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REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Dagbath Yallington [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
Actor's Express1
Button Theatre1
Horizon Theatre Company1
Theatre in the Square1
Aurora Theatre1
Average Rating Given : 4.40000
Reviews in Last 6 months :
REVIEWS

Kiss Me Kate, by Cole Porter (musics & lyrics); Bella & Samuel Spewack (book)
I don't know who Kate is, but I'd kiss her any day! ;)
Monday, August 31, 2009
4.0
Hello fellow theater reviewers, it's your old pal Dagbath Yallington here and I'm telling you that if you're looking for an ensemble in the Atlanta area that will simultaneously wow you and make you all tingly inside, then you must run, nay walk, wait no I was right the first time, RUN to see the Aurora's staging of Kiss Me Kate.

I'll be the first to admit I had never seen the show Kiss Me Kate before and honestly it's not exactly my cup of tea. The material just didn't connect with me and it ran long for my taste. Nevertheless, it is still an engrossing show thanks to the work of a brilliant cast.

We can get one thing out of the way right now. I need to tell you how amazing Natasha Drena is. If you've seen her perform, you know that. If you haven't seen her, then why are you sitting here reading this review? GO SEE THE SHOW SILLY GOOSE!

I'm not sure what J.C. actually stands for, but I'm pretty sure it stands for Justifiably Charming! Mr. Long stands toe to toe with Ms. Drena and holds his own quite nicely. It's another success in a long line of outstanding performances by Mr. Long. The musical number between the two when Lilli finds out Fred's love letter was intended for Lois was a knee slapper of the highest degree!

I had the pleasure of seeing Erin Lorette in Zanna, Don't! a few months ago and she impressed me then and once again wowed me in KMK. Her portrayal of the naive and aloof Lois Lane was very entertaining and she continues to show off a set of pipes that are going to make her a big name in this town. David Rossetti wasn't Superman to Lorette's Lois Lane, but he did the best he could with a part that I didn't think was developed that well.

The duo of Glenn Rainey and Bethany Irby as the gangsters will have you rolling in the aisle. They chew the scenery every time they are on stage. Not literally. It would be expensive to build a new set after every performance! Still, they both steal the scene every time they walk on stage and their duet towards the end of the show is another show stopper!

Speaking of show stoppers, I must give SERIOUS props to Bradley Candie and Tameka Scotton for their work in the best number in the show, in my opinion, It's Too Darn Hot. I was blown away by Mr. Candie's dancing ability, he's flat out amazing. As for Ms. Scotton's voice, I only have three words for you. Holy Crap it is spectacular! Wait, that's five words! Oh My! It's so good I can't think of a word to describe it accurately so I'm going to go with...scrumtrilescent!

I wish there had been bigger roles for Nicholas Morrett and Jimi Kocina. Both young actors, Mr. Kocina in particular, have impressed me in the other works I've seen them perform. They both add a little extra pizazz to the show here, but I felt like their talents could be utilized more.

If you like Kiss Me, Kate then you will love what you see at the Aurora. Even if you don't really care for the show itself, it's work making the trek out to Lawrenceville just to see this dynamite cast. I guarantee either way you'll have a great time or my name isn't Garrison St. Pierre. Wait, that's not my name...guys? GUYS?

End Days, by Deborah Zoe Laufer
THEW END IS NEAR!!!! jk jk y'all ;)
Monday, June 1, 2009
4.5
Hey TR friends, your old pal D'bath Y'ton here to humbly ask you to go check out the Horizon's production of End Days. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first production of this outstanding material in the Southeast, so be among the first to see the show, you won't be disappointed. I PROMISE.

As a theatergoer I'm usually more drawn to the performances and the staging of the material than I am the material itself. I'm not saying the performances were bad, far from it, it's just that Deborah Zoe Laufer has given us such strong material to work with here, the conversation I had with friends after the show focused mainly on the show itself.

The Steins are a family in distress. Dad Arthur is so overcome with grief after the 9/11 attacks he can't leave the house. Mom Sylvia has found Jesus...literally (the family is Jewish). Daughter Rachel is a goth teen, alienated from the world and her family, which has ceased to be a family. While Sylvia looks for her salvation from Jesus, the family's salvation comes in the form of the quirky new, Elvis obsessed neighbor, Nelson.

Nelson is played expertly by Nick Arapoglou. Arapoglou does a fantastic job capturing the essence of the eternal optimist, who maintains his optimism despite a lifetime of personal tragedy. It's a fine line to walk. Arapoglou is endearing without being a cornball which is crucial because Nelson is our balance between the faith perspective Sylvia champions and the science based perspective Rachel believes in.

Robin Bloodworth has the unbelievably difficult task of going through a believable re-awakening over the course of a 90 minute play. With the help of Nelson he goes from a man shut off to the world to the Arthur his family remembers. It's a difficult task to pull that off effectively and he does it brilliantly.

Stacy Melich gives perhaps the most interesting performance in the cast. As Sylvia she has to put on an emotional front while internally carrying the feeling of overwhelming despair. It's a job done amazingly well by Melich to be able to convey the essence of a character whose emotions are boiling inside of her.

