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

13
Feb

Unnecessary Farce

Unnecessary Farce
Center Stage North
through February 22, 2020

Do you like BritComs, did you enjoy The Three Stooges, and are you a fan of the farces of yesteryear penned by Molière? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions then you will thoroughly enjoy this romp.

The plot is totally insane, so don’t worry about it. Just sit back and laugh as two totally incompetent cops, Eric (Freddy Lynn Wilson) and Billie (Katharina Fox) try to take down an allegedly corrupt town mayor (Steve Pryor) and use a sexy vamp (Julie Turner) to lure him into a bugged hotel room where she plans to elicit his confession before the surveillance camera.

And that’s when everything starts to go from slightly errant to a total train wreck as far as the cops are concerned. It seems that the mayor’s security guard (Jerry Jobe) may be in on the scam and that the Mafia in this episode could be a Scottish Clan (with a C not a K). Todd (Neil Ramsay) is the nasty who might understand if we were to tell him Yer bum’s oot the windae.

Nothing is what it seems to be, and in the process of coming apart at the seams it provides riotous laughter for all. You’ll be surprised with the reaction of the Mayor’s wife (Diane Dicker) when she shows up looking for him. What is really captivating is the athleticism of the players; especially Katharina Fox who plays the nit-wit cop. She and others jump, roll and cavort between two adjoining hotel rooms and you’ll enjoy every minute of this one.

It does seem so poignant in these days are political scheming headlining the news, and people who may be in government but have an IQ slightly lower than a turnip. They play just these two weeks, and it is a very well done under the direction of Julie Taliaferro. The theatre is easy to get to with good seating and plenty of treats. More info at CenterStageNorth.org

12
Feb

Hello Dolly!

Hello Dolly!
Fox Theatre
through February 16, 2020

I doubt that Thornton Wilder ever imagined the fame and endurance that Dolly would enjoy. If you have never seen it, you need to get to the Fox, and if you have seen it, you will want to enjoy it again as it never fails to excite. Carolee Carmello is Dolly Gallagher Levi and her stage presence is the same as every one of the top stars who have played Dolly. She’s the yenta from Manhattan who wants to marry that old coot from Yonkers, Horace Vandergelder (John Bolton, the actor not the one you see daily on the news). Horace has something Dolly admires, and it’s in his wallet.

Daniel Beeman and Sean Burns are the two young guys slaving away in Horace’s store, and they get the action going when they decide to go for a romp into the Big Apple. As you know, all which can go wrong will, until things come out OK in the end. In Act II the milliner, Irene, and Horace’s daughter and her suitor, and the lasses the lads become tight with, all wind up at that posh beanery, The Harmonia Gardens. That’s the incredible scene where Dolly makes her famous entrance down the stairs to the welcoming song from the waiters and staff who are so glad to see her back where she belongs.

The choreography of all the staff is such a spectacular highlight of the show, as more than a dozen dancers wow the audience doing The Waiters’ Gallop number. You don’t want them to stop. As the show starts to close down you really don’t want to sing So Long Dearie to any of the performers. The costumes are like the original Broadway ones, the props and screens and the Hay & Feed shop in Yonkers are really spot-on, and the full orchestra in the pit, under the baton of Ben Whiteley are a delight.

The touring company is a very hard working gang. They’ll play here through the week and then hit the road for Philadelphia where they’ll open again after 1 day off. So now’s the time for you to decide that it only takes a moment to get your tickets and celebrate with a night you’ll remember. More info at FoxTheatre.com

11
Feb

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
many venues around town
through February 27, 2020

Hooray! Now for the 20th year in succession the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is playing all around town. The opening was at Cobb Energy Center on February 10th, and more than 2,000 fans fought their way through some pretty tough weather to join their voices in support of helping others.

The opening film was Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance. The film featured many heroes of note from our history books, newspapers and personal recollections; as we went back to Birmingham, Selma, the Temple bombing, days of Jim Crow and so much more. One special treat was when Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul & Mary, took the stage to belt out Blowin’ in the Wind. And the choirs of Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Temple joined in as did the audience as if we were all at Woodstock.

The films will be shown at Regal Cinemas in Sandy Springs, Tara on Cheshire Bridge, Plaza Theatre on Ponce, Landmark Midtown on Monroe, City Springs, and The Woodruff Center. You can be assured that you’ll find more than one or two of the films that will draw you in. If you go to their website at AJFF.org you can see all the info as to titles, dates and times and even download a full program schedule for free.

This is not just about people of one faith, but about human experiences and how some people feel the power to help others. Enjoy . . .

10
Feb

Heart / Beat

Heart / Beat
Atlanta Ballet
through February 15, 2020

The Atlanta Ballet might just be the answer to what could be a cool Valentine’s gift this year; for they have two remaining performances at 8pm on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

These are not Swan Lakes or typical classical ballets. In fact they are quite different and the emphasis is on the choreography, which is no surprise. There are three ballets with two intermissions. First up is Elemental Brubeck which is choreographed by Lar Lubovitch to the music of Dave Brubeck. This work is staged in collaboration with the San Francisco Ballet.

The dancers come back next in Tuplet choreographed by Alexander Ekman to the music of Mikael Karlsson.  Ekman is one who often goes off the standards and this is no exception, as you will note. The six dancers are even providing some drum beats with their own hands as they work through this one.

