A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Companies Reviewed#
Neighborhood Playhouse1
Alliance Theatre Company1
Georgia Shakespeare1
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.1
Rogue Planet1
Theatre Outlanta1
Theatre Emory1
Average Rating Given : 3.14286
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Smokey Joe's Cafe, by Leiber and Stoller
Do You Enjoy Musical Revues?
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
This is another one of those times when you must accept something for what it is. This is a musical revue. There is no story. There is not a single spoken word. Nothing here but almost two hours worth of pop hits form the 1950's and 60's.

The production is surprisingly well done. The cast all must sing well (without microphones and with a live band), dance a lot, exude personality and appear to be having fun. This is no easy task, and, for the most part, they all manage very well. The stand out pipes belong to Maura Carey, and the stand out dancing feet definitly belong to Joseph Woodruff. There are some problems with sound levels, but those are difficult to avoid. There are also several examples of overwrought, distracting chreography. The less is more rule would have helped.

The sets and lighting are good. The costumes, however could use some altering (some very large clothes on the men and some very unflattering dresses on the women). This may have been due to budget, but even some slight modifications would help.

The band is very good, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The overall theater going experience was very positive. Even those of us who do not generally go in for this sort of thing were entertained.

If you enjoy musical revues or appreciate singing and dancing or are a fan of Jailhouse Rock, Love Potion #9, Stand By Me and the like, or need some place to take your parents (or any combination of the above), Smokey Joe's Cafe is the show to see.

When The Devil's Be Callin', by Stephen Peace
When the Editor Be Callin'
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
By my own rules, one cannot hold a non professional theater to the same standard that a professional theater should be held to. But even with that said, this is a mess.

The script is a hodgepodge of every southern, black and female sterotype and cliche you can think of. This sexist, raceist wreck sheds no new light or new prospective. It is not ironic. It is not thought provoking. It is not funny. There are entire scenes lifted from Gone With the Wind, North and South, Rebecca and a few other old favorites. There are incompleat metaphores, abandon subplots, silly dialogue, and a very predictable climax. Mr. Peace would do well to spend some time editing, reworking and rethinking this show. Perhaps starting with the question "What is it I want to say?"

Overall the cast is fine. The stand out in the group, Jennifer Dersin, makes some strong character choices and is interesting to watch. The sets and costumes are appropriate. However, ther is a lighting effect at the end that is just a bad idea.

Onstage Atlanta is to be commended for staging new works, but perhaps they should provide more support (in the form of staged readings or workshop productions?) for script development.

Trevor, by John Bowen
This Ain't High Art
Monday, July 15, 2002
Seeing Trevor, the British farce that is the inaugural production of Theatre Outlanta, has me thinking about how we judge plays. Reviewing and recommending a show should be more like doing the same for a restaurant. Notice how the food section has different recommendations based on the type of experience you are looking for and the ammount you are willing to pay? (the place to take kids, the quick lunch joint, the romantic patio, the 5 star occasion etc.)Differnet eating establishments are held to different standards. Yes, there are some expectations accross the board, but what you want and are willing to accept form the din sum house and Bacchanalia are very different things. So should it be in theater. Let us consider and compare the level of experience and professionalism of the cast, crew, disigners and producing organization. Also, take into account the intent of the production, the budget they had to work with, quality of the script and the overall level of staisfaction you had upon leaving the show. Hey, and don't forget the (ticket) price!

So, to Trevor. The plot concerns two twenty something lesbians living in London in the 1960's. The women are "straightening up" for a parental visit when things get very complicated. Here we have a new theater company performing a British farce with a mostly inexperienced cast (one notable exception), on a modest budget, with (according to the program) no dialect coach, and no dramaturge. The overall result: an enjoyable evening. Perfect for a summer night; light and frothy, many laughs, a happy ending, a positive point, and a very short running time! This ain't high art, but it is not supposed to be.

The performances are appropriate and enjoyable, especially given that many in the cast are inexperienced (from the bio's, this may be the first play for some!). Rachel Garner (last seen by this reviewer in Theater Emory's Trestle at Pope Lick Creek) leads the group with a very skilled and likable performance. There is a scene between Garner and her mother (Andrea Hutcheson)concerning a sex manual that is side splitting. Yes, there are some problems and flaws; with certain accents, costumes, timeing, and some "chewing up the scenery" but all things considered...It was more fun than watching TV.

Everyone (gay, straight, female and male) will be able to relate to this "the things I do to please others" story. The show will make you laugh, you will support a new company, perhaps hear a different voice and you will be out by 9!

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
Beautiful Show
Sunday, July 7, 2002
This will be the best production you see this season!

