Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Of Mice and Men" Mesermizes

I'd never read or seen Of Mice and Men, but I have enjoyed the Serenbe Playhouse experience so I knew going in that it would at the very least be a remarkable evening. It was so much more. I was mesmerized from the beginning until the lights went down in the final scene, a tear slowly finding its way down my face.

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning John Steinbeck penned the novella in 1937. It's a tale of Great Depression hardship, unlikely friendship and an examination of loneliness. Serenbe Playhouse's adaptation, acted in the natural world—outdoors!, follows the friendship of George (Daniel Parvis) and Lennie (Blake Burgess) for a brief, but powerful time. You will enjoy some laughs with "the witty small guy and loafing giant"...and you'll be moved.

Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. ... With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us." - George

The play begins off in the distance, in a field to the right of the stage. George and Lennie had been let off a bus quite a distance from the ranch where they were to find work. They spent the night under the stars, but not before Lennie insists on George regaling him once more with the story of how they're different from most guys, how their lives are going to prevail against all odds.

Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

For this Serenbe Playhouse experience, theatre-goers remain in their seats (some shows are "roving"), but the set is brilliantly diverse, ranging from a meadow to creek-side, from the ranch bunkhouse to a barn loft. I had the experience of sitting in the middle of the front row...I was practically on set. It was awesome!

Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

There are two four-legged members of the ensemble, Hector and Autumn. Serenbe Playhouse partnered with LifeLine Animal Project to work with the awesome "actors", who are both recent rescues.

Michael Rudko, who portrays Candy (pictured above), is husband of the performance's director, Jenny Lord, alumnus of The Juilliard School. Both are Broadway vets and it shows. Rudko's performance, ranging from heart-broken to hopeful, is brilliant.

Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Drama is the order of the day, or night as it may be. This show contains high-impact dialogue, energy and emotion. The natural outdoor setting—at the Hay Barn in Serenbe—and intimate-size audience makes you feel like more than a spectator...I felt like I was there on the ranch, feeling what the characters were feeling.  

Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Of Mice and Men | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

One of my favorite aspects of a Serenbe Playhouse experience is that you're mingling with the cast, in costume, well before the play even begins. 

My friend Luc and I played horseshoes with Carlson (Jonathan Horne), while leisurely enjoying a libation, before the show! He's super nice, which I don't think was an act, then we were witness to his brilliant acting. Carlson is not nice at all...he has an evil streak, played quite convincingly by Horne, who had been so pleasant not long before.

The entire cast is stellar, truly! We also got to meet Hector and Autumn after the show!   

My schedule did not allow me to see this show at the beginning of the run (I'd have seen it more than once!), so if you're just learning about it in this reading, get your tickets now! Of Mice and Men finishes with its Sunday, June 26 performance.

For dinner, make reservations at The Farmhouse. I didn't go this time, but I have been before...it's lovely and delicious! Want to make a weekend of it? Book a room or cottage at The Inn at Serenbe. Both are sponsors of the show.

A huge wanderlust ATLANTA "Thank you!" to Serenbe Playhouse for the tickets to the show, and a reminder to my readers that my writing is always of my own opinions and observations.

Next up at Serenbe Playhouse...Miss Saigon! Tickets are available now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Pensacola Lighthouse

On a recent four-day, three-night vacation—specifically to attend the wedding of one of my dearest friends—our briefest visit of the many destinations we explored was the Pensacola Lighthouse, and one of the most exciting for me. 

After a full day—until closing at 5:00 p.m.—we'd been at the neighboring National Naval Aviation Museum. We'd passed Pensacola Lighthouse on the way to the Museum (both are located on NAS Pensacola), and I'd expressed an interest in seeing it, not realizing that we would close the Aviation Museum, only a half hour before the Lighthouse would close.

We arrived at Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum at 5:15 p.m., with only time to explore the lighthouse tower before they closed at 5:30 p.m. I was determined to reach the top, even with only 15 minutes to climb to the top, and descend!

Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida | Photo by Travis S. Taylor
Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida

I didn't catch their names, but the two staff members who were working in the gift shop that afternoon—and in the process of wrapping up for the day—were wonderfully patient, pleasant and polite. With only 15 minutes to explore, they answered a few questions I had, sold me a $6 ticket (what a bargain for such an awesome experience!) and I was on my way!

Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida | Photo by Travis S. Taylor
Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida

I'd been told in the gift shop, where I purchased my ticket, that the lighthouse is the equivalent of a 17-story building. 

Challenge accepted! 

It wasn't until I was on the 70th-something step that I realized they were numbered, which I assumed was part of the ongoing restoration project. Seeing various states of renovation, I marveled at the engineering it takes to build, let alone restore, a structure that would last as long as this one has. After the 100th step I took a break of a few seconds and kept on climbing, stopping only to catch a quick glimpse out of the few windows, while ascending. 

It wasn't until I reached the top of the lighthouse that I was told—there's a guide regularly stationed at the top of the lighthouse, volunteers I believe—that there's a total of 177 steps in the lighthouse tower. I made it! It wouldn't be until much later that I'd learn the fascinating history of this amazing lighthouse.

Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida | Photo by Travis S. Taylor
Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida

I walked around the deck at the top of the lighthouse at least three times. 

The views from the top include the National Naval Aviation Museum (which we'd just visited minutes before), Santa Rosa Island (where we'd been to the wedding the night before, on Navarre Beach), and Fort Pickens (where we would be exploring the following day), to name only a few.

If I was out of breath from the climb, I didn't notice. I was wholly mesmerized by the 360 degrees of stunning Florida Gulf beauty. You might remember that I was born on the Florida Gulf, in St. Petersburg. So I've long had a love affair with Florida beaches and a fascination with lighthouses.   

Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida | Photo by Travis S. Taylor
Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida

After seeing so many lighthouse documentaries on television and seeing replicas in museums, getting to peek inside an operating lighthouse lens room was exhilarating! I made this particular photograph (all in this post are mine) black and white, to better show the spectacular contrast of the lens room lenses.

A quick bit of history...

The first Pensacola Lighthouse was proposed in the early 1820's and Congress appropriated funds for that lighthouse in 1823. The light from the new tower was displayed on December 20, 1824, atop a 40-foot lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the Florida Gulf Coast! That same year, Congress passed a Senate bill authorizing the "establishment of a Navy Yard at or near Pensacola".

Construction on today's Pensacola Lighthouse, located approximately half a mile west of the original, was completed in 1859 and stands at 151 feet tall, 191 feet above sea level. Ten years later, in 1869, the tower's daymark—distinctive shape and/or color of a lighthouse as seen during the day—was changed from all-white to the lower third being white—to contrast the trees, and the top two-thirds were painted black—to contrast cloudy skies. 

Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida | Photo by Travis S. Taylor
Pensacola Lighthouse | Pensacola, Florida

One lighthouse resident that all visitors are sure to see is "Jeremiah, Pelican Lighthouse Keeper", one of the dozens in the "Pelicans in Paradise" 2004-2005 project to raise funds for the Pensacola News Journal's "Newspapers in Education" literacy program.

My best friend Barry and I were on vacation together, but he opted for a walk on the beach while I was climbing, a climb he'd made before. I walked down after my lighthouse experience to enjoy the views and white sand on the adjacent beach. 

Remember, the Pensacola Lighthouse and the nearby National Naval Aviation Museum are on an active Naval Air Station, so do your research on where to enter the base and what credentials you'll need to gain access.

I didn't get to visit the Museum or the grounds on this particular visit, but I will return to Pensacola Lighthouse with ample time to visit everything is has to offer! Whether you have only a few minutes or a whole day, I encourage you to visit this historic and fascinating landmark. I wouldn't trade those 15 minutes for anything and can hardly wait to return!

