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Archive for June, 2010

Thursday NBAF discussion to show Curtis Mayfield is still ‘goin’ on’

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The National Black Arts Festival will honor the late Atlantan Curtis Mayfield with a Legends Celebration concert featuring the Impressions, Eddie Levert, Van Hunt, Frank McComb, Dionne Farris and Joi Gilliam at Symphony Hall on July 16.

But first, the social commentary of Mayfield’s music will be the topic of a panel discussion Thursday night at the Carter Center. Howard Dodson, chief of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Indiana University ethnomusicologist Portia K. Maultsby will discuss “Curtis Mayfield: The Man, the Music, the Movement.”

Refreshments and self-guided museum tours start at 5:30 p.m. Panel discussion, 6:45-8:30 p.m. Free. 404-224-3464, www.nbaf.org.

Continue reading Thursday NBAF discussion to show Curtis Mayfield is still ‘goin’ on’ »

While you were working, Atlanta choirs were singing in Italy, China

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Atlanta’s two boy choirs are returning this week from international concert tours.

The Atlanta Boy Choir and its Alumni Choir, 23 boys and 26 men respectively, returned on Monday from Italy, where it performed at historic sites including the St. Peter’s and Assisi basilicas.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Boy Choir is to return from its China tour on Tuesday night. The choir of 29 boys, ages 9 to 18, sang in Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Kunming and Shanghai.

Continue reading While you were working, Atlanta choirs were singing in Italy, China »

Denzel Washington is fine in ‘Fences,’ but Viola Davis … wow

4th in a series of blogs on Atlanta director Kenny Leon before the Tonys. See a profile of Leon in Living on Saturday.

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

New York — Denzel Washington gets an enormous movie-star-in-our-midst ovation at the opening of the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” but it doesn’t take Viola Davis long to command the audience’s attention and applause.

Washington gives a fine, multilayered performance in the blustery lead role of Troy Maxson, the Negro League slugger who winds up as a Pittsburgh garbage man, but in a quieter part, Davis is the one you immediately can’t take your eyes off of. Both are nominated for lead acting prizes at Sunday night’s Tony Awards, and it’s easy to see why in this star-powered production directed by Atlanta’s Kenny Leon.

I’m not a critic, but I was an audience member Thursday night, and as the packed house poured out onto the sidewalk after the drama let out of the Court Theatre, many fellow patrons were …

Continue reading Denzel Washington is fine in ‘Fences,’ but Viola Davis … wow »

What Kenny Leon wants to say if he wins a Tony

3rd in a series of blogs on Atlanta director Kenny Leon before the Tonys. Come back for more on Thursday, and see a profile of Leon in Living on Saturday.

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

New York — A man who knows his way around a script, Kenny Leon hasn’t written an acceptance speech to read if he wins the best director Tony on Sunday night.

Part of that is that, though the Atlanta director certainly is confident in his work, he’s not the presumptuous sort. He said he’d be “humbled” if theater colleagues voted to award him the Tony, feeling that the prize would not only honor “Fences” but more than two decades of directorial work in Atlanta, in regional theaters and on Broadway..

But the other consideration is that Leon knows he’s always at his best when he speaks “from the heart.”

As Sunday’s Radio City Music Hall ceremony nears, however, he’s started to worry about his mind going blank on national TV (8 p.m., CBS). “I was saying, wow, if it happens I would certainly …

Continue reading What Kenny Leon wants to say if he wins a Tony »

Of 10 nominations, Leon talks about his two top Tony wishes

2nd in a series of blogs on Atlanta director Kenny Leon before the Tonys. Come back for more on Thursday, and see a profile of Leon in Living on Saturday.

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

New York – You know you’re in a true theater town when, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, a line of umbrella-carrying ticketholders wraps around the block at the Cort Theatre off Times Square to see “Fences.”

Its Atlanta director, Kenny Leon, was out front, under the marquee where signs advertised the 10 Tony nominations hauled in by the August Wilson revival, greeting old friends in from Atlanta and making some new friends in the wet crowd of strangers, including some ultra cute Red Hat Society ladies in from New Haven, Conn.

He made eye contact with one woman waiting patiently in the cancellation line, hoping a ticket might become available. “How you doin’?” he asked. Then he added with a twinkle, “You’re in the right place,” no doubt meaning “Fences,” not the line.

The lady smiled and …

Continue reading Of 10 nominations, Leon talks about his two top Tony wishes »

Filled seats a different kind of prize for “Fences” director Kenny Leon

1st of a series of blogs on Atlanta director Kenny Leon before the Tonys. Come back for more on Wednesday-Thursday, and see a profile of Leon in Living on Saturday.

