A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Companies Reviewed#
Aurora Theatre2
The New American Shakespeare Tavern1
Georgia Shakespeare1
Centerstage North Theatre1
Average Rating Given : 4.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Children of a Lesser God, by Mark Medoff
Sometimes silence can be golden
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I made the long trek over to CenterStage North tonight to see my first show there - "Children of a Lesser God", a play that I am very fond of. I have been in the play twice before (once as Orin and the other as James Leeds), so I had VERY high standards for this play. I try to be as objective as possible when seeing a play that I have done before, but I can't help comparing it to the one I did. I think all actors do that, though.

This was the first time I had a chance to see the play from the audience's perspective. The main reason I went was because my friend Brian Twomey was in the play (he played Orin). I think CSN did a great job with this challenging play. Here's what I liked about it and didn't like about it.

- Barbara Rudy (Sarah Norman) blew me away in her performance (and I'm not just saying that to make Brad/Dedalus happy). Her sign language was very fluid and it looked effortless. I found out during intermission that she and Jeffrey Biggar (James Leeds) had been working on their sign language since January. Wow, 8 months to learn sign language. I wish I had that luxury. I only had 2 months to learn all my sign language when I played James Leeds (and I just managed to learn it all in time - I was still tweaking my signing right up to opening night). It really shows in the actors' performances, especially Barbara. She looked right at home as Sarah.

- Jeffrey Biggar carried the role of James pretty well (there are some choices that he made that I would, and did, do differently), but he did a nice job. This is a character that I find a lot of fault with, especially since I played him before (still is my favorite character of all the roles I've played). I really enjoyed the climax of the play between James and Sarah near the end of the play.

- the supporting actors all carried their roles well. I should mention that they did have one deaf actress in the play (she played Lydia), and she was wonderful to watch. She played Lydia to a T, very sultry and lustful for James. Brian Twomey also did a good job playing Orin, the rebellious deaf guy who is on a quest for deaf rights. I was hoping that the actress who played Edna Klein (the lawyer) would come off as more obnoxious. It makes the scenes between James/Klein and Sarah/Orin/Klein funnier if she's more obnoxious and ignorant of the deaf culture (at least they were in my previous productions).

- some of the blocking they did looked really well done. I was thinking from time to time "dang, I wish we had blocked this scene like this when we did the play". They utilized every exit possible, even coming in from the rear of the audience a few times, which "brings" the audience into the play. I always like it when theatres do that (a great example of what I'm talking about is the Shakespeare Tavern - they utilize this concept very well).

Didn't Like:

- I didn't really like the fact that Orin and Lydia were played by actors in their 30s or 40s. These 2 characters are supposed to be in their late teens to early 20s. Brian explained why they made those casting decisions, and I guess it worked. It just kept throwing me off, though. Barbara actually looked young as Sarah (no idea how old Barbara is, and I didn't ask) - she could have been in her late 20s or early 30s. I think Sarah is 25 in the play, Orin is 22 and Lydia is about 19 or 20.

- the card game in the beginning of Act 2 was set up pretty strange. All the actors were sitting on 2 benches facing downstage (the audience). I've never seen people play cards that way before, especially bridge. I think the actors could have at least moved the benches horizontal to each other (facing Stage Left and Stage Right) or even diagonally at an angle so they would be facing each other and still facing the audience. The whole sequence in the card game looked pretty off to me.

- it looked to me like the actors who were signing (especially Jeffrey) signed a lot more of Signed English than ASL. ASL is what most deaf people prefer to use - it's easier to sign and flows better than Signed English (where you actually sign EVERY single word - it gets really boring to watch after a while). James starts out with SE a lot because before he takes the job teaching at the deaf school, he wouldn't know very much ASL, but I think as the play progresses, he would switch to ASL, especially after living with Sarah for a while. Jeffrey did a mixture of both, but I noticed a lot more SE than ASL.

All in all, I thought the play was successful. I happened to see the play on the same day as a deaf friend of mine saw it (the person who actually taught me all my sign language for James Leeds), and she said they did a great job. Kudos to everyone involved in the production - y'all should be proud of yourselves. I look forward to seeing future productions at CSN.

Clint Johnson

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
Best version of Macbeth I've seen
Saturday, May 7, 2005
I saw it last night and while half the time I was thinking of how my back was hurting because I was sitting on the lawn for 2 and a half hours, I was also really enjoying the play.

I loved the set design and how the actors incorporated every piece of it into the show, and I really liked the revolving platform in the center.

