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Archive for January, 2010

Interview with Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks on the set of Broadway's "Young Frankenstein." photo by Photo Credit Paul Kolnik

Mel Brooks on the set of Broadway's "Young Frankenstein." photo by Photo Credit Paul Kolnik

Theater preview
“Young Frankenstein”
Jan 26 – Jan 31. $18-$57. Presented by Broadway Across America-Atlanta. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 1-800-278-4447, Broadwayacrossamerica.com.

By Wendell Brock

Mel Brooks has just finished his Friday power-lunch ritual with Hollywood execs at the hoity-toity Bouchon in Beverly Hills.
“It was a little expensive, but they gave us dessert,” the comedy legend says in his trademark rasp, calling from his Culver City, Calif., office to promote the tour of his Broadway musical “Young Frankenstein.”
“They poisoned us with all kinds of creams and sweets. For free.”
The guy may be 83. But he’s still got his timing.
A walking showbiz encyclopedia, the legendary writer/director/performer was decorated at last month’s Kennedy Center Honors alongside Bruce Springsteen and Robert De Niro. He has three titles on the Top 20 list …

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Kendeda winner ‘Tennis in Nablus’ at the Alliance Theatre

Aunt Elegua (Heather Alicia Simms) sizes up neighborhood troublemaker Elegba (Jon Michael Hill) in the World Premiere "In the Red and Brown Water" on the Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage.

Aunt Elegua (Heather Alicia Simms) sizes up neighborhood troublemaker Elegba (Jon Michael Hill) in the World Premiere "In the Red and Brown Water" on the Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage.

Theater preview
“Tennis in Nablus” by Ishmail Khalidi
Jan 29-Feb 21. $25-$30. Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., 404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org.

By Pierre Ruhe

Never mind attempts at witty conversation and flirting. Everyone knows there is just one measure of a successful first date: It leads to a second, and a third.
So it is with the world premiere of a play. No matter how smartly conceived and brilliantly acted, no matter how critically acclaimed, the play’s opening run is usually make-or-break. Will it get revived? Will another theater, one that’s not affiliated with the funding and politics of the original, pick it up and bring it into the repertoire?
These are a few of the burning questions for the Alliance Theatre’s nationally recognized …

Continue reading Kendeda winner ‘Tennis in Nablus’ at the Alliance Theatre »

‘Noah’s Compass’ by Anne Tyler

Noahs Compass

Fiction
Book Review
“Noah’s Compass”
By Anne Tyler; Knopf, 288 pages, $25.95

By Gina Webb

In Anne Tyler’s world, a coloring book is never just a coloring book. It might look like one, it might be called “Bible Stories for Tots,” and a child might even be crayoning “jagged swaths of purple” in it. It has pictures of Joseph and his jealous brothers, and one showing Abraham and his son Isaac walking up the mountain. But it’s missing the story of Noah and the flood. How can that be?
At first glance, everything in this Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s latest novel, “Noah’s Compass,” looks perfectly innocent. Tyler’s genius is to make everything appear ordinary and Norman Rockwell safe while one of her psychic earthquakes moves in undetected. Meanwhile, the routine, average lives of her characters are so easy to relate to — why, they’re just like us!
They make casseroles and teach school, they have annoying relatives and ex-spouses, they save and …

Continue reading ‘Noah’s Compass’ by Anne Tyler »

‘Avenue X’ at the Alliance Theatre

"Avenue X" cast members (rear from left) Jeremy Cohen, J.D. Webster, Nick Spangler, Lawrence Clayton, and Steve French, and J.D. Goldblatt (in front) rehearse at the Woodruff Arts Center.

"Avenue X" cast members (rear from left) Jeremy Cohen, J.D. Webster, Nick Spangler, Lawrence Clayton, and Steve French, and J.D. Goldblatt (in front) rehearse at the Woodruff Arts Center.

Theater review
“Avenue X”
Grade: B-

Through Feb. 7. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. $25-$60. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org.
Bottom line: Entertaining, in an unremarkable fashion.

By Bert Osborne

The Alliance Theatre is billing “Avenue X” as a “revolutionary” musical, presumably by virtue of the fact that the show’s tunes are performed a cappella. As conceived and written (book and lyrics by John Jiler, music by Ray Leslee), there’s certainly nothing else very groundbreaking about it.
Except that it features original songs instead of familiar hits, “Avenue X” is patterned after one of those nostalgic jukebox musicals, where snippets of dialogue and characterization mainly serve …

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‘The Birds and Some Bees’ a study of objects at Swan Coach House Gallery

Nest #10 by Chris Dondon, a work in wood, limestone and alabaster.

Nest #10 by Chris Dondon, a work in wood, limestone and alabaster.

Visual arts review

“The Birds and Some Bees.”

Through March 6. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays. Swan Coach House Gallery. 3130 Slaton Drive. 404-266-2636. www.swancoachhouse.com.

By Catherine Fox

“The Birds and Some Bees,” at Swan Coach House Gallery, is all about objects. Many of the paintings, sculptures and prints contributed by 14 Southern artists bespeak the venerable tandem traditions of naturalistic representation and craftsmanship.

Drawing on his experience as a printmaker, Tim Hunter has carved wood reliefs of birds in their habitats that combine the precision of Audubon with an expressionist treatment of surface.

Joe Walters presents similar subject matter in table-top sculptures, but he takes them out of the realm of ornithology into the poetics of time. Encrusted with gritty patinas, they bring to mind artifacts and human remains uncovered at Pompeii.

