A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
woahfred [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.5
O2 at Onstage Atlanta2
Stage Door Players1
Dad's Garage Theatre Company1
Atlanta Lyric Theatre1
Theatre Arts Guild1
Stage Two Productions1
Average Rating Given : 4.16667
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Home for the Holidays, by Robert Egizio and Chuck Welcome; Musical Arrangements by Linda Uzelac
Fierce Holiday Fun!!
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Stage Door Players puts on an extremely fun evening filled with holiday cheer in their latest production of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! This was my first time seeing the show, even though it's being staged for the third consecutive year. Artistic Director Robert Egizio runs one of the most professional and polished theatres in town, and this production lives up to their established reputation.

Chuck Welcome's set was exquisite (as always). When you've secured a corporate sponsor that takes care of all costs for building your set, you've got it made. Other companies should really take a lesson from SDP and see what it is they're doing that works.

The insanely talented Linda Uzelac and Robert Egizio are at the helm of this musical, and they know what works for the talent they have. Each performer was well suited for their different abilities.

The highlight of the show was Cathe Hall Payne in the role of "Mom." She really knows a thing or two about comedy and in a show that had a lot of it, she shined above the rest. Her rendition of "Grown Up Christmas List" was very touching. She and George Devours (as "Dad") had a wonderful chemistry together on stage. Their duet of "Timeless to Me" was one of those moments where the audience just wanted to say: "Awwwww!" Speaking of George Devours, his solo number "Here's to My Mary" was delivered perfectly. He is always exceptional when it comes to really capturing the emotion of a song.

As the married couple, "Mary" and "Joe," Liz Birmingham and Michael Austin were an energetic breath of youthful energy throughout the show. Birmingham's first act number "Merry Christmas Darling" almost brought a tear to my eye. She was very real and honest in the execution of this song. Austin, for being a mere 18 years old, has one of the most amazing voices I've heard around town. His version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" was gorgeous. His second act solo "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" was hilariously acted--who would've thought that number could've been done as an ode to needing therapy!

As the couple-you-wanna-see-get-together-in-the-end, "Chris" and "Ivy," Andy Meeks and Aimee Ariel were also a delight to watch. Meeks' "The Christmas Song" was one of my favorite songs of the show.

If you're looking for some great holiday fun, look no further than SDP's latest production. No heavy drama, nothing crazy, just good ole traditional holiday cheer. Kudos to SDP for another fine production!

Titanic: A New Musical, by Maury Yeston and Peter Stone
This production does NOT sink!!!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
STAGE II’s production of TITANIC has both high and low points to consider. Before I discuss my opinion of the show, let me say that TITANIC is a huge undertaking for any community theatre. The score is epic and hard to sing. It’s also a very hard show to stage. So taking all of these factors into consideration, I think STAGE II did a very admirable job with their production.

The entire opening sequence was staged well. As the passengers walked down the aisle towards the stage they would stop and look up over the house at the “ship.” I chuckled to myself as I recalled the FORBIDDEN BROADWAY of the show and how they sang “ship of air.” Really, how else could this be staged? Once everyone was on stage and began singing, the house was filled with a huge choral sound. Granted, there were nearly 60 people in this production, so if it hadn’t sounded so good, I would’ve been very surprised.

The set and costumes were very nice and worked well for all of the characters. It was very easy to tell the difference between the classes of passengers. The only technical element that I felt was VERY lacking was the lighting. It was pretty bad and there were MANY dark spots all over the stage. The cues were slow to be picked up and the follow spots could use some work. Now, I do realize that this company is just starting out and lighting is expensive, so for this, I was easily able to forgive them.

Now, how were the performances you may ask? There were several stand-outs in this show. Most notably, Nicholas Morett as “Barrett” really blew me away vocally. He had by far the best singing voice of any of the cast and knew how to deliver a song without being “too much.” Believe me, there was A LOT of “amateurish musical theatre mugging” by many in the cast throughout the show. It often, but not always, came from the younger cast members, so I was also able to look past this element and enjoy the show. It was really unfortunate that Morett had to sing his duet of “The Proposal/The Night was Alive” with such a terrible singer. Michael Cuellar as “Harold Bride” was wretched. He sang off pitch throughout the entire song. His acting was also below expectations for such a considerable part. He delivered his lines SO fast I couldn’t understand a word of what he said.

