Review: COMEDY OF TENORS is a Must-See at GET


For the next week and a half, Georgia Ensemble Theatre is treating Atlanta audiences to an evening of pure farce.

Complete with mistaken identity, family drama, and a little bit of music, A Comedy of Tenors is absurd hilarity from beginning to end. The Lend Me a Tenor sequel by Ken Ludwig sees producer Henry Saunders (Robert Egizio) trying to keep his tenor trio together for a huge concert in Paris. But knowing artists and their temperaments, Henry’s fate has to be none other than running around like a chicken with its head cut off until the last scene. Chaotic highlights include: tenor Tito Merelli (Brian Kurlander), his wife Maria (Courtenay Collins), and their daughter Mimi (Lyndsay Ricketson) falling apart at the seams, plus Mimi’s man (Haden Rider) of whom Tito doesn’t approve, and more messes involving Henry’s son-in-law Max (John Markowski), the bell-boy, and a saucy ginger.

Let’s go ahead and clarify that the “mature content” advisory is for real, so please don’t bring your 10-year-old twins.

Under the superb direction of Shelly McCook, Tenor 2 epitomizes feel-good escapism comedy, with a firm grasp on classic farce- in this case, physical comedy for days. Highlights  include a pants debacle culminating in stair-hopping (I can’t explain it- you just have to see it), recurring non sequitur sign language, and opera references.

Collins slays as the melodramatic Maria, opposite Kurlander’s non-stop, flawless diva antics as Tito. As Mimi, Lyndsay Ricketson delivers a magnificently over-the-top, unhinged performance, taking schmacting to a whole new level. Rounding out the cast, Lane Carlock delightfully barges into the narrative with simultaneous strength and oblivion, Haden Rider brings expert comedy to Carlo, and the always brilliant Egizio plays the no-nonsense Henry Saunders, frequently juxtaposed hilariously with John Markowski’s berated Max.

It’s funny. It’s warm and fuzzy. It’s relatable. And there’s a cash wine bar in the lobby, so what’s not to love?

Courtenay Collins, Brian Kurlander
Lyndsay Ricketson, Haden Rider
Brian Kurlander, Courtenay Collins
Brian Kurlander, Lane Carlock

Photo credits: Dan Carmody/Studio7


Video Recap: Songs, Streamers, and More at Atlanta Lyric’s ’18-’19 Season Reveal Cabaret

It’s always a good time when you pack a small venue with Atlanta theatre patrons, performers, and friends. Throw in some Broadway songs, and you’ve got a rockin’ night.

Last Saturday, the Atlanta Lyric Theatre presented their ’18-’19 Season Announcement Party, an intimate evening of cabaret performances held at the Lyric Studio Theatre (one of the billion theatres on the Marietta Square). Hosted by Lyric artistic director Mary Nye Bennett, the show featured performances from many Atlanta theatre favorites including Chase Peacock, Jessica De Maria, and more.

Mary welcomed the audience by expressing her love for the community feeling of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, saying, “What I love about the Lyric is getting to know our subscribers as friends, not just patrons.” She proved this by personally addressing multiple guests she spotted at tables around the room.

Though the nominal purpose of the evening was to reveal the Lyric’s next season of musicals, Mary warned us that she planned to draw out the suspense, a la Ryan Seacrest on American Idol. She called that a dated reference, but I appreciated it.

The first act included performances from what’s left of the Lyric’s current season: Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsAlways… Patsy Cline, and Tarzan, rolling out the season reveal in Act 2 using medleys from each show. And it was definitely worth waiting for! Next season will include: Aida, Newsies, The Wedding Singer, Singin’ in the Rain, and Oliver! 

The biggest surprise of the evening was when Mary welcomed the Aurora Theatre’s Ann-Carol Pence and Anthony Rodriguez on stage to announce that Newsies will be a Lyric/Aurora co-production next summer. Honestly at this point I think we’re all ridiculously on board with any Atlanta theatre collaborations the fam wants to throw at us (see: Memphis 2015, In the Heights 2016, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2017).

Check out highlights from the performances below!

“Walkin’ After Midnight” from Always… Patsy Cline. Performed by Mary Nye Bennett (who is not playing the role in the show but is awesome nonetheless).

“Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan. Performed by Chase Peacock and J. Koby Parker (also not necessarily playing these roles in the Lyric’s production, as Mary said they had just finished up auditions).

“Everything I Am” from Tarzan. Performed by Chase Peacock.

“Every Story” from Aida. Performed by Adrianna Trachell, Alison Wilholt, and Jessica De Maria.

