3
Dec

Waffle Palace Christmas

Waffle Palace Christmas
Horizon Theatre
through December 30, 2018

We may just want to shout out “They’re Back!”   Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee, who have partnered to craft many a play, have put together this sequel to their Waffle Palace play. You know you are sitting in the diner which is designed by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay, and almost touching the staff and the patrons who come and go, as the business tries to survive a bleak holiday.

Four of the actors from the prequel have returned to reprise their roles. Marguerite Hannah is the waitress, now a partner, named Connie. Maria Rodriguez-Sager comes back at the waitress, Esperanza, from Nicaragua, albeit she is now pregnant. Allan Edwards comes on in four roles one as Hugo the hubby of Esperanza, who has some deep thoughts about impending paranthood.  And Lala Cochran is in her usually funny roles as a business woman and some other roles. The cast is rounded out by Barry Stoltze who is the partner with Connie. Jennifer Alice Acker who is one of those customers who buys a coffee and spends the day on the Wi-Fi. Markell Williams is Deandre, the nephew of Connie who comes on to work the grill; and that mean old Christmas devil is played to the hilt by Rob Cleveland.

But, rest easily. This is holiday season. Nobody gets harmed, and all comes out well in the end; except maybe for the devilish Krampus. Christian Magby composed and directed the music including some parody numbers. But all the patrons, including one birthday group and Director Lisa Adler’s daughter, Sophie, had a riotously happy evening. The show runs about 2.5 hours, and there is plenty of free parking; but plan early as you have to fight your way down to Little 5 Points. But, it’s worth it, . . . BIGTIME.

2
Dec

A Nice Family Christmas

 

A Nice Family Christmas
Stage Door Players
through December 16, 2018

Playwright Phil Olson grew up in Minnesota where folks learn to eat lutefisk and try to stay warm. So it is no wonder that such a traditional seasonal treat finds its way into some of his works. But, if you want some great laughs, this is the time to see this play.

A family is coming together for a holiday meal. The mother (Dina Shadwell) has started the cooking and her two sons, Carl (Eric Poger Abrahamsen) who is a journalist on assignment and Doctor Michael (Jeff K. Lester) are working off one another; albeit the one at the center of the stage is their Grandma (Susan Shalhoub-Larkin) who wants to always be the center of attention, and she’s a hoot.

Uncle Bob (Larry Davis) may not have been expected to arrive, nor maybe wasn’t invited; but that isn’t going to stop him from gate crashing and visiting his sister-in-law. Then Stacey (Madison Welch) becomes a person of interest when she comes out to her mother. And there is Michael’s wife, Jill (Alexandra Ficken) who has issues as well.

OK; so this is a play, a work of fiction; but if you have a family you are going to start to think this wild bunch may be based on folks who know. Ryan Oliveti directs this work, which moves with great aplomb through a lot more issues than you have expected. It’s more than just dressing a tree and putting out gifts, but like any Christmas opus all shall come out right in the end.

Stage Door Players is easy to get to in Dunwoody and has free parking and comfy seats. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

28
Nov

White Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

White Christmas
Fox Theatre
through December 2, 2018

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was a really fantastic film about the actors who worked to help save a country inn in Vermont for their former army commander from WWII. And it has been brought to the stage many times, with some tweaks and changes. But, the bottom line is still that good people can come together to do good things for others, and that the holidays are an inspiration to get things done.

Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner, this hard working touring company of more than two dozen players hit the stage with great costumes, some incredible tap dance numbers, and neat sets and props. Especially in the final scenes when the climate change actually occurs up north.

The story is inconsequential, in that the songs and dance are what the play is about, and you may find that one or two numbers which were not in the original film have been added to increase the eyes and ears appeal. The grouchy old retired general is played by Conrad John Schuck. The two male leads are Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton; who play off against the “sisters” played by Kelly Sheehan and Kerry Conte. And this gang works through about 15 memorable standard numbers.

The show is playing to pretty full houses, so easiest way to get there may be by Marta to North Avenue station, and because of security clearance requirements, you might want to plan to arrive not later than 7 for the 7:30 shows. If you have your actual tickets ion hand you can get in faster at the side door on Ponce.

With all the “stuff” going on in our nation and the world, this is one that we can really benefit from. Two hours of total pleasure, nobody gets killed and no politicians. More info at FoxTheatre.org

23
Nov

Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Bennet
Christmas at Pemberley
Theatrical Outfit
through December 23, 2018

It’s back for another great run . . . This seasonal work by award-winning Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon takes you back to Pemberley, some years after Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet girls had pretty much found their lives, except for Mary (Amelia Fischer) who finds solace in books and playing piano. She says she is happy; but maybe things could get better. And the story goes forward ala Moliere with one door opening as the other closes.

