9
May

MAMMA MIA !

MAMMA MIA!

What a treat! You know the story is based on a collection of songs from ABBA, and the show is like Cats or Phantom. It will always come back, and always draw a great crowd of lovers who can’t get enough of it. And this is why we take off our hats and salute the City Springs Theatre Company for having the guts and the ability to bring it to the stage in these awful times.

Such a great amount of work with a large cast directed by Kristine Reese and Billy Tighe, with great dance numbers choreographed by Cindy Mora Reiser. Alas, the show could not be done at the usual indoor theater, so they put this all togeher to hit the boards at the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre (formerly the Verizon). And with strictly enforced Covid safety procedures, they played to an audience of more than 1,500 grateful viewers; who could watch the performance live on stage as well as video projected to large image screens adjacent to the stage.

Sad to say the show ran for only three performances, but as we may feel badly for the short run; we can also feel grateful that they got it done so well. The tavern owner, Donna (Kristine Reese) has a daughter, Sophie (Cecilia Trippiedi) who is about to be wed and she wants her dad to give her away. But, as you know, she hasn’t a clue who her father might be; so she invites all three, Sam (Benjamin H. Moore), Bill (Jeff Brooks) and Harry (Thanos Skouteris) to come to the island so maybe she’ll get to meet her dad.

The show runs through more than 20 numbers, every one of which makes folks want to stand, swing, clap and sing along; and that’s expected. This is a truly Broadway class theatre company; and if you missed this one just know that come September they will be back indoors at the Byer Theater in Sandy Springs. The Sound of Music opens September 10, and in next year they will bring us A Chorus Line in March, The Color Purple in May and West Side Story in July. So stay in touch with them at their website CitySpringsTheatre.com

25
Apr

Atlanta Opera

The Threepenny Opera

and

The 3 Penny Carmen

Our Atlanta Opera is performing under the big top once again; this time at the Cobb Center for the Performing Arts right by 285 and 75. They are doing a couple of camped up versions of old time favorites; The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Carmen by Georges Bizet.

The stage is at one end of the tent, and there is a runway through the center that brings the performers into closer view for all in the house. Carmen was written to be set in Saville back around 1820. While it didn’t get great reviews when it played in various countries back in the late 1800s; nobody knew that it was going to be universally enjoyed to this day. When you hear the music being played it resonates to your heart as you want to clap and sing along with Escamillo when he belts out the Toreador’s Song, or get up and start dancing by your chair when Sonia Olla struts out to you doing her Flamenco dances. Everything about the show is great, costumes, music, singing, dancing and a newer and quirkier story line. But it isn’t just about love sought, found, lost and buried. It is about bringing great pleasure to the eyes and ears of the audience. This production plays only two more times; Wednesday April 28 and Thursday May 6.

Running in repertory with other members of the Opera company is the story of Mack the Knife, written by Bertolt Brecht and adapted from The Beggar’s Opera set in London’s SOHO area. Tom Key comes stage center as the narrator and street performer but there are plenty more sots and ladies of the night, as Macheath (Jay Hunter Morris) works through his problems of finding love while the Bobby’s are on the lookout for him to send him off to the slammer. Of course, you’ll also want to sing along with Mack the Knife and about his pearly teeth. This one plays only 4 more times; Thursday April 29 and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, May 5, 7 and 9.

Both shows are superb and a ton of work which deserves to be in a real auditorium. But, we all know that as soon as it makes sense to do so, that they shall once again take shelter. More info and tickets at AtlantaOpera.org

17
Apr

Disney on Ice

Disney On Ice
Dream Big

Infinite Energy Arena
through April 25, 2021

Mickey & Minnie and many more of the characters have come back to town, this time playing at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth. The show has a cast of more than forty performers who hit the ice in the usual Disneyesque costumes; many of whom you will immediately relate to. That includes princesses, ogres, fish, and so many more. Each of the characters come to the rink on skates and the moves are pretty much the same as you might have seen in the usual ballet numbers in grand skating competitions.

The presentation doesn’t have a specific story line, albeit you deduce some lines from the actions of the performers, as they all do their numbers to prerecorded scores. The venue has good view from all the seats, especially from the ones on the lower levels right by the skating rink. But, in the know-before-you-go category plan to take the kids and get there earlier than you are used to doing. Due to the Covid pandemic situation, the seating is set up akin to pods, with plenty of vacant seats around those you have. But, with the security and screening, one might feel it is easier to get into Hartsfield than to this facility.