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

New York — Kenny Leon’s Broadway revival of “Fences” is up for 10 nominations at Sunday night’s Tony Awards, having already won some pretty heavy metal in recent awards.

And though there’s a lot of anticipation about Tony prospects for Leon, who’s nominated for best director, and his play, nominated for best revival, there’s also excitement about how well the show is doing at the box office.

Like Hollywood studio executives, Broadway producers are most happy when theater seats are occupied, and sold-out houses have become increasingly frequent at the Cort Theatre for “Fences,” which stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, both nominated for acting Tonys.

Producers announced this week that “Fences” will recoup its $2.8 million investment after only eight weeks of performances, by …

Continue reading Filled seats a different kind of prize for “Fences” director Kenny Leon »

MLK musical drama set for July world premiere in Atlanta

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Tickets are now on sale for the world premiere in Atlanta of a musical drama based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

“I Dream,” directed by Jasmine Guy, will begin previews July 6 on the Alliance Theatre stage before a July 9-31 run. It’s the first U.S. staging by the production company Musical-Dramatic[cq, hyphen] Arts, based in Atlanta and London.

“I’ve tried to combine historic and personal elements of Dr. King’s extraordinary life and legacy with individual stories gleaned from interviews with people whose lives he touched during the tempestuous years of the Civil Rights movement between 1955 and 1968,” said author and composer Douglas Tappin in a release.

Tappin began working on the project four years ago after moving to Atlanta from Britain.

Quentin Earl Darrington (Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Broadway’s “Ragtime”) will portray MLK.

Tickets: 404-733-5000, www.woodruffcentertickets.org. Info: www.idreaminatlanta.com. …

Continue reading MLK musical drama set for July world premiere in Atlanta »

3 museums showing that Dali’s popularity keeps growing

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Salvador Dali took his leave from this mortal coil more than two decades ago, but the Spanish surrealist seems to be popping up everywhere lately. Having been a master of visual trickery, he likely would’ve liked that notion.

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There are already signs along Peachtree Street for the High Museum of Art’s major coming attraction, “Salvador Dali: The Late Work,” opening Aug. 7. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art recently announced that it will host a smaller exhibit of Dali lithographs starting July 11. And the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., continues construction on a $35 million showplace that will double the size of its current facility. A January  opening fit for a duchess  is planned.

Given the number of exhibits, publications, prints, posters and general scrutiny his work has been given since his 1989 death, you’d think people would be wanting to say goodbye to Dali instead of hello at this late date. But even the High’s …

Continue reading 3 museums showing that Dali’s popularity keeps growing »

Thinking of going clubbin’ Saturday? The High Museum wants you!

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

It reads like a come-on for an underground dance club: “Relax in high-design lounges, knock back a cocktail or two, play a grown up game of musical chairs … ”

Except the ad copy is pitching a High Museum of Art “Design After Dark” party Saturday night that celebrates the opening of its “European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century” exhibit.

Clearly, the High has designs on the young, hip crowd in this inaugural endeavor in a series of “creative public events” the Midtown museum is calling “Cultureshock.”

The 7-11 p.m. party will include “high design furniture lounges” outside on the plaza; a “ceramics fashion show” from Claydies of Copenhagen, Denmark; a DJ spinning tunes; those grown-up beverages and more. And it won’t be just any chair as the grand prize of that musical chairs game, but a tres trendy $2,000 Le Corbusier hide-hair number from Design Within Reach.

The museum has had success with Friday Jazz events the third Friday of …

Continue reading Thinking of going clubbin’ Saturday? The High Museum wants you! »

Q&A with Debbie Allen, director of Alliance Theater season opener ‘Twist’

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

At the Alliance Theatre’s recent Taste of the Season event, which presented a sampler platter of performances from the 2010-11 slate to tempt ticket buyers, “Twist” was being sold as a “blockbuster.” And in an interview, one of its key creative team members, music and lyrics writer Tena Clark, talked about her hopes that it would make the leap from Atlanta to Broadway.

All of which must be characterized as wishful thinking, since the new musical based on Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” more than 15 years in the making, doesn’t open the Alliance season until September.

But one of the reasons for optimism is that Debbie Allen, perhaps best known for acting in the film and TV versions of “Fame” but with a growing résumé of stage directing credits, has signed on as director-choreographer. Allen did a relatively soft sell to the Taste of the Season audience after talking up the adaptation, which moves Dickens’ story from 1830s London to New …

Continue reading Q&A with Debbie Allen, director of Alliance Theater season opener ‘Twist’ »