Fox Theatre
through February 10, 2019

This one is a riot. Sara Bareilles wrote the score for this one, about Jenna who was a waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner. Jessie Nelson did the script and everything works well. The story is based on Jenna (Christine Dwyer) who is a pie baker at Joe’s and in an abusive marriage. He husband, Earl (Matt DeAngelis) is a good old boy character and pretty much egocentric.

Jenna’s boss, Cal (Ryan Dunkin) is the sort of tough guy manager at Joe’s and he has some problems from time to time with Jenna and the other two waitresses, Dawn (Jessie Shelton) and Becky (Maiesha McQueen). After all, working in a small town diner isn’t the dream job for most folks. The owner, Joe (Richard Kline) shows up most days for his breakfast with special orders.

Things get more involved when Jenna becomes pregnant and meets up with that new doctor, (Steven Good) with whom she bonds instantly, even though the doc’s nurse (Rheaume Crenshaw) susses out what’s going on. And a new guy shows up at the diner, Ogie (Jeremy Morse) who is a laugh machine as well as a fancy dancer.

There is also a live band of six players who are mostly on stage from scene to scene, albeit in the background. But, quite interesting in the cabaret style of performance. The cast moves easily though 18 numbers, and the audience goes wild. Especially when Act II, Scene 1 hits the boards.

The shows start at 7:30 so plan to get there early as these days you have to go through those security lines. More info at FoxTheatre.org


Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking
Atlanta Opera
through February 10, 2019

Thirty plus years ago a violent rape and murder took place in Louisiana, and the convicted murderer was put to death after 6 years in prison. It became a non-fiction book by Sister Helen Prejean who has always spoken out against executions. It was later made into an award winning film; and now it reappears as an opera composed by Jake Heggie with the libretto by Terrence McNally. The work was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and has played to some audiences here and abroad.

The scene is set at Angola Prison in Louisiana, considered one of the most unbearable prisons in the country. We meet Sister Helen (Jamie Barton) who gets a letter from Joe de Rocher (Michael Mayes), who is being held on death row. He is seeking some spiritual counseling and emotional support. Although the real convict was electrocuted, the opera stages this one as a lethal injection. Two families have been torn apart by the deaths of a son and a daughter and Joe’s mother (Maria Zifchak) is in the depths of despair as well.

Joe will not admit he did the killing of the young woman, and all avenues of appeal have been dead ends. The parole board would not suspend the death sentence, and the appeal to the governor was turned down. With no further options at hand, Joe is set to be executed in a few days, on his brother’s birthday.

A principal cast of 17 singers move the story along; albeit you know how it shall end. Joe Mechavich came to Atlanta to conduct the orchestra, and while there are no numbers which you may be humming as leave the venue; it is a grand opus running about 2 hours 45 minutes.

Tomer Zvulun who directs the production also directed it in New Orleans where many knew the story first hand. The opera is sung in English with English super-titles, which may sound strange but is very helpful if you miss a word here or there. There are many others working on this opera, including a childrens’ chorus in act I, and the Opera Chorus in act II.

Just know that many operas have death occurrences, and dastardly deeds. So this is not a Carmen or Pirates of Penzance type of show. In fact, it is certainly not for the youngsters or those who may have had to deal with real life events they feel are mirrored by the story.

The opera is staged at the Cobb Energy Center, which is easy to get to with plenty of parking. And more info is available at AtlantaOpera.org


Moonlight & Magnolias

Moonlight & Magnolias
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through January 27, 2019

It was back in 1939 when David O. Selznick produced his epic Gone With the Wind. And life certainly was different 80 years ago. For while McCarthy hadn’t appeared on the set back then; there was a motion picture production association which had adopted an acceptable code they referred to as the Hays Code. We didn’t have X rated films then, and while homosexuality may have been totally banned, the code did not explicitly ban all expletives, although the producers assumed it to be so. But one might say that Selznick didn’t give a damn.

