8
Oct

Nell Gwynn

 

Nell Gwynn
Synchronicity Theatre
through October 21, 2018

A wonderful tale by Jessica Swale, about a poor gal from the Cheapside who winds up with Charles II, and directed by Richard Garner with a cast of 11 players who come on in the style of the day. It’s been camped up a wee bit, primarily in the lingo used to describe the female anatomy; when in fact Otto Titzling didn’t come into vogue until he appeared in a novel in 1971.

Nell (Courtney Moors) had a pretty lousy younger life. She was a street girl, and had become a prostitute at times. She was born in 1650, and passed away at age 37 after a bawdy life, life in the theatre, and in the homes of royalty. In fact, after Charles got rid of her, she got a town house on the Pall Mall. Not bad for a fruit peddler.

In olden days women were not permitted to take the stage, but once Nell got his eyes (and more) he made it acceptable for female roles to be played by women. She had two sons by the king, one of whom died at age 10 in a school in Paris. They think it may have been some kind of syphilis. Rob Shaw-Smith plays His Highness and her tutor-lover, Charles Hart is played by Eugene H. Russell IV. But, it was her appearance in 1665 in a play by John Dryden (Brandon Patrick) that really made her a star.

The playwright steps up to admit she embellished some facets of the story, but the basic history is accurate; and the play was crafted to bring Nell’s story to us in an easy and humorous manner. Well done!

This theatre is easy to get to on Peachtree Street with really good accommodations. And the good news is that those parking meter cockroaches can’t ticket you after 7pm, so fear not. More info at SynchroTheatre.com

7
Oct

One Man, Two Guvnors

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Man, Two Guvnors
Center Stage North
through October 1, 2018

Let’s skip to the bottom line . . . . This local theatre in Cobb is staging an incredible performance of a terrifically funny play, and it has but one more week to run. It is an adaptation of an old Italian commedia dell’arte opus dating back to 1743. Richard Bean updated the work to the 1960’s and set in Brighton, England. That’s the coastal town on what the Londoners used to refer to as La Costa Geriatrical.

This small theatre company has brought together a cast of 13 players, with a Skiffle band of 3 players who move the show along with great music. It is a goofy play, about a character, Francis (Bob Lanoue) who is a weird hustler who winds up fronting for two guys, neither of whom wish to ever encounter the other. The younger Roscoe (Jessie Kuipers) may not be quite the guy one might think. And Stanley (Kevin Renshaw) is his nemesis.

The set is a Moliere type, with one door opening as another closes, and the players come and go. Francis comes off like Stubby Kaye, and he also works the audience as the play moves forward. After all, what could go wrong? EVERYTHING! And the weird waiter Alfie, is played to the hilt by Kirk Renshaw, who takes so many prat falls you feel really concerned.

Directed by Jennifer and Kevin Renshaw, each of the players is first-class, and this one is a couple of hours of non-stop humor, with no politicians speaking at all. Easy to get to and plenty of free parking. But, if you snooze you lose; so visit their website NOW: CenterStageNorth.com

6
Oct

Nick’s Flamingo Grill

Nick’s Flamingo Grill
Alliance Theatre
through October 28, 2018

This world premiere of Phillip DePoy’s latest work is lighting up the Hertz Stage at Woodruff Center. The playwright has had an astounding career with dozens of books and plays, and is well known and respected in our community. In this work he goes back decades to the days when hotels, clubs, restaurants and so much more were still being segregated. He recalls a club that may, or may not, have actually existed where black and white folks met, and jazz ruled.

Directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, the stage has been turned into a trashy old factory facility that is being transformed into a jazz club by two former GIs who want to follow the beat and the sound. Nick (Cordell Cole) and Bechet (Antwayn Hopper) are from different backgrounds. They had been playing in clubs in Paris, and feel it is time for Atlanta.

