5
Jun

Incorruptible

Incorruptible
OnStage Atlanta
through June 25, 2017

Michael Hollinger created a medieval farce which really rocks.  You’ll laugh from the opening lines to the end of this ecclesiastical romp.      The story is simple, in that it deals with a monastery which is in financial straits, and how the Brothers bend the rules as they try get things worked out.   If you want to dig deeply into the psychological essence of the work it might be said to deal with corruption in society.  But, don’t sweat it.  Just sit back and enjoy this one on the surface.

The monastery needs to have something that will attract pilgrims who will, in turn, leave offerings, which can be used to support the Brothers and their good works.   Alas, the only saint they have on hand hasn’t produced a miracle in more than a decade, while down the road a competing Nunnery has been packing them in with a saint who has been working overtime.   Well, the Brothers do finally hit on a scheme to solve their financial problems.

The Abbot is J. Michael Carroll, and he plays off so splendidly against Brother Martin played by Darrell Wofford.   Brother Martin must have been the inspiration for Bernie Madoff.   The other two bumbling Brothers are the novices Felix (Chris Schulz) and Olf (O’Neil Delaopenha).  Felix is a little light in the celibacy department and Olf is below scale in the brains dept.    These four have to deal with the local peasant woman who comes off like a raver from Manhattan so ably played by Katy Clark.

The excellent cast is rounded out by Sara Lynn Herman, as the love object Marie, who seems at times to have been an Olympics gymnast for the twists and jumps she does, and LeeAnna Lambert who plays the bitch Abbess.    The centerpiece role is that of Jack, the one-eyed minstrel which is a totally camped up role played to the hilt by Jef Holbrook.

The show, directed by Aaron Gotlieb moves easily on a neat set by Lizz Dorsey.   While it does suggest some improper clerical behavior, the facts are that sometimes folks don’t always behave just as one might expect.  I’m pretty sure most of the clergy could enjoy this one as well.  More info at OnStageAtlanta.com

3
Jun

Eclipsed

Eclipsed
Synchronicity Theatre
through June 25, 2017

It takes not only talent, but cajones to stage this one.  The play by Zimbabwean playwright Danai Gurira is set in the west African country of Liberia around 2003, when the people had enough of the corruption and terror of Charles Taylor, and took arms against his regime.  This time to succeed and Taylor fled to Nigeria, the corruption capitol of Africa.  After many captures, escapes and recaptures he wound up before a Special Court and is still in a jail in the UK on a 50 year sentence, and still trying to be involved in various African states.

The war in Liberia was tragic.  It was another one of those situations where young men were trained to shoot, where girls were taken hostage and repeatedly raped, sold, and/or enslaved.  In this play most of the action takes place in a hovel in which some “wives” are forced to live.  They have no names other than Wife #1 (Shayla Love), Wife #3 (Charity Purvis Jordan) and the Girl (Asha Duniani).  Parris Sarter and Isake Akanke appear as a warrior and a worker for peace and women’s rights.

Tanashe Kajese-Bolden directed this very stressful saga on a perfect set designed by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay.   The play is not your average evening out.  This has a cast of five superb female actors, dealing with many forms of abuse.  And one of the really sad things is that these atrocities have yet to vanish.  Just think of what the Boko Haram have been doing in Nigeria.  In so many places in the world, and more so in Africa, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

This show has received many rave reviews, but has not had very long runs in NYC nor elsewhere.  It is certainly NOT for youngsters, nor those who may adopt the motto of “Don’t confuse me with the facts; as my mind is made up” While the show is referred to as “savagely funny” the laughs are few and far between.  It is a stressful 2 hours which brings to mind so many crimes against humanity in the past century.

More info at SynchroTheatre.com

2
Jun

The Dancing Handkerchief

The Dancing Handkerchief
Theatrical Outfit
through June 18, 2017

The play is quite a bit different than others you’ve seen.  Geoff Sobelle and Adam Koplan penned this story which Adam has adapted to a staged performance, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez.

Tom Key comes on as Mysterioso the Magician.  He got some help from Joe Turner, a really good local magician who has played around town.  And Tom comes off looking the part and dealing out a few illusions which are basics from Eddie’s Trick Shop, if you are into that stuff.

The play is being staged in association with The Flying Carpet Theatre Company of New York.  It is a story about a magician and his daughter, who don’t see things the same way and they part ways; only to reunite with the passing of one of them and reflection of experiences and lessons learned along the path called life.

The story is moved along mainly by Deborah Bowman, who as the adult daughter, Bastienne, delivers up 9 solo numbers, backed up by S. Renee Clark on piano and Ramon Pooser on bass, Jeremy Aggers on guitar, and Lorenzo Sanford on the drums.   Aggers also doubles in some supporting roles.

The younger Bastienne is played really well by Devon Hales who pulls off being a puppet master, with back help from Spencer Stephens, and some pretty agile moves along the way.

Whether this is one that “has legs” as we say, remains to be determined.  It isn’t a puppet show, per se, nor is it a magic show.  It is a show in which the principal characters play such roles.   While a lot of young folks might not get the true gist of the story, there may be a lot of senior citizens in the same camp.

