Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Critic's Notebook: Some Not-So-Christmas Shows

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:12 AM

CHRISTMAS COVER: Dancer Erik Thurmond recently showcased a work-in-progress in the studios of the Atlanta Ballet. His new show Two with Mary Grace Phillips is one of several performances this weekend that have nothing to do with Christmas.
  • Andrew Alexander
  • CHRISTMAS COVER: Dancer Erik Thurmond recently showcased a work-in-progress in the studios of the Atlanta Ballet. His new show "Two" with Mary Grace Phillips is one of several performances this weekend that have nothing to do with Christmas.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Rudolph, the Nutcracker or Tiny Tim. But for those of us who enjoy live performances and have already seen these shows a zillion times, it can be a dispiriting time of year. It seems that stages around town are either covered in fake snow or else they're dark. As the season approaches and my complaints grow louder, someone invariably suggests I attend one of those "I'm so fed up with Christmas!" shows like "Santaland Diaries," but I'm actually not much interested in those either. I'm over being over it.

That's why it's especially nice that this weekend there are some top-notch performances and arts events that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. Let's ignore the holiday together, shall we?

On Thursday, December 5, Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat will appear at the Margaret Mitchell House at 7 p.m. to read from and discuss her new novel Claire of the Sea of Light. The new work examines how a young girl's disappearance affects the intertwined lives of the people who live in a small town in Haiti.

We're especially intrigued to see new work from dancers Erik Thurmond and Mary Grace Phillips. They perform two new duets, one created by each of them, in Two on Friday and Saturday, December 6-7, at 8 p.m. at the Druid Hills Baptist Church at the corner of Ponce and North Highland. Entry is donation based.

Also on the dance calendar is a weekend of performances from Catellier Dance Projects. The ever-inventive, ever-witty company performs pre-suf-fixes on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, at 8 p.m. with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, December 8, in Emory's Schwartz Center Dance Studio. The work features pieces from choreographer Greg Catellier's previous works over the past three years examining the elements of dance.

Playwright and actor Charles Busch will perform at Actors Express for one night only on Friday, December 6.
  • Playwright and actor Charles Busch will perform at Actors' Express for one night only on Friday, December 6.
Legendary drag performer Charles Busch will appear at Actors' Express for a one night only show on Friday, December 6, at 8 p.m. Busch is the author of such camp theater classics as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Psycho Beach Party. Busch got his start writing and performing in such plays (often he created as many as one a week) in New York's East Village in the 1980s. There have been some charming film versions of his work, some featuring Busch himself, and the plays are now regular staples at theaters across the country, but none of these quite capture the wild, old-skool-film-diva style of Busch himself, which really must be seen and experienced live.

Most kids tend to take to the season, but I'm willing to bet there are a few five-year-olds out there looking at all the decorations thinking, "Christ on a crutch, enough already!" For them, Synchronicity Theatre is presenting Peter Pan & Wendy. The new musical version of the classic story opens this weekend at 14th Street Playhouse and runs through December 29.

Lastly, the renowned Grammy-winning Takács Quartet takes to the stage at Spivey Hall on Saturday, December 7, at 8:15 p.m. Their program includes works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Smetana.

Let this be a Christmas message of hope. You can ignore the holiday, and it will eventually come to an end. It always does.

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