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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Alliance gives a taste of its 2012-13 season

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Pearl Cleage is an awesome blossom.
  • Pearl Cleage is an awesome blossom.
An evening at the theater that involves an all-female country band with a washboard rhythm section, slick projections of the Zorro "Z" slashing out in flames, cameos by Ebenezer Scrooge, a rap song about divorce, frequent spins of a giant roulette wheel to give away gift certificates to local restaurants, and a scene from Charlotte's Web is bound to feel a bit surreal. It's a credit to the Alliance Theatre that last night's "Taste of the Season" event, which offered short previews of the shows that will make up the 2012-2013 season, ran smoothly on the Alliance stage and gave a nice glimpse of the intriguing productions that we'll be seeing soon.

Far and away, the scene-stealer of the night was Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage who read a monologue from her new play What I Learned in Paris. The play, which will have its world premiere as the season opener in the fall, is a romantic comedy set in Atlanta in 1973. The monologue, in which a female character describes a trip to Paris she takes without her husband, condensed so much about the era: hopeful, agitated, excited, uncertain. It was a lovely reading, and we're already looking forward to opening night.

Driving Miss Daisy playwright Alfred Uhry couldn't be at the event but spoke via video about his play Apples and Oranges, which will likewise have its world premiere at the Alliance. It looks to be a bittersweet story of an estranged brother and sister who are drawn together at a time of crisis. Steve Coulter and Courtenay Collins gave a nice reading of a scene. Certainly worth checking out.

We were less impressed by the preview of the Zorro musical with music by the Gypsy Kings. Talented singer DeWayne Woods gave the song "Hope" a nice rendition, but the song itself was less than impressive with its clunky, manipulative lyrics. Truth, faith, dreams, hope, future. That sort of thing. It was especially odd to hear that the show, which played on the West End in London, will be an "American adaptation." (What. They have to cut the big "Takin' the Lift to Watch the Telly with my Bird" number?) We are already suspicious of you, American adaptation of Zorro.

We're not big fans of playwright David Lindsay-Abaire either. Rabbit Hole made us want to eat our own kits. Atlanta theater superstars Brenda Bynum, Carolyn Cook, and Tess Malis Kincaid gave a funny and charming performance of a scene set at a Bingo hall from Abaire's new play Good People, but we're still placing it next to Zorro nonetheless. Good people, we're watching you.

The actor the Alliance hired to play a tweedy, slightly nervous, aspiring young playwright nailed it as he introduced Mike Lew's Bike America, winner of the Kendada National Graduate Playwriting Award. The play, which will have actors on stationary bikes enacting a trip across America, sounds interesting.

The country-music and comedy trio The Chalks sang a song about the sexy lady depicted on truckers' mudflaps to preview their holiday show at the Hertz. They were cute, and Atlanta certainly could stand to mix it up with the Christmas shows. We liked.

Charlotte's Web with circus acrobats performing the parts of animals, including an aerialist as Charlotte in her web, sounds like it will please the kids, as will the energetic The Real Tweenagers of Atlanta.

The civil war drama The Whipping Man looked intense, but in the end, we weren't quite sure what to make of the preview of Next to Normal. The performers had lovely voices, but if we're not mistaken, they were singing about becoming SuperBoy and Invisible Woman.

All in all, the line-up looks great, and we're already looking forward to planting our big fat asses in comfy Alliance seats all season long. To join us, visit the Alliance.

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