17
Jun

Hands of Color

Hands of Color
Synchronicity Theatre
through June 30, 2019

We should stand and salute playwright Kimberly Monks for this poignant opus about racial divisions and diversions in this nation where all are supposedly created equal Thomas W. Jones II, directs a brilliant cast of five players who take the stage after a sorry event in a suburban setting.

As you watch the story unfold, you know that it could well be here, or anywhere. The tragedies of Ferguson five years ago and the events in Phoenix this week strongly suggest that the more things change the more they could stay the same.

Robert (Enoch King) was a black man with a family living in an allegedly safe community with his wife (Wendy Fox Williams) and young daughter, Stephanie (Therecia Lang). A neighbor, Thomas (Justin Walker), sees Robert hanging around and has concerns, not recognizing him as being on his own property. Robert meets his death in a brief and deadly encounter

Thomas’ wife (Emily Kleypas) had felt that Thomas was a bigot at work and in the hood. And both wives were torn apart by the catastrophe. The story evolves as Thomas is compelled to walk in another man’s shoes, literally and figuratively. And having done so, he starts to understand what it must be like to live the life that was cut short in the tragedy.

It is a world premiere of this work, which is going to play to many audiences who will be challenged and moved by what they see and hear and are compelled to think about. Most of us who have traveled to many other countries fully agree that the more you know people from other cultures, the less likely you are to want to kill them.

Please see this very moving work, which is performed in an easy to get to venue on Peachtree Street. More info at SynchroTheatre.com

16
Jun

The Friel Deal

 

 

 

 

 

The Friel Deal
Aris Theatre
through June 23, 2019

Brian Friel was an accomplished Irish playwright who was deeply into the works of Anton Chekhov. Chekhov wrote quite a few works about families, problems, and dealing with life in the old days in mother Russia. Friel took several of Chekhov’s stories and adapted them to having taken place in Ireland. He became known as the Irish Chekhov.

Aris has brought two of his one-act works to the back stage at 7 Stages in Little Five Points. The Bear, is not really about an animal, but about a ruffian who shows up at the estate of a grieving widow whose life was to be one of dressing in black and confining herself to her home. Erin Greenway plays Elena Ivanova Popova, and she is very withheld from visiting strangers, who knew her late spouse from days in the service. She wants her man-servant, Luka (Christ Schulz) to get rid of this “animal”, but that doesn’t work so well. The intruder, Gregory Stepanovitch Smirnov (Tamil Periasamy) is taking quite a liking to this woman, and things start to go down a slippery slope to find the end. It’s a lot of stress, directed by Kathleen McManus; but all comes right at the end.

In the second work, The Yalta Game, directed by Tim McDonough, we meet an attractive lady, Anna Sergeyevna (Christina Leidel) who is taking a break in Yalta while her husband is having some medical issues back in Moscow. She is a lady with a lap dog, and they catch the eye of an accountant from Moscow who is a philanderer playing his emotional cards at the resort. The interaction twixt the two really heats up, but where can it go? You have to try to figure it out for yourself as it plays out.

A sparse set, enhanced by very good actors, makes this 90 minute offering quite unusual, different and entertaining. It is on the black box stage at 7 Stages, and every seat has unobstructed view. Good concessions and you can bring your stuff into the theatre if you wish. More info at ArisTheatre.org

15
Jun

Morningside

Morningside
Onstage Atlanta
through June 29, 2019

Atlanta playwright, Topher Payne put together a nutty story where a bunch of women show up for a baby shower. Well, maybe they don’t all show up, and that may be part of the story.

This show is an all female cast who really get into the party gone awry. Patty Mosley Nelson is the mother who is hosting the party and trying to get things set up in her garden area. Roxanne (Bobbie Elzey) is just hanging out, thinking that it must be five o’clock someplace. Any excuse is good enough for her. Felicia (Marquelle Young) is trying to help out, but it often seems like trying to ski up a hill. Same sort of situation for Louise (Lynn Grace).