They’re joined by a French former resistence fighter, Claudine (Shakirah Demesier) and the Cubana, Chi-Chi Lopez (Diany Rodriguez). The property owner is Harold Napier (Robin Bloodworth) and they get visited by a record producer, John Hammond (Daniel Triandiflou).

The stage is set as if you are in that old place, with doors that open, and problems that exist. It starts just after WWII, when explosive devices left by the Wehrmacht might still be around, and care and concern were everywhere. And, as the time line comes up to the 1950’s and to today we are compelled to think about not only how far we may have come in our fights for equality; but how much more we have to go to reach the desired results.

A very well done production, especially for those of us of a certain age. More info at AllianceTheatre.org

3
Oct

Nomad Motel

Nomad Motel
Horizon Theatre
through October 21, 2018

The Horizon is one of three theaters in this rolling premiere of a new work by Carla Ching. Directed by Melissa Foulger, it is a story about a couple of young folks in southern California, each trying to find their way through problematic times.

Ashley Anderson comes on as Alix, a student who has to finish some papers for her high school diploma, and having tough times getting through. She lives with her mother (Liza Jaine) in a crumby motel, and she works at many job trying to help her mother and two younger siblings get by. They have no permanent address and when the monthly rent comes due, it may often be the time they must evacuate and move on to another dump.

On the other side of the economic divide, Mason (Kevin Qian) is a student who is really into music and he is what is called a parachute child. He’s also trying to finish up some essay type of thing for school. His father, (Wai Yim) brought him to the States so he could get an education and go on to an Ivy League college and become a wealthy businessman. Not at all what Mason is interested in. But, he’s living pretty well in a home that his father owns and he gets a stipend each month for food and expenses. Well, most months. Something has come up and his dad, who is in a shady enterprise in Hong Kong, seems to have gone missing for a while.

Meanwhile, a young man from the ‘hood, Oscar (Marcellis Cutler) was once a boyfriend of Ali,but that ended as they don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Howevr, at one point Alix moves in with Oscar, but that doesn’t work out too well, either.

It is a tale of two young people just trying to get through their difficult lives; and it is a not uncommon sort of experience for too many young folks these days. It sort of reminds one of the family pun about putting FUN back in dysfunctional. Each of the actors exudes great energy and the show moves quite well on a set by the sisters Curley-Clay. Horizon is in Little 5 Points, but has free parking and good seating. More info at HorizonTheatre.com

1
Oct

Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD

Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD
Atlanta Opera
through October 7, 2018

This is not your usual type of operatic production. This opera about the famed sax player is actually set in a cabaret club on Ponce. Le Maison Rouge is at 716 Ponce and is NOT your grandmother’s setting for a major production. But, go with the flow, as the objective is to be multi-cultural, and relative to the actual experiences of the theme of the opera.

Charlie Parker, a/k/a YardBird, was only 34 when he died, and he was an icon for the growth of black musicians playing in clubs where everybody was welcomed; especially if they bought drinks. He was heading to Boston when he stopped to visit a wealthy white woman in NYC, and it was there that he passed away. Many stories got out about how the rich lady tried to hide his death and her friendship with a black man.

Not that Charlie was a symbol of morality. Like many of his time, he knew quite a few ladies, had a deep appreciation of alcohol and drugs, had been married several times, fathered children, left town, etc. The one thing he was truly addicted to was music and his saxophone. If he accomplished anything it is that his musical legacy lives on, as Birdland.

This is the work of Daniel Schnyder for the score, and Bridgette Wimberly for the libretto, and it premiered just 3 years ago. Clinton Smith conducts the orchestra and seven singers take the stage. Charlie is played alternately by Martin Bakari and Joshua Stewart. The Baroness Pannonica is Gina Perregrino. The last wife, Chan, is sung by Rachel Sterrenberg. And three of Parker’s family are sung by Angela Brown, Chrystal E. Williams, and Maria Valdes. And Dizzy Gillespie (Sidney Outlaw) shows up as he and Charlie were friends and both heading for the stars.

