Monday, August 5, 2019

Atlanta Balloon Glow

Atlanta's first ever Atlanta Balloon Glow was recently held in Piedmont Park, "Atlanta's favorite greenspace", which is now Atlanta's favorite place for tethered hot air balloon rides! 


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Originally scheduled for Valentine's Day weekend, hot air balloons finally rose from the meadow in the park with thousands in attendance the first weekend of August. Threatened with typical summer afternoon showers, Mother Nature cooperated last-minute allowing all ticket-holders to take flight.


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I'd totally forgot about the event and was reminded only a couple of days before it happened. By time I saw it online, all the website tickets were sold out. I found it exciting that so many were excited about hot air balloon rides! I'd never been on one, but have had a lifetime love of hot air balloons, a fan since their first flights in France--not that I was alive in the 1780s.


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I loved that there were so many fellow photographers there...lots of camera envy from my end, but I was also totally blissful having the opportunity to photograph such beautiful balloons. Such a rare opportunity living in the city.

There were LOTS of food trucks, bringing a wide range of cuisines, and a number of retail tents, making for a genuine festival atmosphere! There were tickets for a VIP experience--a reserved seating/viewing area and a couple-ride experience. There was also a separate kids' experience area.


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There was a guy (event employee) checking the pre-paid line to make sure that everyone's tickets were in order, but I was hopeful that there might be some extra spots, given that it was supposed to be raining (it cleared up on my way home that night, so I went back to the Park), and he told me that they'd be selling tickets after all the current ticket-holders had gone through the line. 


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

He and one other person told me that there would be tickets for sale after all pre-paid ticket holders were in line to go up. I waited in line a couple of times, hoping to get to go up (remember, I'd only learned of the event a couple of days before). Well, it was getting late, and I was quite happy with the photos I'd been able to make and to have been so close to balloons that were taking folks up, so I was headed out...happy for such a beautiful experience!


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Then, a lady who sounded like she was in charge, announced that they were indeed sold out for the evening, BUT I heard her later tell someone that after all the ticket-holders were through the line that they would evaluate if they could get more through, making additional tickets available for purchase.

LESSON LEARNED: Do not wait! Next year and in coming years, as soon as you see tickets for sale for this event, BUY THEM! Do not chance, do not wait, just get your tickets so that you're sure to get to ride. 


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Fortunate me, my friend James gave me a ticket, gifting me a first-time experience! "Thank you!" James, it was soooooooo awesome!!! I crave first-time experiences and this is one I'll always remember and it has fueled my desire to go up again, and probably again and again!


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This was the balloon that I went up in, and I was on the edge of the gondola, so had a perfect view of the balloon's interior. The flames were HOT, not that they would be anything but...still, it was quite the sensation. 


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Our balloonist, handlebar mustache and all, looked a lot like the Wizard of Oz, AND he was having a great time...so funny! A brief ride, his humor totally enhanced the experience. Grateful he made the ride memorable and fun.


Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Balloon Glow | Piedmont Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

When next year's Atlanta Balloon Glow is announced, get your tickets FAST! This is one Piedmont Park experience that you don't want to miss. Even if you don't go up in a balloon, this is a full-fledged festival, one that's rife with amazing photo opportunities that you won't want to miss. Come early, and stay for sunset...stay for the balloon glow!

See more photos on the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook page...

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland

Time and again the Atlanta Botanical Garden has outdone itself with a new, exciting, must-see special exhibition and this year's summer exhibition is no exception, other than it's absolutely exceptional! Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland is wondrous. It delights the imagination. It inspires awe. It is indeed a must-see!


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

This exhibition is a rabbit hole you're happy to fall into and don't plan on coming out quickly. You get to immerse yourself in 16 installations of 38 individual sculptures, many themed after Alice in Wonderland

The "White Cat" sculpture is 27-feet tall!!! "Planted" in the Aquatic Pond, be sure to walk the perimeter so you can take in the full experience! At first I din't know what the black pole was holding up the Mad Hatter's hat, but once you're upon it you see that it's an umbrella handle. If you don't walk around the sculpture, you might miss the giant pocket watch and many of the other spectacular details. 


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

As you explore Alice's Wonderland, you too will be smiling, not a Cheshire Cat's mischievous smile, but a smile of delight. 


