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REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
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Companies Reviewed#
Horizon Theatre Company2
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.1
Stage Door Players1
Georgia Shakespeare1
Alliance Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 0.00000
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REVIEWS

Urinetown: The Musical, by music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann and book and lyrics by Greg Kotis
Forget the Former, I prefer the bladder!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
-1.0
It's sometimes hard to con the friends into going to see a show with me - the two easiest ways to convince them are either by scoring a decent price discount (we love bargains, my friends and I) or by picking a local venue. Since OSA is very conveniently located to all of us - rustling up a crew to see Urinetown was pretty darn easy. Toss in a proposal to check out the Chocolate Bar in Decatur and you've got a night out on the town that would rival any seen by Carrie Bradshaw and co.

Because of its proximity and proclivity for choosing challenging material, I've actually seen quite a number of shows at Onstage. For all of those shows, I have always been struck by the caliber of acting on stage. But to my mind Onstage had always seemed a bit too ambitious for its means. For example: "Angels In America" suffered from what appeared to be budgetary and logisitic limitations and "M. Butterfly" was nicely done, but could've been better with actual Asian actors.

So I was excited about Urinetown but also a little nervous - since I had never seen any iteration of this musical before - I worried that my first experience with it might be crippled by similar limitations. I had seen "Cabarat" for the first time locally, and while I enjoyed it - I did leave wishing I had seen another version first.

I'd love to be the unique voice among all the reviewers, but I must say that Onstage truly hit the nail on the head with this one. For the first time that I've seen, they were able to combine the acting chops with the necessary production values to put together a show that has rivaled any that I have seen. Very nice costuming - very energetic cast - excellent set design. Really well done.

I had a few criticisms, but honestly they were minor. I sat in the front row and at first was a bit off-put but the extravagant facial and body expressions - which to me seemed too big for such a small venue. But then I lightened up - honestly it's been a while since I've been to a musical of such energy and when I relaxed about it all - I realized that all of the physicality was entirely appropriate for musical theater.

There was some emotional intensity lacking in the second act especially after a pivotal plot turn (I don't want to give away any secrets) - the characters' reactions felt very 'surface level' to me. I am a softie - I cry easily but I had dry eyes here, which was a tiny bit disappointing - coz I do love a good cry.

But honestly - this is one of the best shows that I've seen in Atlanta in a while. I have always been a big Actor's Express fan, but now I think I might have to re-consider Onstage. If the rest of their season can sustain the same level of quality then they have, in my humble opinion, brought the place up by its bootstraps. It was good before, no doubt - but with this production I see true potential for becoming of of the greatest theaters in town.

Well done to all involved.

Liz

Charm School, by Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee
Quite Charming, Actually
Thursday, June 14, 2007
-1.0
On the strength of "9 Parts of Desire", my friends Barbara & Amanda bought season tickets to Horizon and they invited me along for the newest offering, Charm School. I'm always glad to get dragged to the theater - especially theater in my neighborhood (ah the joys of NOT being on GA-400).

I'll not be as effusive in my praise of this one as I was for 9 Parts. It was quite charming and funny and I even sniffed a few times near the end. But it was a much lighter performance and my friend Barbara turned to me and said "Liz, are you CRYING? Ugh - you are such a softie!" So - perhaps not as much resonance (at least with us) as other plays we've seen.

As Brad pointed out - the acting is SUPERB with the weakest link *maybe* being the young "diversity training actress" (can't remember her name). The choice to "telegraph" her performance while "performing" worked very well and to great comic effect, but sometimes that cheesiness came through in her straight scenes too - and lessened the impact a bit. But that's nitpicking really because everyone did a pretty darn good job onstage.

I did enjoy myself and I would recommend the play to others - but it really wasn't one that got the old noodle going and those are the plays I like the most. But for a good old-fashioned let's-not-get-too-deep night at the theater show, I'd say Charm School is just the ticket.

Liz

9 Parts of Desire, by Heather Raffo
Desire & Devastation
Thursday, May 10, 2007
0.0
“9 Parts of Desire” at the Horizon Theater has almost finished its run and what a wild ride it was. When my friend, Barbara, invited the girls out to see it she didn’t have to ask me twice, theater-junky that I am. I hadn’t heard much about this show – but I had passed some perfectly pleasant evenings at Horizon and I’m always game for theater so I eschewed “America’s Next Top Model” and made my way to L5P.

Would it be horribly wrong of me to compare “9 Parts of Desire” to “America’s Next Top Model (ANTM)”? To me, it’s actually an interesting – almost thesis-worthy comparison of cultural values and dichotomies. There is no doubt that “Desire” is a political play and with a definite agenda. There is likewise no doubt that a night in the theater seeing this show is a night better spent than one with Tyra & co. But, as embarrassing as it is – I do have to admit that I enjoy ANTM very much. I love all the make-overs, cat-fights, and the constant reinforcement that for these women pretty is more valued than integrity. It makes my little non-model heart warm with feelings of moral superiority.

In contrast ‘pretty’ is a liability for many of the women in “Desire.” The more valued attribute is the capacity for love. They approach life with a passion that fuels them and consumes them. We, as an American audience, are confronted (literally) with their raw emotions and with our own country’s (and subsequently our) roles in their lives. It’s a difficult thing to have your comfortable veil of pop-culture smugness stripped from you.

The performances were spot-on gorgeous. I especially liked Suehyla El-Attar’s approach to her characters, and when, in the final moments of the play, one of her characters broke down chanting her relative’s names and repeating “I love you” with the fierce desperation of helplessness, I was transported. (And wishing I had a box of tissues). When curtain call came, and I stood in ovation I actually found that my legs were a bit weak. It is a rare piece that so moves me.

