Susan K Asher, Atlanta PR and Art Reviews
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Six-Week Contemporary Dance and Physical Theatre Festival Featuring Israeli and Local Artists Oct. 5-Nov. 19

2016 October 16
by Susan Asher

CORE, the award-winning contemporary

dance organization based in Decatur, Ga. and Houston, Texas, is collaborating with 7

Stages Theatre, Emory University Dance Program/Candler Concert Series, Rialto

Center for the Arts at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University to

present EXPOSED, a six-week festival of richly-layered, boundary-blurring contemporary

dance and physical theatre from Israel. Performances featuring Israeli and local artists,

workshops and classes will be offered throughout metro Atlanta from October through

mid-November. A complete schedule can be found at

The Israeli artists scheduled to participate include:

 Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor Dance Projects

 Yossi Berg & Oded Graf Dance Theatre

 Anat Grigorio Dance Projects

 Hillel Kogan

 Ofir Nahari

 Ella Ben-Aharon

 Ido Tadmor

 Vertigo Dance Company

‘Girls Life’ at Pinch ‘N Ouch Theatre

2016 September 25

Billed as “a comedy” by writer and director Grant McGowen, “Girls Life” brings few laughs. However, there’s hope as the cast and director of the show that I saw changes on Oct. 13, so things could improve.

The premise of the play appears to be that grown women act like college coeds. The play opens with three women –aged approximately 31 years old– smoking pot and getting drunk in an apartment that is shared by two of the women–Catey (Jordan Demers) and Janie (Christie Vozniak). The three talk about getting shit-faced and getting laid. Scene. Janie is in a man’s bedroom, demanding he have sex with her, but he won’t do it. She goes in a rage, yelling and screaming at him to f* her now. What we see is a lot of “acting,” a lot of “ouch” screaming, but there’s no “pinch” behind it all. Turns out this manic Janie is an obstetrician, living with another woman in a sparsely furnished apartment, getting wasted, cavorting with a 20-something busboy/waiter, Alex (Pedro Ferreira) and then going to work to deliver babies. So she’s an obstetrician making a six-figure salary living with a scattered-brain woman who is not quite sure which gender she prefers, in what appears to be a tiny tenement. Not only is that hard to buy, we learn there is more history to Janie’s relationship with this man, and based on that history, it’s surprising that she would even be with him. Maybe a college “girl” would, but a 31-year-old doctor? It’s far from plausible.

Catey, who has a boyfriend, is seeing a woman on the side, Liza (Alexa Staudt). Supposedly these two are passionate about each other, but their kissing didn’t seem the least bit passionate.

The best scene is the one in the above video, between Diana (Jackie Costello) and Jack (Omer Mughal), two people really relating to one another. It’s simple, without manufactured drama, but there’s plenty of drama there in those moments, and the dialog feels real. These two characters are believable, and the best acting of the show happens between them.

After Oct. 8, “Girls Life” will run with a new cast up until Oct. 23 under the direction of Michelle Pokopac at Pinch N’ Ouch.

The cast for Oct. 13-23: Rylee Bunton, Brian Ashton Smith, Candace Kitchens, Alex Frazier, Mala Bhattacharya, Alyx Libby. Direction will be by Michelle Pokopac.

‘The Threepenny Opera’ at 7 Stages

2016 September 18
by Susan Asher
cast names

Stephanie Lloyd, Aaron Strand, Jessica de Maria

A hot, sexy, creative  rendition of “The Threepanny Opera” is playing at 7 Stages. Gangster Macheath is two-timing his wives, Polly(Stephanie Lloyd) and Lucy (Jessica De Maria) and cheating on them both. Polly’s parents, Mr. JJ Peachum (Kevin Stillwell) and Mrs. Peachum (Don Finney) who for a cut of their wages train beggars to beg, attempts to have Macheath arrested. A look at gangsters, whores and beggars in England in the early 1900s. Great music (including the classic song “Mack the Knife”), with wonderful singing by Lloyd and De Maria and acting by Kevin Stillwell and Lloyd.

Written by Bertolt Brecht, music by Kurt Weill, directed by Michael Haverty and Bryan Mercer, “The Threepenny Opera” runs through Sept. 25 at 7 Stages.

Cast: Aaron Strand, Adam Lowe, Dorothy V. Bell-Polk, Nicolette Emanuelle, Jed Drummond, Tad Cameron, Meg Harkins, Shannon Murphy, Evan Hynes, Claire Christie.

‘The Prom’ at the Alliance Theatre

2016 September 15
by Susan Asher

When you leave a show still clapping in the aisles after the actors have left the stage, something must be great. And the new musical “The Prom” at the Alliance Theatre certainly is. Whether or not you’re asked to “The Prom,” this Broadway-bound performance is one you need to get to. Reminiscent of Jerry Herman, “Mame,” Judy and Mickey, “Evita,” and even Mel Brooks with a mixture of contemporary controversy over LBGT rights, the show rocks with modern music and old-style show tunes.

