A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
theaterislife [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
Blackwell Playhouse8
Rosewater Theatre Company2
Lionheart Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 3.59091
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Parade, by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry
Delightful and thought provoking
Monday, January 18, 2010
My husband and I took in the Saturday performance of Parade at Blackwell Playhouse. I've been to many shows at this venue and the only time I recall a nearly sold out performance was when we saw Music Man. I was familiar with the story of Leo Frank and Little Mary Phagan but not well acquainted with the actual show. This story is an intriguing look into what happened surrounding the trial as well as a glimpse of what may have happened.

Let me start out by saying, of all the performances I have seen at this theatre, I was simply blown away by the caliber of talent in this cast. Rob Hardie and his production team did an excellent job at casting Parade. The set was designed with a factory feel and was simplistic and functional. The lighting was good but could have stood more focus in certain areas but that is most likely an issue with venue. I appreciated the photos in the background during different points of the show (I don't want to ruin it so go see for yourself). The costuming was done correctly and thank goodness for that because I have a pet peeve with theatre's doing a show set in 1900 and the costumes look like they are from 1940. The band was excellent however the bass was too loud a majority of the time.

Michelle Peck as Lucille Frank and Jason Meinhardt as Leo Frank had amazing chemistry and their vocals were near perfection. Jason's portrayal of Leo was so heartbreaking at times I was captivated by him. Michelle's Lucille was strong yet vulnerable and she mezmorized me. Another performance I enjoyed was that of Leslie Bellaire as Iola Stover. Leslie's voice and tone quality was so pure during her song in the trial. Her vocal inflections mixed with her facial expressions brought life into her character for me.

Other stand outs in the cast were Lisa Hatt as Mrs. Phagan, her solo during the trial brought me to tears, Brandon Sartain as Luther Rosser and Edwin Watson as Jim Conley. To be honest I don't think there was a weak performer among the ensemble.

This performance left me spellbound and reignited my interest in this home town story. It saddens me that the run is so short and they are not performing on Fridays. Actually this Saturday and Sunday will be the last chance to see this amazing production. I don't think I have ever given a 5.0 but this is one production that deserves it hands down. Please take the time to go see this show. Blackwell has truly outdone themselves this time. BRAVO!

The Producers, by Mel Brooks
Lukewarm feelings.....
Monday, June 1, 2009
My husband and I attended Saturday night’s performance of The Producers at Rosewater Theatre. This was our first time visiting this group since they moved from the Cumming Playhouse. There were highs and sadly many lows for this production.

The theater itself is pleasant. There is a black box theater on one side and a main stage on the other. The issue with having a black box theater like this one is for the late comers it was hard to sneak in without being distractive. There were a few folks that had to do death defying stunts to avoid getting on the stage but I’ll quit ranting about that and move on to my critique.

The band was great. I didn’t learn until the second act that there was one man playing the clarinet, saxophone and flute. Now that’s talent…having switched from the clarinet to the sax and back to the clarinet myself…moving on

The set worked on the blackbox side though not lightening fast scene changes at least the actors stayed in character as they moved the various pieces around. The set on the mainstage was disappointing and technically it looked as if there were issues with set changes. Sometimes simple can be better in a limited space. There were Christmas lights but only half of them worked….. The costuming was decent for Max, Leo and Ulla but left much to be desired in “Springtime for Hitler”.

The lighting was adequate but the sound was horrible. The microphones were humming and cutting in and out. I recall a similar problem when I saw Chicago. As nice as it is to have mics they should be working properly or not used at all. I’ll try to cut them a little slack it being the first weekend but it was definitely a constant distraction. The choreography was impressive and I imagine quite a feat for the ensemble and the choreographer. I would love to know who the choreographer was but it was hard to tell in the program.

Allen Cox as Leo Bloom was a great actor and by far one of the strongest performers in this show. He captured the character effectively and was convincing. His dancing was impressive as well. He is a true showman. In contrast Brandon Wilkinson as Max Bialystock does not have the musicality and vocal ability to carry this role. He was consistently flat and winded throughout the performance. I found “Betrayed” to be the worst. He was a decent actor however had a lack of facial expressions which is vital to any musical theater performance.

