16
Dec

Nutcracker

Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet
through December 28, 2017

Even if you have brought the kids to see this before, you may want to repeat the wonderful experience. Playing at The Fox Theatre, this is the final year that the Ballet company will be staging The Nutcracker as choreographed and directed by John McFall 23 years ago. His successor, Gennadi Nedvigin, promises to bring us a new version of the classic Tchaikovsky score.

But this one, with grand sets by Peter Horne, and illustrious costumes by Judanna Lynn, is always a total delight to the eyes and ears of everyone in the audience. More than 30 great dancers, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra in the pit, and the Georgia Youth Choir, bring that sweet story to a high point. Nathan Griswold has come to town to join in as a Guest Artist performing as the magical Drosselmeyer.

This is the sort of production that is right at the top of any world class ballet company. In the first act you will love the fancy ball, and in Act II you get meet and greet all the weirdos such as the rats and the matryoshka dolls. It doesn’t get much better than this, even if you are in London, Moscow or NYC.

You can order tickets and get more information through AtlantaBallet.com and/or FoxTheatre.org Give yourself plenty of time to get there and just be prepared for a performance that you will never be able to forget.

15
Dec

The First Noel

 

 

 

 

 

The First Noel
True Colors Theatre
through December 24, 2017

Kenny Leon jumped right in when this show opened at the Apollo a couple of years ago, and it is being staged in town at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center. The show is a musical by Delund Duron Thompson and Jason Michael Webb that moves along a path of grief to find raison d’etre.

Jasmine Guy directs a cast of 20 players, who move through more than 30 numbers. It is set in Harlem in the 1980s, as the area starts to get gentrified. The mother lost her first child, named Noel, on Christmas some 8 years prior to the tijme of the show. She had since given birth to a younger daughter, also named Noel. Her persistent grief has caused tons of stress in her family as she avoids any sort of Christmas festivities in her home.

In fact, the home is now up for sale as it may be worth more than $2,000,000 since it is a multistory brownstone in the best area of Harlem. There is even stress between the mother and her sister and mother, based on one’s career overseas and having missed the funeral of the first Noel.

The set by Kat Conley works quite well, with projected images and a six piece band upstage. The principals in the cast include Daniela Cobb, Ayla Easterling, Chelsea Glover, Terry Henry, Brittany Inge, Brian Jordan, Jr., River Kearse, Benjamin Moore and Margo Moorer; most of them Equity performers.

The show has spirits of the past visiting, and sometimes may get a wee bit confusing; but all comes as right as it could be, in the end. The Ferst Center is easy to get to with plenty of parking, comfy seating and good view from any seat. But, just be warned that if you travel by car, rather than sled, it could take a while to wind your way through the intown jam-ups, as the curtain is 7:30.

14
Dec

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
Alliance Theatre
through December 24, 2017

It’s back again, with a new Scrooge played to the hilt 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 22 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 now directed by Rosemary Newcott and being presented in the Cobb Energy Center, to a huge audience who are loving it soooo much. They even sing along in a couple of numbers.

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 is 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

8
Dec

Christmas at Sweet Apple

Christmas at Sweet Apple
Stage Door Players
through December 17, 2017

Playwright Phillip DePoy was really taken by the works of Celestine Sibley, who wrote for the Atlanta Journal. Celestine was a small town girl who watched with very mixed feelings as Atlanta’s population exploded from less than million to more than 4 million. We can attribute a lot of that to Hartsfield-Jackson and usually comfortable weather.

But, as we get stressed with the traffic jams, she was watching the local lands getting built on akin to what’s going on in each suburb of the northern perimeter.

Shelly McCook directed this cast of five players, which includes Scott DePoy as Ollie Reeves and Paige Mattox as Celestine. Karen Howell is Patience, even when she is not so patient; and Kate Johnson is Beth. Jeremy Wood plays Dave and strums along to provide background music.

In Act I the action is taking place in an urban area, but by Act II they’ve all scampered up-country to the cabin in Sweet Apple, which may just be in the days when parts of north Fulton County were still agricultural.