The Darcy home of Elizabeth (Jasmine Thomas) and Fitzwilliam (Justin Walker) is the site of this Christmas fiasco. It seems their visitors hadn’t seen a tree growing in a living room before. Jane (Jeanette Illidge) and Charles Bingley (Juan Carlos Unzueta) try to stay out of the line of fire, as Lydia (Devon Hales) and Mary, and Anne (Stephanie Friedman) try to find out who may wind up hooking up with that chap down from Oxford, Arthur de Bourgh (Jonathon Horne).

Since this is a work of intrigue, and directed by Carolyn Cook, I shall not tell you how things get resolved; but can tell you that all comes right as Christmas begins. The cast is in great costumes on a set designed by Seamus M. Bourne. I can say that as Act I progresses you may be asking yourself where this group is going. But, hold on; as in Act II you make your decisions and wait to find out if you may guessed correctly, for back around 1815 things weren’t always as they first seemed at the Pemberley Estate.

Theatrical Outfit is downtown on Luckie Street, and can provide discount parking vouchers for the garage next door. Just be mindful that traffic can be a nightmare as you worm around Centennial Park or if there is a game that night. More info and tickets available at TheatricalOutfit.org

19
Nov

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Center for Puppetry Arts
through December 30, 2018

The Center for Puppetry Arts is quite an interesting organization. In addition to their famous museum with puppets from ancient days to now, they also have the whole Sesame Street crowd, including Big Bird, on display. If you bring youngsters they will be thrilled, and especially if you do their theatrical productions.

Through the end of the year that famous red nosed reindeer will be bringing down the house. Adapted by Jon Ludwig from the famous film of the same name, the show directed by Tim Sweeney features a half a dozen top grade professional puppeteers and has some of the best projected graphics imaginable.  And the music and singing is all live.

Rudolph felt rejected by others because of his nasal condition. He was only one of many toys that had been rejected and wound up on some strange island. But, fear not, for this young reindeer finds his way to be himself and be appreciated by others. It’s a good lesson for young folks, since it is akin to bullying.

After the show, which runs about an hour and ten minutes, you can take the kids up to the crafts room where they will get free puppet kits and supplies and instructions and can create their own Snow Man hand puppet. They are playing to full houses, so make your reservations early. Plenty of free parking at their location on Spring Street.

More info at Puppet.org

18
Nov

Knead

Knead
Alliance Theatre
through December 9, 2018

While there may be some of us who shy away from one act plays and/or one actor productions; let me assure you this is NOT the usual show. Mary Lynn Owen who has been working the stage for decades and is on the theatre faculty at Emory, is both the author and the performer, and it is an exceptional show which draws you in from the start.

We meet Mary in her kitchen in the wee hours of the morning. She’s working off some stress by emulating her mother and making some bread from scratch. And while she is kneading the dough she recalls many episodes in her life, including family relationships, health issues and lots more.

The tale takes place in a real kitchen onstage designed by Ann Beyersdorfer. But what comes out of some cabinets and the fridge may surprise and delight you. David deVries directs this opus which runs about 80 minutes and you wish it would not end. Mary Lynn Owen is on-stage and working the audience every single minute and you feel as if you were sitting up there listening to her one-on-one. Most of us can’t remember our names or addresses for 80 minutes, yet Mary tells it all. There are some lines in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak Spanish you’ll get the idea of what she’s saying.

The show runs at the Hertz Stage which is at Woodruff Center. If you don’t feel like fighting your way through the crazy traffic, you can always Marta to Arts Station and walk across the street. More info at AllianceTheatre.org

17
Nov

Christmas Canteen

Christmas Canteen
Aurora Theatre
through December 23, 2018

The cast and crew of the Aurora has camped up their Christmas Canteen work, which has become a seasonal standard for them. Brandon O’Dell scripted this one, which is co-directed by Anthony Rodriguez and Ricardo Aponte, who also did the terrific choreography. Ann-Carol Pence was onstage with the band and even got to belt out a number towards the end of the show.

A cast of ten singers/dancers/actors run through 40 numbers with such great aplomb. You will want to sing along, and that isn’t a problem if you don’t get too loud. In Act II, some members of the audience get called to stage to help going through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The set is delightful, with stars and snow falling into the trees behind the house, while they dress up the area with trees and other seasonal paraphernalia. And it is a tradition that they do a salute to our military families with the medley of armed forces anthems.