Gretchen Gordon was passable as Ulla but I was disappointed in her lack of vocal direction in “When you got it flaunt it”. After reading her credits you would think she would be more of a polished singer however her high notes were sharp and her belting was flat. She was spot on with her acting and accent however once or twice she sounded more Southern than Swedish. As stated by a previous post, her height threw me off as well.

Peter Perozzi was pretty well cast as Franz Liebkind however his diction was lacking at times and I had trouble understanding him. In my opinion Ryan Young as Carmen Ghia stole the scenes and show. He was phenomenal and absolutely hilarious. I enjoyed Allan Dodson as Roger Debris though he seemed to lose some steam in the latter part of the second Act. That is easy to understand though….it’s a long show. The ensemble was strong for the most part. I could have done without the shrill soprano notes at the end of some songs.

Overall it was a valiant effort however, I was disappointed in the quality as a whole which is why I give this a 2.0. That being said I say go and support the theater. Maybe some things will improve in the next few weeks.

Seussical the Musical, by Steven Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens
Oh the thinks you can think!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I ventured out to the Blackwell Playhouse, daughter in tow, to see Seussical The Musical. I have never seen this show before but was familiar with several aspects of it. Overall I thought it was a good effort on a cutsie Christmas-esque show. Please keep in mind that I have a more critical eye than the targeted audience for this show. If you have read my prior reviews I always try to be fair and with that in mind here goes.

The lighting was adequate for the staging though at times there were actors that clearly didn't know where the light was and how to find it. Too much noise backstage was a distraction. I can't recall how many times I heard people talking just as they were exiting the stage. Also I kept hearing a door slam and that took me out of the show completely at times.

The music was canned but I think in a show such as Seussical you really need more than what a keyboard and drums can provide so that was most likely a smart decision. I thought the set was quite charming and loved the ideas of the "books" with the Cat turning the pages throughout the story.

Now as for the talent.....while I think they did well for the most part I too found Horton to be flat quite a bit. I felt at times he just tried too hard.
Mayzie was flat a lot as well but she did have a great tone and quality to her voice. The Bird Girls were rather adorable and costuming definitely spent some time on them. They were not too bad vocally, some missed notes here and there and flat facial expressions but overall not bad.

The Wickersham brothers seemed to have issues with notes but for the most part they carried it off with their acting. The Sour Kangaroo was wonderful, there were times I couldn't hear her but I thought her voice and attitude were on point.

I thought Gertrude was miscast simply because of vocal ability. I think the actress may have the chops to act but she needs a lot of help vocally. The role of Gertrude is not that difficult to sing so I will chalk that up to a poor casting decision.

Mr. Mayor was ok but there was nothing that really stood out about him, his delivery was flat. Jojo was ok but he was also flat in his facial expressions a little training and that kid will go places. Mrs. Mayor was certainly entertaining in a good way and the General was quite hilarious in his delivery. On a side note I especially like his introduction before the show started.

Hands down the Cat in the Hat was my favorite. Though he doesn't have the vocal power of some in the show, he was confident in his delivery. He was absolutely adorable and the one that drew me into this story.

Vocally as a whole, having such a young cast, I thought the choral numbers were done well. The costuming was appropriate and at least I could distinguish between the Who's and jungle animals.

Now though I have critiqued this show as any other show, I thought it was throughly entertaining. I am grading it a 3.0 because of this entertainment value. Seussical is definitely not meant to be serious theater like Shakespeare so I can really appreciate the value of the entertainment given. It is clear that the cast has put their hearts into this performance. My daughter absolutely loved it. She said her favorite were the Things (or blue haired red girls as she called them) and wants to go back this weekend. Which I may do. Maybe somethings will have improved by then who knows.

The Music Man, by Meredith Willson
76 Trombones
Monday, July 21, 2008
My family and I attended the Saturday evening show this past weekend. I felt this was a rather strong production with weak moments here and there but overall pretty solid. The band was really good and I felt there was a nice blend between voices and instruments. The one thing I did not understand was why the actor playing Marcellus was miked and no one else was. The lighting was off quite a bit but still it's an improvement over other shows I have seen there. The set was quite nice and a bit more than I expected.