Please visit the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook page for more photos from this visit!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The City of Conversation, Politics and Family

The City of Conversation, playing at Horizon Theatre through Sunday, June 26, is an epic story of the battle between gigantic life characters most of us know as political conviction, career ambition, love of family, shifting tides and the miracle of transcending opinions.

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Bradley Hester
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Bradley Hester

The City of Conversation takes place in affluent Georgetown in Washington, D.C., in the home of influential Hester Ferris (Tess Malis Kincaid), a widow who hosts dinner parties where policy and elections are won and lost. And she's a mother.

The story stretches over 30 years and three generations. It starts at the end of the Carter Administration and concludes with the Inauguration of Barack Obama. If you're a politics aficionado, you're in for a treat. There are ample references to actual events and people on Capitol Hill throughout those 30 years—all of which I remember. If you're not into politics, you're still in for a brilliantly acted show. 

During during my nine years in Washington, D.C., I was in the record-breaking crowd on the National Mall the day of President Obama's Inauguration. It was a cold mid-January day, but there was a lot of excitement in the air!

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell

Anna Fitzgerald (Rachel Garner), Colin's fiance and later wife, is immediately recognized by Hester as ambitious, and that her ambition carries the force of 1,000 bulldozers that will knock down any and every roadblock in her way on the path to political influencer.

Anna doesn't want to possess a political office. She wants considerably more. She wants to be the hand moving the puppet, the force that directs change in the favor of her political party, and she's willing to stop at nothing.

Her political affiliation became openly apparent upon meeting George Mallonee (Allan Edwards), a Senator from Kentucky, who became her first Capitol Hill ally, while making her fiancee's mother her greatest nemesis. 

Carolyn Mallonee (Deborah Bowman) dutifully, if not without a degree of self amusement, encourages the Senator to take Anna under his wing. I'm guessing here, but that may have been the last time the Mallonee's were guests in Hester's home.    

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell

Hester is strong, intelligent, eloquent and a force not to be reckoned with. Has she met her match when she meets her son's fiancee, soon-to-be-wife and wannabe power-house on Capitol Hill? Both possess unequivocal tenacity. It's an edge-of-your-seat war!

Just remember that Hester is a force. She may not win every battle, but she's steadfast in her convictions and keeps her sights on long-term change, while the new kid on the block, Anna, is resolute to the point of being dangerous, but she's also susceptible of feeling deflated by defeat.

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Bradley Hester
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Bradley Hester

When the third generation comes into the picture, young Ethan (Vinny Montague), hearts overflow with love and adoration...and hearts are broken. Ethan is playful, smart and knows what he likes, and evidently has lovely smelling hair—as boasted by his grandmother.

Ethan's Aunt Jean (Carolyn Cook), made a widow in World War II, is the first person you see in this play and while she doesn't play the lonely widow, she's the silent backbone, the unassuming infrastructure that supports Hester's home activities and eventually becomes a fellow activist with Hester.

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell

While Ethan is loved by his parents—by his father at least—his grandmother and her companion Chandler (Chris Kayser) and his Aunt Jean, he becomes the bargaining chip, the ultimatum that not only would affect a political appointment, it would tear a family apart for years to come. None of it was Ethan's fault, but he was the one who paid the price...the price of growing up without a grandmother.

The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell
The City of Conversation | Horizon Theatre | Photo by Amanda Cantrell

In the final act, grownup Ethan returns to his grandmother's Georgetown home with his friend Donald (Joshua D. Mitchell), a history major, on their way to two Inaugural Balls. The reunion is a conversation of discovery.

A family torn by commitment to political parties, the ending of this play doesn't come wrapped in a pretty bow. In fact, it had me in tears. Tess in particular pulled forth emotions I never knew I could have about any political conversation!

But it wasn't that...it was the resolute love for her grandson and the hollow place in her heart where Ethan would have been the previous two decades had it not been for an ultimatum that she could not give in to.

The final scene continues to bring forth tears, but those last few are tears of hope. As I wiped the tears from my eyes I recalled Colin's pleading to his mother, "You fight for things, you don't lose people!"