“Fortune Favors the Brave” from Aida. Performed by Fenner Eaddy, Chase Peacock, Haden Rider, J. Koby Parker, and George Deavours.

“A Step Too Far” from Aida. Performed by Jessica De Maria, Fenner Eaddy, and Adrianna Trachell.

“Easy as Life” from Aida. Performed by Adrianna Trachell.

After the Aida performances, I heard the woman in front of me say to her friend, “You have no idea what it’s like just from this music! It’s so good! It’s going to knock your socks off!”

Not captured: that moment when the Newsies poster appeared on the screen, and the whole audience lost it.

“Carrying the Banner” from Newsies. Performed by Chase Peacock, Haden Rider, J. Koby Parker, Fenner Eaddy, George Deavours, Alison Wilholt, Adrianna Trachell, and Jessica De Maria.

“Santa Fe” from Newsies. Performed by our favorite Quasimodo, Haden Rider.

“Something to Believe In” from Newsies. Performed by Chase Peacock and Jessica De Maria.

“It’s Your Wedding Day” from The Wedding Singer. Performed by Alison Wilholt, J. Koby Parker, and company.

“Someday” from The Wedding Singer. Performed by J. Koby Parker and Alison Wilholt.

“Grow Old with You” from The Wedding Singer. J. Koby Parker and Alison Wilholt.

“Singin’ in the Rain” from Rent. Jokes. It’s from Singin’ in the Rain. But I almost had you fooled, right? Performed by Chase Peacock.

No video because live-Tweeting called, but next was “You Were Meant for Me” from Singin’ in the Rain. Performed by Fenner Eaddy.

“Good Mornin'” from Singin’ in the Rain. Performed by Adrianna Trachell, Haden Rider, and J. Koby Parker.

“Oom-Pah-Pah” from Oliver! Performed by the company. 

“You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” from Oliver! Performed by George Deavours.

“As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver! Performed by Jessica De Maria.

And how could they end the night with any encore but the rousing “Seize the Day” from Newsies? I’m living for how much the ladies are living for this song.

STREAMERS!! Mary Nye Bennett turned to me after the song, streamer cannon still in hand, and excitedly asked, “Did you get the streamers on your video?!”

Review: World Premiere of VIVIAN Shows Huge Potential for Future Productions

How does a family move on from the loss of a wife and mother? It’s a difficult question in the first place, then you throw in a haunted house, and the whole situation gets jumbled.

So begins Vivian, a new musical by Atlanta theatre professionals Chase Peacock and Jessica de Maria. Making its world premiere at the intimate Lyric Studio Stage (one of a zillion theatres on the Marietta Square), the audience is tightly packed in, inches from the action- the pre-show curtain speech requests no one leave their seat until the end of the show for their own safety.

It’s worth noting that this particular crowd- largely composed of friends of the writers and performers- seemed unfazed by the spooky elements. Unexpected ghost appearances, sudden shocking moments, almost all were greeted with laughter from this congenial, if relaxed group. You’ve never seen an audience more ready to fall in love with a new work.

Vivian tells the story of therapist Cliff Bennett (a rich Travis Smith) who, having recently lost his wife, moves with his two daughters to a disheveled fixer-upper home. Reading patients and reaching his own daughters prove two very different things, with the latter being the chief struggle Dr. Bennett- who repeatedly reminds us of his prestigious title- faces. As they settle in, his youngest child, Vivian (a young and brilliant Mabel Tyler), seems haunted by an invisible force in the house. Teenaged Chrissy (a poignant Brittany Ellis), meanwhile, is so over both her dad’s lame attempts at connecting with her, and the boy-next-door’s, James (a golden-voiced Austin Taylor), attempts to woo her. As a first mounting, the 90-minute one-act musical leaves much to be desired while showing great promise.

It feels like two shows in one: the first being a sad but hopeful musical about a family trying to rebuild their life, a man struggling to love his daughters well, and a teenager falling in love. The second, a straight play without songs, is a ghost story about a girl sporadically possessed by something unknown. Each entity is intriguing and worth pursuit, though neither is fully fleshed-out. As a unit, Vivian plays as simultaneous productions of both the musical and the straight play performed in tandem unbeknownst to one another. This ultimately creates an unfinished product in search of a focal point as it flails in different directions.

