Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Here We Go! Around-the-World-Family Adventure

Step into the pages of your memories and have fun with the children in your life.  

Who doesn't remember baking cookies with grandma in her apron or cuddling up in her lap while inhaling the delightful scent of her special powder to hear a story?  Who doesn't remember the special moments with grandparents that holiday traditions and smells conjure?  Who doesn't remember grandpa's special smile as he dug deep into his pocket to present you with a treasure?

The Baby Boomer Generation is coming of age, grandparent age, and realizing playing with grandchildren is fun.

Looking for adventures and ways to interact with young children has just gotten easier and more fun.  Roll together children, grandparents, some music, a drop of magic and imagination as you head into the newest family fun adventure--  all in the comfort of your home!... More

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: The Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Poor Little Pelican + A Kidreports Photo-Documentary

Last spring, the Gulf Coast Oil Spill had us all wondering about the oil gushing into the water and being brought to shore by either waves or storms.  What effect did it have on the animals?  How did our young children see this event?

A great new children's book by well known author Carole Marsh has just been released.  This charming story unfolds at the beginning of the oil spill when some young pelicans are out on a morning's adventure.  They soon find something is amiss with the appearance of the Dark Shadow and its effect on a young pelican friend.

Children will eagerly follow the pelicans' plight as they get a helping hand from the local children who are assisting the oil covered pelicans.

This story brings the headlines of the summer to a level where young children can understand the events of the oil spill on the environment.  Followed by a photo documentary by a Gulf Coast girl named Erin, students will learn how our environment and wildlife were affected by the spill.

The book has wonderful reproducible activities for children as they explore the environment.  Marsh has once again brought educators and parents a wonderful resource tool for our children.

The book is available through Gallopade International at www.gallopade.com.

Friday, October 1, 2010

There's a Heaping Helping of Laughter at Della's Diner... Blue Plate Special

Della's Diner... Blue Plate Special, one of Atlanta's longest running musicals, is back! And the audience is loving every second of this great Atlanta classic.

Come on up to Morning Glory Mountain and spend the day at Della's Diner.  It's just a typical day in the life of Della as she breaks her three year old grandson out of reform school for killing her husband.  Then the intrigue begins as strangers and family from the past all arrive to add excitement to the day.  There's nothing like having two husbands, or an old best friend country music star just out of prison, or even a daughter who struggles between her duty to marriage and her career to bring laughter to the audience.

Written in Atlanta, this original country-western-gospel musical played for years in Atlanta during the 1980s.  Original cast member  Robert Ray directs the outstanding all volunteer cast and crew at the Southside Theatre Guild in Fairburn, Georgia.

In no time at all, the audience is engaged in toe tapping in between the eruptions of laughter.  Whether you are seasoned fan of Della or a new visitor to her diner, you'll be thrilled with this troupe's performance of this Atlanta classic soap opera. 

Performances:
Sept 30, Oct 1-2-3
Oct 7-8-9-10
Oct 14-15-16-17

Southside Theatre Guild
20 W Campbellton St
Fairburn, GA  30213

For tickets:  www.STGplays.com or call 770-969-0956

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Powers Festival... getting better!

At some point in the past, on one of our blogs, we wrote a sad column about the Powers Crossroads Festival (now just Powers Festival) in Newnan, Georgia. While fun, the quality of work offered had suffered as they were allowing buy-sell stuff that detracted from the better work. There were also some other problems which had artists putting the festival on their "not gonna do it again" list.

I went today and saw some major improvements. No buy-sell for one! I talked with quite a few of the artists and got good comments from all but one, and that comment wasn't negative, just flat. The last time I wandered and talked with artists a few years ago none of the comments were good. Today everyone I talked with said they felt the show organizers were working hard to make the show better and to return it to its former glory. Per the artists, the organizers are once again looking at quality over quantity which will ultimately enhance its reputation.

I think it's going to take a few years and some continued hard work to possibly get the "old" artists and the crowds to come back. Some of the artists may never come back as they've found new shows for the time slot. Unfortunately those who have moved on to other shows also talk about their experience. Bad reps are hard to overcome. Powers seems to be taking the right steps.

Given the tough economic times I was pleasantly surprised to hear that many of the artists were happy with what they were making as compared to some of their other shows. Some said they did better this year than last year. They all lamented the slowing of sales overall. Everyone I talked with said they'd be back.

I talked to some who were on their second year, some on their fourth or fifth, one who'd been there for at least ten and some I forgot to ask! I read in the flyer that two of the artists had been there from the very beginning in 1971 --- that's 40 years of doing the festival!

