If “Seminar” is not the best show ever at Actor’s Express, it’s the best I’ve ever seen.
A knockout script and a great cast moves each scene along at a clip and the premise and characters are a fresh slice of life. Playwright Theresa Rebeck, the creator of the one -time hit TV series “Smash” (yuck!), creates Mamet-style tough New York characters who call it as they see it. Leonard (Andrew Benator), the tough-ass, hard-as-nails writing instructor spits out the truth with biting cuts that nearly chase his “pussy” students out of the class.
Held in a student’s Upper West Side apartment, each student has paid $5,000 to hear critiques from this renowned journalist who tears into their writing like a piranha. But as in writing, less is more, and Leonard is swift and to the point with his criticisms.
Everything about this show is so lifelike, even the class trollop, Izzy (Bryn Striepe), who bares her breasts and has no qualms about sleeping her way to a writing contract. But neither the sex nor the F-bombs seem gratuitous or over the top. It’s typical New York struggling artists studying with a tough-as-a-truck teacher who accepts no BS in writing.
If you ever took private classes in New York, this will bring back memories. And if you ever wondered what it would be like to study with a hot-shot, big-wig teacher in New York, you’ll see. Take a bite out of this big apple.
Directed by Freddie Ashley with terrific performances by Andrew Benator and Cara Mintella, who plays Kate, ”Seminar” runs through June 16 at Actors Express.
Cast: David Plunkett, Barrett Doyle.
One of my favorite local playwrights– and probably one of the best, Hank Kimmel–authored the opening piece of “Way Outside the Fringe,” a night of surreal and odd ball theatre written by local playwrights.
“Looking For Our Town” an autobiographical piece about the time Hank went to the theater in New York to see Spalding Gray in “Our Town” and gets caught up in the action of the city. The show’s producer, Nick Boretz, has direct ties to both Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx, so Hank says you can at least be imbued with their spirit peripherally. I’m betting we’ll be imbued the work of the multi-talented Hank, a former professional tennis player, former journalist and a successful attorney and playwright.
‘Way Outside the Fringe’ gives noted Atlanta playwrights a show where they can let their nightmares loose on an audience.
A house divided… and falling! Talking Heads! Mayan Predictions! Spalding Gray! The Apocalypse!! Way Outside the Fringe: An Absurdist Play Festival, aptly honors Academy’s avant-garde roots and moves the art form forward April 26-28.
“We’re all going to have to deal with death and the absurdity of loss someday,” says Academy Theatre Artistic Director Robert Drake. “This is exactly what theater is supposed to do: give us a dry run to prepare and let us laugh at the same time.”
The Academy Theatre and Nick Boretz’ Adequately Normal Productions present this evening of surreal and odd ball theatre featuring pieces by Nick Boretz, David Fisher, Annie Harrison, Daniel Guyton, Hank Kimmel, and Hilary King. The show runs Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 28 at 6 p.m. The Academy Theatre is located at 119 Center Street, Avondale Estates, GA. 30002
Free Parking available. For more information please visit www.academytheatre.org.
WHERE: The Academy Theatre, 119 Center Street, Avondale Estates, 30002
TICKETS: $15 at the door or $10 on line at www.brownpapertickets.com/364506
Surprisingly, “Zorro” the musical at the Alliance Theatre is absolutely fantastic and is far better than any “Zorro” movie I’ve seen.
Neither Mom nor I had great expectations of this show, but we both found it thrilling. From the flamenco dancing to the music and the authentic acting, you just might think you are in Spain for a moment.
While the cast is great, there are a few who are absolutely outstanding –Diego de la Vega, aka Zorro (Adam Jacobs) Inez (Natascia Diaz), Ramon (Nicholas Carrière) and Sergeant Garcia (Eliseo N. Roman) a Falstaff type character who nearly steals the show with buffoonery reminiscent of Bill Dana’s “Jose Jimmenez” character.
The ensemble actors in “Zorro” are wonderful flamenco dancers and include Dance Captain Sara Erde (The Metropolitan Opera – Carmen; La Traviata); flamenco dancer Glenda Sol Koeraus (The Metropolitan Opera –La Traviata); flamenco dancer Peter Suarez; and flamenco guitarist Cristian Puig.
The musical production of “Zorro” incorporates flamenco dancing, sword fighting, stage magic, and elaborate stunts. I know it’s trite, but it really is a swashbuckling show.
This is a definite show to see.
“Zorro” runs through May 5 at the Alliance Theatre.