Chase and Jessica’s modern ballads sit comfortably in the Broadway-pop genre, with an easy rock bent. Especially in “The Tides,” a masterful trio sung by Dr. Bennett and his daughters, C&J’s songs feature utterly delightful folk-like harmonies. Much of the music and lyrics prove memorable in the best ways, with another particular winner, the sweetly relatable “Let Me Guess.” Still, the show feels under-sung, with little variety in the tunes, which often trail off without closure, and have a weak connection to the book.

Its billing as a ghost story hypes the supernatural elements more than the story delivers, with some explanations turning out to be disappointingly benign. Even at the close of the show, it’s unclear whether the ghost(s) are malicious or just creepy by virtue of being ghosts.

A few key moments are lost in Vivian’s underdeveloped book. Without giving anything away, the audience reaches some conclusions while the characters are still in the dark. Then suddenly, we’re all on the same page, not quite sure how or when the Bennetts and co. got there. Among its many fragmented pursuits, the most disjointing is the show’s abrupt, songless end. Even the actors seemed apologetic as they shrugged, smirked as if to say, “Yes, that’s really it,” and bowed.

Director Julie Skrzypek uses every inch of the limiting venue, with a simple if predictable set. As a small-scale world premiere, this production does exactly what it needs to: it shows the vast potential in this musical and its writers.

(Dis)Agree with what you read? Let’s have a discussion in the comments or on Twitter- @BwayGinger!

Oh and let’s just all listen to “The Tides” and “Let Me Guess” on repeat, ok? And then check out more at Chase and Jessica’s website, here.

Top 5 Performances to Catch in Atlanta This Fall

In a city now full of pumpkin spice lattes, hay rides, and flannels, local theatres are bringing their Halloween A-game to round out this fall in Atlanta. From immersive outdoor experiences to Hitchcock classics, our Atlanta theatre fam has it all!

But how to choose which shows to attend? Check out BroadwayGinger’s top five spooky theatre picks!

Photo Flash: Aurora Theatre to Stage Crucible Sequel ABIGAIL/1702

Abigail/1702 at Aurora Theatre

When: Now through October 15

Elevator pitch: Diany Rodriguez is the under normal circumstances, but in this show, she’s non-stop, taking her talent to the next level.

But really, why fight Atlanta traffic? The Devil. Flashbacks. The scariest surprise goat of all time. This one-act sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying.

Get those tickets!

Check it out! Interview: Diany Rodriguez Humanizes a Familiar Antagonist in ABIGAIL/1702 at Aurora Theatre

Vivian at the Lyric (Studio Theatre in the Square)

When: October 11-14

Elevator pitch: A brand new musical premiering right in Atlanta? Sounds like we Atlanta theatre nerds will get bragging rights for dayyyyys!

But really, why fight Atlanta traffic? The Lyric’s studio space creates an intimate experience perfect for a spooky musical. Written by our own local theatre artists Chase Peacock and Jessica De Maria, this mysterious ghost story promises its fair share of intrigue.

Get those tickets!

Click here to check out BroadwayGinger’s review of Vivian!

The Sleepy Hollow Experience at Serenbe Playhouse

When: Now through November 5

Elevator pitch: What’s scarier than a Halloween show? A Halloween experience in the woods.

But really, why fight Atlanta traffic? Serenbe can do no wrong. Their consistently inventive work never fails to expand the bounds of what’s possible in the theatre world. So now bringing a new adaptation of their annual Sleepy Hollow Experience,

Get those tickets!


Dial M for Murder at Stage Door Players

When: Now through October 15

Elevator pitch: As a rule, I’m on board with anything involving the phrase “perfect murder” and “Hitchcockian.”

But really, why fight Atlanta traffic? No Halloween season is complete with out a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. Even those of us who haven’t seen the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name know Stage Door’s show is bound to include twists and turns and unexpected gasp/scream/jump/grab the arm of the stranger next to you moments.

Get those tickets!

Sense and Sensibility at Synchronicity (say that five times fast)

When: Now through October 15

Elevator pitch:  Ok, so it’s not spooky. But I mean, Jane Freaking Austen. Need I say more?

But really, why fight Atlanta traffic? I like to call Synchronicity a hidden gem of Atlanta theatre. Housed in a shared space, they aren’t the most conspicuous venue in our city, but I completely trust their play choices and execution of them. I have yet to be disappointed by a work there.

Get those tickets!



Interview: Diany Rodriguez Humanizes a Familiar Antagonist in ABIGAIL/1702 at Aurora Theatre

Can a liar be redeemed?

