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Archive for August, 2010

Ga. Shakespeare meets its matches, raising $114,000

By Howard Pousner

Hard times didn’t stop Georgia Shakespeare from meeting a $50,000 challenge grant in 10 weeks, easily beating the six-month deadline.

In early June, as the troupe was starting its 25th anniversary season, the Atlanta-based John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Charitable Foundation offered $25,000 if the company could raise an additional $50,000 by year’s end. Immediately, an anonymous donor stepped forward, offering an additional $25,000 challenge.

On Wednesday, Georgia Shakespeare announced it has raised $64,000 – adding $114,000 to its general operating budget.

“We are humbled by the support we’ve received from our donors and patrons in rising to meet this challenge,” producing artistic director Richard Garner said in a statement.  “It’s a very difficult climate for a challenge like this, and we are thrilled beyond measure to have met it.”

Theatergoers this summer were encouraged to make gifts, and envelopes were included …

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Kenny Leon to get NAACP award, reteams with Rashad in D.C.

By Howard Pousner

Kenny Leon, whose Broadway restaging of “Fences” won a Tony for best revival, should clear some more room in his trophy case.

The artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company will receive the 2010 Trailblazer Award at the 20th annual NAACP Theatre Awards on Aug. 30 in Hollywood.

In other news, Leon has cast Phylicia Rashad (who won a Tony in the Leon-directed 2004 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun”) in the November world-premiere of Marcus Gardley’s “Every Tongue Confess” at the Kogod Cradle, the Arena Stage’s new, third theater space in Washington.

The NAACP Theatre Awards “honor thespians of color among the best in the field of entertainment,” according to the NAACP. Among 2010 nominees: Leslie Uggams, Clevant Derricks, Ann Duquesnay and Francesca Zambello. LisaRaye McCoy will host the ceremony at the Director’s Guild of America.

Continue reading Kenny Leon to get NAACP award, reteams with Rashad in D.C. »

Cartersville’s Booth Western Museum gives tip of (cowboy) hat to Ansel Adams

By Howard Pousner

The Booth Western Art Museum will host “Ansel Adams: A Legacy,” retrospective of more than 100 photographs printed by the late Adams himself in his California darkroom, the Cartersville museum has announced.

The exhibition, billed as the largest collection of Adams’ work ever to be displayed in Georgia, will run Sept. 25 to Feb. 20.

Information: 770-387-1300,

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Newnan-born country crooner Jackson gets lifetime award

By Howard Pousner

Newnan native Alan Jackson will be honored with a prestigious ASCAP Founders Award, essentially a lifetime achievement award, at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ 48th annual Country Music Awards, Sept. 14 in Nashville.

The award is given to “songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators,” ASCAP said in Monday’s announcement. Past recipients include Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor and Jackson Browne.

“Alan is one of the most prolific and influential artists in country music,” ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams said in the release.  “He has consistently topped the charts without compromising his artistry, style and love of tradition, captivating millions with songs that are honest, heartfelt and entertaining. He’s a genuine superstar, …

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Atlanta Ballet hosting public celebration at new digs Saturday, Sunday

By Howard Pousner

The Atlanta Ballet and its Centre for Dance Education are moving into a new headquarters, a 54,000-square-foot renovated factory west of downtown Atlanta, and will celebrate with an open house festival Saturday and Sunday.

The Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre features five full-size dance studios, a physical therapy suite, a student library, costume shop, dressing room facilities for the professional company and students, scenery and props storage and more.

After Mayor Kasim Reed cuts the ribbon at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the grand opening will feature entertainment by the dance company and Dance Centre students and metro area dance and performance groups including Empire D Hip Hop Performance Art Group, Atlanta Chinese Dance Company and Alma Flamenca. There will be docent-led tours and dance mini classes.