Maia Knispel is hilarious as the rebellious teenager Rachel. The part of the rebellious teenager is so cliche, but Laufer has given us a rarity in a teen who has angst for a legit reason. Knispel captures the despair of a character who sees her family crumbling before her eyes and is powerless to do anything about it.

Adam Fristoe gets to tackle what I think is the hardest part to play in any form of entertainment, Jesus. You have to walk a fine line with it not to offend people and Fristoe has the freedom to portray Jesus the way Sylvia sees him, rather than by any textbook definition of who Jesus was. Fristoe does this also with his role as Stephen Hawking providing humor to the show as well as some interesting subtext to the theme of science vs. faith.

This is a show that doesn't make presumptions or judgments about faith and science. It's just a portrayal of one family's journey through tragedy and how they deal with it. It's a fair portrayal of the main themes at hand.

If you're looking for a night of theater that will leave you riveted by an expertly acted show with an intensely fascinating show then you should run, nay, drive down to the Horizon and check out End Days. Time is running out, the apocalypse is coming! (Not really, I'm only kidding! Or am I? I am ;))

Zanna, Don't!, by Tim Acito and Alexander Dinerlaris
Zanna, Don't? No, no, no Zanna, DO!!!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
4.5
Hello Theater Review friends, your old pal Dagbath Yallington here asking you, nay, demanding you go see Actor's Express' production of Zanna, Don't! I saw the preview last night and I'm still looking for my socks because they were knocked off last night!

Heartsville is a town that defies convention as we know it. Everybody is gay. Heterosexuals are practically unheard of. Everyone is young, excitable and looking for love. Cupid in the town of Heartsville exists as Zanna, the best matchmaker in a musical since Yente in Fiddler on the Roof. Zanna is bent on finding matches for the various characters around Heartsville High. There's Mike, the state champion Chess player and school hero, Steve the new stud Quarterback for the football team, the sassy Roberta and the ultra overachiever Kate.

The show was fantastically cast. Often in shows you might find yourself underwhelmed with somebody in a cast, but the cast of Zanna is superb from top to bottom. Ricardo Aponte is charming as Zanna. He's got such a personality you will find yourself undeniably engaged with him. I thought his lower vocal register wasn't tremendously strong, but his higher register was phenomenal. I've heard a lot about his reputation as a choreographer so I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see him showcase his skills more. Nevertheless, you will be charmed by Ricardo who oozes charm out of his pores.

Jimi Kocina plays Mike, the Chess hero who finds himself enamored with the new quarterback, Steve. Kocina has an uncanny ability to connect with his co-stars and the rapport he has with Steve and Roberta, his best friend, comes off as if he's known them for years. Kocina has some strong emotional scenes and it's always tough for younger actors to get the emotional gravitas of characters sometimes and Kocina hit it out of the park.

Nicholas Morrett is the new quarterback Steve and he has a tremendous singing voice. He also does a good job of capturing the awkwardness of the kid in a new school where he is outcast and is trying to make friends. Morrett also does a good job with emotionally difficult scenes involving the twist of the show that I don't want to give away.

The two female leads, Erin Lorette as Roberta and Caitlin Accord-Smith as Kate, are PHENOMENAL. It's a good thing I brought a seat belt to the show and strapped myself in tight or these ladies would have blown me away right out of the theater. Lorette is sassy to the max as the lovelorn Roberta and she just takes control of a scene and makes you laugh and clap. Accord-Smith does a great job as the ultra overachiever Kate, really capturing the nuances of that personality type. Folks, let me tell you, these two women have AMAZING voices.

One of the most difficult things to do as an actor is play a bevy of roles and still be memorable even in a show with such a small cast. Erin Burnett, Bernard Jones and Chase Todd are the utility players and all add so much to the show playing a couple of different characters each. Burnett's main role is the incredibly vain and bitchy Candi, the girl who is President of all the clubs and super self involved. Every school has someone like that and Burnett captures that persona very well. You won't like her, not because she's bad in the role, but because she's so good at it.

Bernard Jones brings a ton of comedy to the show as Candi's right hand man, Arvin. Chase Todd is spectacular as Tank, the narrator of life at Heartsville High. Both Jones and Todd get opportunities to showcase their vocal skills and awesome dancing abilities as well. Burnett, Jones and Todd also have another moment to shine as different characters in a song about love that takes place at a country-western bar called the I'm OK, You're OK Corral.

I only had a couple of minor complaints. There seemed to be some mic issues with Mr. Aponte. His microphone sounded muffled to me, which took away from his performance, but I can't criticize him for that. Also, from where I was sitting, I had a hard time hearing the band. For me, it would have made the show even better to hear the rocking score even better.

All in all, this was a fantastic theater going experience. The songs are fun, the performances are great. My favorite scene involves a mechanical bull, how much more fun can you have in a show, seriously? I promise you that if you go to see Zanna, Don't! You'll laugh, you may cry, and you'll definitely pee yourself...in a good way!