Other stand out performances go to Charlie Miller as “Etches,” William Mahlandt as “Andrews,” Rob Hardie as “Ismay,” Dennis Lewallen as “Captain Smith,” and Stephanie Harp as “Alice Beane.” I felt they all portrayed their characters exquisitely and were a joy to watch throughout the show.

Charlie Miller as “Etches” really shined during “Dressed in your Pyjamas in the Grand Salon.” He was totally on the verge of freaking out, and it was really almost quite humorous. Hardie, Mahlandt and Lewallen impressed me vocally during the song “The Blame.” It’s a hard song to sing and they pulled it off marvelously. The only complaint I had about this song was the staging. This should be one of the most tense moments in the show and it was SO boring to watch. They stood in a straight line and delivered the song straight out to the audience. This was definitely a wrong directing choice.

The other number in the show which is one of my favorites that disappointed me a little was “Lady’s Maid.” This number was FAR too overdone. There shouldn’t be a thousand people on stage for this number. I think it works better with just a few. The cast was also directed to move their arms unnecessarily on several words at the end of the number. It was too much and very distracting. I should also mention that the main soloist in this number, "Kate McGowan" played by Katie Ferrell, did a wonderful job with her acting and dialect. It was fabulous. Her singing voice left a little to be desired however.

The BEST staged number in the show was “We’ll Meet Tomorrow.” This is by far the most emotional song in the score and it nearly brought a tear to my eye. It was amazing. The moment I nearly lost it was when Ryan Flanders as “Charles Clarke” sang to his fiancée “Caroline Neville” played by Amanda Pickard from the deck while she was in the lifeboat. They emoted the shit out of this section, and really captured what the song was all about. It was VERY moving.

Overrall, Stage II’s production of TITANIC was a good show and was very entertaining. They only have one more weekend of performances, so be sure to check it out. Bravo on a job well done.

The Secret Garden, by Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon
Slow finish!
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
This was my first time attending an Atlanta Lyric production, and I must say that I was very impressed. It was also my first time seeing THE SECRET GARDEN. Most of the music in this show I would consider “fluff” although there were a few exceptions. I really enjoyed all of the different layers contained within the show, but to an inexperienced musical theatre audience, it could easily come across as confusing. The first act was extremely SLOW (too much exposition) but once the second act started, the show flew by.

There were several technical elements in the show which were quite nice. The costumes for the show were excellent. I really liked how all of the “Dreamers” were costumed differently, while still looking alike as an ensemble. The set design was also very nice, but left me feeling like it needed more. The way the staircases were used in the show was probably the coolest thing about the set. The ensemble moved the pieces about in a very choreographed fashion which was visually stunning. The stage at the Ferst is so huge, it seems like it would be easy to leave a lot of empty space. The backdrop used was just too bland. It needed more lighting, or something to make the stage feel more “full.”

Standout performances in this production go to Taylor Driskill as “Martha”, Matt Kacergis as “Dicken”, Daniel Britt as “Dr. Craven”, Misty Ann Sturm as “Lily” and Michael Austin as “Capt. Lennox.” Special recognition also goes to Sarah Gooding as “Mary Lennox.” I don’t usually like children in musicals unless they are REALLY good…I just can’t watch a bad performer and think to myself: “Awww, how cute! It’s a kid trying to sing and act!” Sarah Gooding was not one of those kids. Vocally, she was VERY good. She seemed a little “awkward” on stage with her movements and such, but after reading that this was her first professional show in her bio, I was very impressed. If she continues to grow as a performer, she will be absolutely wonderful in a few years.

Matt Kacergis as “Dicken” was incredible. He definitely had the best stage presence out of the entire cast. Every time he stepped onto stage, he just made everything seem so fresh and alive. Taylor Driskill as “Martha” was also vocally amazing. I must confess, I am a huge fan of her voice. I guarantee you she is one of only a handful of actresses in Atlanta who can just about sing anything and make it sound great. Her rendition of “Hold On” in the second act was breathtaking!

The highlight of the first act was definitely Danny Cook and Dan Britt’s duet “Lily’s Eyes.” It was outstanding in every way. The orchestra, vocals, and staging all combined to make a very powerful number. Overrall, this show was very good. I look forward to seeing what the Lyric will do with its future shows.