I had thought it might be a show where the smaller under $50 items sold the best, but a couple of the artists said they were selling their more expensive items over the lower priced art. Then again, some were selling their $20 - $40 stuff like gangbusters. 

There's also a LOT of musical talent to entertain those who really don't care about wandering around... The food selections are great, too --- much better than you usually find at festivals. The vast majority, if not all, of the food vendors seem to be churches, civic groups and other similar organizations.

The crowds weren't as large as I remember from past visits. There were still a lot of people, but I can remember past festivals where the large grassy parking area was full. I was trying to remember if we'd ever gone on the last day. I don't think so. I heard it was busier on Saturday. A couple of the artists said they were selling better today than on the more crowded day as people were able to spend more time looking and talking with the artist. I know on some of the shows I do that I sell better on the smaller crowd days as those who are coming out are focused on buying, on the art, rather than food or entertainment.

They have some superb non-profit backers: Newnan-Coweta Jaycees, Pilot Club of Newnan, 4-H Clubs of Coweta, Newnan-Coweta Art Association and the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. The Boy Scouts always have a spot and lend a helping hand as needed. It's truly a community event!

Be sure to check out their new website. You can scan down the list of artists to see if you recognize anyone and to see the type work for sale. Of course, the show is over now, but there's always next year!

I'm going to make it a point to support the show. I want them to succeed. This was their 40th anniversary year -- I'd like to know they'll be around to celebrate their 80th.



Next week I'm heading to the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain. I'll let you know what I think about it, also --- especially since I'll be putting my application in to be part of it next year .
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dali better the second time around?

I went to see Dali: The Late Work again today. I took my niece, age 14, for the 'cultural arts' segment of her home school curriculum. She had never heard of Salvador Dali until a ten-year old she knows mentioned that he'd been to see the exhibit at the High Museum of Art Atlanta. He liked it OK, said it was pretty cool. I don't think my niece knew what to expect.

I had the privilege of seeing the exhibit earlier, prior to the 'official' opening. The group I was with were treated to a wonderful guided tour by Guest Curator Elliott King, a literal fount of knowledge regarding Dali's work, in particular his late works. He was joined by Irene Halsman, the daughter of Dali photographer and friend, Phillipe Halsman. After following King around, hearing his comments and insights, being spoiled, I wasn't sure how I'd "see" the art today.

Thinking about it, today should count as my third time around! After finishing the tour with King and friends, I grabbed the headsets and walked around again. I listened to the adult and the children's mustache narrated commentary... What can I say? I wanted to know everything and hear everything!

So, today on my 3rd time around how did it go? It was different, but still wonderful. I found myself spending more time looking at Dali's technique and questioning why he chose certain subject matter. As my niece listened to the commentary via the headset, I focused on some of the details I'd missed the first two times around. I was also able to share many of the tidbits that King had discussed, making her think I was some sort of Dali expert. Uh huh.

It was a new experience. In particular I loved introducing my niece to Salvador Dali. The High has put together a phenomenal collection of his works which chronicles his personality and talent with perfection. I watched her looking at the details, scrunching her nose with a few "ewwws" at some of the strangeness, chuckling at times, tilting her head trying to figure out the meaning of some part of a painting... and felt like I was discovering Dali anew.

I'm smiling as I type thinking about how enjoyable the day was, how magnificent Dali is and was. I've been to many shows at the High over the years and always had a great experience and appreciated their attention to detail and the quality of art they share with the public. I'm not sure if it's because I have been a Dali fan since my teens, whether it's the quality of the exhibit they've put together, or a combination of both, but to me the Dali exhibit is absolutely the best of the best by the High.

Will I go back again? You betcha. I think I may wait for a while and let today's visit soak in a bit, but I'll definitely be going back before they close the exhibit in January. By the time the pieces of the exhibit are packed up and returned to their homes, I may be able to give Elliott King a bit of competition!

Just in case you're wondering what my niece thought of it, she loved Dali's work. She thought he was strange and she didn't know who Alice Cooper or Andy Warhol were, but she was impressed. We're already planning our next trip to the High. We saw the Dali exhibit but didn't have time to wander through the rest of the museum which is worth a day all on its own!

Even if you're not sure whether you like Salvador Dali you must, must, go to see Dali: The Late Work. I promise, there's something for everyone and it's an experience bigger than art, just like Dali! - jmd

www.high.org for more information
1280 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta
404-733-HIGH

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Raving about Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles at Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre

Yes, we're already raving about RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles. How can we rave when it doesn't come to Atlanta until next month? Well, a few of us from Arts Across Georgia saw it last time it was at the Fabulous Fox Theatre and we were singing for days. I'll have to admit that I was one of those rare types who didn't "get it" when it came to the Beatles. I liked some of their tunes, but didn't go ga-ga over them. However, even I got enthusiastic after seeing RAIN!