And, when the show starts on time, the house goes dark and finding your way to seats can be a bit difficult. So if you have one of those little flashlights, or your cell phone has one, bring it with you.

The production runs about 2 hours with a 20 minute intermission; and the audience really enjoys it as they always do when Disney comes to entertain. Because this one is good for the youngsters, know the show time is 7pm, so plan to fight your way through some rush hour traffic if living more than a few miles away. More info and tickets at www.disneyonice.com

10
Apr

Packing up Polly

 

 

 

 

 

Packing up Polly

Leslie Kimbell, who penned the Four Old Broads play, now has turned our attention to some younger broads who come together in some weird circumstances at the home of the late Polly Porter in Savannah.. Polly had been an active gospel singer and she was also one of those folks we all know, as she never seemed to toss out anything except maybe a relative.

If you’re of a certain age then you know of what I speak when I say that as we go through life acquiring things we feel that we own things. But, as our time grows shorter we wake up to realize that “things” own us. Ergo, we start off meeting daughter Caroline (Marita McKee) who is trying to get things organized, packed up and labeled for what goes where and how. A former classmate, Lizzy (Irene Polk), shows up. She may not have been the first person Caroline might have looked to for help. For they have their differences and are not really BFFs. Liz is pretty much into herself and trying to keep her pageantry business running.

A couple of other local ladies also show up, as the news hits the streets of Polly’s passing. Becca (Kelley Gray) shows up very much into her third trimester and ready to birth her fifth child. So the water alarm can go off at a moments notice. And local theatre diva, Donna Jo (Cat Rondeau) struts the stage as each of the ladies has her own agenda and history to deal with.

Directed by Barry West, the show runs in two acts on a set that reminds you to go home and straighten things up a bit. And if you don’t recognize somebody from your own family and circle of friends, then maybe you have missed something; as any issue which could arise seems to do so. It is a good story which is done to the tens by four fine actors.

Know before you go that Onstage takes every caution very well to protect each of us. Seating is limited, all areas are sanitized, and masks must be worn at all times when in the facility. They will also check your temperature, and any food and drinks must be consumed out on the patio. But the bottom line is good script, good cast, well performed, a safe environment and a heck of a lot better than watching all the repeats on the TV.

Shows run Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. More info and tickets at OnstageAtlanta.com or call for tickets to 404-897-1802.

 

6
Mar

Jar The Floor

 

 

 

 

Jar The Floor
On Stage Atlanta
through March 21, 2021

What a total delight in these days to get to see a live performance in a local theater, that is so superbly done. Just know that On Stage Atlanta more than just conforms to the basic health protection protocols. Seating is distanced, everything is sanitized, temperatures are checked on arrival, no big gatherings in the lobby, and masks anytime you are on the premises. Even the actors are taking cautions wearing clear full face shields, so you can not only hear the lines but see the expressions.

The story is about a black family in Illinois, that is trying to arrange for a 90th birthday celebration for the eldest matriarch, MaDear (Barbara Washington). Madear is losing some of those marbles as well as some mobility; but as we know, getting old ain’t for sissies. Four generations of the family come to the stage. MaDear is the mother of Lola (Lateefah Mosley) who has some issues with her mother as well as with her daughter, MayDee (Irene Polk). The youngest of the four finally shows up. She is Vennie (Kailan Daugherty) who is a typical free spirit who doesn’t seem to adhere to the established behavioral programs that her elders might deem appropriate.

This play by Cheryl L. West won a 1995 NAACP Best Play Award, and although it is a black family, it could be anybody’s, of any background. This is another one of those families that brings to mind that should you look up the word “dysfunctional” in the OED, that it should just say “see Family.”

The fifth player is Vennie’s BFF, Raisa (Amy L. Levin) who is from a totally different background than the others. So, amidst all the yelling, bitching and bickering, you start to think that you probably know some of these folks, regardless of your own heritage.

The show has a way of projecting a lot of humor as it is dealing with angst. A fine cast with a cool set and under the direction of Nat Martin; this one is a Must See. Spoiler: to Jar the floor is to dance on it. So Happy 90th MaDear. . . . More info and tickets at OnStageAtlanta.com

27
Feb

LIVE AT THE AURORA

 

 

 

 

Maybe we can still have hope that days to come may bring back the lives we enjoyed, so much more than dealing with both politicians and viruses. It was a total delight to see the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville open it’s doors for some live on-stage performances.

