Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Wülf at the Goat Farm

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Rua|Wülf is a redenition of the classic  Little Red Riding Hood tale.
  • The Goat Farm/ SAÏAH
  • Rua|Wülf is a redenition of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale.

The Goat Farm, a sanctuary of sorts for the Atlanta art community, will be the backdrop for a new take on the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.

Titled Rua|Wülf, the project is the creation of the young Atlanta theatrical organization SAÏAH. Like many of the performances that take place as the gothic industrial compound, the production will migrate around the Goat Farm's 12 acres as the story unfolds, immersing the audience in Rua's (Little Red Riding Hood) journey to her grandmother's house. Rua|Wülf's director, Marium Khalid, discusses the play's larger themes about decisions and how the consequences of choices can affect future generations.

What makes the Goat Farm good setting for your production?
When you walk through the gates of the Goat Farm Arts Center, the first realization that hits you is how does this place exists in the middle of the city? Every inch of this place is soaked in history; rustic yet, a beautiful Victorian-esque sight. It seems like a story yet to be revealed. When we began the process of Rua | Wulf we simply opened that book and invited everyone to share the journey with us.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Pinch ‘N’ Ouch charms with Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 2:03 PM

PEFORMATIVE INFLUENCE: Jayson Warner Smith as Bobby Gould and Rob Mello as Charles Fox in Speed-the-Plow
  • Drake Simons
  • PEFORMATIVE INFLUENCE: Jayson Warner Smith as Bobby Gould and Rob Mello as Charles Fox in Speed-the-Plow
“Your name will be a punchline in this town!” one movie producer barks at another in Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet’s portrayal of Hollywood’s dog-eat-dog behavior. Mamet’s stylish, staccato dialogue perfectly suits the swaggering hyperbole of film industry dealmakers and lunch-takers.

So many other plays, films and TV shows have relished Tinseltown talk while satirizing showbiz morality that Speed-the-Plow can get lost among the likes of Sunset Boulevard and The Player. Nevertheless, Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre offers a lively and engrossing production of Speed-the-Plow in its new performance space at the Druid Hills Baptist Church.

Speed-the-Plow presents a dilemma to newly promoted studio head Bobby Gould (Jayson Smith): Should Bobby green light a surefire hit prison/buddy film with an A-list actor, or adapt a dreary-sounding novel about radiation, the end of the world, and other high-brow themes?

As a business decision, it’s a no-brainer, but Gould’s personal relationships make it more complicated. The prison movie would make the career of Charles Fox (Robert Mello), Bobby’s loyal, long-suffering colleague. Bobby’s temp Karen (Jackie Costello), a Hollywood newcomer, champions the radiation movie as a chance to deliver a profound, positive message. Would Bobby rather be a good friend or a good man? Would he rather make money or good movies?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More 2012-13 season announcements rolling in

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Georgia Shakespeare revives its outdoor performance series Shakespeare in the Park in 2012
  • Joeff Davis
  • Georgia Shakespeare revives its outdoor performance series 'Shakespeare in the Park' in 2012
It's that time of year when the inbox starts to pile up with season announcements from local theaters and arts institutions. The Atlanta Opera announced its upcoming 2012-13 slate earlier this week, and now we have the Alliance Theatre and Georgia Shakespeare to add to the list.

In January, Georgia Shakespeare announced the return of its much loved Shake at the Lake series thanks to a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Loridans Foundation. The outdoor performance series will be reborn as Shakespeare in the Park and relocated to Piedmont Park's Legacy Fountain from Lake Clara Meer. The Tempest kicks things off and will run May 9-13. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Bring snacks. The company, which, like many other local theaters, has faced its share of financial obstacles in recent months, continues its lineup in with Illyria: a Twelfth Night Musical (June 6 - Aug. 5); Much Ado About Nothing (June 21 - Aug. 4); an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (July 5 - Aug. 3); a musical adaption of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Emperor and the Nightingale (July 14 - Aug. 3); and a staging of Macbeth (Oct. 4 - 28) inspired by Orson Welles' 1936 Voodoo Macbeth and presented in partnership with the National Black Arts Festival.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Performance artist Mike Daisey manufactures a ginormous controversy

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 8:04 AM

WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?: Mike Daiseys latest monologue The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs which examines the manufacturing practices of Apple Computers has become the subject of controversy.
  • WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?: Mike Daisey's latest monologue "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which examines the manufacturing practices of Apple Computers, has become the subject of controversy.
Mike Daisey is one of the most well-known and innovative artists on the American theater scene. The performer's monologues have engaged audiences across the US, including here in Atlanta where the 2010 performance of his touring show The Last Cargo Cult at the Alliance earned him a glowing Creative Loafing review and a spot on our annual "Best of Atlanta" list.

