14
Apr

Candide

Candide
Rialto Center for the Arts

Leonard Bernstein’s score for Candide is undoubtedly one of the 20th centuries most respected and enjoyed. The story line is based on the work of Voltaire. Most of us haven’t actually read any of Voltaire’s works, even though in his 84 years on this planet he published more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.

Voltaire was a nom de plume for a lower elite class chap who always wanted to follow his own map through life. He was a philosopher, and even though France was a Christian nation, he felt that religions were control devices, and that all of us are alike.  He denounced leaders of all sects, saying they “…rise from an incestuous bed, manufacture a hundred versions of God, then eat and drink God, then piss and shit God.”

And, he did get in the face of the royalty and the priests and at one point he actually spent 11 months in a windowless solitary cell at the Bastille. So, in Candide the Opera his attitude towards life vs. death takes center stage. Candide (Ethan Michel) is that nomadic cavalier who falls hopelessly in love with Cunegonde (sung by Joanna Burrell and Katie Lee, on different dates). The story takes the principals from France, to Prussia, the Netherlands, and even Colombia, as the score supports the different venues in the way it is composed and performed. People live, people die, people live on, etc.

What was truly magnificent about this presentation was the collusion of five groups all brought together by Carroll Freeman. The GSU Orchestra under the baton of Michael Palmer was right at stage front where you could see every move. The University Singers, or more than 40 students were conducted by Jennifer Sengin, and the GSU Players and Our Song group also took part in the production. And, the Kennesaw State University Opera Theatre brought 15 more to the stage under direction of Eileen Moremen.

If you don’t know the Rialto Center, you should check them out. Right downtown, easy to get to if you avoid Centennial Park, and free parking next door. They bring many fine events to us and you can get more info at Rialto.GSU.edu

14
Apr

Singin’ in the Rain

 

 

 

 

 

Singin’ in the Rain
Atlanta Lyric Theatre
through April 28, 2019

Singin’ in the Rain started as a film in 1952 with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds in the leads. It was set in the 1920’s when silent movies were starting to morph to “talkies.” While some of the folks in LaLa Land thought it would never really take off, The Jazz Singer proved that wrong.

Mary Nye Bennett directed this grand scale musical with a large cast, grand costumes and terrific song and dance numbers. R. F. Simpson (Bob Amaral) is the head honcho at Monumental Pictures, and they have started to shoot a silent film, The Dueling Cavalier, starring Don Lockwood (Jeremy Benton). As things go on, they get the idea that the show might sell better as The Dancing Cavalier. One problem is that Lina Lamont (Ruth Beyer) is the proposed star of the film, but she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. That’s when Kathy Seldon (Leigh Ellen Jones) gets brought on to do the voice-overs as Lina just lip synchs. Don’s buddy, Cosmo Brown (J. Koby Parker) helps to mediate a lot of the possible problems for the studio.

The fine cast brings about 15 numbers to stage, including standards such as Good Morning, and Singin’ in the Rain. The live band under the baton of Paul Tate does a great job as well, and the finale brings to stage a send-off akin to what was done on Broadway.

The Lyric is easy to get in Marietta, with plenty of free parking and comfy seats. More info at AtlantaLyric.com

 

13
Apr

Bullets Over Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
through April 28, 2019

Woody Allen wrote this musical adaptation of the film that he co-scripted some years back. James Donadio directs this cast of more than twenty players, who can sing and dance their way through almost anything.

Come back to the Big Apple in the days of the great depression and where a producer wants to get his work on the stage but hasn’t got the money. A gangster capo, Nick Valenti (Byron Hays) has the dough, but he wants some gal, Olive (Maggie Birgel), to get on the stage in a leading role, and he assigns his man, Cheech (Hayden Rowe) to handle things. Those were the days when you didn’t get in the face of some folks if you wished to stay breathing.

One BIG problem is that the older woman, Helen Sinclair (Rachel Sorsa), is the real diva and the type who understands that you are the star when your name goes above the title.

