Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Suzi Bass Awards 2017 NOMINEES

"Congratulations!" to all the nominees for the 2017 Suzi Bass Awards! The nominees were announced last night at an event generously hosted by Atlanta Lyric Theatre, and Artistic Director Mary Nye Bennett, in Marietta, Georgia, and I was there!

Mark your calendars for the 2017 Suzi Bass Awards ceremony to be hosted at Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University on Monday, November 6, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. Tickets will be available soon on the Suzi Awards website. The evening will include a reception with small bites and a cash bar, performances, and the edge-of-your-seat awards ceremony.

I'm super-excited to share the nominee list with you! I've seen many of the nominated plays, have met many of the nominated actors and crew, and have attended performances at many of the theatres listed.

While I am a member of Suzi Bass Awards, I am NOT involved in the nomination or voting processes. The links that I share in this post are some of my previously published posts about the shows I've seen. All opinions are my own. 

The nominations were announced by Atlanta playwright Topher Payne and some of the Suzi judges. The nominations in 30 categories honor 13 professional companies and 44 productions!

And the nominees are...

Nominees for the 13th Annual Suzi Bass Awards

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION - MUSICAL 
Justin Anderson for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Susan V. Booth for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre
Brian Clowdus for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse
Heidi McKerley for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Casey Nicholaw for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre


Jeanette Illidge and Patrick Wade | Nobody Loves You | Horizon Theatre
Jeanette Illidge and Patrick Wade | Nobody Loves You | Horizon Theatre

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTION 
Brandon Bush for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre
Mary-Mitchell Campbell for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Alli Lingenfelter for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Chika Kaba Ma'atunde for Simply Simone at Theatrical Outfit
Ann-Carol Pence for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre


Simply Simone: The Music of Nina Simone | Theatrical Outfit | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
Simply Simone: The Music of Nina Simone | Theatrical Outfit | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY 
Ricardo Aponte for The Legend of Georgia McBride at Actor's Express
Bubba Carr for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse
Heidi McKerley & Jeff McKerley for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Casey Nicholaw for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Melissa Zaremba for Smokey Joe's Cafe at The Legacy Theatre

OUTSTANDING LEAD FEMALE ACTOR - MUSICAL 
Kylie Brown* for Ghost the Musical at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Randi Garza* for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse
Caitlin Kinnunen* for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Beth Leavel* for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Kristin Markiton for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre

OUTSTANDING LEAD MALE ACTOR - MUSICAL 
Brooks Ashmanskas* for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Andrew Benator* for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre
Chase Peacock* for Ghost the Musical at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Travis Smith* for Big Fish at Theatrical Outfit
Travis Smith* for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre

OUTSTANDING FEATURED FEMALE ACTOR - MUSICAL 
Jennifer Alice Acker for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Kandice Arrington for Ghost the Musical at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Wendy Melkonian* for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Valarie Payton* for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Julissa Sabino* for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse


Grease | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Julissa Sabino | Grease | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

OUTSTANDING FEATURED MALE ACTOR - MUSICAL 
Rob Cleveland* for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Don Finney* for The Threepenny Opera at 7 Stages 
Matt Lewis for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Brad Raymond* for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Austin Tijerina* for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre


Don Finney | The Threepenny Opera | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: StunGun Photography
Don Finney | The Threepenny Opera | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: StunGun Photography

OUTSTANDING ACTING ENSEMBLE - MUSICAL 


The cast of Church Basement Ladies at The Legacy Theatre 
(Amanda Lyn Hornberger, Autumn O'Ryan, Katie Patterson, Nikki Savitt, Jeremy Skidmore)

The cast of Company at Actor's Express 
(Lowrey Brown*, Rhyn Saver*, Daniel Burns, Jimmica Collins, Laura Floyd, Dan Ford, Jill Hames, Steve Hudson, Phillip Lynch, Kelly Chapin Martin, Jessica Miesel, Emily Stembridge, Craig Waldrip, Libby Whittemore)