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

The giant chess board was a gigantic surprise! I've played chess since I was nine years old and it's my favorite game. That this one incorporates my favorite animal—horses—made this a double treat for me and for so many other Garden guests. It's the largest concentration of sculptures, one that you do not want to miss.


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

A nod to the Red Queen, there are heart playing card centurions on the giant chess board! 


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

If you've seen Imaginary Worlds before and wondered "How do they tend to the 'living' sculptures?", many of them are hand-watered. It's fun, and endearing, to see!

Speaking of "hydration", a favorite way to experience the Atlanta Botanical Garden is its spring and summer series on Thursday evenings, Cocktails in the Garden. #datenight

Enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer, or the Garden's new beer, a collaboration with local Wild Heaven Beer, called "Garden Beer". It's fantastic and already super-popular with Garden guests! 


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

Some of last year’s Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time crowd-favorites are back, some donning coats of different plant palettes than before...and they're BEAUTIFUL! Be sure to get a garden map on your way in so that you do not miss any of them.


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

Some of the returning sculptures from last years are in different locales, within the Garden, and at least one—Rumpelstiltskin—is now nodding at Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, a delightful and highly recommended experience!


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

TIP: Remember to charge your phone before or on the way to the Garden. You WILL want to make photos...many, many photos of these enchanting sculptures! 

And while you're snapping photos to share on social media and to revisit later, be sure you're also in-the-moment. This is truly an exceptional experience, one I think you'll want to absorb in its entirety. 


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

Keep an eye out for Alice herself! Like Rumpelstiltskin, she too is nodding. You'll find her in a bed of brightly colored mushrooms being watched over by the Cheshire Cat. Makes one wonder what that Cheshire Cat has been up to...


Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland (Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)
Atlanta Botanical Garden | Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland
(Photo: Travis Swann Taylor)

Don't find yourself getting "curiouser and curiouser"...get yourself to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland now through Sunday, October 27.

Monday, July 15, 2019

One Giant Leap...

What better way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of NASA's Moon Landing than by experiencing space treasures first-hand!!! Here are a few, of the many, places in Metro Atlanta where you can do just that!


Apollo 1 Command Module | Tellus Science Museum | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Apollo 1 Command Module | Tellus Science Museum | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Tellus Science Museum (Apollo 1)

Take off to the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, where you can see a collection of model rockets, a Mercury capsule, and a replica of the Apollo 1 Command Module built for the HBO mini-series "From Earth to the Moon", narrated by Tom Hanks, who starred in the movie Apollo 13. This replica (there's a cutout on the other side) was used to tell the tragic story of the Apollo 1 tragedy, of the sacrifice of three American heroes who helped us get to the moon. 

Fernbank Science Center (Apollo 6)

In the Exhibit Hall at Fernbank Science Center (not to be confused with the Natural History Museum), you can see up close and personal a real Apollo 6 Command Module! This artifact, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (where I was a volunteer for a year!), was part of a test flight for the Saturn V launch vehicle. It was the last unmanned flight of Project Apollo.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Apollo 11)

On Saturday, July 20, the actual 50th Anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 Moon Landing, Fernbank Museum of Natural History is celebrating with a day of activities, 10am-1pm, their "Moon Landing Celebration"!

Through September 12, 2019, Fernbank Museum is showing Apollo 11: First Steps Edition daily at 1pm, however on July 20th, there will be an additional showing at 3pm.

With a newly-discovered trove of never-before-seen 70mm footage and audio recordings, Apollo 11: First Steps Edition 2D joins Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the Mission Control team and millions of spectators around the world, during those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. 



There undoubtedly will be Moon Landing celebrations throughout the United States, including a few right here in Atlanta's backyard! Enjoy wanderlusting!

Commune in Peace and Love at HAIR

Serenbe Playhouse has brilliantly bought to life its Season X: America series, particularly with Hair, a musical before—and of—its time, now on stage through August 18. This onstage singing hippie counter-culture and the sexual revolution of the '60s will have you applauding, laughing, and even gasping...all for good reason! 