Songs for a New World, by Jason Robert Brown
Hear Their Song.... 4.5 stars
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Ask any fan of modern musical theatre, and they’ll tell you that SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD is probably one of the most incredible shows of the past 10 years. I got a copy of the cast recording about 6 years ago, and have been listening to it non-stop ever since. Jason Robert Brown has written, in my opinion, some of the BEST songs in history with this show (I know, a little dramatic right? No, I’m totally serious…these songs are amazing).

Barry West and Paul Tate have assembled 4 very talented singers/actors to put on one hell of a show. The music in the show is VERY difficult. I repeat, VERY difficult. The harmonies, melodies, rhythms, etc. are some of the hardest ever written. It’s almost as if Jason Robert Brown took everything he ever learned in a music theory class and crammed it all into one show. These singers/actors do quite an admirable job for only having a couple of weeks to put this show together.

Let me start by mentioning just TWO “negatives” about the show, which in my opinion aren’t even that big. The band (led by MD Paul Tate) does an AMAZING job playing the show. They sound and look incredible sitting right there on the stage with a baby grand. Of course, a drawback to this is that, in such a small space, at times they drown out the singers. This was really only noticeable during percussion-heavy numbers, but damn, Gerard Reid is AWESOME! He is one of the best percussionists in town…if only his sound could be pulled back a bit.

There were also SEVERAL lighting cues dropped throughout the show. Again, in such a small space, it’s not as if you couldn’t see the actors, but it does become a bit distracting when an actor is in the dark for a few seconds. Mike Magursky’s lighting and set design is exquisite for this production. If only the board operator could pick up his cues, Magursky’s vision could be fully realized by the audience without distraction.

OK, now for the singers/actors themselves. In case, you hadn’t noticed, I refer to the cast as singers/actors not only because they MUST be good singers, but because they must ALSO be able to act the shit out of these songs. They don’t disappoint.

As “Woman #1”, Amanda Leigh Pickard has several memorable moments. Most notably, on her songs “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” and “Christmas Lullaby.” Amanda has a wonderful light soprano voice when needed, and not a bad belt either when called for. My only complaint is that she left me feeling like I wasn’t getting everything she could’ve given. At times, it seemed like she didn’t really know what she was “thinking” during the ensemble numbers—which wasn’t the case at during her solo numbers. She also kept fidgeting with her dress throughout the course of the show as well, which was a bit distracting. Overrall, she gave a good performance.

As “Woman #2”, Caitlin Smith comes across easily as the audience’s “favorite.” The reason I say this is because Caitlin has nearly all of the humor within the show. Some of the songs in this show are SO deep, the audience needs a “breather” now and then and Caitlin delivers each of her songs with such incredible passion, she really does stand out from the rest. “Just One Step” and “Surabaya-Santa” are the funniest songs in the show, and she kept the audience laughing throughout both of them. They are also sung in a “dialect” and her diction was excellent. I never had trouble understanding what she sang. Although these were excellent, I must point out that her shining moment was during “The Flagmaker, 1775”. This is probably my favorite song in the show—in my opinion, the lyrics are amazingly beautiful. She had me in tears by the end of the song. Caitlin didn’t necessarily sing “pretty” on this song—and she shouldn’t. She fell to her knees with a flag clutched to her chest and wailed away with so much emotion pouring out of her from the depths of her soul, it really makes you think about how no matter what “battles or conflicts” we may be involved in as a nation, we have ALWAYS felt the same about them. It was a very poignant moment.

Clinton Dillard totally blew me away as “Man #1”. Let me tell you, this guy’s voice is incredible. He has one of the most beautiful tenor voices I have heard in my life (and being a tenor myself, I can totally give him props for the job he did). Clinton is able to float his upper notes so lightly in what sounds like a “full” voice it just takes your breath away. He really shines on every song he sings, but my favorite would have to be “King of the World.” What an amazing job he did throughout the show. I really look forward to hearing him sing again around Atlanta.