Kate Ash and Rylee Bunton are the sisters Devyn and Clancy; and families are families, you get the idea? The other ladies you will meet are played by Laurie Winkel, Jillian Walzer and Lory Cox. This group of ladies includes a doctor, an architect, a realtor, bartender, and home makers; and each of them has her own set of values and expectations.

The cast all female, and the show is directed by Cathe Hall Payne. Barry N. West created a set that works perfectly, and the audience really felt as if they were invited to this social disaster. But they can also go to the concession stand at intermission, and get themselves a glass of Prosecco to join in with the ladies who party.

Note that Onstage has moved to a new facility which is located at 3041 N. Decatur Road just of East Ponce near 285. Like the previus venue every seat is comfy and has unobstructed view. But this house is a bit small, so get your reservations made sooner, rather than last minute. More info at OnstageAtlanta.com

11
Jun

Working

Working
Out of Box Theatre
through June 22, 2019

Back in 1974 Studs Terkel wrote a book based on interviews with loads of ordinary working folks. It was Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. A few years later Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso took the story line and created this musical. It had a very brief run in NYC in 1978, but has been produced in many other localities in the past 40 years; because in reality while we think things may have changed, maybe they haven’t changed that much.

So you get to journey back in time with a dozen actors who sing their way through their work and ordeals. The 14 numbers they present in a cabaret fashion include numbers by workers who are delivery drivers, truck drivers, housewives, cleaning ladies, a stone mason, corporate executive, millworker and others.

Some of the numbers are by two composers who have heard of quite a bit. Lin-Manuel Miranda from Hamilton and Stephen Schwartz who did Godspell and other works.

Kristen Storla directed this one with music direction by Annie Cook. It is done on a thrust stage setting with seats on three sides, and every seat has an unobstructed close-up view.

This one is a very energetic production in which player gives it his/her all, be in solo or in chorus. More info at OutOfBoxTheatre.com

10
Jun

Five Guys Named Moe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Guys Named Moe
Theatrical Outfit
through June 30, 2019

You may not quickly recall the King of the Jukebox, but you’ll recall some of Louis Jordan’s numbers. He was a very talented songwriter and singer and he also could play the sax and the keys.

In this cabaret style performance we meet Nomax (Sterling McClary) who is having some relationship concerns. The five Moes are going to mentor him and work him through things.

The classy swing styled Moes, Big Moe, Eat Moe, Four-eyed Moe, Little Moe, and No Moe are played to the hilt by Eric Moore Omar Madden, Lawrence Flowers, Eugene H. Russell, IV and with Trevor Rayshay Perry stepping in as well.

The six piece on-stage band has S. Renee Clark on the keyboard and as conductor, with Lorenzo Sanford on drums, Ramon Pooler on bass, Lester Walker on trumpet, Earl Ford on Trombone and James Robinson on the sax.

You will really move along to numbers like Messy Bessy, Let the Good Times Roll, and Choo Choo C’Boogie. As Act I comes to a close you’ll want to join in singing Push Ka Pi Shi Pie, and you may wish to join others who will dance away the act.

You will enjoy great numbers, great performers, and dance steps that will make you gasp when you witness them. They work through two dozen numbers and you’ll enjoy every one of them. It’s a great way to bring down the curtain on this season for the Theatrical Outfit.

But, . . . there’s more . . . Joe Gransden and his band will take the stage for one night only, June 23rd, when they present Lady Day Sings the Blues, with Terry Burrell stage center. More info at TheatricalOutfit.org

8
Jun

Oliver!

Oliver!
Atlanta Lyric Theatre
through June 23, 2019

You know a show is a standard when it runs 50+ years, and this one hit the boards in London 59 years ago. Dickens probably would have liked it, albeit Fagin’s antisemitism is toned down these days.

