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Club Hertz Comedy

2021 December 6
by Susan Asher

From Dec. 8 through Dec. 24, CLUB HERTZ LIVE at the Alliance Theatre will feature a variety of different performances each night. Bands and performers were chosen by a panel of music-industry professionals.  

I’m looking forward to seeing comic Mark Kendall host a variety show Thursday and Friday, Dec. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. Thursdays show will feature the comedy sketch group Black AF. 

Friday night will feature a lineup of solo performers: opera singer Jayme Alilaw, poet and storyteller Theresa Davis, and standup comics Carter Deems (TV’s Wild N’ Out), David Perdue (Kevin’s Hart Presents: Hart of the City on Comedy Central), and Shalewa Sharpe (HBO’s Two Dope Queens and Comedy Central). Below is the lineup of performances beginning Dec. 8.

Tickets can be obtained online. COVID safety protocols and masks are mandatory.

World Premiere of ‘Hometown Boy’

2021 November 20
by Susan Asher

James left the South for college and moved to New York. He brings his girlfriend, Becks (Michelle Pokopac), to his old home where his father, Walter (Glen Kubota), lives and discovers his mind and home have sharply declined. James tells Becks why he hasn’t seen his father in a decade, the actions he took that tore his family apart.

‘Hometown Boy’ at Actor’s Express blends a cast of a couple of outstanding performers with a story about a young man who comes back to his hometown after a decade.

But James has his own problems in relationships. He turns away from Becks, goes to a bar, leaving her home alone for hours with Walter. During his evening jaunt, we learn that James’s problems lie far deeper than closing down communication with his girlfriend and father.

Deceit surrounds the family and its old friend, the former governor, Philip (Chris Kayser) and his daughter, Sam (Allison Dane) and her husband, Collin (Daniel Parvis).

Oh, the lies that have been woven and slowly unfold.

Kayser, Dane and Parvis are outstanding. They and the script make this a worthwhile show.

Written by Keiko Green, directed by Rebecca Wear, “Hometown Boy” runs at Actor’s Express through Nov. 28.

Church Mice at Aurora Theatre

2021 October 3
by Susan Asher
James Brooks

Church Mice is a musical sketch comedy show conceived under a peach tree in Atlanta by a bunch of local comedians during the pandemic. This show is not an indictment on religion. We already know that the stories in the bible can be interpreted six ways to Sunday. But to Love thy neighbor as thyself is a virtue fit a better world. And when folks gather on Sunday to hear the gospel, things get super weird.

Featuring laugh-out-loud sketch comedy, live music, singing, dancing, and a host of crazy characters, Church Mice is filled with side splitting laughter performed by a diverse cast of Atlanta’s funniest musical comedians. Enjoy song parodies during the annual Christian talent show, Youth Pastor Chad’s desperate attempts to boost attendance, and watch reverend James get into a fight with a snake.

Written by Sarah Mckee, Evan Conaway, Brandon Stringfield, Abigail Williams, George N Koulouris, and Will Amato


OCT. 8 at  8PM
in the Lawrenceville Arts Center Courtyard
Outdoor performance under a large tent
TICKETS from $14
Tickets are available in 3 sections.

VIP Tents: $192, includes 6 chairs and a table.
Premium Seating: $22
Standard Seating: $14

Darlin’ Cory at the Alliance Theatre

2021 September 19
by Susan Asher

Just before “Darlin’ Cory” started, my sister and I were in the bathroom saying we had no high expectations for the long play we were about to see. I assured her– as she normally dislikes live theater–that we could leave at intermission.

At intermission I asked if she had a cold. She had been blowing her nose a lot during the performance. No, she said, she was crying. I’m very emotional she said. She cried intermittently throughout the second act as well.

I didn’t cry at all and didn’t understand what had touched her so much. But I can say that from the moment the play started, I was enrapt in it. The action continually moved forward. There wasn’t a moment that the play stood still and I became bored.

I originally knew it was going to be about life of Appalachian country folk, folk I can’t relate to much as I grew up in Atlanta and later lived in Manhattan for six years. I imagined, and feared, it would be another one of those country plays where people sing and dance to yee-haw music. I had pictured banjos, dulcimers and guitars and tunes I could never relate to.

But I could. And the music was great, and the script, and the acting.

The irony is that yes, there are guitars and dulcimers, mandolins, and other string instruments, but the music moved my heart and my body.

Darlin’ Cory is more Faulkner than hootenanny. And like Faulkner, it’s terrific.

Book by Phillip DePoy, music by Sugarland’s Grammy-Award winning front man, Kristian Bush, “Darlin’ Cory” runs at the Alliance Theatre until Oct. 3.

