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Actor's Express1
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Average Rating Given : 3.00000
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REVIEWS

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, by Stephen King
Exciting new production for Atlanta
Thursday, April 5, 2012
4.0
While Ghost Brothers had some technical difficulties including sound levels (the music was far too loud for the mics to carry the voices and some mics were clearly on the fritz), all in all I would say it was a successful opening. The story itself is an intriguing tale clearly by Stephen King of two brothers and a girl who were killed or committed suicide, and now the story is being set straight by their younger brother to his now adult sons and wife. The casting of most all the characters was outstanding, and the story line cohesive and fascinating. The aspect of the ensemble barely existing on the outskirts was fascinating, but distracting at first, until they joined the first group number.

The use of technology is quite interesting in this production, both being used to make the crowd scenes seem much more populated, and to enhance the nostalgic moments with old reels. They also did a throwback to Tennessee Williams by projecting the occasional subtitles or important words upon the stage at certain moments. The technological additions brought so much to the show. In addition, the scenic design was incredible. The stacked stage of "dreamland Cafe" on top of the rustic cabin where everything is centered is just breathtaking.

The music, for the most part, is very good. While it was hard to make out all of the words because of technical difficulties, all of the group numbers were fantastic. Many of the solo numbers were tedious (outside of the character "Jenna" who every time she took the stage she simply captivated the audience, and her voice always left you wanting more), and were revision to be made, I think the number of them could be cut down significantly. Also, concerning possible revisions, the "triple ending" as a colleague and I described it, seemed superfluous. Without giving too much away, the main character is recounting the story and seems to lie more than he tells the truth, and at the end, when the full truth is revealed it seems almost too much to handle. The wrap up was poignant, but the triple ending it took to get there seemed a bit much. And the final moment "wish a fish" seemed odd and out of place.

All in all, the production was a joy to watch (except what little of our view was obstructed by being on the far right side). I was fortunate enough to be close to the front where I really could be engulfed in the action, but a few of the set pieces prohibited me from seeing all the action, especially in and on the bunk beds.

The two characters, outside of Jenna, who really stuck out were the devil and "God" or the old black man who took care of the cabin. I couldn't help feeling like they played on the stereotype of Morgan Freeman always playing God by having a wisened old black man with white hair and beard be the figure of good in the entire story. And while the devil didn't always have a pleasant singing voice, it fit the character very well, and he was hilarious.

It is bawdy and bloody, so those young or easily offended should not attend, but if you like Stephen King, country music, and pretty sets and costumes, it's worth the $50.

Sweeney Todd- The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Stephen Sondheim
A reinvisioning gone wrong
Sunday, April 1, 2012
2.0
This particular production of Sweeney Todd was a minimalistic reinvisioning of the original work based on the dual-performance technique of actor and musician. While I respect the idea of looking at it through a different performance lens, I cannot say I enjoyed it.

The lack of acting, the lack of orchestra, the lack of costume, set, and props...really detract from Sweeney. I have seen it staged and many video adaptations of it, and this just was not my idea of a good concept. Had I known the premise was not to display Sweeney Todd but rather to reimagine it to some sort of minimalist, low-budget actor/musician dual role, I would not have spent the large amount of money to travel to see it.

It's All in the Timing, by Kip Henderson
Not worth the price of admission
Sunday, April 1, 2012
1.0
Having been told of the original work going on at the Legion Theatre with the Pumphouse Players (and always liking to support new work when possible), I ventured there to enjoy a night of light-hearted, witty comedy. However, what I received was far less than expected. The play, written by Kip Henderson, is an attempt at throwing witty (oftentimes obscure) jokes, farce, and slapstick into a rather funny situation. The two title characters, Pete, a 32 year old film special effects artist from Kennesaw, GA, played by Kip himself who has to be in his mid to late 40s and cannot play 32, and Laura, an unspecified age that has to be lower than 32 because her brother is 32, played by Emily McFadden were the absolute stereotypical "I hate you so much I must love you" roommate, set up by friends and family to "discover their love."

On the surface, enemies being tricked into being lovers is an old standard of theatre making, and can be, if written well, funny. However, the writing was not particularly good, and therefore the bait and switch was not as effective because many audience members, like myself, were already grumbling just wanting it to be over.

The beginning credits were superflous, long, and nearly impossible to read. They also explained that Kip Henderson wrote it, directed it, was in it, and did about five or ten other things with the production as well so his name kept flashing up over and over and over.

The play began with Laura complaining to best friend Jana about how frustrated she was with Pete's pranks. Jana make some comment about at least he was cute, hott, something to that effect. She continues to call him good looking throughout the first act. However, in reality, Kip Henderson is an overweight, pot-bellied, middle-aged man who I would in no way put in the "attractive" category. And every time she said it after I saw him enter it threw me for a loop, making me wonder if it wasn't pandering on the writer/director's part to get the cute, voluptuous little redhead to say he was attractive over and over.