Daisey's latest show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs brought even more attention to the artist, probably more than he ever imagined or wanted. The recent monologue details a visit Daisey took to China to observe the manufacturing practices that are involved in creating the sleek gizmos we all love: iPads, iPods, MacBooks.

The show's dramatic and touching description of the inhumane conditions in Chinese factories caught the attention of the NPR show "This American Life," which broadcast his performance. The episode, which consisted almost entirely of excerpts from Daisey's monologue, went viral and quickly became one of the most popular episodes of the show ever. All good, right?

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Theatre du Reve presents free theater tonight at the Alliance Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Atlanta's own French-language theater troupe Theatre du Reve will present a staged bilingual reading of the new play Celles d’en-haut, which was inspired in part by the photography of Cindy Sherman.

According to the press release, Celles d’en Haut (or "The Women Above") is a hilarious and colorful play set in a 1950s sanitorium, set apart on an isolated mountaintop. Using shrewd humor, the play questions human choices and explores numerous themes: sickness, the power of medication (and our quickness to succumb blindly to that power), and the deification of doctors. It also investigates how institutions might become beneficial and restorative islands, set apart from the deafening din of the world.

The play is slated to have its official world premiere in Atlanta in 2013. Guest director Olivier Kemeid, a prominent force on the Quebec theater scene, will work with four actors from Chicago, Quebec and Theatre du Rêve for the event, including acclaimed Atlanta actors Park Krausen and Carolyn Cook.

The performance will take place in the Alliance's 3rd floor Black Box at the Woodruff Arts Center tonight, Tuesday, March 20, at 7:00 p.m. with a reception with complimentary wine and beer to follow at the Alliance Française d'Atlanta across the street at Colony Square.

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Aurora's "Clyde 'n Bonnie" sticks closely to musical theater's classic formulas

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Laura Floyd as Bonnie Parker and  J.C. Long as Clyde Barrow in Aurora Theatres Clyde n Bonnie: A Folktale
  • Chris Bartelski
  • Laura Floyd as Bonnie Parker and J.C. Long as Clyde Barrow in Aurora Theatre's "Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale"
The recipe for making a successful musical is probably older and more familiar than your great-grandmother's recipe for apple pie. Take some rousing musical numbers, throw in a couple ballads, stir in a lot of romance (don't forget the comic villain and quirky sidekick), sprinkle with a handful of corny jokes, and then top the whole thing off with a big tap finale.

The new musical "Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale," now on stage at Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre through April 8, sticks pretty closely to that classic recipe. In fact, it treats the old recipe as if it's a scientific formula, adding each element in calibrated measurements and carefully placing everything in just the right place.

The result is an old-fashioned, energetic, crowd-pleasing musical in the mold of "Guys and Dolls," "The King and I" or "The Music Man." Those who love the old stuff will leave happy, but the show is unlikely to win any new converts to musical theater, and some may even feel that the formula has been followed too rigidly.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Theatre in the Square closes their curtains

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 5:45 PM

After months of struggling with finances and the recent departure of managing director Raye Varney, Marrieta's Theatre in the Square has official closed their curtains. Curt Holman had reported on their hardships in recent months, recently noting that Varney resigned with the hope that her salary could help keep the theatre afloat longer. No such luck. The press release notes that the theatre has decided to decline a $30,000 contribution from Marietta City Council, saying "We can’t accept the funding in good conscience knowing that we will still have to close our doors in a matter of days." The theatre suspended all performances as of today and will not finish the season.

From the press release:

The Theatre in the Square Board of Directors has announced that it will suspend all theatre performances effective Monday March 19, 2012. Board Chair Mike Russell stated, “After three days of board deliberations and financial analysis, we have decided that it is not feasible for us to finish our current season or launch a 31st season. We simply do not have the money.”

The Marietta City Council approved a $30,000 contribution to help the Theatre keep afloat while it finishes its performing season and plans for the future. Russell said, “Our Board of Directors was incredibly moved and grateful for the City Council’s unanimous vote to approve this funding. However, we can’t accept the funding in good conscience knowing that we will still have to close our doors in a matter of days.”

The Board of Directors raised $83,000 of the $400,000 needed to operate over the next three months and pay down vendor debt. Russell said, “We just don’t see any indication that we will be able to bring in that amount of money, much less additional funds required to launch a new season. We have begun staff layoffs and we have paid our current lease through March 31, 2012.”

Russell continued, “The Board wants to thank everyone who has stepped up over the past year to give cash contributions. We would not have been able to carry out the first few plays of the season if those donations had not been made. They were fantastic performances worthy of the support.”

Now the Board has the heart-wrenching task of closing down an organization that has been part of Marietta’s vibrant downtown for over 30 years. Russell said, “We understand that this is a painful decision that will impact many people: the dedicated staff, our vendors, season ticket subscribers, and our downtown neighboring businesses. We are meeting throughout the next two weeks with counsel to best address our obligations. We are also investigating an opportunity with one or more area theatres for a ticket swap for our current ticket holders of the remaining season plays.”

