15
Mar

Vive La Fontaine!

Vive La Fontaine!
Théâtre du Reve

After a decade hiatus, Atlanta’s only French language theatre company has brought back this show to 7 Stages. However, due to the Corina Virus stuff the show is now canceled after today. The show is based upon some of the fables created in the 1600’s by French poet Jean De La Fontaine.

The cast of four great players presents nine of the fables, in a variety of styles. Some are done as if by marionettes, one on a toy stage, and some as ballet and tap dance sequences with musical numbers.

Four superb actors are so wonderfully fluent in French that you would think you are in a small theater on the rive gauche. They are really good to the high stepping ballet moves. You need to not only listen to their words but watch the facial expressions which communicate to well. Chris Kayser, Dionna Davis, Chloe Kay and Kevin Qlan are the cast of various characters and each is accomplised in acting, dance, music and total stage presence. Especially transmitting the humor to the audiece.

The show is now performed with some supertitles, but not to worry. It’s all about the stage presence and not the lines; so even if you don’t understand one word or French, you’ll still enjoy the show. It’s different, but it is enjoyable.

And to the cast and co-directors, Ariel Fristoe and Carolyn Cook, we applaud and say and end by saying très bon! Alas the show is now closed; but check in on them and when it comes back you and your little ones will really enjoy it. Website is TheattreDuReve.org

15
Mar

Personals

Personals
Out of Box Theatre

Alas, with all that is going on vis-a-vis the Corona Virus concerns, the theatre has decided to cancel all the rest of these shows after Sunday, March 15. But, perhaps it will come back to their stage again in a few months.

Zip Rampy directed a highly energetic cast of six players. The show is set circa 1985 in days when singles used to pay for personals ads in tabloids such as Creative Loafing. The set, ala Piet Mondrian, by Carolyn Choe is the backdrop for the stories being told by Kate Johnson, Katie Patterson and Ashton Montgomery who are three women looking for Mr. Right. But, Stephen Devillers, Christopher Lange and Patrick Hill are three guys looking for the girl of their dreams, even if they may be Mr. Wrong.

The cast works through 15 numbers which were artfully played and recorded by Annie Cook However the timing is spot-on and everything moves along quite well.

So the bottom line is keep your eyes and ears open as the theatre community in our area starts to fire up in the coming weeks. More info always available at OutOfBoxTheatre.com

14
Mar

Disaster!

Disaster!
OnStage Atlanta
Closed due to Covid 19

This one is not Cats; but is a musical comedy about a guy who builds a floating casino and disco club to be moored at a pier in Manhattan. It’s the late 1970’s when the guys were wearing bell bottoms and music rocked. Joshua Williams plays Tony, a street-wise honcho. He has two problem visitors onboard. Marianne (Courtney Loner) who is a reporter looking into various probable problems onboard the casino; and a professor who styles himself as a disaster expert, played by Bryan Slayton.

It’s the opening night for the floating casino and the characters gather to gamble and dance, unaware of impending natural disasters, and the ship’s lack of safety measures compounds these catastrophes. The professor, Ted, alleges the casino’s structure was built on a fault line, which causes earthquakes and more natural disasters.

For a small company this is very large and energetic show with a cast of 17 plus a live band of 5. Characters are dancing, screaming, running, singing and trying to figure out what lies ahead for them as they encounter problems from the fault line on which they are partying. A young waiter, Chad (Shane Murphy) exudes energy like a tornado as he runs through songs, steps and relationships. He was once engaged to Marianne.

A couple of oddballs draw you in as Sister Mary (Hannah Marie Craton) a nun who has to figure out if she should save some quarters for orphans, or try the slots for a bigger bag of alms for them; and a singer, Levora Verona (Summer Bergeron), who shows up hoping she can hit the stage on the ship and launch her career recovery.

You probably know Shirley & Maury (Lisa Gordon & Ken McMillian). They probably live next door to you and have been a couple since the start of time. The show is directed by Barry West with music under the baton of Paul Tate. And all the fast paced moves were choreographed by Misty Barber Tice.