Acclaimed violinist Itzhak Perlman will take center stage as violinist and the podium as guest conductor to lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a program including “Summer” and “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” The performances will take place April 25 and 27, at 8:00 p.m., and April 28, 2013, at 3:00 p.m., in Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center.
A frequent guest of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1974, Perlman will make his 13th appearance as a soloist and his fifth appearance as a guest conductor of the Orchestra.
Perlman possesses four Emmy Awards and fifteen Grammy awards. He performed at the 2006 Academy Awards and at the Juilliard School Centennial gala, broadcast nationally on Live from Lincoln Center. One of Mr. Perlman’s proudest achievements is his collaboration with film score composer John Williams in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award winning film Schindler’s List, in which he performed the violin solos.
Tickets run from $32-$84 and can be purchased at the Woodruff Arts Center, by phone at (404) 733-5000 or online.
Story teller and producer of “This American Life,” Ira Glass, will present “Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass” at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech this Saturday.
In “Reinventing Radio,” Glass offers a behind-the-scenes look at his quirky public radio program “This American Life” and its unique approach to broadcast journalism and storytelling. Live onstage, Glass will mix stories from the show and talk about the show, its origins, his influences and the elements of a good story.
Glass, a distant cousin of music composer Phillip Glass, has introduced his audience to some of the top radio story tellers today, including David Sedaris, Jonathan Goldstein and Sarah Vowell.
“This American Life” is heard on more than 500 public radio stations each week by more than 1.7 million listeners. Most weeks, the podcast of the program is the most popular podcast in America. The show also airs each week on the CBC in Canada and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio network. Under Glass’s editorial direction, “This American Life” has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including several Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards. “The American Journalism Review” declared that the show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.”
“Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass” will be held Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Ferst Center for the Arts.
Atlanta Ballet’s New Choreographic Voices offers an edgy mixed rep program that looks at the bold new directions in contemporary dance. The ballet presents three avant-garde works, including Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16,” a humorous number in which the dancers pluck members from the audience to join in the Ballroom-style dancing.
“Minus 16″ is set to music ranging from Dean Martin to cha-cha, mambo, techno and traditional Israeli music. “Minus 16″ originally premiered in 1999 by Nederlands Dans Theatre II, whose video hovers above this post. Naharin’s pieces have been performed by some of the world’s leading dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Naharin has received multiple international awards for his contribution to dance and culture.
NCV will also mark the return of choreographer Gina Patterson, who created her first work for Atlanta Ballet’s first New Choreographic Voices program in 2011. That world premiere of “Quietly Walking” was called a “polished balletic masterpiece” by Dance Informa Magazine.
In her second world premiere for Atlanta Ballet, Patterson explores the idea of self-discovery and the moment when a “yes” or “no” can change a life forever. “I Am,” which contains nudity, is a journey of transformation and a time of reflection.
Christopher Wheeldon’s “Rush” is a wistful, neo-classical homage to the traditional pas de deux. Six couples ebb and flow, rushing forward and soaring back across the stage. Though original and post modern in style, “Rush” maintains the essence of traditional ballet.
The New York Times said, “Critics routinely praise his wit and imagination and point to his keen musicality, mastery of stage space and inventive partnering.
The Atlanta Ballet performs New Choreographic Voices March 22-24 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
“The Whipping Man” is like a frightening accident that makes you cringe, yet you can’t turn away from it because it’s one hell of a powerful play.
A wounded Jewish Civil War soldier, Caleb DeLeon (Jeremy Aggers), clambers into his front door in Richmond, Va., just as the war has ended, days before the Jewish holiday Passover. The home is nearly devoid of everything, except two of the family’s slaves, Simon (Keith Randolph Smith) and John (John Stewart).
Although Caleb has turned away from God, the DeLeon slaves were indoctrinated into Judaism, so Simon creates a Seder, the symbolic Passover dinner that commemorates the freedom of the Jewish slaves in biblical times in Egypt.
Like a Shakespearean play within a play, this is a celebration of freedom within a celebration. It’s a glimpse into the hypocrisy of religion and humanity.
Directed by Alexander Greenfield, ”The Whipping Man” bleeds with a superb script by Matthew Lopez, and a good cast with a notable performance by Aggers. The Whipping Man” runs on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre through April 7.
There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on at the Fox Theatre this week!
“Million Dollar Quartet” is inspired by the true story of the December evening in 1956 that Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash recorded at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tenn.
Presley, rising star Cash, and up-and-coming Perkins find themselves assembled at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where their producer and manager Sam Phillips calls in Jerry Lee Lewis to round out the sound.
