27
Sep

Paradise Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradise Blue
True Colors Theatre
through October 20, 2019

A part of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy, this intense production takes us back to the days after WWII when the Interstate Highway System was started. One of the problems was that politicians tried to gentrify some neighborhoods by running a road through them, and these ‘hoods were generally lower income venues.

Jamil Jude directed this energetic cast of five players. Blue (Javon Johnson) owns a jazz club joint in Black Bottom area. And that ‘hood as well as Paradise Valley was run over because it had been run down. And, you know it was primarily working class Black folks.

Blue gets offered $10,000 to sell the joint and he is inclined to do so and move to the Chicago area. Of course, the south side of Chicago wasn’t exactly Beverly Hills either.
His two colleagues are jazz players P-Sam (Enoch Armando King) and Corn (Keith Arthur Bolden), and they are not on the same page.

But, things can go awry and Blue’s lady, Pumpkin (Cynthia D. Barker), has some pretty serious concerns about her future as well as that of the gents; and after a vamp named Silver (Tangela Large) shows up things seem to heat up in other ways.

The audience is loving the show, with plenty of humor bits as frosting for aggravations, and the show is really great eye candy on the set by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay. You may miss a few lines here and there, but you’ll get the story quite easily and enjoy it.

The theatre is in the Southwest Arts Center on New Hope Road, and you can get more info at their website, TrueColorsTheatre.org

22
Sep

Jest a Second!

Jest a Second!
Lionheart Theatre
through September 29, 2019

Playwright James Sherman understands the stereotypical Jewish family. The first son should become a doctor or a lawyer. The children should marry others of their faith, and never cause any embarrassment to the family. Well, that doesn’t always work out quite as one may expect.

Sarah (Cara Hendsbee) and Bob (Alex Parkinson) are expecting their first child, who is a bit late on arrival. As the show starts they are joined by brother-in-law Joel (Tyler Todd) who is in a serious relationship, which may not be quite what his parents may have wished for. How to break the news is the issue. And inasmuch as there is a Jewish holiday about to occur, and the family will be gathered around the table to dine together; why not invite his significant other to join them?

The snag is that the s.o. happens to be a gent, not a lady. When the s.o. shows up, Bob, who is an actor, decides to intervene and takes over to appear in drag as Joel’s randy Randy. Bob’s mom and dad, Miriam (Bobbie Elzey) and Abe (Lee Finocchio) are the stereotypes. And you know Abe gets the last words in every problem. “Yes, dear.”

As things go from silly to insane, the baby is born, and it is time for a Bris. Dr. Rosen (Colton Comb) shows up as the mohel, and his name is also Randy. All comes out well as there are no secrets, just unspoken truths. Joel’s parents are the type who always know things but don’t feel obligated to bring difficult matters into issue.

Davin Grindstaff directs this hilarious work on a neat set by Scott Rousseau. There are a lot of references to Jewish lore and practices, but you don’t have to be Jewish, nor speak Yiddish, to catch what’s going on. It could be like one you saw years ago on the Lower East Side.

Lionheart is located just off the square in Norcross with plenty of nearby restaurants, free parking, good views from every seat, AND free home baked deserts at intermission. It don’t get much better than that. More info at LionheartTheatre.org

21
Sep

The Savannah Sipping Society

The Savannah Sipping Society
Stage Door Players
through October 13, 2019

Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten love to craft comedies under the pseudonym of Jones Hope Wooten. They usually focus on groups of ladies as they try to work their way through disasters in the making.

In this one, you meet up with four women in Savannah, each of whom has her own story to tell, and own problems to deal with. Randa (Nancy Lowery Powell) is an architect who recently got laid off from the firm where she worked. She has serious financial concerns about keeping the house she recently renovated.

She meets up with Marlafaye (Suzanne Roush) who is a older hot chick who has some deep feelings about the tom-cattin’ Ex who is in Texas. And when they run into one another Randa invites Marlafaye and this other gal, Dot (Patty Guenthner), who is trying to get through the recent loss of her spouse, to come over to her place for a drink. And the stage is set, as a mere cuppa, or sip of something else, is a start to a much deeper affiliation.

Actually, one of the gals had also invited a fourth to join them, and Randa and the others meet up with a new gal in town named Jinx (Karen Whitaker) who feels she can make a new career as a life coach. The show is directed by Cathe Hall Payne who really enjoys this one, with all the hilarious lines and scenes. Just when you think there is nothing more than could go awry, it does. Including when Grandma shows up very briefly at the end of Act I.

A good set by Chuck Welcome, splendid actors, and great script and everything weaves several tales into one. If you enjoyed any of the other shows by the team also known as Jones Hope Wooten, or love the reruns of Golden Girls, then you know you will really dig this one.

Easy access, free parking and good seating at the Dunwoody venue. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

20
Sep

The Roommate

The Roommate
Aurora Theatre
through October 20, 2019

Jen Silverman wrote this one about a couple of women of so-called middle age, who aren’t the usual eye candy for some shows. The cast consists of Terry Burrell playing Sharon, an ex-wife and mother living alone somewhere in the boonies of Iowa. And she takes in a roomie named Robyn, played by Megan McFarland who may not always seem to be what one might expect from a native of the Bronx.

