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Archive for the ‘Stage’ Category

Such (un)romance: Puppetry Arts’ ‘Edgar Allan Poe’

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A scene from "The Tell Tale Heart," as it appears in the "Tales of Edgar Allan Poe." Photo courtesy Center for Puppetry Arts.

Oh, the romance of live theater! My Valentine and I caught  a performance of “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe” at the Center for Puppetry Arts this week when it kicked off its “Oh, Poe is Me!” Valentine’s weekend performances.

That means there’s a cash bar, audience-generated broken-hearted Valentines on the wall and the chance to get your “Poe-trait” taken with wig and moustache. (Yes, the evening was rife with Poe puns, and I don’t blame them. You can fit them everywhere, even this blog poe-st. HA.)


My Poe-trait: I'm in a better mood than Poe ever was.

Every time I see a show at the Center, I feel like I’ve learned something. If I went to “Mamma Mia!” at the Fox, I’d see a musical with a popular story, beloved music and an execution I expect. They sing! They dance! It’s fun, but I don’t necessarily learn anything except that ABBA is totally fabulous.

When I …

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Surprised by the politics in shows like Shen Yun?

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At Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Chinese performnace troupe Shen Yun featured drummers, dancers and propaganda that surprised some audiences. Some were OK with the message, but some were offended.

In the days since Shen Yun Performing Arts, the Chinese drum and dance troupe, left Atlanta to move onto the next stop on its perpetual tour, conversation continued to rumble about the shows they’d performed at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Some loved the performance, but commenters on Inside Access were upset by the Falun Gong politics of the show, “subtle as a taser shot to the noggin,” the AJC review said. It’s not that commenters necessarily disagree or deny that persecution has taken place in China. They were surprised to see it — especially a few violent scenes,  one involving a taser and another where a mother and child are beaten — in a show promoted as a music-and-acrobatic spectacular

Wrote Marilee Coughlin:

While the dancers are fabulous, and the costumes are …

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Alliance Theatre’s ‘Avenue X’ a cappella contest voting open


"Avenue X" cast members Jeremy Cohen, J.D. Webster, Nick Spangler, Lawrence Clayton, and Steve French, and J.D. Goldblatt, in front, rehearse at the Woodruff Arts Center this month. They're not the only ones singing a cappella, though. AJC/Bita Honarvar

“Avenue X,” a musical opening at Alliance Theatre this week, deals with racial integration via doo-wop. It’s the story of an Italian-American a cappella group in 1963 Brooklyn that adds a black singer to its lineup.

As composer Ray Leslee said in an AJC piece published this weekend, “Here’s a musical that’s all about harmony, and the issues are all about harmony or the search for harmony.”

To promote the show, the Alliance created its own search for harmony, the “Sing Your Soul” contest for a cappella groups. It asked them to post their tunes on YouTube, complete an application and get some folks to vote for them through the video service. (This is the contest I mentioned in this earlier post about all the a cappella …

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Shen Yun Chinese dancers at Cobb Energy Centre


A dancer performs with Shen Yun, a Chinese music and dance troupe that comes to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre this week.

Shen Yun Performing Art, a troupe of Chinese dancers and musicians, has been to Atlanta before, but only this time are they going for the mass market.

But a scathing opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun calls the production “creepy” and the backdrops “garish,” but mostly seems to have a problem with the show’s politics.

I haven’t seen it, but for those who’ve seen it in the past: is it as much spectacle as it the ubiquitous billboards say it is? Did the message matter more than the music and dance?

Here’s a promo video:

Want to go? Shen Yun performs. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16, 2 p.m. Jan. 17. $39-$12o. Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800,

For instant update, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

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5 reasons to love year-end Best Of lists

Arbitrary, unscientific and subjective though they are, I am in love with the glut of year- (and decade-) end Best Of lists infecting media right now, and not just because they draw more page views to this blog than I ever would have imagined.

Here’s why, in a convenient list:

1. Tidy packages
Most mornings, I post a list of fun things to do around Atlanta. It might be more comprehensive to just Tweet links to all day long, but if I’m going to wade through 200 listings anyway, it seems worth sharing what I found in a manageable, organized, clean way. Why not think the same way about a year’s worth of events? A few weeks ago, you nominated and voted on your favorite events of 2009. I tacked on my own list because, well, it’s my blog.

2. Sweet reminders
Catherine Fox’s list of Top 10 Exhibitions shows slivers of the visual art offerings around Atlanta. I have a friendly interest and zero expertise in art, but I’m surprised by how many of these I saw, and how …

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‘Cavalia’ draws 100,000, continues through Jan. 6

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The White Big Top in Atlantic Station is home to "Cavalia." AJC file photo

“Cavalia”, the dreamy horse-and-acrobat show under the White Big Top in Atlantic Station, had its 100,000 attendee in Atlanta today.