Directed by James Donadio, the show is set at Selznick’s (William S. Murphey) Hollywood office. He’s stopped production, sort of like a government shutdown, while he brought in a new director, Victor Fleming (Bart Hansard) and Ben Hecht (Googie Uterhardt) a screen writer with a quick pen. Problem was they both though Selznick had lost his marbles. Who would want to see a film about the Civil War, even with stars like Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable? It seems that GWTW may still be the highest grossing film in history, given all the remakes and it is still being shown and aired to this day.

There is lots of yelling as the three guys try to work through everything in only 5 days, locked down in Selznick’s office. The secretary, played by Mahalia Jackson, has to be the gate keeper, assistant, maid and general everything else. There are times when you can just see the Three Stooges pulling off the slaps and prat falls.

The show runs a couple of hours, and is so appropriate for our town, since Tara was here and this is where general Grant started the urban renewal project for Atlanta. You may wish to visit Margaret Mitchell’s home and the GWTW Museum one of these days.

More info at GET.org


A Doll’s House – Part 2


A Doll’s House, Part 2
Aurora Theatre
through February 10, 2019

In the late 1800’s Henrik Ibsen put together this story about a woman who stood up for herself and took a hike, leaving her husband and kids to deal with life on their own. This sequel by Lucas Hnath is a co-production by Actor’s Express and the Aurora Theatre.

It’s so timely, inasmuch as it relates to women standing up for their rights, even in these days. Freddie Ashley has come to Aurora from Actor’s Express to direct the show with an all-star cast. The story is about Nora (Tess Malis Kincaid), who walked out on her husband, Torvald (Rob Cleveland) some 15 years before. She ran off and sought to find herself, which she did as an author whose works were published under a nom de plume. It seems she had some legal difficulties and had to impel Torvald to comply with some things to keep other things on track.

She calls at the house to be welcomed by the maid, Anne Marie (Deadre Moore) who may hear and see things from a different perspective, and may not wish to get stuck in the middle of a family feud. The daughter Emmy (Shelli Delgado) comes into the morass when she shows up and sees her mother after all those years. And, it is what she hears and sees that enters into the scene.

If you’ve heard Sinatra sing After You’ve Gone then you may think that is the message of this script. A very nice and easily working set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay, and actions and reactions that may cause you to think of yesterday’s newscast. It isn’t one for the kiddies, but nobody gets physically harmed or abused. It is another one of those theatre “collusions” but is not a conspiracy, it is great in that it saves each of the houses a lot for sets, costumes and so much more.

More info at AuroraTheatre.com


A Year with Frog and Toad






A Year with Frog and Toad
Synchronicity Theatre
through December 30, 2018

Fifteen years ago, the brothers Robert and Willie Reale, brought to stage a children’s book by Arnold Lobel which had quite a following. The show went to Broadway, where audiences really enjoyed it. So now we have a chance for kids from 4 to 94 to see it staged here.

The story is about a Frog (Matt Baum) and a Toad (Greg Hunter) who are friends. They’re hibernating when spring arrives and they get on with doing what amphibians like to do, until Act II when the leaves start to fall and the birds are heading south like many of the older folks. Taryn Janelle and Lyndsay Ricketson are the sprightly birds who get a lot of motion going. They also double as other creatures in some scenes. And Elliott Folds is the third bird who also gets to deliver some snail mail. After all, how many frogs would use a computer?

Jenna Tamisiea directed this show which goes through some really cute and funny musical numbers as the frog and toad find their ways through a year. Like humans, they have their good days and not-so-good ones; but as role models for many of us they resolve issues as they experience life. There’s a lesson there for each of us. It’s not about self esteem, as it should be about caring for others as well as ourselves.

Synchronicity performs at the Invesco Building on Peachtree Street, with on street and valet parking available. Easy to get to and comfy seats all with good views. For more info check them out at SynchroTheatre.com


ELF – the musical






ELF – the Musical
City Springs Theatre
through December 16, 2018

The new City Springs Theatre has brought it’s second Broadway class production to stage, with a large cast, live orchestra, grand set, costumes and dance numbers; in this story about an elf from the North Pole who finds out that he is really a human. The elf (Shuler Hensley) travels to NYC to find his family and therein lies the story.