I am glad to see Blackwell now has two stages unfortunately once again the seats were falling apart.... I will not go in to that tirade again. Anyways, I was extremely impressed with the Quartet, Harold Hill, Marian and Mrs. Paroo. As often seen in theater with young children (and an adult or two) there was obviously some "mugging" going on.

Vocally as a whole there were some strong moments in the ensemble. Their diction was quite good. One thing that always stands out for me when I see Music Man is Eulalie and her "crew". To sing Pickalittle, Talkalittle you have to have diction that is spot on and the ladies impressed me. I felt that Marian and Harold were a good match physically and vocally though there were some missed notes here and there. The actor portraying Marcellus was comedic but at times he was a little too over the top for me.

The choreography was well executed especially by those that appeared to be the stronger dancers. I did not like the cast members coming into the aisles during 76 Trombones because it made it difficult for us to see the dancers on stage. We had to slightly stand up at our seats. Another thing I did not like was the fact that Shipoopi seemed to be overcrowded on stage. There really were too many people.

Overall this was a really good show with a pretty solid cast. I was teetering between a 3.5 and a 4.0 so I decided to go all out and give a 4.0. Congrats on a great job.

Leading Ladies, by Ken Ludwig
Witty and delightful
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
My husband and I attended the second to last performance of this show and wish I had gotten my review in sooner. I had never heard of Leading Ladies prior to attending this show and found it to be a wonderful and witty show. I had also never attended a show by Lionheart Theater so it was a night of firsts.

First off I would love to see a larger performance space. This theater is an old church and there seems to be a good amount of building space. The seating is extremely limited. There may be room for about 75 and that is pushing it. If the other performances of Lionheart Theater are as good as this one was, it would be in their best interest to expand to a larger theater.

The sound was at a decent level, not too loud not too quiet, and the music used during the scene changes was of the 50’s and 60’s so the crowd (mostly of those in their 40’s and up) knew the songs and were tapping their foot and humming along. I think that bought more of an intimacy to the show for some reason. The lighting was adequate though at times it was a bit dim but I understand the limitations this venue must have. The costuming was appropriate….well except for Meg’s “sexy dress” we could have sexed it up just a little more and not been vulgar.

In the opening I wasn’t sure it was going to be a great show, the first scene between Duncan and Meg was a bit odd because I couldn’t decide if it was a father/daughter or husband/wife relationship. Learning later that they were engaged was still distracting to me because he clearly appeared to be significantly older that her. That doesn’t in any way detract from the actors themselves because they were wonderful. The scene with the moose lodge (?) was a little confusing in the beginning but got better towards the end of that scene.

From then on the show seemed to really blossom into a great production. The comedic timing of all actors involved was impeccable especially Jack and Leo. Those two are some of the better comedic actors I have seen in Community Theater. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that Jack (Bob Smith) went in and out of his accent. It would go from British to a muddled Irish to British with a hint of American. That was distracting but overall he was a great actor. For me the true stand out was J Michael Carroll as Leo. He was fantastic and certainly possesses the ability to be in a Broadway show. I don’t toss that idea around lightly but he was phenomenal. The only character I didn’t particularly care for was Butch. I felt that the show could have moved without that character, I found it to be flat. I don’t know if that was the actor portraying Butch or if it is just the way the show was written. The supporting players were excellent as well. I really enjoyed Jamie Link’s portrayal of the ditzy know-it-all, Doc (Tim Link) and his snide yet funny attitude towards Duncan and marriage, and Florence (Sheila Allen) was a scene stealer with her sarcastic in your face delivery, what a riot!

Overall I really did enjoy this performance, and the yummy (free…well included in cost of ticket) desserts, wine and coffee served at intermission, that was a nice touch. The actors had such wonderful chemistry together as another reviewer stated it must have been a blast to work on this show with such talented people. I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the direction of Sophie Gatins. She is young but if this is the work she brings now once can only imagine the greatness she will achieve in the next several years.

