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DECEMBER 2019

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8 YEARS! 2 G N I T ELEBRA

VOL. 28, NO. 5 FREE

The Nutcracker Cirque Volta A Christmas Carol

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HOLIDAY BONUS.

NOVEMBER 29TH - DECEMBER 31ST. To purchase, click, call or visit any of our restaurants, or give instantly with our new eGift cards. buckheadrestaurants.com | 404 . 237. 2060

The Ultimate Dining Card is valid at all Buckhead Life restaurants. Additional restrictions apply.

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CONTENTS • DECEMBER 2019 • VOLUME 28, NO. 5

NEW YEAR

CELEBRATE THE YEARS!

28 R AT I N G CELEB

Atlanta’s

Entertainment Monthly

Interviews

12 A Christmas Carol 13 The Nutcracker 15 Cirque: Volta 16 Mick Jones 16 Samantha Fish 17 Trigger Hippy

Features 09 Holiday Gift Guide 10 Holiday Dining 11 Holiday Lights 11 NYE Guide 14 Orlando Travel 18 Naughty Gift Guide

Columns 04 05 06 07 07 07 08 17

12

AT CITY SPRINGS

ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION

13

DECEMBER 31, 2019 · 8:00PM Set Your Sights on Ringing in 2020 with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at City Springs

For more information visit citysprings.com

15

Around Town On Tap Atlanta on a Dime Station Streaming New Releases Under The Lights Movie Reviews 17 Albums

insiteatlanta.com STAFF LISTING Publisher Steve Miller steve@insiteatlanta.com Art Director / Web Design Nick Tipton nick@insiteatlanta.com Managing Editor Lee Valentine Smith lee@insiteatlanta.com Local Events Editor Marci Miller marci@insiteatlanta.com Movie Editor Steve Warren s.warren@insiteatlanta.com Music Editor John Moore john@insiteatlanta.com

Follow us on the web!

Contributing Writers / Interns: Alex. S. Morrison, Dave Cohen, Benjamin Carr, Demarco Williams Advertising Sales Steve Miller (404) 308-5119 • ads@insiteatlanta.com MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 76483 Atlanta, GA 30358 WEBSITE • insiteatlanta.com Editorial content of INsite is the opinion of each writer and is not necessarily the opinion of INsite, its staff, or its advertisers. INsite does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertising or editorial content, nor do the publisher or editors of INsite assume The responsibility should such advertising or editorial Nutcracke r Cirque Volta appear. No content, i.e., articles, graphics, A Christmas Carol designs and information (any and all) in this publication may be reproduced in any manner without written permission from publisher. DECEMBER 2019

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insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 3


Around Town DECEMBER 6, 7 & 8

Christmas with the ASO Atlanta Symphony Hall

Begun many years ago by the beloved Music Director Robert Shaw, this concert has become a staple for Atlanta families during the holiday season. The Orchestra, Chorus and special guests including tenor Timothy Miller, and the Gwinnett Young Singers will perform beloved Christmas carols and hymns to celebrate the season. Tickets available at atlantasymphony.org.

DECEMBER 5 - 24

Courtenay's Cabaret Alliance Theatre

Following her starring role in the Tonynominated musical e Prom, Courtenay Collins returns to the Hertz Stage with her beloved holiday cabaret that includes music, stories, surprises, cookies, and Courtenay’s signature charm and good humor. Accompanied by a live band, Courtenay will sing holiday classics and new favorites with wit and Southern charm. alliancetheatre.org

DECEMBER 12 & 13 Handel’s Messiah

Atlanta Symphony Hall

This masterpiece from Handel tells the

Holiday Events and Performances taking place this Month

Christmas story like no other. This year the ASO has brought back this very special performance featuring the Orchestra and the Chamber Chorus that will sweep you up in the magic of the season.

DECEMBER 7 - 30

CeeLo Green: Holiday Hits Tour Center Stage

Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, & producer CeeLo Green announces his “Holiday Hits Tour”. CeeLo will be performing fan favorites from his critically acclaimed and Grammy Award-winning album, "CeeLo’s Magic Moment", including “What Christmas Means to Me,” “is Christmas” “All I Want" & more. Visit centerstageatlanta.com for tickets.

DECEMBER 21 & 22 Celtic Christmas

Rialto Center for the Arts

Captivating audiences for over 25 years, Atlanta’s Celtic Christmas is much more than a concert production. A cast of international and regionally renowned artists weaves a spellbinding performance of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Appalachian music, dance and humor in an evocative, inspiring show that will warm the soul with the music and dance of the ages. Celebrate the mirth of the season with Celtic Christmas. Tickets at rialto.gsu.edu.

NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 29

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Center for Puppetry Arts

Rudolph soars back into town for this faithful adaptation of the wonderful holiday film that speaks to the misfit in all of us. Based on the beloved 1964 stop-motion animated special, Rudolph and his friends Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snow Monster and all the other merry misfits join Santa for an unforgettable holiday adventure. Visit puppet.org for tickets.

NOW THROUGH JANUARY 5 Stone Mountain Christmas Stone Mountain Park

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, where the true magic of the season is in the air. Enjoy the glow of more than two million lights, festive music and visits from some your favorite holiday characters. Start a new tradition and create memories that will last a lifetime for you and your kids. Visit stonemountainpark.com for tickets.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18

Atlanta Holiday Hootenanny Variety Playhouse

The 9th annual Holiday Hootenanny will

have four sets, totaling over four hours of music and featuring up to 20 musicians on stage at once. Includes a special dedication to the great Johnny Knapp. Net proceeds from the concert benefit Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Visit varietyplayhouse.com.

NOW THROUGH JANUARY 5 Volta by Cirque Du Soleil

Under the Big Top at Atlantic Station

Energetic, urban and contemporary, Volta is a captivating voyage of discovery that showcases never-before-seen under the Big Top acrobatics in a visually striking world. Driven by a stirring melodic score and inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, Volta is a story of transformation. Featuring a live band with powerful vocalists, violinist and percussion. Visit cirqudusoleil/volta.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18

Winter Wine Festival at City Winery Atlanta Winter Wine Festival takes place over sessions; Session 1:12pm-4pm, Session 2: 6pm-10pm. Sample from over 50 wines as well as a selection of beer to choose from. Enjoy live music and a DJ, and food will be available for purchase. Tickets are now on sale: $45 in advance, $50 after Jan 9th, and $60 at the door. AtlantaWineFestivals.com

Holiday Concerts DEC 17/18 DEC 6/7/8

DEC 12/13

Handel’s Messiah

DEC 15

Family Holiday A Flicker of Light on a Winter’s Night

The Coca-Cola Holiday Concerts are presented by Coca-Cola. Holiday concerts are made possible through an endowment from the Livingston Foundation in memory of Leslie Livingston Kellar.

featuring Platypus Theatre

Give the Gift of Music! BUY NOW | aso.org

PG 4 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com

DEC 17/18


On Tap this Month HAPPY NEW YEAR The 7th Annual Helen Chamber

MAJOR EVENTS COMING TO ATLANTA December 7 - 24: The Fox Theatre

THE NUTCRACKER

Atlanta Ballet’s reimagined production of e Nutcracker is set in a small German village and tells E.T.A. Hoffmann’s traditional tale set to the iconic Tchaikovsky score. Designed to surprise and delight audiences, this innovative uses elaborately crafted and painted scenery combined with advanced techniques in lighting and video projection to enhance the story’s magic. Visit AtlantaBallet.com for tickets.

December 17 & 18: Atlanta Symphony Hall

CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE

Cirque de la Symphonie brings the magic of cirque to the music hall. It is an elegant fusion of cirque and orchestra, adapting the stunning performances of cirque artists with the majesty of the full symphony orchestra. e program showcases many of the best cirque artists in the world, thrilling the audience with aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen. Visit AtlantaSymphony.org for tickets.

December 20: State Farm Arena

JINGLE BALL CONCERT

Power 96.1 Jingle Ball 2019 is part of the national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour presented by Capital One, the season’s biggest annual music event that captures the holiday spirit of the iHeartRadio app. All-star performers this year include: Jonas Brothers, Khalid, Niall Horan, French Montana, Why Don’t We, Lewis Capaldi and Zara Larsson. Tickets available at arena box office and StateFarmArena.com.

Celebration! DROPPING OF THE EDELWEISS Music, Food, Dancing!

Champagne Toast! Hors D’Oeuvres! • Full Cash Bar!

LIVE BAND!

Doors open at 8pm • $20 per person/ $35 per couple Family Friendly! Kids under 6 , FREE, 6-12 Half Price For info, call the Helen Chamber at 706-878-1908

1074 Edelweiss Strasse • The Festhalle Oktoberfest helenchamber.com Festhalle Friends

December 20: The Tabernacle

SNOOP DOGG

West Coast rap legend Snoop Dogg has come a long way since being discovered by Dr. Dre in the early 1990. Since guesting on Dre’s e Chronic in 1992, Snoop has gone on to global fame, tens of millions of record sales, and a career in movies and TV. He enjoyed a big hit in 2004 with the chart-topping single "Drop It Like It's Hot." In 2007, Snoop’s single "It's e DOG" became a popular ringtone. Tabernacleatl.com

December 28: Cobb Energy Centre

CHARLIE WILSON

Gap Band founder Charlie Wilson has ten No. 1 singles, 11 Grammy Award nominations, and has been selling out venues coast-to-coast. Wilson continues his reign as “Uncle Charlie,” the lovable nickname originally given to him by Snoop Dogg, by being one of the most highly sought-after adult entertainers for today’s top Hip-Hop and Pop artists. Tickets at CobbEnergyCentre.com.

December 28: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL

e College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick filA Peach Bowl will be played Saturday, Dec. 28 at either 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. It will host either the No. 1 vs. No. 4 or the No. 2 vs. No. 3 teams in the country as assigned by the College Football Playoff selection committee. e game will be nationally telecast by ESPN. As of press time tickets were sold out. Visit chick-filapeachbowl.com for more info. insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 5


with authentic Asian food selections, each night there will be exciting performances inside the festival, featuring acrobatics, dancers, theatre, and more.