This is an excellent show for all ages, whether you're a Beatles fan or not. It's fun. It's cool. It's hot. It's fab.

We can't top the reviews included in the official press release below, we can just agree. RAIN is a great show to introduce non-theater-goers to the thrills of live stage. Seeing your first show at the Fox Theatre is an experience in itself! Toss in the music and talent in RAIN and you have a true winner. Be sure to take a ride on the elevator and check out the bathrooms --- who'd a thunk anyone would ever recommend looking at a bathroom?!

Now for the official release which we included in our Backstage Georgia blog at an earlier date:

From Ed Sullivan to Abbey Road…
RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

SEPT 17-19 FOR 5 SHOWS ONLY!!

GET BACK Atlanta! “Hey Jude, Lucy, Martha My Dear, Lovely Rita and all you Beatles fans... we’re delighted to help you get back to one of the most fab shows ever,” states Christopher B. Manos, Producer of Theater of the Stars. “The award-winning Beatles concert, RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles, returns to Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre from September 17-19. Like The Beatles, the onstage members of RAIN are not only supreme musicians, but electrifying performers in their own right. You can see the show here before it makes its Broadway debut in October. Make plans today to experience RAIN with your loved ones and friends. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 800-982-2787, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Fox Theatre Box Office.”

RAIN, the acclaimed Beatles concert, returns by popular demand! They look like them and they sound just like them! “The next best thing to seeing The Beatles,” raves the Denver Post. All the music and vocals are performed totally live! RAIN covers The Beatles from the earliest beginnings through the psychedelic late 60s and their long-haired hippie, hard-rocking rooftop days. RAIN is a multi-media, multi-dimensional experience...a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens and live cameras zoom in for close-ups. “A thrilling bit of time-warping nostalgia…Boomer Heaven!” raves The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Uncanny! RAIN are a quartet of fine musicians in their own right…as The Beatles, they triumph!” cheers the Boston Herald. “An adoring Valentine to The Beatles,” declares the Washington Post. Sing along to such favorites as “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Come Together” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and relive Beatlemania from Ed Sullivan to Abbey Road!

RAIN covers the Fab Four from their very first Ed Sullivan Show appearance through the Abbey Road album, through the psychedelic late 60s and their long-haired hippie, hard-rocking rooftop days. RAIN is a multi-media, multi-dimensional experience...a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens and live cameras zoom in for close-ups. RAIN boasts a repertoire of nearly 200 Beatlemaniac favorites, ranging from such beloved songs as “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude” to classic hits including “Revolution” and “Come Together.”

For the four longtime band members – Joey Curatolo (Paul McCartney), Joe Bithorn (George Harrison), Ralph Castelli (Ringo Starr) and Steve Landes (John Lennon), with a little help from their friend Mark Lewis (keyboards, percussion) – the music is first and foremost. For more than two decades, RAIN has distinguished itself by focusing on details, always being faithful to The Beatles with the ultimate goal of delivering a perfect note-for-note performance. All the music is performed live, with no pre-recorded tapes or sequences. For more information visit: www.raintribute.com

“On their feet, with arms raised high above their heads, all in the audience were swaying and singing along in blissed-out, nostalgia-powered unison! -- Chicago Sun-Times

“The enraptured audience relives the soundtrack of its life!” -- Chicago Tribune

"RAIN nails the full glory of those heavenly vocal harmonies and thrilled an all-ages crowd with note-perfect renditions of songs from the mightiest canon in all of popular music history." -- Buffalo News

“RAIN creates musical nirvana…makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up! A thrilling bit of time-warping nostalgia...Boomer Heaven!” -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Uncanny! RAIN are a quartet of fine musicians in their own right…as The Beatles, they triumph!” -- The Boston Herald

“An adoring Valentine to The Beatles!” -- The Washington Post

“RAIN is a spectacular extravaganza…did the audience love it? Yeah, yeah, yeah!” -- The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Parents (and grandparents) and kids were on their feet bopping like crazy!” -- The Courier Post

RAIN will play the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta from September 17-19, 2010. Performances are Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm & 8 pm, and Sunday at 1:30 pm & 7 pm. Tickets are on sale NOW at all Ticketmaster outlets, at 800-982-2787 and online at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket prices range from $25-$65. Special group rates are available through the Fox Group Sales Dept. at 404-881-2000.