Speech and Debate, by Stephen Karam
Kudos to Theatre in the Square
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
4.5
I had the pleasure of checking out Speech and Debate at Theatre in the Square's Alley Stage and the folks in the Square have hit another one out of the park. Speech and Debate focuses on the story of three high school students linked together by a scandal. The three main actors were tremendous.

Maria Sager is outstanding as Diwata. Diwata is energetic, passionate and, let's be honest here folks, a whole lot of crazy. She's an aspiring actress with delusions of grandeur. It's frantic, high energy role and Ms. Sager is excellent. I don't know how she practically bounces off the wall for an hour and half six days a week without suffering from serious exhaustion. It's a tough role due to the complete and utter over-the-top nature of the character and Ms. Sager should be commended for her commitment to the essence of the character.

Jeremy Ledbetter positively chews the scenery as the out and proud Howie. Howie is the most confident in his skin of the characters in his show and Ledbetter goes all out giving a humorous take on Howie. Mr. Ledbetter is making his first professional performance and holds his own with his more experienced cast members. I expect big things in the future from him.

The most complex character in the show is Solomon played expertly by Nick Arapoglou. Solomon is a character of many internal conflicts which makes his character more difficult to play from a psychological perspective than Diwata who deals with her eccentricities with her bizarre behavior. Mr. Arapoglou really did a phenomenal job with the emotional gravitas of a complex character who is continuously questioning who he is. Young actors tend to get the physical aspect of playing a character before they can truly get inside the head of a character and it's amazing to see a relatively young actor (Mr. Arapoglou has been out of college for only two years now) grasp the mental aspect of a difficult character.

I was disappointed in the lack of a role for Katherine LeRoy. The relative newcomer to the Atlanta scene does a very good job with what limited material to work with and is definitely a performer to keep an eye on in the future.

I also want to extend gratitude to Theatre in the Square and Director Clint Thornton for bringing this play to the stage in Marietta. I have nothing against the classic plays and musicals and love them as much as anything, but to me this is an important show for families with teenagers. This show hits on so many controversial and taboo issues in family life that I think a lot of families can use this show to start a dialogue about many issues such as sex, sexuality, adult responsibility and the dangers of using technology to put yourself out there to people who might not be trustworthy. Kudos to all for a great night of theater and hopefully you will all check out Speech and Debate.

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, by Clark Gessner, Andrew Lippa
You are, in fact, a good man Charlie Brown
Saturday, March 15, 2008
4.5
I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the relatively new Button Theater when I took in the fantastic musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Now, you have to knock my socks off when it comes to CB because I've seen the show in various incarnations several times and practically know the soundtrack by heart.

To make "Charlie Brown" shine you have to assemble a versatile and talented ensemble or you are dead in the water. The folks at the Button did just that as all the pieces fit into place very well. While the show is named after the lovable mope, it's really Lucy and Snoopy who have the best material and it is essential that those characters shine and shine they did. Maura Gebhardt is tremendous as Lucy. She really captures the spirit of Lucy's crabbiness and has a phenomenal voice. Ms. Gebhart was the best Lucy I've seen in person, kudos.

I don't know what kind of schooling they got going on in Indiana, but they must be doing something right because recent IU grad Nick Arapoglou is stellar as the lovable pooch, Snoopy. He can make you laugh just with a facial expression and both of his big solo numbers are just so charming.

I'm not trying to say that the rest of the cast is days old lasagna here or anything, it's just that a big key to the success of this show is a good Lucy and a good Snoopy. The rest of this ensemble is scrumtrillescent as well. Kristie Krabbe is making quite a name for herself around town and she adds another strong performance to her resume as Charlie Brown's sister Sally. Ms. Krabbe is really funny and brings tons of life to the character. The biggest surprise for me was Nathan Phillips who plays the pianist Shroeder. I wasn't sure what to think of him because he seemed to just blend into the background because, let's be honest, Shroeder is the straight man in all of this and doesn't get a ton of time to shine. However, when Mr. Phillips got to his big number "Beethoven Day" I was blown away by the range and talent of his voice. This gentleman was just an outstanding performer and was spectacular in a role designed to take a back seat to the others.

And what can you say about Charlie Bradshaw and Matthew Carter who play buddies Charlie and Linus respectively? Bradshaw must have been Charlie Brown in a previous life because he captures Charlie's sentiments incredibly well and Carter is funny as the philosophical Linus. The banter between Bradshaw and Carter just adds depth to an incredibly colorful cast of lovable goofballs.

I had a few minor issues with sound. I think the folks at the Button have something to work with, but the acoustics weren't good in my opinion and I need good acoustics in the theatre because I have minor hearing issues and if it were me, I would have considered a larger band because part of what makes Charlie Brown such an engaging show is the richness of the characters, the colors, the sets and the music. Those are just minor complaints. I really enjoyed the show and emplore those of you out there to give the show, and this theatre a chance. We need as many places around the city for actors to ply their trade and express their creativity and the survival of these places relies on the support of people like you.

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