17
Jan

Menopause The Musical

Menopause, the Musical
Strand Theatre
through January 21, 2018

If you didn’t get to see Menopause before, you’ve missed a riotous evening of good entertainment. So, . . . here’s your chance again. They’re back! These four wild women find one another in Bloomie’s and they are each dealing with the changes in life that they knew were coming, but didn’t really enjoy.

First thing I have to tell you is that a lot of guys would be put off by the show title or subject matter. But, it really is not just a chick show. For the guy who has an IQ higher than a politician and understands that women face life changes as they age, it can be just as entertaining as it is for his lady. But, for the guy who’s world consists of watching race car drivers run around in circles it could be a bit like watching a film with subtitles. He wouldn’t dig that, either.

The cast of four wonderfully meshed players consists of Rebecca Fisher as the actress on the way to retirement, Linda Boston as the flower-girl turned business woman, Megan Cavanagh as “Earth Mother” and Teri Adams as the housewife from Iowa. Four distinctly different backgrounds and a perfect match up of ensemble acting and singing.

The score is really unique in that it consists of licensed music mostly from the groovin’ 60’s so you will recall the tunes and much of the lyrics, except that the lyrics in this show are a parody and so have been written to tell the story. The old standard “Heat Wave” which dates from the 1930’s by Irving Berlin now resounds with, “I’m having a hot flash / A tropical hot flash / My personal summer is really a bummer / I’m having a hot flash.”

Take your lady for a very happy evening of fun at the Strand in Marietta Square. And, if you are the lady and that guy of yours doesn’t dig the idea of going with you, call your friends, round up a girls’ night out and enjoy it. You don’t need to be a Red Hat gal, but they sure enjoy this one every time it comes to town.

And there’s free parking in the city garage across the street from the theater. More info at EarlSmithStrand.org

16
Jan

Maytag Virgin

Maytag Virgin
Aurora Theatre
through February 11, 2018

Audrey Cefaly put this one together to bring us to a small town in Alabama in which two single people wind up living adjacent to each other, and how a relationship may or may not evolve.

Melissa Foulger directed the show with a perfect cast comprised of Courtney Patterson as Lizzy and Brad Brinkley as her neighbor, Mr. Jack Key. Jack has just moved in and has a lot of his junk in the front yard. He does know that the former owner died in the bedroom upstairs, but that isn’t a great deterrent. Domestic arrangements seem to be more.

Elizabeth (a/k/a Lizzy) is a teacher who recently lost her spouse, and is working through it. She wants to welcome Jack to the neighborhood, but is quite hesitant in her approach. But, Jack is even less responsive, and seems to be someplace else most of the time.

The two play off one another on a splendid set by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay that looks just like two real homes that we’ve all seen before. The story is how can these two be a couple, and when, if ever, that may occur. It is a really pleasant evening where nobody gets killed, there are no expletives, and no political commentary, except for dealing with the truth that those who forget the events of the past may have to relive them.

More info and tickets at AuroraTheatre.com

15
Jan

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Theatrical Outfit
through February 4, 2018

Billie Holiday was one of the great jazz singers half a century ago. Born in Philly she changed her name from Eleanora Fagan to Billie Holiday and she was a featured performer with big bands in Harlem and other venues, including some shows at Carnegie Hall.

She had a really tough life full of unpleasant relationships, and in her thirties she became addicted to drugs as well as alcohol. She died at age 44 but her legend lives on.

This retelling of her tragic journey through life, and the fights she put up, is told and sung to us by Terry Burrell who comes off right on-score as Lady Day. She is backed up by her trio on stage, with William Knowles on the keyboard, Ramon Pooser on bass, and Lorenzo Sanford on the drums. Eric J. Little directed this one-act production on a really incredible set by the sisters Curley-Clay.

The theatre is set up cabaret style with a live bar and seats available at tables right near the stage. It’s an interesting journey back to some good and bad days in the music world and segregation days. The commentaries probably would not be suitable for youngsters, or those who recoil at the use of an expletive, . . . but WTF?

There’s a parking garage just past the theatre on Luckie Street and you can buy a discounted validation voucher at the box office. More info available at TheatricalOutfit.org

15
Jan

Angels in America

Angels in America
Part One: Millennium Approaches
Actor’s Express
through February 17, 2018

Tony Kushner wrote this truly epic work about AIDS in New York, and won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1993. It is often described as A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and is generally performed in two separate productions; the follow-up being Part Two: Perestroika.