Why the 4.5??? The venue is what made me subtract points…..and we know that none of the shows I ever see are perfect but this one came close to being perfect for Community Theater.

I only wish those that didn't see it still had a chance.

Arsenic and Old Lace, by Joseph Kesselring
Not great but not horrible
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I saw the closing performance of Arsenic and Old Lace at Blackwell. This is a theater that is close so I go quite often to the shows there. I see they are trying to get better bit by bit so that's fine. Of all the shows I have seen at Blackwell I was quite impressed with the set in this particular show. It seemed like a "real" house and living room. Of course it was a little gaudy for my taste but when compared to one of my older family member's works.

The lighting, we have to do something about the lighting there. I don't think it's the operator of the lights more so than the lights themselves. There were dark spots all over the place too much light in other places and it just wasn't working for me. I think they need a major overhaul of the lighting system in general.

I really hope the seats can get fixed soon. I know it takes money but the arm rest of my seat kept shifting and falling off. I'd put it back on it would fall back off.. you get the drift. Also I still saw there was duct tape holding the pads on some of the chairs... please get that fixed, it's just tacky.

As for the show itself I found the first half excrutiatingly slow and downright boring. If it had been any slower we would have been at a stand still. Both of the aunts (one more so than the other) did not know their lines quite a bit and this was the last show!!! I was shocked about that. I know many of the cast were sick and they pushed through it so I applaud them for going on with the show. The staging was off at times and the actors appeared if they were directed to only stand in a straight line center stage or just off center. Some of the stage crosses seemed a little disconnected too. Actually the direction was a little painful to watch at times and the actors didn't know what to do with themselves. I felt like a few people fell out of character quite a bit especially if a line was flubbed. Things did (thankfully) pick up during the last half of the show.

I thought Joey Cochran was wonderful and an excellent choice of comic relief as Teddy Brewster. Without him and his quick comedic timing this show would have sunk to dreary depths I'm afraid. Becky Dever and Kevin Tillery as Elaine and Mortimer had a wonderful chemistry between each other and portrayed their characters quite nicely. Lee Sanders was perfect as the sinister Johnathan Brewster and played the villan with just the right amount of menace. These four individuals were the only anchors for this production.

Some of the supporting characters held their own but unfortunately it was the lack of memorization and poor direction at times which makes me give this production a 3.0 (and part of me feels I am being generous but maybe it was that wind down and final show mentality that kicked in???).

A Little Princes - The Story of Sara Crewe, by
Wonderful story and good talent
Friday, November 30, 2007
I went to see this show right before the Thanksgiving weekend. I was quite impressed by the actresses. There was one really young child that was absolutely adorable, she must have been about 4. I personally love the story of The Little Princess and felt that Allie Peterson as Sara Crewe showed a lovely range as an actress. As the reviewer before me stated they were all young so their voices are still developing. I think I saw them on their first weekend so I imagine there were butterflies. This was more prevalent when a solo singer would go into the upper register but again it was probably just jitters. The only person I wasn't convinced was Gloria Stanley as Ms. Munchin. I thought she was a little over the top in her acting. If I had one criticism to give to the actresses it would be that when you sing don't look at the accompanist. Pretend they are not there. I know that's hard but it can be distracting and take the audience out of the show. I think the quality of talent and shows is starting to greatly improve at Blackwell. Maybe they are on the way up....

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
It wasn't the best but wasn't the worst.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I decided to go see To Kill a Mockingbird this weekend at Blackwell Playhouse. I will say (as I have previously) I really hope they get their seats repaired. I think that's one of my biggest pet peeves about this place. On a plus side it looks like the lobby gets better and better each time I go. The ladies bathroom certainly looks better than it has in my past visits.