Casey Shuler, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Casey Shuler, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Founder of Serenbe Playhouse and Director of Hair, Brian Clowdus said, "For our Tenth Anniversary Season, we will revive the Tony-winning rock musical in a brand new, larger than life production. During Season Four, Hair was a game-changing show for
Serenbe Playhouse, and there is no better time to revive it than in 2019 with the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock!"

Pictured above is Casey Shuler (Sheila) who has—in my humble opinion—the most magnificent voice. I've been a fan of Casey's since she came to Serenbe Playhouse as an apprentice. She has appeared in a wide array of shows and roles, but she shines brighter than ever in Hair


Cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Even if you've never seen Hair, you've probably enjoyed the music at some point, but you don't have to know anything about it to fall in love with this show. 

There is the fact that it's an exploration of a divided country in the 1960s, so it may heighten your sense of divisiveness in our country right now, or it may just be the escape from that that you've been looking for. In the end, our cast of characters put forth the importance of taking care of each other, of putting those you love, those in you "tribe", first. 

Peace and love is the ultimate dream for this tribe, but not all dreams come true, but you've never had so much fun questioning authority or the society you live in. These characters truly let their hair down...


Adante Carter, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | BreeAnne Clowdus
Adante Carter, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | BreeAnne Clowdus

Adante Carter (Berger) is brilliant! The leader of his hippie "tribe", he navigates his incredibly complex role with high energy and perfectly executed humor...he's mesmerizing and wholly unforgettable! Barry and I got to meet him and his dad after the show and they were both generous with their time and Adante is as funny and charming off stage as he is on. I'd say to follow his career, but it's already and going to be so magnificent, you won't be able to miss it!

This is indeed a musical, just one where drug use, sexual liberation, and political activism permeate the entirety of the performance. If you didn't know already, this is not a show for the kiddies. Not only is there everything I just mentioned, there's full nudity, too. That'll of course encourage some of you to attend, but it's noted here for those whose sensitives aren't quite ready for that. 


Casey Shuler, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Casey Shuler, cast of Hair | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

I would venture to guess that nearly everyone, at some point in their lives, has heard any number of the "classics" in Hair, written by Galt MacDermot (1928-2018), and that our feet get to tapping every time we hear one.

You never know who you're going to meet at Serenbe Playhouse. I've run into countless friends and made a number of new ones! At this performance of Hair, we ended up sitting next to Christopher Hampton (Dramaturg for this production of Hair) and his girlfriend. We had a blast chatting with them about all-things-theatre after the show!


Zane Phillips | Hair at Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Zane Phillips | Hair at Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Hair opens with "Aquarius", vocals by Stephanie Zandra (Ronny), Alexandria Joy (Dionne), and cast—I'm an Aquarius, so I've always loved this song, but I'd never, ever seen it performed so magnificently as it was on stage at Serenbe Playhouse this evening! 

The show closes with "Eyes, Look Your Last", vocals by the phenomenal Zane Phillips (Claude), the incredibly talented Casey Shuler (Sheila), Alexandria Joy (Dionne) and full cast. 

"Let the sun shine in..." to illuminate and celebrate this fantastic cast, as well as shine on the fantastic work that Serenbe Playhouse has done over the last 10 years. As Brian says, "The best is yet to come..."

Monday, June 24, 2019

Houdini

"What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes," - Harry Houdini

"Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini" at the The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum unveils the inexhaustible layers of the life of the world's most famous magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini.


Harry Houdini entry poster | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Harry Houdini entry poster | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Harry Houdini, born Erik Weisz on Tuesday, March 24, 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, to parents Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz and Cecelia Steiner, was unequivocally more than the world's greatest and most famous escape artist. He was curious, incredibly intelligent, a proud athlete, a television and cinema actor, as well as a purist, a philanthropist, and a debunker. He was veiled, yet transparent...to say that Harry Houdini was complicated would be an understatement!

Read to the end for some fantastic programming associated with this exhibition!


Houdini in Handcuffs, 1899 | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
Houdini in Handcuffs, 1899 | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum

This exhibition will disappear after Sunday, August 11, so do not delay! If you make it in time, you'll get to see some of the actual handcuffs Houdini used in his performances! There are a limited number of actual artifacts from his life, understandably, but I think you'll love the ones that you get to see! 

And there's so much more! 


