16
Feb

La Sylphide

La Sylphide
Atlanta Ballet
through February 23, 2019

Let’s first jump to the bottom line. This presentation by our Atlanta Ballet is enchantingly wonderful. It is good performance, or better than, any ballet you may have seen in London, New York or Moscow. There are fewer than 5 more performances, so I would urge any reader to grab seats now.

Herman Severin Løvenskjold created the score for this ballet back around 1832. If you heard it for the first time and did not know of the composer, you would think it was one by Tchaikovsky. But, Tchaikovsky wasn’t born until 1840. Maybe he was influenced by the same spirits.

A sylphide is a young sylph, which is basically a forest nymph. And the story is one of love lost, love sought, personal failures and dealing with losses. But, as a ballet there may be no spoken lines, but you get the story spot-on as you watch the performers.

Tara Simoncic is a woman who has conducted many symphonies, operas and ballets and been in many venues. She is a guest conductor here for the first time, and hopefully shall return. We stand and yell Bravo to the huge cast and express our thanks to Gennadi Nedvigin for all that he has brought to us. La Sylphide is a constant with the Royal Danish Ballet, and is probably playing somewhere in the world every week.

Although it is somewhat “owned” by the Royal Danish Ballet, it is set in Scotland and not only will you see these fair maids in their tutus, but the males are all wearing kilts and sporrans. The Scottish farmer, James (Moisés Martin) is slouched in a chair by the fireplace in a large home. He is visited by a sylph, (Emily Carrico) who really gets his eyes, and more. For he is to be wed on the morrow. Things start to go awry when be is beguiled by this sylph who he thinks at first is a human. Until she vanishes by flying up a chimney. The Sylph is well noted for probably dancing more en pointe in this one that most ballerinas ever have to do.

And the action is put forth by a wicked looking Old Madge (Ashley Wegmann) who can read palms, and reminds you of the three witches in Othello boiling up double, double, toil and trouble.

This exceptionally good ballet is one suitable for all ages. There is a large cast of dancers and some are youngsters who also delight the audience.  The sets and costumes are fantastic as well.  It runs about 2 hours with an intermission and the Cobb Energy Center is easy to get to near 285 and 75, with plenty of garage parking. More info and tickets at AtlantaBallet.com

14
Feb

Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew
True Colors Theatre
through March 10, 2019

Think back to the days of the depression in 2008, and then reflect upon what may be occurring in some areas even in these days of increased employment rates. For back in 1993 when IBM laid off 60,000 employees, the corporate attitude towards workers went through a change. Prior to then employers and employees had a sense of loyalty, each to the other.  Companies had a PERSONNEL department. But since then they have reformed to HUMAN RESOURCES departments. Inasmuch as employees are now thought of like office furniture. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. If you need another one down the road just go get one.

And so Dominique Morisseau penned this work about some workers in Detroit on the auto lines. Jamil Jude directed the cast of four who we see from time to time in their break room at the factory. Dez (Anthony Campbell) is pretty much a street guy from the ‘hood. Shanita (Asia Howard) is a line worker who is pregnant and trying to stay employed as long as possible. Faye (Tonia Jackson) is another line worker who has gone through great losses and is homeless when we meet her. They all know Reggie (Enoch King) who may have started on the line, but has moved on to management; and he is called upon to keep the industrial peons in line, so to speak.

Reggie comes to know of some impending shutdowns and is told to be silent. But he has a history and cares about those others, so he is in quite a jam. Each has their problems. Loss of assets, impending birth, violation of a factory security code, and more.

The set by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay works quite well, and the scenes move easily on a static set. The audience can just imagine what may be going on in some communities, and what the current political quagmire might bring into effect in the coming months. It isn’t one that a big time head honcho would either relate to nor understand. But, for those of us who have worked for a paycheck we get the picture, the story and have concerns for the days to come.

Performed at the Southwest Arts Center, easy to get to off 285, and more info at TrueColorsTheatre.org

12
Feb

Fun Home

Fun Home
Out of Box Theatre
through February 23, 2019

There haven’t been very many musical comedies about life in the funeral home industry. But, Lisa Kron and Jeanie Tesori adapted a novel by Alison Bechdel to create a Fun Home. If we can try to put the FUN back in dysFUNctional, why not in FUNeral Home?