The cast of Million Dollar Quartet at Georgia Ensemble Theatre & Atlanta Lyric Theatre 
(Chase Peacock*, Allison Wilhoit, Chris Damiano*, Christopher Kent*, Justin D. Thompson, Ethan Ray Parker, Andrew Patton, Kroy Presley)

The cast of Smokey Joe's Cafe at The Legacy Theatre 
(Nick Abbott, Amanda Bridgette, Brian L. Boyd, Meg Dickens, Jordan Ellis, Rakeem Lawrence, Allie Richardson, Hillary Scales-Lewis, Christopher “CJ” Williams)

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN - MUSICAL 

DeeDee Chmielewski for The Threepenny Opera at 7 Stages
Lex Liang for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre
Brandon McWilliams for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse
Linda Patterson for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Ann Roth & Matthew Pachtman for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN - MUSICAL 
Bradley Bergeron for Grease at Serenbe Playhouse
Kevin Frazer for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Kenneth Posner for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Bryan Rosengrant for Ghost the Musical at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Ken Yunker for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN - MUSICAL 
Kat Conley for Courtenay's Cabaret: Home for the Holidays at the Alliance Theatre
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Scott Pask for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Julie Allardice Ray for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Todd Rosenthal for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN - MUSICAL 
Clay Benning for Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre
Rob Brooksher for Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
Preston Goodson for Ghost the Musical at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Peter Hylenski for The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
John McKenzie for Million Dollar Quartet at Georgia Ensemble Theatre & Atlanta Lyric Theatre
Daniel Pope for The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre

OUTSTANDING WORLD PREMIERE 
The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
Strait of Gibraltar at Synchronicity Theatre
Too Heavy for Your Pocket at the Alliance Theatre
Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION - PLAY 
The Crucible at Actor's Express
Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre
King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3 at Atlanta Shakespeare Company
Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION - MUSICAL 
Big Fish at Theatrical Outfit
The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora Theatre
Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
Troubadour at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION - PLAY 

Justin Anderson for Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
Freddie Ashley for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Jessica Holt for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Tinashe Kajese-Bolden for Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre
Jeff Watkins for King Henry VI Parts1, 2, & 3 at Atlanta Shakespeare Company

OUTSTANDING LEAD FEMALE ACTOR - PLAY 
Cynthia D. Barker* for The Mountaintop at Aurora Theatre
Lauren Lane for Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
Julie Jesneck* for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Christina Leidel for The Miracle Worker at Gypsy Theatre Company
Brooke Owens for Anne Boleyn at Synchronicity Theatre
Courtney Patterson* for The Crucible at Actor's Express

OUTSTANDING LEAD MALE ACTOR - PLAY 
Jeremy Aggers for Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
Neal Ghant* for The Mountaintop at Aurora Theatre
Jonathan Horne* for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Brian Kurlander* for How To Use A Knife at Horizon Theatre
Geoffrey D. Williams* for Thurgood at Theatrical Outfit


The Crucible | Jonathan Horne | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Jonathan Horne | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

OUTSTANDING FEATURED FEMALE ACTOR - PLAY 
Shelli Delgado for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Ellen McQueen* for The Tragedy of King Richard III at Atlanta Shakespeare Company
Wendy Melkonian* for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Falashay Pearson for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Vallea E. Woodbury for Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre

OUTSTANDING FEATURED MALE ACTOR - PLAY 
Adeoye* for Moby Dick at the Alliance Theatre
Bryan Davis for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Jeff McKerley* for The Legend of Georgia McBride at Actor's Express
Lee Osorio* for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Tamil Periasamy for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Drew Reeves* for King Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 at Atlanta Shakespeare Company


The Legend of Georgia McBride | Actor's Express | Photo: Christoper Bartelski
The Legend of Georgia McBride | Actor's Express | Photo: Christoper Bartelski

OUTSTANDING ACTING ENSEMBLE – PLAY 

The cast of The Canterbury Tales at Atlanta Shakespeare Company 
(Laura Cole*, Nicholas Faircloth, Rivka Levin*, Drew Reeves*, Adam King, Enoch King*, Amanda Lindsey, Kirstin Calvert)

