A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Companies Reviewed#
Stage Door Players2
Actor's Express2
O2 at Onstage Atlanta1
Alliance Theatre Company1
The Process Theatre Company1
Georgia Shakespeare1
Average Rating Given : 3.31250
Reviews in Last 6 months :

The Golden Girls LIVE! A Benefit for AID Atlanta, by Susan Harris, adapted by Topher Payne
Boys will be "Girls"
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Make no mistake: the cast of The Golden Girls LIVE are playing it straight (so to speak) even if the "Girls" are boys. What could've veered off into bad camp is an honest performance of two episodes from "The Golden Girls." Topher Payne nails Bea Arthur's Dorothy; his biggest laugh came not from a line but as he ambled offstage with that Bea Arthur flair. And when Payne appears at a funeral in a flowing black/white caftan, the house came down (and showed the power of the excellent costuming for this show). Kudos also to George Devours for the wigs.

A veteran supporting cast (especially a crabby-to-the-max Amanda Cucher)rounds out a fun evening. It's a shame this much fun and talent is only for two nights (and what a great fundraising cause). I think producer/instigator Payne is onto something here that could easily find success beyond a two-night fund raising event.

Pete 'n' Keely, by Mark Waldrop and James Hindman
Lounge Act!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I agree with Scarecrow's review and then some. Pete 'n Keely is simply too long. One hour no intermission would've been just fine for a script that flounders in the second act (particularly the Tony and Cleo number). But leave it to the superior Stage Door Players to silken up a sow's ear script with great production value and performances . Marcie Millard remains one of the crown jewels of musical comedy in ATL--and that goes for straight comedy, too. She's in her element as Keely. Ms. Millard has obviously studied Edie Gorme and her ilk from both a vocal and a physical standpoint. And she sooooo looks the role. I truly think she was born in the wrong era! I also think she is ready for her own cabaret act. She's beyond an actress---she's an entertainer.

I've never had the privilege of seeing Robert Egizio sing and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew he was a dance man, but now I can truly say he is a song AND a dance man.

The duo obviously has great professional/personal affection for each other; most of the fun of Pete 'n Keely is watching these two so enjoy each other's onstage company.

Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley
No Doubt About it: It's a must-see production
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Praise the Lord and pass the potatoes! Alliance is finally showcasing ATLís immense local talent in three of the four roles in Doubt. And guess what? The 4th role, played by a NYC-based actress, is the weak link of an otherwise stellar, must-see production (thus the 4.5 rating)

While watching Doubt, visions of Turn of the Screw, Childrenís Hour, and Bad Seed whirled in my head as all those "well made" plays deal with uncertainty and trying to uncover the truth. Set in 1964, Doubt even feels as if it were written in another era. Itís an old story, but nevertheless playwright John Patrick Shanley keeps the dialogue crackling as he ratchets up the stakes in each scene, building one upon the other.

The one weakness in his script is lack of background on the characters to help better understand their motivations. Thatís where 3 of the 4 actors shine in creating well-rounded, flawed, multi-dimensional characters. Only Pamela Nyberg as Sister Aloysius fails to garner any sympathy in her one-note portrayal. Ms. Nyberg plays the Sister with a full throttle out-to-get you/take-no-prisoners attitude. Thus, at curtain, as she utters the last line of the play, I felt no sympathy for her character. I spoke to a friend who saw Cherry Jonesí award-winning performance in the role and asked him whether Ms. Jones had made some attempt to find humanity in the character. He said she had. Itís a shame: Quite a few local actresses could have performed miracles with this part and found some humanity in the Sister's hell-bent attitude. Josie Burgin-Lawson and Carolyn Cook are two actresses that come to mind.

While I can fault Susan Booth for that one casting error, I have nothing but praise for her overall direction of the 90-minutes without intermission. She has paced the piece like a pot of water going from simmer to boil. Also praiseworthy, is the foreboding Gothic arches towering over the proceedings. The cavernous stage is actually claustrophobic as the arches lean forward, almost as if the Catholic Church is about to come down around us.