And while you may not recall all the details you know the young lad was in a workhouse, where all they got to eat was some gruel; and he is remembered for holding out his bowl and asking for more. Then he gets sold off to some baddies, and gets trained to pick a pocket or two.

Young Vinny Montague is fantastic as Oliver, and he is backed up by an ensemble of more than a dozen other young performers who do a fine job. You have to think you’ll see them as their careers progress.

Fagin is played by Jeff McKerley, and Heidi Cline McKerley directed this fine cast. The Artful Dodger, who is assigned to tutor Oliver, is played by Colby Howell. And Brian Kurlander comes on in Act II as the dangerous Bill Sikes. Daniel Cook is that meanie, Mr. Bumble; and Jennifer Alice Acker is Nancy, who gets caught up in all the situations.

But, know that even though there could be even more tragic endings at the London Bridge, that at least Oliver survives and there is some very good news breaking for him.

Cristina Dinella had the score timed perfectly and all worked well. You’ll want to quietly sing along to many of the numbers by Lionel Bart, such as Food, Glorious Food at the workhouse, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two in his first training session, the Oom-Pah-Pah number at the 3 Cripples Pub, and the funny Reviewing the Situation when Fagin contemplates retirement.

The show is fine for ages 8 to 98, and good views from every seat in the house. Plenty of free parking, but try to get there a little earlier for spaces closer to the entrance. This is another star on the banner for staging excellent musical shows. More info at AtlantaLyricTheatre.com

28
May

The Cake

The Cake
Horizon Theatre
through June 23, 2019

A few years ago there was some character who ran a bakery in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. He actually got sued and won the case based on his First Amendment rights to his religious beliefs. And while Bekah Brunstetter wrote this play based on that weird news story; it seems that nothing much has changed.

In our county, which is allegedly a non-religious nation, we do have a god blessing the nation, and our nation’s trust in the almighty is engraved on every unit of our currency. So, if you think that Archie Bunker is history you may need to keep up with the insane daily news.

In this comic drama we find that the baker lady, Della (Marcie Millard), owns a shop in Winston, NC; and the daughter of a dear friend, who has passed away, shows up to ask if she’ll bake her a cake for her upcoming nuptials. The girl, Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver), is really attached to Della who was always sort of like an aunt to her. But, when Della meets her fiancé, Macy (Parris Sarter), she freaks out. It seems that Macy is black as well as female. Not quite the usual in Della’s world. She’s torn between what she wants to do and what she wants to avoid doing.

Hubby, Tim (Allan Edwards), is the Archie Bunker of the saga, and the life of Della and Tim isn’t quite what either may have wished for. They’re pretty much a Henny Youngman couple. But, as the story progresses you enjoy how Della seeks to bring some physical joy back to her life, even if Tim isn’t that into the idea at the outset.

What is so thought provoking is that the days of bigotry are hardly gone from our society. Just listen to some of those politicians and you’ll know that the more things change the more they may stay the same. The set by Isabel and Moria Curley-Clay is superb and the show runs about 100 minutes without intermission. But, hang in there as all comes right in the end.

More info at HorizonTheatre.com

25
May

Ain’t Misbehavin’

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’
Stage Door Players
through June 16, 2019

In 1904 a young man named Thomas Wright Waller, was born in New York as a son of a preacher man. By the time he was six he started at the piano, and went on to organs and other instruments. But, he’s better known as “Fats” Waller, and in his short life of only 39 years he wrote more than 400 pieces, some of which are still jazz hall standards.

This a splendid cabaret style performance directed by Robert Egizio, starring five wonderful singer-dancers and a live 6 piece band on stage. The cast runs through more than two dozen of his famous numbers, including some you want to sing along to, such as Honeysuckle Rose, This Joint is Jumpin’, Your Feet’s Too Big, and the most remembered, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.

Alyssa Michele, Vallea E. Woodbury, and Melissa Youngblood are the three hot chicks who be playin’ off them two gents who are played by Spencer G. Stephens and Fenner Eaddy. Each of these five has great pipes and know them steps they supposed to take. I felt like I was in the jazz halls in Boston and New York in the old days, and sure am glad that some of them, like The Apollo, are still around.