And the grand finale after the intermission is the world premiere of Sunrise Divine which is choreographed by Dwight Rhoden with about 18 dancers on stage and with a band in the pit led by Dr. Kevin P. Johnson who composed the original music. And upstage on a loft you will see and hear the Spelman College Glee Club and the Golden Gate Singers as they work their way through quite a few updated gospel numbers.

And if you have some children who you think may be intrigued by becoming a ballerina, then the Atlanta Ballet 2, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Swan Princess at the same facility February 13 – 16 at 7pm and 2pm, and it is a one hour presentation for an audience of 12 and younger. But the grandparents might also enjoy it. More info at AtlantaBallet.com

9
Feb

5 Course Love

5 Course Love
Marietta Theatre
through February 22, 2020

Forget about the flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. A couple of tickets to this really great show will be far more memorable for all. A really unique cabaret burlesque where you feel as if you are part of the show.

You will be at a restaurant where a single guy hopes to hook up with a woman. Thinks don’t always work out the way we wish, at least not at the start. The restaurant is run by Dean (Alex Eberhart) and he has some management problems. Chris Saltalamacchio shows up as Matt, a very single man; and he runs into Barbie (Lillian Shaw) thinking she is somebody else; but she has the same problem with him. And this is just a start.

The story is really about five different couples in different beaneries. Each player comes back in four more roles. Barbie is also Sofia, Gretchen, Rosalinda and Kitty; while Matt is also Gino, Klaus, Guillermo and Clutch. And Dean is also Carlo, Heimlich, Ernesto and Pops.

As you might guess from the names, the bistro starts off as a BBQ type joint, then Italian, then German, followed by a Latino and finally back to local American joint. What is also incredible about this show is that there is a band of three players onstage, Brian Osborne, Ian Scheffer and Aaron Crowe all of whom are associated with Reinhardt University and they effortlessly move through 31 numbers all in a one act show running about 90 minutes.

This is a thoroughly delightful experience being staged at a small local theatre, but of the quality one might expect from a larger company. Costumes, choreography, music and everything working together for a grand fun time. More info at MariettaTheatre.com

9
Feb

Calendar Girls

Calendar Girls
Act3 Playhouse
through February 23, 2020

This is a pure delight to everybody in the house. If you like theater and/or films you know the story about a bunch of adult women from Yorkshire who decide to raise some money to help a local cancer hospital. So, instead of baking cupcakes or crocheting table decorations, they decide to go starkers on a calendar. It may have been a bit shocking to some, but it went viral and the gals who hoped to raise maybe 600 quid, raised over £500,000

As you may know they don’t push frontal nudity. The ladies are posed behind fruit bowls, or pies, or other props which delicately conceal certain very private parts of their anatomy while exposing all the rest to supply plenty of eye candy to those who buy their calendars.

The show is a laughter fest, and something we all can enjoy. Directed by Gabby Kellogg, there is a cast of 14 terrific players. The character’s names aren’t a big issue with the possible exception of Lady Cravenshire (Peyton White), the Ms. Prim of the town. We meet the ladies at their meeting of the local Womens’ Institute. The husband of one of them is terminally ill, and they want to do something in his memory and for others.

Mary Claire Klooster, Ginny Slifcak, Avani Lesane, Gloria Szokoly, Carlye McLaughlin, Rebekah Williams, Nancy Jensen, Bernice Grussing and Elizabeth Clements are the other Yorkshire ladies. The gents include Paul Spadafora, James Connor, Patrick Croce and Jason Pure. The guys may keep their clothes on, but they are a real part of the story. For these gals need the photographer, to take the shots once their clothes are off and the light screens are in place.

It is kind of like that little whore house in Texas. There is really nothing dirty going on. No proper lady need be offended, as this deals with womens’ rights. No old geezer is going to get too excited thinking that he’s about to see a stripper waving her boa. What it is, is a very good production of a very wonderful and true story, which provides tons of laughs, and presented with grand enthusiasm by this small local theatre company.

Act3 is very easy to get to just behind Trader Joe’s in Sandy Springs. Free parking, easy view from all seats and a really good deal for all. More info at Act3Productions.org

8
Feb

Camelot

Camelot
Atlanta Lyric Theatre
through February 23, 2020

It’s 60 years since Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot hit the stage, and it is so spot-on these days when we witness the world around us and search for ways to attain honor, justice and peace for all. For it was King Arthur (Corey James Wright) who, with the help and input from Guenevere (Lyndsay Ricketson) figured out to build a round table where each knight might have an equal seat at the table. Not sure we have one like that in the White House.

The original show didn’t have an easy start, even though it did bring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet to stage center and they brought down the house. It is a show that today runs maybe 2.5 hours, but it was once even longer. You will meet Arthur and Guenevere by the tree in the forest, and they do become wed. Arthur is somewhat moved by the magician, Merlyn (Claudio Pestana), and often looks to his old aide, Pellinore (Greg Hunter).

And, you do recall that Sir Lancelot comes to England to become a Knight of the Round Table. Lancelot (J D Myers) and Guenevere have eyes for one another but try to avoid any hanky panky. At least until late in Act II. For it is then that a bastard son of Arthur, Mordred (Daniel Pino) shows up with a plan of his own to disrupt the realm and seize all power. Sound like anything you hear today?

Directed by Mira Hirsh with a live orchestra under the baton of Paul Tate, this is another really Broadway quality production by this local house. They deal with equality, help for the simple folk, peace vs. war, and standing for right not just might. If only it could be made a requirement that anyone running for office read the original story by T.H.White, and sing along with the cast on stage.

More info at AtlantaLyric.com