Know that life today ain’t what it used to be. Tickets are a mere portion of the house capacity, so that whether you bought in for 2 seats or 4, you’ll be well separated from any other guests; and all protocols are carefully observed. Shows are performed without intermission to avoid mingling around the lobby and the concession stand, and they carefully sanitize all the surfaces you may normally come in contact with.

This weekend they hosted stand-up comics from the Laughing Skull which is downtown on Peachtree Street. The performers just wanted to head to the burbs to reach out to more audiences. We’re all just trying to survive, and we salute them for hitting the road like a tour.

While this show is now closed, they will host another two-nighter on March 10 and 11. This is Bill Griese on his Walking Man Tour doing Sweet Baby James; his Tribute to James Taylor. It is really Nashville coming to Lawrenceville. Seated is very limited, so if you snooze you lose. More info at AuroraTheatre.com

26
Feb

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THESE DAYS

 

While the Cultural Arts Community has been devastated by the Covid pandemic, and there is no guarantee when many will be coming back; we need to keep in mind that the folks in theatre and other arts are still fully dedicated to enriching the lives of everyone in the community.

Yes, we must follow safety protocols such as wearing those annoying masks, sitting apart from others, avoiding touching some things like handrails and switches, and we really need to get the vaccine shots sooner as opposed to later.

While all this stuff is going on, some of the theatre companies are taking steps to keep going. Some are doing limited live performances with very limited seating available, some others are moving out into tents where seating will be in pods of 2 to 4 seats maximum, and loads of them are going virtual, but that’s a another story.

While all the young folks know everything about using computers and phones that do everything other than washing dishes; many of the elder community just aren’t into watching a performance on a monitor screen, as opposed to the feelings one experiences when in the audience and feeling the vibes. It’s true that the virtual shows aren’t like a program on commercial TV, so you don’t have to live through all the ads for medications and new cars, neither of which you care about. But, it’s one way the performers are trying to keep their operations running and they are so very anxious to stage a come-back, that they’ll do anything to stay in your thoughts.

So, with that in mind, make a list of the theaters and other venues you have enjoyed patronizing, then just go to their website maybe once every month and see what they may be doing that sings out to you. Most of them also have a link where you can subscribe to direct email updates from them. A lot better than all the political junk you got last year.

Finally, in regard to politics; PLEASE reach out to your local representatives to encourage them to support House Bill 226. The bill relates to allowing non-profit groups to see tickets without having to add on any sales taxes. It’s no big deal to the state’s economy but it surely helps the organizations to get a few more dollars into their till.

And may we all find some better, more healthy and saner days to come. The sooner the better. We all need a break.

24
Oct

The Atlanta Opera – LIVE !!!

 

The Atlanta Opera
LIVE in the tent !!!

The Atlanta Opera is hitting the stage with two works, totally unlike any presentations you have seen before. Like most of us, they ache from losing interaction with their audiences, just as we yearn to see performers live, not just on screen. The Opera has spared nothing to not only make certain that they could meet their top grade performance criteria, but also to insure and protect the safety of everybody working with them, or attending a performance.

The Big Top erected on a playing field at Oglethorpe seats you safely in pods of four seats. You will not be seated with folks you do not know as the pods a sold only as a group of 4, and all must show up to pass the security screening and enter at the same time. You are seated more than 6 feet from any other folks, and you don’t mingle at an intermission or concession stand. You can bring a beverage, and all performances are done without an intermission. Just go to their website at AtlantaOpera.org and you will see full information about each performance and the rules which will be followed.

This is not your grandmother’s presentation. The performers will take to a temporary stage in the tent, and they’ll be wearing masks; even the clowns who are juggling or walking on stilts. The orchestra is not in the pit, but in a tent at the rear of the stage.
And sometimes a performer will be singing from inside a plastic cube about that fully separates him/her from any other performer. But, as The Bard would opine, the show’s the thing and you have to salute them for all they have accomplished.