Harry Houdini in "The Master Mystery" | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
Harry Houdini in "The Master Mystery" | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum

Harry Houdini was also a film star! Using his mastery of escape, he starred in The Master Mystery, also called "The Houdini Serial", a 15-episode murder mystery serial in 1918. He worked on other films and even owned his own movie studio, bearing his name, for a while.

I find it interesting and grandly satisfying that—although not Jewish myself—an industry once trivialized as a fad and not a smart career move, left jobs relegated to those deemed lesser has now become one of the most coveted, most successful of all career paths across the entire globe. None of us would know Hollywood—or the Georgia film industry—were it not for our Jewish friends!


Houdini in Atlanta | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
Houdini in Atlanta | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum

I love exhibitions that tell us of grand celebrities who visited Atlanta. Otherwise we might not have known that they graced our stages, ate in our restaurants, stayed in our hotels, and met our citizens! Houdini visited Atlanta on more than one occasion.


Houdini in the News | Photo courtesy of the Breman Musuem
Houdini in the News | Photo courtesy of the Breman Musuem

In this exhibition, you'll learn fascinating facts about Houdini that you might not learn otherwise, including:

  • he left home (leaving a note for this mother) at 12 years old;
  • he was proud to be such an accomplished athlete; and,
  • he became one of, if not the, most famous performers in Russia! 

Those are but a few and you'll learn about those and others in greater detail at the exhibition.


Escape Artist Harry Houdini | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Escape Artist Harry Houdini | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The path to becoming the world's greatest escape artist included time performing in vaudeville shows, which also helped launch the careers of other greats such as George Burns, the Three Stooges, and Milton Berle!


Harry Houdini performs "Water Torture" | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
Harry Houdini performs "Water Torture Cell" | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum

Look for the "Did You Know?" keys throughout the exhibition...they offer fascinating little known factoids! 


Milk Can Imagination | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Milk Can Imagination | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

When I first ventured through this exhibition, I thought "What a wonderful reading exhibit,", but then I realized that I had only been caught up in the reading of placards and didn't "see" the full experience of the exhibition, which includes photo-ops, activities, and even an audio recording of Houdini himself!

I think that's to say that you should totally make time to read your way through the exhibition—the story is mesmerizing!—but also be aware of the other aspects of the exhibition and have fun with all of it! 

For example, the above pictured "Milk Can Imagination" photo-op. Well....I for one could not possibly—especially in public--attempt to crouch into the space of a milk can, but you, your kids, and your more flexible friends could! And what a fun photo to share on social media!

Houdini, because of the inordinate number of copycats, stopped performing handcuff escape tricks in 1908 and created the trick of escaping from a milk can filled with water


Harry Houdini with wife Beatrice and mother Cecilia Steiner Weiss | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
Harry Houdini with wife Beatrice and mother Cecilia Steiner Weiss | Photo courtesy of the Breman Museum
"Not even death could stop Harry Houdini. He continued debunking mediums even after he died on October 31st, 1926, through his wife, Bess Houdini. On the 10th anniversary of his death in 1936, a séance was performed, with its aim being to bring Harry back so Bess could speak to him. Equally skeptical, she remarked: 'The message has never been received.' Bess never attended any more séances." - The Librarians


Spirit Photo Photo-Op | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Spirit Photo Photo-Op | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Well before Houdini's mother died, he made a concerted effort to debunk not only copycats of his "magic tricks" and "illusions", but also of spiritualists...those who falsely claimed a connection to the spiritual world, to the afterlife.

I tried to make a selfie (multiple attempts, actually) at the above "Spirit Photo" station, but that's a skill I've yet to master. I don't imagine I would get myself out of a Water Torture Cell or a milk can either, so I'll leave selfies and magnificent escapes to the pros and the adventurers who visit the exhibition. 

There's lots of fantastic programming associated with this exhibition! Forgive me for not posting earlier for some of the programming, but you still have time to see:
  • Atlanta Magic Spectacular (June, 30, 2pm-4pm)
  • Luck & Charms: A Curious Afternoon of Magical Mysteries Starring Joe M. Turner (July 7, 2pm-4pm)
  • Houdini in Early Cinema (July 14, 2pm-4pm)
  • Houdini's Magic Block Party (July 21)
  • Harry Houdini: Pulling Back the Veil in Search of Cecelia (July 28, 2pm-4pm)
Also, there's "Magical Mondays".