The premise runs on a failing Broadway show whose cast hears about a small town Indiana high school prom that is being canceled due to Emma (Caitlin Kinnunen) who intends to bring another girl as her date. The Broadway show’s diva, Dee Dee Allen (Beth Leavel), and a few other cast members decide to become involved in Emma’s cause and travel to the school to stir publicity in hopes of luring people back to their show.

The entire cast is outstanding. Level is a true Broadway star who received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her starring role of Beatrice Stockwell in The Drowsy ChaperoneAt least one other performer if not more have been nominated for Tony Awards.

If talent, a great script and great music is all it takes to get to Broadway, this show has it.

Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin,”The Prom” runs through Sept. 25 at the Alliance Theatre.


Mary Antonini, Brooks Ashmanskas, Anna Grace Barlow, Courtenay Collins, Collins Conley, DeMarius R. Copes, Kevin Csolak, Shelby Finnie, Josh Franklin, Damon J. Gillespie, Sheldon Henry, Josh Lamon, Becca Lee, Kate Marilley, Isabelle McCalla, Chris Medlin, Martin Moran, Becca Petersen, Angie Schworer, Christopher Sieber, Brendon Stimson, Teddy Toye, Alena Watters, Michelle West.

‘If/Then’ at the Fox Theatre

2016 August 10

The musical “If/Then” takes a look at what life might have looked like had Elizabeth (Jackie Burns) chosen one boyfriend over the other. If she had gone with one, then this would have happened. If she had chosen the other, then this would have happened.

Recently divorced and in her late twenties, Elizabeth has moved from Arkansas to Manhattan where she meets in the park her new girlfriend, Kate (Tamyra Gray), and old college sweetheart, Lucas (Anthony Rapp). Kate tries to fix Elizabeth up with the guy nearby playing guitar, but Lucas beckons his old love interest to leave with him. She ponders her choices. Just after she chooses Lucas, Josh (Matthew Hydzik), a handsome man dressed in  military fatigues, says he just got back from deployment, feels like he knows her and asks for her phone number.

We then see Elizabeth’s life unfold in two ways: one, had she chosen Lucas and two, had she chosen Josh. Her romantic partners step in and out of scenes so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with the story. When she’s with Josh, she’s called Liz. With Lucas, she’s called Beth. One moment she’s Lucas’s girlfriend; the next moment she’s Josh’s. In the first act, the scenes with Elizabeth and Josh  have passion and excitement, but most of the scenes with other characters leave much to be desired. Lucas forms a romance with David (Marc DeLacruz) and Kate hooks up with Anne (Janine DiVita), but I have no feeling for any of them. No excitement. No dislike. I sit in my seat waiting for something to happen. I wait. I wait some more.

Hydzik and Burns pick me up with their beautiful voices. She is a booming powerhouse, and he melted my heart on more than one song.

In the second act, the intensity and excitement between Josh and Liz fades. In each scene there is something new that happens, but almost none of it makes me sit forward in my chair. I want to care about the play’s characters, especially when they’re in danger, but I don’t. The script falls flat. As someone else so aptly put it, the stakes aren’t high enough. In most scenes it appears that if this happens, then so what.

Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Tom Kitt, directed by Michael Greif, “If/Then” runs through Aug. 14 at the Fox Theatre.


Jacques C. Smith, English Bernhardt, Charissa Bertels, Xavier Cano,  Kyra Faith, Corey Greenhan, Cliffton Hall, Alicia Taylor Tomasko, Tyler McGee, DeeDee Magno Hall

‘Dispossessed’ at Essential Theatre

2016 August 8
Scott Rousseau, Amelia Fischer, Jake Krakovsky, Kathleen McManus

Scott Rousseau, Amelia Fischer, Jake Krakovsky, Kathleen McManus. Photo: Stungun Photography

“Dispossessed,”  now playing at Essential Theatre, is an example of some of the smartest, most original playwriting now being shown on the Atlanta stage. Influenced by but totally different from Russian playwright S. Ansky’s play “The Dybbuk,” “Dispossessed” should be on the top of your list of shows to see.

A play within in a play, “Dispossessed” takes place in 1928 and revolves around a Yiddish Theatre on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in rehearsal for a show about a Dybbuk, the soul of a dead man who has entered the woman he loved. The theater company’s new leading handsome actor, Natan (Jake Krakovsky), is a philanderer who charms the leading actress, Rivka (Amelia Fischer), her father and owner of the theater company, Chaim (Scott Rousseau), and her mother, Chavelle (Kathleen McManus). Meanwhile, Natan schemes to marry Rivka so her parents can retire and he can become the theater’s new owner and operator.

In a small tightly knit community, Rivka is a nonconformist determined to make her own path in the world. With this fresh, inventive well-written play, Karen Wurl appears to be doing the same. She is currently working on another play, which is about a woman who shoots her rock star husband and is narrated by one of the woman’s cats.

Written by Karen Wurl, co-winner of the 2016 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, directed by Peter Hardy, “Dispossessed” runs through August 28 at the 2016 Essential Theatre Play Festival at the West End Performing Arts Center.