The two shows running in repertory are Pagliacci, and Der Kaiser von Atlantis. These are both small cast shows, for obvious reasons, and while some characters get offed, as usual in operas; there is plenty of eye-candy provided by the comedic mimes who dance, juggle and stilt walk in both shows. The story in Pagliacci is one of the usual relationship problems and how the players may react to them. Two of the lovers wind up getting whacked in the end of Pagliacci; while the story of that crazy Kaiser relates to an emperor who would kill all, spare none. Not even himself in the end. This one is a rarely staged opus which may have some serious feelings arise in some viewers. It was written in 1943 in a concentration camp, and the Emperor Overall wants to kill all, except when he decides that his soldiers should live forever, ergo keep killing. It was first staged until 1975 and if you lived through those years and have been to one of the holocaust museums you may draw the connection immediately from the wall of shoes which confronts you stage center.

Bottom line is that it took some cajones to put these together as they have done, and they have done so with great aplomb. Pagliacci will hit the boards on 7 more dates between October 28 and November 13; while Der Kaiser will play 8 more times twixt October 25 and November 14. You can get full info at the Opera website with all details such as parking, health screening, etc.

And, they also will present a one-nighter, music of Kurt Weill in Mack the Knife on October 27. All performances start at 7:30 but get there early and keep your distance.
So we all stand together and want to yell out THANK YOU, ATLANTA OPERA !!!!

21
May

It ain’t over, ’til it’s over. . . .

You have probably learned that there is some viral disease causing quite a bit of aggravation for everybody these days. And while we may miss fine indoor dining at McDonald’s and hanging out at our favorite pub; we must try to conceive of the idea that this too shall pass. If it doesn’t; then perhaps Macbeth was correct when he opined that life was often too brief and too easily forgotten.

We can’t let that happen to the creative arts, whether our interests be in paint, glass, dance, music, stage, or any other non-political enterprise. Atlanta is fortunate in that it has THE airline hub of the nation, school systems that have come back from some lower grades, and a VERY active cultural arts community.

Alas, I would be remiss were I not to say that we shall probably lose some of our theatre groups, as well as the humans who bring them to life for every one of us. For as the economy falls deeper, there are things such as food and shelter which must take priority for each of us.

If you are computer knowledgeable and know how to do stuff like streaming, zoom, and all that jazz; then know that all the theatres seem to be trying to reach out in any way they can to help you get through the day; and in the hope that we may be able to help them get through the storm.

Even if you are financially stressed right now, you may wish to make a list of organizations, be they theatres, museums or other groups and amend your will to provide some remittance when you shuffle off this mortal coil. At least you shall be remembered and appreciated and it is paying backward, not forward.

For we must not accept that we strut and fret our hour upon the stage, to be heard no more, and signifying nothing

To each and every one who has brought entertainment, relief, deep thoughts, and so much more to every one of us; we stand and salute you all and love you dearly; hoping you shall stay well and partially sane.

NEVER GIVE UP.

14
May

Ahoy Matey !

With all the problems in the world right now, the hospitality and travel industries have been devastated. Hotels are empty, airplanes are sitting on the ground, and cruise ships are just standing by. But, when things finally get somewhat resolved, fear not for you shall once more be free to set sail.

If you think about health safety, the cruise ships have always been front line; a lot more than hotels and other businesses. For where else will your living quarters be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by a couple of hard working folks on a daily basis? These are the same people you see who are constantly sanitizing and wiping down all the hand rails in the ship and carefully setting up the dining areas to safely serve you.

Yes, there will be some changes. The cruise lines may do a temperature check on every person who embarks, and they may amend their contracts so that anybody who tests positively may be disembarked and transported to a proper facility for care. You’ll probably see small jars of sanitizer among the toiletries as well. And one thing you may wish to remember is that when you have to press the buttons to call an elevator, or to select the deck level you want, bend your finger and press with your knuckles, not your finger tips. And you will probably find a brochure in your cabin setting forth the usual routines to avoid contracting some problem you neither need nor want.

Right now there are still some ships off shore with loads of staff who will hopefully get transportation back to their homes. A large percentage of these hard workers come from the Philippines and Indonesia and they have families as do we, and we are concerned for all of them.

So, if you are one who enjoys the time at sea, keep your eyes and ears open as the lines may start to offer some incredibly good deals in a few months. None of them will leave port if they are afraid they should not do so. They are concerned for your well being as well as their continued success.

Raise your glass and Ahoy Matey !