I wish I had seen this earlier in its run so that I might encourage people to go. I think especially, it is a show for mothers, for sisters, for friends. It closes in a few days, so it’s not too late. But bring a box of tissues.

Bus Stop, by William Inge
Get on the Bus
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
-1.0
Ah love! It’s like being in a cozy diner when there’s a storm a-brewin’ outside, or is it more like being caught in the cold? William Inge’s “Bus Stop” at Stage Door Players centers on love in all its messy forms: unrequited, selfless, immature, predatory, naïve. “Bus Stop” asks the question “Can love triumph?” And, as with all my favorite plays, it provides no easy answers.

When I first found that I had two friends in this show (Rial & Doug, holla!) I convinced the guy I’m seeing that he should take me up to Dunwoody for dinner & the theater. Despite the fact that dinner ended up being at Moe’s (in Dunwoody you need reservations, even at 6:30pm, who knew?) we ended up having a romantic time because of the play.

Barbara Cole’s direction of this show was very nicely done. I especially liked how she handled the overlapping dialog. When the actors were on point with it, it was like listening to a well-rehearsed orchestra – and each “section” of dialog flowed into the other without stealing focus. Another small touch that I liked (I’m big on the little things), is that whenever the front door of the diner opened the characters nearby would give a little shiver. It really helped bring the “cold” air into the story.

There were a few small things that I would have tweaked, however. For example, more than one time, when Cherie was “molested” by the cowboy she goes and sits calmly back down on her barstool. This didn’t seem to be the strongest choice to me – it seemed to really make Bo less menacing. Perhaps we’re never really *meant* to believe that he is an actual threat? Also, at some points the pacing was a bit slow – like when Will first makes his entrance. It almost seemed as if he wasn’t steady on his lines (however, to his credit, he picked up the pace for the rest of the show, so perhaps it was just nerves).

The acting was solid all around, but my especial favorites were all the women (tried to pick a favorite, but they were all so talented) and DeWayne Morgan as Virgil. To my mind, the plot of the play revolved around the women and Ms. Cole cast some exceptional ladies. DeWayne’s Virgil was eloquence in understatement. His quietly un-showy performance lent the play its emotional resonance in the final scene. Virgil huddled against the cold waiting for the next bus…it’s a haunting last image: one not soon forgotten.

William Inge’s “Bus Stop” shows that people can learn; they can evolve; they make mistakes and they are fallible. There’s a sadness to love but there is also hope. There’s a joy but there is also a profound loneliness. That’s the paradox of the paradigm of love. That’s truth - in its most unadorned packaging. That's "Bus Stop" at Stage Door.

Disney's ALADDIN, by Jim Luigs, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Alan Menken
Frolicking at the Alliance
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
-1.0
I was lucky enough to score some free tickets to Disney's Aladdin at the Alliance Theater. I had really no expectations going in, since it had been years since I last saw the movie (I'm more of a "Beauty & the Beast" girl, myself) - but hey - free theater is free theater, know what I am saying?

Truly - it was a very nicely done production. I was tickled to see Jeff McKerley as the genie (I volunteer at the Tavern). He had some big shoes to fill covering a role made so memorable by Robin Williams. I recognized many of the antics he employs on the Tavern stage here, but they worked well with creating his own flamboyant (slightly fey) character. Indeed, he stole every scene that he was in and had the audience rolling in the aisles.

My personal favorite was Jafar. It was a pleasure to watch him strut on and off stage and never drop character. His cloak flourishes were priceless. He also had the unenviable task of operating and interacting with a parrot puppet (Iago). This, by a lesser actor, could have gone so very very wrong - but he (and forgive me for not keeping the program so I don't have the actor's name) danced along the line of kitsch and humor and never crossed it.

I wasn't overwhelmed w/ Jasmine & Aladdin. Pleasant, bland leads - but not very much chemistry or palpable charisma. (oo, I feel so mean saying that) And my seat in second row, stage left diminished some of the magic for being able to clearly see behind the scenes. Luckily, I am no longer 5 years old and am quite as charmed by the mechanisms of theater as I am by the magic. So it was interesting to me to see the false bottoms, techies, strings & wires, etc.

All in all - the production, I think, would be slightly twee for an average adult outing - but for children and families - I would highly recommend it. The songs are classics - and once my memory was jogged about them - I was humming them all the way home. If you book your ticket and are up close to the stage - try to stay center. If you get seats in the wings, stay further back.

Your kids will LOVE LOVE LOVE IT, that much I can say for sure.

Liz

PS - "No rating" for me just means I don't like to use numbers to rate a show. I'm weird like that.





Metamorphoses, by Mary Zimmerman
Tranformation and Redemption
Thursday, August 10, 2006
-1.0
If brevity is the soul of wit then let me be brief.

Others have already expounded on the virtues of GSF's "Metamorphoses". It has garnered nothing but the highest reviews around town. So naturally, I was eager to see it and engage in a lively debate about what could have been improved. I was stumped! I had to agree with everything I've read. This is a wonderful, masterful rendition of classic stories.

The acting was suberb (indeed, humbling - I think I need to sign up for more classes somewhere if I ever want to be as good as these folks were) - the action compelling, the set design breathtaking - but let me be brief.

I worried that it had been too long since I've read the source material and that the subject matter might be over my head. I worried needlessly. These are your classic tales of love and loss - some familiar (Midas, Narcissus) some not - but all were very accessible and relatable. Still, I will be brief.

If you have not bought your ticket, you really ought to do so today. This is the kind of show that sends shivers down your spine. Gut wrenchingly, achingly beautiful. I took along five friends (some actors, some not) and we all of us were blown away.

In brief: props, kudos, bravo GSF!

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