This is an Opera Nouveau so if you are expecting a bunch of jazz riffs, and be-bop numbers, you may be on the wrong page. For it is about a man, fighting his devils, trying to get somewhere in life, and it being cut short in 1955. In days when we are seeing many shows that deal with families, integration, and the rights of people of different races and sexes, it seems very appropriate.

It is another well done presentation by our Opera company, and more info is at AtlantaOpera.org

29
Sep

Parade

Parade
Wallace Buice Theatre
through October 7, 2018

For a small fairly new theatre company to bring this one to the stage, is quite an accomplishment. The play is a classic by Alfred Uhry with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. It’s a story about justice gone wrong, anti-Semitism, and the rising up again of the Klan.

If you don’t know the story, it is simple. A Jewish man, Leo Frank (Jared Bradshaw) was from NYC and working at a pencil factory in Atlanta. He was the bookkeeper for the factory. A 13 year old worker, Mary Phagan (Molly Wiley) is found dead in the factory and Leo was one of the last to see her alive. As he was a Yankee and a Jew, the odds were stacked against him from the start.

He was the person of interest, and despite no significant evidence of his involvement, it was convenient to indict and try him. Prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (Matthew Sidney Morris) did as he felt people wished him to do, which was to get it done and do it quickly. Leo Frank was found guilty and sentenced to hang. But Governor Slaton (Jeremy Wood) commuted his sentence to work on a prison farm in Milledgeville. His wife, Lucille (Maggie Salley) knew he wasn’t capable of this heinous act and does everything she can do to gain his release. To no avail.

For on that day in 1913 a gang invaded the prison farm, abducted Leo Frank and brought him to Marietta, where they lynched him on what is now Route 120 near Cobb Parkway. The small park area and a bronze plaque sign stand there in memory of what occurred.

Taylor Buice grandly directed a cast of 17 players, with 9 orchestra players under the baton of Ed Thrower; as they worked their way through the more than 30 numbers. This production is being staged in Marietta at the Atlanta Lyric Studio Theatre, just off the square. Easy to get to and fair amount of on-street parking usually available. It’s a small stage production and all the seats have a good view. It is a real accomplishment for this new company and you can get more info at WallaceBuiceTheatre.com

28
Sep

Nina Simone: Four Women

Nina Simone: Four Women
True Colors Theatre
through October 21, 2018

Nina Simone was a pop singer who had a very complex life. Born in North Carolina in 1933, Eunice Waymon changed her stage name to protect her family from any problems. It wasn’t a great time for black performers; but she played in bars and other venues, and her life was convoluted with several marriages and other relationships. On a couple of occasions she took off for the Caribbean and also hit the road to Paris, as did many black performers.

This story of her life by Christina Ham, and directed by Michele Shay, features four women, each of whom may have been a Simone at some time. We se them as Nina (Regina Marie Williams), one called Sweet Thing (Jordan Frazier), Sephronia (Wendy Fox Williams) and Sarah (Adrienne Reynolds). While there is a grand piano onstage she may seem to be on the keys at times, but it is Christian Magby, as Sam, who is providing the music for the eleven numbers which help to move the story along.

It wasn’t easy to be a black activist in her days, and to be seen singing numbers such as Mississippi Goddam, when folks thought she’d be better off singing to Porgy. The show runs in one act and each performer brings quite a bit to the stage; for the problems with which they deal may be thought of as resolved, but that may not actually be totally realistic, if you watch the news most days.

True Colors performs at the Southwest Arts Center on New Hope Road. Easy to get to, free parking, nice art shows, and all seats have a good view. More info at TrueColorsTheatre.org

26
Sep

Be Here Now

Be Here Now
Aurora Theatre
through October 21, 2018

Bari (Cynthia Barrett) is working in a fulfillment center, packing up stuff for people who think they need more “stuff”. She is very nihilistic and for a while had taught others what she thought to be true values or non-values. She works alongside Patty (Joselin Reyes) and Luanne (Falashay Pearson) who think she is denying herself the chances to find joy in her life.

