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Archive for August, 2009

Alliance tightening, but Sinatra’s coming

Alliance Theatre chief Susan Booth is back from summer vacation (at Club Med!) and talking about the theater’s finances, losing two members of her leadership team, and the world premiere of “Come Fly With Me,” a Twyla Tharp dance show set to the songs of Frank Sinatra. Previews begin Sept 15.
On her Vacation: Booth and husband Max Leventhal, the Alliance’s general manager, and daughter Moira, 5, chilled at a Club Med in Florida, near West Palm Beach. “We haven’t had a vacation, the three of us, in like forever. It was heaven.”
On staff attrition: Associate Artistic director Kent Gash left in March to take a job leading a new musical-theater program at New York University. Earlier this month, managing director Tom Pechar was let go as part of administrative restructuring and belt-tightening. Neither position is being filled, at least in the near future.
“It is a really difficult landscape,” Booth said.
She called Gash’s opportunity in New York so “perfect …

Continue reading Alliance tightening, but Sinatra’s coming »

‘Grey Gardens’ selling fast

About two dozen of Atlanta’s finest actresses tried out for the roles of Big Edie and Little Edie in the musical “Grey Gardens,” which opens this weekend at Actor’s Express. “These were the cream of the crop,” said director Freddie Ashley. The roles of the Edith Bouvier Beales — an eccentric mother and daughter who have fallen from high society to a life of squalor on Long Island, were awarded to Jill Hames and Kathleen McManus.

“It was a tricky casting challenge because the actresses have to be able to pass as the same person without being literal twins,” Ashley said. The actress who plays socialite Big Edie in the first act (Hames, left) also plays the reclusive Little Edie in the second act. McManus plays Big Edie in Act 2.

“They have to be able to approach the characters with some degree of consistency. They have to be able to sing, and not just sing well, because the music is deceptively complex.”

Why such demand for the parts?

“They’re so layered and rich and …

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Two indie film fests light up screens around the city

"Abraham Obama"

"Abraham Obama"

Film festival preview
Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival

Atlanta Underground Film Festival
Aug. 26-30 (times and locations vary). $8 individual tickets are available at the box office of each venue. All-access passes to either event ($25 and $40) are available online: www.docufest.com, www.auff.org.

By Bert Osborne

For the AJC

What better way to start the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival (aka Docufest Atlanta) than with one about the trials and tribulations of indie filmmakers on the festival circuit?
Set for Aug. 26-Aug. 30 at various venues, Docufest will showcase some 30 films over five days, beginning with a double bill on Wednesday: “Official Rejection,” and “Zombie Girl,” which documents a 12-year-old who writes and directs her own fright flick. Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge, 644 N. Highland Ave.; 404-874-5756.
The festival’s subsequent screenings will alternate between the Carter Center (453 Freedom Parkway; …

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Key passes torch to May in ‘Cotton Patch Gospel’

Cast of "Cotton Patch Gospel"

Cast of "Cotton Patch Gospel"

Theater review
“Cotton Patch Gospel”

Through Aug. 30 at Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta; Sept. 3-20 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell.  678-528-1500. www.theatricaloutfit.org

By Bert Osborne

For the AJC

None of us is getting any younger — and that goes for Tom Key, too. Artistic director of Theatrical Outfit since 1995, and a fixture in Atlanta’s acting community for 20 years before that, he even made a splash on the national scene in the 1980s with his “Cotton Patch Gospel” (co-written by Russell Treyz).
Based on Clarence Jordan’s “The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John,” it began as a one-man show, but soon developed into a country musical (songs by Harry Chapin) that gave Key a backup band to play off. He toured the show for years. To this day, it’s oft-produced at theaters across the country, and something of his signature piece with local audiences, thanks to frequent revivals.
In his last “Cotton Patch” (2005 …

Continue reading Key passes torch to May in ‘Cotton Patch Gospel’ »

Picturing the South: Alec Soth at the High

"F.P. Resaca, Georgia, 2006" by Alec Soth

ART REVIEW

“Alec Soth: Black Line of Woods”
High Museum of Art
Through Jan. 3, 2010. 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4444. www.high.org

By Catherine Fox

For the AJC

A man dressed in army camouflage stands in a little clearing in the woods, the detritus of his campground at his feet. The trees are no more than a scrim separating him from the bustle of the Waffle House and gas station visible through the branches, but he lives in another world.
This is the world Alec Soth explores in “Black Line of Woods,” a haunting and beautiful exhibition at the High Museum.
Soth traveled the South to find, befriend and make these pictures of loners -— monks, hermits, survivalists — and their backwoods habitats. They are less individual character studies than stanzas in a poem about living on the fringe.
These photographs have a monumental bearing that owes not to their size (they’re not that big, as contemporary photos go), but to their careful compositions. Each radiates from a …

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It’s Folk Fest time!