Chris Condon’s clever fashioning of …

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‘Tranced’ at Aurora Theatre

Naima Carter Russell and Maurice Ralston in "Tranced."

Naima Carter Russell and Maurice Ralston in "Tranced."

Theater review
“Tranced”

Through Feb. 7. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, 2 p.m. Feb. 3. $14-$30.Aurora Theatre, 128 Pike St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-2222, auroratheatre.com.

By Bert Osborne

Who’s trancing whom? There are so many weighty issues and hidden agendas at work in “Tranced,” you may end up feeling like its playwright, Bob Clyman, is going too far out of his way to pull one over on his audience.

Take the character of Dr. Phillip Malaad. He’s a Washington-based psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis, a supposedly lapsed Muslim with a vague Middle Eastern upbringing, whose loose interpretation of doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t keep him from sharing information about an explosive case with a newspaper reporter.

She’s Beth Rosenthal, who claims to be Unitarian despite her Jewish name, and whose sense of journalistic ethics is questionable. Based solely on tape …

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McKinnon & Goggins team up again for ‘That Evening Sun’

Hal Holbrook in "That Evening Sun"

Hal Holbrook in "That Evening Sun"

Meet the filmmakers
“That Evening Sun”

Director Scott Teems, actor/producer Ray McKinnon and DBT’s Patterson Hood, whose music is heard in the film, conduct a Q&A after the 7 p.m. show tonight (Jan. 22) at Tara Cinemas, 2345 Cheshire Bridge Road.  $10.50 adults; $9 students and military with ID; $8 seniors 60 and older; $7  children.

By Katie Leslie

On its face, telling the story of an aging farmer wasn’t exactly what actors and producers Walton Goggins and Ray McKinnon set out to do. The Academy Award-winning team already had a couple of independent films under their belts and knew the grueling process of such film making — the financial hardship, the struggle for distribution, the intense amount of personal sacrifice.

But McKinnon finally agreed to at least read the script of “That Evening Sun,” a movie adapted for the screen by Lilburn-native Scott Teems, based on Southern author William Gay’s short story “I Hate to See That …

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Q&A with author Kimberla Lawson Roby

becarefulwhat you pray for

Book signings
Author Kimberla Lawson Roby signs her new book, “Be Careful What You Pray For,” at noon Mon., Jan 25. Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-4636. Another signing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Mon., Jan 25. at Borders at the Mall at Stonecrest. 678-526-2550, www.mallatstonecrest.com. Also visit www.kimroby.com.

By Adrianne Murchison
Kimberla Lawson Roby has found her niche writing on a hush-hush topic — church scandals.
This week the New York Times best-selling author released “Be Careful What You Pray For.” It is her 14th book, and No. 8 in her fictional series centered on the family of ambitious pastor Curtis Black.
Her latest story follows the reverend’s oldest child, Alicia, who unfortunately can be as driven as her father, Roby says. After a failed marriage to a man who was not financially desirable, Alicia marries a reputable pastor who can provide for her in the manner to which she is accustomed. But apparently, he’s in …

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‘The Men of Mah Jongg’ at Georgia Ensemble

Jon Kohler, Kevin Dougherty, Peter Thomasson and Steve Coulter in "The Men of Mah Jongg" at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Bryan Rosengrant.

Jon Kohler, Kevin Dougherty, Peter Thomasson and Steve Coulter in "The Men of Mah Jongg" at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Bryan Rosengrant.

Theater review
“The Men of Mah Jongg”
Grade: B-
7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through Jan. 24. $23-$33. Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-641-1260, get.org


By Wendell Brock
In “The Men of Mah Jongg,” a Jewish widower named Sidney had rather take Vicodin than cope with his wife’s death, his poker buddies’ horseplay or the pile of mail he tosses into the fireplace. That stack of unopened letters is a metaphor for Sidney’s inertia, yet it also contains a kind of magic bullet for his spiritual awakening.
Mah jongg is the secret weapon that transforms Sidney and his three buddies in Richard Atkins’ endearing little play at Roswell’s Georgia Ensemble Theatre. What hangs them up, and clutters their tale, is the glut of issues they …

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Dad’s Garage welcomes new artistic director, Kevin Gillese

Kevin Gillese

Kevin Gillese

Comedy preview
Where to catch Kevin Gillese onstage:
Dad’s Garage Theatre. 280 Elizabeth St., Suite C-101, Atlanta. 404-523-3141, www.dadsgarage.com. “Griefers.” Feb. 5-27.

By Wendell Brock
On Jan. 2, Kevin Gillese sat at the Toronto airport all day, sidelined by the bad weather and waiting for a plane to Atlanta. The minute he touched down at Hartsfield-Jackson  he went straight to Dad’s Garage to do an improv show. The 10:30 p.m. performance, he says, perked him up like a hot shower.
This is how the Edmonton, Alberta, native spent his first “day” on the job as the new artistic director of Dad’s Garage Theatre. Gillese’s energy, his stage-lust, his “just-one-of-the-guys” approach to life and work are part of why he was picked to run the 15-year-old Inman Park comedy group, which has built a national name brand through a combination of gonzo theatrics, smart management and legitimate artistry.
A 29-year-old with a scruffy beard and …

Continue reading Dad’s Garage welcomes new artistic director, Kevin Gillese »