Easy to get to with free municipal garage parking right at the theatre. Every seat has a good view. And the lobby has an impressive display of Christmas trees by various civic organizations.  If attending the show, please know that donations of canned goods or toys are quite welcome and will be out to good use.  More info at: AuroraTheatre.com

11
Nov

West Side Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Side Story
Atlanta Opera
through November 11, 2018

If you can handle the cold, get over to Cobb Energy Center for this final performance of West Side Story by our Atlanta Opera. I know you think of it as a musical play, but they have done other operas in English such as Pirates; and they are doing a spectacular job. This is a co-production with the Houston Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Glimmerglas Festival in Cooperstown, NY.

You have seen West Side Story before, and it is kind of a spin-off from Romeo & Juliet. But, you’ve not seen it in quite this staging, directed by Francesca Zambello. A fabulous set, a great cast of 33 singers, actors, and dancers draw you in to the possible problems in NYC in 1957 between the Jets and the Sharks and their claim to their hoods.

It is a common practice for an opera to include some ballet scenes; but this one is over the top in that department. Tony (Andrew Bidlack) falls for that lovely senorita Maria (Vanessa Becerra). But, like the current film about Crazy Rich Asians, her family feels he is NQOT (Not quite our type) and therein lies the problem which ignites a bigger one.

Every aspect of this performance is wonderful. You could catch any opera in NYC, London or elsewhere, and it could not possibly be better. Thank you Tomer Zvulun for opting to stage this one. Unlike some Wagnerian operas, presentations such as this, or Carmen or La Boheme are more likely to bring in new patrons. We salute you all !!!

Keep up to date on them at AtlantaOpera.org

10
Nov

The View Upstairs

 

 

 

 

The View Upstairs
Out Front Theatre

Come back to a night in June 1973, in New Orleans. The gay community often met up at the Upstairs Lounge in the Vieux Carré . But those were days when there was a lot of anti-gay activity in NOLA, and the local police were quite corrupt. And when the building went down as a result of arson, they never determined who had done it, nor how. But, there’s a saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It was just 2 years ago that a gay club in Orlando was attacked. And just this past week, some creep shot up a dozen people in California, less than 10 days after the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh; and there are sooooo many more. It has also been stated that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That was George Santayana in 1896. Well, that’s life; but is it the life we want and need?

It was extremely timely that Out Front chose to stage this southeastern premiere here and now. The show is done as a musical. Books, music and lyrics by Max Vernon and directed by Paul Conroy. Nick Silvestri handles the music and a cast of ten players pour their hearts and souls into the story of Wes (Kyle Larkins), a fashion designer who gets involved in the club and himself when he acquires the building after the fire. The time gets a bit askew as the fire is in 1973 and a lot of the action is present day. But, therein lies the story.

If only we could all recall that we are all human and entitled to the same love, respect and support; regardless of color, faith, sexual orientation, or other attributions. Thank you Paul, for bringing this to us at this time.

Be sure to follow Out Front online at OutFrontTheatre.com

8
Nov

Not About Heroes

 

 

 

 

Not About Heroes
Aris Theatre
through November 18, 2018

If we think that days of war are something that may soon end, or be past, then do not watch the news or read about recent history in various countries around the world. In this work by Stephen MacDonald, we meet two gents who are serving in the army in WWI.

Siegfried Sassoon (Eric Lang) has been sent back fro the front to be “treated” at Craiglockhart Hospital for his shell shock condition. In days of yore we had not diagnosed this as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; albeit in our nation we have hundred of thousands of people with PTSD, many of whom served in our armed forces.

Siegfried had written poems protesting wars as being evil and unjust, and he was thought to be a coward for doing so. To shut him down he was sent home to the hospital. It was there that he met a younger chap, Wilfred Owen (Chris Harding), who had suffered a head injury from a bullet when in the trenches. Owen and Sassoon had almost nothing in common, other than an attachment to poetry; yet they became fast friends. Owen went back to the front after being classed as able, and was lost in battle.

If you recall your history lessons, you may know that WWI ended with a Declaration of Armistice on November 11, 1918. It was a day celebrated in many countries, and we now know it as Veterans Day after President Eisenhower had the name changed in 1954. Regardless; it is a day of remembrance not just of those who came home with badges and medals, but of the far greater number who never came home. In WWI there were tens of thousands lost in the trenches, just as we lost a huge number on the beaches on D-Day.

A very poignant aspect of this production is that the characters are real, and the poem by Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth, is actually the one he wrote, and the message is not lost for us these days, 100 years post armistice. For it is not marches, flags and bands that we need to recall but the sacrifices of those who stood their ground.

The show is performed at 7 Stages and more info and tickets at: ArisTheatre.org