Jana, played by Aliya Hutcheson, was the stereotypical bimbo, dumb-blonde (except with red hair). She was the foil to all of Laura's scheming, and while rarely on stage in the first act, was actually rather refreshing to get away from the overdone, exaggerated styles of Kip.

Laura's brother, Steve, played by Marcus Kirlew, was also rather refreshing. He seemed to really fill out his part well. The only minor irk I had was that he was played by an African American male while Laura and her mother were played by white females, and there is a line where he says something to the effect of "maybe i'm adopted" because he believes they are acting so strangely. For this production I think I would have either cut or changed the line because, though I am all for colorblind casting and feel no one could have played the part better, he clearly IS adopted.

The first act seemed to drone on forever until the final scene where the audience, who was not warned, becomes covered in whip cream pies. I understand physical comedy as something many people find hilarious, however, it is just bad etiquette to not warn any patrons that the first four rows are a splash zone. Myself and many other patrons were dressed well to go to a theatre event and became covered in whip cream and were forced to try and remove it from ourselves during the intermission then smell like sour cream the rest of the show.

On that same note, the theatre does not allow any food or drinks inside. However, the entire theatre was covered in the white, sticky goo. The 20 minute intermission was solely for the cast, minus Kip who made the mess, to clean it off the stage, the set, the walls of the theatre, the seats.

My general issue with this theatre is that in most of their productions, this one included, the strage hands do not wear all black, and they often bring things on stage to store the props in that say in large letters PROPS. It is the little things that go a long way when one is subjected to two hours of a bad play.

The second act was not nearly so terrible. The pace clipped along much better than the first act, which was very slow. The entire second half Laura is heard vomiting in the background and has apparently been sick for two weeks. Everyone in the audience assumes she's pregnant. Her brother, Steve, has broken up with his girlfriend (who has in turn beaten him up). The girlfriend, Heather, played by Erin Glynn, was another bright moment in this play. Each time she was introduced it was with red lights, fog, and eerie sounds as if alluding to her being a vampire, a witch, or some otherworldly character.

Laura (Emily) was her strongest in the scenes with Heather (Erin), finally getting to show off a sort of ballsy side to herself. She actually can act fairly well when given decent material to work with.

Jana, the red head, returns to try and sweep Steve off his feet. While i'm sure it was a thrill for male audience members, as a female, I was rather afraid she might spill out of several of those tops. Her interactions with Heather were also amusing and showed she had more than a one-note dumb blonde in her repertoire.

The only really unfortunate moment in the second act was Pete and Steve's exorcism of Heather. It was again that over-done, unrealistic style. Also, the marker they were supposedly "marking" her pictures with clearly was not making any marks, and once again, the audience was sprayed with water from a water bottle.

All in all, if only the second act had existed, I would not be nearly so ruffled about paying $24 for myself and a guest to attend. If this plans to move forward, Kip will need serious rewrites, especially for the pacing and many of the jokes that a normal audience simply will not get. Perhaps a more talented actor could pull of the play, resting on Pete's shoulders, as well. The descriptions of Pete and the actor Kip blew all forms of believability or reliability of the character right out of the gate. Thanks to the slightly better writing and much better acting sets of the characters featured in Act 2, it redeemed the night just a bit. However, I was still wet, smelled like sour milk, and had paid $24 to be so.

The Motherf**ker with the Hat, by Stephen Adly Guirgis
The poeticism of "foul" language
Sunday, April 1, 2012
5.0
The Motherfucker with the Hat was a surprisingly moving piece about growing from immaturity to maturity even if that happens much later in life than what is "supposed to." The script itself is rampant with what, by many's standards would be called "foul" or "offensive" language. However, it is written in such a way that there is a poetry to it, an almost Shakespearian handling of the words so that they mean so much more than the associated meanings, and, by my summation, should hold no offense for anyone but the characters in the play they are being hurled at. The direction was clear, and the acting superb. All in all, I could not have asked for a better way to spend a night.

CLOSING SOON
Little Shop of Horrors
by Howard Ashman (words) & Alan Menken (music)
Actor's Express
The Robber Bridegroom
by Alfred Uhry (words) and Robert Waldman (music)
Act 3 Productions
NOW PLAYING
Ada and the Memory Engine
by Lauren Gunderson
Essential Theatre
Little Shop of Horrors
by Howard Ashman (words) & Alan Menken (music)
Actor's Express
The Robber Bridegroom
by Alfred Uhry (words) and Robert Waldman (music)
Act 3 Productions
The Spy Who Murdered Me
by Kevin Gillese
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
The Summer of Our Discontent
by various
Onion Man Productions
Uprooting
by Betty Chaney
Academy Theatre

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