If Cara Mantella as Sister James does not get a Suzi Award nomination, I will lose my religion. Iíve seen and worked onstage with Ms. Mantella and she is always excellent. But as one friend said (and I agree) itís as if the part of Sister James was written for her (Iím gonna check to see if Shanley is one of her Facebook friends). Itís such a showcase piece for her, so vulnerable, fragile, naÔve. She has truly created something wonderful and not-to-be-missed in Sister James.

Thomas Piper as Father Flynn keeps us guessing: Did he or didnít he? He finds that perfect balance. Donna Biscoe as Mrs. Muller has probably the most intense scene in the play and (for me) drops the biggest bombshell. She has only one scene, but she makes the most of it as a mother fiercely fighting for her son to succeed in life, even if that means....well you will have to see it as that's all I'm gonna say! Ms. Biscoe plays the mother with an Eyes-on-the-Prize conviction; but something in her demeanor hints at ďthis is not right but itís what I have to do.Ē Itís that kind of getting inside the character, giving us glimpses, that is seen again and again by all but Ms. Nyberg.

Shanley calls this work a parable, (a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson). The main lesson I learned is that Alliance does not need to go outside ATL to find actors who are up to the challenge of creating exciting, professional theatre.

Loot, by Joe Orton
No, Baby, No!
Monday, August 13, 2007
I cannot BELIEVE the same director/artistic team that did GA Shake's excellent What the Butler Saw birthed this travesty called Loot. Me thinks the director decided to honor the death of Ingmar Bergman and play this realistic. The poor poor actors. It's really painful to watch them subdue themselves when they know better. This is a talented lot who have been told to play it down. And personally offensive is the down playing of the bisexual angle. It muddles the motivations of at least two of the characters. This is an obvious pandering to the PC GA Shakes crowd. If you can't be truthful with a script then DON'T DO IT.

I could not wait to leave. And that's a rarity. After the amazing Saturday night performance of Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Loot hit me like bad Mexican food. And I still have indigestion.

Pump Boys and Dinettes, by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann
Get a shot before you see Pump Boys and Dinettes.....
Sunday, July 15, 2007
....because it's infectious! Right when I'm griping about lack of good theatre in Atlanta, Stage Door Players pulls off a charmer of a production. It's sassy. It's feel good. It's damn good with a cast that is loving every minute of their time onstage as we the audience love being there to soak it all in (and a standing ovation at the end was a no-brainer).

Pump Boys hit Broadway right around the time musicals with no plot, like Ain't Misbehavin' were making their debut. Yet Pump Boys is not a musical revue per se; you get to know these folks through song, their relationships with each other. In the wrong hands Pump Boys could be a mess. You have to have a cast who's dedicated to the relationships through song and this ensemble is truly committed to the work. Director Jeff McKerley has kept it in check so it doesn't get too mushy on the more sentimental numbers.

Most of the actors have powerhouse vocals, particularly Marcie Millard, Bethany Irby, and Dolph Amick. And while not as vocally powerful as the threesome, Matt Nitchie more than makes up for it in style. He's a charmer. He impressed me eons ago in Private Lives at Theatre Decatur and he's never failed to delight me in his varied roles over the years. This role is no exception. And there should be a law against looking so good when wearing a baseball cap backwards.

Group harmonies are particularly effective and quite a few numbers are a cappella. Linda Uzelac is to be commended.

And almost upstaging the performances is Chuck Welcome's set. Authentic,solid fun and very playable for the actors. The man never fails to amaze in his set designs. He is an actor's set designer.

So dust off the cowboy boots and calico dresses and high-tail it to Stage Door Players!

Corpus Christi, by Terrence Mcnally
Corpus Christi--Losing My Religion?
Sunday, April 17, 2005
I just got back from Onstage Atlanta's production of Terrence McNally's "Corpus Christi" and was very impressed not only by the script but the all-male ensemble, the direction and the lighting. This is the first production of the play here in Atlanta. Actually, there was one other at Kennesaw State that got shut down after one performance. So this time the play is being done INSIDE the perimeter where there's still free speech in the arts.