But, directed by Adam Koplan, it is well staged and performed with total dedication.  The show runs about an hour and a quarter without intermission.  More info and tickets at TheatricalOutfit.org

28
May

How to Use a Knife

How to Use a Knife
Horizon Theatre
through June 25, 2017

Will Snider brought together his academic studies with some years of working in East Africa and his love of theatre to create this very unusual work.  I loved how the program has a warning on the cover that there is some spicy language.   As if the “F word” hasn’t become the universal modifier in these days.

The one act play runs almost 2 hours and is set in a small restaurant in Manhattan.  The owner, Michael (Brad Brinkley) is trying to save the place and brings in an old colleague, George (Brian Kurlander) to head things up as chef.  The entire show takes place in the kitchen of the bistro and it is quite an accurate set created by the sisters Curley-Clay.

There are a couple of Latino guys working in the kitchen.  They are Carlos (Tony Guerrero) and Miguel (Orlando Carbajal Rebollar).   They do speak mainly Spanish, but you’ll get the gist of what is happening, even if you haven’t spent much time in Miami.   There is a pretty tight lipped black gentleman (LaParee Young) who is the dishwasher and the young kid who is serving dishes and bussing is Jack (Jeremiah Parker Hobbs).

The show starts off as mainly the usual expected problems and interactions of the staff on a typical day; but things start to get eerie when Kim (Cynthia D.  Barker) shows up.  She’s a government agent on the hunt for somebody, and you start to figure out which one of the guys it might be.

Underneath all of the present day stress and humor, there lies a story about what may have gone on in the social warfare between the tutsis and hutus in Rwanda some years ago.  And this also makes one think about what is going on in this world today.  For it was said by George Santayana that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Directed by Carolyn Cook, this is a pretty long one-act gig, but it does draw you in, and the show does not work out just as you might have imagined it might.  For more info go to HorizonTheatre.com

24
May

Georgia Brass Band

Georgia Brass Band

Eighteen years ago, trumpeter Joe Johnson founded the Georgia Brass Band.  He’d played in British-style brass bands in New England and has brought this local group to national prominence.

Many of us know what a chamber orchestra is like.  It is a small group that can play in one large room and usually baroque style music.  But, we don’t often come across string orchestras nor brass bands.  But, it can be a delight when you have a group of 29 players, 3 of whom are percussionists and all the rest on horns; some of which you may never have seen before.

The Georgia Brass Band presented a concert at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center as this year’s finale.  If you think of a brass band as the Marine Corps marching band parading down the street playing something by John Philip Sousa, then that is just one part of their repitoire.  The concert this week presented works by John Williams, R. B. Hall and several others, and did have some march passages as well as classics such as Shenandoah and God of Our Fathers.

We must stand and salute these musicians, each of whom is a volunteer.  Ergo, they play because of their individual passions, not for a pay check.  You can find more info about this fine group at GeorgiaBrassBand.com and try to take in one of their concerts next season.  The first one will be September 23 at Mercer University.

22
May

Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing  
Stage Door Players
through June 11, 2017

Playwright Marc Camoletti was raised in Geneva of French and Italian heritage.  He wrote a few plays; with this one being his signature work and in 1991 it was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most often performed French play.  He was clearly influenced by Moliere.  It is a classic French farce.  Every time one door closes, another opens, and anything which could go wrong certainly does.  The story line deals with Bernard, a randy American in Paris (Jacob York) who is getting it on with three different women, each of whom is under the impression that they are engaged to him

Each of them is a “G” girl.  Gloria (Bekah Medford) is an American stewardess working for TWA, Gabriella (Shelli Delgado) is an Italiana stew working for Alitalia, and Gretchen (Suzanne Zoller) is a Fraulein working for Lufthansa.   Bernard has things worked out on a flimsy time schedule arranged to insure that no two of his lasses would be in Paris at the same time. He relies on his abilities to utilize alternate facts, but things don’t always work out as planned.

He is visited by an old school chum, Robert (John Markowski) who gets dragged into the abyss as things start go off-sked.  And through it all the domestic servant, Berthe (DeniseWhelan) strives to keep things in order;  albeit most days that seems a somewhat impossible task.

The show is directed by Robert Egizio, and staged on a set designed by Chuck Welcome.  The costumes by Jim Alford are spot-on, providing some great eye candy; and the two guys provide some fight scenes which take a lot of energy.  I can’t get into details of the plot, because that’s for you to see and enjoy.

I can tell you that the show runs about 2.5 hours, and this is a high energy gig with a zillion laughs in each of the two acts.  It is a great comedy opus.  For more info and tickets visit StageDoorPlayers.net

20
May

My Son the Waiter

My Son the Waiter
7 Stages Theatre
through June 18, 2017

Actor, writer, comedian Brad Zimmerman put together this show which is somewhat the story of his life.  It isn’t easy to go from wanting to be on stage, to arriving center stage; and it has been the subject of many a play.