Cast:

Jeremy Aggers
Jimez Alexander
Marcello Audino
John bobek
Jewl Carney
Katie Deal
Kelli Dodd
Rob Lawhon
Rhyn Mclemore
Gillian Rabin
Maria Rodriguez-Sager
Asia Rogers

DARLIN’ CORY

2021 August 17
by Susan Asher
Darlin’ Cory, musich from Sugarland’s Grammy Award-winning front man, Kristian Bush

The Alliance Theatre announces its return to the Coca-Cola Stage with the world premiere musical, DARLIN’ CORY. Set against the backdrop of 1920s Appalachia, DARLIN’ CORY is a haunting new musical by playwright & novelist Phillip DePoy (Edward Foote) and Sugarland’s Grammy Award-winning front man, Kristian Bush (Troubadour). DARLIN’ CORY is directed by the Alliance’s Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, Susan V. Booth (Ever After, Troubadour). Performances begin September 8, 2021.

In a tiny mountain town with no road in – and no road out – a community carries secrets of all sizes. But when a young woman with ambition and intelligence collides with a pastor deeply committed to preserving the status quo, cracks begin to appear in the town’s well-constructed façade. And when a stranger appears with a mysterious backstory and the best moonshine anyone’s ever tasted – some of those secrets threaten to spill. Featuring an original folk-country score, this modern-day myth inspired by local lore promises to leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

“DARLIN’ CORY is, in my experience, a unique musical – Greek themes, Appalachian stories, supernatural characters, and new music all focused on specific contemporary events, current news—and I think it’s the most collaborative enterprise with which I’ve been connected in this century, thanks to Susan and Kristian and [Line Producer] Amanda Watkins,” said Playwright and Co-Lyricist Phillip DePoy.  “Absolutely remarkable.”

“It’s not every day that you get to play with magic; real magic. Writing, making, and dreaming DARLIN’ CORY to life has been nothing short of magic,” said Composer and Co-Lyricist Kristian Bush. “I keep trying to explain it to my friends in the music industry when they ask what I am working on right now. I say ‘close your eyes.  Imagine starting a band with six lead singers that need a double album, a double live album, actually, to be released worldwide, with a tour that goes with it… and dancers, and lights, and production that will never be seen by an audience until it all gets released, on the same day. Oh yeah, and also that band sometimes sounds like Arcade Fire and sometimes sounds like Dolly Parton, and might or might not contain details from your own life buried within it, wrapped in a story about a town and a girl and moonshine and secrets.’ This is what we are doing in the next few weeks. This kind of magic.”

DARLIN’ CORY will have its world premiere on the Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre September 8 – October 3, 2021.  Tickets and information are available at www.alliancetheatre.org/cory.    

  • Vaccination requirement – all patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test taken prior to their performance date, as well as a matching photo ID, to enter the performance. 
  • Masks – Masks are required to be worn properly indoors at all times.
  • Reduced contact – Ticket scanning will be contactless, and staff will be equipped with masks and gloves. 
  • Air Circulation – The Alliance has replaced all HVAC units with HVAC ionization systems, which provide a 99.4% reduction of COVID-19 within 30 minutes.  HVAC ionization is more effective than other air-cleaning methods and helps kill other types of viruses, such as the flu, and air pollutants.


VENUE INFORMATION:
 

Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre 

Woodruff Arts Center, Memorial Arts Building 

1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

‘High Risk, Baby!’

2021 June 13
by Susan Asher

Shelby Hofer has guts. Her one-woman show “High Risk, Baby!” follows her own life from a bossy tyke who told her dolls and friends exactly what to do to her current status as middle-aged mother.

As a child, Hofer loved babies and would lock eyes with them. She pretended to give birth to them as dolls would spew forth from her crotch. Her dream was to have a baby. As an adult, the years ticked by, and she had imaginary conversations with Oprah. Maybe babies weren’t all that necessary.

On stage, Hofer runs around jumping, leaping, and dancing, talking to and throwing her dolls, bringing back images of Gilda Radner as “The Judy Miller Show.” This is the child who takes Ritalin to treat her ADD.

This inquisitive child shares that she doesn’t understand the things she hears. She has no one to turn to to give her answers. She found in her home her parent’s copy of “The Joy of Sex,” but she needed help understanding the book. She’s heard about blow jobs and camel toes and calls upon audience members to help her understand their meaning.

As a child, Hofer mothered her baby brother and always wanted to be a mother, until she came of age. We see her in her early thirties as she constantly answers her mother’s phone calls reminding her that her eggs will be gone and she’s running out of time.

