fire Chief, while she also deals with many other issues.

Daryl Lisa Fazio plays Chris, the woman fire fighter, who has lots of interactions with addicts who overdose, since the EMTs from the fire department are the most often first responders in most communities. Chris has had her own problems, but she also loves her mother, Xenia (Carolyn Cook) who is getting on in years and like so many of us, hates the concept of not being able to do many of the daily activities she once was accustomed to doing.

Enter a junkie named Val (Rhyn McLemore Saver) who was once a classmate of Chris and now is a street person. She is trying to get clean and that is not working as quickly nor easily as she had hoped for. While Val tries to remain aloof, she is pulled into the home and winds up caring for Xenia, while Chris is caring for everybody. Issues are always just beneath the surface, such as whether or not one should delve deeper into the psyche and habits of another, what is saving others and is it safe for one’s self?

The show runs a little more than 2 hours on a nice set designed by Stephanie Polhemus. And Karen Robinson directs this trio of fine actors as they bring the story right to everyone in the house. While the set may stay as Xenia’s kitchen, when Chris comes downstage to address the staff at her fire station, you feel as if you are one of them.

Theatrical Outfit is downtown on Luckie Street. If there is a ball game or some big deal downtown, traffic can be insane. So leave plenty of time. Park in the garage just north of the theatre and you can get a discounted pass for only $6, even if the garage says $15 or more. More info at TheatricalOutfit.org


Zombie Prom







Zombie Prom
Marietta Theatre
through November 2, 2019

Set at the Enrico Fermi High School, named for the Nobel prize winning scientist who helped to develop the atomic bomb, we meet a bunch of students who are typical teens.

It’s a school where the principal, Miss Strict (Jillian Melko), can be a bit controlling with her requirements to attend to rules, regulations and respect at her school. Loads of us knew as kids that getting called to the Principal’s office meant you were about to experience things you’d rather evade. After all, teens just want to get through the days and have some fun. And boys are boys while girls are girls.

One of the boys is Jonny (Parker Ossmann) who is his own person who just got the H out of his name. He goes for Toffee (Avani Lesane). But even though these two have eyes for each other, Toffee’s parents intrude to insist he is not their type and she must break it off. Jonny is deeply saddened and takes his own life by tossing himself into a nuclear power plant.

And that is when he is soooo missed and they all wish he could come back. He does do so as a green skinned Zombie, and then the next problem becomes deciding if he is dead vs. alive, and how to get him allowed into the Prom, despite Ms. Strict’s refusal to admit that Zombie back int her school.

Directed by Blaine Clotfelter with a highly energetic cast of 10 players, they dance and sing their way through two dozen high energy numbers. This is a small venue with all seats close to the stage so that it is like a cabaret performance. It kind of takes one back to the Happy Days of The Fonz. A very professional and entertaining show at the backstage studio theatre just off Marietta Square. Easy to get to, plenty of goodies, and more info can be found at MariettaTheatre.com


Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde
Lyric Theatre
through November 3, 2019

Back in 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson published his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I would doubt he ever thought it would be a standard more than a century later, and certainly not a musical which is very much operatic in style.

You kind of recall the story from your old school days. That weird scientist figures out how to create a compound that could make a person come out with all of his alter ego that would otherwise stay below the surface. Makes you wonder today how it would work if ingested by some politicians.

Heidi Cline McKerley directs a cast of 19 players in even more roles. Chase Peacock comes on as the intellectual scientist and as that evil street villain who kills off so many folks in London town. One thing that is really neat is that Sir Danvers is the father of Emma, who is betrothed to Jekyll. Danvers is played by Jeff McKerley, the husband of the show’s director. Quite a cool way for a couple to work together.

The players work through 30 numbers, probably the most memorable one being Someone Like You, which you’ll recall as a really romantic number. Too bad it brings on such a villain. There are many sung by the ensemble with a choral backup to the one with the solos. And the music, albeit canned, is spot-on as to timing, throughout the production.

I suspect that the inspiration for Stevenson was considering that it is not always what you say, as what you do, which truly matters. I say the show is quite like an opera, it certainly isn’t like an opera comique, since so may folks, including leads, have shuffled off their mortal coils. It’s probably not for the little folks, who are not familiar with the story, even though there are no expletives. The show runs about 2.5 hours and there are good seats, free paring, nice goodies, and easy to get to. More info at AtlantaLyric.com


A Point of Order







A Point of Order
Centerstage North
through October 19, 2019

Ed Simpson’s play, Point of Order, takes us to a small town he calls Randolphsburg, PA. But, for those of us who know small towns, it could be much closer to here, or almost anyplace else. The town is not one that is in a growth situation and some of the folks have gotten together and formed a committee to raise the funds to create a memorial statue to a former resident, who became an astronaut; albeit, he doesn’t live in the town, and most townies haven’t a clue who or what he may be.