The story is about a writer who has recently lost her father and who is bringing up images of many of the weird moments in her earlier years. Emily Kalat plays the writer and Stephen DeVillers is her father. And what is intriguing about the production is that you meet up with Small Alison (Celia Reed) who is about 10 years old, and Medium Alison (Ashley Prince) who has now started college, as events move through the years. Small Alison has two brothers, John (MicahParness) and Christian (Alex Huff) who really join is as the three of them bring down the house with their ad they are working on, “Come to the Fun Home”

The story is about moving through life and sexual development and attractions. Things may not always be what they think. Inasmuch as the show does deal with some homosexual experimental encounters, it may not be for the youngsters nor Ms. Prim.

But with some great Tony Award winning score, this cast of nine players work through 16 captivating numbers in one act about 90 minutes long. The time changes are easy to relate to, each of the characters is very well played, and this is a very entertaining show at an easy to get to location with free parking.

More info at OutOfBoxTheatre.com

11
Feb

The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer
Lyric Theatre
through February 24, 2019

The musical adaptation of the 1998 film hit the boards about 2006 and has been tweaked and played around in many venues. The score is by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin. This production is directed by Jessica de Maria, choreographed by Ricardo Aponte and with a live band under the baton of Paul Tate.

The story is one of those love found, love lost, love sought and lost regained. There is a 3 player band whose gigs are mostly weddings and bar mitzvahs. Robbie (ChasePeacock), who is the lead singer is planning to wed the lovely Linda. But things don’t work out quite so well. Robbie is living in his grandmother’s (Katherine Michelle Tanner) basement, and isn’t well financially. He hits the dumps when Linda (Alison Brannon Wilhoit) pulls out of the pending wedding. Then Julia (Rosa K. Campos) becomes the apple of his eyes but there’s a problem there as well, for she is being sought after by a wealthy financial guy, Glen (Maxim Gukman), who like many today can tell you it is all about the greed. Or maybe they should say the greed.

Syke Passmore and J. Koby Parker are the other two in the band, and they play off on and with Robbie through the two acts. There is plenty of dancing and singing as they move through plans for stag parties and bachelorette bashes, and they grab your eyes and ears with 22 really well done numbers, which could serve a instructions for those dealing with certain issues and/or life in general in these days.

The set works very well and segues easily into many scenes as the story is told. It is an enjoyable evening and nobody gets killed, so it is a lot better than watching the news.
Atlanta Lyric Theatre is just south of Marietta Square and easy to get to with plenty of free parking and good seating throughout the house. More info and tickets at AtlantaLyric.com

10
Feb

Ever After

Ever After
Alliance Theatre
through February 17, 2019

Well, if you see this one and think it is Broadway quality, you are on the same page with Susan Booth and the entire cast and crew of the Alliance. Somewhat based on the tale of Cinderella, this is the story as you’ve not seen it before.

No fairy godmother in this one. David Garrison comes stage center as Leonardo da Vinci, and he is the one who helps move the story along. The setting and the character names may get a bit confusing; but everything about this production, acting, singing, dance, costumes, sets, music and story is TOTALLY Broadway staged here in the new Coca-Cola Stage at Woodruff Center

Danielle (Sierra Boggess) is the foster servant-daughter to Marguerite (Jenny Ashman) who has a daughter she’d like to marry off to one of the royal family. Prince Henry (Tim Rogan) just doesn’t really want to be obliged to carry out being a royal. He’d like to escape and live like those townies. But, his parents have a different plan for him. And so the story goes as to whether he will wed a lass presented by an evil woman, or to that poor lass who may have come on as one of a higher station that she hails from.

The show moves beautifully along through many numbers with a live 15 piece orchestra in the pit. The show is one that totally grabs your eyes and ears, and possibly your mind, from the opening scene. The new theatre, just finished, seats fewer patrons than before, but the seats are more comfortable and the throw to the stage seems to be shorter than before.

This one closes in a week, so get more info and tickets at AllianceTheatre.org

8
Feb

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Various Venues
through February 26, 2019

Now in its 19th year the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) continues to soar to new heights. The dozens of highly regarded films will be shown in the coming weeks at easy to find theaters. The new City Springs in Sandy Springs, the Regal Cinemas at Atlanta Station, Perimeter Point and their Tara Cinema near Lindbergh and LaVista. They also will show some at the Rich Auditorium at Woodruff.

The AJFF started this years events with their Gala and their showing of the film, Shoelaces, at Cobb Energy Center. The Gala had hundreds of fans and supporters and was catered by more than 15 top class local restaurants. The array of supporting sponsors is incredible and we all salute Kenny Blank for growing the AJFF into such a national success.  It is such a huge success that one day the AJFF may be thought of as the American Jewish Film Festival.

