Friday, August 22, 2008

Rare Theatrical Event Brings August Wilson Full Circle to the Alliance Theatre

In a unique Atlanta-only event, the Alliance Theatre, in partnership with True Colors Theatre Company, completes a cycle that has been twenty years in the making. Opening the Alliance’s 40th season will be two masterpieces of contemporary theatre from August Wilson’s ten-play Century Cycle—Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. The power of legacy is captured in these plays with two award-winning directors—Kenny Leon and Kent Gash—who will join forces to honor one of America’s greatest playwrights. The Alliance becomes one of the few theatres in the country to have produced all ten plays in the cycle. The plays will be performing in repertory with each play featuring the same company of actors, giving the Atlanta community an exclusive opportunity to see both plays in the same day and/or the same week. Opening for both plays is Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008: Gem of the Ocean at 2 p.m. and Radio Golf at 8 p.m. on the Alliance Stage. Tickets are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at

Gem of the Ocean, directed by True Colors Theatre Company Artistic Director Kenny Leon (who directed the Broadway version in 2004), is an evocative story of redemption and renewal set in 1904 Pittsburgh. It tells the story of Aunt Ester and her legendary home at 1839 Wylie Street in the Hill District, a focal point for the legacy of emancipation. Over the years, many migrant African-American workers arrive at the home looking for spiritual guidance, new possibilities and hope, including one man who is on the run from a dangerous past.

Radio Golf, directed by Alliance Theatre Associate Artistic Director Kent Gash, returns the audience to Pittsburgh 90 years later in 1997. Harmond Wilks is mounting a campaign to become the city’s first black mayor and achieve his admirable dreams of urban renewal in the Hill District. However, his past real estate successes don’t prepare him for the head-on clash between his dreams and the link to his past. His struggle between destiny and legacy is at the heart of a political campaign that challenges the future of the city.

August Wilson has a close relationship with the Alliance. Both Kenny Leon (who served as the Alliance Theatre artistic director for 11 years) and Kent Gash (who directed Wilson’s King Headley II during the 2003-04 Season) have rich histories with Wilson and his plays. These deep personal relationships reunite the playwright with the Alliance and the city of Atlanta.

Of the seven-member cast, five will be performing in both plays with two performing only in Gem of the Ocean. Local actors include Donald Griffin (Cuttin’ Up and King Hedley II), Tonia M. Jackson, Larry Larson (Glengarry Glen Ross and The Bench), E. Roger Mitchell (Cuttin’ Up and Romeo and Juliet) and Afemo Omilami. Additional actors include Chad L. Coleman (HBO series “The Wire”) from New York and Michele Shay (played Aunt Ester in August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean directed by Kenny Leon at the Kennedy Center) from California.

Members of the artistic team that will bring these profound plays to life on stage are Edward E. Haynes, Jr., set designer; Mariann Verheyen, costume designer; Ann G. Wrightson, lighting designer; Dan Moses Schreier, sound designer for Gem of the Ocean; Clay Benning, sound designer for Radio Golf; and Jade Lambert Smith, dramaturg.

Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Aug. 30 – Sept. 28, 2008 on the Alliance Stage. There will not be a matinee performance Saturday, Aug. 30 at 2 p.m.

Opening/Media Night is Sept. 6 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Sept. 14 and 21 shows at 2 p.m. will be Audio Described for the visually impaired.

Tickets are $15 – $45 and are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at Discount rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690. Discount rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students. The Alliance Theatre is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, corner of Peachtree and 15th Street, in Midtown Atlanta.

Special Event: Safe House Reading
Friday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m.
Staged reading featuring the casts of Gem of the Ocean and Radio GolfDirected by Kent GashTickets: $5

Safe House is a powerful new play in the spirit of August Wilson’s cycle! In Kentucky in the 1840s, one family of free people of color, free since their great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, can’t resist the temptation to help just one more young woman escape from slavery along the Underground Railroad. Commissioned by the Alliance Theatre in tribute to August Wilson, Keith Josef Adkins, an African-American playwright and screenwriter, was inspired by his own family history to write the play. Safe House is a play in the great American tradition of historical romance as two brothers compete against each other for their birthright of freedom.

August Wilson Fill Circle is part of the Coca-Cola Series on the Alliance Stage.

Additional Sponsors: August Wilson Full Circle is sponsored by Delta Air Lines – the Official Airline of the Alliance Theatre; the Marriott Residence Inn – the Official Hotel of the Alliance Theatre; and The Home Depot – the Set Construction Sponsor of the Alliance Theatre.

Production of August Wilson Full Circle is made possible with grants from the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Fulton County Arts Council, the Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

‘A Life Done Right’ Explores the Legacy of Erk Russell

The spirit of Statesboro’s local legend, Erk Russell, will come to life on the stage of the Averitt Center’s Emma Kelly Theater Friday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in “A Life Done Right: The Living Legacy of Erk Russell.” The play continues at the Averitt on Aug. 23, 24, 27 and 28, then moves to Georgia Southern University’s Black Box Theatre Sept. 5-7. Matinee and evening show times are listed below.

