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Archive for March, 2012

Atlanta Music Project scores $122,801 Cooke Foundation grant

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The Atlanta Music Project, a non-profit that provides intense music education for at-risk children, has received a grant of $122,801 from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

The Widening the Stage grant is one of only six awarded by the Virginia-based foundation to youth music programs across the country. Renewable annually for the next three years, the grants are intended to  increase advanced instruction and performance opportunities for talented, low-income students, ages 8 to 18.

The largest grant ever to the Atlanta Music Project will be used to create the Exceptional Student Program, which will provide the best resources to the 20 most advanced AMP students to further develop their musical abilities.

The program will offer, free-of-charge, instruments, weekly private lessons from AMP’s teaching artists, master classes, public recitals and chamber music concerts, according to a Cooke Foundation release.

“With this grant, we can begin an …

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Queen Latifah leads Kenny Leon’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ cast

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Casting has been announced for the adaption of the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias” that Atlantan Kenny Leon is to direct for the cable network Lifetime featuring African-American actresses.

Queen Latifah will play M’Lynn, the role Sally Field had in the original movie, in the remake, which will film starting in April in Atlanta. Also in the cast: Alfre Woodard as Ouiser (originally played by Shirley MacClaine); Phylicia Rashad as Clairee (Olympia Dukakis in the original); singer Jill Scott as Truvy, the Dolly Parton role; Adepero Oduye as Annelle, the Daryl Hannah part; Condola Rashad as Shelby, the role that helped cement Julia Roberts’ star; and Afemo Omilami as Drum Eatenton (Tom Skerritt in the original). 

Condola Rashad, Phylicia’s daughter, recently starred in the Leon-directed Broadway production of “Stick Fly,” and received some the show’s stronger notices. She also has a recurring role on NBC’s “Smash.”

Like the hit film, the …

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Update on Theatre in the Square’s decision to end 30-year run

By Rosalind Bentley
rbentley@ajc.com

After 30 years as one of metro Atlanta’s respected mid-sized theaters, Theatre in the Square in downtown Marietta closed for good on Monday.

In a sign of just how bad things had gotten for the theater, it was unable to finish the run of its current critically lauded show, Pearl Cleage’s “Flyin’ West.”

“After three days of board deliberations and financial analysis, we have decided that it is not feasible for us to finish our current season or launch a 31st season,” said theater board chair Mike Russell in a statement. “We simply do not have the money.”

Just last week the Marietta City Council granted the theater $30,000 during an emergency meeting. But even that wasn’t enough to keep the stage lit, Russell said, so the board declined the offer.

Last year the board launched a do-or-die campaign to raise $350,000 it said the theater needed to remain open. Artistic director Palmer Wells, who co-founded the theater with the …

Continue reading Update on Theatre in the Square’s decision to end 30-year run »

After 30 years, Theatre in the Square calls it curtains

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Theatre in the Square, one of Atlanta’s oldest troupes, has decided to close its doors.

The 30-year-old Marietta company sent an e-mail to supporters late Monday announcing that it was shutting down operations immediately, and that it would not accept a $30,000 emergency contribution approved by the Marietta City Council last week.

“After three days of board deliberations and financial analysis, we have decided that it is not feasible for us to finish our current season or launch a 31st season,” board chair Mike Russell said in the e-mail. “We simply do not have the money.”

Russell said the board was “incredibly moved and grateful” for the 11th-hour contribution from the city, but that it wasn’t enough to sustain operations. “We can’t accept the funding in good conscience knowing that we will still have to close our doors in a matter of days,” he said.

After raising $375,000 late last year in an emergency fund-raising drive, the …

Continue reading After 30 years, Theatre in the Square calls it curtains »

Culture notes: Photos of bird nests in exhibit at Buckhead preserve; Museum of Design celebrates birthday March 25

VISUAL ARTS
Buckhead nature preserve hosts photo exhibit

The Blue Heron Nature Preserve, a 25-acre wilderness area off of busy Roswell Road north of the heart of Buckhead, opens a photography exhibit on Thursday in its gallery that should help put it on the map of more metro Atlantans.

Sharon Beals of San Francisco spent three years photographing archived bird nests in natural history and zoological museums in California — pictures included in her 2011 book “Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them” (Chronicle Books, $29.95).

“Bird nests, even without knowing which birds constructed them, seem hardly possible,” Beals writes. “Creations of spider’s web, caterpillar cocoon, plant down, mud, found modern objects, human and animal hair, mosses, lichen, feathers and down, sticks and twigs — all are woven with beak and claw into a bird’s best effort to protect their next generation.”