Elves aren’t that into normal street life, and local folks don’t quite get them. His dad (Steve Hudson) rejects him and has more than enough problems without some elf moving in. His step-mom (Wendy Melkonian) is a little more accepting, considering it is the season to be jolly. Even the young lady, Jovie (Autumn Hurlbert) has trouble accepting this character who really doesn’t have much street creds.

It is Christmas time, and the elf winds up getting sucked into helping at Macy’s, where he manages to screw things up big time. Even Santa (Steve Hornibrook) has a problem with this alien mentality. But the half-brother, Michael (Marco Schittone) is more open to this elf named Buddy.

The show is a musical directed by Steve Bebout, and Brandt Blocker is in the pit as conductor. There are 16 numbers in the show, but not ones that you will leave the theatre humming. For as the Bard would say, the play’s the thing, and with the holidaze upon us, know that all comes out right in the finale. In fact they come off like the Rockettes as the curtain comes down.

This is a new company which is dedicated to bringing first class productions to our community. Next up will be South Pacific in March 2019, and that will be smashing success; especially to those of us who may have seen the original more than 70 years ago.

The venue is easy to get to, just outside the perimeter in Sandy Springs, with a huge garage, good seating and facilities. More info at CitySpringsTheatre.com


Million Dollar Quartet

Million Dollar Quartet
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through January 12, 2019

It is brilliant that some of our local theaters now co-produce shows. For the patrons it means they may not have to schlep 20+ miles for a show they wish were closer to home; but for the theatre companies it saves money on sets, costumes, rehearsal dates and more. So this high energy show which started in February last year at the Lyric Theatre, then went to Georgia Ensemble Theatre in April 2017; is now brought back by Georgia Ensemble at the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe.. Even if you saw it before, you’ll enjoy it once again with some of the same cast. It’s perfect for right now as it exudes energy and you really want to clap, sing, twist and do whatever . . . .

Chris Damiano directed this one down to the last note, (pun intended) and the cast of 8 players really gets your blood flowing as they open with Blue Suede Shoes and work their way through 23 numbers, which for so many of us AARP members takes us back to the days of our youth.

Sun Records had a pretty basic studio in Memphis. It was the birthplace of Rock & Roll, as founder Sam Phillips put out records for several performers who were destined to soar into fame with their Rock and R&B numbers. He was the first to record Elvis and Johnny Cash. This one-act of total excitement is set at the studio.

A young piano player wants to get his work out. You’ll thoroughly enjoy seeing Sean McGibbon in his role as Jerry Lee Lewis, and he makes those 88 keys really rock. The show is set on December 4, 1956 when four now-famous players wind up jamming at Sun. Carl Perkins (Christopher Kent) and Johnny Cash (Chris Damiano) show up. Carl isn’t too happy with Jerry Lee as back up. Then Elvis (Alex Canty) drops by with his lady friend, Dyanne (Janine DeMichele Baggett).

Sun’s owner, Sam Phillips (Jeremy Wood), has some problems, as some of the guys are going to move on to Columbia Records, regardless that Sam is the one who gave them their first break. The story is about the music, and Sean McGibbon is a hoot on the keyboard, while the other three quartet members really are great on guitars. Dyanne has some numbers to sing, and the gang is backed up by Kroy Presley and James Whitney.

The show opened this week as the first production in a new association between Georgia Ensemble and Oglethorpe, and there shall be more shows coming to them in Brookhaven. It is impossible not to enjoy it and get excited by the music. When selecting your seats try to get on the left side of the house, where you will have the better view of Sean’s playing. More info and tickets at GET.org


A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
Alliance Theatre
through December 24, 2018

Ho, Ho, Ho . . . It’s back again, with Scrooge played to the hilt again by David DeVries, who now owns that role. He never fails to delight. Add to the mix the poor Mr. Fezziwig played once again by Bart Hansard, as well as Joe Knezevich, Andrew Benator, Thomas Neal Ghant and a cast total of more than 20 hard working players in many more roles, live music from Michael Fauss and his two associates, some great evil scenes, and the wonderful set by D. Martyn Bookwalter, and you have a truly incredible presentation.