Does one have to be Jewish to enjoy these films? No way, Jose. These are not The Goldbergs, and the issues deal with, and relate to, all of us. No matter what you believe in, or not, we all have families and know those who have dealt with issues. Some may be humorous and some disastrous, . . . but that’s life.

The screening of Shoelaces presented the story of a young man with special needs. He had recently lost his mother and wound up with the father who had abandoned him years prior. Their lives were quite different and their personalities so often collided. But as the story goes, the collision turns to collusion. The dad has a kidney problem and needs a transplant; but there is nobody ready to provide it. Except, the son when he learns of the father’s needs. And what we see is the realization of concealed basic emotions which rose to the occasion. The film won many awards and is performed in Hebrew with English sub-titles.

The point is that here is an unique chance to catch up on loads of world class films which inspire thoughtful feelings, be it about history or what is yet to come. They are shown at many times in the afternoons and evenings, and you can get full information and check schedules at AJFF.org.

8
Feb

Every Day is a Show Day

Every Day is a Show Day

One of the reasons folks like to embark on a cruise, is to get away from all the emails, text messages, and phone calls they really don’t want nor need. And for the AARP crowd there is no easier escape route than to find a cruise on Holland America Line that works with your schedule

While many cruise ships reposition come spring time to itineraries far away from here, this is the time when most of them go out of Florida, and Holland America has quite a few that come and go through Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. And if you fly in, the port is less than a mile from baggage claim and plenty of taxis and buses are handy.

For instance, lots of folks booked a cruise on their Zuiderdam which went out on the 16th of January for an 11 night cruise all the way down to the Panama Canal. Cabins come in various styles, with the upper deck suites at a larger price for larger quarters; and all the way down to Interior cabins, which provide sleep areas, baths, and some other amenities for quite a bit less money. Then you may chose other mid-ranges such as an Outside View which may be same size but has a window, or better yet the Verandahs, which are a bit larger and have a private porch where you can sit, view the scenery and imbibe in quiet pleasure.

Let’s say you booked a cruise such as this for maybe $1500. What do you get? A hotel room, daily first class service, fine posh meals in the main dining room and day-long buffet grub if you want to go that way. Then you also have bars with music, concert halls, a casino, a jazz hall and dance area and a huge theatre with professional shows.

For instance, on this cruise the Main Stage presented incredible Canadian comedian, Scott Harris, and he brought the house down. Generally the performers do two shows a night so that everybody gets a chance to see it, whether they dine early or late. On the next night they presented an energetic show called One World, performed by the Zuiderdam’s singers and dancers. And for movie fans they presented Bohemian Rhapsody on their huge LED screen. Another night they brought back the renown Island Magic Steel Band from Trinidad and Tobago. And if you wanted another large scale song and dance review they brought back the singers and dancers for a show called 1,000 Steps.

Not enough entertainment? Well they also presented a gold medal winning illusionist, James Cielen whose work was top grade Vegas quality. And for the film fans and music fans one evening they presented Planet Earth II, a famed BBC production, on the huge screen with a live orchestra providing the music. Like music? Well they also brought to the stage Sonia Selbie a super-active singer with great pipes who knows how to work the audience. As the cruise drew to a conclusion they presented a Billboard Off The Charts groups of hits from Elvis to Beyoncé. Finally, on the last night before you had to go pack up, you got to attend a Variety Show which brought back some of the top performers for an encore performance.

So do a little math. Eleven evenings of theatre which might cost maybe $50 a night, and 11 nights of top class cuisine and service, which might also run a tab about $50. And a hotel that you couldn’t get in south Florida in winter for less than $150 a night. Duh! Now you see why this is such a great deal. Then be sure to add in that you would have visited Curacao and Aruba and entered the Panama Canal up to Lake Gatun and back. Beats watching the news and listening to politicians. Oops . . . know that they have large screen TVs in each cabin with live TV, films, and channels where you can view what’s going on in the world.

Bottom line is that if you really want to get out of town, to someplace where there is total care available and the only decision you need to make each day is what do you wish to order for that fancy dinner; then you need to pack up and get ready to sail away. Get loads of info at HollandAmerica.com, and you can sign up for their special deals should you wish to do so.

7
Feb

Waitress

Waitress
Fox Theatre
through February 10, 2019

This one is a riot. Sara Bareilles wrote the score for this one, about Jenna who was a waitress at Joe’s Pie Diner. Jessie Nelson did the script and everything works well. The story is based on Jenna (Christine Dwyer) who is a pie baker at Joe’s and in an abusive marriage. He husband, Earl (Matt DeAngelis) is a good old boy character and pretty much egocentric.