By the way, I've had the awesome pleasure of seeing magician Joe M. Turner perform before and you would be remiss to not see him for yourself! 

I love this exhibition! I highly recommend that you make time to see ""Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini" at the The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. You just might find yourself inspired to explore some of the paths that Houdini himself explored...go find out!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

INTERVIEW: Rhyn Saver in "The Cake"

When I saw the casting for The Cake at Horizon Theatre Company, my face lit up as if  it'd been years since seeing a dear friend. In actuality, it'd only been a few weeks, but I've been a fan of Rhyn McLemore Saver since the first time I saw her on stage, which turned out to be her first Atlanta performance. I'm thrilled to bring you this interview with Rhyn during the run of The Cake, on stage now through Sunday, June 23.


Rhyn Saver | Photo: Mark Bradley Miller
Rhyn Saver | Photo: Mark Bradley Miller

Before we get to the interview, allow me to set the stage. The Cake was written by Bekah Brunstetter, writer of the hit television series This Is Us, as well as a number of other shows. If you've seen This Is Us, you already know what a treat The Cake is going to be.


The Cake is loosely based on the Supreme Court case of a Colorado baker's refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. This story, set in Winston, North Carolina, is not about forcing acceptance down anyone's throat, but instead it's presented with hope of opening hearts.


Now, let's meet the phenomenal and totally awesome Rhyn...

wanderlust ATLANTAPlease share with us a little about your journey to Atlanta, and then your journey to the stage at Horizon Theatre.

Rhyn SaverAs a Southern woman (born and raised on Jekyll Island, GA), I've always felt strong ties to my home state. No matter where I've traveled or lived, my heart has always remained in Georgia. 


My theater training took me up north to Pittsburgh, where I received my BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. From there, New York City became my home base for well over a decade. Throughout my career, I've always kept a finger on the pulse of the Atlanta theater community, looking for potential job opportunities to bring me back down South. 


I'm forever grateful to Freddie Ashley for giving me my first job in Atlanta (Stupid F*cking Bird at Actors Express), which was a wonderful introduction for me into the Atlanta theater community. 


Since then I've been fortunate enough to work at many incredible theaters here in Atlanta. I still have representation in NYC, and I go up to NYC now and then for various auditions; but I'm thrilled to now call Atlanta my home base. Horizon Theatre has been on my bucket list of places to work, and I'm so excited to be doing this gorgeous play at this fantastic theater!


I was first introduced to The Cake a few years ago when I did an initial workshop of it at The Alliance. Marcie Millard (who plays Della in our current production) played Della in that workshop, and we had the immense honor of working directly with the brilliant playwright Bekah Brunstetter. I remember thinking, "Man oh MAN I hope I get to do a full production of this someday". And now here we are—years later—doing it at Horizon! And the fact that I get to do it again with Marcie?! Well, that's some pretty delicious icing on the cake, pun intended.


wanderlust ATLANTA: This was my second time seeing Parris Sarter (Macy, Jen's fiancée in The Cake) perform and I certainly hope not my last. (She was amazing in The Revolutionists) She's brilliant in this role, being true to her character's real self in interactions with Jen and Della. You'll see the later in the opening scene and you'll get Parris' deep talent right away.

Macy (Parris Sarter) and Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver) in "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company
Macy (Parris Sarter) and Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver) in "The Cake"

wanderlust ATLANTAAs an actor—and as a human being—how do you reconcile or separate political and religious beliefs from the character you're playing when they're not in alignment? Or even when they are?

Rhyn SaverI love this question. The simple answer: empathy. 


I have played myriad characters that are the polar opposite of all that I believe in: from an extreme racist, to a homophobe, to a murderer...I've played them all. And every time I had to dig deep to discover the underlying emotions driving these characters. And EVERY time, I've discovered a common thread: fear. Specifically: fear of the unknown. Fear is such an incredibly powerful emotion, and it's often  the driving force behind acts of unkindess and hatred. 


I'm able to get into the minds of these characters by placing myself in their shoes and seeing through their eyes. It's uncomfortable, but necessary in order to live their truths. 


