6
Feb

Once

Once
Horizon Theatre
through March 8, 2020

This is not your usual local theatre musical. The play by Enda Walsh hit the boards in NYC 9 years ago and went to Broadway in 2012 where it won 8 Tony’s. While the play in set in Dublin, it could be anywhere, because the things which move the story along are existing in each of us. An incredible cast of actors-musicians perform in the round in another great set by the sisters Curley-Clay, and Heidi Cline McKerley directed and choreographed this really high energy captivating experience.

It starts off with an unnamed Guy (Chase Peacock) on the streets who is ready to walk away from his guitar and abandon his hopes. He meets an unnamed Girl (Maggie Salley) who is a recent immigrant from eastern Europe. They have little in common other than she likes music, can play a piano and sing; and she is not going to let that Guy walk away from what she feels his life could become.

Eight other players complete this great cast and they know how to belt out numbers as if they were actually in some pub in the auld sod. But, even tough some of the chaps might come on as a big baluba, you gotta be knowing that all comes right in the end and the trip itself is a pure delight. With the band playing to the house, you might wish to think it would be even better were you having a pint or two.

This is a totally wonderful production and a joy in every way. I’ve been told it was an award winning film as well; but hadn’t seen it. But, it couldn’t be any better than what the Horizon has to offer. More info at HorizonTheatre.com

2
Feb

America, Volume 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia Symphony Orchestra
America, Volume 6

The GSO continues it’s series of concerts in which America is a focal point in the music and the stories behind them. This production at the Marietta Performing Arts Center was a totally awe inspiring one, unlike any usual concert.

The composers are all Americans. They opened with Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, which is a totally energetic opus in every respect. Then they presented Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra. The composer is comfortable in any genre, be it opera, chamber music, full symphony, and so much more.

His concerto is quite a bit more than you expect, for as it moves through the usual three movements, the final one is pretty upbeat with a lot more than just the strings. Flautist Jeanne Carere was stage center and really carried the audience away.

After a break, the GSO, in collaboration with The Lyric Theatre, presented an unique work by Peter Boyer. His Ellis Island: The Dream of America, premiered in 2003 with the composer conducting the London Philharmonia Orchestra, and has gone on to become a staple today for orchestras around the world. As the orchestra plays the numbers, actors come to the stage as seven different immigrants who came to this country many years ago when they were stowed away on ships that took many days to cross the Atlantic to the Statue of Liberty and the process of gaining access and so often to reunite with family which came before them. In addition to the narratives from Jennifer Alice Acker, Chase Davidson, Cara Mantella and Michael Vine, there are photo backdrops from the archives of Ellis Island. And, if we stop to think about it; while we may not actually know of relatives arriving there, it was the principal port of entry for those emigrating from Europe to seek a better life in the land of opportunity. If you like Aaron Copland’s works, you’ll love this one.

The GSO under the baton of Timothy Verville is an incredible credit to our growing arts community, and it also shines as a first class orchestra with a really impressive number of female players, not all on violins or the harp. Coming up February 8th is the GSO Jazz band and chorus which will perform their America vol. 7 at the Strand Theatre on Marietta Square. More info at GeorgiaSymphony.org

1
Feb

The Hobbit

 

 

 

 

The Hobbit
Synchronicity Theatre
through February 23, 2020

This production derived from the classic story by J.R.R.Tolkien may be something the youngsters may think they know all about, but this presents some parts of the story in a way not before seen. To make it even more accessible for youngsters the theatre time is set for 7pm, so that you’re out of the venue by about 9.

This work by Greg Banks includes music by him and Tom Johnson.  It is directed by Jake Guinn, and has but five players in about 20 roles. Ash Anderson who plays Gandalf stuns the audience as he is on stage wearing jumping stilts. Not something we need to try at home. Brooke Owens comes on as Bilbo Baggins, who gets drafted to help the 13 dwarves find the treasures in the cave.