Atlanta has been its most successful market outside of Canada, doubling its planned run from five weeks to 10, and selling out for 31 of its 56 shows so far. After it closes in January, it will move on to Miami.

Michael Diamantides, general manager at Atlantic Station, said the show was on track with expectations, but hadn’t drawn audiences as strong as Cirque du Soleil’s — a difference he chalks up to name recognition. He also “Cavalia” will likely return to Atlantic Station in 2010 or 2011, and Cirque will be back, too, with a new show.

Still, the show was a win for some retailers, and especially restaurants, who enjoyed the dinner-and-a-horse-show crowd. Diamantides said word-of-mouth was good for the show, and they still get calls about it every day.

“It’s a great …

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Still giggling over ‘Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!’ in Atlanta


Since I’ve now heard every joke that could possibly be on this week’s episode of “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” you’d think I’d be willing to skip the show this week. Oh, no, no, no.

I’ll be in the living room with the radio on, a newspaper on my lap and  two dogs trying to oust the dead tree interloper from their rightful place. Maybe we’ll make popcorn. The show is only an hour on the air, but the live show recorded in Atlanta last night was closer to two. I have to know what makes the cut.

Although I was in the very, very, very back, against the wall in the “Grand Tier” of far-away seats, I had a clear view of panelists Roy Blount Jr., Amy Dickinson and Charlie Pierce, the table for producers and engineers, the podiums for host Peter Sagal and announcer Carl Kasell and a chair for guest Rick Sanchez of CNN. It’s a simple set-up, but watching “Wait, Wait…” was the most fabulous night I’ve had at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. David Sedaris: I’m sorry.

You can get a more …

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Hear young Georgia musicians ‘From the Top’ this weekend


Flautist Hally Davidson, from McDonough, and pianist Bryan Anderson, from Stockbridge, rehearsed before appearing on NPR's "From the Top," at Emory University in November. AJC/Jason Getz

I’m going to post about last night’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” show at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre later today, but as it turns out, Atlanta is kind of a public radio darling this weekend. Local musicians that performed at a live recording of “From the Top” last month will show up on the airwaves this weekend, too.

Those of you who attended the show already know what’s coming from the young performers on stage. For the rest of us, AJCer Bo Emerson wrote this story about how they managed to fit “prodigy” into their schedules. The story appeared in Sunday’s AJC, but hasn’t yet appeared online.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in performances by local youth orchestras, keep an eye on the calendar listings. There are several holiday concerts coming up!

Till the, here it …

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gloATL dances again with ‘Crea’ at Woodruff Arts Center


A gloATL dancer performs at Le Flash in Castleberry Hill. The dance company performs "Crea" inside the High Museum of Art on Dec. 10, 2009. AJC file photo

Two weeks away from Christmas, you’d think the most accessible dance performances would involve nutcrackers and eye-high kicks, but I’ll argue for another: “Crea” by gloATL.



If it’s anything like performances by the dance company earlier this year, it won’t be anything you can call familiar. I don’t expect that we’ll recognize a signature move or a traditional costume. I just love how creator-choreographer Lauri Stallings creates art that fits into spaces we already know, or think we know — the Woodruff Arts Center lawn, the streets of Castleberry Hill and this time, the Robinson Atrium inside the High Museum of Art. Stages and auditoriums are rightfully beloved spaces, but they’re special occasion spaces, places that very few experience in their day-to-day lives. Robinson Atrium is hardly a hang-out, but it’s the …

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What are your Atlanta Ballet ‘Nutcracker’ memories?


Anne Burton Avery, the Atlanta Ballet's original Sugar Plum Fairy performs in the "Nutcracker" in an undated photo dug from the AJC archives.

I’ve always thought of the “Nutcracker” as one of those holiday traditions that’s gone on so long you could never find when it began. Maybe it feels like forever if you’re a ballet dancer, but Atlanta Ballet’s production of Tchaikovsky’s classic hit a milestone this season: 50 years.

In a story by Howard Pousner in this Sunday’s AJC, one-time artistic director Robert Barnett recalled how they performed only the second act in the first “Nutcracker” season in Atlanta in 1959. They danced George Balanchine’s choreography at the long-gone Tower Theatre, only the third such performance in the United States, outside New York and San Francisco.

He was certain there would be a big audience for this “charming and very children-friendly” ballet when he and his wife, Virginia Rich Barnett, were hired by what was then the Atlanta Civic Ballet as …

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