The City of Conversation is onstage at Horizon Theatre through Sunday, June 26. No matter your political affiliation, I believe that you're going to love this play! 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Focus on 5 from "Atlanta in 50 Objects"

"We want to be a community-driven organization that responds to our audience—indeed, we hope to appeal to a wider and more diverse audience by being inclusive of multiple viewpoints," said Atlanta History Center Executive Vice President Michael Rose

That's exactly how Atlanta in 50 Objects came to fruition. It represents the expertise of Atlanta historians at the Center and suggestions from Atlanta's citizens, at the request of the Center. Nominations were accepted via Facebook, other platforms and an onsite suggestion box. Hundreds of Atlantans responded!

The 50 objects selected to represent the history of Atlanta range in predating our founding in 1837 to showcasing objects that will take us far into an exciting future. However, Atlanta in 50 Objects features more than objects...this collection of treasures includes artifacts, people, events and even ideas. 

I've been a member of the Atlanta History Center for a number years and this exhibition is one that resonates with reasons I love this city. Our history is rich and our future bright, a story extremely well-told in Atlanta in 50 Objects.

I'm going to discuss only five objects in this writing and encourage you to visit the Atlanta History Center to discover the others...I believe you'll be as fascinated as I was, and that that you'll find some delightful surprises.

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Portman Buildings
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Portman Buildings

My first Atlanta experience was seeing her star-soaked glistening skyline. I was driving in from the north for an evening on the town. Mesmerized by her skyline, I knew then and there that I wanted to live in this vibrant city. Meeting her citizens soon thereafter cinched it. It would not be much longer after that first visit that I would make Atlanta home. That was in 1987. 

One of the first names I learned in Atlanta was that of architect-developer John Portman. Anyone who has visited downtown Atlanta has experienced the brilliance of John Portman, from the sparkling 72-story glass cylinder—the Westin Peachtree Plaza—the tallest hotel in the world at the time it was built, to the magnificent SunTrust Plaza at the northern tip of the downtown area. Atlanta's skyline will for countless generations carry Portman's artistic expression, as will the skylines in dozens of other cities throughout the world.

The above pictured object in the exhibition highlights Portman building in downtown Atlanta. I've not yet been, but hear good things about the latest Portman project, the downtown restaurant JP Atlanta.

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Portman Buildings
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Portman Buildings

As magnificent as Portman's other works are, I have over the years remained particularly fond of the Hyatt, and more specifically of Polaris, Atlanta's first revolving restaurant, now (after been closed for a few years) renovated and reopened as a bar and lounge, it's a popular destination for craft cocktails, delicious bites and stunning vistas of Atlanta's skyline.

The Hyatt was constructed 20 years before I moved here. When it opened in 1967, it was the tallest building in Atlanta! Today it's practically dwarfed by Atlanta's newest skyscrapers, but none possess the fascination of the "blue bubble", an experience that Jim Morrison likened to flying in "Victorian Rocket Ships".

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | 1985 Exposition
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | 1985 Exposition

1895 was a busy year in history! In Atlanta it was especially so, particularly during the 1895 International and Cotton States Exposition, hosted for 100 days in Piedmont Park.

The vast majority of the buildings constructed for the Exposition were built as temporary structures, but some of the large stone planters and steps remain, although many who walk those steps wouldn't know that Buffalo Bill Cody also walked the same steps back in 1895! 

One of the then-modern features that fascinates me most is that the Exposition was opened remotely by U.S. President Grover Cleveland, when he flipped an electric switch in Massachusetts! I can just imagine the look of marvel on attendees' faces that day.

The Exposition featured then-modern technology, including an early version of the motion picture—which few actually experienced because the building wasn't air-conditioned. And there was a "Phoenix Wheel"—instead of a Ferris Wheel, either because there wasn't the money for royalties or they wanted to build their own...I've read and heard various versions of that story.

There was a building dedicated specifically to featuring the accomplishments of women and another featuring the accomplishments of African Americans. And the Liberty Bell itself was on display! To say there was a lot for the more than 800,000 visitors to experience would be an understatement.