The New York Times called the show “a buoyant new musical that whips the crowd into a frenzy,” New York Magazine labeled it “a dazzling raucous spectacle that sounds like a million bucks,” and NY1 called it “90 minutes of platinum grade entertainment.”
In 2010, “Million Dollar Quartet” was nominated for Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and won for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.
Ticket holders will have access to the Spanish Room where authentic memorabilia from the famous quartet will be on display, including Johnny Cash’s handwritten lyrics and suit, a handwritten note and karate costume owned by Elvis Presley and exclusive items from Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The Chicago production of ”Million Dollar Quartet” opened in 2008 and is still playing to packed houses at the Apollo Theatre, and a Las Vegas production began performances at Harrah’s Showroom in Las Vegas last month. The West End production played at the Noël Coward Theatre in London in 2011.
“Million Dollar Quartet” runs March 12-17 at the Fox Theatre. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The one thing you know pretty quickly when watching the Kendeda Award-winner for Best Play by a student playwright, this ain’t no amateur playwright. Within the first 20 minutes of the play, I pegged him as the next Neil Simon, replete with wit, comedic genius and originality, a man who could end up writing a slew of outstanding comedic plays.
Turns out, he basically has already done that.
“Bike America,” now running on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre, is pretty close to brilliant. Throughout the play there are scenes, situations and lines that are so smart, original and off-beat, you wonder where the hell the writer ever come up with that story. Forget trite theater and common storylines. This is one hell of a situation that only the brightest of minds could imagine.
Penny (Jessica DiGiovanni) has had it as a graduate student, with her meaningless classes and her needy boyfriend, Todd (Matt Nitchie). In an attempt to discover a new life, she signs up for the Bike America tour for cancer. Who cares that she’s only biked four days at the gym before beginning the cross-country trek with a small group that will be biking six hours a day. She’s determined to manage it.
The situations and characters, although entirely different, are as outlandish as those on the TV show “Seinfeld.” Playwright Michael Lew paints a clear picture of the towns the cyclists visit and and the characters Penny meets along the way. All wacky but totally believable. There’s no caricature here, just pure essence of life. Even the most notable actor, Marilyn Torres–who plays three characters–is believable as Todd’s mother, a mix of George Burns and Edward G. Robinson, and is quite the mixture of Gracie Allen and Rosie Perez as Annabelle, the gay girlfriend to Roxy.
A decade after graduating from Yale, where he studied science, and double majored in English and theater, playwright Michael Lew went to Julliard where he continued to study playwriting. He was a staff writer for PBS Kids and presently writes for The Blue Man Group.
He’s already gotten more offers to write for TV. His credits already are astounding.
The Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition receives submissions from all over the country. BIKE AMERICA playwright Mike Lew. The Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition is a one-of-a-kind competition that transitions student playwrights to the world of professional theatre. The Competition is open to all final year playwriting students at invited MFA programs throughout the country.
“Bike America” runs on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre through Feb. 24, 2013.
Directed by Mortiz von Stuelpnage, the cast of BIKE AMERICA includes Je Nie Fleming, Brandon Hirsch, Maurice Ralston and Tom White.
About Mike Lew
Mike Lew’s plays include Bike America, microcrisis (Ma-Yi, NYC; InterAct Philadelphia);Stockton (Ensemble Studio Theatre workshop, NYC); People’s Park (Victory Gardens Ignition Festival, Chicago); Yit, Ngay (published in Plays and Playwrights 2006); Neanderthal Love (Sloan commission); Bury the Iron Horse; and Paper Gods. His shorts include Tenure (24 Hour Plays on Broadway); Roanoke (Humana Festival, Louisville); In Paris You Will Find Many Baguettes but Only One True Love (Humana Festival, Louisville; InspiraTO Festival Winner, Toronto); Moustache Guys (Second Generation, NYC); Virtual Congress (Keen Company commission); The Roosevelt Cousins, Thoroughly Sauced Sam French Festival winner); and Magician Ben Vs. The Wizard Merlin (published by Smith & Kraus). Several of his short plays are published by Playscripts.
Mike is a Heideman Award winner and a four-time finalist four years in a row, and winner of the 2007 Battle of the Bards. Along with his wife Rehana Lew Mirza, he is co-director of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab, the largest collection of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled in the history of recorded time. Other memberships/residencies include Ensemble Studio Theatre, Old Vic New Voices, At Play Productions, Youngblood (alum), and TCG Young Leaders of Color. Training: Juilliard (2012), Yale (2003). View his website at mikelew.com.