So Brad interacts with the house to tell how he started out, how he had to work as a waiter to make ends meet for much longer than he aspired to do so; and how he actually got the joy of opening for stars such as Joan Rivers and Billy Crystal.

After all, what Jewish mother wouldn’t wish that her son might become a doctor-a-doctor or a lawyer?   So the full title of the show is My Son the Waiter; a Jewish Tragedy.   But life is what happens while you wait for your plans to turn out.

A lot of the schticks are reminiscent of the Borscht Belt days and old Henny Youngman routines, and while you may know what the punch line might be, it’s still fun to be part of the evening.

The show is in Little 5 Points, and runs as a one-act 90 minute gig.  More info and tickets at 7Stages.org

18
May

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland
Fox Theatre
through May 21, 2017

The musical which deals with how J. M. Barrie came to creating Peter Pan, had a Broadway run of about a year and a half, and since then has been a touring company.

The book is by James Graham and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy.  There is a fairly large cast of about 35 players, and the costumes designed by Suttirat Anne Larlarb provides the great eye candy for this production.  This is not a Cats nor Phantom; in that the music is nothing you will leave the theatre humming, nor probably recognize if heard without lyrics on a radio.

Twenty six musical numbers are the drive chain that moves the story along, about how Barrie is being pressured to create a new show for a London producer, and the stresses in which he becomes submerged on the trip from nowhere to Neverland.

There is a full orchestra in the pit, and the staging and lighting is Broadway quality.  But, . . . . if you think this is just a spin-off of Peter Pan that will draw in all the youngsters, you may need to rethink it.

It is well done, and even though it has some great youngsters and a wonderful canine actor, it just is not one of those Tony winners that we all cherish and need to see again and again.

Full info and seats at FoxTheatre.org

14
May

Father Comes Home from the Wars

Father Comes Home from the Wars
Actor’s Express
through June 11, 2017

Prize winning Suzan-Lori Parks, crafted this work from the story of The Odyssey, but with a time warp into the days of the War Between the States in the 1860s.

Set in the south, Evan Cleaver plays Hero, a slave who opts to join the Rebs in support of his Boss-Master who has promised to grant him freedom should they survive.  But, the owner has reneged before, and there are other problems which abound.

Rob Cleveland shows up as the Oldest Old Man on the plantation, and there are some others with some classic names, such as Homer (Marcus-Hopkins-Turner) Penny, as maybe from Penelope (Brittany Inge).  The show is staged in 3 acts, named “parts”, although the author had opined that she could envision it running into a 9 parts eventually.  In Part 2 you meet a captured Union soldier (Richard McDonald) and the Rebel Army Colonel (Bryan Davis).  Each of these officers has his own thoughts as to where things are going.

And in Part 3, we find Hero coming back as Ulysses after his faithful dog had found him.  Jason-Jamal Ligon is a hoot as the overly energetic canine.  The cast also includes some slaves who have elected to run away, not knowing of any emancipation proclamations or enactments.

The show is staged on an open space with few props, for it is the story which moves things along.  And, it does draw an audience into contemplation of how far things may have changed and how quickly, since those days.  And, considering where we “are at” these days, what the future may hold for us.

Martin Damien Wilkins has directed this extensive saga, which runs about 3 hours 15 minutes with 2 intermissions.  It is one for those with a sense of history and race relations; probably not for the average youngster, nor some politicians.

Actor’s Express is downtown, easy to get to, with garage parking and valet service available.  More info at Actors-Express.com

13
May

Camino Real

Camino Real  
Atlanta Ballet
final performance May 14, 2017

As often said, Art Isn’t Easy . . . and this is a prime example.  A huge amount of work has gone into designing this ballet, which has a run of 3 days only.   Note that the closing performance on the 14th, is a matinee.

With a score by Peter Salem, choreography by Helen Pickett and an intriguing set by David Finn and Emma Kingsbury, this is not your Swan Lake, nor Nutcracker kind of production.

Tennessee Williams was a weird-o and this is based upon his strange opus of some 60+ years ago, when he has a WWII cartoon character, Kilroy (Heath Gill), coming to the Camino Real (Royal Highway), which is somewhere between here and nowhere; and perhaps loosely derived from US-101 which ran down the California coast toward Baja.

The other lead dancers are Tara Lee as Esmeralda, Nadia Mara as Marguerite, Christian Clark as the Casanova and Jacob Busch as the Gutman guy.   There are more then 20 dancers, great costumes and set; and a story line (if you want to call it that) which is VERY convoluted and leaves you wondering what is going on and why.  You will see a couple of unfortunates removed from the stage, like a passenger from a recent flight.

It is also unusual in that there are spoken lines and some of the dancers are miked.  Alas, this is one time when you might wish there were projected titles so you got every word.  But, don’t sweat it, for the dance is what ballet is about.

This is a reprise of the Atlanta Ballet’s world premiere, staged in 2015, and we salute all who dedicated their work and talents to it.    It is an adventure of dealing with reality and existence and getting from nowhere to somewhere.  Maybe.

Performances are at Cobb Energy Center and more info at AtlantaBallet.com