It's the retelling of the story of Jesus Christ, except updated to modern day. Jesus is now Joshua, born to Mary in Corpus Christi Texas (in a sleazy motel while the couple next door are going at it). His first kiss comes from Judas at the high school dance during a cigarette break (while Donna Summer's last dance blasts from the gym). As you can see, it has a bit of irreverance, but when the show must become come reverent, it easily transitions over to what must inevitably happen to Joshua. And there McNally makes his statement in this story about persecution not only of Jesus but also of gay men.

Bent, by Martin Sherman
"Bent" Outa Shape
Thursday, July 22, 2004
25 years later, Martin Sherman's play has the same glaring problems: a playwriting 101 first act and a better written second act. AE's production doesn't help overcome it either. While it has some moving moments (thanks mainly to Mitchell Anderson), overall it's a frustrating affair.

Frankly, I am surprised that out of the open casting call AE had last February for this production, the audience ends up enduring some lackluster performances. Surely the Atlanta acting pool is much better than this! And we get our third performance out of Daniel May this AE season. While I had high hopes for him as an actor after seeing him for the first time in Blue/Orange, his subsequent performances in Burn This and now Bent--has shown me he definitely has a theatrical bag of tricks. I won't say he runs the acting gamut from A to B, but he certainly doesn't run it from A to Z either.

Thrust staging is a problem in the play. A prime example is a wonderful, emotionally wrenching final gesture Mitchell Anderson's character makes that is only seen by the audience sitting front and center(a friend was sitting on the side and never saw it--and this gesture is so key to the relationship of the two leads). Also in the second act the audience witnesses the back and forth movement of bricks by the two leads. Clearly these bricks came from Home Depot; it reminded me I need to re-do my patio. How difficult was it to find quarry rocks instead of neat bricks? Oh and the laughably bad electric fence mosquito "zap" sound at the end. No sound would've been appropriate over this. What were they thinking?

All I can say is THANK GOD for Mitchell Anderson. He looked wonderfully wretched and wan, he infused humor and pathos into his character that moved me. And all was not lost for me: The production DID give me a good suggestion for the kind of bricks to use on my patio.

Burn This, by Lanford Wilson
Where's the danger?
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Perhaps it was because the last play I saw at AE was the devastating The Goat or Who is Sylvia? or maybe it was because I saw John Malkovich as Pale many years ago--but, unlike those two theatrical experiences, the danger was missing from this production of Burn This. The stakes were simply not high enough for me to care about anyone.

Daniel May (as Pale), a fine actor (and I look forward to seeing him in AE's upcoming Bent) still comes off lightweight and pretty boy Hugh Grant-ish despite the mop head and facial hair. No danger here though he gave it the old college try. And I never grasped where Cynthia Barrett's Anna was going nor that she had really delved into the history of her character, the relationship with Pale's dead brother, and what that meant to her attraction (or need to be attracted) to Pale. but I don't totally fault the actors: one major problem for me was chemistry: May and Barrett have none together. And without chemistry, Burn This never catches fire.

Atlanta Christmas 2019
by Thomas Fuller
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
A Christmas Tuna
by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, Jaston William
Southside Theatre Guild
Another Night Before Christmas
by Sean Grennan & Leah Okimoto
Academy Theatre
20th Century Blues
by Susan Miller
Live Arts Theatre
A Christmas Tuna
by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, Jaston William
Southside Theatre Guild
Almost, Maine
by John Cariani
Centerstage North Theatre
Another Night Before Christmas
by Sean Grennan & Leah Okimoto
Academy Theatre
Atlanta Christmas 2019
by Thomas Fuller
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
Daddy Long Legs
by John Caird (book) and Paul Gordon (songs)
The Legacy Theatre
Its a Die Hard Candy Cane Holiday
by Marc Farley
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Its a Die Hard Candy Cane Holiday
by Marc Farley
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta

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