They work through loads of oldie numbers, in whole and sometimes just parts. You won’t recall most numbers, but know the beat. A few like I am Woman and I Will Survive are two you’ll still hear these days. So pack up your hand sanitizer and paper napkins and head off to OnStage for a delightful evening. Free parking, lots of goodies, easy seating and they are working overtime to keep the house clean and germ free. It’s a lot safer than heading to your local cinema. More info at OnStageAtlanta.com

13
Mar

Indecent

Indecent
Theatrical Outfit
Closed due to Covid 19

It was in 1923 when a director and cast of players were arrested for “Indecency” in New York. They were staging Shalom Ashe’s God of Vengeance in English at the Apollo Theater. We may know the Apollo mostly for jazz these days, and it is in Harlem. But, it was the venue for everything that might be staged in olden days. Ashe wrote the play in Yiddish and Got fun nekome (transliteration of the play’s name) had been produced in many cities in Europe including Germany, Russia and Poland. Those were days when performers like Molly Picon were working in the Yiddish theaters on the lower east side. But, the producer wanted to reach a larger audience; as the story was not just for those of the Jewish faith.

Mira Hirsch directed this one and it is deeply significant for her to do so; as when she went to stage it at the Jewish Theatre of the South at the JCC, there were folks who took affront and asked for it not to be done. But she did it! The story is a play within a play about how Ashe brings out these players as human beings, NOT just Jewish people. Yes, there is a hooker and a brothel owner, and yes two ladies actually embrace and kiss on stage. McCarthy would have gone ape had he been around in those days.

The show runs almost 2 hours in one act, and Andrew Benator, Stephanie Friedman, Pamela Gold, Brian Kurlander, Clayton Landey, Christina Leidel and Brandon Michael Mayes pull it off with great aplomb. There is some Klezmer music provided by Chip Epsten, Eric Fontaine and Rodger French with some additional playing by a few of the actors. Ricardo Aponté choreographed the dance moves, and there are some English language projected lines to help move the show along after each blink in time.

The old characterization of the typical Jewish family is that the parents want the son to become a lawyer or a doctor, and the daughter should marry well. The news today is that is not always the case. We still have people who are biased against those of other backgrounds, and as the French would say, the more things change the more they stay the same. People are people and Paula Vogel brought that into the spotlight when she wrote this play. This is a moving experience and well played. More info at TheatricalOutfit.org

9
Mar

Roméo et Juliette

Roméo et Juliette
Capitol City Opera Company
through March 8, 2020

This is not exactly as the Bard may have seen it, but Charles Gounod was deeply moved and brought it to an operatic presentation in 1867 in Paris. So, while set in Italy, it is sung in French. This is not a dinner with a diva, but a full scale theatrical production at Oglethorpe’s Conant Performing Arts Center.

Michael Nutter directs a cast of more than two dozen players, with an orchestra under the baton of Michael Giel. In all there were more than 50 people involved in bringing this epic opera to the stage. Rachel Eve Holmes is Juliette and Michael Vavases is Roméo. August Bair is Mercutio and William Green is Tybalt. And if you recall your days in High School you know how the story goes, with some sleeping meds and how things wind up.

This is quite a production for this company and CCOC founder, Donna Angel, must be very proud of all that has been accomplished in the decades of work. The production is sponsored by Oglethorpe, runs about 2.5 hours and is easy to get to, plenty of parking and all seats with a good view, and English super-titles. If you like opera then be eager to attend even if you were recently at another opera; and if you are new to opera this is a good start.