Freddie Ashley and Martin Damien Wilkins joined forces to direct this work, in which eight performers take the stage in various roles. We start off meeting a high energy potty-mouthed lawyer, Roy (Robert Bryan Davis) who is a power broker playing the usual “old boy” games and wants to send his law clerk, Joe (Joe Sykes) to Washington to handle some matters favorably. Joe is hesitant both for fear of ethics violations as well as his wife, Harper (Cara Mantella) dealing with agoraphobia. And she’s not that certain about their relationship; not knowing that Joe may be homosexual as is Louis (Louis Greggory), a clerk in the same office. Joe’s mother, Hannah (Carolyn Cook) takes him for what he is.

Things start to really go awry when Roy is diagnosed with AIDS but doesn’t want to disclose the truth. In the same time Louis gets into a deep relationship with Prior (Grant Chapman) who also gets diagnosed and is on the way out. Roy gets some attention from a former drag queen and nurse, Belize (Thandiwe DeShazor). And we get to meet the angels played by Parris Sarter.

Against this backdrop the story goes back to the McCarthy era, and some of the wrong doings, such as the way Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were set up then sent up to die. It was not the best of times for those who sought equality, justice and freedom for all. And it does make one recall the great line from George Santayana who said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The show runs about 3 hours with 2 intermissions, and is beautifully staged and performed with great energy. It’s hard to believe that these same actors not only had to learn all these lines, but they also come back in Part Two, which will open on the 18th of January. It may not be for some of us who actually lived through those days and decades prior, but it does reflect on what we are seeing these days.

Actor’s Express is easy to get to downtown, with adjacent garage parking available. More info and tickets at Actors-Express.com

12
Jan

Tenderly

Tenderly
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through January 28, 2018

Come back some years with us as we delve into the life and times of Rosemary Clooney. She had a tumultuous life. Born in Kentucky into a dysfunctional family, which went through a marital separation which included some children being ripped apart from one another. She started singing when she was very young, but she didn’t come into the limelight until 1946 when at age 18 she was featured on a record with Tony Pastor’s band. And the story goes on from that point.

Her first big hit was Come On-a My House with Mitch Miller. She wound up being seen and heard on just about every radio and TV show, and was a very attractive woman to have at stage center doing her numbers. Her personal life was a roller coaster, with two marriages, 5 children, and a terrible drug addiction.

When we meet her in this play she is with Dr. Monke, a shrink at a hospital she was a big benefactor to. And the good doctor is played by Mark Cabus, who comes on in loads of different personae and certainly seems to be enjoying each of them. Rachel Sorsa is stupendous as Rosemary, as she takes on the time-travel trip of her life, including her attraction to, and appreciation of, some folks such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Robert F. Kennedy. It was being present at his assassination that year (1968) that puts her over the wall and gets her in the psych ward.

Once she fought off her innermost devils, she came back to stage and performed when possible until her passing in 2002 at age 74. Many more years than one might have thought possible.

In this production Rachel moves the story along with many of Rosemary’s classic numbers, which anybody with an AARP card will recall and want to sing along. There is a three man band upstage and everybody is in place and on tune with the action at all times. Directed by James Donadio, it’s a VERY enjoyable evening celebrating the life of a fine performer who had won several lifetime achievement awards.

More info at GET.org

12
Jan

The Lion King

 

 

 

 

 

The Lion King
Fox Theatre
through January 28, 2018

You know about The Lion King, or perhaps you live in a cave some place. This is the Disney funded extravaganza and the road company has come to Atlanta many times since 2003. Tickets have been selling quite well, so if interested you need to be a bit flexible in your dates if you want to secure the best seats.

It is true that money doesn’t always equal production of value. Just look at the miserable stuff your favorite cable company is pumping into your home. But in The Lion King what you see is that a bottomless pit of money when married to an inexhaustible supply of talent can really produce something quite impressive. The plot is immaterial so don’t even give it a thought. The music is forceful and sometimes melancholic but you aren’t going to leave the theatre humming most of it. What you are going to see is a theatrical “experience” which is incredibly well staged, lit, choreographed and costumed.

More than the music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, the real stars of the show are the costumes and direction of Julie Taymor. The show is adapted from the Disney film of the same name and it is pure Disney all the way.

Buyi Zama is a gas as narrator, cum hip mentor of the savannah. And
really knows how to play to an audience. The two scene stealers (when the hyenas aren’t on stage) are Zazu, the avian majordomo to King Mufasa (Gerald Ramsey) and the camped up meerkat fresh from the Borscht Belt, Timon (Nick Cordileone).

What this production is all about is color, movement, sound and pleasing the
senses. From the opening act when the larger than life animals parade all around the stage, you are treated to something that looks like a Las Vegas show staged in a 3-ring tent. So, just be a kid for a while.

The show runs about 2 hours and 45 minutes so plan on a long first act if you have kids with you. Come early as they have a mob scene at the Fox. Not sure what more to tell you. You’ve seen clips on TV, your kids or grandkids have told you about it, you’ve been to Disney World, so just go and enjoy it for what it is. It’s a great theatrical entertainment.