Brett Parker as “Man #2” is by far the best actor in the show. Just like Caitlin Smith, Brett sings each and every note with so much passion he is impossible not to watch. During every ensemble number, the audience’s eyes are drawn to him. He has SO much going on in his head that never once are we left thinking that he doesn’t know what he’s singing about. At times, he is VERY intense, especially on “She Cries.” Knowing how young Brett is, I thought he might not be able to pull of this song very well, but even if he doesn’t have “life experience” enough to emote properly, we’ll never know. He delivered it with an appropriate balance of humor and honesty. His most brilliant moment on stage, however, is during “I’d Give it All For You.” His performance in this song was so incredible it gave me chills and brought a tear to my eye. As a tenor singing the baritone role, he did an excellent job.

I must also mention how wonderful Barry West’s staging for the show is. Since I am SO familiar with the music, it was very interesting to see how these songs were staged. Some of my favorites included “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492”, “Flying Home” and “The River Won’t Flow”—which I heard Brett Parker came up with the concept for…it was very good.

Overrall, this is a strong, solid production that is well worth seeing. I’m pretty sure anyone who appreciates good music would fall in love with this show if they haven’t already. I just couldn't give the show a "5" since it wasn't absolutely perfect, but I think a "4.5" is a very good and reasonable rating for this show. When are we going to get 1/2 ratings on here?? Once again, great job Onstage Atlanta.

Urinetown, by
Sunday, February 19, 2006
With URINETOWN, Onstage Atlanta proves yet again that they can mount some of the most amazing shows around town. At this Saturday evening's performance, the amount of energy circulating between the cast and the audience was overwhelming!! It was one of those nights in theatre where everyone (actors and audiences alike) leave on such a "high" from a great performance.

From start to finish, the energy NEVER drops. And I can honestly say there isn't a 'wink link' in the entire company. I really can't express how overwhelming the talent was. The sound that just a few ensemble memebers could fill the house with was awesome...and individually, each singer was equally amazing. I normally metion a few stand out performances in my reviews, but I would have to list them all...every single actor on that stage delivered the goods consistently throughout the course of the show.

Mad props go out to Director Greg Poulos and Music Director Clay Causey for the job they did getting such a great group together like this one! The difference between a poished and professional looking show and an amatuerish show lies within the details, and with such a dynamic range of characters and such rich and colorful music (from the band and cast), detail was VERY important to each of them.

Not only does URINETOWN sound great, but they LOOK great. Ricardo Aponte's choreography and/or staging was absolutely PERFECT for each and every single number in this show. Having such an extremely diverse sounding score, Aponte managed to create a mathcing 'picture' for everything the audience heard. Of course, I have to mention that the second act show stopper "Snuff That Girl" was the most exciting production number in the show. The audience literally exploded in applause as the cast turned it out for that dance!!

As a final note on the show itself, if you haven't seen it and you like musicals, then you MUST go see it. I had no idea was URINETOWN really was like as a show until tonight, and it totally rocks! A cast recording can only expose you to a piece of the show, but seeing it all there living and breathing in front of you, you really get what a show is about.

Congrats to Onstage for a SOLD OUT house and hopefully many more to come if you all GO SEE THIS SHOW!!!

The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown
What musical theatre is all about!
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
THE LAST 5 YEARS is a show that deserves way more props than it gets. Anyone familiar with Jason Robert Brown or even contemporary musical theatre would probably agree. This is what musical theatre is all about--ACTING through SINGING. You should FEEL something as the characters sing. If you can sit and watch this show and not laugh or cry, you betta check yourself!

THE LAST 5 YEARS is not an easy show to watch. Your emotions are constantly flip-flopping for the entire 80 minutes. Jerrica and Eric Catania are absolutely incredible in this show--they definitely know how to give you an emotional workout.

Now, I must say up front that I have worked with both of these extremely talented individuals, but I am in no way connected with the show. I must also admit that I did have my reservations about how much I would enjoy it. As two of the most beautifully trained voices I've heard around town, I don't feel that this is a show where the actors should sound "perfect." I'm one of those firm believers that REAL singing--singing from down in the depths of your soul--shouldn't always be technically perfect. I am glad to say that my reservations were completely unfounded. Jerrica and Eric both were able to maintain impeccable pitch (as always) and let the emotion come straight through their singing, their notes painting a detailed picture of exactly what was going through the character's mind.