10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday (celebration focuses on the school). 1695 Marietta Blvd. N.W., Atlanta. Free. …

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After winning awards, ATL actress heads to college with big Broadway dreams

By Howard Pousner

Heading off to college soon, Smyrna actress Alexandria Payne is readying for the next stage of her life. But Sunday’s encore telecast of the Shuler Hensley Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theatre offers a good opportunity for her to ponder how things have changed since that April ceremony.
Payne, 18, took the best leading actress prize in the second annual honors staged by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for her starring role in Tri-Cities High School’s production of “Once on This Island.”
That qualified her to compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards (or Jimmys) in New York in June. To her surprise, Payne was named best actress, and received $10,000 plus a scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Having begun her professional acting career at age 10 on the first national tour of “The Lion King,” she’s been stoked to pursue her show business dreams.

Q: Winning best …

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Stardom over the rainbow for 3 finalists in Atlanta Symphony Songster 2010 vocal competition?

By Howard Pousner

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Turner Classic Movies announced three finalists for “Atlanta Symphony Songster 2010″ vocal competition on Wednesday: Rebekah Dossou of Lilburn, Joseph Brewer of Columbus and Christina Lewis of Cincinnati.

They will sing “Over the Rainbow” with the ASO at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park on Aug. 14 (when the orchestra is performing music to “The Wizard of Oz”).

Audience members and online viewers will vote the winner, who gets a trip to New York to see the ASO at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 30.

The only metro Atlanta finalist, Dossou, works as an office manager at Maggie Lyon Chocolatiers, a Norcross gourmet chocolate factory. The 29-year-old mother of two sings part-time at weddings and parties.

To view the video entries of all three finalists:

Continue reading Stardom over the rainbow for 3 finalists in Atlanta Symphony Songster 2010 vocal competition? »

Debbie Allen talks up ‘Twist’ at the Alliance on Friday

By Howard Pousner

Director-choreographer Debbie Allen, in town to stage the Alliance Theatre’s season opening “Twist,” will talk about her career in a “Dialogue with Debbie” at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Allen will talk about the musical adaption of Dickens “Oliver Twist” and her recent Olivier Award-winning production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in London.

Tickets for the chat at the Alliance, 1280 Peachtree St., are $15 (404-733-5000). “Twist” begins previews Sept. 1.

Continue reading Debbie Allen talks up ‘Twist’ at the Alliance on Friday »

Writers to celebrate ‘Mockingbird’s’ 50th Thursday in Gwinnett

By Howard Pousner

Atlanta author Kathy Hogan Trocheck was struggling this week with the ending of what will be her 18th book, due out next summer, but she was clear in her admiration for Harper Lee’s sole novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“Harper Lee only wrote one book, but it was the only book she had to write, and that’s a book that’s left a lasting, indelible impression in the minds of everybody who’s read it or seen the movie,” she said.
Trocheck will speak Thursday during an event honoring “Mockingbird’s” 50th anniversary. Poet Paul Guest and novelist Jack Riggs also will be panelists at the free luncheon sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library and HarperCollins Publishers.
It will be followed by a screening of the 1962 film with Gregory Peck as small-town Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, who fights racial injustice.
“Mockingbird” is “a morality play, and I think everyone wants to think we would have a little bit of the …

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Katrina emotions on display five years later in exhibits, on stage

By Howard Pousner

Five years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, artists continue to sift through their memories and emotions for meaning and expression. Ahead of the anniversary on Aug. 29, several events have popped up on Atlanta’s cultural calendar, with more expected.
Here’s a quick look at four:

“Katrina: Five Years of Reflection,” opening Aug. 13 at Spruill Gallery, presents the work of several artists who survived the disaster and conveyed that experience through their work. Included are pieces by Krista Jurisich, Neil Alexander, Brian Nolan, Lori K. Gordon, Debra Howell and Jan Gilbert.
Atlanta artist Elyse Defoor, who visited soon after the hurricane, will show a grouping of mixed-media works titled “X.U.ME.” It’s a response to the “X” symbol rescue workers sprayed on houses after they were searched.
Aug. 13-Sept. 11. Free. 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-394-4019,

“Hurricane …

Continue reading Katrina emotions on display five years later in exhibits, on stage »