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!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville

I've been wanting to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville since it opened and finally went recently...it's a magical place with lots of room to grow! I highly recommend a visit to explore...and be sure to bring your camera!


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Some of the programming at the Gainesville location mimics—not exactly though—what you might see at the Midtown location. Wonderful for visitors, they have their own "Imaginary Worlds" exhibition, with some sculptures that Atlantans have never seen—including TWO PANDAS!!!—and others that we've seen before but that have new plantings. 


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

It's not as far away as you might think, either! Heading north on I-85 and I-985, it's only an hour from the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown! There are more scenic routes that add only another 20 minutes. Did you know it was that close?! 

If you're a member, admission is free. Regular admission is only $8 for adults and $5 for kids...a fantastic deal considering the beauty within! It's smaller (for now) than Atlanta, but it's a wonderful place.


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I opened with the recommendation to bring your camera when you visit. I wasn't sure what to expect when I visited, whether or not they would have the same plantings as they do at the Atlanta location, but let me put that to rest right now...

The plantings here are beautiful, they're stunning, and you will definitely see plants, trees and flowers that you do not see at the Midtown location. I was delighted with every corner and path I turned.


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor


Many of us know that the Midtown Atlanta location has 'Cocktails in the Garden' on Thursday evenings. The Gainesville location is hosting its first Flamingle in the Garden this coming Thursday, June 6, 2019!
Themed to the fabulous 50s, the Garden will be loaded with groovy fun: a mobile record shop by the local folks at Imperial Records, hula-hoop and limbo contests starting at 7 p.m. on the Terrace, games on the Event Lawn, DJ and live oldies music in the Ivester Amphitheater and more.
This inaugural event sounds like great fun!

Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Also at the Gainesville location for "Imaginary Worlds" is The Ogre, which was one of my favorites during the 2013-2014 exhibit at the Atlanta location! 

When you check-in at the Visitor Center, be sure to ask about the location of the sculptures. The Ogre is off the beaten path—to the left when you first enter the Garden. The others are along the main path which makes a giant loop through the Garden.


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

A super-popular program at the Midtown location, "Concerts in the Garden" also takes place at the Gainesville location. They have fewer concerts (so far), but they have a huge amphitheater perfect for this kind of entertaining! 

Concerts in the Garden performances in Gainesville will be in June and August, so you have plenty of time to get tickets. Actually, I'm assuming that....based on photos of other concerts there, they sell out, so maybe don't wait to long to get tickets if you know you want to go.


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Rumpelstiltskin is here for "Imaginary Worlds" and he's looking better than ever! You have to be careful though...as much as he makes you think it's a great idea to pick a tree and take a nap in this wholly delightful garden, you should keep to the path and perhaps find one of the many benches throughout the garden.  


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The Model Train Garden was a wonderful surprise and it's there year-round! 

At first I thought it was only running during special events, but the friend I went with, Wayne, connected the dots and pressed the giant red button—which I totally missed out of all the excitement—and the train emerged from the landscaped tunnel to begin its multi-run journey around the tracks. 

This special little garden made this train-lover very happy!

Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Just to the right when entering the Garden there's a lovely Forest Pond that features flowering water lilies and other aquatic plants.


Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There's so much more for me—and you!—to discover at the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden - Gainesville! Now under construction is a 2-acre Children's Garden, I believe slated to open later this year. 

This Garden has come a long way since opening and it's obvious they're going to become a major northeast Georgia destination! Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Ragtime Through the Lens of Vaudeville

Ragtime, The Musical is—as creatively as ever—being present by Serenbe Playhouse through the lens of Vaudeville and it's magnificent! See it under their big top tent now through Sunday, June 9.


Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse
Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse  |  Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus


Ragtime opens with a number called "Ragtime" with the entire company on stage. 

This opening number introduces a story of changing times through the lives of three groups of people in early 20th century New York City. This is a story of trials and tribulations, heartaches and triumphs, of family, ambition, prejudice and compassion.

The three groups are African Americans—you'll meet Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; Eastern European immigrants—you'll meet Tatah, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia; and the white upper-class—you'll meet Mother, the matriarch of a NY family. None of the characters in the upper-class family have names; they're known only as Mother, Father, Little Boy, Younger Brother, and Grandfather.



Ragtime, The Musical is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen FlahertyRagtime is based on the 1975 book by E.L. Doctorow, which was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for more than three months that year!

Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse
Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse  |  Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

It's difficult to have a single favorite actor from such a large cast, but I was moved by Jacob S. Louchheim's performance as Tatah, a Jewish immigrant and loving father who recently lost his wife and made his way to the U.S. from Latvia. 

You feel great empathy for Tatah's journey, past and present...it's an emotional roller coaster! His is a life of love and loss, rags-to-riches, profound fatherly love for his daughter (who is absolutely adorable!) and your heart is with him every step and song along the way.


Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse
Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse  |  Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Woven into the story are a number of historical figures including Harry Houdini, played brilliantly by Ethan Hall (Don't miss his steamy, theatrical entrance!), and Evelyn Nesbit beautifully portrayed by Niki Badua who won a Best Actress Suzi Bass Award for Serenbe Playhouse's Miss Saigon, and yes, she is "the most beautiful woman in the world". JP Morgan was performed wonderfully by Aaron Schilling who recently gained numerous credits in Serenbe Playhouse shows, including the phenomenal Titanic

You'll also see Booker T. Washington, Henry Ford and many more. The character list in Ragtime is not happenstance. In fact, each of the historical figures in the show had a role in shaping 20th century America.


Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse
Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse  |  Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

With the backdrop of a fantastic set, superb lighting, brilliant costuming and amazing music, the cast of Ragtime spectacularly tells a mesmerizing, epic story of surprising interconnections of the human heart, discovering the American Dream, and the heartbreak when dreams are unjustly denied. You're going to see an amazing show!


Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse
Ragtime, The Musical at Serenbe Playhouse  |  Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Our group, pictured below, had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Marcus Terrell Smith (Coalhouse Walker Jr.). He's a tower of talent, charm, humor, humility and his performance in Ragtime is beyond magnificent! This was his Serenbe Playhouse debut and even though he's not Atlanta-based, I do hope we get to see more of him.


Our Gang at "Ragtime" at Serenbe Playhouse
Our Gang at "Ragtime, The Musical" at Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: Jennifer

In our group of eight some had never seen Ragtime and for some this was their first Serenbe Playhouse show and some of us have been coming for years. The thread that ties us all together—some were even meeting for the first time—each and every one of us is a huge theatre enthusiast. I think I can speak for the group and highly recommend that you come to Serenbe Playhouse to see this magnificent production of Ragtime, The Musical.