Aurora Theatre’s newest mainstage endeavor, Abigail/1702 revisits Arthur Miller’s The Crucible ten years after the Salem Witch Trials. Though, to go as far as calling this a sequel may be a misnomer.

“It’s kind of its own unique story,” shares actress Diany Rodriguez, starring as the title role through October 17. “Both [The Crucible and Abigail/1702] are works of fiction, although they’re based in realistic events. Abigail is what might have happened if these characters, as written, continued to live ten years later.”

In Abigail/1702, the finger-pointing girl whom fans of The Crucible have a special hatred for, Abigail Williams now leads an altruistic, secluded life in Boston. Haunted by her past in Salem when her knowingly false accusations about witchcraft in the town sent many innocent people to hang, this play sees Abigail piling on good deeds to make up for her sordid background. Using Miller’s characters, playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa asks enough questions to turn the story on its head.

“If you go into this thinking, ‘Okay, if the devil exists, and if the devil made Abigail do it, but the onus is on Abigail to have said “No,”’ then what is it in Abigail’s character or her circumstance that made her think this was the best way?  If there is a devil, and if she wanted to make a contract with him, why?  Is it because she wants power?  Is it because she inherently loves the feeling that making a contract with the devil gives her?” Photo Flash: Aurora Theatre to Stage Crucible Sequel ABIGAIL/1702

Rodriguez says the Devil himself very much plays a part in this story, though what exactly, she won’t say. “In Abigail, there’s more of an investigation over whether Abigail did have a contract with an actual devil that actually guided her to make some of the allegations that she did, or whether it was just her way to camouflage her own actions and her own need to serve herself and be a guide for her own survival.”

In addition to asking questions of Abigail’s character, this piece also explores the idea of redemption in a powerful way. “This is a whole fictionalized version of her story and telling what happens when our deeds have actual real-life consequences. Can we be redeemed after we’ve done so much to our detriment and- for Abigail- to the detriment of at least twenty others whom she sent to their death and the lives of the people who loved the people whom she sent to their death?”

Despite her character’s past, Rodriguez can empathize with her, pointing out how she was not set up for success from the beginning of The Crucible.

abigail at aurora

“It’s easy for me already to take her side because I do see her as a victim of her circumstance. Hey, she is wholly flawed.  Don’t get me wrong! But she also could have used help. There is a lot of potential thinking that her Uncle Parris abused her, so there’s a lot to be said for her circumstances and how she might have not even been in a great place to make decisions [in The Crucible], even had she not had a sexual affair with a much older man who happened to be married and have two children.”

Besides Abigail, which familiar characters from The Crucible will we see? That’s part of the surprise too.

“There are characters in Abigail that are very much central characters in The Crucible, and they are only billed as, ‘Young Man,’ ‘Young Woman,’ ‘Older Woman,’ ‘Older Man,’ and like ‘Young Child,'” she explains. “Even small characters in The Crucible that had some sort of impact on her appear in Abigail. And that’s about as much as I can say without giving it away!”

However, she did reveal that the audience will get some closure on pieces that Arthur Miller left hanging. “There is a scene where my stage manager said at one point, ‘I hope the audience gets on their feet and claps, because this is a moment we’ve wanted to see since The Crucible.’”

After Abigail/1702, Rodriguez will be switching gears to appear in the fun, family-centered Stone Mountain Christmas, and then The Followers at Seven Stages Theatre. But right now, this actress continues to share her contagious passion for both the multifaceted role of Abigail Williams and the show itself.

“Theatre is supposed to either let you escape or be a mirror to humanity or let you get in touch with your empathy or let you think really hard. Abigail/1702 is really beautiful, scary, and thought-provoking.”

Abigail/1702 runs on Aurora Theatre’s mainstage through October 17. Click here to purchase tickets!

 Diany Rodriguez:
Notable Atlanta Credits: Significant OtherInformed ConsentHands on a Hardbody, HomersBull Durham: The MusicalRocky Horror ShowIn Love and Warcraft, Zorro: The Musical, Into the Woods (X2), The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, and August: Osage County. Notable regional credits: Carrie: A Comedy (Sue), Marvelous Wonderettes (Suzy), Fame (Carmen). Tours: Rent (Mark’s Mom/US Mimi), Dora the Explorer (Dora). Off-B’way: Soul Kitchen (Sangita), Shlomo (Anjia/Ruth). Film/TV: Pepper’s Place (pilot),The Yellow Birds, Survivor’s Remorse. Up Next: Christmas Canteen at Aurora Theatre and Exit Strategy at True Colors Theatre. Thank you, people I love; I love you.