She will be at Blue Heron for the 6 p.m. opening and give a 7 p.m. talk, presented by the …

Continue reading Culture notes: Photos of bird nests in exhibit at Buckhead preserve; Museum of Design celebrates birthday March 25 »

Culture notes: Glenn Chancel Choir free concert on March 18; pay as you wish at High on March 24

MUSIC
Voices raised in praise
The Glenn Chancel Choir will present its spring concert on March 18 in the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church sanctuary, with guests the Vega Quartet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Elisabeth Remy Johnson and organist Timothy Albrecht. Titled “Of Thy Love, O Lord, I Will Sing,” the 4 p.m. concert will be conducted by music director Steven Darsey. Free (offering will be taken). 1660 North Decatur Road, Atlanta. 404-634-3936, www.glennumc.org/music. HOWARD POUSNER

VISUAL ARTS
Price isn’t High
 Here’s a deal: The High Museum of Art will offer visitors a “pay as you wish” option from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 24 (last entry: 4 p.m.). Guests will be able to view all of the special exhibitions including “Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters,” on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the various permanent collection displays. Walk-up tickets only. Normal adult admission is $18. The High also offers a weekly …

Continue reading Culture notes: Glenn Chancel Choir free concert on March 18; pay as you wish at High on March 24 »

$30,000 grant from city of Marietta aids Theatre in the Square

The saga of Theatre in the Square’s struggle to stay alive has yet another act.

On Wednesday, the Marietta City Council voted unanimously to grant the theater $30,000 to help it survive in its current location downtown. The theater had set a goal of raising $60,000 by the end of this week in order to keep operating.

The grant, which will be combined with $32,000 in donations raised since February, will go toward payroll, licensing plays, ticketing service fees and other critical bills, said Palmer Wells, theater founder and artistic director.

The $32,000 in donations came in part from a $10,000 foundation grant as well as donations from theater board members. Wells said the city’s $30,000 grant came from a surplus in car rental tax proceeds.

“We’re very encouraged by this,” Wells said. “It’s going to help us a great deal.”

The theater is an important anchor of Marietta’s downtown and is a regional attraction for metro Atlanta. The venue was also able to …

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Alliance bringing Uhry, Cleage world premieres, plus ‘Zorro,’ for 2012-13

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

“Driving Miss Daisy” playwright Alfred Uhry and Pearl Cleage will return to the Alliance Theatre with world premieres in the 2012-13 season announced Wednesday by Atlanta’s largest stage.

Uhry’s “Apples & Oranges,” based on Marie Brenner’s memoir of mending fences with her dying brother, opens the intimate Hertz Stage’s season on Oct. 5. It’s the first adaption by Atlanta native Uhry, whose “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” also had its world premiere at the Alliance before going on to win the 1997 Tony Award for best play.

The Alliance Stage (or mainstage) season opens Sept. 5 with Cleage’s “What I Learned in Paris,” a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of changing Atlanta in 1973 as its first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, assumes office. The first Alliance Artist in Dialogue, a two-year residency at the theater where she acts as a community engagement advocate, Cleage continues a fruitful association …

Continue reading Alliance bringing Uhry, Cleage world premieres, plus ‘Zorro,’ for 2012-13 »

Arts Fund director Lisa Cremin wins third Nexus Award

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund director Lisa Cremin has been named recipient of the third annual Nexus Award, created by the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in 2010 to acknowledge individuals who have made a significant contribution to contemporary visual art in Atlanta and beyond.

In response to the recession, Cremin led the arts fund, part the the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, to launch the Atlanta Arts Recovery Initiative, a series of grants totaling $2.5 million to mid-sized metro cultural groups.

“She is a tireless advocate who cultivates connections inside and outside of Atlanta,” said Stuart Horodner, the Contemporary’s artistic director,  “and she raises the bar for individuals and agencies trying to bring new ideas and experiences to a diverse public.”

Cremin said she was “fortunate” to work with metro arts leaders and artists “who can’t imagine life without the profound joy of art in everyone’s lives.”

She will …

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Culture notes: Show values Jewish collectibles; Soupbowl Benefit at Hudgens

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Who hasn’t watched “Antiques Road Show” on PBS and dreamed of having a fainting spell-induced appraisal made of some forgotten something unearthed from deep in the dusty attic?

Now Atlanta can get ready for the Judaica version, as the Jewish Antiques Appraisal Show rolls into town on March 25 featuring appraiser and dealer Jonathan Greenstein. Pieces that he typically evaluates at such events include kiddush cups, menorahs, works of art, books, manuscripts and antique special occasion silver.

Greenstein began collecting Judaica at age 14 while he was working part-time at an antiques store in Brooklyn — eventually turning his hobby into a business. He’s frequently retained by museum curators, auction houses and collectors to authenticate items.

The 4 p.m. event (with registration beginning at 3:30) is presented by and benefits the Amit Program, the central resource for special education services in the Jewish community. It honors …

Continue reading Culture notes: Show values Jewish collectibles; Soupbowl Benefit at Hudgens »