With a live band upstage they work their way through plenty of standards from days gone past, but tunes you’ll easily recall if you remember Cole Porter and them days. The production is totally Broadway quality and you need to know that there are no restrictions as to single entendres or expletives. So Ms. Prim and the kiddies may not dig it. But you can advise them that Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If you do.

More info at GET.org

12
Apr

I Love to Eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Love to Eat
Theatrical Outfit
through May 5, 2019

This is one man, one act, one delightful evening. William Murphey takes the stage as the first TV food junkie, in the days of old small black and white screen TVs. That was even before Julia Child came on the scene.

Chef James Beard loved his idea of basic American Cuisine. Directed by Clifton Guterman, the show is on a spectacular set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay, and make sure you get seated well before the show starts, because you are going to fall off your seat laughing when Beard makes his first entrance.

We meet up with Beard in his Greenwich Village flat. He recalls for us so much of his days on the show, the problems, the successes and all in betweens. He really used to keep live telephones with him when he was before the camera, and he loved to make jokes as he worked through his menu for a show. You’ll love when he starts to get Western Union wires delivered, and when he really does invite some audience members to join him on stage for a tasting.

Beard was a chubby gay gent and wasn’t one bit shy about who and what he was. One of his sponsors must have been Borden’s as he does get involved with an uninvited bovine during the show.

Very well staged and acted, and easy to enjoy. More info at TheatricalOutfit.org

8
Apr

Shenandoah

Shenandoah
Serenbe Playhouse
through April 14, 2019

In 1965 James Lee Barrett did the screenplay which starred James Stewart as the patriarch of the Anderson family’s expansive farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  And in 1974 the script was crafted into a musical which was nominated for 6 Tonys and went home with 2 of them.

This story is about a widowed gent, Charlie (Taylor Hicks), and his expansive family. They are on the edge of the War Between the States and would prefer to find peace and happiness than struggles and disasters. The show is played in the fields at Serenbe, where you will be in the presence of dozens more players, not including the horses and other wildlife.

Taylor Hicks is very well known for his appearances in American Idol, and he has great pipes. His daughter, Anne (Rachel Potter) is also a Broadway performer coming to the stage here in Serenbe. Each of the dozen principals are really great but the rest of the ensemble are right there as the front line moves into the Anderson’s turf, the choreography by Bubba Carr blows you away at the hoedown scene.

How do we find positive connections in such a situation? One way is shown to us by the young “Boy” Anderson (Pilot Bunch) who is best friends with a young black, Gabriel (Caleb Baumann). Considering the historical period that sort of friendship was a work of art. Founder Brian Clowdus directed this enticing show, which runs about 2.5 hours with an intermission.

Seating is outdoors but comfortable with easy close-up stage views. You park a short walk to the seats, and there are plenty of concessions available. But, please know if it starts to storm, you may wish to have a raincoat and umbrella. This one has plenty of gun fire, albeit the guns are never aimed at the audience. And Yes, a lot does come out right in the end, but there is angst aplenty on the road to salvation.

More info at SerenbePlayhouse.com

7
Apr

Capitol Steps

Capitol Steps
Rialto Center

This year’s touring production of the Capitol Steps came to GSU’s Rialto Center for the Arts, and it was a smash hit, as usual. Started decades ago by three aides to a senator, the group and it’s successors have always brought the best humor to the political scene.

And in today’s days of stress their Make America Grin Again Tour is been hitting issues straight-on. They now have more than one performance company so they play weekends in DC but the touring players hit the roads. While what they have to say may sound to some like LIRTY DIES, they try to address issues with SOTAL TANITY. Even if some elected official might not agree.

If you haven’t visited the Rialto Center it is easy to get to, and free garage parking is provided. Next up will be The GSU Opera Theater’s production of Candide, April 12 to 14. More info at Rialto.GSU.edu

6
Apr

Secrets of a Soccer Mom

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of a Soccer Mom
Stage Door Players
through April 14, 2019

The Dunwoody Stage Door Players are presenting a show about three soccer moms who are in a game as opponents to their kids, who are part of the young students team. Directed by Suehyla El-Attar, we meet up with the trio at the soccer field, and listen in as they explore themselves as well as each other.