Elizabeth (LeeAnna Lambert) is the chairwoman of the group and she loves her position and her gavel powers. The other four members on the committee are a teacher and band leader, Larry (Matthew Mindeman), shoe salesman (Reggie Harper), college professor (Steve Robey), and a gun-toting shopkeeper (Stacy Bowers) Jennifer and Kevin Renshaw directed this work on a set designed by Kevin.

If you’ve ever served on, or attended, a committee for some non-profits or local organizations then you will start to think this is a reflection of real life, not just a comedy. For Robert’s Rules of Order aren’t strictly adhered to by any of them. The issue is that they need to raise a load of money to pay the sculptor who is to create the monument, and the donations are not exactly flowing in. There are some serious possible legal issues that loom in the coming weeks.

But, there is one old geezer in the town who is a control freak multi millionaire. That’s the famous, or maybe infamous, Buck Drum (John Zincone) who could write a check to make things happen, should he care to do so. But, he has an ego problem that is pervasive. It reminded me of a board I was once on where a dozen other members, each of whom had wads of money I would never see, couldn’t decide how many rolls of toilet paper the custodian should buy. Duh! It was my first meeting and I resigned. But this is really a very entertaining meeting since you don’t have to vote on anything.

A short run, so act quickly and enjoy it. More info at CenterStageNorth.net


Veronica’s Room

Veronica’s Room
Onstage Atlanta
through October 27, 2019

Just in time for All Hallows’ Eve a really weird and mysterious play is brought to stage where we have a cast of four who are initially identified only as Woman (Frankie Ware), man (Paul Spadafora), Young Man (Jon Vertullo) and Girl (Savannah Jones).

Played on a set by Angela Short and directed by DeWayne Morgan, the story starts out when the Girl is recruited to pose as the deceased Victoria and all is set in Victoria’s preserved room. The folks are from the factory town of Walpole, Massachusetts, and is VERY convoluted; for nobody ever seems to be who, or what, the may pose as.

The time is 1973, but a sister, Cissie, who we never meet, is off her rocker and believes it to be 1935. She is frozen in time, from witnessing a crime she can’t erase from her mind, and which you will learn about as the tale unfolds. The three players who collude with one another are as evil as any you would find in a Hitchcock saga.

The show runs less than 2 hours with an intermission. And while you will make some presumptions as to who is whom, and what is going on; I can predict that you will be wrong. It probably is not for the kiddies as they won’t get into the Psycho stuff, and some folks may repel a bit when all hell breaks loose in the final few minutes of the show. But, it is very well staged and played, and audiences are loving it.

Easy to get to, free parking, concession stand goodies, and more info and tickets found at OnstageAtlanta.com



Cirque du Soleil
through January 5, 2020

Cirque is back in town under their Grand Chapiteau at Atlantic Station, and this is a longer run than usual going through the holiday season into next year. Volta is a bit different than many of the previous productions, in that the theme may be a bit obscure to many; but as the Bard had opined, the play’s the thing.”

The stage is devoid of a setting, per se, but the acts still come out with plenty of acrobatics, trampoline play and the best bike runs and jumps you’ve ever seen. Good enough to make Evel Knievel jealous, were he still with us. There are some clownish skits as the cast changes costumes and they get some huge props ready to push onto the stage. There’s no high wire or slack wire stunts; but no shortage of excitement as they work through 14 scenes.

The costuming and make-up is not the usual. But, the action and excitement surely is. A cast of a couple of dozen performers, mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia, works the house very well. And what the story line is supposed to be is about the journey one man takes to find himself, and how to make others see you as you are. Not easy, especially if you’re running for office these days.

There are a mass of online references and images if you Google the show. And, you may even learn that Volta, for whom the common electric measurement is named, was an Italian physicist named Alessandro Volta, ergo the title for an electrifying experience.

More info at CirqueDuSoleil.com


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra





Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
with Tengku Irfan

The ASO brought a young piano genius to Symphony Hall for the concerts on October 3 and 5. Tengku Irfan is but 20 years of age and has already played around the world. He is from Malaysia, currently living here and involved as a composer, conductor, performer and involved with the Juilliard School as both a student and intern.

Under the baton of Robert Spano the concert opened with Wagner’s preludes to Acts I and III of Lohengrin. Then Tengku Irfan took stage center as they brilliantly worked through Béla Bartók’s Concerto #2 for Piano and Orchestra. It was truly impressive to listen and observe Irfan at the keys sans the sheet music.

After intermission the ASO brought a ton of excitement to the house with Brahms’ Symphony No.1.  This is one with plenty of highly energized passages and some themes we all recall from olden days; even if we weren’t around when he composed it about 140 years ago.

Next concert performance will be October 17 and 19 when Edo de Waart takes the stand with the ASO.   de Waart is a Nederlander, with a world of experience and currently serving as Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

The concert will feature another Nederlander, Ronald Brautigam, on piano. He is currently a professor at the Music High School in Basel, Switzerland. They will bring Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 to the house, followed by Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben featuring concertmaster David Coucheron on the violin.

More info always available at atlantasymphony.org