One fun way to learn more about the Exposition—in addition to so much I've learned at the Atlanta History Center—is to go on a Piedmont Park Historic Tour, in Piedmont Park.

That Exposition, considered by some not wholly successful and by others a venture that breathed new life into Atlanta, is fascinating no matter how you look at it. I'm  continually learning more about it and its benefits to our city.

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | MLK's Nobel Speech
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | MLK's Nobel Speech

Two Georgians have won the Nobel Peace Prize. One was a U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and one was modern Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The object representing MLK, Jr.'s prestigious prize is his hand-written acceptance speech. It's a magnificent  document, one that when you read it you hear his voice in your head. The speech is nearly a full 20 pages in length and I encourage you to read it when you visit. Recognized for his campaign for nonviolent social change, there's a lot in this document that I believe we can all learn from.

A sign of the times, the announcement of King's winning the Nobel Peace Prize was on October 14, 1964, but it wasn't until January 27, 1965 (which happens to be the day I was born) that a celebration was given in his honor of winning the Prize. 

There were some who were not wholly thrilled about his winning, but a small group of Atlantans, including Atlanta Constitution editor and publisher Ralph McGill, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, Morehouse President Benjamin E. Mays, and Archbishop Paul Hallinan came together to organize the honorary dinner for Dr. King.

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Ramblin' Wreck
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Ramblin' Wreck

If you attended Georgia Institute of Technology or know someone who attended or is attending Georgia Tech, or if you've spent even a little time in Atlanta, you'd have known the answer on March 4, 2013, to the Jeopardy! clue—a Final Jeopardy round—"One of its mascots is a restored 1930 sport coupe that's been in use at the school since 1961." 

The question to that clue—which none of the contestants got right, evidently none of them from Georgia—was, "What is the Ramblin' Wreck." Georgia Tech is world renowned for the caliber of professional it produces, the scientific research it fosters and the fierceness of its college football fans...of course Ramblin' Wreck is one of the 50 objects that defines Atlanta's history!

Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Michonne's Katana
Atlanta in 50 Objects | Atlanta History Center | Michonne's Katana

I'd heard of The Walking Dead and quickly became aware of its intense following. I love science-fiction and a good apocalypse flick, but I did not anticipate my own immediate addition to watching The Walking Dead...I turned as quickly as someone bitten by a Walker. 

And there was nothing subtle about my addiction to the show. I would binge, my appetite for more was relentless and I tirelessly sought out time to devour as many episodes as I could. 

Also, being the good tourist that I am, I went sought out real-life zombie experiences and went on Atlanta Movie Tours' Big Zombie Tour (twice!) and Big Zombie Tour 2 (when I got locked up with Daryl). They've recently announced their Big Zombie Tour 3, which  I hope to experience sometime soon.

In case you didn't know, The Walking Dead, filmed here in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia, is the #1 rated cable television drama...EVER! Georgia is now #3 in television and movie production in the United States and #5 in the world! 

On that note, when you're visiting the Atlanta History Center, check out their Swan House Capitol Tour...several films in The Hunger Games franchise include scenes shot in the 1928 Swan House!

See, I got carried away talking about zombie and almost forgot the object! The object pictured above is Michonne's Katana, one she wields with precision, intensity and a ruthless drive to survive the zombie apocalypse. Michonne is one of my favorite characters on the show. She's quiet, introspective and determined, and she's kicking zombie butt all over Atlanta! I love the Atlanta History Center's choice of object to represent The Walking Dead.

So, there you have it...five of the 50 objects that quite magnificently represent Atlanta history. Do make time to see Atlanta in 50 Objects at the Atlanta History Center, and don't wait until it closes at the end of December...you'll very likely want to see it more than once, just as I have.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Always the Best Friend, Never the Groom

I'm a single man going to a wedding this weekend, so it's seemingly ironic that I'd be writing about Significant Other right now, a story about a man who is always the best friend, never the groom. 