They are in a small town where almost everybody is related to everyone else in the town. But, there might be a chance for her with the brother of one of the other ladies. He’s moved up from the city and runs a very unusual life in which he turns other’s trash into assets for third parties. That’s Mike (Travis Smith) and, like Bari, he is a loner and not looking for love in lost places.

Bari has some psycho-medical issues which come into play, and the play is about how mere humans may work through impossible times, to probably conclusions. This is a work by local playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer, who certainly can merge comedy with pathos, and is directed on the main stage by Rachel Parish. And, of course the sets, by the sisters Curley-Clay is quite a great job.

In a time when the world is going crazy, and we may all wonder what life may be like a hundred years from now; or maybe next month; it’s a production that pulls you in from the start. The show is about one hour and forty minutes with no intermission. More info at their website: AuroraTheatre.com

23
Sep

Lawrenceburg

Lawrenceburg
Dad’s Garage
through October 13, 2018

This opus by Travis Sharp is a restaging of the riotous show he wrote in 2006 and was staged in the old Dad’s Garage venue. Not only is he the playwright, but he is on the Board of Dad’s Garage, as well as being on the boards. There have been some revisions, we are told; but no worries. It is still the same story, and as the Frenchies would tell you; “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The hick town of Lawrenceburg is about to become invaded by a Mall-Mart super store, and that is a real problem for all the local small merchants, as well as the farmers and other locals. And, they have a mayor (Travis Sharp) who is financially in bed with the Mall-Mart gang. The Sheriff, who is like a current day political aide, is played by Amanda Williams.

Some of the locals want to take to the streets to protest and run the project off the tracks, so their town will stay as it was. They have concern that while female employees will be paid the same as males; that all males will be paid as if they didn’t have a green card.  Hannah Aslesen is Marcie Foote, a prime mover of the resistance; and when I say mover, you have to see all the athletic moves she and the others bring to this production.

The show is not about race or ethnic background. In fact the attorney, Wally Goldstein is played by a black actor, Rickey Boynton. And the semi driver, Blacktop Cowgirl, is played by Kirsten King. They all work things out with Freddie Boyd and Jeremy Aggers joining the gang.

What’s really cute is the interaction of the musicians and other cast members with the audience; so that sometimes it as a play within a play.   More info at DadsGarage.com

22
Sep

A Red Plaid Shirt

A Red Plaid Shirt
Stage Door Players
through October 14, 2018

Michael G. Wilmot loves to write comedy and this one is a hoot. I am not going to give away the entire plot as there are twists and turns aplenty, and I would not want to intrude on your laugh fest.

You meet up with a couple of middle age geezers who have retired and are trying to format their coming years. It isn’t always easy, for life is what happens as you wait for your plans to work out.

Marty (Michael Strauss) was a teacher and has taken his leave. He has thought deeply about buying a Harley and hitting the road some day. A lot of us may have done that in our 40’s, but he’s older; and his wife, Deb (Suzanne Jordan Roush), is pretty worried about his safety and wellbeing on a two wheeler.

They are friends with another couple. Fred (Steve Hudson) is a retired accountant and his wife, Gladys (Eileen Koteles). Gladys hangs out a lot with Deb, and they get involved with more activities than the guys. But, somehow the men get sucked into learning some new skills, and anything that might screw up does so with great aplomb.

This laugh-a-minute is directed by Robert Egizio and the set by Chuck Welcome works great to come off as Fred and Gladys’ home, a local coffee shop, and two activity rooms at the school.

Stage Door Players is in Dunwoody, easy to get to, plenty of free parking, and every seat has a good view of the stage. It’s a very pleasant local theatre starting off this 45th year with this one. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net