EVENTS HAPPENING FOR SMALL CHANGE IN ATLANTA

Know of a low cost event happening? Event@AtlantaOnADime.com By Marci Miller

Saturday, December 7

CHRISTMAS PARADE

festive floats will light up the night sky as a prelude to the third, annual, Sparkle Sandy Springs celebration.

Free to Attend; Peachtree St. Midtown choa.org/parade Now through December 29 e Children's Christmas Parade runs along Peachtree St. from 16th St. to 5th St. Watch as Midtown Atlanta will be transformed into Santa Claus Lane with the sights and sounds of the season. With floats, giant helium-filled balloons and marching bands, the Children's Christmas Parade will be the largest holiday parade in the southeast. ousands of spectators line up along the streets eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa and the official beginning of the holiday season in Atlanta.

Sunday, December 8

SPARKLE HOLIDAY PARADE

WAFFLE PALACE CHRISTMAS

Tickets start at $30; Horizon Theatre horizontheatre.com

Now Through January 20

SKATE THE STATION

$12 - $15 Atlantic Station atlanticstation.com Skate the Station returns to Atlantic Station, just in time for the holiday season! Skate beneath the stars and skyscrapers at the largest outdoor ice rink in the Southeast.

Sunday, December 15

ASO FAMILY HOLIDAY

From $15; Atlanta Symphony Hall e holiday season at Horizon eatre is atlantasymphony.org

in full swing with the return of Waffle Palace Christmas. With Christmas cheer aplenty among the diverse staff and diners, Krampus, a shape-shifting holiday villain, appears over the restaurant to sabotage the spirit and challenge all in his path.

Now Through January 5

CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL Adult $17,Child $13; Centennial Park freshtix.com/events

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is offering the perfect Holiday family concert with "A Flicker Of Light On A Winter's Night". Watch as three children discover the true

spirit of the holidays through the magic of music. is Family Holiday concert is full of popular favorites, traditional music and plenty of sing-a-longs sure to lift your holiday spirit. Two performances on Sunday, December 15 at 1:30 and 3:00pm. Pre-concert activities including Instrument Petting Zoo, holiday sing-a-long and photo booth begin at 12:30pm.

Tuesday, December 24

CHRISTMAS EVE OPEN HOUSE

Free; 5697 Buford Hwy. (770) 455-8570 baldinos.us In the spirit of the season, Baldinos Doraville location is opening its doors this Christmas Eve December 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and giving away complimentary subs and beverages to all. Be advised to arrive early as last year an estimated 300 plus people came out.

WAFFLE PALACE CHRISTMAS

Now through December 29 Horizon Theatre horizontheatre.com

Free to Attend; Heritage Sandy Springs e Chinese Lantern festival returns with citysprings.com/events e City of Sandy Springs holds its inaugural Sparkle Sandy Springs Holiday Parade on Sunday, December 8. Festivities begin at 4:00, the Parade will step off at 5:30 p.m. near the Heritage water tower, marching along Mount Vernon, concluding with a tree lighting at City Springs. e

“Into e Wild” featuring handcrafted lanterns of over 25 different kinds of animals on both land and sea, including depictions of endangered species highlighting the importance of animal protection. Also new to the festival this year are interactive lanterns that visitors can touch and experience up close. Along

DULUTH

2175 Pleasant Hill RD Corner of Satellite Blvd next to Starbucks (770) 623-1552

BARRETT PKWY. 50 Barrett Parkway at Bells Ferry Road next to Barnes & Noble (770) 425-3472

ROSWELL

10800 Alpharetta Hwy At Mansell Road Sprouts Center (770) 518-3300

CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK! CD WAREHOUSE ATLANTA PG 6 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com


Under The Lights

ON STAGE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

MADELINE’S CHRISTMAS

Horizon Theatre December 7 - 31 404.584.7450 HorizonTheatre.com The beloved family tradition, Madeline’s Christmas returns to Horizon Theatre. Based on one of the most popular children’s books of all time, the story f o l l o w s Madeline and friends. While on their morning walk with Ms. Clavel, the girls come down with the flu and as they take to their bed, many wonder if they will be able to go home for Christmas. With the arrival of a mysterious stranger, the twelve little girls in two straight lines end up with a magical and memorable holiday beyond their wildest dreams. Featuring 24 local girls performing alongside professional actors in collaboration with The Atlanta Children’s Theatre.

ELLA ENCHANTED

December 13 - January 5 Synchronicity Theatre 404.484.8636 synchrotheatre.com Synchronicity Theatre rings in the holiday season with the family musical adaptation of the popular young adult novel, Ella Enchanted. The story is a retelling of Cinderella, featuring various mythical creatures including fairies, elves, ogres, gnomes, and giants, and explores what it means to find your voice and decide your own fate. At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by a young fairy named Lucinda,

who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. When her beloved mother dies, Ella sets out on a quest to free herself from the curse. Ella Enchanted examines the traditional female roles in fairytales and takes some satisfying twists and turns from the original formula

THE LATEST DVD, BLU RAY & VOD RELEASES By John Moore

CHUCK BERRY: HAIL! HAIL! ROCK ‘N’ ROLL [COLLECTOR’S EDITION]

(Shout! Factory) This mid‘80s Chuck Berry concert film, joined by a slew of his famous fans - from Keith Richards and Eric Clapton to Etta James and Robert Cray, among many others – has remained one of the best rock concert films for decades. But Shout! Factory has somehow managed to bolster this universally praised set. Recorded to celebrate Berry’s 60th Birthday, this Collector’s Edition includes nearly an hour’s worth of rehearsal footage, a compelling making-of documentary and a collection of Berry remembrance from The Band’s Robbie Robertson. It’s hard to improve on a classic, but this Collector’s Edition does just that.

LYNYRD SKYNYRD – I’LL NEVER FORGET YOU: THE LAST 72 HOURS OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD (MVD Visual) On the surface, I’ll Never Forget You doesn’t appear to be that interesting of a doc. And for the first 20-minutes or so, it isn’t. Based on the book by the band’s security guard and Skynyrd singer’s fish-

Station Streaming

STREAMING WARS

Boys TheThe Morning Show

HOLIDAY INN

December 13 - 22 Byers Theatre 770.206.2022 CitySprings.com City Springs Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn tells the story of Jim, who leaves the bright lights of show business behind to settle down on his farmhouse in Connecticut. He realizes however that life just isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim’s luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda, a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. But when Jim’s best friend Ted tries to lure Linda away to be his new dance partner in Hollywood, Jim struggles to salvage his latest chance at love. Based on the classic film, this musical features thrilling dance numbers and Irving Berlin songs.

HOME THEATER

NEW RELEASES

TV

ing buddy Gene Odom, the doc interviews Odom, backup singer Leslie Hawkins and guitar tech Craig Reed – all survivors of the plane crash that killed several members of the band – about the days leading up to the crash. Once the focus turns to the actual flight and the fatal accident, though, the doc is hard to turn away from.

GOOD BOYS (Universal)

Good Boys manages to somehow be both extremely raunchy and surprisingly heartwarming at the same time. Focusing on three 12 years old, longtime friends, none of whom ever fit the cool kid mode, one of the trio gets invited to his first kissing party and is freaking out because he has no idea what he’s doing. With the help of his friends, they work on a plan to learn how to fit in at the party which leads to a bizarre feud with two older girls, a fight inside a frat house and a quest to replace a missing drone. This movie works on several levels thanks to a stellar cast that includes Will Forte, hilarious dialogue and the charm of the three actors playing the seemingly innocent 12 year old boys.

BY BENJAMIN CARR

T

HE NOVEMBER KICKOFF OF TWO major new streaming services, Disney + and AppleTV +, signals another shift in this era of Peak TV. Now, with more choices and quality programming than ever before - and with more streaming services to come, like HBO Max, it feels as though nothing will ever be the same. The series used to launch Apple TV + and Disney + are glossy, big-name affairs. And most of them are worth seeing.

THE MORNING SHOW (Apple TV+)

The service kicked off its first day with a full lineup of shows, including new programming from Oprah Winfrey and Jason Momoa, but the biggest names of the bunch were Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, who star in The Morning Show.The series follows the behind-the-scenes chaos of a network morning news program after one of its wholesome hosts, played by Carell, gets #metoo’d like Matt Lauer. Our protagonists are Alex, the old cohost played with verve by Aniston, and Bradley, an upstart and righteous journalist thrown into the fray. It’s a delightful, twisty and entertaining series, filled with lots of drama and moments of very funny comedy. And the cast beyond the leads is incredible. Billy Crudup deserves so many prizes for the wacky, devilish charmer of a network exec he embodies. Mark Duplass plays the frazzled doormat showrunner. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, The Mandalorian

Nestor Carbonel, Jack Davenport and Marcia Gay Harden co-star.

THE MANDALORIAN (Disney +)

We finally have a Star Wars live-action TV series, and its effects are cinematic and incredible. It’s great fun. The show stars Pedro Pascal as a masked bounty hunter charged with killing a 50-year-old target on a desert planet, only to realize that the target is a baby Yoda. It co-stars Werner Herzog and Carl Weathers. The series is a bit like a Western, its episodes brief and its rollicking fight scenes well-executed. It’s difficult, though, to connect with Pascal, whose face is always obscured. Thus, he keeps getting upstaged by the baby, which is a delight.