Painting by Alabama artist Michael Banks, who's represented at Folk Fest.

By Michael Banks

Folk Fest 2009
Opening party, 5-10 tonight. $15 (includes  T-shirt and weekend admission). 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $7 daily. Children 16 and under, free. North Atlanta Trade Center, 1700 Jeurgens Court, Norcross (follow signs off I-85 at Indian Trail Road/exit 101). 770-532-1115, www.slotinfolkart.com .

The 16th annual Folk Fest unfolds this weekend at the North Atlanta Trade Center, featuring 100 galleries, dealers and artists from around the country running booths filled with all stripes of folk art.

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Fall Arts Preview: Books

In search of upcoming fall books by Southern writers, we didn’t have to go too far to find plenty of great titles. The problem was figuring out how many we could politely stack on our bedside tables at once. We think these titles deserve a closer look.
“I’ve finally pretty much decided what to write next — a novel based on Nat Turner’s rebellion,” 26-year-old William Styron confided to his father in a letter on May 1, 1952. Collected in “Letters to My Father” (September) are more than 100 that Styron wrote between 1943 and 1953, sharing his thoughts about writing and his work. Also out this fall, five stories Styron wrote about his stint in the Marines, collected in “The Suicide Run.” (Random House, October)
Jeannette Walls’ heart-rending memoir, “The Glass Castle,” made us wring our hands in despair. Happily, her upcoming “Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel” (Scribner, October) tells the story of her spirited grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who …

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Fall Arts Preview: Classical Music

Yo-yo Ma

Yo-yo Ma

Don’t miss: Atlanta Opera’s “Orfeo and Euridice”
The most anticipated event of the season is the happy-ending tragedy based on Greek mythology. Gluck’s music straddles the florid formality of Handel with the supple elegance of Mozart, a sublime mix. Atlanta’s own star countertenor, David Daniels, makes his Atlanta Opera debut as the hero who descends into Hades to retrieve his love but must overcome his own emotions to complete the rescue. With esteemed early music conductor Harry Bicket in the pit, this show has the ingredients to prove Atlanta Opera is up to national standards.
Nov. 14, 17, 20, 22. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org.

Also consider: ASO explores the Orient
The orchestra prepares for the prestigious China Festival at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the same program here at home a few weeks earlier. Yo-Yo Ma plays the world premiere of the cello concerto “Awakening …

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Fall Arts Preview: Visual Arts

Don’t miss: “Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius”
Leonardo cast a long shadow. In the case of sculpture, the subject of the latest High Museum project about the Italian Renaissance, shadows are about all we have left from the master himself. His own sculpture survives mostly in sketches and studies, some 20 of which are in the exhibit.
One section is devoted to his plan to create the world’s largest and most complex statue, the 24-foot-tall “Sforza Horse.” Look for a life-size re-creation on the plaza.
The rest of the 50 works represent those he influenced, an honor roll of artists such as Donatello, Rubens and Verrocchio. Highlights: “John the Baptist Preaching to a Levite and a Pharisee,” three monumental bronzes by Giovanni Francesco Rustici from the façade of the Baptistery of Florence, and a relief by Verrocchio from the silver altar inside the baptistery, whose recent conservation the High helped fund. Neither of these tableaux has ever left …

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Fall Arts Preview: Dance Picks

gloATL

gloATL

Don’t miss: Glowing at “Le Flash”
The event called “Le Flash-Atlanta,” an experimental photography jamboree, has added a dance component that’s now the talk of the town. Choreographer Lauri Stallings’ modern-ballet troupe named gloATL seized the Woodruff Arts Center plaza for an outdoor dance-music-def poetry happening, and it felt like a cultural watershed. Stallings’ troupe will headline Le Flash’s Oct. 2 gala in the Castleberry Hill district in downtown Atlanta.
Details and locations will be announced just before the event. www.gloATL.com, www.leflash-atlanta.com.

Also consider: Americana in Marietta
Georgia Ballet, based in Marietta, revisits “A Sleepy Hollow Story” as its main fall attraction, based on Washington Irving’s classic tale and originally choreographed in 2006 by Janusz Mazon, the company’s ballet master.
Oct. 24-25. Cobb County Civic Center, 548 S. Marietta Parkway, Marietta. 770-528-0881, www.georgiaballet.org

Under the radar: …

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