Theater of the Stars celebrates its 58th Anniversary as one of the nation’s premier regional theater companies. A civic not-for-profit cultural treasure, Theater of the Stars is dedicated to presenting and producing the best in musical theater. To learn more about our history of excellence, visit www.theaterofthestars.com.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

To go or not to go... that is the question...

Our answer is GO and go now to this link to buy tickets! Wherefore art thou to go? Georgia Shakespeare. Yes, yes, we promise...that's the last of our poor attempts at Shakespeare-speak!

A couple of us from the Arts Across Georgia staff finally decided to check out Georgia Shakespeare Friday night. For quite some time we've been promoting the venue and have heard good things so we have no excuse as to why it took so long. We're hooked now though!

We went to see King Lear, one of Shakespeare's best known plays... OK, maybe most of you are more familiar with Romeo and Juliet, but King Lear is up there at the top of best known Shakespearean theater.

What an extraordinaire cast! What an outstanding venue! What fabulous people! It is top notch, first class and extremely well done. Every detail was perfect.

Yes, we like Georgia Shakespeare and King Lear just a little, you think?

The emotion in the play was almost draining. Even though it took our brains a few minutes to get into "Shakespeare lingo mode" we were right there with the phenomenal cast from the first second as they betrayed, maimed, killed, went mad and fought wars. The play is full of intrigue, carrying the viewer down paths of dark deeds and deeper thought.

It was a great re-introduction to the power of Shakespeare.

Lest you think all the plays at Georgia Shakespeare are only about doom, gloom and tawdry actions, we must tell you a bit about two other plays that are running in tandem with King Lear. The talented cast are in three, yes three, back-to-back Shakespeare productions. Yours truly couldn't memorize the first five minutes of dialogue, much less three separate plays!

Shrew: The Musical is one we're looking forward to enjoying next. We jokingly said it would serve as a cleansing of the emotional palette!

John Briggs, Director, notes, "The script remains fairly close to the original, although I updated most of the archaic pronouns and verbs."

The play is set in a hotel in Miami, Florida and a run-down dance studio in Virginia during the golden age of jazz and big bands. Music lovers will appreciate that it incorporates the music of Fats Waller, Harold Arlen, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and other greats.

The third play, Love's Labour's Lost, is directed by Janice Akers. It's set in Navarre, a region between present-day France and Spain. In reading through the synopsis, we can clearly see that this play is going to be a hoot! A king vows to give up the company of women for three years, however the Princess of France is already on the way to visit with her entourage --- you know where things are headed! There are stories and sub-stories, all connected with a theme of love, money and the ever present mix ups that keeps audiences minds jumping and engaged!

Georgia Shakespeare is located on the beautiful Oglethorpe University campus.

Plan to come early to see the show as they have a covered picnic area and an open garden area set with tables and chairs for theater goers. Bring a cooler with your favorite foods or grab something from the snack bar. Wine and beer are permitted, and you can carry your favorite into the theater while you watch the play. No glass allowed though, so bring plastic cups.

Another reason to go early is the short synopsis they give prior to the show. I gather it's usually about half an hour before the show starts out in the garden area.

Opening night is extra fun! After the show the cast joins those who stick around for complementary wine, beer, coffee, champagne and desserts.

You'll definitely want to meet this cast! Tim McDonough was jaw-dropping awesome in King Lear and we can't wait to see him in his others roles in Shrew: The Musical and Love's Labour's Lost. While we have to rave about McDonough, we'd be remiss if we didn't highly commend every other actor in King Lear. They were all brilliant, unfortunately we've already gone long in raving about the play so can't devote the deserved time for each of the outstanding actors.

Have we convinced you that you must, must put Georgia Shakespeare on your list of "to dos"?  Hope so!


Photos:
1) Tim McDonough as King Lear in Georgia Shakespeare's King Lear, running in repertory through August 7
2) Tim McDonough (King Lear) and Park Krausen (Cordelia) in Georgia Shakespeare's King Lear
3) Tim McDonough (King Lear) and Allan Edwards (Earl of Gloucester) in Georgia Shakespeare's King Lear
Photos by Bill DeLoach

www.gashakespeare.org
Click here for dates and tickets
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Super...super...duper...spendariffic...

Oh shoot, I'm trying to find a word that's bigger than supercalifragilisticexpialidocious...  Mary Poppins were are you when I need you? I need a bigger word to describe how fantasmaliciouslydelicious the Broadway production of Mary Poppins at the Fox Theatre was and is!!!

What a fabulously lovely tip top show it was indeed! The set, the casting, the acting, the music, the dancing, the venue, all perfectamungo... try finding that one in the dictionary...