Vincent Murphy has thoughtfully and gracefully staged the classic tale of Willy Loman (who, by the way, is NOT a shoe salesman, despite what many 10th graders and Wendell Brock of the AJC may think. We are never told what he sells, as he is supposed to represent every man). Murphy has a clear vision and a dead on understanding of the text.

The cast is amazing. Tim McDonough and Janice Akers as Willy and Linda are perfect (as thery were in The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek at Emory). I felt that Daniel May (as Biff) was a bit out of his depth, as he always seemed to be working very hard. Brad Sherrill is a very thoughtful and sensitive Happy. Carolyn Cook is so interesting in the small part of the woman that Willy has an affair with that she completly reshaped the role.

The sets, lighting, sound and costumes are exactly right and support the show as opposed to upstaging it.

Even if you didn't enjoy reading this show in high school, or thought it was too depressing, or never really "got it", this production will make you a fan.

Go see Death of a Salesman!

A Christmas Carol (2001), by Charles Dickens/adapted by David Bell
A humbug
Saturday, November 17, 2001
I don't even know where to begin.

But first, for the record...I love Christmas, I look forward to holiday traditions, I believe there is nothing wrong with theaters having "cash cows" that they run this time of year. I think it is equally OK to trot out our old favorites and launch new traditions. But any and all of the above should be done well!

The current Christmas Carol at the Alliance is insulting. It seems the audience was just taken for granted. The show is sloppy. No builds in action or suspense. No interesting "take" on a classic. The actors seem bored and the pace plods. Even the arrivals of the ghosts feel dull and uninspired. The director chose not to focus on the plot, but when one abandons a strong story line, it must be replaced with something! What was the focus you ask? I have no idea. Just a collection of slow moving scenes and a few songs.

There are some very talented, experienced and respected actors in this cast, but even they don't seem interested. Perhaps they were told "Just hit your marks, say your lines, collect your Actors Equity level pay and no one will notice".

Atlanta, we deserve better form our professional, regional theater! Perhaps if we demand excellence they will build it. In the mean time, go see some small theater's holiday show! Maybe the smaller theaters will not make like Scrooge and take advantage of us!

The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, by Naomi Wallace
The Emperor's New Clothes
Friday, October 26, 2001
Take a look at The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek by Naomi Wallace. The Emperor has no clothes! There, I said it. Just because a playwright is from an underrepresented group, writes plays that are not constructed in the Western manner, contain frank sex scenes and profanity and feature proactive female characters, it does not automatically follow that the play is important, poignant, or even coherent. One of our local theater giants went so far as to say (in print!)that Wallace's writtings are reminiscent of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, and Strindberg. Come on, talk about hyperbole! While it is a good idea to produce new playwrites and explore new voices, lets not abandon all reason. The truth is that the "Trestle" script is not very good. It is full of underdeveloped subplots, too numerous and often confusing or incomplete metaphores (hands, feathers, broken things, trains, shadows and on and on) and blue collar characters as imagined by someone apparently well removed from the working class. (stock "villagers" - determined, hard working,undefeatable types with simple wants. They mean well, but just can't cope with the world so they beat their children, become recluses or play chicken with trains). The treatment of the very people Wallace seems to want to champion is condescending.

With that said... The production of "Trestle" is beautiful and features some of the best acting you are likely to see in Atlanta this season. Director Vincent Murphy has done a great job of staging the show. It is visually appealing and and very well paced. The cast is extraordinary. There is a plate tossing scene between Janice Akers and Tim McDonough that will make you hold your breath. As great as the whole cast is,the most amazing performance of the evening is from Rachel Garner. Garner is so good that she actually makes you care about her character (Pace)and her need to run directly at oncoming trains.

Go see "Trestle" for the experience, to support a new playwrite. Go for the brillant professional actors. Go to catch a rising star. But look closely at the emperor. He is not as well dressed as the Atlanta theater establishment wants you to think!

PS: If you want to check out a respectful and knowledgeable depiction of the working poor struggeling aganist the local "big business", try the play Cabbagetown adapted by R. Cary Bynum.

Closer, by Patrick Marber
Great Script, Good Effort
Sunday, September 30, 2001
Thank you Rogue Planet for finally bringing this show to Atlanta audiences! The script is very interesting and has a lot to say. Unfortunatly, this production did not seem to have deceided what it wanted to say. A little more attention to creating 4 distinct, individual (as opposed to almost interchangable) characters would have helped, as would the choice of a stronger thru line from the director. That aside, I would still recommend the show on the strength of the script and the obvious efforts of the cast and crew. I look forward to future work from Rogue Planet.

Four Old Broads
by Leslie Kimbell
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.
The Mountaintop
by Katori Hall
Southside Theatre Guild
Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare
Live Arts Theatre
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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