What’s really incredible is that this production which had been done before at the Alliance home stage was being done again at the Cobb Energy Center, to a huge audience who are loving it soooo much. The production is once again directed by Rosemary Newcott.

Scrooge could be a poster boy for the non-caring greed which often seems to be prevalent in our society. I doubt it would be very moving for most of the politicians, bankers and lobbyists that we’ve had to listen to for the past few years. In the Victorian era Dickens was railing about the greed which permeated British society. People were sent to work houses and jails when they couldn’t pay a debt. Can recalling events of days past or seeing the unhappy future of persons other than one’s self really provide the epiphany for redemption? It does perhaps bring to mind the comments of George Santayana, who I’ve often quoted, who said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How we see that coming true around the world on a daily basis. Just tune into the news. . . . So much of it as just pure Humbug.

There are some scary scenes, especially when the ghost of Christmas future comes to visit Ebenezer. So, if you are thinking of taking the wee ones, make sure it’s a story they know or could handle. Cobb Energy is right near 285 and 75 and easy to get to with plenty of garage parking, and every seat in the house has a good view.

And se we hope that the year to come shall be one of joy and health for every one. For show times and tickets just visit AllianceTheatre.org


The Ethel Merman Disco Christmas Spectacular!

The Ethel Merman Disco Christmas Spectacular!
Out Front Theatre
through December 22, 2018

A couple of years ago, Paul Conroy delved deeply into the personal and performing history of Ethel Merman. He wrote and directs this play and Nick Silvestri managed the musical arrangements of many oldies that Ethel sings on stage.

Ethel Merman, nee Zimmerman, is performed to the hilt by Lynn Grace. Ethel is confronted on many issues by producer/director Isaac Aherns (Rial Ellsworth) and they don’t see things the same way. Ever. Ethel is stage center for this broadcast in front of a live audience. She plays the house in every way. People who knew her might say she wasn’t the nicest of women. She was a potty-mouth, somewhat racist, and totally egocentric. Maybe she could have run for office.

In her show she brings on some very high level guests. Davin Allen Grindstaff comes on as Andy Warhol and he is quite an odd chap. But, not quite a odd as Truman Capote (Brandon Deen). And for extra energy she deals with Michael Jackson played by Patrick Coleman. Donna Summer (Alaina Holeman) is supposed to be doing her own numbers, but there’s a clash of egos every time. And Russell Scott plays Jimmy, the assistant and go-fer for Mr. Aherns and Ethel.

The show has a cast of thirteen players, six of whom are doing some great dance numbers and the disco costumes might bring you back to the days of your youth in some clubs where you bought a beer even though you were under age. The costumes are terrific, and the play comes off as quite a bit different than one with a red nosed reindeer or somebody yelling Bah!

Out Front is downtown off tenth street. Easy to get to despite the crazy traffic and valet parking available. More info at OutFrontTheatre.com


A Broadway Christmas Carol

A Broadway Christmas Carol
Art Station Theatre
through December 21, 2018

Kathy Feininger, known as the funny Christmas Carol lady, took the old Dickens work and put together a hilarious parody more than ten years ago. Art Station had staged the show some years back; and now they have brought it back center stage; and it is a total romp.

Scrooge (Jeff LeCraw) isn’t the same old geezer you have seen before, but he is still a miserly old character. Except this one can sing and dance, even in his nightshirt. Joy Walters is the female in the cast of three, and she comes on in quite a few personae, including her package as the ghost of Christmas Present. And Ben Thorpe is Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. There are also some puppets on stage and the music is provided live by Patrick Hutchison, who also plays off some of the characters, and Thom Jenkins.

Thy work through the same old story, but moved along by more than two dozen standard tunes, sung to new parody lyrics that will bring the house down. David Thomas directed this one, and every viewer had a great time. THIS IS ONE YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS . . . . It isn’t so much for the kiddies; but if you are a grown up and have over-dosed on the same-old, same-old, then this is the one you just gotta see.

The theatre is in the Stone Mountain Village area, easy to get to (as you fight your way on 285) and plenty of free parking, good seating, and goodies galore. More info at ArtStation.org