Without getting too much into the plot, which I think should totally be a surprise for those who aren't familiar with it, I will say that each had their stand-out moments. Jerrica Knight-Catania has the hardest job by having to start of the show with such a "downer" of a number! She hits the hardest during "See I'm Smiling"--she lets us know how upset she is without any reservations...excellent delivery of every phrase. She also stands out on "Climbing Uphill" during her audition. Anyone who's ever been involved with the audition process will be in stitches. She glides from sorrowful to humorous with ease. Jerrica proves without a doubt she can act this role even if there was no singing at all.

Eric Catania is amazing as always. I could watch this guy perform for days. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear his impeccably clear voice, you are missing out. Eric totally was ripping my heart out during "If I Didn't Believe in You"...I was really trying to keep from crying. There aren't enough words to describe how great his performance was--incredible. Both of them.

Lastly, major props to everyone involved with this production--Scott R., Linda U., the band, the crew, etc. You should all know that you've put up a helluva show.

Hair, by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot
Join the Groovy Revolution
Monday, February 14, 2005
Anyone who says they don't have anything to do this weekend needs to get off their ass and see this show! GPC's production of HAIR will take you on a "trip" you won't soon forget. While this production isn't perfect, it certainly doesn't disappoint. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. Let's just go ahead and get the negatives out of the way so that the remainder of the review will be all about peace and love, man.

As others have mentioned, the sound was a problem. There was a lot of crackling and static coming through for some actors while others were so perfectly tuned that they sounded way too "canned." Others voices just simply disappeared into thin air. Despite all of the problems for the soloists, when the entire Tribe would sing the big choruses they would simply blow you away. The sound was incredible. Back to the soloists--some were simply not as strong as others. The only unbearable moment in the show comes during the number "Don't Put it Down." The 4-part harmony was terribly off key, causing me to cringe at times. Other than that, the pacing was a little slow, but it wasn't anything that really distracted me...just made the first act a little longer than anticipated!

OK--on to the good stuff! There were several stand-out performances in this show that must be recognized. The very first one that grabs you from the get-go is Alli Simpson singing "Aquarius." This girl can sing just about anything she's given flawlessly. Simpson also doesn't disappoint on the final number "Let the Sunshine In" where she wails somewhere above the stratosphere while the Tribe continues to sing around her. Her "Aretha Franklin" is a nice bit of hilarity thrown in amongst the serious moments.

Kristie Krabe as "Sheila" was awesome. Krabe really captured all of the emotions this character should experience throughout the show. Her rendition of "Easy to Be Hard" was so gut-wrenching and gorgeous at the same time. Not easy to do. Krabe also stands out during "3-5-0-0" while she stands about as far downstage as she can be singing the sh*t out of the song...her facical expressions were incredible.

Leslie Ridgeway as "Jeanie" was brilliant. This girl was perfect--her monologue near the beginning of the show is genius! The way she describes her love for Claude gave me chills. Her performance of "Air" is also amazing--hilarious.

I also have to mention Mark Schroder as "Woof." All I can say is "WOW" after his scene with the Mick Jagger poster. He had me in the aisle screaming uncontrollably--you just have to see it to believe it! He also really shines on "What a Piece of Work is Man." He glides through those upper notes with such ease he makes it seem effortless.

Alex Picca is "Claude." I never doubted for a second that he was anybody else. For his DEBUT performance, I was impressed. If his performance is any indication of things to come, look out kids! Rita Thomas totally rocked out on "White Boys." Awesome voice. Gabrielle Hedugson's "Frank Mills" is another moment that seems so far removed from the pace of the show that it stands out as one of the more poignantly "cute" moments--which are few and far between.

Well I feel like I have rambled long enough, so I'm just gonna have to wrap it up and say that overrall I would've rated this show a 3.75 based on EVERYTHING, but since we don't have the luxury of fractional ratings, I've given this show a 4. A totally groovy experience!!

Sweeney Todd: In Concert, by Stephen Sondheim
Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd!
Sunday, November 7, 2004
Onstage Atlanta once again hits it big with their Concert series. This time, with the musical thriller SWEENEY TODD, one of Sondheim's most challenging scores. SWEENEY TODD takes the audience on a whirlwind journey of emotions through the music: beautiful to barbaric, creepy to caring. How refreshing it was to see so many new faces in this production. They did not disappoint.