I'm making 'em up as I go, but there was nothing thrown together about Mary Poppins. Every detail was spit spot... what else would you expect from anything featuring Mary Poppins?

I was a little hesitant prior to the show thinking about the prospect of having to write a review. I "assumed" I would have a hard time due to the years and years of seeing and loving the movie version with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke as the lead characters. Turned out that once the curtain went up I was completely in the world of Caroline Sheen as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert.

I can't rave enough about the show. It's magical, engaging and it made me wish again that I'd had a Mary Poppins nanny! It's uplifting and has a great message for all ages.

Everyone can do with a bit of magic in their life and this show is truly magical. It's only here through May 16th so you'll need to grab your tickets now. There's never a bad seat in the Fox Theatre so take what you can get! Who knows, Mary Poppins may just grab her umbrella and gracefully zoom over your seat!

One teeny tiny caution I feel obligated to share:  I always head to the restrooms during intermission and again after a show just to hear the comments and get impressions from those in line. The only negatives I heard were a few comments about the scene where the statues in the park come to life, but I think it bothered some of the parents more than the kids... It was a cool scene, but it might have been more completely kid-appropriate to have completely covered statues, even if they were realistic! Don't get me wrong, nothing at all lewd or eye-covering in the scene, but I think it was just a bit jarring given the rest of the "sweetness" of the show.

Here's a bit of random Mary Poppins trivia for you:
- The roof and nursery together weigh about 16,000 pounds
- The Banks House weighs about 40,000 pounds
- Over 35 women's hats are worn at least once throughout the show
- It required 14 trucks to move the show from city to city
- 2008 marked 75 years since novelist P.L. Travers first created the character of Mary Poppins
- P.L. Travers (Pamela Lyndon Travers) was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Queensland, Australia in 1899
- There are eight Mary Poppins books written by P.L. Travers
- The classic Walt Disney film was released on August 27, 1964
- The film received 13 Academy Award nominations, taking home five awards

For tickets and more information visit www.MaryPoppinsTour.com or www.Ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets call 1-800-982-2787 or for group orders of 15 or more call 404-881-2000. Prices range from $19.50 to $64.00.

Tickets for Mary Poppins at the Fabulous Fox on Sale Now!
Performances Begin April 29, 2010 for 3 Weeks at the Fox Theatre

Caroline Sheen as ‘Mary Poppins’ and Gavin Lee as ‘Bert” perform “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Original National Tour Company of MARY POPPINS. Disney/CML. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Broadway Across America – Atlanta and producers Thomas Schumacher of Disney Theatrical Productions and Cameron Mackintosh announced that Atlanta’s most eagerly awaited stage production will begin performances at the Fox Theatre on Thursday, April 29 for a limited engagement of 3 weeks through Sunday, May 16. The opening night is Friday, April 30 at 8 p.m. The entire original creative team has reunited to bring this magical story of the world’s most famous nanny to audiences around North America... More

Friday, January 15, 2010

Annie at the Fox Theatre: Perfect show if you need a lift!

Many of us know the tunes from Annie by heart. They pop into our head at the most appropriate times... the sun'll come up tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun... it's the hard knock life for us... and my sister's favorite, 'little girls, little girls, everywhere I turn I can see them' (she has three little girls).

Annie has a song and a message for every mood and happenstance in our lives. While watching the show at the Fox earlier this week I found myself reflecting that it is the perfect show for our current tough times. The message of overcoming any trial, of finding a bit of sun tomorrow and of being hopeful no matter what life throws at us gave my overall outlook on life a lift! Plus, everything turns our just swell at the end so what could be better?

The current show at the absolutely fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta continues the tradition of excellence that has been a part of Annie since 1977. All ages filled the theatre... and every one of them sat enraptured throughout the entire show. Although there were a lot of children, not once did I hear a complaint or cry. They came dressed in their Annie shirts and dresses, some with their hair in curls. The clutched "Sandy" plush dogs and carried flowers to give their friends who participated in the show.

I started by saying that Annie is the perfect show for the times and I'll end by saying it's also the perfect introduction to true theatre for any age. The story line is great, the music is fantastic, the acting superb. The venue is stunning and once you've introduced someone to theatre at the Fabulous Fox they'll be hooked forever on quality.

If you don't have your tickets find a way to scrape the dollars together to take the family. Tickets start at $18 and that's a steal! Visit our main site: http://www.artsacrossgeorgia.com/theater/10/annie.htm. It's only here through Sunday, so grab your tickets fast.

More info via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_%28musical%29

Here's a YouTube video showing some of the many Annies from 1977 through 2006 (or 2008). Wish it had this Annie, she did great, as did the other performers. Top notch.