Jenna’s boss, Cal (Ryan Dunkin) is the sort of tough guy manager at Joe’s and he has some problems from time to time with Jenna and the other two waitresses, Dawn (Jessie Shelton) and Becky (Maiesha McQueen). After all, working in a small town diner isn’t the dream job for most folks. The owner, Joe (Richard Kline) shows up most days for his breakfast with special orders.

Things get more involved when Jenna becomes pregnant and meets up with that new doctor, (Steven Good) with whom she bonds instantly, even though the doc’s nurse (Rheaume Crenshaw) susses out what’s going on. And a new guy shows up at the diner, Ogie (Jeremy Morse) who is a laugh machine as well as a fancy dancer.

There is also a live band of six players who are mostly on stage from scene to scene, albeit in the background. But, quite interesting in the cabaret style of performance. The cast moves easily though 18 numbers, and the audience goes wild. Especially when Act II, Scene 1 hits the boards.

The shows start at 7:30 so plan to get there early as these days you have to go through those security lines. More info at FoxTheatre.org

3
Feb

Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking
Atlanta Opera
through February 10, 2019

Thirty plus years ago a violent rape and murder took place in Louisiana, and the convicted murderer was put to death after 6 years in prison. It became a non-fiction book by Sister Helen Prejean who has always spoken out against executions. It was later made into an award winning film; and now it reappears as an opera composed by Jake Heggie with the libretto by Terrence McNally. The work was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and has played to some audiences here and abroad.

The scene is set at Angola Prison in Louisiana, considered one of the most unbearable prisons in the country. We meet Sister Helen (Jamie Barton) who gets a letter from Joe de Rocher (Michael Mayes), who is being held on death row. He is seeking some spiritual counseling and emotional support. Although the real convict was electrocuted, the opera stages this one as a lethal injection. Two families have been torn apart by the deaths of a son and a daughter and Joe’s mother (Maria Zifchak) is in the depths of despair as well.

Joe will not admit he did the killing of the young woman, and all avenues of appeal have been dead ends. The parole board would not suspend the death sentence, and the appeal to the governor was turned down. With no further options at hand, Joe is set to be executed in a few days, on his brother’s birthday.

A principal cast of 17 singers move the story along; albeit you know how it shall end. Joe Mechavich came to Atlanta to conduct the orchestra, and while there are no numbers which you may be humming as leave the venue; it is a grand opus running about 2 hours 45 minutes.

Tomer Zvulun who directs the production also directed it in New Orleans where many knew the story first hand. The opera is sung in English with English super-titles, which may sound strange but is very helpful if you miss a word here or there. There are many others working on this opera, including a childrens’ chorus in act I, and the Opera Chorus in act II.

Just know that many operas have death occurrences, and dastardly deeds. So this is not a Carmen or Pirates of Penzance type of show. In fact, it is certainly not for the youngsters or those who may have had to deal with real life events they feel are mirrored by the story.

The opera is staged at the Cobb Energy Center, which is easy to get to with plenty of parking. And more info is available at AtlantaOpera.org

11
Jan

Moonlight & Magnolias

Moonlight & Magnolias
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through January 27, 2019

It was back in 1939 when David O. Selznick produced his epic Gone With the Wind. And life certainly was different 80 years ago. For while McCarthy hadn’t appeared on the set back then; there was a motion picture production association which had adopted an acceptable code they referred to as the Hays Code. We didn’t have X rated films then, and while homosexuality may have been totally banned, the code did not explicitly ban all expletives, although the producers assumed it to be so. But one might say that Selznick didn’t give a damn.

Directed by James Donadio, the show is set at Selznick’s (William S. Murphey) Hollywood office. He’s stopped production, sort of like a government shutdown, while he brought in a new director, Victor Fleming (Bart Hansard) and Ben Hecht (Googie Uterhardt) a screen writer with a quick pen. Problem was they both though Selznick had lost his marbles. Who would want to see a film about the Civil War, even with stars like Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable? It seems that GWTW may still be the highest grossing film in history, given all the remakes and it is still being shown and aired to this day.

There is lots of yelling as the three guys try to work through everything in only 5 days, locked down in Selznick’s office. The secretary, played by Mahalia Jackson, has to be the gate keeper, assistant, maid and general everything else. There are times when you can just see the Three Stooges pulling off the slaps and prat falls.

The show runs a couple of hours, and is so appropriate for our town, since Tara was here and this is where general Grant started the urban renewal project for Atlanta. You may wish to visit Margaret Mitchell’s home and the GWTW Museum one of these days.

More info at GET.org