David Koté directs the show on another fine set by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay. One of the women is lesbian, one of the women is a retired con artist, one of them has multiple personalities, while one of them seems to have none. One is holding back while the other is overly inquisitive. And one of them is even vegan in Iowa, albeit that might be considered a felony there.

As each delves into the world of the other, some changes start to take place, and each finds that who and what they may have been, and may be known to be; doesn’t set in stone what they might morph into as time goes on,

Each of the actors dives deeply into the character she is playing and you keep wondering how things may work out. But what you expect doesn’t mean that is what may occur. For, as we’re told; life is what happens while you wait for your plans to work out.

The show is on the main stage and is one cat, running about an hour and 45 minutes. Aurora is easy to get to with plenty of free garage parking. More info at AuroraTheatre.com

19
Sep

Becoming Nancy

Becoming Nancy
Alliance Theatre
through October 6, 2019

When Terry Ronald wrote the book decades ago, he probably never thought of it hitting the stage. But, when Jerry Mitchell read the novel, he was enthralled, and brought together a team of very accomplished creators to bring this story to you today. True, it is not 1979 in a London suburb. But, as the French so often say, “The more things change, they more they stay the same.” And racism and homophobia has not vanished from our society,

The book by Elliott Davis is wrapped into the songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and a large cast brings the message to you on a great staging by David Rockwell. Zachary Sayle is stage center as young David Starr. He is at a prep school where the drama coach doesn’t have enough girls for his cast of an adaptation of Oliver; so he drafts David to play Nancy. That’s a problem for many school chums, townies and family.

The two dozen players dance, fight and sing their way through some really meaningful numbers. David deals with being bullied, and a classmate who is not Caucasian is told to go back where she came from; albeit she was born in the UK. In addition to some terrific singing and dance, choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, there are lyrics in some of the numbers that resonate to the deepest parts of our minds and hearts.

The lessons are that we can’t let others live our lives, that we have the right to care about ourselves and fulfill our own dreams, and know that each of us does matter.

This is a highly energetic show, a little hard to follow in Act I as the numbers are belted out quite loudly in chorus. But, in Act II everything comes clearly into focus and with great aplomb and success. It’s not a Cats, or Annie and you won’t leave the theatre humming the tunes; but you will leave having the vital messages etched even deeper into your soul and thinking of how we may each help to make a better world.

More info at AllianceTheatre.org

16
Sep

12 Angry Jurors

 

 

 

 

 

12 Angry Jurors
Act3 Playhouse
through September 29, 2019

This is a jury of men and women, but the 12 of them have the same problems as did 12 Angry Men. They’ve sat through a trial where a teenager, with a rap sheet, is accused of stabbing his father to death. The DA is seeking the death penalty.

Is there to be a hung jury? That is the essence of the show and it hangs in balance through 2 acts, although total running time is only about 90 minutes. Johnna Barrett Mitchell directed this cast of thirteen players (one of whom, Sorsha Masters) is the guard from the court, and they argue and fight their way through the process of trying to reach a decision.

Not sure where the location was, but could have been by the 3rd Avenue EL in NYC. An old lady across the way testifies she saw the crime being committed as a train was passing by. A tenant in the apartment house testified he ran out and saw the defendant running down the stairs. But, things may not always be exactly what people think they have seen, and therein lies the question of reasonable doubt. Sam North, Jessica Wise, Patrick Croce, Katie Wickline, Angel Escobedo, Sarah Palm, Jack Allison, Aaron Hancock, Angela Van Tassel, Michael Miller, Franco Trelles and Justin Grey are on stage full time, as the jury only goes into recess at intermission.

If you’ve ever been on the board of a social service organization then you’ll easily relate to how getting an unanimous vote of 12 opinion-holders, is no easy task. Logic does not always rule, and predeterminations do not always persist. I can’t tell you the outcome but I can tell you these players at the small theatre, put a LOT of effort into this work, which could easily be one taking place in our own community these days.

More info at Act3Productions.org

15
Sep

Matilda

Matilda
Onstage Atlanta
through September 29, 2019

Roald Dahl’s Matilda is that incredibly bright young girl who winds up having some problems at the prep school, and family things to deal with as well.

Directed by Abra Thurmond with a pretty large cast. Matilda is played by young Eden Mew. The parents are Bradley T. Johnson and Bridget McCarthy. Her dad is a real piece of work. But then, the school mistress, Ms. Trunchbull (Stuart Schleuse) can make Miss Hannigan look like a saint, when she sends the kids to the Chokey.

What makes this one work is a large group of youngsters who can act, sing, dance, and handle gymnastics as well, a some really goofy adults. Kind of makes one think of why actors never want to share the stage with a child nor an animal.

The music is not a score you’ll recall and leave the theatre humming. And, this may not be for all youngsters, as this is not one of those “Once upon a time, there was a happy ending” kind of script. It works better for those who have read the story or seen the film or the play previously; so they have a better understanding of what is going on and what to anticipate. Having said that, it is not Annie, even though Matilda’s odd-ball father does strike it rich.