Truthfully, I'm thrilled to be writing about it...Joshua Harmon has done it again! Written a magnificently brilliant play, that is. One that's as funny as it is heart-breaking, as relevant as it is heart-touching. Significant Other wraps up the 2015-2016 Actor's Express season, but leaves you wanting more of this fantastic cast!

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Lee Osorio, born and raised in Georgia, is the star of the show, and I don't use the word "star" lightly...he's brilliant! He plays Jordan (above left), the gay best friend, a role typically relegated to quirky comic relief. Not so in this show. His longing for love is center stage. His happiness for his friends' wedded bliss vs. lonely night after night after wedding after wedding plays out before your eyes, elating and crushing your heart. 

Lee just earned his MFA at Brown University in Rhode Island, but I sincerely hope he'll stay in Georgia and treat Atlanta to his acting brilliance! He's definitely a new favorite of mine.

Diany Rodriguez (Into the Woods, Informed Consent) plays Laura (above right), Jordan's closest and dearest friend. Throughout the play you see the strength of their friendship, but it's in the final act when you see, hear and feel how deep and honest and loving their relationship truly is. 

I would venture to say that true friendship is not without its trials and a few tears, but those can strengthen a friendship to the point of lasting a lifetime. Suffice it to say that you're in for quite an experience when you see Significant Other. Open your heart to a great time.  

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Cara Mantella, who plays the role of Kiki (above center), is side-splitting hilarious and perhaps one of the most honest characters in the show. You certainly never have to wonder what she's thinking, yet you're continuously laughing out loud at her I-can't-believe-she-said-that comments. She so reminds me of some of my best friends...the ones who always speak their mind! 

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Edward McCreary (Carousel, Memphis, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) is one of two actors who performs the roles of three characters: Tony, Will and Conrad (above right)...quite brilliantly, I should add! Edward's roles range from hottie coworker and love interest of Jordan's to fiance-husband of one of Jordan's dear friends. 

Edward is an excellent actor with quite the breadth of skill. I personally think he's most brilliant in the heavier roles, but certainly entertaining in a lighter, playful role...either way, I don't think anyone is going to storm out of the theatre when he bares his chest. 

There is a pair of green gym shoes that practically have their own story arc...keep an eye on them, and their ultimate, hilarious fate.

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Brittany Inge, who has quite the impressive resume, plays Vanessa (above left), one of Jordan's best friends. She's real, wholly believable and I would guess is somewhat playing herself—she's that convincing. Vanessa is hilarious, fun-loving, and totally, gushingly in love when she unexpectedly meets the right guy.

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Significant Other is more than a story about a gay best friend who is desperately seeking love, and despite his desperate measures finds that love is frustratingly, seemingly everlastingly evasive. In the end, he's not so desperate that he's going to sacrifice love just to be in a relationship—thank goodness! But his desperation (notice how often I'm using the word desperate?) is his undoing, a time or two.

I've never found desperation to be an attractive quality, but Jordan personifies not only how ridiculous it is, he shows how heart-breaking and real loneliness can be. I've always thought desperate people were out of touch, but I guess in the end they just want what all of us want...to be loved. Their particular methods are just more visible to the world. I judge no more.

Don't get me wrong. This is definitely a romantic-comedy and go into it knowing and expecting that. I'm just saying that in more way than one, Significant Other brings to light the sometimes too long odyssey of yearning for love.  

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Jeremy Aggers is the other actor who performs the role of three different characters: Evan, Gideon and Roger (above right). I've never seen anyone play a range of fiercely annoying to charmingly smitten the way Jeremy does. Seriously...if the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard laugh doesn't send you running for the exit, his Prince Charming love for Vanessa will definitely keep you in your seat.

I've not seen Jeremy onstage before, but I certainly hope I will again.

Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus
Significant Other | Actor's Express | Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Judy Leavell, who plays Helene (above right), Jordan's grandmother, is the one character who never gives up hope, who remains steadfast confident that Jordan will find love in his life, even through living with a medication-necessary memory ailment. She's endearing, caring, loving...she will either remind you of your own grandmother or make you wish she was yours.