Leah . . . . . . . . . . Alyssa Caputo
Dov . . . . . . . . . . Mark Gowan
Zalman . . . . . . . . . .Tyler Hayes
Izzy . . . . . . . . . . Chris Schulz
Tsilah . . . . . . . . . . Christie Vozniak

‘Company’ at Actor’s Express

2016 August 6

If you’re a fan of musicals and have never seen Steven Sondheim’s “Company,” you need to get to Actor’s Express now. The 1970’s show ran on Broadway for more than two years and won six Tony Awards, including for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (George Furth), Best Original Score and Best Lyrics. This show, however, will only be around for a couple of more weeks, so get the to the theater now.

“Company” revolves around Bobby (Lowrey Brown), a philanderer whose friends try to convince him to grow up and get married now that he is turning 35 years old. Notable songs include “Side by Side by Side,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” sung by Elaine Stritch in the original cast recording and by Libby Whittemore in the Actor’s Express cast, “Barcelona,” and “Getting Married Today,” whose lyrics rip near speeds of a hundred words per stanza and are sung beautifully by Amy (Jessica Miesel) just minutes before marrying Paul (Dan Ford) as she realizes she can’t go through with it.

Directed by Freddie Ashely, “Company” runs through Sept. 11 at Actor’s Express.


Peter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniel Burns
Marta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jimmica Collins
Jenny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Laura Floyd
Susan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jill Hames
Larry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steve Hudson
David . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phillip Lynch
April . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kelly Chapin Martin
Sara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rhyn Saver
Kathy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emily Stembridge
Harry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Craig Waldrip
Joanne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Libby Whittemore


‘Smart People’ at True Colors Theatre

2016 August 3
by Susan Asher

“Smart People” may not be as smart as all that, but it’s an amusing play about the differences between cultures and races. Without being preachy, it focuses on the ways we are all affected by race, our own prejudices and that of others. Relationships and conflict swirls around an Asian-American, Harvard psychology professor Ginny (Julee Cerda), a highly educated black actress, Valerie (Danielle Deadwyler), a white neuroscience professor, Brian (Joe Knezevich) set on proving that all whites are racists, and an obstinate black doctor, Jackson (Neal Ghant).

It’s an enjoyable show with good actors and an outstanding performance by Deadwyler, who had the audience howling when her character is called upon by a director to play a stereotypical, urban, street-style angry, loud woman.

Written by Lydia Diamond, directed by David de Vries, “Smart People” runs through August 7 at True Colors Theatre at the Southwest Arts Center.

‘da Kink in My Hair’ at Horizon Theatre

2016 July 24
by Susan Asher

The cover of the plalybill for  “‘da kink in my hair” says it’s “A Sold-Out Musical Sensation and TV Show, Now Onstage,” so who am I to argue with this big hit. I won’t.

If you like Tyler Perry’s work, you’ll probably love this play. If you haven’t seen a few plays from the 1970s in which different female characters tell their different stories, you might think this is original and smart playwriting. If you liked the musical “Menopause” and thought that was funny, you’ll love the old lady’s tune about her and her boyfriend with its sexual innuendos. If you’ve seen a lot of theater, you, like I, might have known exactly what trouble was brewing from the moment the little girl came on stage and the gist of the story she was going to tell. Originality is not something this show gets high marks for.

Plenty of people loved Horizon Theatre’s rendition of this play. The actors were all good, and people all around me were laughing. I wasn’t one of them.

Written by Trey Anthony, directed by Thomas W. Jones Jr., “‘da Kink in My Hair” runs through Aug. 28 at Horizon Theatre.

Terry Burrell
Maiesha McQueen
Minka Wiltz
Marliss Amiea
Jennifer Alice Acker
Jeanette Illidge
Onya Russell
Janeva Sibdhannie
LeAnn Dunn
Laurie Williamson

Author Emily Griffin
Speaks at the MJCCA Thursday

2016 June 26

New York Times Bestselling Author Emily Giffin, dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” by Vanity Fair, will speak about her new book to be released Tuesday, “First Comes Love.”

About the Book
Sister stories have always been a favorite of Giffin. In “First Comes Love” Giffin introduces readers to a pair of 30-something sisters who find themselves at a crossroads, their fractious relationship colored by a family tragedy 15 years ago. As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, painful secrets from the past begin to surface, and Josie and Meredith must not only confront the long-dormant issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own life choices. Emotionally honest and brimming with Giffin’s singular insight and humor, “First Comes Love” is a richly crafted story about family, forgiveness, and finding the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

Giffin has penned seven New York Times bestsellers: “Something Borrowed” (2004), “Something Blue” (2005), “Baby Proof” (2006), “Love the One You’re With” (2008), “Heart of the Matter” (2010), “Where We Belong” (2012) and “The One & Only” (2014). Her seven novels, all filled with endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have resonated deeply with both critics and readers around the world, achieving bestseller status in a number of countries. Giffin resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta.

Mara Davis will host the author talk. Giffin resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta.

Event highlights: Wine • Door prizes • Gift bags • Photo booth • Treats

Ticket Prices & Contact Information
Tickets: MJCCA Member: $28 / Community: $33 (ticket price includes first edition copy of book).
Purchase Tickets: MJCCA Box Office at 678.812.4002 or visit