High School Musical

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL THE SERIES (Disney +)

Another new series on Disney + is this wickedly funny, surprisingly twisted new take on their hokey, sweet franchise from the early 2000s. The premise of the new show is wacky. A drama teacher at the real high school where the original High School Musical with Zac Efron was filmed tries to stage the stage version of the musical there for the first time, casting a mix of weirdos and a couple that just broke up - as its leads. Filmed in the same mockumentary style as The Office and Parks and Recreation, the show subverts the original material’s sickly sweetness, giving us flawed characters and an edgy humor instead. And the new music is good. It’s like a demented version of Glee. Try it.

insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 7


MOVIES

Movie Reviews BY STEVE WARREN

THE AERONAUTS (PG-13)

1/2 In the 1950s, reported UFO sightings were often dismissed as “weather balloons.” The Aeronauts, “inspired by true events,” is the story, nearly a century earlier, of a real weather balloon, possibly the first. In London in 1862 James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is an astronomer who’s trying to establish meteorology as a viable science. Considering how often modern weather forecasters are wrong, it’s understandable that he’s widely scoffed at. James wants to go into the air to study the air and recruits balloonist Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) to take him there, in what’s said to be “the strongest and largest” balloon ever. They have a shot at breaking the previous altitude record of 23,000 feet (although the altimeter wouldn’t be invented for 15 more years, so I don’t know how they measured it). Amelia lost her husband two years ago on a balloon flight, but since this is a movie, she may find a new one on this flight – if they survive. They pass through a storm early on – so much for his predictions – but keep going. The ride is not without incident, but not enough for a movie; so there are frequent flashbacks to fill in the backstories of both characters. Numerous literary quotes and pontifications about the significance of science give the film an air of self-importance; so does the failure to translate the Latin inscription on Amelia’s husband’s headstone (“Caelum certe patet”). (Hint: The film’s closing line is a variation of the English version.) There are some impressive visuals – how often do you get to see 19th-century England from the air? – and tense moments, especially when Amelia climbs to the top of the balloon; but most of the screenplay is – appropriately, you might say – full of hot air.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (PG)

 Here’s a cross between Almost Famous, in which a journalist toured with a rock band to write about them, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? last year’s documentary about Mister Rogers. It’s the ultimate in no-brainer casting to have Tom Hanks, who would still be thought of as the nicest guy in Hollywood if you videoed him beating his wife, play the late Fred Rogers (1928-2003), of whom the same was true in television. Lost in the advertising,

publicity and billing is the idea that (at least for award purposes) Hanks is a supporting actor in this film, which is actually the story of journalist Tom Junod, who is renamed Lloyd Vogel and played by The Americans’ Matthew Rhys. A cynic with serious daddy issues, Lloyd interviews Fred Rogers for Esquire magazine and is converted by the man’s pathological optimism. He’d better be, as his wife (Susan Kelechi Watson) and mother of their infant son, warns him, “Don’t ruin my childhood.” My interest waned during some scenes without Rogers, but the idea comes across, and you’d have to be even more jaded than Lloyd not to be persuaded that Rogers could sell anyone on anything. Chris Cooper has a good role as Lloyd’s father, with whom he gets into a fistfight at his sister’s umpteenth wedding before ultimately forgiving him on his deathbed. For director Marielle Heller it’s a good follow-up to Can You Ever Forgive Me? but the combination might get her typecast as the “forgiveness director.” A neat touch is the use of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodtype miniatures for establishing shots, from a modest house to the New York skyline.

CLEMENCY (R)

 As protestors chant outside the prison, Warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) goes through the motions to prepare for an execution, her twelfth. The execution – by lethal injection – doesn’t go smoothly, but it goes. Not all the warden’s duties involve death row inmates, but they cause her a disproportionate amount of mental stress. She can’t sleep and her marriage (to Wendell Pierce) is strained. The next one scheduled to be executed is Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), who was convicted – probably wrongly – 15 years ago of shooting a cop during a robbery. His lawyer (Richard Schiff) plans to retire after this case, however it turns out. Bernadine’s husband, a teacher, also wants to retire and wishes she would too. It’s not clear whether our heroine has doubts about the death penalty in general or just certain cases, but it’s pretty obvious where writer-director Chinonye Chukwu stands on the subject. (She’s definitely in favor of retirement, as the prison chaplain also announces his departure.) Clemency is well made, low key and leisurely paced. That allows the camera to linger on closeups of the star, making the film an acting showcase shamelessly designed to get Woodard some long-deserved award love.

DARK WATERS

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Perhaps Hodge as well, as he is even more impressive in his smaller role. He doesn’t talk much but his final speech is practically a filibuster, and both actors cry on camera. The film works in spite of, if not because of, the blatant grandstanding; but maybe they could be a little subtler next time.

DARK WATERS (PG-13)

 With some corporations polluting our sources of fresh water and others buying up the water so they can sell it back to us at ridiculous prices, dehydration seems the only affordable way to survive. Dark Waters tells how one of the biggest companies, DuPont, was exposed. What they did was shocking enough, but if it makes you consider what else may be going on that hasn’t been uncovered yet, you can classify this as a horror movie. In 1998 Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) has just become a partner in a big Cincinnati law firm that defends corporations like DuPont (but not DuPont itself, although Rob’s friendly with a big executive there). A farmer (Bill Camp) from Parkersburg, West Virginia, who knows his grandmother, asks Rob for help. He says 190 of his cows have died horribly and he suspects a nearby landfill is responsible. Years of exhausting research put a strain on Rob’s marriage (to Anne Hathaway) and his job, but he discovers DuPont knew shortly after the 1961 debut of Teflon that it contains a toxic chemical that isn’t regulated because the EPA doesn’t know about it. It’s been responsible for countless deaths, illnesses and birth defects, and no one outside the company suspected. Because DuPont is the biggest employer in Parkersburg, whistleblowers become pariahs in their community. As DuPont reconciles killing people with its chemicals while making a billion dollars a year from Teflon, director Todd Haynes balances the entertainment value of this very human story with presenting enough facts for the viewer to understand without being overwhelmed. I’d tell you more but I want to go throw out half the pots and pans in my kitchen.

FROZEN II (PG)

1/2 When Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film ever, you knew they wouldn’t just let it go. So here’s the inevitable sequel, not as good as the first but not terrible. As an early song assures us, “Some Things Never Change.” Frozen II begins with a flashback to when Arendelle Princesses Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) were children and their parents told them about an Enchanted Forest. Their father gave a dam to the people there to protect their land, but there was a fight between the forest people and Arendelle soldiers that ended with the forest shrouded in mist and no one able to enter or leave. PG 8 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com

A Frozen movie needs a road trip, so the grownup girls head for the forest with their entourage of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), who’s trying to propose to Anna, his trusty reindeer Sven, and Olaf the Snowman (Josh Gad). Elsa has to go further, to Ahtohollan, to find a rumored spirit that links humans to nature. Visually, nature is more interesting than the humans here, with all the ice creations Elsa makes with her magical powers, plus a sort-of surfing scene, a toonado, and scenery for days. There’s no end to the ways Olaf can fall apart and come together again, but there should be; still he gets most of the laughs, including a post-credits scene. Kristoff scores a few too. But it seems every time the story slows to a crawl, a song comes along to slow it further. That won’t stop “Into the Unknown” from getting an Oscar nomination and possibly winning, but I could have done without most of the others. I could have done without Frozen II for that matter, but judging from the grosses, I’d better get ready for Frozen III, IV and V.

KNIVES OUT KNIVES OUT (PG-13)

 Spoiler alert: I didn’t do it. Just kidding – I’m not really a suspect, but enough people are that eliminating one shouldn’t make much difference. Writer-director Rian Johnson does a great job of setting this up as a modern whodunit before sending it down a different path. It takes place in an old house that looks like someone should be murdered in it, but includes some contemporary political arguments appropriate for its Thanksgiving Eve release date. The body of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is discovered the morning after his 85th birthday party. It’s ruled a suicide but the police still come by


a few days later to question the family and staff, along with a private investigator, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig with an accent that roams all over the South), who was hired by an anonymous someone. The suspects include two generations of Thrombeys (three if you count Harlan’s ancient mother). His descendants, their spouses and children include Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette and Chris Evans, most of whom get too little screen time. Much of the focus is on Harlan’s caregiver, an RN named Marta (Ana de Armas). She tells us her story rather early on, and she can’t lie because she vomits when she does; but she can omit some details and be unaware of others. Rather than leading to a standard “The murderer is in this room” denouement, the plot twists around with a fair number of surprises. I’ll admit I was hoping for something more traditional to make up for Kenneth Branagh’s botched remake of Murder on the Orient Express, but this is fun too. It’s not a comedy but if its tongue isn’t in its cheek, it’s certainly pointed toward it.

LITTLE WOMEN (PG)

1/2 Unless you can’t tell the March Sisters from the Marx Brothers, you’ve probably seen or read some version of Little Women sometime. Writer-director Greta Gerwig’s film is about the writing of the novel, with Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) living the story that will be published IRL under the name Louisa May Alcott. The opening briefly introduces the four sisters. Jo is selling a story to a magazine publisher in New York. Amy (Florence Pugh), studying painting, is in Paris with their aunt (Meryl Streep), where she runs into longtime neighbor Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) and flirts, despite his being Jo’s reject. (We won’t get that full backstory until much later.) Meg (Emma Watson) is married to a “penniless tutor” and has two daughters. Beth (Eliza Scanlen) plays piano. Then we cut to seven years ago at the March home in Concord, Massachusetts. Dad is off fighting in the Civil War, leaving his wife, Marmie (Laura Dern), in charge of the girls, who are seven years younger, even if they don’t all look it. From then on the movie jumps around, not only between Then and Now but within each period so characters appear to be in two places (or alive and dead) at the same time. Feminist elements of the novel aren’t totally irrelevant today but plot points have been rearranged so if you’re familiar with the book you’ll be even more confused. There’s a lot of good acting and filmmaking on display here, and at a less hectic time of year when I’m not watching at least three award contenders a day I might have more patience with the storytelling and just enjoy it.

