Photo Credit: Katherine McQueen
“Small has always been big in the world of Dr. Seuss,” according to Charles Isherwood of The New York Times, “where the battles fought by underdogs, outcasts and freethinkers are championed in squiggly line and rhythmic rhyme.” The real-life underdogs and freethinkers of the world are often under a cloud of fear, and we need our sunshine and champions today more than ever. The smaller actors of Athens might be the perfect ones for the job, here to let their hope and determination shine in this cheerful show.
Seussical is about believing in the power of imagination and community despite mockery and opposition. Narrated by the Cat in the Hat (Anna Tenner), Horton the elephant (Emma Scott) believes a speck of dust can contain a world of its own. He vows to protect it even though others mock him. And he’s right; it contains the Whos, including a daydreaming boy named JoJo (Desmond Schmutte) who is sent to military school for “thinking too many thinks.” Horton has a good heart—and one good friend named Gertrude McFuzz (Cubby Rupers) who believes in him—so he faces down the haters and real dangers to protect those who are smaller and more vulnerable than himself.
Photo Credit: Dorothy Reeves
In times of fear and despair, we need the arts more than ever. Sometimes we need to escape and other times—and this is one of them—we need art that makes us reflect, gives us strength and perhaps offers glimmers of hope for humanity despite overwhelming darkness. As arts administrator, advocate and writer Howard Sherman writes,
On this post-election morning of November 9, I am reminded that the theatre is my America, because it embraces a multiplicity of stories, of possibilities, of harsh realities and of unimaginable dreams. Its stories are the stories I want to have told, its songs are the songs I want to sing while driving on an autumn day. It is the place where I meet and commune with people on stage and in the audience, inclusive of all ages, genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, or disabilities. I don’t look to the theatre for escape, but for engagement, which includes the potential for epiphany and joy.
We’re not ready for comedy or pure escapism right now. It’s time to stare harsh reality in the face and find hope and courage where we can.
Photo Credit: Madison Silva
Jane Eyre: The beloved novel tells the story of a mistreated orphan, Jane Eyre (Brittney Harris), who grows up to become a governess and the unlikely love object of the brooding Mr. Rochester (John Terry). This adaptation takes the Brit lit classic in a bold direction by reimagining Bertha (Brandy Sexton), the insane-in-the-attic wife of Mr. Rochester. Here she is the passionate, darker side of dreamy yet prudish Jane, who has worked hard all her life to repress emotions society has told her are forbidden. With popular, Atlanta-based guest director David Crowe and top-notch set and costumes in the historic Fine Arts Theatre, this one should please both literature lovers and fans of innovative theater.
Hairspray: The Oconee Youth Playhouse has “gone big” for this teenage musical about big hair, big change and big love in the early 1960s: they’ve rented wigs, costumes and set pieces directly from a company that produced one of the national tours. It’s a powerful mix when you add their usual high standard for choreography and strong local teenage talent, which includes Gracin Wilkins as dancer/activist/dreamer Tracy Turnblad and Cameron Loyal—who is heading off to the American Academy for Dramatic Arts this fall—as Seaweed Stubbs.Hairspray is a Tony Award winner that celebrates dance, competition, celebrity, rebellion, and—of course—hair. It’s best done by teenagers, and OYP offers some of the best.
Photo Credit: BreeAnne Clowdus
Photo Credit: Ralph B. Maxwell, Jr.
Hairspray: A celebration of early ’60s dance music, social change and teen dreams, Hairsprayis a happy, Tony Award-winning musical about an outrageously optimistic dance show fanatic named Tracy Turnblad (Georgia Laster). She’s described as “pleasantly plump” and gets in trouble at school for “inappropriate hair height,” but she dreams of appearing on “The Corny Collins Show.”
Photo Credit: Dina Canup
Our Town It’s the final weekend of an American classic at Winder Barrow Community Theatre, directed by Léland Downs Karas. Thornton Wilder’s Our Town won a Pulitzer Prize in 1938; when it was revived in 1989 it won a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award. The masterfully metatheatrical script sets the play in a theater rather than a place, though the theater stands for a fictional town called Grover’s Corners.
New Play Festival: UGA students have been turning out an astonishing amount of dramatic writing in recent years, not simply in quantity but in quality of an impressive level. Clearly it’s high time to feature a sampling of some of the best work by current students and recently graduated alumni. There are seven playwrights and four directors. The whole thing is overseen by executive director John Patrick Bray, a UGA professor who is also a notable playwright himself. It’s an eclectic collection of plays, but Bray has noticed an emerging theme of the supernatural, family connections (and the lack thereof), and babies both born and unborn. He's joined by two PhD students (Geoffrey Douglas, Seth Wilson) and an MFA acting student (Ami Sallee) in directing the seven plays with a strong ensemble of student actors.
Photo Credit: C. Adron Farris III
The Mandrake: Who runs the world? Girls! Specifically, girls dressed as boys who are treating girls like sex objects. And those girls are literally puppets. This mad, mad world is University Theatre’s innovative take on Machiavelli’s misogynistic comedy where the end justifies the means as long as you get what you want—assuming you are a man. Or a woman playing a man in this case.
Photo Credit: Myles Haslam
Two teenage girls in a locker room grow close attempting to undo an unwanted pregnancy, trying to find a safe place in a world that seems small and dangerous to them at that moment in time. This play shows that bodies can be frightening, especially to young women lacking true ownership over their bodies and their sexuality. One of the girls says to the other about her sexual experience, “It was sexy, but also really ugly, because sex is ugly.”
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