Nancy (Adena Brumer) has some issues relating to personal relationships and desire to compete to win. Alison (Hannah Morris) is trying to define herself and finds it is not an easy chore. These mothers are all dealing with the daily job of mothering and all the other issues and problems which can rise up. For instance, Lynn (Brittani Minnieweather) is trying to stay connected with what’s happening on the field, while she is also deeply into managing and organizing some materials for the schools PTA. The play has humor as well as thought provoking comments.

The play by Kathleen Clark has enjoyed many small theatre showings around the country. She is also the playwright of Southern Comforts which is pretty much a standard these days.

More infoat StageDoorPlayers.net

6
Apr

Cinderella

Cinderella
Fox Theatre
through April 7, 2019

Cinderella doesn’t seem to have aged much since her first year on stage 62 years ago. With music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the story is pretty much the same, but has been updated a wee bit; and somehow dealing with that nasty Sebastian (Christopher Swan) seems like watching the evening news.

Prince Topher (Lukas James Miller) is in line to the throne but has no idea what is happening to the average folks in his land. But, unlike some others, when he finds out he steps up the plate and wants to make things work for the average guy as well as the elite class.

And the story is about how that wonderful fairy can not only turn a pumpkin into a golden coach, but turn a peasant girl into a princess with such great ease. You know the story, how the transfigurations end at midnight and how the prince falls for her and goes nuts trying to find her, and how everything works out wonderfully in the end. But, it is a fairy tale, is it not?

The sets, costumes, choreography and music are all really great and the kiddies from 6 to 66 all enjoyed the show greatly. If you are bringing tots, there are booster seats available at the theatre. But, don’t snooze. The show closes tomorrow. But, seats are still available online at walk-up at the box office. More info at FoxTheatre.com

31
Mar

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End
Aurora Theatre
through April 14, 2019

Who would have thought that an average housewife from the mid-west might wind up as columnist whose works were syndicates to 900 newspapers. She was an icon up until her passing in the 1996. Some of her lines were like Groucho’s. If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?

This one-actor, one-act show is brilliantly brought to life on the small stage at Aurora by Lane Carlock, on a neat small set under the direction of Megan Rose-Houchins. It is always a challenge to imagine how one person can be in front of an audience fr more than an hour and remember every single line. It’s a rare talent and one that Lane obviously enjoys.

Even when its over, it’s as if Yogi were there to tell you It ain’t over ‘till it’s over. Aurora is in Lawrenceville, free garage parking and goodies, and always a pleasure. More info at AuroraTheatre.com

31
Mar

Pipeline

Pipeline
Horizon Theatre
through April 21, 2019

The pipeline is how some folks describe the school-to-prison experience of some young people in our communities. This work by Dominique Morisseau premiered at Lincoln Center and now is playing here at the Horizon. You may also have recently seen her play, Skeleton Crew at True Colors Theatre.

In this work we meet Nya (Wendy Fox-Williams) who is a teacher at a public school. She is a single mom who has her son, Omari (Stephen Ruffin) enrolled in a private school, so he will get what she feels is a better start in life. But it isn’t working out as well as she planned when Omari gets emotionally disturbed by the teachers always asking him to comment on social issues. We may assume that he was perhaps the only black student in his class, so this became a problem.

Laurie (Vicki Ellis Gray) is a colleague of Nya and Jasmine (Asia Howard) is the object of Omari’s affection. Like many teenagers, life could create an abyss into which they emotionally fall and from which they feel the need to escape in some manner. Omari gets into a dispute at school for the third time, and as in many schools, the rule is three strikes and you’re out.

As Nya is trying to deal with this she suffers a panic attack and goes to the hospital. Her ex, Xavier (Jay Jones) shows up to try to take over Omari’s life, and that isn’t going to work out, either. And the school security officer who is in over his head most days, is played by Lamar K. Cheston.

This one act play is directed by Tinashe Kajese Bolden and Keith Arthur Bolden, and the incredible set is by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay. When we reflect upon the happenings in many schools around our country and what is being done, or not done, to provide better facilities and curricula, this play is timely. More info at HorizonTheatre.org