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

'Petite Rouge' makes tart gumbo of Red Riding Hood

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM

GIRLZ N DA HOOD: Renita James and Brian Harrison in Petite Rouge
Synchronicity Theatre's family play Petite Rouge, playing through March 25 at the 7 Stages Backstage Theatre, transplants the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale to the bayous of Louisiana. Adapting Mike Artell and Jim Harris' picture book, Petite Rouge touches many of the same bayou bases as Disney's New Orleans-style Disney's Princess and the Frog film from 2009: alligators, riverboats, Mardi Gras, even wacky trappers. Together the two shows create a cumulative impression of a Louisiana theme park ride, but Petite Rouge nevertheless offers family-friendly entertainment that will keep adults engaged.

Joan Cushing's Cajunized version of the story recasts the characters as bayou animals, with precocious young Petite Rouge (Renita James) being a duckling, although the show only lightly implies the roles' beastly natures. Petite Rouge convinces her skeptical mother to allow the girl duck to take some spicy gumbo to her laid-up Grandmere. Petite Rouge's straight-arrow friend Tejean (Steven D. Brun) a cat who more closely resembles Urkel, accompanies her to make sure she doesn't get sidetracked. Instead of a crafty wolf, however, the tale features the crafty and ravenous alligator Claude, played as a flamboyant comedic villain by Brian Harrison.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Broadway in Atlanta, Theatre of the Stars announce new shows

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Horses, beasts and big stage versions of such movies as Sister Act and Flashdance will come to Atlanta over the next year with the new seasons of Theatre of the Stars and Broadway in Atlanta. Theatre of the Stars' 60th anniversary season includes:

The Producers (July 24-29). Mel Brooks said that his hit stage version of the classic comedy put the "comedy" back in "musical-comedy.

Peter Pan (Aug. 7-12). Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby takes to the air as J.M. Barrie's famed boy who wouldn't grow up.

The Addams Family (Aug. 14-19). The creator of Jersey Boys take on Charles Addams' famously macabre but loving brood.

The King and I
(Sep. 5-11). Rogers and Hammerstein's classic musical features such timeless show tunes as "Getting To Know You" and "Shall We Dance."

Blue Man Group (Jan. 15-20). They'll do that blue voodoo that they do so well.

Mary Poppins (April 2-7). Based on the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Disney musical.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Wizard of Oz gets folked up at the Alliance

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Lowrey Brown, Brad Raymond, Sharisa Whatley and Jordan Craig in the Alliance Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz
  • Greg Mooney
  • Lowrey Brown, Brad Raymond, Sharisa Whatley and Jordan Craig in the Alliance Theatre production of 'The Wizard of Oz'
The Alliance Theater opened a folksy, kid-friendly version of The Wizard of Oz Saturday night. The stage play closely follows the 1939 classic film starring Judy Garland, something that works both for and against the production. It hits all the musical highs with fine renditions of beloved songs such as "Over the Rainbow" and "If I Only had a Brain." But the film's most ebullient numbers such as the "Munchkinland Music Sequence" and "Merry Old Land of Oz" underwhelm without the backing of a full live chorus. The Alliance's Oz relies on pre-recorded chatter and sound effects to bolster many scenes, including those in Munchinkinland.

I eagerly anticipated the charge of voices and movement in the moments leading up to Munchinkinland's celebratory repertoire, imagining a cast of children rushing out on stage to welcome Dorothy. Instead, the set featured a tricked-out backdrop with flowers that flipped around to reveal smiley faces. Two puppeteers maneuvered the Lollipop Guild, presented as a triptych of wooden dolls. It was cute, but anti-climatic. Less successful was the use of a crow puppet as comedic relief during the scarecrow scenes, a performance that felt like a mediocre ventriloquism act.

The elaborate, folk art-inspired set design was the show's real star. The production team managed the complications of representing a fierce Kansas twister by playing with scale and shadow puppets. The mysterious mechanical contraption enshrouding the Wizard looks as though it was yanked from Downtown's Folk Art Park. And when the green stained glass panels of the Emerald City dropped down from the heavens I thought to myself, "Well, there's where all the resources for the munchkins went."

Sharisa Whatley gave a heartfelt performance as Dorothy. Brad Raymond's Cowardly Lion was the most fun to watch (even his "King of the Forest" solo, which I always fast-forwarded when watching the film as a child), and Je Nie Fleming commanded the most stage presence in her performance as the Wicked Witch of the West.

I took my 9-year-old niece to the opening, and excitement about how they would do the "melting part," where the Wicked Witch is finally defeated, dominated the car ride to the theater. I watched her become more and more entranced throughout the play as Munchinkinland gave way to the Yellow Brick Road and then the Haunted Forest and Emerald City. She was enjoying the fantasy, even if her aunt was caught up in the reality.

More photos after the jump.

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