Let's start by mentioning a few stand-outs in this production. Ethan Foster as ANTHONY was quite pleasing. Foster's voice is undeniably one of the best to be heard at Onstage. It is so soothing and gorgeous--usually what I would refer to as a "lullaby" voice: so melodic and beautiful you could just curl up and let it lull you to sleep.

Benjamin Hammer in the role of SWEENEY TODD was excellent. His voice is suited perfectly for this part--hitting those occasional notes that seem to just drop into the basment from nowhere with precision and clarity. Hammer's portrayal of TODD was definitely creepy! This is by far a very difficult role to play, but Hammer gets into every nook and cranny with ease. From the gentleness he shows when dealing with his razors, to the annoyance in the second act with Mrs. Lovett, to the murderous rage he exudes towards TURPIN and BEADLE, Hammer leaves no stone unturned.

I must admit, though these peformances were undoubtedly great, there were two others which stole the show. OSA newcomer Brett Parker as TOBIAS was incredible. This role could easily come off as being to cartoony, however, Parker embodies the role with so much realism, the audience actually wonders if he might be a troubled young boy they plucked off the streets of London. His acting is superb and where is really shines is during the second act. Probably the most secularly well known song from the score "Not While I'm Around" is breath-taking. Parker's voice and delivery are outstanding. It nearly brought a tear to my eye!

And finally, Alli Simpson, in one of the most amazing roles ever written for a female on the musical stage as MRS LOVETT is incredible. After seeing Simpson in several roles around Atlanta, this is the one that proves she is a force to be reckoned with. Simpson makes it seem so easy--she effortlessly delivers each and every note impeccably. There are just too many good things to say about this performance, so I'll just leave it at a simple "Wow."

Knowing that the cast only had about a 3 to 4 weeks to learn all of this music is incredible in itself, but the staging of Barry West and musical direction of Paul Tate undoubtedly played a large part in the success of this show. The ensemble nearly blew me out of my seat during the "Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney" chants that go through the stratosphere. Whoever was hitting those high notes should be very proud!! Harley Gould's lighting design was also very effective in giving me the willies during the scary parts!

The only part of this production which I feel was a teensey bit distracting was the fact that only occasional props were used: the razor, rolling pin, dough, cups, towels and even an inkwell and quill pen. However, everytime SWEENEY went to shave someone, the applicator brush was always mimed! It was like: why couldn't they just get one more prop??!! But, this is merely an observation and didn't take away from the production as a whole. Good job OSA--this will by far be the stand-out of this season's concert series.

Debbie Does Dallas, The Musical, by Adapted by Erica Scmidt
4 out of 5 Southern Baptist preachers agree...
Sunday, October 3, 2004
...that DEBBIE DOES DALLAS is fun for the entire family!

This was my first time seeing a show at Dad's Garage, so I wasn't really sure what it would be like. But just like McDonald's, "I'm lovin it!" This show was hands down one of the best I have seen this past year. The audience is kept laughing constantly for about 90 minutes. Along with laughing, reactions which may also occur during the course of the run include, but are not limited to: gasping, screaming, clapping, knocking over your beer and having to cover your mouth while your jaw remains completely dropped. It's filled with sick and shocking humor which is why I absolutely loved it!

The place was packed out and the show was obviously delayed a few due to the crowd. The curtain speech was brilliant. From the moment the cheerleaders step on stage they absolutely demand your full attention. The dances and choreography/routines were amazing...absolutely fantastic.

Kristie Krabe as DEBBIE tears it up on her first solo in the show. She sounded great...on her later songs she wasn't quite as strong vocally (but the canned music was extremely loud at times--yuck!) and was slightly pitchy on some tricky sounding notes. But those are just the smallest complaints compared to her entire performance. She definitely made me want to go to Dallas with her.

Katy Carkuff as the slutty LISA was incredible. I could not take my eyes off her for more than a few seconds. She looked so hot wrapped in only that towel! Carkuff's solo number was very impressive. At times, it seemed a little out of her range (the notes were pretty low though) but when she got to the good stuff, she belted it out and let us have it!

This entire cast is excellent...not a bad apple in the bunch. Every actor on the stage had a different character for every role they did (and believe me, they were funny). The guys were especially impressive. The set changes seemed to lag a little and leave everyone in black for too long, but again, just a small detail in comparison.

