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Friday, November 23, 2007

Local color: Atlanta actors emerge from The Mist

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(photos courtesy Brandon O'Dell and Dad's Garage Theatre)

It's always fun to see Atlanta stage actors on the big screen, no matter how big the part or the movie. The Mist (reviewed here) features a pair of familiar faces in roles that, while being far from the leads, have more meat than the usual walk-on appearance. Although The Mist takes place in Maine, director Frank Darabont filmed it in Shreveport, La., which could explain the local color.

Brandon O'Dell has a particularly substantial appearance in the film's besieged supermarket. With most small film roles, an actor is lucky to get named at all, but O'Dell's character has a full name -- Bobby Eagleton -- and some character details. Bobby Eagleton's brother is injured during one of the film's otherworldly attacks, which instigates one of the The Mist's best set pieces: an expedition, with all the risks of, say, mountaineering or guerilla warfare, across the mist-enshrouded parking lot to a deserted but infested pharmacy. O'Dell gets to interact with some of the creepy special effects and suffers from a violent mishap (which isn't as grisly as some in the film). On stage, O'Dell has performed in Aurora Theatre's Camelot and Horizon Theare's The Water Coolers: An Office Musical, and he's one of the areas most reliable comedic and musical performers. (Probably my favorite O'Dell performance was his funny/scary turn in The Caretaker at Theatre in the Square.) Someone should cast him as the lead in something soon.

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As "Woman #2," Tiffany Morgan doesn't get quite as much screen time, but she also makes an impression. In the film's portrait of religious hysteria, Woman #2 is one of the first people to take sides with Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a hateful Bible-thumper whose rants about Judgment Day and blood sacrifice attract more and more followers. Harden even refers to Morgan's character as "this good woman," briefly putting the spotlight on an actress seen most often at Dad's Garage Theatre shows like the roller-derby romp The Jammer (she's the one on the right in the photo). As ever, let's hope the cinematic exposure gives their careers a boost, but that we'll still get to see their work on Atlanta stages.

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