It’s not your average Christmas production, as it sees and portrays life through different lenses. But, all comes right in the end and they all find a meaning in the holiday.

More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

7
Dec

Another Night Before Christmas

Another Night Before Christmas
Art Station Theatre
through December 17, 2017

This musical spoof of the season by Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto has a pretty different view of the holidaze. As it starts off we meet a social worker who is stressed to the max. Karol (Liza Jaine) is on the way home and has had enough of the syrupy tunes invading every mall, elevator and dining facility. She may not be ready to sing along, but she’s certainly ready to grab a glass or two. After all it is Christmas Eve.

As she is on the way home she sees this street person in rags. He looks like he could use a meal or something else, and she offers up her left-overs. The guy, played by Jeff LeCraw, accepts her gratuitous offering and they each get on with things.

But “things” don’t go as might be expected when this guy drops into her home, unannounced and without setting off her state-of-the-art new alarm system. Does he have a name? He says he is Santa Claus, but she isn’t buying that. She tries many times to get rid of this uninvited guest, to no avail. Even the cops think she is nutty when she calls in to have them come arrest an alleged Santa for breaking and entry.

There are a dozen numbers in the two acts, and what she finds when Act II begins is nothing like what she may have wished for, nor imagined. What kind of hard-nose is this lady? And is this nut-case really a Santa? You’d have to sit through the show and enjoy the trip from reality to insanity and back again.

David Thomas directed this clever show on a really cool stage with great props by Michael Hidalgo. It ain’t Nutcracker nor Christmas Carol, but it is a delight. Art Station is right in Stone Mountain Village, with free parking, good concessions, and comfy seats. More info at ArtStation.org

6
Dec

Madeline’s Christmas

Madeline’s Christmas
Horizon Theatre
through December 31, 2017

Ludwig Bemelmans’ tale of a young girl in Paris at Christmas time has become a standard right up there with A Christmas Carol. This musical version is directed by Spring Mason, who has brought together a wonderful cast or more than two dozen players; most of whom are young ladies of incredible talent.

A collaboration presentation with The Atlanta Children’s Theatre Company, it is a pure delight whether you may be 8 or 88 years of age. On a neat set by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay, twelve girls who are students at a Parisian ecole, carry off the songs and the dance movements with great aplomb. Nicole Johnson choreographed the girls and Keena Redding Hunt is the music director.

The headmistress, Miss Clavel, is played by Lauren Rosenzweig for the 5th time and she works so well with the girls that she could be their headmistress in real life. Her assistant, Miss Murphy is played by Vallea Woodbury and Orlando Carbajal Rebollar comes on both as Monsieur Brun and the genie Harsha.

What is really interesting is that there are two casts of 12 girls, referred to as the Red Cast and Green Cast. Not sure which one I saw, but I can rest comfortably that each of the 12 young ladies pulls it off just right.

This is the tenth year that the Horizon has presented this show, and it is a one-act show which runs about 80 minutes. Show times are designed for the youngsters with morning shows and afternoon presentations. If you want to introduce a youngster to theatre it is a perfect first-timer. But, I saw every one of the adults having a great time as well. The cast is charming and nobody gets hurt, and there are no politicians involved.

More info at HorizonTheatre.com

3
Dec

Invasion: Christmas Carol

Invasion: Christmas Carol
Dad’s Garage
through December 30, 2017

Who else, other than Dad’s Garage, would have the cajones to stage a show with a substantial cast and a full script, and then let different unscripted characters invade the show in each performance. The uninvited visitors are not known to the scripted actors and so once the invasion occurs they have to make up their own story lines and actions to deal with it.

And it is a hoot. Andy Coen is the lead as Scrooge. But, he ain’t the Scrooge you and your kids know. In fact, this is not for the kiddies, but for open-minded adults who would like an evening of randy enjoyment. Ed Morgan directs this ooopus which also features various characters played by Rickey Boynton, Perry Frost, Mel Hardy, Whittney Millsap, Joshua Quinn and Maged Roushdi.

Yes, it does have a Tiny Tim and a Fezziwig, and Scrooge thinks a holiday such as Christmas is a pure humbug. But there’s plenty else that’s new in this one.