10
Jan

The Comedy of Errors

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
Shakespeare Tavern
through January 28, 2018

With all the news going on these days about legalizing marijuana, it may make one think of Sherlock smoking opiates, and/or possibly the Bard getting high to pen this opus. After all, they did have quite a garden in Warwickshire.

This is a show of insanity, presented by a bunch of weirdos, played by a cast of terrific actors. A merchant from Syracuse (Steve Hudson) is under arrest in Ephesus and trying to get up enough ducats to avoid execution.

The merchant came there in search of some of his twin sons who he lost at sea years prior. And that’s when things get even stranger. The twins grew up in different lands. One of them is Antipholus (Andrew Houchins) and his slave is named Dromio (J.L.Reed). The twin brother is same name but from the other town, played by Charlie T. Thomas,, and he has a slave who just happens to be same name as the other one, played by Adam King.

Things get nuttier when a gold chain is handed over to the wrong twin and the other one won’t pay the merchant for it because he never got it. Duh! Things get even more intense when one of the women begs to have her alleged husband removed from a safe abbey and turned over to her custody. It is the Abbess (Gina Rickicki) who gets things in alignment; and as one may expect, everything does come out all right in the end. The two Dromios even leave the stage arm in arm, as they are also twins.

The cast of a dozen players do their very best to make things as screwy as possible, and directed by Jaclyn Hofmann, they do a fine job of sucking us down into the black hole of the story. One might wonder how the poor peasants back in Shakespeare’s days could figure out what was going on, as they stood in place for 2+ hours.

The tavern offers pub grub, has easy seating and is easy to get to. Park across the street in the hospital garage and when you check out, show them a ticket stub and they charge only $4. Not bad for downtown Atlanta. More info and tickets at ShakespeareTavern.com

9
Jan

SILENCE!

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SILENCE!
The Musical
Onstage Atlanta
through January 21, 2018

This is the send-off production at Onstage Atlanta before a soon to be announced relocation. And during the months of making the move, they’ll take a line from the Alliance M.O. and play around town at 7 Stages, the Art Station, and possible other venues.

Zip Rampy brought together a fine cast of a eight players to retell the story of The Silence of the Lambs, as a musical comedy noir. Only problem is that most of the comedy may not get through. Most of the goofy stuff is portrayed by a group of lambs, who could easily be mistaken for bunnies. Russ Ivey plays Lecter and he pulls the role off with great aplomb, as does Barbara Cole Uterhardt as the inquisitive Clarice; who is trying to delve into Lecter’s inner being, whatever that might be. Buffalo Bill is played by Zac Phelps, while Daniel Pino comes on in more than a dozen roles.

This play had somewhat limited runs in NYC, London and elsewhere; and while it garnered some awards, it isn’t Cats or Phantom by any measure. In fact, you do not want to try to bring any kids to this one, nor would Ms. Prim or the Bible Thumpers be able to handle the ever present expletives and single entendres. The one in Act I which is program noted as If I Could Smell Her C*̂$ sets the stage for more of the same ilk in Act II.

Nick Silvestri directed the music of the three players, while Zac handled the choreography. This is not their usual genre, but is a special event to help funding for the Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Awards, and for that we must stand by their side in appreciation, as so much of the work is pro bono. They do advise that the show is rated R, and is a size 14 R, so as any boy scout would advise, if you go, just be prepared.

More info and tickets at OnstageAtlanta.com

21
Dec

HACKED FOR HOLIDAZE

If you have been a subscriber but no longer get a daily update of new reviews, then you may be a victim of some weirdos who hacked into our website programming and were sending out tens of thousands of spam emails a day.

We hope all is now working properly; but if you are reading this because you are visiting the site, then you can just resubscribe in the box at your right, and you will get a confirmation email.

Not exactly the kind of stuff one needs when we already have plenty of other traffic and stress.  But, we end by yelling out HAPPY HOLIDAZE TO ALL !!

19
Dec

Thank You, Bob Farley

It is always hard to lose a good friend, and Bob Farley was one of the very best.

For more than two decades he oversaw the growth of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and did it with great aplomb. He understood what makes an area desirable is transportation, education and cultural arts. Hartsfield-Jackson fueled the growth of the Atlanta area and as it grew, he was one who was determined to grow with it, and provide good theatre to the community outside the perimeter.

We lost Bob on November 30th. He may be gone but he shall never be forgotten, and always remembered for his great contributions to our community. On Monday, he was fondly remembered at a Celebration of His Life attended by hundreds of theatre folks and us plain folk as well.

We all said, Thank you Bob.