Daniel May was fantastic as Macbeth and his energy was really high for the entire play. I've heard of Joanna Mitchell before, but had never seen her anything before Macbeth. Brik Berkes as Macduff was also great. Scott Kayser was fantastic in every role he played, but I especially enjoyed his portrayal of the drunk porter.

But my FAVORITE characters to watch were the 3 witches. Rachel Craw, who I have previously worked with at the 24-Hour Plays, was probably my favorite one to watch, but Ismail and the other one (forgot her name) were also cool to watch, and they are on stage a LOT more than I remember in previous productions I've seen. I like how each actor brought his/her own uniqueness to the characters.

A couple of complaints, though:
- I would have preferred that they do the play without microphones. But I can forgive this since it is being done outdoors and in open air, meaning virtually no acoustics, so the sound of their voices wouldn't travel very far.
- most of what the actors were saying seemed to be directed at the audience rather at each other and the monologues and speeches sounded "canned".
- GSF should give out less tickets next time for lawn seating because those of us that were on blankets didn't really have a lot of wiggle room to move around (my back and butt were seriously hurting after 2 and a half hours). They really tried to cram as many blankets on the lawn as possible. Or they should at least allow chairs on the lawn like they do at Stone Mtn Park for the laser show.

The fight at the end of the play was REALLY awesome. It had me leaving Piedmont last night with a rush and I wish it had gone on a bit longer. Kudos to Fight Captain Chris Ensweiler (who was also good in the play) for some great fight choreography.

This was my first experience with Shake at the Lake (missed Midsummer last year) and I can't wait to see what next year will bring!

Hometown Holidays - Aurora’s Canteen 2004, by Conceived and Written by Anthony P. Rodriguez & Ann-Carol Pence
Pretty good, but I miss the old Christmas Canteens
Friday, December 10, 2004
I went to see Aurora Theatre's Christmas Canteen (now called Hometown Holidays) Wednesday night, and it was a lot different from past canteens. While past Christmas Canteens were set overseas at a USO and involve characters from the military, Hometown Holidays focuses more on "Small Town America". They focus on railroad towns back during simpler times when the sound of a train whistle meant that friends and family had arrived for a visit.

I enjoyed the Christmas Canteens that focused on the USO - the military characters usually did a bunch of silly little skits, told jokes to each other and read letters from back home, along with singing songs in between scenes. I didn't enjoy the Hometown Holidays as much - I guess it's because I'm too young to remember small town America with their whistlestops (heck, I wasn't even born yet). But because I was expecting a different type of show, it wasn't reflected by the rating I gave it.

Ok, on to the performance from Wednesday night. I went to the show looking forward to seeing Eric Catania and Jerrica Knight-Catania, having previously seen them at Onstage in Ragtime and Pippin (and Jerrica in Titanic: The Musical). I was really impressed with their performances in these shows, so I had a high expectation for them in Hometown Holidays. They both sang pretty well, but not as good as they did at Onstage, and I don't think it was their fault - it was just that the type of songs they were singing were much different, and they didn't get a chance to show off their vocals. The other actors in the show were Natalie Gray (her 4th Christmas Canteen at Aurora), Russell Rhodes, Christopher Skinner and Kimberly Bates. Russell Rhodes pretty much served as the "conductor" and "host" for the evening, and Christopher Skinner was the comic relief as the dorky guy, and he was my favorite actor in the show.

I liked the singing of all the actors, but I did not like Natalie Gray's choreography of the show. While singing, they did weird little hand/feet dance moves and at one point, it seemed like they were more like cheerleaders than singers. In other musicals I've seen (especially at Aurora), the singers don't move like that. They focus more on the singing and the passion for the song is really felt by the audience. Maybe the difference is that this wasn't a musical per se, but a musical revue. Whatever it was, I didn't really like that and that's why I gave the production a 3 rather than a 4. While everyone was good, they weren't necessarily great and they looked bored at times and looked like they were just going through the motions of singing rather than really living in the moment.

Act 1 dealt with the Small Town America and the railroad songs, and I was looking forward to intermission. Act 2 was divided into 2 parts: tributes to various people (Judy Garland, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Freddy the Freeloader) and finally, the Christmas songs. I liked the tributes - they were pretty cool. And the Christmas songs was what I went to the show for, but they didn't sing Silent Night, which I was hoping to hear. The last Christmas Canteen I went to at Aurora, I remember Ann-Carol singing "Silent Night" and I was REALLY moved by it.