THE TWO POPES (PG-13)

1/2 Two great Welsh actors play a German and an Argentinian in a slice of recent history

from Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. As good as it is, it will not appeal to most people whose interest in the Catholic church doesn’t go beyond its sex scandals, which are referenced only fleetingly here, despite their significance to the plot. The film begins in 2005 with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Anthony Hopkins) to be Pope Benedict XVI and ends eight years later after his unexpected retirement, with the installation of his chosen successor, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), known as Pope Francis I. Because the former was one of the most conservative of recent popes and the latter one of the most liberal, thereby hangs a tale. Anthony McCarten’s screenplay is largely speculative, of course, focusing primarily on private conversations between the two men; but it also fills in Bergoglio’s biography with flashbacks that show him as the man of the people he has remained, eschewing many of the luxurious trappings of the papacy. Otherwise it’s surprisingly light in tone and doesn’t make clear whether Benedict’s choice of Francis is an act of penance or practicality, when it’s clear he can no longer lead the church himself. If the subject doesn’t interest you it’s understandable, but sad, because you’ll be missing one of the year’s best films.

QUEEN & SLIM (R)

 A routine Cleveland, Ohio, drivingwhile-black traffic stop escalates into a copkilling that spoils but extends the first date of Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya). She’s a lawyer who’s used to defending clients in cases like this – and losing. But she likes to control the things she can, and her more spiritual partner, who’s only experienced such events in his nightmares, is generally compliant and lets her coordinate their escape. They head south to get help from her uncle (Bokeem Woodbine) in New Orleans. Director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe take a chance by downplaying the underlying sense of urgency in favor of a leisurely road trip in which the characters get to know each other and learn that they’ve become heroes to much of the black community, “the black Bonnie and Clyde” (and we all know how the white version ended). They don’t go on a crime spree, but break as few laws as possible while hoping to find asylum in Cuba. We don’t learn their real names until the very end and if the nicknames of the title are used I missed it, so they’re basically just He and She to us as they become more than that to each other. For the most part, it works – unless you were hoping for an action movie and hate the mention of racial politics. Legacy – what we’ll be remembered for – is a key theme of Queen & Slim. This example, not the best or worst of a sadly relevant genre, leaves you something to think about.

Holiday Gift Guide CD WAREHOUSE

Roswell 770.518.3300 Duluth 770.623.1552 Town Center 770.425.3472 Facebook: cdwarehouseatlanta CD Warehouse is a must stop for holiday gifts as they buy and sell CD, Movie and Vinyl. They offer a great selection of hard to find and new releases like Coldplay’s Everyday Life. With over 10,000 CD’s you are should find what you are looking for. If not, they will order it for you.

ABBADABBA’S

Little 5 Points 404.588.9577 Buckhead 404.262.3356 East Cobb 770.565.3569 Coolshoes.com Celebrate your individual style this season with Abbadabba’s bold range of boots, shoes, bags and accessories. Come shop at Atlanta’s premier source for innovative comfort footwear.

BUCKHEAD LIFE RESTAURANTS

404.237.2060 Buckheadrestaurants.com For a limited time this holiday season, through December 31st, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is offering a 20% Holiday Bonus added to the purchase of their popular gift cards. The Ultimate Dining Card is valid at all Buckhead Life Restaurants which include Atlanta Fish Market, Buckhead Diner, Pricci, Chops Lobster Bar, Bistro Niko, Corner Cafe and Kyma.

PSYCHO SISTERS

428 Moreland Ave. • 404.523.0100 Facebook: psychosistersatlanta Nestled in Little 5 Points, Psycho Sisters is a great place to find a unique gift for that funky someone in your life. Their store offers a wide range of hard to find vintage clothes, accessories and fun Christmas sweaters! Let Psycho Sister’s vast selection of every era in fashion and the best personal sales team help you this holiday season.

AGAVE

242 Boulevard • 404.588.0006 agaverestaurant.com Agave Gift Cards make the perfect stocking stuffer. Now for the holidays they are offering a free $100 Gift Card with $200 Gift Card Purchase. Gift cards may be purchased online at agaverestaurant.com.

MACARON QUEEN

Perimeter Mall 908.867.8336 Macaronqueen.com Macaron Queen offers French pastries that are delicious, delectable and with less calories, a guilt-free slice of heaven! Voted Best Desserts for 5 straight years! Available online and in store at Perimeter Mall ground level next to Sephora and other certified retailers.

See the rest of our movie reviews at insiteatlanta.com/movies.asp

QUEEN & SLIM

insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 9


HOLIDAY DINING

Catering, Private Parties and Great Holiday Fare at Atlanta Restaurants Agave

242 Boulevard 404.588.0006 agaverestaurant.com

Recognized as one of the Top 100 restaurants in Atlanta and the Best Southwestern Cuisine, Agave is where to celebrate with friends and family over the holidays. Agave has two beautiful dining rooms as well as an enclosed heated patio. The rooms can accommodate parties from 6 guests to 100 and are available for private party bookings. Agave Gift Cards make the perfect stocking stuffer. Now for the holidays they are offering a free $100 Gift Card with $200 Gift Card Purchase. Gift cards may be purchased online at agaverestaurant.com.

Sotto Sotto

313 N. Highland Ave 404.523.6678 sottosottorestaurant.com

This cozy award winning Italian restaurant in historic Inman Park has been voted best in Atlanta by too many publications to mention. Their kitchen strives to create authentic Italian food flavors developed from centuries of Italian culinary traditions. Sotto Sotto offers an intimate dining room perfect for the holidays. Their celebrated menu is accompanied by an inspiring all-Italian wine list. Call ahead for reservations.

Landmark Diner

3652 Roswell Rd. 404.816.9090 landmarkdiner.com

Atlanta’s favorite diner offers a wide selection of dishes and cuisines 24 hours a day. This holiday season head to the Buckhead location

for a chance to meet the stars! In the back of Landmark Diner’s Buckhead restaurant is the Punchline Comedy Club. Visit them for dinner and see a show all under one roof!

The Flying Biscuit Cafe’

Candler Park 404.687.8888 Midtown 404.874.8887 flyingbiscuit.com Catering 404.849.2283

The Flying Biscuit’s Midtown and Candler Park (original) locations is ready for the holidays with new dinner and catering menus. Their one of a kind award winning biscuits are the perfect addition to any holiday function. Stop in for breakfast, lunch and dinner or call the catering hotline or visit their website to order for your holiday event.

Chin Chin

3887 Peachtree Rd. 404.816.2229 & Multiple Locations chinchinga.com

Voted Atlanta’s favorite Chinese restaurant again in 2019, Chin Chin offers fine dining that won’t break the bank. They have several locations around metro Atlanta, each with the same great flavor, healthy portions and elegant décor. Chin Chin is available for private parties and their menu can accommodate catering orders large and small.

Johnny’s Pizza & Subs

Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs

80 Powers Ferry Rd. 770.321.1177 5697 Buford Hwy. 770.455.8570 12890 Highway 9 678.580.0434 baldinos.us

Let Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs take the stress out of catering your holiday party. They have something for everyone from their assortment of famous subs to deli salads by the pound, cookies by the dozen and iced-tea by the gallon. Throw a great event that won’t break the bank. “It’s always a party when you invite Baldinos.”

Mediterranean Grill

N. Decatur Plaza 404.320.0101; Midtown 404.917.1100; East Cobb 678.996.0045; Athens 706.543.5000 mediterraneangrill.com

Recently voted Best Mediterranean cuisine again in 2019, Mediterranean Grill is the place in Atlanta for authentic Mediterranean food. For more than a decade their loyal customers have continued to flock to this family/chef-owned and operated restaurant. Here you will find regional dishes like gyros, falafel and kabob sandwiches that are perfect for holiday parties large and small. Mediterranean Grill has a special catering menu that can be found on their website or at their restaurants.

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

Multiple Metro Area Locations johnnyspizza.com

Johnny’s Pizza is the perfect place to bring the family over the holidays. Their menu is affordable and specializes in NY Style pizza, which is thin in the middle and thick around the edges. Johnny’s offers plenty of specialty pizzas plus subs, salads, sandwiches and other popular Italian dishes including calzones, strombolis and lasagna. Go to their website to find the location nearest you.

1811 Piedmont Ave. 404.607.1622 fatmattsribshack.net

Atlanta’s favorite barbecue makes for great catering over the holidays. Fat Matt’s Midtown restaurant is wildly popular as they usually have a line out the door. Their catering is just as good. They can accommodate parties of up to 50 or more. Call their Catering Hotline (678) 521-5607.

Your Neighborhood Pizzeria!

Purchase $200 in Gift Cards and Receive a

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Voted Best y tl n te is s n o C Margaritas & n r te s e w South in Atlanta!

Atlanta’s Favorite Pizza! Multiple Atlanta Locations: JohnnysPizza.com

PG 10 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com


HOLIDAY

HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS Atlanta Botanical Garden

GARDEN LIGHTS, HOLIDAY NIGHTS

Atlanta Botanical Garden Through January 11 Atlantabotanicalgarden.org Garden Lights, Holiday Nights returns in 2019 with new features and crowd favorites including all-new music and motion for Atlanta’s favorite holiday spectacle, Nature’s Wonders. Strung high over Storza Woods, it is the largest curtain of synchronized light and sound in the world. Garden Lights, Holiday Nights showcases botanical themes that accentuate the natural beauty of the gardens while adding a uniquely festive holiday twist. Roast a s’more and sip warm beverages while touring the Walk of Flames and Tunnel of Light along with favorites such as the Ice Goddess’ shimmering locks, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest, and Model Trains. The glowing Orchestral Orbs, which dance with color and light to the sounds of festive holiday tunes help make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition. Experience the Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden and several larger-than-life plant giants from Imaginary Worlds: Alice’s Wonderland awash in holiday glow. There are nearly 2 million colorful, energy-efficient LED light bulbs strewn across Atlanta Botanical Garden’s 30 acres.

with Santa and/or Mrs. Claus. Whatever you do, don’t miss the nightly Christmas parade (which features special appearances by the Snow Angel and the Clauses) as well as the snowfall and fireworks display that will close out the nightly celebration. Kids can visit the Snow Angel in her Snow Palace at Memorial Hall, and pose for pictures with Santa and/or Mrs. Claus. Whatever you do, don’t miss the nightly Christmas parade (which features special appearances by the Snow Angel and the Clauses) as well as the snowfall and fireworks display that will close out the nightly celebration.