Now, at 35, it’s too late. She discovers she can’t get pregnant. But she wants a baby more than anything. We see her at age 37 travel to another continent and trust strangers from non-English speaking countries to tell her what she must do to have a baby.

Hofer is a “High Risk, Baby!”. She puts the mistakes of her life on the table for all of us to see and marvel at how she never gives up and finally finds what she has always been looking for.

Written by Shelby Hofer and directed by Ellen McQueen, “High Risk, Baby” was performed from May to June 12 and will be remounting in the fall at PushPush Arts. The theater, of which Hofer is a co-founder, helps artists explore new ideas and collaborate across the globe. See more at PushPush Arts.

‘Working: A Musical’ Opens at the Alliance Theatre

2021 April 26
by Susan Asher
Working Cast

WORKING: A MUSICAL explores what makes our work meaningful across all walks of life. Whether it be in an office, a restaurant, your home, or you’ve retired, this musical reminds us to celebrate not only what we do, but how we do it.

The Alliance’s production will include never-before-seen monologues, as well as a new song.  The new monologues are based on interviews the Alliance conducted with people who impact and sustain Atlanta through their work, with a focus on the resilience of workers over the past year.  The new song will be inspired by the theater’s interviews with Atlanta’s community organizers and activists, showcasing the vital role that Atlanta and Georgia have played in conversations on race and politics this year.

The song lyrics will be written by poet, author, and actor Carlos Andrés Gómez.  Gómez has won awards for his books Fractures, Hijito, and his memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood.  He is also a star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.  Music for the new song will be composed by musician and producer, Brandon Bush with his brother, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and Sugarland front man, Kristian Bush.  Brandon Bush’s musical career includes his time as a studio musician performing on releases by John Mayer, Sugarland, and Shawn Mullins, as well as performing globally as part of the multi-platinum-selling rock band Train.  Kristian Bush’s career includes front man and songwriter roles for the bands Billy Pilgrim, Sugarland, and Dark Water, as well as his solo albums.   

Original WORKING adapter Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin) has been an active collaborator on the Alliance’s production.  On their process, Director Tamilla Woodard said, ““It’s humbling to sit in the (virtual) room with one of the greatest lyricists and composers in all of the American theater! [Schwartz] remains so deeply inquisitive of the process and collaborative and trusting as we make our way through this concept and how we would be reshaping the show to include Atlanta voices.”

With original songs by Lin-Manual Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, and more, the Alliance Theatre’s concert staging of WORKING will premiere as part of the “Under the Tent” series. WORKING is presented as part of the Alliance’s Under the Tent series, April 22 – June 6, 2021.  For tickets and information, visit www.alliancetheatre.org/working

Family Fiction Storytelling: Andy Offitt Irwin
& Paul Strickland

2020 November 15
by Susan Asher

When I click the link for the virtual storytelling live streaming video just a couple of minutes after the starting time Saturday night, I don’t even realize the show has begun. A guy is singing what appears to be an original a folk singer, so I click to another web page. I am expecting to see storytelling. I click the link again a couple of minutes later, and folk singer is still on. So I wait. Could this be the comedy duo I was expecting and had read about on Facebook? He begins singing about Bic pens and their value. At the beginning of the school year, he says, you can get a package of 10 for just a dollar he says. Then he talks about the hole in the cap and its purpose, and the little man on the barrel holding a pen. The video screen divides again and again, as individual after individual appears each singing from their own homes about the pen, the cap, and the man holding a pen on the barrel of the pen. I get it. This IS the show. It brings me back to Steve Martin’s early days, playing a banjo, telling wild stories, and acting silly. Oh, yes, this is the show.

 It’s title is “Family Fiction: You can’t choose your family, but you can make one up!,”  and it features storytellers Andy Offitt Irwin and Paul Strickland. Its tagline is “tall tales, music, and fun.” Music! I had forgotten about that.

Performing live virtually, a week ago Saturday, Offitt Irwin played his guitar and sang outside in the dark night standing in front of a fence. Strickland played guitar and talked of the small town where he grew up while sitting on an overstuffed brown couch in what appeared to be his home.

Strickland introduced his story as a triptych revolving around growing up in a town whose name everyone has forgotten and was so small that the local newspaper was called “The Local Newspaper.” His father grew up raised by wool, which he carried on his back. It scratched his skin and died undyed. His father became a psychic who didn’t read palms or tea leaves but the oil on a dipstick. His father was fond of saying, “Just because the shoe fits, doesn’t mean you gotta wear it. Folks don’t like it when you steal their shoes.” On the wall next to the couch where Strickland sits is a framed mustard-yellow canvas with an old brown shoe stuck to its center. He also told a tale about his mother eating all the soup cans that were hidden inside a home wall. She tore the wall down and feasted on the soup for months.