Now, have a look at a few moments of hilarity that Significant Other is bringing to audiences...

If you saw Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, then you already have an idea of how brilliant Significant Other is. Bad Jews, which I did not see, but have heard so much about, became a huge hit in New York and was widely produced in America, and it was the highest grossing non-musical play in Actor's Express history! 

Significant Other is Harmon's newest play and wraps up the 2015-2016 Actor's Express season, closing Sunday, June 19. What a magnificent way to finish up the year!

Up next at Actor's Express, Company, winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Freddie Ashley, who said of Significant Other, "Joshua Harmon finds humor in the complexities of contemporary life like no other young writer in American today. I'm thrilled to follow up his play Bad Jews with this fresh, funny, moving comedy."

By the way, just in case you were wondering, I'm grateful that I'm not going to the wedding this weekend alone, but I would have. It's the wedding of one of my dearest, most trusted friends...a beautiful, bright-blue-eyed, lovely woman who I've had the honor and pleasure of calling friend for nearly 30 years. This is going to be a memory-making occasion!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Atlanta Tradition: Summer Movies at the Fox

The 2016 Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox Theatre is underway and this year's lineup is fantastic! I've been enjoying movies at the Fox since the 1980s, but did you know that the Fox has been showing movies since its opening night in 1929?

There's no other place in Atlanta to experience a movie the way you can at the Fox, from any of their 4,678 seats, the 26' x 56' 8" screen. Get there early...the pre-film program includes a sing-along, playing of the "Mighty Mo" organ, and a classic cartoon!

Here are the films with dates, times, links to tickets and trailers!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Friday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

This is one of my all-time favorite films! It will be airing at the Fox Theatre the day before its 30th anniversary. Hard to believe it's been that long! 

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Tuesday, June 30 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

Twenty-five years earlier, Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard starred in a classic romantic-comedy that won two Oscars and three other nominations.

The Shining - Thursday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

This 1980 Stanley Kubrick film, starring Jack Nicholson, is still today considered one of the best horror films...ever! 

Shrek - Thursday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

An ogre, a princess and a donkey is the recipe for one of the most laugh-out-loud, hilarious animated fairy-tale films to ever grace the big screen...and every other kind of screen these days! 

Rocky - Thursday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

Amidst a nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976 was an Oscar-winning movie filmed in a mere 28 days. To say that Rocky was a "sleeper" would be an understatement. 

Jurassic Park - Thursday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

I can hardly believe it's been 23 years! I've shared with you before that when I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist, so it's not surprise that I'm a fan of the Jurassic Park films. It'll be awesome to be T-Rex on the big screen again!

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Saturday, August 20 at 10:00 a.m. (tickets)

I'm of the era of the Saturday morning cartoons ritual. Do kids still do that? I remember looking forward to Saturday mornings with great anticipation. And even then I knew that I and other kids wouldn't know classical music as well if it weren't for cartoons! That's another reason I'm grateful for that Saturday morning tradition. (NOTE: The clip below is not what's being shown for this event, it's just for reference.)

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory - Saturday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m.  (tickets)

I was a kid when I saw this movie—and I remember all the candy marketing that went with it! I think I probably (secretly) wished I'd find a golden ticket every time I opened a candy bar. It was a magical, mysterious heart-lifting film. It was one  of Gene Wilder's best, in my opinion, perhaps as good as Young Frankenstein a few years later.

Citizen Kane - Thursday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. (tickets)

I've not yet seen Citizen Kane, but being an Orson Welles film, an Oscar-winning film and a film about a reporter trying to discover the meaning of a newspaper magnate's dying word...I'm wholly intrigued!

While you're making plans to enjoy the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival, consider booking a Fox Theatre behind-the-scenes guided tour, too! You'll get to see spaces that the general public never sees and learn quite a lot about the theatre's history since 1929!

Go enjoy a film or two...or all of them!