AtlantaSymphonyOrchestra New Beers Eve Page News & Tijuana Garage L5P New Year’s Eve Celebration Front Sunday, December 31, 9pm - 1am

Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center @ City Springs; December 31 at 8:00pm CitySprings.com

LIGHTS OF LIFE

Life University, Marietta Through December 31 Life.edu Lights of LIFE is an annual holiday tradition that was started by Life University and dates back to 1989. The 65 foot tall rendition of Santa and his sleigh is the tallest display in the Southeast. It is a visual treat that the whole family will enjoy. Concessions are available seven days a week. Additional activities will be available during the weekends for a small fee including petting zoo, train rides, pony rides and photos with Santa. Tickets available at Life.edu Magical Nights of Lights

Ring in the New Year in style at City Springs with an unforgettable evening of music and celebration! For the second year in a row, New Year’s Eve revelers can celebrate with the internationally-acclaimed Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the Byers Theatre at City Springs. The performance will begin at 8 p.m., but VIP ticket holders can enjoy a pre-show dinner beginning at 6 p.m. Additionally, there will be a sweet opportunity to welcome the New Year with the Decadent Dessert package offered either during intermission or after the performance. Visit CitySprings.com for ticket pricing and pre-show menu.

Dropping of the Edelweiss

The Festhalle in Helen, GA December 31 1074 Edelweiss Strasse 706.878.1908 HelenChamber.com

Stone Mountain Christmas

MAGICAL NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS

Stone Mountain Park Through January 5 StoneMountainPark.com Atlanta’s most popular tourist attraction is also home to one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. During the day you will want to visit Snow Mountain, in which the park’s great lawn is transformed into a snowy wonderland where kids of all ages can go sledding, build igloos and snowmen, have snowball fights and more. As the evening sun fades, Crossroads Village sparkles with over 2 million lights and a gigantic outdoor Christmas tree, while Georgia’s most famous mountainside is lit up by a holiday-themed laser show. There are also sing-along train rides, storytelling with Mrs. Claus, meet & greets with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, live children’s shows including The Littlest Christmas Tree, A Christmas Carol and more. The Polar Express 4-D! is back at their 4D theatre. Kids can visit the Snow Angel in her Snow Palace at Memorial Hall, and pose for pictures

atlantabeerfestivals.com

Lake Lanier Islands Through January 2 Lakelanierislands.com Lake Lanier Islands celebrates over 25 years of Magical Nights of Lights. Start off with a scenic 7-mile drive through some of the most extravagant light displays you can imagine, including themed sections such as “The 12 Days of Christmas” and “Teddy Bear Lane.” Witness the amazing 65-foot Christmas Tree! Their expanded Christmas village is filled with carnival rides such as a Ferris wheel and old-fashioned carousel, games, pony rides and blazing bonfires for roasting marshmallows. St. Nick still holds court inside Santa’s Workshop, where you can grab a bite to eat after posing for family photos with jolly ol’ elf himself. Open daily from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

FANTASY IN LIGHTS

Callaway Gardens Through January 2 Callawaygardens.com Treat your family to fun filled with holiday cheer with Christmas at Callaway, featuring Fantasy In Lights, one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Light Displays. Fantasy In Lights is a spectacular light and sound show, with 8 million lights, 15 displays, a Christmas village, and Santa Claus at Callaway Gardens. Woodland displays depict such holiday scenes as the March of the Toy Soldiers while two beach scenes with moving lights tell the stories of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Nativity. Visit Callawaygardens.com.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve this year in the mountains of beautiful Helen, GA. The 7th annual Dropping of the Edelweiss rings in the New Year with heavy hors d'oeuvres, full cash bar, a live band, dancing, music and fun. At midnight countdown the Edelweiss drop followed by a champagne toast with supplied hats and noisemakers. Doors open at 8 for this family friendly NYE event. $20 per person; $35 per couple; kids under 6 free; ages 6-12 half price. Tickets available at HelenChamber.com.

Atlanta Beer Festivals hosts the 8th New Beers Eve on December 31 at Front Page News and Tijuana Garage in Little 5 Points. This is an all-inclusive event with appetizer buffet, well liquor, house wine, and over 40 beer options. Atlanta favorite DJ Qtip will perform on the FPN Stage. Tickets are $70 advance, $80 after Dec. 23, and $95 day of event. All details and tickets can be found at AtlantaBeerFestivals.com.

New Year’s Eve Bash

The Battery Atlanta - December 31 Starts at 5:30PM; Batteryatl.com

The Battery Atlanta will send 2019 out in style with the third annual New Year’s Eve Bash presented by Xfinity, featuring an early countdown geared towards families and a late-night show leading into midnight. Visit Batteryatl.com for more info.

Downtown Countdown

Southern Exchange @ 200 Peachtree December 31, 8pm - January 1, 2am DowntownCountdownATL.net

Downtown Countdown at Southern Exchange offers top-notch party luxuries like a premium open bar, gourmet food menu and midnight champagne toast. Live DJ performances spinning Top 40, Hip Hop, House & Dance. Enjoy state-of-theart lighting and sound system in the Whitehall Ballroom.

Atlanta NYElectric 2020

Westin Peachtree Plaza Downtown December 31, 8:30pm - 1:30am AtlantaNightlife.com

NYElectric 2020 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Downtown Atlanta offers one the biggest and best NYE Countdown in the Atlanta area. Party in Atlanta’s 73 story tall iconic hotel in two mega ballrooms.

COMING NEXT MONTH!

WinterGuide Call or e-mail Steve to Advertise Today! (404) 308-5119 or steve@insiteatlanta.com insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 11


STAGE

TANGLED UP IN SCROOGE

The Alliance Theater celebrates three decades of A Christmas Carol

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

A

FTER TWO SEASONS AT THE Cobb Energy Centre, the Alliance Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol is returning to the recently renovated Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre just in time for its 30th season. This edition of the show is unique with the inclusion of eleven-year-old Karah Adams as Tiny Tim - the first female actor to play the role in over a decade. Directed by Rosemary Newcott, the Alliance production has become a holiday tradition for many families around the region. Returning to the cast for his sixth season as Ebenezer Scrooge is acclaimed Atlanta actor David de Vries. The busy actor’s credits include the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast and a national tour of Wicked. His recent Alliance Theatre credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Shrek, and Carapace. INsite spoke with busy actor-musician-photographer before a recent performance of the popular show.

many ways. There are people who’ve been doing this show for over twenty years. Bart Hansard who plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, we did our first Christmas show together in 2000 at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville, we did A Tuna Christmas there. So we go way back. Neal Ghant is another guy is another guy who has been doing it for years and years and years. You know, it’s like at this point, these are our people. We welcome in the newbies and hope that they have the stamina and work ethic and talent to really bring something to the show. The longstanding members of the cast are really invested in the show. Like Bart and Neal, you won’t see any variance of their performances through the entirety of the run. They are topshelf every time they go out. That should be the goal for everybody of course but it’s hard work to do that – every time.

There are so many obstacles to prevent perfect performances from happening. Oh, so many. You may not be feeling that great, or your mother has died, or this or that. That’s the part that makes it a challenge.

Let’s talk about this play; I understand it’s quite the popular attraction. (Laughs) Yes, every year around this time, it seems there’s been some interest in it. Now – December 24

But that’s the magic of theater, you have to transcend all the outside distractions in order to do the job. Yeah, you have to leave all of that at the Alliance Theatre Seriously, at this point, stage door and bring alliancetheatre.org/christmas it must be fun to see the A-game because the families in the everybody pays to see audience grow and the show. You really change as the years go by. owe it to them to do your very best. Yeah we definitely see it in the audience and sometimes even in the cast. Watching Since this is your sixth year, probably your the kids get older is certainly one of the more greatest chore is to keep it fresh. Not only for interesting things about the show. We’ve got the audience who may have seen it before, a girl in the cast, Bella Fraker, who started but for yourself. when she was just the cutest, tiniest wisp Yeah, I’ve had a lot of experiences doing of a thing, the shortest Cratchit. And now long runs. I did close to three thousand she’s 12, I guess. They age out at 13, and then performances as Lumière in Beauty and the you’re done. But she’s had a great deal of Beast, in various iterations - on Broadway, on national success. She’s done a national tour national tours and three years of Wicked. So with School Of Rock and more. She’s been a I kinda know what the gig is. Prior to having joy to work with four years ago and now she’s done it, it was intimidating. But now, after back and nearly ‘all growed up.’ having done it for twenty years, I know how to approach it so that I can keep it fresh in Since this is the 30th anniversary of the my head. production, it must be sort of a family affair at this point. Do you change it up from time to time? It is. It’s the inverse of summer camp in I do. People might not notice it, even if

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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LITTLE 5 POINTS

Open 10am-9 or 10pm; 7 days a week

428 Moreland Ave • (404) 523-0100 PG 12 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com

they saw consecutive performances, but I do tend to change it up just a little bit all the time. It could be in the blocking or the way I approach a scene emotionally or just the way I deliver a particular line. Bart says - and he’s worked with Chris Keyser, who was a wonderful Scrooge as well, and myself - he says, in comparison to the two of us that Chris is like Bach, a string quartet. But he says I’m like Miles Davis. I’m a little more improvisator, a little more on-the-fly. Purists will complain if you dare to deviate too much from the familiar story, but you have to keep it interesting for the audience and yourself. Yeah, even though the words stay the same, when I come back to this show, I’m feel like I’m different. It’s like the old adage, the river you stand in is not the river you stepped in. I feel like I bring a different person to the role every time I come back to it. Because the stakes are so high for a character like Scrooge, it really gets close to your heartstrings. It’s a lot of things to confront. The things I confront in my own life are mirrored someway in the ways I approach the performance. Your relationship with [director] Rosemary Newcott is obviously a big part of the process.