Dad’s Garage is located in a former church on Ezzard St, down in the Old Fourth Ward. You can get online driving directions. Plenty of free parking and come early to enjoy the concessions area with cabaret style seating. This one runs about 2 hours, which includes an intermission. More info and tickets at DadsGarage.com

1
Dec

Miss Bennet – Christmas at Pemberley

Miss Bennet
Christmas at Pemberley
Theatrical Outfit
through December 24, 2017

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 hooked up with men, 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 (Julissa Sabino) and Fitzwilliam (Lee Osorio) is the site of the Christmas event.. It seems their visitors hadn’t seen a tree growing in a living room before. Jane (Maria Rodriguez-Sager) and Charles Bingley (Juan Carlos Unzueta) try to stay out of the line of fire, as Lydia (Devon Hales) and Mary, and Anne (Galen Crawley) try to find out who may wind up hooking up with that chap down from Oxford, Arthur de Bourgh).

Since this is a work of intrigue, and directed by Carolyn Cook, I shall tell you not 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 be correct.

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

1
Dec

Santaland Diaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Santaland Diaries
Horizon Theatre
through December 31, 2017

The turkey is unfriended and the lights start to shine on the trees and it’s that time when the malls are full of Christmas Carols, the retailers are hustling you to run up your credit card bills, and most of us just wish that things would change for the better for everybody all around the world. Especially, considering current political situations.

Years ago playwright David Sedaris actually did work as an elf at Macy’s. His humor is great; albeit is loaded with single entendres and occasionally loaded with expletives. So, this is not for the little people, nor the prudes among us.

Directed by Jeff Adler, they have an outstanding cast. Harold Leaver who played Crumpet for 18 years has now retired from elfdom but he is replaced by incredible local performer and playwright, Topher Payne. He is another perfect Crumpet who accepts the original Sedaris plan as a monologue. Topher does the job with aplomb and some updated ad-libs and works the house by interacting with some of the audience.

Enoch King returns as Crumpet’s sidekick and maybe a half a dozen other cameo roles, much to the delight of the audience.. And, Lala Cochran is the female sidekick as well as agent provocateur, in many guises. And two interns get to share center stage with them in several schticks.

Each of these players “owns” their roles, and has played them on a yearly basis. But, WTF? Hasn’t Chris Kayser come on as Scrooge for umpteen years? It’s a standard; akin to going to see the lights at the Botanical Garden or the Nutcracker Ballet. Who says older folks can’t have fun?

It’s 90 minutes of fun and laughter and that’s something we all could use more of these days. And coming up December 2d through 31st they will present Madeline’s Christmas in collaboration with Atlanta Children’s Theatre Company. For tickets, times and full info for both shows just go to horizontheatre.com

1
Dec

Love Never Dies

 

 

 

 

 

Love Never Dies
Fox Theatre
through December 3, 2017

Let me start by skipping to the bottom line. This is one you MUST see! Just imagine that the Cirque du Soleil and the Metropolitan Opera joined hands to present an English language opera with full background of incredible sets, props, costumes and performers and that it was penned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had previously brought you Phantom of the Opera.

I am not going to get into the story line other than to say that the Phantom (Gardar Thor Cortes) has showed up 10 years after his assumed demise. He is still enamored of Christine (Meghan Picerno); but there’s a problem inasmuch as she has married and has a child, Gustave (Jake Miller) and as the plot thickens you find that they are not the only ones involved in lusting for the affection of another.

The score resounds with Phantom-like music, and there are some bars which appear to be derived directly from Phantom. The songs, however are more operatic than show tunes. The only one you may really pick up on if played on a radio may be Bathing Beauty when the ladies are all at the beach and Mary Michael Patterson sings the number backed up by a chorus of other ladies as they show off some wild costume changes.

There is a full orchestra in the pit, and one unique aspect is that what sounds as an overture starts off Act II, not Act I. When this opened in London a few years ago, it ran for less than a year and received mixed reviews. It was closed and re-tweaked and now is one of the most incredible evenings you could hope for.

It closes this Sunday, so hop to it, or you’ll be sorry to miss this one.