The Center for Puppetry Arts has posted a new trailer for its remount of last year's production of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I almost called it the Center's annual production, just assuming that it's going to be a holiday show in perpetuity. Rudolph runs through Dec. 31 and as I wrote about last year's premiere:
Puppet designer and builder Jason von Hinezmeyer watched the TV special 200 times, occasionally frame by frame, to ensure the puppets' physical details exactly matched up with their stop-motion counterparts. The main characters — Rudolph, Hermey the dental-obsessed elf, the "Skinny Santa" — look exactly like you remember them. The production obsessively retains nearly every character, including all of the misfit toys with singing parts, the talking elf with the black-framed glasses, and even props like the gold nugget from the "Silver and Gold" number are dead ringers. The Center even replicates the teleplay's structure, beginning with the newspaper headlines warning about the bad weather. Grown-ups can tell where the commercial breaks used to be — I was fully prepared for an interlude with Santa riding the Norelco razor.
If you're looking for a musical willing to offer singalongs about pooping or Irish ballads about masturbation, sniff out The 14th Street Deli Bathroom. With book, lyrics and music by Tim Kaim, the world premiere musical comedy presents a magically scatological delicatessen, with characters including The Fonz, Joey Puppet Hands and showgirl Sara Kraut. The cast includes Bran Peacock, Kellan Meador, Jen Thrasher, Shellie Schmals and Caroline Allen.
The 14th Street Deli Bathroom. 8 p.m., Oct 7-8, 14-15. Relapse Theatre, 380 14th Street. $20. 404-343-0347. www.14thstreetdelibathroom.com
Tonight, Sep. 16, marks the opening night of Julie Hebert's Tree, the final show in Horizon Theatre's 2011 theatrical season. Lisa Adler directs Donna Biscoe, Geoffrey Williams, Megan Hayes and Joy Brunson in a family mystery show that leads a white professor to discover a personal relationship to an African-American chef. Replacing Lynn Nottage's Ruined, Tree examines questions of identity, family and race in early 21st-century America.
The coolest-looking play running in Atlanta this week may well be A November Day: A War Story, which Thingumajig Theatre of West Yorkshire, England, presents Feb. 15-20 at the Center for Puppetry Arts. Combining hand-and-rod puppets, shadow puppets, actors and live music, A November Day depicts a woman who learns more about her grandfather's experiences in World War I after finding a trove of forgotten possessions in the attic. It's a shame it wasn't in town for Veteran's Day.
As Anthony Hopkins said in the film Bram Stoker's Dracula, "DRAACUUULLL!" From Feb. 10-13, 7 Stages presents the world premiere of Haus von Dracul, Part 1, a rock opera by composer Rob Thompson and the Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra, based on the tale of literature's most famous bloodsucker (at least, before Edward Cullen came along). This trailer presents an early version of one of the songs while the camera takes in model exteriors, so it's probably just the barest hint of what the full production will be like.
As a means of playfully promoting their perennial takes on A Christmas Carol, the Alliance Theatre and Dad's Garage both present video clips of Ebenezer Scrooge outside his usual Victorian context. The Alliance has put together a whole series of Scrooge (Chris Kayser) in modern-day Atlanta, visiting such landmarks as Mary Mac's Tea Room, the Georgia Aquarium and The Varsity. The clip below builds to a pretty corny cameo, but local theater buffs will spot Lane Carlock, late of Actor's Express' Albatross:
Georgia Shakespeare has been presenting some reliably interesting trailers for their theatrical productions that don't necessarily show any of the plays' actual content, but cleverly convey the tone or concepts behind the work. For the world premiere of The Odyssey: A Journey Home, artistic director Richard Garner directs and adapts Homer's epic poem about Odysseus's (Joe Knezevich) struggle against supernatural opposition to return to his native Ithaca and his wife Penelope (Tess Malis Kincaid). Garner's production reportedly draws on the experience of contemporary soldiers and their homecoming challenges, as conveyed by this trailer. On a superficial level, it has nothing to do with The Odyssey, except for one detail at the very end:
The Odyssey: A Journey Home. Oct. 6-31. Thurs.-Sun. Showtimes vary. Georgia Shakespeare, Conant Performing Arts Center, 4484 Peachtree Road. 404-264-0020. www.gashakespeare.org.
The Alliance Theatre opens its 42nd season with the musical Twist, but don't get out your old Chubby Checkers records. This new musical offers a fresh spin on the tale of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, and Oliver! was obviously taken. With a book by The Wiz author William F. Brown and music and lyrics from Grammy-winner Tena Clark, Twist relocates the hapless orphan to 1928 New Orleans. Twist will be directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen, renowned for Fame and collaborations with the Alliance Theatre. A clip with Allen follows, and you can also see her introducing Twist at the Alliance's "Taste of the Season" preview earlier this year, and hear audiofiles of such songs as "One Day," "On My Knee" and "Reach for the Sky."
Twist plays Sep. 1 - Oct. 3 at the Alliance Main Stage.
Essential Theatre's 12th annual festival of new plays begins tonight with Darker Face of the Earth, which features a 20-actor cast directed by Betty Hart. When I interviewed playwright/poet Rita Dove in January, she explained how the play re-envisions Oedipus on a slave plantation:
When I began working on the play, I was trying to understand what it would be like to not know who your mother and father were on a plantation. Around that time I was reading Oedipus and thinking, “How could Oedipus not figure this out?” and then I realized it was much the same thing, and I could transplant that myth. It allowed me to really enliven and embody the story within the scene and scenario of slavery. And it helped me understand Oedipus, and realize that this original text is not dead and buried; it still has to do with real life.
Essential also presents productions of artistic director Peter Hardy's Sally and Glen at the Palace, an award-winning comedy-drama about two college students working at a movie theater in the 1970s; and Qualities of Starlight by Gabriel Dean, winner of the 2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, which involves an astronomer who discovers that his parents are addicted to crystal meth. This clip offers a sneak peek at all three plays:
Here's a wonderfully quirky trailer for Spoon: The Musical by Atlanta actor/playwright Matt Myers, playing July 9-31 at the Top Shelf space of Dad's Garage Theatre. A cursed piece of cutlery unifies an evening of spooky tales set to music, sounding like those anthology stories that follow, say, a handgun from person to person. Only it's a spoon. Allison Hastings directs John Benzinger, Erin Burnett, Tara Ochs, Chris Rittelmeyer and Jeffrey Zwartjes.
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