The cast of The Comedy of Errors at Atlanta Shakespeare Company

(Chris Hecke, Steve Hudson, Gina Rickicki, Andrew Houchins*, J.L.Reed, Enoch King*, Matt Felten, Jennifer Lamort, India Tyree, Matt Nichie*, Amanda Lindsey, Dani Herd)

The cast of Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre 
(Asha Duniani*, Cherity Purvis Jordan, Shayla Love*, Parris Sarter, Isake Akanke*)

The cast of Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) at Actor's Express
(Seun Soyemi, Damian Lockhart, Meagan Dilworth, Jason-Jamal Ligon, Rob Cleveland*, Evan Cleaver*, Brittany Inge, Marcus Hopkins-Turner, Richard McDonald, Bryan Davis)

The cast of Too Heavy for Your Pocket at the Alliance Theatre 
(Rob Demery, Eboni Flowers*, Markita Prescott*, Stephen Ruffin)


Father Comes Home from the Wars | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
Father Comes Home from the Wars | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN - PLAY 
Deyah Brenner for The Legend of Georgia McBride at Actor's Express
Anné Carole Butler for King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3 at Atlanta Shakespeare Company
Nyrobi Moss for Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre
Abby Parker for Anne Boleyn at Synchronicity Theatre
Erik Teague for The Crucible at Actor's Express

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN - PLAY 
William C. Kirkham for Moby Dick at the Alliance Theatre
Liz Lee for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Joseph P. Monaghan III for The Crucible at Actor's Express
Mary Parker for Constellations at Horizon Theatre
Kathy A. Perkins for Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre

OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN - PLAY 
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Appropriate at Actor's Express
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Freed Spirits at Horizon Theatre
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for How to Use a Knife at Horizon Theatre
Leslie Taylor for The Legend of Georgia McBride at Actor's Express


Freed Spirits | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Lisa Adler
Freed Spirits | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Lisa Adler

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN - PLAY 
Preston Goodson for The Legend of Georgia McBride at Actor's Express
Chika Kaba Ma'atunde for Simply Simone at Theatrical Outfit
Kate Marvin for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre
Kay Richardson for Eclipsed at Synchronicity Theatre
Ed Thrower for The Crucible at Actor's Express

(TYA = Theatre for Young Audiences)

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION - TYA 
Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre
From Head to Toe at the Alliance Theatre
Old MacDonald’s Farm at Center for Puppetry Arts
The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora Theatre

OUTSTANDING NEW WORK - TYA 
Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre
The Dancing Granny at the Alliance Theatre
The Dancing Handkerchief at Theatrical Outfit
From Head to Toe at the Alliance Theatre

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION - TYA 
Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre: Rosemary Newcott, Director; S. Renee Clark, Music Director
From Head to Toe at the Alliance Theatre: Rosemary Newcott, Director
Old MacDonald’s Farm at Center for Puppetry Arts: Amy Sweeney, Director
The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora Theatre: Justin Anderson, Director; Ann-Carol Pence, Music Director

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE/ENSEMBLE - TYA 

The cast of Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre: 
Terry Burrell, S. Renee Clark, Courtenay Collins, Molly Coyne, Scott E. DePoy, Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, India S. Tyree, Brian Walker

The cast of Old MacDonald’s Farm at Center for Puppetry Arts: 
Seth Langer, Amy Sweeney

Chris Hecke for The One and Only Ivan at Synchronicity Theatre

The cast of The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora Theatre: 
Jenise Cook, Elliott Felds, Juan Carlos Unzueta, Amber Hamilton, Candice Mclellan, Bryan Montemayor

OUTSTANDING DESIGN - TYA 

The design team of Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre: 
Kat Conley, Scenic Design; Sydney Roberts, Costume Design; Jake DeGroot, Lighting Design; Clay Benning, Sound Design

The design team of Cinderella Della Circus at Center for Puppetry Arts: 
Jason Hines, Puppet Design; Rochelle Shinn, Scenic Design; Liz Lee, Lighting Design; Mimi Epstein and Gregory Montague, Sound Design

The design team of Old MacDonald’s Farm at Center for Puppetry Arts: 
Jason Hines, Puppet Design; Ryan Sbaratta, Scenic Design; Carole D'Agostino, Costume Design; Gregory Montague, Lighting Design; Dolph Amick, Sound Design