A wide range of parts are handled by Tennison Barry III, Ryan Vo and Benedetto Robinson. While the stage setting may be unusual in some respects, the truth is that it works quite well for all the incredible acrobatics and prat falls.

The show runs about an hour and 45 minutes, with the first act almost a full hour. When the seats start to fill up you feel as if you are on a Carnival cruise; but the young folks really understand the play is the thing, and they become immersed and quiet.  The Friday evening performance is a Jammy Party night and many of the kids wore their PJs. Thankfully the AARP crowd did not.

They are playing to very filled houses, so you may wish to get your tickets early and get there early as it is open seating. If there is a parking space on the street, the meter cockroaches can’t tag you after 7pm. But, you can also use the garage and the theatre can provide a discounted exit pass for you. They also have plenty of goodies so that nobody, other than a dwarf, has to worry about malnourishment. More info at SynchroTheatre.com

31
Jan

Bull in a China Shop

Bull in a China Shop
OutFront Theatre
through February 15, 2020

This all-female show by Bryna Turner is a real-life story being brought to light. For it is set at Mount Holyoke College at the turn of the last century, when it was an all-female seminary. The women’s suffrage movement is an important part of the saga, as are women’s places in society. Mount Holyoke was one of the “7 Sisters” which was the group of prestigious women’s colleges akin to the all male Ivy League. The play is performed in many scenes which are moved in and out of by short violin solos.

The playwright is class of 2012 from the school and she drew the inspiration for this work from papers and memorabilia in the college museum. We meet Mary Woolley (Daryl Lisa Fazio) who is the president. The real Woolley served as president of the school from 1901 to 1936; through one war and almost into another one. She was a woman who felt that there should be no restraints on females, and that included sexual preferences. For she had a long lasting relationship with Professor Jeannette Marks (Alicia Kelley); and like most relationships, not every day was a perfect one.

Mary Woolley often got into the face with Dean Welsh (Dina Shadwell) over personal matters as well as the curriculum. For while Holyoke was educating women for careers and achievements which may extend far beyond the kitchen and bedroom; that was not the normal attitude in those days. A girl was supposed to learn to spell, write, read, cook, sew and marry and procreate. Even in the 1940’s in high schools the boys all took shop to learn how to use tools, and the girls took typing so that perhaps they could land a career as a secretary. But, that was prior to the rise of Rosie the Riveter.

The cast is rounded out by Sofia Palmero, who is a student with issues, and Falashay Pearson who is the house manager at the President’s Manor. This production is being brought to us by the theatre in collaboration with Georgia State University and we should stand and salute them both. Considering the current concerns of society and issues addressed by the Me Too movement and others, the timing is spot on for this one.

The show runs in one act about 80 minutes and you are drawn into the characters and the action from the opening scene. This theatre company is a showcase for/to the LGBTQIA+ community as well as all of we humans with brains. On February 11th they will host a celebration of LGBTQ pioneers in the arts. More info at OutFrontTheatre.com

30
Jan

Maybe Happy Ending

Maybe Happy Ending
Alliance Theatre
through February 16, 2020

Let’s skip to the bottom line. DON’T MISS THIS ONE!!! It is one of the most spectacular productions, totally unlike anything you’ve see before; and you will LOVE it.

You’ve not thought about a musical coming to Atlanta from Seoul, Korea. And, probably have not thought about robots evolving as almost humans; albeit they would continue to get outdated and disposed of, just as cell phones get tossed and employees have become basic tools of enterprise. You need one, you hire. No longer need one, you fire.

Michael Arden directs this incredible work which has fantastic sets by Dane Laffrey and the best lighting and projections EVER by Sven Ortel and Travis Havenbuch. When the show opens you meet Claire (Cathy Ang) who is a helperbot. She lives in a room across the hall from Oliver (Kenny Tran) who also is a helperbot; although they are not of the same age. One is a model 3 and the other a 5; ergo their batteries and chargers may not always work identically. Each has been let go by their owners, who have moved on up to helperbot 7’s.