The reason I gave it a 4 is because of the track that was used, and the somewhat slow set changes. So if it were an option, I would really rate this show a 4.75 but I just can't give it a 5 because it wasn't absolutely perfect. Go see this show people!! You have to see it and hear it to believe it. This show is a must see for anyone age 6 and up according to the Southern Baptist Convention. OK bye!

Ragtime the Musical in Concert (2004), by McNally/Ahrens/Flaherty
Be sure to bring an extra pair with you, because this show will blow your s
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Once again, Onstage Atlanta has proved that they are capable of putting up one hell of a show when they have all the right people involved. Their latest effort, the final installment in the musicals in concert series this season, is sure to amaze you. Onstage has decided to bring back the hugely popular RAGTIME: IN CONCERT. This was one of the first shows I saw after moving to Atlanta a little over a year ago, and it blew me away. This time around, it does not disappoint.

Jeffery Brown and Linda Uzelac have managed to assemble twenty-three of the most talented singers in Atlanta. This, however, is no surprise considering the level of expertise and experience both have in gleaning only the absolute best from scores of auditioners. Linda Uzelac seems to effortlessly create and direct an ensemble that sounds infinitely better than any cast recording available today. RAGTIME is a perfect example of this.

From the very start of the show, the sound that resonates throughout the house completely engulfs the audience, even at it's softest. The vocal quality is so rich and pure that at times you find it hard to believe that a group of such size is able to be so perfectly together. The opening sequence introduces almost every character involved in a sweeping blend of vocal dynamics rarely heard by audiences in Atlanta. This is the one thing that so many companies fail to accomplish. Dynamics will transform an already great sound into something incredible. With such an immensely talented cast, you would think it hard to "pick a favorite." But there are actually a few singers worth mentioning that seemed to jump right out at you and coax you into enjoying their performances that much more.

Recent GIMME THE MIKE Top Three finalist Kristie Krabe, who portrays Evelyn Nesbit, was not a member of the first cast of this show. This is something that is impossible to notice, even to someone who already knows that she is a new cast member. Kristie brings so much radiance and humor to her "Crime of the Century" number that she can not be ignored. Throughout the show she is someone you can't help but watch without ever stealing focus--a feat few can accomplish. Charlie Bradshaw as Younger Brother is also worthy of special recognition. Bradshaw navigates the stage with purpose and delivers every note with clarity and appropriateness. His face is a constant display of emotion, especially at the conclusion of Act One during "Til We Reach That Day." Easily the most emotional song of the score, "Til We Reach That Day" would not be complete without the one soloist who takes this song and blows it through the roof. Summer Bergeron, as Sarah's friend, begins by mournfully creating an intensely deep, husky sound that soon escalates into a climactic, emotionally super-charged solo that will absolutely give you chills from head to toe. Summer's voice is very reminiscent of power-house divas Jennifer Holliday and Deborah Cox. She was absolutely incredible.

There are two actors though who must be mentioned for the outstanding performances they gave above all others in this terrific show. Eric Catania in the role of the immigrant Tateh is an absolute delight throughout. Catania's use of dialect is just enough to get the point across without being difficult to comprehend. Every involvement and interaction with his daughter, Kelly Rooney as Little Girl, conveys a deep emotional bond between father and child perfectly--the audience really wants Tateh and his daughter to find the new life in America that they came in search of. Catania's voice is one of the most beautiful to grace the Atlanta stage. His delivery, tone, emotion and clarity are impeccable. Eric seems to be able to adapt to anything he sings and makes the audience believe him one-hundred percent. He showcases those abilities amazingly in "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay Inc."

The audience decidedly finds itself noticing a shining star in this production, which belongs to Nat Martin as Coalhouse by a landslide. There really aren't enough wonderful things to say about Nat's performance. Basically, this part is made for him. He embodies every aspect of the character from beginning to end. Nat's voice is perfectly suited to sing Coalhouse as well. This show gives Martin his time to shine, proving that he is capable of being the driving force that keeps all of the emotion in the show moving perfectly in sync with what the audience should be experiencing. He stands out on every number he is involved with and his duets with Lynne Evans as Sarah contain some of the most beautiful melodies and harmonies within the score. He definitely becomes the anchor for the show before the first act has even finished.