In the case of my character in The Cake (Jen), our beliefs happen to very much align. She is torn between two different worlds: the world of her religious, Southern  upbringing and the world of her life in NY and her love for Macy (her fiancée). She is struggling to stay true to her roots and her faith, while also staying true to her authentic self.


Like Jen, I am a Southern woman who was raised with a strong Christian faith, but have found myself questioning certain beliefs within that faith. Also like Jen, I've found that "the parties (up North) are easier when people start talking shit about people down here, I just nod and say 'totally'. But something inside of me burns a little, so in my head I go away. I just go away". I have totally been there, and I can completely relate.


wanderlust ATLANTA: Marcie Millard is hilarious! She plays Della, owner of a famous bakery in Winston, NC, and she's just been selected as a contestant on the most popular baking who on American television! We, the audience get to venture inside her blissful-turned-confused imagination while "on the set" of the television show. She's also a devout Southern Baptist, which she has to reconcile with her love for her best friend's daughter when asked to make her wedding cake.

When you meet Tim (Allan Edwards), you'll wish you'd checked your funny bone at the door, because it's going to hurt! Tim is the antagonist in the play--and damn funny about it--but his love for his wife is undeniable.


Della (Marcie Millard) and Tim (Allan Edwards) in "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company
Della (Marcie Millard) and Tim (Allan Edwards) in "The Cake"

wanderlust ATLANTA: All of us theatre enthusiasts know how little free time you have, but when you do have a little time to do something for you, or just for fun, what do you find yourself doing?


Rhyn SaverAs someone whose job is to be in the spotlight, I tend to shy far, far away from the spotlight on my days off. :) I'm definitely a bit of an introvert, and I cherish my alone time. So my days off are usually spent at home with my pup Sadie, some delish delivery (I'm fairly certain I keep Postmates in business), and Netflix. :) I also LOVE spinning, so I try to take class at least 4-5 times a week (shout out to my Vibe Ride family in Grant Park!)


wanderlust ATLANTAYou’ve been in Atlanta for a few years now. What has been your biggest surprise about Atlanta? Has anything changed your mind, for better or worse, about Atlanta?


Rhyn SaverI actually spent a lot of time in Atlanta long before I became a part of its incredible theater community. My sister has lived here for a long time, so I have many happy memories of various visits and holidays over the years. 


I think the biggest surprise (and greatest blessing) for me has been how head-over-heels in love I have become with the Atlanta theater community. I always knew I wanted to work here, but it has been such a beautiful gift to realize that Atlanta is a true home for me, both personally and artistically.



Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver) in "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company
Jen (Rhyn McLemore Saver) in "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company

wanderlust ATLANTAJust for fun, what’s your favorite kind of cake?


Rhyn SaverOh man...this is a tough one, mainly because I love cake. Period. If I *had* to choose? Red velvet. But only if it has cream cheese icing. Lots and lots of cream cheese icing. :)


wanderlust ATLANTA: I've said it dozens of times, one of my favorite parts of performances at Horizon Theatre--aside from the remarkable plays and musicals--is getting to meet, thank, and make photos wit the actors!

When you post your photos with the cast of The Cake, be sure to tag them on social media with #htcCAKE and #htc35.


Rhyn Saver and Travis Swann Taylor on the set of "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company
Rhyn Saver and Travis Swann Taylor on the set of "The Cake" at Horizon Theatre Company

Playwright Bekah Brunstetter's intent here was to write a play that would offer hope and serve as a model of how we might begin to talk to each other. “You still have to love your family. You still have to reach across the table… Della is lovable because most of the time your family members are lovable… You have to give people time to change, reevaluate and change some more,” said Brunstetter.
Part of Horizon Theatre's 35th anniversary year, you can see The Cake, in its South-Eastern premiere, now through Sunday, June 23, 2019...


  • Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8PM
  • Saturdays at 3PM & 8PM
  • Sundays at 5PM
And there's a special matinee on Thursday, June 20, 2019, at 11AM.

My most sincere gratitude to Rhyn Saver for giving me this interview, and to Horizon for coordinating it, and I hope you've enjoyed it, too. Come out to see Rhyn and the rest of the AMAZING cast in The Cake!