There is a full band under the baton of Deborah Abramson, who is on the keyboards. And, Dez Duron is onstage as Gil Brentley, a bandleader and vocalist who is an object of Oliver’s attention, along with loads of other jazz bands. What kind of helperbot would not want a collection of hundreds of old 33’s ?

As the story evolves we find that robots may acquire more than just data from association with humans. And the issue is that while not every relationship has a happy ending; it is important to be aware that life itself may be good and that death can also be a happy ending. What is now may be passe in 2100 A.D., but some things of today shall endure as life goes on.

This is a pure delight and the seating is such that there are good views from each of them, so go online today for more info and tickets. AllianceTheatre.org ENJOY!

27
Jan

Slow Food

Slow Food
Theatrical Outfit
through February 16, 2020

Opa! And welcome to a nice Greek bistro in Palm Springs where Irene (Marcie Millard) and Peter (Matthew Edwin Lewis) are celebrating their anniversary. The menu looks pretty good with some fresh spanakopita and really good lamb. There may be one slight problem, though.

That is the waiter, Stephen (Dan Triandiflou) who just seems to never finish whatever has been ordered or started; be it another Samuel Adams or even the house salad. We never actually meet the maitre de and chef, although at one point Irene responds when an accident happened in the kitchen.

This laugh fest is one of those where anything that could go wrong, does so. The couple is sooooo hungry that at one point Peter belts out that he’d even eat a braised kitten at that point, if the waiter couldn’t get their orders to them and quickly. With Irene’s suggestion he tries to be more accepting of Stephen and his goofy behavior; not thinking about Stephen’s attraction to him being indicative of a sexual preference.

The show, by Wendy Macleod, is directed by Ryan Oliveti on a beautiful set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay. It runs about 90 minutes with no intermission. Theatrical Outfit is downtown on Luckie Street. You can park in the garage just north of the theatre and the box office can provide you with discounted packing passes. More info at TheatricalOutfit.org

26
Jan

Salome

Salome
Atlanta Opera
through February 2, 2020

Oscar Wilde had written a play about John the Baptist and how he lost his head. It may not have been a best seller; but German composer Richard Strauss could see it as an opera and put together Salome, a one act opera that premiered in 1905. It, too, stirred up a lot of adverse reaction and was even banned in England and closed at The Met after one performance.

It is set in Galilee around 30 A.D. where Jochanaan (Nathan Berg) is imprisoned in a cistern by King Herod (Frank van Aken). Herod’s wife, Herodias (Jennifer Larmore), has a daughter named Salome (Jennifer Holloway) who is not of Herod’s blood. In fact Herodias killed her first husband so that she could legally marry Herod. And it is a tale of lust as Salome has the hots for Jochanaan, who we would come to know as John the Baptist. But he’s not acceptable to her family. And step-daddy Herod has eyes for young Salome.

This newly styled production is directed by Tomer Zvulun with the full orchestra in the pit under the baton of Arthur Fagan. It is a long one act, but that is how it was crafted and is played. The cast of local soldiers, Jewish townies, and servants show up as a mix of how they may have looked centuries ago, and how some may look today.

While I do not want to give away the whole story, if you don’t know it, let’s just say that life is what happens while you wait for your plans to work out. The score is not one where you would recall a grand aria nor leave the theatre humming a tune. The Dance of the 7 Veils is probably the only melody that would ring your bell. And while the costumes for the dancers leave little to the imagination, they are fully clad.

The opera will be staged January 28 and 31st and close on February 2. More info available at AtlantaOpera.org

25
Jan

The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie
Stage Door Players
through February 16, 2020

Thomas Lanier Williams (a/k/a Tennessee Williams) rose to fame in the early 1940s and is considered one of America’s best playwrights. Many of his plays draw on his own life experiences, most of which he shares with viewers who would hide their own behavior so often.