The design team of Robin Hood at Serenbe Playhouse: 
Scott Sargent, Scenic Design; DeeDee Chmielewski, Costume Design; Stephanie Polhemus, Properties Design

The design team of The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora Theatre: 
Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay, Scenic and Costume Design; Andre C. Allen, Lighting Design; Thom Jenkins, Sound Design


Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

* Member of Actor’s Equity Association

About the Suzi Bass Awards
The Suzi Bass Awards were founded in 2003 by Gene-Gabriel Moore and a small group of industry professionals to celebrate outstanding work in live theatre and the artists who produce it. This season, The Suzi Bass Awards volunteer judges chose nominees and recipients in thirty performance categories. In addition, the annual Spirit of Suzi Award honors a person or organization for their long-time dedication to Atlanta theatre; the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award recognizes Atlanta's talented local playwrights through special notice of a recently produced play; the Audience Choice Award recognizes one theatre's entire season through voting by the general public; and the Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an individual or group with long-time volunteer contributions to a particular theatre.


See you at the award ceremony on Monday, November 6!!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chocolate Pudding, Alexandria, Saviors and more on the Big Zombie Walking Tour

I love a walk in the country, but a walk that's all about The Walking Dead, and with a few Saviors...that, my friends, is totally awesome! 

Atlanta Movie Tours' Big Zombie Walking Tour is a must-do for every fan of The Walking Dead. And it's walking, not running...at least not until the zombie apocalypse


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Atlanta Movie Tours
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Atlanta Movie Tours

One of the perks of going on an Atlanta Movie Tours tour is that you get a keepsake digital photo made at one of the filming sites for the particular tour you're on. My friend Malika Bowling (yellow shirt on the left) was on the tour the same day I went. Check out her food and travel blog, Roamilicious


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

On the day I went on the Big Zombie Walking Tour, there were a few other "visitors". The best was the Daryl Dixon cosplayer! He was making photos with everyone and hit the bulls-eye on Daryl's personality.

This tour starts at The Walking Dead Cafe in Senoia, a great place for lunch or to enjoy a beverage. They have some nifty souvenirs, too!

I highly recommend making your way to The Walking Dead Cafe via the Woodbury Shoppe. There are stairs at the back of the store—which has approximately a bazillion The Walking Dead souvenirs and collectibles—that take you to a totally awesome mini museum, with multiple photo-ops.


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Except for a few tell-tale signs—like The Walking Dead Cafe and Nick & Norman's (which is where I had lunch after the walking tour)—you wouldn't know that this charming Southern town, established in 1866, is Woodbury from The Walking Dead.

If you've never been on a film sites tour, it's difficult to explain how cool it is to be "in" a scene or "in" a television show or movie. It's pretty awesome, I can tell you that much. The mind wanders and wonders while you're there. Just wait until you see how many "What if..." scenarios play out in your mind as you find yourself "in" The Walking Dead!


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I was blown away by the number of filming sites there are in such a small radius of downtown Senoia. This tour is an information-packed hour, so listen up so that you don't miss any of the coolness that your Atlanta Movie Tours Insider is sharing with you!

I encourage you to explore Senoia before or after your tour...there's lots to see and do in a day, a weekend, or an extended stay. After lunch a Nick & Norman's, I visited the Senoia Visitors Center at 68 Main Street, a few doors down from Woodbury Shoppe, and picked up a few brochures. 

The lovely lady there that day told me about the Senoia Historical Society & History Museum. Only a few blocks away, I made my way there and discovered 150+ years of fascinating history! I'll write more about that experience soon, but do go check it out yourself.


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Film and television have iconic scenes that permeate pop culture, like when Darth Vader told Luke who his father really is; and how electrifying the final scenes were in Jaws; and, of course, Carl Grimes eating 112 oz. of chocolate pudding...rooftop!

On this tour, you get to see the Chocolate Pudding House from that iconic scene!