Anyways, enough about that, let's talk about the show itself. The lighting for this show was not good and took away from the performance. It was dull and yellow maybe that's the effect that the director was going for but it didn't work for me. The set was decent and worked very well for this show. The treehouse and tireswing were nice touches, though I was scared "Scout" would fall off the tireswing at times. As for the talent, there were quite a few standouts in this cast. Kevin Tillery portrayed Atticus Finch to perfection. He bought such a conviction to that character and made me really believe him in that role. All of the kids were wonderful. The only complaint I have about them was that during the courthouse scene there was too much noise going on in the "balcony" and they kept distracting me (especially the boys), dropping things, whispering to each other, laughing etc. As far as acting, they were extremely talented especially Miss Ashley who played Scout for the performance I attended. She had such a charismatic quality that she brought to the stage. There were others that stood out as well. I did not like the portrayal of Miss Maudie. I didn't like her stage movement (could be direction) but she just kept walking back and forth across stage from one pool of light to the other. She did not seem "at home" on stage and frankly I could have done without her. Her delivery was boring and I lost much of what she said. I have no doubt she could be a good actress but she did not fit this role. Also I can't understand why they put her in such an ugly wig.....Ok enough about that. For the most part the actors were very strong in this show and I think they did this work justice. I found myself wanting more, maybe it was just the lighting.

And another thing... you know I have my pet peeves, during the first scene when Scout climbed into the treehouse the covering over it fell. In the middle of the next scene one of the cast members came out, picked it up and moved the tire swing. My problem, he was in costume which consisted of jeans and a red and white checkered shirt. That totally took me out of the scene as I was watching him asking myself why did they do that.

Ok so why the 3.0?? The lighting was not good and the character of Miss Maudie wasn't right. However the strength of the cast as a whole is why it didn't get a 2.5.

I think Blackwell Playhouse is getting better. Just put a little more elbow grease in everything and they'll come out just fine.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Pretty decent for Children's Theater
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I took my daughter to see this show this weekend at the 11:00 show. For children's theater i think it was well done. Typically when you go to a kid's show most of the kid's are just there to be cute and don't have a lot of talent but they are cute. In this show a lot of the kids were very talented and the quality surpassed what I am used to in this type of theater. I found the set to be well done with the exception of the church. It was painted an ugly yellow color and had a door that looked cartoonish. The theater itself hasn't improved much since the last time we went as far as seats were concerned. They really need to fix the cushions that are falling off with something stronger than duct tape. But it's community theater so I'm sure they do the best they can.

Overall I think this was a good attempt. The director seemed to pay attention to the little details and intricacies on this set which I appreciated as an audience member. I thought there were nice touches here and there of course there's always room for improvement. This was a rather large cast and most of the kids I felt were very talented and knew their lines. (By the way kudos to all the adults for working with so many kids) I imagine it was quite a feat for the little actors and actresses to undertake but they did well. My daughter certainly enjoyed herself as did I. Acting for the kids there were several stand outs and I won't name them all to be fair. Let's just say quite a few should keep doing theater as they have a knack for it. Sound effects was something I wasn't expecting. I really liked the campfire scene with the crickets and what looked like a real fire. The only thing that was distracting was the kids kept playing with it unnecessarily and it made me temporarily lose some focus. As for the adults my favorite was John Dandy as "Injun Joe". He was the dark sadistic twist that was needed in this show. I do wish there had been more chemistry between Tom and Becky something seemed to lack when they were on stage together. I wanted more chemistry between Muff and Walter as father and son it didn't seem very believable. The ladies had the most chemistry out of the bunch, they almost made me cry in their scene and it looked like they were really crying too.

Why the 3.5?? Because there haven't been many shows I feel deserve a 5. I took points off for the theater itself, the ugly church and some of the costuming was a bit off. But for a kids show it was worth the price and the show of decent quality.

Chicago, by Kander and Ebb
Road trip to Chicago
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This weekend I went alllllllll the way to Cumming to see this show.....all the way and it was a long trip. My first thought was like many Cumming?? Of all places that does seem unlikely in my opinion but what ever works.