Offitt Irwin later told a story about his Southern Aunt Marguerite going to medical school at age 85, her husband Charles and friend Sally Lynette. On her first date with Charles she repeatedly asked him to pull over to a gas station. He repeatedly said he had plenty of gas and wouldn’t pull over. Marguerite could wait no longer. She peed on the car seat.

Offitt Irwin acted out the roles so well that he became the characters as he described them and the words they had spoken years ago. When Aunt Marguerite was about 90, she was being honored at an event in a nearby town. Sally drove her there when suddenly Marguerite “felt something warm down there” and peed on the car seat.

Strickland has performed at the National Storytelling Festival and in comedy clubs across the country and in Canada. Offitt Irwin is a singer-songwriter, Shakespearean actor, and theater director who won a Storytelling World Award in 2020, and in eight previous years.

Alexandra Bodnarchuk Dancers Virtual Premiere

2020 October 23
by Susan Asher

TITLE: Heritage Sites , a dance film Virtual Premiere
DATES/TIME: October 24 & November 7, 2020 // 5:00pm, & 7:00pm
TICKET COSTS: $20 suggested ticket price (additional Pay-As-Able prices available)
LOCATION: Online
TICKETS: http://alexandrabodnarchuk.org/premiere
DESCRIPTION:
Join Alexandra Bodnarchuk + her artistic team for the virtual premiere of their film, Heritage Sites.
Set in an enigmatic space containing a bathtub, we initially see an interplay between the water and each dancer as they tentatively touch, experience, and immerse themselves in it. Filmed on location in a warehouse in St. Paul, the dancers eventually transcend the confines of the tub to the floor of the space. Moving deftly between the pillars they jump, run, and sway. The film’s most intriguing moments may stem from the intimate shots of individual dancers that capture a glistening tongue, the sound of a breath, and the slap of a thigh up close.
Artistic Associate Brandon Anderson Musser’s soundtrack layers in live sound over a supportive musical landscape that amplifies the vulnerability of the dancers’ performances. Cinematographer Arlo Myren’s camera work creates a world that is unfettered and unconcerned with glamourizing dance. We see dirt on the dancer’s feet and underwear riding up; its presence grounding us in the moment on screen.
Each screening is followed by a discussion with Alexandra and a Guest Speaker on a topic related to her artistic process or ethos (see list below). Q&A to follow. 60 minute run time.
EVENT DETAILS:
OCTOBER 24

5:00 pm – Screening + discussion with Alexandra & 2019 McKnight Dancer Fellow Erin Thompson on The Evolution of Bodies in Dance
7:00 pm – Screening + discussion with Alexandra & Emily Madigan of the Mixed Messages Podcast: Making Work as a Radical Act of Self Love & Rebellion
NOVEMBER 7
5:00 pm – Screening + discussion with Alexandra & Patrick Scully of Patrick’s Cabaret on Dismantling the Starving Artist Archetype
7:00 pm – Screening + discussion with Alexandra & Joseph Hall the Executive Director of the Kelly
Strayhorn Theater on The Evolution of Voice
BIO:
Alexandra Bodnarchuk is a Carpatho-Rusyn-American dance artist. She creates original works that reframe, identify, and re-contextualize her programmed responses to body shaming and the intimate violence of female perpetuated sexism. She pursues the question ‘what is honesty’ as a choreographic prompt and a commitment to the physicality of weight. She frequently collaborates with sound designer Brandon Anderson Musser; they are currently in post-production for Heritage Sites, a dance
film. She is in her third season moving with Black Label Movement.
This work was created through the Works-In-Process Residency at the Center for Performing Arts under the mentorship of April Sellers.

Joe Gransden Big Band
at Callanwolde

2020 October 20
by Susan Asher

Joe Gransden’s 16-piece big band will be playing with Robin Latimore at an outdoor concert at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center Friday, Nov. 6.

Trumpeter Gransden formed his big band in 2009 and has performed around the world. As a singer, he’s been compared to Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra.

Before starting his own band, he played as a sideman with the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey big bands. He later played with The Moody Blues, Aretha Franklin, and Toshiko Akiyoshi.

Latimore started singing as a child at church revival services, won numerous talent competitions while in college, and joined her first band in 1988. She sings a variety of musical styles, including R&B, rap, country and gospel.

Callanwolde will be implementing a socially distant, seating “pod” structure. Parties will be seated comfortably within each pod and will be 6 feet from all other pods. Callanwolde recommends people purchase tickets as a group, based on their entire party size to ensure the correct pod size.

The outdoor venue opens at 6:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased here.