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

If you're a die-hard fan of The Walking Dead, I highly recommend that you go on this tour as soon as possible. As in the show, sites on this tour change. In the photo above you see the remains of what was the Church Tower in the Alexandria Safe Zone.


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

At the conclusion of our tour, in Negan-style, one of the Saviors conducted an "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" selection, Lucille (a reproduction, of course) pointed at most of us tourists at some point in this dialogue...at me in the photo above! 

What was about to happen???


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The young man pictured above WON!!! 

He won a Savior denim jacket, which all the Savior cosplayers autographed for him! How cool is that! He was soooooo excited! 


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This was a special tour. I don't think they're eeny-meenie-miny-moe'ing Savior jackets on every tour, but I've been made to feel special on every Atlanta Movie Tours excursion I've been on and I think you'll feel pretty special too exploring Woodbury and other filming sites of The Walking Dead.


Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Big Zombie Walking Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Did you know that the Alexandria Safe Zone is also the home to pre-zombie apocalypse people? It's true...there are a few lucky people who actually live there now. I believe that when filming here is complete that "Alexandria" will become a residential area, literally at the edge of town in Senoia.

I don't know how long "Alexandria" will continue to be a set for The Walking Dead, and being one of the sites on this tour that won't be there forever, at least the wall, now is a good time to get in on the Big Zombie Walking Tour!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I recently saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Aurora Theatre, one of my favorites. Everything I've seen at Aurora has been fantastic, but this show is beyond spectacular! With a star-studded cast, beautiful music, and an indelible set, this show is poised for fanfare of the sort that lasts for decades!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a co-production with Theatrical Outfit—the first show in its 2017-2018 season—where it is now running through Sunday, September 17.


Haden Rider and the cast of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME | Photo by Daniel Parvis
Haden Rider and the cast of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME | Photo by Daniel Parvis

I'd never seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so I didn't know the story or what to expect, beyond knowing it would be an amazing performance because it was at Aurora. 

Between seeing The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Aurora Theatre and Theatrical Outfit, I've watched the 1996 Disney animated version and the 1939 black and white Hollywood movie starring a young, new actress Maureen O'Hara. There's also a 1923 film version that I did not see. All are based on the novel written by Victor Hugo, but none exactingly follow the book.

The Aurora Theatre/Theatrical Outfit co-production is an amalgamation of the various previously performed renditions. It doesn't have the happy ending that Disney gave it, but you won't be sorry you saw this perfectly performed work of art!

Haden Rider (Quasimodo) is phenomenal! A young, humble actor, his talent is eons beyond his years. As Quasimodo, he is wholly convincing as an innocent, "different" (caged hunchback), and compassionate human being.


Haden Rider and Julissa Sabino in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME | Photo by Daniel Parvis

Theatre in Atlanta is the best it has ever been, in my humble opinion. I've seen amazing theatre throughout the years in Atlanta, as far back as 1987. We had great talent then, but now we have so much more!

If there were a First Lady of Atlanta theatre, Julissa Sabino (Esmeralda) would be a strong contender. She's beyond amazing and is so incredibly talented. I've had the great pleasure of seeing her in a number of plays in recent years (The Toxic Avenger, Grease) and have had the awesome pleasure of meeting her. Charming, poised, grateful...she possesses all the best qualities one would hope a celebrity would have.

From being a champion for her people's human rights, the Gypsies, to demonstrating genuine compassion, for Quasimodo, Julissa's performance shines brightly in this tale peppered with darkness. Julissa is also the Dance Captain for this production, which she totally rocks!


David de Vries and Julissa Sabino in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME | Photo by Daniel Parvis

The multi-talented David de Vries, who has performed in top grossing stage, television and movie projects, plays Dom Claude Frollo, a character I detested from the very first promotional images I saw. The character is creepy! 

That's also to say that David's performance is brilliant. He brings to the stage one of those characters that you love to hate. A character that stirs uneasiness deep down in your soul.

I was so conflicted wanting to see Frollo crushed and totally wanting to meet de Vries! 

This show has a powerful cast, including Kevin Harry and Lowrey Brown, as well as a phenomenal ensemble. And the puppeteers are magical! They bring the gargoyles to life and lighten the dialogue—conversations with Quasimodo—with some wonderful humor.


Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France | Photo: Barry Holland
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France | Photo: Barry Holland

I went to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Aurora Theatre with my friend Barry, and we already have tickets to see it again at Theatrical Outfit! Barry visited Paris a few years back and made some stunning photos of the Notre Dame Cathedral, this one of the bell tower side we see in the show. He thoroughly enjoyed the musical and I'm sure the spectacular sets whisked him right back to Paris.

Go see The Hunchback of Notre Dame and be whisked away to Paris yourself! 15th Century Paris, that is. And be prepared for one of the most incredibly heart-wrenching, heart-touching stories you've ever seen.

Enjoy a brief look at some of the magnificence you'll enjoy when you go see this show...


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dragon Con Parade 2017

This year was the 16th Annual Dragon Con Parade, the eighth one I've seen, and it was again totally AWESOME!


Dragon Con Parade | Stan Lee | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade | Stan Lee | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Grand Marshall of this year's highly attended parade was Stan Lee, the man behind hundreds of Marvel superheroes. I grew up with Iron Man, the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four and so many more. 


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

It's totally awesome to get to see Stan Lee, AND to see so many cosplayers showing their fandom for superheroes, like Spider-Man.


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There's of course something for everyone! The Dragon Con Parade covers a multitude of genres, including television cartoon personalities, such as SpongeBob SquarePants. The kids love him and many in the audience who are now adults love him, too!


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Dragon Con Parade isn't just for kids, though. It's for all ages of pop culture fandom! It's true that the convention itself draws primarily young adults/young professionals, but there are still quite a few conventioneers on the other ends of the age spectrum. 

The Parade is a free, open-to-the-public Dragon Con event, so many, many more youngsters come to Downtown Atlanta's Peachtree Street to join in on the fun.


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Some superheroes have been superheroes for generations. Superman first came on the scene in 1938 and Dragon Con has a great many Superman cosplayers, some quite convincing!


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Without fail, we see cosplay upticks just before and immediately following a major motion picture, in this case, the 2017 WONDER WOMAN movie...which is AWESOME!


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Spartans of the Dragon Con 300 cosplay group are always a big hit. They're inspired by the 2006 film "300", starring Gerard Butler


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I love clever! 

This cosplayer totally reminded me of the line delivered by Princess Leia when Luke and Han go to rescue her. When Luke broke into her cell, the first thing she said, quite calmly, "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"

This trooper is totally awesome!


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My celebrity-spotting hobby (not stalking, that's quite different) began in 2002 when I met Leonard Nimoy at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. That experience changed me. He was incredibly nice, super funny, and humble. For me, he set the tone for what I thought all celebrities would be like...and I'm grateful that many have been.

I didn't get to meet this particular Spock cosplayer, but he's the best I've ever seen! I've cosplayed a Vulcan before, but I wasn't nearly as awesome as this guy is! 

Live long and prosper.


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Atlanta's greatest parade, and I believe the largest, draws thousands of people of every size, shape and color. It's one of the most peaceful gatherings of such a diverse group of people. That's one of the many things that I love about this event.


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I'm amazed every year at just how much goes into the costumes and makeup by the cosplayers. And some of them have equally elaborate costumes for every day of the convention! 

You can say Betelgeuse as many times as you like, but never say Bettlejuice three times in a row or you'll have to deal with this guy! 


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

One of the great things about the Dragon Con Parade is that you can totally enjoy it even if you don't know many of the characters represented in the cosplay. It's easy to admire the time and talent that went into an elaborate costume and makeup. "Applause" for everyone who makes this parade as awesome as it is!


Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Dragon Con is much more than a celebration of pop culture. It's also deeply committed to giving back to the community. Every year it conducts one of the largest blood drives in the city and there's always at least on other fundraising effort...this year it was for Special Olympics Georgia

I don't know the fundraising numbers yet, but Dragon Con committed to matching the first $100,000 raised. That's super special in my book!

Keep your eye on the Dragon Con website and its social media channels for when next year's Dragon Con Parade will be and mark your calendars. See you then!

[More parade photos here!]