There were aspects of the show that I enjoyed and aspects I didn't enjoy. I like the theater. It's quite cozy and charming. The location was a little difficult for me to find though I saw they had lights out front to guide people, it was too early in the day for me to see them. Anyways, the lighting really worked well for this show and I like the "Roxie" spelled out in lights during that song, I think it added a little extra pop you probably wouldn't have gotten in other theaters around town. The sound was just ok it's a good thing I have a keen sense of hearing because the mics didn't seem to be working very well during most of the show. The set was nicely done and I liked the band kind of blending into it seeing as how they were center stage I thought I would focus on them and they would distract me but that wasn't the case. Speaking of the band they were awesome. There was just the right amount of each instrument and it was just the right volume, didn't drown out the words or singing. The costuming was just ok. I think I liked the ensembles costumes more so than the leads with the exception of Kathy Russell as Mama. I loved her suit.... wanted one for myself... anyways I didn't like the costumes that were chosen for Roxie because they looked cheap and I don't mean that to be disrespectful but it looked like something you would find at one of those cheap stores where they sell outfits girls go club hopping in.

Moving on, the choreography was great though I have to agree with another poster that said it was strongly reminescent of the movie however, that wasn't an issue with me. I enjoyed it. I thought some of the dancers were not able to keep up with the quick pace that is required of most ensemble numbers in this show. As for the vocals most of the major roles were well suited for their character. I felt that Lisa Sherouse Riley was mis-cast as Roxie. I though she was too old for the part and I picture Roxie being younger and petite. Her singing was also flat during majority of the numbers and got a little unbearable in Funny Honey. It's tough to hear someone sing flat so much. I give her an E for effort in the dancing. I know that choreography was tough and she tried to hang in there (kudos for that) I also thought Daniel Van Heil was flat in a lot of his singing, he went sharp sometimes as well. I know its a tough show but still with a little more practice you can avoid those bad notes. (I should stop here because I know as a singer if you can't hear yourself a lot of times you don't realize you are singing flat so that could be attributed to the sound issues but maybe not, who knows?) I enjoyed his portrayal of Billy Flynn overall. One thing that bothered me with him was the leg on the table fell off and instead of picking it up and taking it off with the rest of the table he just left it there. Things like that in a show bother me and maybe that's just my ADD kicking in but still it wouldn't have hurt to just keep moving (and move it off stage). Anyways moving on (again) my favorite performer all around was Lauren Jann that woman has some God given talent and she really showed it as Velma. My favorite vocalist was Nicholas Morrett as Amos, he has a wonderful singing voice and excellent perception of character.

Bottom line? Does this show work for Cumming?? Judging from the crowd of course it does. I also hear they are sold out so if you don't have tickets now so sorry you have to miss it. If you are going there is no doubt that you will enjoy it and it's worth the price of the tickets.

Will Rogers Follies, by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Not a bad show!
Monday, May 7, 2007
For an opening night the show wasn’t bad. There was a small issue it seemed with the music in the beginning but the cast seemed to keep it together. Ziegfeld’s favorite was amazing. I can’t tell you how many costumes she must have had. The sisters were hilarious. I couldn’t figure out if their fall was apart of the act or not. They held it together pretty well if it was an accident. I will give a thumbs up to Clem as well for his performance.

Mark Owen as Will was absolutely wonderful. He really seemed to have those mannerisms down pat. He even made the jumps through the rope. That alone was worth it. Betty was good as well, very nice voice, excellent emotion at the end. The chorus seemed a little weak at times but I don’t know if it was just nerves or what. Even with that it was pretty impressive how they managed to keep singing and stay in step with their choreography. The best number of the night was the Campaign act. Their seated choreography was well done. Overall the show was great for an opening. If you have a chance I would definitely go check it out. Good Luck with the rest of the run!

Last Laugh! Stand-Up Competition
by Justin Spainhour-Roth
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village
Last Laugh! Stand-Up Competition
by Justin Spainhour-Roth
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village
The Mountaintop
by Katori Hall
Southside Theatre Guild
Almost, Maine
by John Cariani
Centerstage North Theatre
Daddy Long Legs
by John Caird (book) and Paul Gordon (songs)
The Legacy Theatre
Four Old Broads
by Leslie Kimbell
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta
The Mountaintop
by Katori Hall
Southside Theatre Guild
Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare
Live Arts Theatre

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