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Brandt Blocker 

Atlanta Lyric Theatre's new artistic director

After spending the summer getting acclimated as Atlanta Lyric Theatre's new artistic director with its cabaret series, Artistic Director Brandt Blocker makes his more official debut this weekend with the 2007-2008 season opener, Little Shop of Horrors (Sept. 13-30), at Byers Studio Theatre (1705 Commerce Drive, 404-894-9600, www.atlantalyrictheatre.com). Blocker hails from New Orleans, where he was a multiple-award-winning musical-theater producer/director.

What's your programming vision for Atlanta Lyric? The Lyric has recently started to offer a broader range of shows than in the past, and I will definitely continue on this path. The company has also long been known for featuring the "best of the best" singing talent, which is also exciting to me. But this season, I think that audiences will also be seeing more focus on the "theatrical" elements of musical theater – not a reduced emphasis on the music, but greater attention to sound, lighting, costumes, sets, dance – the whole musical-theater experience.

What key changes should theater-goers expect at the space this season?

The recent renovations to our Byers Studio Theatre include new seating, a new theatrical "black box" paint job, greatly improved lighting capabilities, sound-system upgrades, a raised ceiling on the stage itself and increased wing space. All in all, we've spent around $10,000.

Of the upcoming season, which productions were already in place on the schedule and which were your choices? What inspired you to make the choices you made?

I chose both of the company's Ferst Center shows for this season. I'm thrilled that the Lyric will present Peter Pan to Atlanta audiences for the first time in a long while – a true Broadway classic in every sense of the word, but also a show that should really appeal to a new audience of young professionals and their families. And talk about increased emphasis on "theater tech" – we'll be flying around the Ferst Center! I'm also really excited over Anything Goes – a Cole Porter classic with absolutely fantastic music, but also a show that gives us a chance to show off some of the most amazing tap dancing you've ever seen!

How many times have you gotten lost in Atlanta traffic? Any road-rage moments yet? I have no idea how to go anywhere in Atlanta without the nice lady in the box on my dashboard (who goes by the name GPS), who in the absence of my wife tells me exactly where to go.

Have you found a great place to eat yet? What's your favorite restaurant? I had a great meal recently at Fleming's Steakhouse near Perimeter Mall – great steaks, excellent atmosphere and a crab bisque that almost reminds me of home.

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