“A Life Done Right” is a collaborative production of the Erk Russell Oral History and Performance Project. Based on interviews with people who knew Erk, the play is directed by Rebecca Kennerly, assistant professor of communication studies at Georgia Southern University. Kennerly compiled and edited the interviews and adapted them for the stage, using a script outline and historical overview by Scott Garner. Twenty local actors, including community members and GSU faculty, staff, and students, will take part in the production.

The collaborative project began when Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts, approached Kennerly about doing a show based on oral history interviewing. At first a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the project, Kennerly says that with support from Chapman and the collaborative effort in the community, she’s been able to enjoy the experience.

“This was a different way to build a script,” said Kennerly. “We used a discussion-based oral history interviewing research method. I trained a volunteer team of interviewers, who went into the community to ask questions of people who knew Erk well.”

The two-hour show has an introduction and four scenes, but no Erk Russell character. He will “speak for himself” through the magic of video clips shown during the production.

Tickets for all shows are on sale at the Averitt Box Office at the Emma Kelly Theater, downtown Statesboro. Tickets for the performances at Georgia Southern will be available until noon on the day of the performance at the Averitt Box Office. Cost of the tickets will be $13 for a regular admission, $8 for Georgia Southern students with ID, and $8 for children under 12. Proceeds of the performances at Georgia Southern will go to the Patti Pace Memorial Fund to support the Black Box Theatre. The project is partially funded by at Georgia Southern University Faculty Service Grant and a grant from the Georgia Council on the Arts.

To purchase your tickets, visit the Averitt Box Office at the Emma Kelly Theater in downtown Statesboro. For more information, call 912-212-ARTS (2787).

Arts Across Georgia
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Broadway Across America - Atlanta Annouces 2008 - 2009 Season Specials

Natalie Cole Concert, Movin’ Out and Mannheim Steamroller to Join Dynamic Line-Up

Fidelity Investments Broadway Across America - Atlanta is proud to present three special productions during its 2008-2009 season. In addition to the standard six-show package, which includes smash hit musicals WICKED and JERSEY BOYS, Broadway Across America - Atlanta will bring Movin’ Out and Mannheim Steamroller to Atlanta audiences at The Fabulous Fox Theatre. Audiences can also enjoy a special performance from Natalie Cole at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

NATALIE COLE CONCERT PERFORMANCE October 19, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
(Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre)
Singer Natalie Cole has achieved unprecedented global success as an interpreter of standards and soulful R&B vocalist. She was the first black singer to win a Grammy in the “Best New Artist” category and received a “Record of the Year” Grammy for “Unforgettable,” the groundbreaking duet with her late father’s voice. She releases a new collection of standards this fall called Still Unforgettable.

(The Fox Theatre)
Started by former adman Chip Davis, Mannheim Steamroller's signature sound is where classical and modern-day rock, acoustic and electronic music meet. Celebrate the spirit of the season with the "18th century rock band" that has become one of the most popular and best-selling acts in the last 30 years.

MOVIN’ OUT May 1- May 3, 2009
(The Fox Theatre)
Told through the choreography of Twyla Tharp and more than two dozen of Billy Joel’s songs, MOVIN' OUT is the story of lifelong friends through two turbulent decades that change them and the world around them forever. Songs like “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and “Pressure” all come together to weave a musical backdrop which beautifully complements Tharp’s innovative choreography. The songs and dance take audiences through a poignant narrative comprised of three main elements: post-World War II idealism, the Vietnam War and its subsequent unrest, and finally, survival.

Broadway Across America – Atlanta’s 2008-2009 Season packages are on sale now with prices ranging from $105.00 – $399.00. Season ticket prices will vary depending on the number of shows chosen, the number of performances, show time, day of the week and seating location. A renewal order form has been mailed to current Season Ticket Holders allowing them to confirm or change their seat locations. New subscriptions may be ordered over the phone by calling 1-800-278-4447 Monday through Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm; by fax at 1-800-535-2929; or online at

Tickets to individual shows other than WICKED in the 2008-2009 Season are not available for purchase at this time. Single-show tickets typically go on sale to the general public 6-8 weeks prior to Opening Night. However, Season Ticket Holders have the unique opportunity to purchase additional tickets before they go on sale to the public. For more information on the 2008-2009 Season, or to order online, please visit Reservations for groups of 20 or more for individual shows can be made at this time by calling 404-881-2000.

Broadway Across America: Owned and operated by British theatre producer John Gore (CEO) and led by Thomas B. McGrath (Chairman), Broadway Across America presents first-class touring Broadway musicals and plays, family productions and other live events throughout a network of 43 North American cities. Broadway Across America is also dedicated to the development and production of new and diverse live theatre for productions on Broadway, across America and throughout the world. Current productions include Tony Award-winners BOEING BOEING and SPAMALOT, as well as THE BACKYARDIGANS. Upcoming productions include 13, WEST SIDE STORY, DORA THE EXPLORER and the Broadway premiere of Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS opening this 2008 holiday season. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent go to
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