If anyone is considering going to see this show, it is a must. The ensemble, orchestra, and lighting design all weave together flawlessly to create one of the most memorable theatrical events an audience will experience this season. Hopefully, Onstage Atlanta will continue to produce it's musicals in concert with the same high standard they have achieved with THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, TITANIC and now RAGTIME.

Eula Mae's Beauty, Bait and Tackle, by Frank Blocker and Chuck Richards
A good ole Southern comedy!
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Onstage Atlanta's production of "Eula Mae's Beauty, Bait and Tackle" is a definite crowd pleaser. The show keeps you laughing from start to finish, and if you've lived in the South for any significant amount of time, you'll definitely be able to relate to the story. Most of the problems I had with this show stem mostly from the way the play is written. Since most of the show is "monologue", the "dialogue" scenes seem very chaotic and improvised, this is probably due to the fact that the actors have perfected each monologue, making you laugh and suddenly at the right time, becoming very poignant (Topher Payne's Tammy Wynett monologue is amazing). The show also comes to a screeching halt after the pageant scene, making you wish the show would "hurry up and end." This is however, no fault of the actors. I was very impressed with the actors, considering most of the show is delivered through long character monologues--which to me are always harder than dialogue. The set was also very nice, an area Onstage usually skimps on, looks like a genuine Beauty Bait and Tackle shop! The stand-out in this production by far is Topher Payne who plays the roles of Eva Mae and Rita Mae, a mother/daughter combo. You must see this production, if for no other reason to see Rita Mae's tap/baton twirling/latina music talent piece at the end of the show...Topher's comedy is definitely on par with some of the best SNL talent in recent history. Don't miss this one will definitely keep you smiling.

Love! Valour! Compassion!, by Terrance McNally
The material isn't offensive--in this case, it's the acting!
Sunday, May 9, 2004
Onstage Atlanta's current production of Love! Valour! Compassion! falls far short of the audience's expectations for this amazing show. As you enter the theatre, there is a disclaimer on the door warning unwary theatre-goers of the situations and subject matter presented throughout the show. It states that if any of the afore mentioned offends you, to go ahead and leave. The nudity or language doesn't offend, but the acting sure did.

The performance was shaky from the very start. The exposition was extremely slow and lacked the energy it needed to pull the audience into these character's lives. Once it had finished, the show did pick up a bit, however small it was. Consistently throughout this play, actors flubbed lines (even character's names!) and crawled to the finish line so sluggishly, the audience seemed to be watching a run-through of the show a week ago during rehearsals. The cast just didn't seem to have any sort of path to take in order to perform the play. This could very well be blamed on the direction as well, since the actors didn't seem to have a grasp on what was being presented. Who's not to say that by the time the show closes, the cast will have found their "groove" and glide effortlessly towards the end?

There were however, in this lack-luster performance, two stand-outs: Charles Green as "John/James Jeckyll" and Ken Hornbeck as "Buzz." These actors consistently delivered lines as if they understood what they were saying (which most did not) and had such enormous energy that they seemed to carry the entire cast through this show. Green's character of "John" was played with the absolute perfect amount of bitterness. In contrast, his "James" character was brilliantly played with the heart and soul that this show was lacking. Green's dialogue between the two characters near the end of the show was outstanding.

Hornbeck's "Buzz" was an absolute delight everytime he was on stage. There are several comedic moments throughout the show, however, Hornbeck's were the only ones which caused the audience to laugh out loud. His interaction with Green as "James" was superb. During their dialouge about "James" lesions, the audience was literally sucked into that single moment and caused to feel many emotions which were absent from other actors.

An honorable mention is also deserved for Jai Husband's character of "Ramone." I believed him, I just felt his character needed a little more development. In contrast to other actor's deliveries (who instead of taking a dramatic pause took dramatic clauses) Husband's timing and reactions seemed a little rushed.

Overall, this production of Love! Valour! Compassion! was under-performed, under-directed and under-rehearsed. If you plan on seeing this show, don't allow your expectations to exceed what you would allow of any ordinary community theatre. Onstage usually scores high with each production they mount. In this case, however, they fall far short of reaching their goal.

Dreaming Emmett
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by John Cariani
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by John Ammerman
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by John Caird (book) and Paul Gordon (songs)
The Legacy Theatre
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by Leslie Kimbell
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by The Murder Mystery Company
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