More info at OnstageAtlanta.com

14
Sep

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins
City Springs Theatre
through September 22, 2019

Let’s jump to the bottom line . . . . get your tickets and you will thoroughly enjoy every minute of this world class production at a local theatre. The sets, cast, costumes, music, choreography, flying and every single aspect of this production are the equal of anything you may ever have seen on Broadway or Shaftesbury Avenue.

Kerry Conte comes on stage as the world’s favorite nanny. She has the looks, pipes and moves of the original nanny; and truly everyday’s a holiday with Mary. Con O’Shea-Creal has come to town to sweep those chimneys and step in time with the giant cast. The banker who may have some problems is George (Drew McVety) who is the somewhat strict father of Jane (Neve Juday) and Michael (Carson O. Shelton).

Hats off to Brandt Blocker who directed this incredible opus. Cindy Mora Reiser did the choreography and Chris Brent Davis was in the pit as conductor for the live full orchestra. More than two dozen superb performers take on 30+ roles as the tale unfolds to show us how anything can happen.

Yes, you are probably going to want to sing along to some of the numbers, but try to just move your lips. They will give you a chance to really clap and sing along when they do an audience-invited encore of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and you get a chance to come off being really precocious.

This is one to take the kids to, whether they be 5 or 95, they’ll truly enjoy it. No expletives, nobody getting killed, and even easy to relate to; albeit no clue what brimstone and treacle may taste like. The show at the Byers Theatre just off 285 in Sandy Springs is easy to get to, with plenty of garage space and goodies. More info at CitySpringsTheatre.com

13
Sep

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through September 29, 2019

Are our lives a reflection of the world in which we live, or is it the other way around? If we accept that any real dictionary should have as a definition of “dysfunctional” to “see family” then you can understand where the weirdos in Tennessee Williams’ plays come from. His mother was often in zoo-zoo land, his father was abusive and was much closer to his brother than to him, and his sister Rose, had been diagnosed as schizoid and spent most of her life in an asylum. And, Williams was a depressed alcoholic homosexual. Well, HELLO!  Meet the family in this play.

Kate Donadio MacQueen as Margaret and Joe Sykes as Brick, dominate the stage for the first hour act. He’s drowning himself in booze, and is not at all inclined to intimacy with his wife. John Maxwell is Big Daddy, who is not a happy camper. He’s got medical issues, family issues, and is sitting on a fortune in cash and property that has to pass off to a bunch of folks he would prefer to ignore.

Big Mama is played by Karen Howell, and she is one who seems to have some problems dealing with reality, when the reality doesn’t offer the outcomes she would prefer. I figure that should remind most of us of somebody in our respective families.

The cast includes Kelly Chris as the sister, Mae, Topher Payne as the brother, Gooper, Jacob Jones as the preacher man and Peter Hardy as the doctor with the bad news. James Donadio directed this work and did a fine job. The play won the Pulitzer in 1955, and maybe it was because things were going pretty well in that year. But, this is not an easy one to handle.

The static set works for the whole show as players come and go. There are a couple of laughs but this isn’t a comedy in any sense of the word. There is a load of yelling and angst to deal with, and it certainly is not for the kids. For those of us who’ve been dealing with family members final days, or other difficult times, it can be a difficult couple of hours.

While this is not one of those works where all comes out right in the end, it does explain where the title comes from, and helps one to understand that they are not the only ones dealing with a mountain of you-know-what. Very well done and easy to get to with plenty of parking and goodies. One suggestion is try to get seats closer to the stage so you don’t miss a line.

More info at GET.org

10
Sep

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers
Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
through September 29, 2019

Alexander Dumas would probably have enjoyed this staged telling of his famous tale. D’Artagnon (David Sterritt) takes off for France to become a proud Musketeer. The tale is how he gets involved with Athos (Glenn Lorandeau), Porthos (Charlie T. Thomas) and Aramis (Ryan Vo) as they fall into the evil doings of the nasty Cardinal Richelieu (Matt Nitchie) who is the power behind the throne and the Grand Manipulator.

As you know it is a story a great intrigue, personal enchantments, and loads of personal conflicts being resolved at the end of a blade. With a cast of about 18 players and some of the best fight scenes you’ve ever seen, the tale unfolds in two acts but ends with One for All. Better than many contemporary political scenarios.

The athleticism of the players in fantastic, as they move through the fight scenes directed and choreographed by Drew Reeves with Mary Ruth Ralston acting as Fight Captain.

This is one truly intriguing saga, staged to perfection in the Tavern Playhouse. Fear not, for they also have a good kitchen with some fine pub grub and a pint or two as needed. It is open prior to curtain time so you can dine and watch, and go back at intermission for some goodies. The Tavern is located at 499 Peachtree Street and there is limited on-street parking. But fear not; park across the street in the hospital garage and when leaving, show them your ticket stub and they discount the rate.

If you have some youngsters you may wish to introduce them to the world of The Bard with a visit to one of their shows. More info easily available at ShakespeareTavern.com