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 !

17
Apr

Theatre of Your Dreams

Theatre of Your Dreams

The pandemic going on may have shuttered all of our theaters; but we all need to know that the theatre folks are not mere players whose life upon the stage will be heard no more. Fear not, for they shall all return and we must stand in concert with them to make sure they play to full houses and bring joy and relief into our lives once more.

Many of us recall days in the past decade when we lost some wonderful theatre companies; and also when so many stood up to the plate and did what they could to ensure that the houses would reopen once more. Our politicians finally got the message that what makes a city desirable is transportation, education and cultural arts.

Yes, Hartsfield is the air hub of the country, and probably did more to expand this city than anything before it. And these days our education systems, which had hit rock bottom some years ago, have recuperated and are now fully functional. And, we are so very fortunate to have such an active cultural arts community, ranging through the entire spectrum of the arts. And today they are all in a depression awaiting the days when the sun may shine once more.

If you know some folks who have brought pleasure to your eyes, ears, and hearts then reach out to them and let them know how much they have meant to you and to others. I doesn’t take much to let somebody know that you care for them and for those who may be important to them. We shall stand together and stand tall, and when the day is here we shall rise to welcome them back to great applause.

Hang in there, in these insane times. We have no other options.

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