As always with shows at Aurora, I was really impressed by the set design. They always go all out in designing the set.

Would I go see the show again? Probably not. But would I recommend it to other people - absolutely. It was a pretty good show all in all and I might see it again next year, provided that the choreography is changed. Go catch it if you can, I believe it runs for another two weeks, but most of the shows are sold out already.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Remount), by Stephen Sondheim, Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart
A Hilarious Show
Thursday, May 20, 2004
I don't review shows on here that much, but I had to review this one. I wish I had seen this show last year at Shakespeare Tavern, but this year was the first time I've seen it.

Now, I saw it on the "Backstage with Forum" night, which is 2 days before opening, so I guess you could call this a preview show/dress rehearsal. With that take in mind, there were a few things that were off as far as lines being dropped and timing of actors' entrances.

Now having said that, most of the show was very enjoyable. It is one of the funniest musicals I have ever seen, and definitely the best show I've ever seen at Shakespeare Tavern (with the exception of "Murder In the Cathedral" last year - still my favorite show there). Jeff McKerley has the best comic timing and he was just dead on in everything. This was the first time I've seen Clark Taylor (if I'm not mistaken, he's not an Atlantan actor).

My two favorite actors in the play, though, were Brandon O'Dell and Drew Reeves. Drew Reeves' character (can't remember the name off-hand) cracked me up every time he came walking "around the city" and his expression when he realized he made another trip around the city was priceless.

I've already signed up to volunteer to see the show at least 2 more times, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it again. Don't wait until the last weekend, go see this show today!

Clint Johnson

Moon Over Buffalo, by Ken Ludwig
Great side-splitting laughter comedy
Thursday, January 29, 2004
I've always been a fan of Aurora, they have always put on great plays. And time after time, they amaze me with their set designs, and Moon Over Buffalo is no exception. And they even did something really cool and unique with their set that made me blink twice when it was implemented. I won't say what they did, you'll have to see that for yourself, but I think you'll like it. Okay, enough about the set, now about the actors. The real stand-outs in this production are Anthony Rodriguez, Shelly McCook and Chris Ensweiler. Anthony once again shows his versatility in the role of George Hay. In the one play that I was in at Aurora (Children of a Lesser God), Anthony's character came across as so evil and detestable, but every role I've seen him in since has been funny and off-the-wall, and as George Hay, he's probably at the funniest I've ever seen him since Clue: The Musical. Shelly McCook was great as Charlotte Hay, and I thought Anthony and Shelly complemented each other very well in this play. But my favorite actor in this play by far is Chris Ensweiler, who seems just at home as the geeky Howard. Every time he looked like he was about to have a panic attack, he immediately stood up straight and thrust his arms up above his head. I'm not exactly sure what that was supposed to accomplish, but it looked so darn funny and it seemed to work because everytime he did it, the audience roared with laughter. And I loved the scene with Howard and Charlotte, where she thinks he is Frank Capra and is trying to butter up to him, and he's talking about the weather forecast. Watching the look on her face every time he spouted off something else about the weather was priceless. Travis Young was effectively used as the sidekick in his portrayal of Paul. And the scene where he is trying to dress a very drunken George had me laughing so hard. This was the first show I've ever seen Hope Mirlis (yes, one of the co-founders of Synchronicity) in and I enjoyed her performance. I thought she might have been overshadowed by Anthony, Shelly and Paul but she held her own against all of them, and she made Roz a very likeable character. Lynne Ashe, Jennifer Duran and Bruce Taylor also did a great job with their roles, but they didn't get as much stage time as the rest of the actors, so I wasn't able to enjoy them as much as the rest of them. This is a very physical play as you'll see and there is a LOT of running on and off the stage, and it was all flawlessly done. This was opening night and I thought I might see a slip-up or two here and there which is oftentimes normal for the opening of a show, but this show was done very well. It looked like they had been doing it for weeks. I plan on going back to see it again before the end of the run, and I suggest you check out this show if you get a chance. Another 4-star comedy by Aurora Theatre.

Clint Johnson

Barton Field
by John Ammerman
Relapse Theatre
Burns Night 2020
by Robert Burns
Last Laugh! Stand-Up Competition
by Justin Spainhour-Roth
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village
Burns Night 2020
by Robert Burns
Last Laugh! Stand-Up Competition
by Justin Spainhour-Roth
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village
Almost, Maine
by John Cariani
Centerstage North Theatre
Barton Field
by John Ammerman
Relapse 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
Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare
Live Arts Theatre

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