Nick Silvestri is on the keys and is the conductor. David Anthony Kelly, Jr. is bass and Adam Wolfe is on the drums. Off to the left behind the scrim are Jonathan Swygert and Paul Poovey on trumpets and Joseph Jenkins on sax. You hear them but they ain’t stage center.

A really terrific show for all ages. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

24
May

A Musical Journey Through France

A Musical Journey Through France
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
through May 25, 2019

Under the baton of Donald Runnicles, the ASO takes us on their musical journey through France. The concert quite naturally features Claude Debussy’s La Mer, which has been a classic standard for 100+ years.

The opening work is a name you won’t recognize, as it says in French, “The cow on the roof.” But, you will certainly recognize some of the often repeated bars which bring a sense of flamenco to the work by Darius Milhaud. He deliberately wove several Brazilian/Argentine dance segments into the work, and when they play the number his name will pop up in your mind, even though the name of the opus may not be widely known.

Soprano Kim-Lillian Strebel then comes to the stage to sing six numbers from Songs of the Auvergne, by Joseph Canteloube. She sings these somewhat randy numbers in the native dialect of that region of France, with English super-titles overhead. The Auvergne is a area in the south-central region of France, which is a bunch of small towns, hardly ever visited by tourists, who mainly hit on Paris and Provence areas. These are basically somewhat cute peasant numbers which you won’t learn the words to, nor leave the hall humming the tunes. But, she does a great job and it is a new experience for all.

After intermission the ASO delivers up two really good renditions of some of Debussy’s best known works. They do four excerpts from books 1 and 2 of Préludes and finish up with the high powered La mer, which delves deeply into Debussy’s love of the sea.

This concert closes Sunday and you can grab tickets by phone or online. Visit them at AtlantaSymphony.org

17
May

Ad Nauseam

Ad Nauseam
Dad’s Garage
through June 1, 2019

Get your buns in gear and get yourself down to Dad’s Garage for one of the funniest shows of the year. This is a scripted play written and directed by Megan Leahy. The poignant comedy deals with how women have been seen as breeders while men were the top guns.

This was true even after Rosie the Riveter retired post WWII. In high schools the boys took Shop while the girls took Home Ec. If a young woman wanted a job that didn’t include cooking, sewing and cleaning; then she had better go on to become a stenographer for then she’d be able to find a job where she could be seated and work at a machine that no guy had a clue how to use.

And so the playwright brought us into the 1960s in The Big Apple, except that everything related to genders is topsy turvy. They are in the advertising agency business in The Big Apple. And the firm is right on Madidaughter Avenue, and is run by the women, who show up in appropriate office attire. On the other hand the men are working in the hourly wage jobs as secretaries, go-fers, and coffee bearers. While the women have the brains, the boys have the bodies; and to advance their possibilities of getting some notice they are in the sexiest outfits they can find and they gossip, dance, and show off to everyone.

Amber Nash, Tara Ochs, Amanda Lee Williams and Leslie Johnson are the four bossy women you don’t want to mess with; while Freddy Boyd, Joshua Quinn and Taylor Roy are those who know their motto must be, “Yes Ma’am”

While the status of women in the workplace has advanced in the past couple of decades, there is still a wage gap in this country, and in some places like Saudi Arabia and India things are still in the middle ages. But, come and laugh as you watch the Mad-Women pitch various themes to promote a new brand of cigarettes designed for sale to men. You will see many of the proposed ads for other products you knew so well, such as tooth paste, low calorie soda and even some panty liners from Johndaughter & Johndaughter. Some of the adaptations of brand names almost make you think of Spooner being involved.

Dad’s Garage is in the Old 4th Ward, easy to get to, free parking, plenty of goodies, and easy seats with good views. More info at DadsGarage.com