Without a doubt. We’ve been working together for almost thirty years now. I’ve always had the utmost affection and admiration for her. Working with her is like old home week every time we’re together, it’s always a great reunion. At this point, you guys must have a shorthand for collaboration. Yeah, well because I’m a director as well and not known for being discreet about sharing my opinion about things, she’s really good in that she gives me a lot of latitude. I think she trusts me. She knows, after seeing me hundreds of times of doing the show, that I’m gonna protect this precious gift that we believe is a true gift to the city. She knows that my approach to the performance is a kind of a constant search, a search for what is true for myself at that particular moment in my stage life. That variance is something that she admires. So it’s nice to have that freedom of not hearing her say, ‘Um, you know the way you did that on Thursday? Ok, let’s keep it like that.’ She doesn’t say that. The Alliance’s 30th annual production of A Christmas Carol runs now through December 24 on The Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre. For tickets and information, call 404.733.5000 or visit www.alliancetheatre.org/christmas.

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STAGE

CRACKIN’ OPEN AN OLD CHESTNUT

The Nutcracker Says Farewell to the Fabulous Fox and Hello to Cobb Energy Centre

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

F

OR MANY, SEEING THE ATLANTA Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the Fabulous Fox is an enduring holiday tradition. But this year’s season is especially unique as the Ballet performs its latest production of The Nutcracker at two very different venues. Late last month, the company made its Washington debut at The Kennedy Center for a successful seven-performance run in D.C. Now the Ballet is back in town for a final run of performances at the Fox before moving to its new home at the Cobb Energy Centre. Choreographed by internationally known dance guru Yuri Possokhov, the revitalized production has exceeded all previous records in the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker history. Recently INsite sat down with Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin while the stage was literally being set for The Nutcracker’s final run at the Fox. The show has just returned from the Kennedy Center. How did it go? It was very successful. The Nutcracker is a family tradition in the United States for the holiday season. But there are also a number of Nutcracker-type events to choose from, as you know. So in a city as big as D.C., there were many different versions of it available at the same time. But we were extremely happy and pleased the Washington audiences decided to come to Kennedy Center to see our Nutcracker. It was full houses throughout the entire week. It was gratifying to us that they chose to come see us and maybe learn a little about the Atlanta Ballet and what we do here. We had standing ovations at every performance! How did the Kennedy Center run happen? Did they invite you to perform there? We’d been having conversations for some time, keeping each other informed of things. Then representatives from Kennedy Center came down to Atlanta to see the opening performances last year in December. They saw how wonderful our production was and they invited us to come bring our Nutcracker to them this year. You mentioned a very important fact about the show. There are a lot of Nutcrackers to choose from each year in any given city, including Atlanta. That’s right. People have to make the decision of which one they want to see. It can be a hard choice without having seen that particular

THE LIGHTS GO DOWN AND YOU ARE WAITING IN ANTICIPATION THAT SOMETHING GREAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.

production. But I think, based on the reaction of the audiences and the journalists, Atlanta audiences will be interested to come see us again as well. In comparison, Washington audiences are a bit spoiled, not with just Nutcracker, but with all the ballets and companies and art forms that come there. To see how excited the audiences were to see our performances made me really proud of what we have here in Atlanta. Here too, there are a lot of schools and small companies who use the word Nutcracker for their performances but none really can come close to the scale of what we have to offer.

Seeing The Nutcracker at the Fox is a longstanding tradition of local holiday theater. But it’s important to note that it’s not just the Fox Theater’s Nutcracker. It’s the Atlanta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker that runs at the Fox. The Fox provides us with the stage and has for twenty-five years. But before that it was at another venue and next year it’s moving to the Cobb Energy Center so it’s more of the production, not the venue. The Washington Post said we are one of the best Nutcrackers out there and they saw us at Kennedy Center. I believe it’s the one that will fulfil the audiences the most as a traditional ballet, no matter where it’s actually presented.

on the stage. The Fox was built more to feature a movie screen, so it’s really wide but it lacks the depth needed for a ballet-type production. Even though we were creating with the Fox in mind, everything got so squeezed and so tight, it’s somewhat challenging to fly things in and out.

At Cobb, will you be able to have the orchestra on stage? Obviously the great reviews and attendance Traditionally in ballet, the orchestra is in the speaks for the creative validity of the pit, but Cobb has better acoustics because of production itself. the way it was built Correct, it’s the same with the sound in one we mounted at mind, as opposed to Kennedy Center and the more traditional the one we’ll do at the Fox acoustics. Fox and then next year it moves to Cobb. It’ll This year must be a be an entirely new Now – December 24 triple challenge for challenge to present it you - just back from Fox Theatre there. The stages are so Washington, ready to different. Next year will atlantaballet.com/nutcracker start the final Fox run just be an extension of while looking ahead to what we’ve done here. the Cobb engagement. It’s like birthing a new It must be exciting to be doing this particular baby, right? (Laughs) Well yeah. This year, it’s been like production with an eye to revamping it giving birth to another baby, but you already next year. know how it looks. But in intensity, yes. It’s an It is. Travelling from Washington to Atlanta exciting challenge. has really helped me to see the restrictions we are dealing with now while looking forward to Another challenge is keeping it fresh - for being able to breathe somewhat more freely yourself, the troupe and the audiences who within a larger space. may’ve already seen the show before. That is true. A lot of that challenge is put The more modern Cobb stage is vastly on the choreographer. During the creation, I different than the somewhat limited could see how complicated the structure of the Fox stage. choreography really is - just what is happening It is, it’s much deeper. We need more depth on stage in general. Even last year, I was saying that there’s so much going on, people might not even be able to see everything at each show. Myself, watching from the audience, I see new things at every performance. Last year, I was saying you must come at least five times to see everything that’s going on. But now I don’t think even that number would suffice.

ATLANTA BALLET’S THE NUTCRACKER

So it’s almost like a circus in that you can see portions of the action depending on the seat. Exactly. It depends on where you sit, you have different angles of sight. There are layers of choreography. The human eye just cannot concentrate on everything at once. You pick and choose what to see. Like with a symphonic show, you’ll hear one instrument one time and the next listen, you hear another in the lead. You can see something new in every performance. With this production of

Nutcracker, I think is pretty much timeless. I heard from an audience member in Washington who had seen the production in Atlanta, they said it was like seeing a completely new ballet. They said they saw so many different things from the previous time they saw it. That’s the hallmark of great art, to enjoy new angles from a familiar piece. It’s like when you go back to a book you’ve loved. You have different thoughts born in your mind as you re-read it. You go back for the familiar, but you find new things. It’s the same with Nutcracker. It’s as evolving as its familiar. People often don’t pause to think of how much work it takes to present a big show such as this. It’s not like a rock show load-in in the afternoon and then it’s on at 8. It’s a time-consuming process to bring the Nutcracker to life. It’s a huge undertaking. It’s definitely a challenge, especially at the Fox, to construct all the pieces. There’s only one spot on stage that allows you to go full height there. That does restrict on time, how quickly we can construct the entire production. Right now the trucks are travelling from Kennedy Center to Atlanta. Then we need to build the production and start rehearsals with the local orchestra, so we are really pressed for time to open the show. Sometimes it’s too close but we have I think it’s thirteen trucks coming with the sets so it’s a stressful time. Moving from place to place is a different challenge that we face. But on the night of the show, all the hard work and stress makes it all worthwhile. Oh yes, of course. No matter if it’s a warm day in December or a rare snowfall in the south, when the lights go down, there’s a magical anticipation of the performance. It’s like Christmas Eve every night, right? That’s exactly right; it’s the anticipation. It’s like when there’s birthday cake about to enter, you know? The lights go down and you are waiting in anticipation that something great is about to happen. Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker runs from now through December 24 at the Fox. To purchase tickets, visit atlantaballet.com/ nutcracker or call 1.855.285.8499. For groups of ten or more, call Atlanta Ballet Group Sales at 404.873.5811, ext. 1207. insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 13


TRAVEL

ORLANDO PARKS SPARKLE FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

is no better way to celebrate the holidays then a trip to Orlando Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. This year’s festive celebration rings in new entertainment offerings as well as seasonal favorites. Pack up the family and make the trip south to the ultimate winter wonderland. T here

WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

Magic Kingdom Park

Cinderella

No place Castle celebrates the season better as guests are welcomed to a gigantic Christmas tree as they enter Main Street, U.S.A. and festive décor sparkles throughout the Magic Kingdom Park. “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” is back on select nights this holiday season with a spectacular show, ‘Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration’, including medleys of delightful holiday songs both classic and contemporary, along with special effects and magical projections. Guests with tickets to this special, after regular park hours event can enjoy an evening filled with all the magic and wintry wonderment of the season. Witness as the skies above Magic Kingdom Park sparkle to life as visions of fireworks dance in the air during an all-new nighttime show, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Hosted by Minnie Mouse, the holiday extravaganza invites guests to come together in a celebration of heartfelt moments and the magic of Christmas. During party nights guests can enjoy “Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade” and watch as more than 160 performers, 12 floats and catchy Christmas music fill the streets of Magic Kingdom.