More info at CcityOpera.org

8
Mar

Porgy and Bess

 

 

 

 

 

Porgy and Bess
Atlanta Opera
through March 15, 2020

Catfish Row returns to Atlanta as Porgy hobbles around the stage and sets his heart on the somewhat fickle Bess, in George and Ira Gershwin’s signature operatic endeavor. You know many of the pieces from Porgy, which have become standards in American music. Summertime, Bess you is My Woman , I Got Plenty o’Nuttin’ , It Ain’t Necessarily So, and A Woman Is a Sometime Thing. And what you may not know is the story, about a bunch of fishermen living along Catfish Row, the ladies of virtue and easy virtue, and druggies and the terrible power wielded by the white folk’s cops.

Sportin’ Life (Jermaine Smith) is pushing some white powder. Gee, they did that even back in 1935 when we thought everybody was super straight. Crown (Donovan Singletary) is one tough cookie and he figures Bess is HIS woman, even after he takes it on the lam to get away from being strung up by the po-leece. That’s when Bess (Talise Trevigne) is left with no place to call home. But wait. There’s the little hovel on the Row where that crip Porgy lives. Porgy invites her in, and she finds that physical stature is not what makes a man a man in her eyes. At least for a while. Porgy (played alternate dates by Morris Robinson and Musa Nggungwana) has a physically demanding role as he uses the crutch to get around the stage

It may seem odd to listen to an opera sung in English with English supertitles. But, maybe a few words get swallowed, or it helps those who are hearing impaired. The action is sometimes quite slow, but that’s the way the Gershwin’s wrote it. Life moved so much slower 85 years ago.

All said, the cast and chorus is quite good, and the orchestra under the baton of David Charles Abell is first class. This isn’t La Bohème or Carmen; but it’s a natural for Atlanta The performances are at the Cobb Energy Center on March 8, 10, 13 and 15 only. So now’s the time to grab your tickets and enjoy the show. More info at AtlantaOpera.org

7
Mar

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
City Springs Theatre
through March 15, 2010

If you read the Autobiography of a Criminal or saw Kiind Hearts and Coronets, then you will love this adaptation, directed here by Brandt Blocker with the posh sets that took the stage at the Fox a couple of years ago.

This is a musical farce comedy about a gent, Montague Navarro (Haden Rider) who has learned that he is in line to become the Earl of Highhurst. The only problem is that he is 8th in line and can’t obtain the desired status unless, and until, those in line before him just happen to pass away. And that’s when he starts to figure out how he might help them do so, and as quickly as possible. So he starts to plan their demise and keeps writing his autobiography about his dastardly deeds.

The two ladies of interest for Monty are Sibella (Leigh Ellen Jones) and Phoebe (Katherine McLaughlin) and Googie Uterhardt, plays all eight of the would-be victims, and the costume changes are incredibly fast. The stage is set at the D’Ysquith Manor in London around 1909. The cast of 13 players pull this off with great aplomb, and go through 22 numbers with a live orchestra in the pit under the baton of Chris Brent Davis; and some great choreography by Cindy Mora Reiser. This is a hard working gig for such a relatively short schedule.

Sort of Sweeney Todd meets the D’Ysquith clan in Sandy Springs at the Byers Theatre. Valet and self parking easily available and a VERY comfortable facility. More info at CitySpringsTheatre.com

7
Mar

On Your Feet!

On Your Feet!
Aurora Theatre
through April 19, 2020

Hola! Come on back to Miami in the 1970s and 1980s when the Latino culture really started to explode. This is the story of a young girl who came to this country from Cuba and loved to sing. While it wasn’t the career that parents might have promoted it certainly worked out far better than anybody might have expected. For show biz isn’t easy no matter what your talents may be. This is about Gloria & Emilio Estefan, and is based on real history.

Most of the music in this energetic production is by Gloria & Emilio as it was played by the Miami Sound Machine. Justin Anderson directs a cast of two dozen players who dance and sing their way through more than 20 numbers, most of which featured Gloria when they broke through the barriers and hit the big time. Most of the story deals with Gloria studying to be a psychologist and helping care for her father, José (Arusi Santi). She meets Emilio (Max. J. Cervantes) who is impressed and asks her to perform a gig with him in Little Havana area of Miami.  Gloria’s mother (Lillangina Quiñones) isn’t too impressed with the idea, albeit Gloria’s grandmother (Felicia Hernandez) thinks she should follow her dreams.