In this work, directed by Topher Payne, we dive into a play-within-a-play scenario. Amanda Wingfield ( Shelly McCook) lives in a small home with her son Tom (Jonathan Horne) and his older sister, Laura (Katie Causey). Tom works in a warehouse for a small paycheck but maybe there were no other jobs in the town. He is not a happy camper and has visions that seem to always impel him to find a better road to a happier life style. He’s into booze and drugs; just as Tennessee Williams was. And Williams’ sister was really a Laura.

Amanda’s husband abandoned the family years ago, and she has concerns for Laura that the young lady needs to marry, or otherwise wind up as a spinster with a slight mobility problem. She coerces Tom to bring a “Gentleman Caller” to the home, who might have eyes for Laura. Benjamin Strickland appears as a Jim O’Connor, who works at the warehouse, also.

There are plans and designs that don’t work out quite as Amanda would have them do, and maybe not quite how some in the audience might have hoped for. But, life is what happens while you wait for your plans to work out. This is a really good production about some folks you may know. Stage Door Players is easy to get to in Dunwoody with free parking, goodies, and every seat with good view. More info at StageDoorPlayers.net

25
Jan

Mama Makes Up Her Mind

Mama Makes Up Her Mind
Art Station Theatre
through February 9, 2020

David Thomas, who is the Artistic Director of this theatre, really enjoyed the book of essays by Bailey White. Ms. White compiled 50 essays of her experiences growing up in rural Georgia back in 1994; and it was broadcast to lots of folks who enjoyed the tales.

This production brings 20 of the stories to us on a setting at their home. Karen Howell is Bailey, who lives with her aging mother and tries to accommodate the wishes of Mama (Judy Leavell) who agrees that you may be entitled to your own opinions, albeit she knows that she is right. Remind you of anyone in your family?

Benny Higgins is the third player to take the stage and he comes on as a different character in most of the scenes. It is incredible how he can go off stage and come back as an entirely different entity in less time that we might take to brush our teeth, or tie a shoe lace.

Under David Thomas’ direction the cast of three players lure us into the stories in full depth; and even if you never thought of parking your old Porsche on your Porch, it may give you something to think about and laugh.

The theatre is an easy trip to Stone Mountain Village and has free parking, comfortable seating, complimentary goodies and a concession stand. More info at ArtStation.org

24
Jan

We Are a Masterpiece

We Are a Masterpiece
Out of Box Theatre
through February 2, 2020

This heroic saga by Gina Femia takes us back to the 1980s and the outbreak of AIDS in the mostly gay community. This small theatre in Marietta has brought together a VERY dedicated cast and they are directed by Dominic D’Andrea who has come down from New York to participate in this one.

The underlying story is best thought of by the adage that Love can accomplish what fear cannot begin to imagine. So many of us may recall having a family member who was perhaps ignored or even disowned, predicated upon sexual preferences; and the political disapproval of those who did not seem to comply with religious/moral standards.

Carolyn Choe is Joan, a nurse at a hospital in Michigan, where a young man was on the down slope due to AIDS, and many of her colleagues took steps to distance themselves. But nothing can induce total fear and dread in Joan, who stands by her professional obligations as well as her personal feelings that we are all people, regardless of the words used to describe us.

The French have a saying which is translated to say “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” And to this day there are many who degrade the LGBTQUI communities, as there are those who would voice little respect or regard for those with different skin color, or places of birth, or religions. Thankfully there are many of us who realize that the more one knows people of a different culture, the less inclined you are to wreak harm upon them.

This one is not for kiddies, and those with engraved anti-gay feelings may find it difficult. And those of us who lost a friend/relative to any form of STD may find it VERY moving. But know that love of one another shall help each of us survive whatever ills may visit us. Whatever you may feel, this is a tutorial session you should attend.

The venue is easy to get to Cobb Parkway a bit south of the Big Chicken. More info at OutOfBoxTheatre.com