Candlelight Processional

Included in the transformation is the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel and enhanced holiday décor around Echo Lake. The nighttime spectacular “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” treat holiday-goers to iconic music, fireworks, special effects and state-of-the-art projections to create a one-of-a-kind holiday experience at the iconic Chinese Theatre. While guests are merry-making through the park, they will want to stop at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge where they can live their own Star Wars adventures and find the perfect holiday gift from a galaxy far, far away. Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

During the holiday season, guests can encounter the wonders of nature with rare animals both day and night. As the sun sets, the Tree of Life awakens with a series of wintry tales emerging from within. Animalinspired luminaries cast a warm and festive glow throughout Discovery Island while 2,600 light bulbs adorn the DinoLand U.S.A. water tower. Diwali, the Holiday Festival of Lights in India, has inspired the residents of Anandapur in Glowing flowers, lanterns and more illuminate the main square. The village of Harambe in Africa welcomes guests with a unique holiday presentation, fusing Western traditions with the colors and texture of authentic African celebrations.

Disney Springs

Epcot

The spirit of the holidays come to life around World Showcase with new “Holidays Around the World” marketplaces offering tasty bites and beverages, the Candlelight Processional with celebrity narrators sharing the Christmas story, and larger-than-life holiday decorations throughout the park. Narrators this year include Whoopi Goldberg, Pat Sajak, Steven Curtis Chapman and Edward James Olmos. Chip & Dale are gathering ornaments for their Christmas tree and guests can join in the fun. Guests will discover an entertaining celebration of Hanukkah along World Showcase promenade, where a fun and interactive band interweaves the music of Hanukkah with jazz, Latin, rock and even hip-hop influences. The nightly fireworks display, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, will feature a special holiday ending.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

A flurry of fun greet guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios this holiday season. Festivities include an immersive new nighttime experience that wraps all of Sunset Boulevard in holiday magic with jolly decorations, merry treats and beloved characters sharing their love for the holidays. PG 14 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com

Disney Springs

Perfect for this special time of year, the Disney Springs retail, dining and entertainment district is where guests can make a holiday list and check it twice as they breeze among dozens of trendy brand-name stores and a large and varied collection of Disney merchandise. They can also indulge the holiday hungries at great dining spots that will also serve up seasonal cheer. Live entertainment will include the spectacle of toy soldier stilt walkers and carolers in holiday attire. There are more than 150 locations to explore. To capture the spirit of the season, guests can stroll among an even bigger Christmas Tree Trail. Twenty-three custom decorated holiday trees, each dedicated to a popular Disney theme featuring favorite Disney characters. With so many new attractions and experiences to discover, there has never been a better time to plan a visit Walt Disney World Resort. For more information, visit Disneyworld.com or the MyDisneyExperience mobile app.

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Universal Orlando Resort holiday celebration is currently taking place though January 5. Take part in a winter “fun”-derland that the entire family will enjoy with incredible holiday experiences across the entire destination. Guests can witness the magic of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, watch as larger than life balloons and incredible entertainment fill the streets during Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, uncover the true meaning of Grinchmas, rock around the Music Plaza Stage to Mannheim Steamroller, and more. Experience the wonder of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure as it transforms for the Holidays into a wizarding wonderland. The streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley become adorned in themed decorations, garlands and lights with the sounds of special holiday-themed performances filling the air. Guests can hear both magical and Muggle Christmas carols from the Frog Choir, comprised of Hogwarts students and their giant croaking frogs, and the unique holiday hits of one of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensations, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. As night falls guests revel in a stunning projection of holiday spirit as Christmas moments inspired by J.K. Rowling’s stories come to life on Hogwarts castle for “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.” Witness merry and mayhem take to the streets of Universal Studios Florida in Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Featuring the fun of the Minions and other beloved characters from Illumination’s Despicable Me, the family of Shrek and the friendship of Madagascar, this parade includes more than 30 larger-than-life balloons and floats, hundreds of performers and more. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, guests come face-to-face with the mean, green one himself and be filled with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. Guests may watch as the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes during a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic in the “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular” and join the merry Whos from Who-ville as

they celebrate the true meaning of the season and bring Grinchmas to life throughout Seuss Landing at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. And, join the Grinch and friends for a delicious holiday breakfast buffet on select dates. On select nights, the masters of modern Christmas music Mannheim Steamroller return with the sweet sounds of the holiday season. Performances take place on the Music Macy’s Plaza Stage Dec. 7, 8, Holiday 14 and 15. Access to Parade Universal Orlando’s Holidays festivities is included in regular admission to the theme parks. During their holiday experience, guests can also enjoy some of the world’s most exciting and innovative theme park experiences – including and The Wizarding World of Harry PotterDiagon at Universal Studios and Alley The Wizarding World of Harry PotterHogsmeade found at Islands of Adventure. Guests with Park-to-Park admission can journey between both lands aboard the Hogwarts Express, the iconic steam locomotive from the Harry Potter books and films. The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a spectacular New Year’s Eve party. Guests can ring in the New Year at Universal CityWalk’s electrifying New Year’s Eve celebration featuring upbeat live music, rockin’ party zones, a chance to meet some of your favorite characters, Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration, amazing pyrotechnic displays, showers of confetti and, of course, party favors. Enjoy signature drinks, revel in at least five incredible CityWalk clubs with live music, savor unlimited delicious gourmet cuisine and rock out on Orlando’s biggest outdoor dance floor. The merriment continues when guests stay at Universal Orlando’s Hotels, which feature seasonal décor, holiday activities including festive meals and more. Universal’s on-site resort hotels: Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort are destinations unto themselves. Universal CityWalk is just steps away offering dining and entertainment for every member of the family. Hogwarts Express

For more information about the Holidays at Universal Orlando, ticket offers and vacation packages, visit UniversalOrlando. com/holidays. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


STAGE

FREEDOM UNDER THE BIG TOP

Cirque du Soleil’s Volta Celebrates the Acrobatics of Self-Discovery

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

T

HE CIRQUE LABEL IS APPLIED TO A number of productions and events, but accept no substitutes, Cirque du Soleil is the real thing. The Montreal-based outfit is currently in town for an extended run of “Volta,” a dynamic, urban-tinged journey of discovery. Combining contemporary themes of reality game shows and street sports with acrobatics and dance, Volta celebrates the freedom of selfacceptance. Helmed by Artistic Director Ron Kellum, the show is Cirque du Soleil’s 41st original production since 1984 and its 18th show presented in a Big Top venue. A veteran of live events, Broadway shows, televised sports and half-time celebrations, the actor-director-writer brings a definite theatrical flair to Volta. Recently, INsite spoke with Kellum by phone from under the big tent during a rehearsal break.

it. And I know because I did a reality show - The Great Race, a hundred years ago. That one wasn’t about gaining fame, it was about an experience. But what we are realizing now is that those experiences can also be very harmful.

As you travel with Volta, can you see differences in reaction to certain portions of the show? You really can. In Seattle, our BMX finale gets an incredible reaction because that’s a huge BMX scene. It was the same in San Diego, too. It all just depends on the market which themes will resonate. In markets where we have an older demographic, the dance numbers really resonate. Then when you have the younger markets, and the high-energy sports numbers become the highlight. But that’s what I love about this show, it appeals to the younger audience as well as the older veterans.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S VOLTA

Obviously the whole streetsports theme is right up Now – January 5 your alley. Historically, Atlanta has Atlantic Station Yeah, it’s cool at my age to been a good market for the bring my background into cirquedusoleil.com/volta Cirque, no matter which the circus culture. From production comes our way. choregraphing half-time It is. I hadn’t been here in shows and working with years but it now just feels like the new hipster big production numbers in film, it really is Hollywood because it’s so vital and exciting. interesting. To take these high-level athletes who And to feel the love that we’re getting here is have no real show experience and to see them especially exciting. The hardest part for me is become real performers, it just blows me away. working twelve hours a day and not being able to To take an athlete who does what they love and go out and enjoy it as much as I’d like. combine that with the appreciation from an audience, there’s no greater gift! Without the Atlanta is the fifteenth stop on the tour; are you expectation of the trophy, just the reward of an a bit jaded by all the cities at this point? appreciative audience. It’s always exciting. I definitely think Atlanta is special and I’m not just saying that because we’re After wrangling the circus of half-time shows, here. It’s one of the cities we will be visiting more working with the highly-disciplined Cirque frequently, as well. Typically, it’s been every two troupe must seem easy at this point. years or so but now Atlanta is going to get a new (Laughs) It’s the best and most difficult Cirque du Soleil show every year because the moment of my career. Every single night, you’re audiences are so supportive of us. We couldn’t be taking these high-level, adrenaline-driven artists happier about it. who are fearless and managing a show that changes all the time. It’s a good time for a live show with this message. It’s very different from a set theater piece. It really is. I was watching the show last night Exactly. The risks are so different. This is a and it was really exciting to me. One, because of place where almost anything can happen. Every the incredible diversity here. But since I’m a baby safety measure is in place, but the artists do of the theater - I’ve been in it my whole life - to love to push themselves. Sometimes we have to see that live entertainment is still so relevant pull them back and go, ‘that’s enough.’ But it’s a is very satisfying to me. We’re staying across very different thrill from the controlled world the street from the Fox and to see how packed of the theater and it really does change every it’s been for Wicked every single night, it’s like, single night. ‘Yeah, go Atlanta!’ As creative people, it must be invigorating for Unlike a touring production like Wicked, a you and the entire troupe to know that the vibe Cirque show isn’t a standard stage show, it’s can change from performance to performance. actually more universal. Every single day. It keeps us on our toes. Right, it can be different things to different We go in and go, ‘Well what do we have to do people. What I really love about Volta is it’s today?’ As much as it might sound cliché, the very current. It’s about the climate we’re in right show goes on. And that’s what I love. It goes now. What we’ve done is like, ‘Let’s stop hiding on because we know that people come for behind the power of social media and trying to anniversaries or gifting. Families might spend a be an influencer. Start being an individual - just monthly income to be a part of this experience. be you and you alone. Winning a competition What I love is we are committed to making sure doesn’t give you the power to survive. What gives we deliver the absolute best product for every you the power is truly accepting who you are. single performance. Sitting in the audiences and Volta talks about the power of finding your free, watching people jump to their feet at the end, it finding your own certain special. Flowed or not, makes the hard work worth every minute we put it’s always good enough. That’s really what the into it. story is all about. This is your second show with Cirque. How did There’s a current “reality TV” theme as part of you become a part of the family? the narrative framework as well. Cirque had started recruiting people from It’s a big challenge right now in that how many the theater and live world entertainment. people are drawn to it and want to be a part of They wanted to pull in more theatrical artistic