As the story moves along Gloria and Emilio get tight, and they marry in 1978 and have worked together since then. There was a lot of trouble to get producers to want them to cut numbers in English, and they finally did break through that wall. For if you go down to SW 8th Street in Miami today, everybody understands both languages, even if they prefer one over the other. Pero, no problema.

While you don’t need to understand Spanish, you can understand and thoroughly enjoy the music and dancing, which is a really enjoyable part of the Latino culture. When Gloria & Emilio released Conga in 1985 it went to the top of the charts and you still want to get up and shake your hips to that one. The play does deal with a terrible accident that sent Gloria to the hospital and caused many to fear she’d never walk again. But this lady is a champ.

This show is selling out to really enthused audiences. In fact it was supposed to run only to April 12th, but has already been extended to the 19th. More info at AuroraTheatre.com

5
Mar

Leading Ladies

Leading Ladies
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through March 8, 2020

If you like to laugh at insanity, appreciate the works of Moliere, and have a really great couple of hours, get your tickets now before this one closes. Playwright Ken Ludwig is a celebrated artist whose plays have been staged around the world and have won quite a few awards.

This one is about a couple of washed up actors who just can’t make it to the big time. They read that some wealthy old lady has passed away and the bulk of her estate will go to some kin she hasn’t had any contact with in many years. So what would The Bard do?  Hop on the train to her home town in Pennsylvania and try to pass themselves off as her nephews Steve and Max.  But this starts to go awry in the opening scenes as the Steve and Max are really Stephanie and Maxine. No worries, mate. They had plenty of drag costumes in their luggage. After all, in Shakespeare’s days, women were not allowed to hit the boards; ergo all were played by guys.

Leo (Robin Bloodworth) now has to come on as Maxine while Jack (Allen Dillon) comes on as Stephanie. And inasmuch as this is a farce, know that as one door closes another opens, and the two leads change their costumes faster than most of us could brush our teeth; even if they were still in our mouths.

James Donadio directed this cast of 8 players, each of whom is first class. Suzanne Roush plays the old lady; who as Monty Python would proclaim, is not quite dead.  Even though her doctor (Rial Ellsworth) seems to be ready to proclaim her such.

Caroline Ficken and Casey Gardner play the two younger ladies of interest who may be sought by Steve Hudson and Blake Fountain as the two other blokes. But, as you get dragged into this one, you may think you can predict where and when something will occur.  But, as a member of your family would tell you; you are wrong.  The set by Stephanie Polhemus is quite good and works effortlessly to suck us all into the story, and all is a delight.

Closing soon; so if you snooze you lose. More info at GET.org

14
Feb

School Girls

School Girls
True Colors Theatre
through March 8, 2020

School Girls or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh is a story about the goings on at a girls’ school in Ghana in the 1980s. The story is actually based on what went on when a young woman from America, Erica Yayra Nego, went to Ghana and competed to be named Miss Ghana and then go on to an international competition. It really ticked off the classmates who saw her as what the Brits might say as NQUT, which is not quite our type.”

Directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, we meet up with 6 girls in the lunchroom. Lauren Richards plays the Erika in the show, and Ellen Ifeoluwa George comes on as the one who figures everything should be hers at any time. The other classmates are played by Isake Akanke, Brittany Deneen, Destiny Freeman, and Valeka J. Holt. The school headmistress is Charity Jordan and a former beauty queen who is there to interview prospective contestants is Kristen Jeter.

You can just imagine the raw competition taking place as some demeaning comments are made, some bullying, and slandering one another’s public image for the sake of advancing their own. The show runs a little less than 90 minutes, and the theatre is easy to get to at the Southwest Arts Center. Free parking, good seating, and plenty of nearby beaneries. More info at TrueColorsTheatre.org