directors and it was a nice courtship. It was good for me because I didn’t really know much about the circus culture at that point. It was nice pairing to meld my TV and film and live experience with the while cirque experience. I had the challenge of taking a then-twelve-year-old show (“Kooza”) and making it fresh for audiences who may have already seen it. The goal was to make it as if they’d never seen it before. That sort of challenge was right inside of my wheelhouse and truly a labor of love. Then they called me for Volta and now here we are. You had to put your own stamp on it. We did a lot of restructuring and reimagining, all while maintaining what the original visionaries wanted it to be. I think we’ve brought it to a special place. For the uninitiated, take us through the process of mounting a show such as Volta. It really starts with the curators. They come in with a vision and they hire the artists. Then everyone goes to [Cirque home base] Montreal for about six months. It’s called ‘creation.’ It’s a beautiful process because it’s about throwing out

themes - with the musicians, the technical team and the artists. It’s like, ‘Ok here’s an idea, think of a flower blooming. Now everyone go and show me what that looks like in your world.’ Then the visionaries, the conceptors, they bring all those ideas together and create the show. That’s quite a different process than standard theater or film projects. So different. It takes a lot of time. It’s a definitely a process we don’t have in the Broadway world. Once the show opens, which is very different than the theater model, it continues to evolve. When it opens it’s like, ‘Well now how does the audience respond, how does it make them feel?’ Then someone like myself comes in and takes the baby, nurtures it and we cultivate the ideas. It’s a delicate process. But unlike the Broadway model, the show keeps growing. It can go on for several years. When I leave, someone else can come in and go, ‘Ok, well where can it go now?’ That’s so beautiful to me. It can go on for as long as people want to do it. We’re going to Royal Albert Hall in about a year and from there, who knows? That’s what I love about Volta, it can go anywhere and be anything. insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 15


MUSIC

DOUBLE DUTY, DOUBLE VISION

40 Years On, Mick Jones Looks at Foreigner’s Past and Present

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

F

OREIGNER HAS ENJOYED OVER four decades of life as a rock band. From its initial creation in New York, with a distinctive half-American and half-British lineup, founder Mick Jones has kept the hitmaking ship afloat through the various fads and changing tastes of the ensuing years. Last year, he corralled all the surviving original members with the current touring line-up and presented a series of shows featuring all the members on stage presenting the bands biggest hits. The resulting recordings are now available as Double Vision: Then And Now, a deluxe CD and DVD release that finds all the participants in fine form, offering definitive versions of every major hit, including “Head Games,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Hot Blooded” and even “Urgent.” Before he leads the current band on a UK tour next year with Whitesnake, Jones and company will offer a few symphonic shows as a bit of a warm-up for a busy 2020, including a lengthy shed tour next summer with friends from Kansas and Europe. Jones recently called in to INsite from his home studio in New York. It’s quite a feat to bring the current and the founding bands together. How did this come about? Well we happened to be here in New York and I was trying to think of something special we could do. I floated the idea of getting together out there to everyone. As it happens, there was a lot of enthusiasm for it. So we dove into it and it ended up being a great experience for

KILLIN’ IT

everybody. For myself and for [original singer] Lou Gramm and the new members. I was a little iffy about it, of course. The original members hadn’t played in some time. So I was surprised at how it all came together so fast. From the word go, it seemed that everyone was up for it and excited, so it was a good feeling to see it all come together.

As you obviously know, it’s a lot of work to form a band and in your case to bring a band back together. It was interesting to see how well [vocalists] Lou Gramm and Kelly Hansen worked together and the atmosphere was just great for this sort of project. It was conducive to the spirit of things. The fans loved it at the live shows and the guys loved it. It ended up being a very celebratory event for our 40th anniversary. With you in the middle of everything. Yeah, with me doing double-time! It’s like bringing every ex-wife together for a big dinner. (Laughs) Yes! Well we took a shot and it really worked. So we’ve been doing occasional gettogethers since then. Nothing more this year but next year there’ll certainly be some more of these kind of shows. It’s a good time to celebrate the legacy of the music. Yeah well what can I say, it’s just exciting to be in this band again after so long. But it’s been good, we are having a great success with the current band and most of the shows are sold out. Not just in the United States, but around

the world. So I have to kind of pinch myself and realize what’s happened and what is still to come at this point. Having a bit of a rebirth for the band at this point is just sensational.

The upcoming symphony show in Nashville sounds interesting. Foreigner has been doing a number of symphonic shows in the last few years. We have and we’ve been doing them for three or four years now.

services and recording facilities. They had a house orchestra and a 90-piece choir. They said they’d like to put all of it at our disposal if we’d decide to utilize it. I had to think about it a bit and then I thought, ‘Well yeah, let’s try it.’ Everything was paid for and it really was a wonderful opportunity. I’d always had a sneaking feeling that I wanted to try something in that area anyway, because I thought the songs would really lend themselves to that sort of situation. It turns out they really worked well. At first, I thought it would be a nice experiment then it turned into full-blown rehearsals and arrangements. We spent ten days or so in Switzerland working on it and it turned out to be an enjoyable process. Since then we’ve done several versions of it around the states and now in the new year, we’ll be doing it in Nashville with the symphony in the hall there. So it’s been an incredible journey to take these songs and tour them for so long as a rock band and now to revisit them in the symphonic settling, it just shows how durable the songs really are. I’m enjoying seeing them being transformed.

How did you decide to combine the band with symphonic arrangements? It was easy, really. We were playing an opera house and the promoters offered their

Foreigner plays January 16-18 with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. For tickets and showtimes, visit nashvillesymphony.org.

Foreigner songs continue to resonate in TV shows, films and even video games. Yeah, I guess they can’t hold us down. A lot of your peers can’t say that they are sustaining their popularity in the same way. Most of them are playing chili cook-offs somewhere in the Midwest. (Laughs) That’s right, but we’re still here. We’re actually planning a big shed tour for next summer. We’ll definitely be in Atlanta, absolutely. We never miss Atlanta.

Samantha Fish Blends Blues, Pop and Soul on Her Latest Album

concept album. Yeah, I kinda stuck with the root of it, not HE PAST DECADE HAS BEEN AN getting too crazy heavy with the content. So incredible ride for inventive singerthere’s a lot of love songs, a lot of heartbreak songwriter-guitarist Samantha Fish. songs and a lot of just personal growth. It is From her 2009 debut Live Bait to Kill Or Be a snapshot, it’s what you might expect from Kind released this fall, the blues-based artist somebody at a certain point in their life. Really has blazed her own unique trail. Along the way, that’s how all my albums have she’s gained a wide swath of fans come out. As far as writing including the legendary Buddy goes, it’s really just a snapshot of Guy. a time. It’s where I was at when Now she tours the world and I was writing it and now here operates her own Wild Heart Wednesday, Dec. 11 I am. label that includes her current Terminal West tourmate Nicholas David. The terminalwestatl.com Even though your albums two musicians blend traditional reveal where you are at any blues, soul and rock influences given moment, how do you feel into their own unique sound. your writing has changed over time? You’ve It defies mere categorization and avoids the enjoyed a full decade of exposure now. overcrowded Americana label. I feel the content has certainly become more INsite spoke with Fish as she prepped for the mature. I mean the writing itself. The song tour that brings her back to town this month at structures are still blues but there are other Terminal West. leanings in there as well. Some songs on this album, I feel have some definite pop roots or You released Kill Or Be Kind on your own label origins in them, but I put the blues in them in September. How’s it going so far? because that’s just how I play, that’s my thing. I’m proud of it and so far people generally So stylistically, I think I’ve evolved. But it’s really seem to like it. It’s a little different. But I haven’t stuff I’ve always listened to, now it’s just about talked to any really negative critics yet but the feeling that it will or won’t be accepted by the they’re probably lurking around. blues crowds or by my own fanbase. But it’s not apologetic, this album. It’s where I was when I Your bio says it’s mostly messages from the wrote it and so far the reaction has been great. heart and listening from that point of view, it totally makes sense. It seems like a snapshot But there are purists in every genre, and blues, of a moment rather than a full statement or a jazz and country are probably the most vocal.

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

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SAMANTHA FISH

PG 16 • December 2019 • insiteatlanta.com

For sure, but I always say there are always artists who are doing it for those crowds. They’re doing it from their heart, too. That’s really all you can expect from musicians is honesty.

You recorded Kill Or Be Kind in Memphis and there’s a definite vibe of the city in the tracks. Oh you can definitely tell. I think it’s all over the record. It’s in the sounds we got from the studio itself. We recorded it at Willie Mitchell’s place, Royal Studios - which is where Al Green recorded so many hits and Ann Peebles, too. It’s got Memphis soul just seeping out of the walls. I feel that you can’t help but be affected by that in some way. And with the horns, that really gives it a Memphis feel to it, too. It’s almost too limiting to call this a blues record because it’s all over the place stylistically. We live in this kinda weird time period where everything has to be so heavily classified. If it doesn’t fit neatly in a box, then it’s almost discarded because they don’t know where to put it. But I’m just trying to make music that is honest and true to me. Maybe I’m making a new sound, it’s evolving. Taking old sounds into new sounds and mixing some things together. That’s how we’re gonna get more people interested in the blues and the great traditional music. You’re right, it doesn’t fit into traditional blues but the roots are definitely there. And if people can’t quite figure out what to call it, they’ll just throw it into the Americana bin.

Yeah, Americana has become a big absorption place. That gets to be a little bit lazy after a while because such a broad range of music is put into that category now. Even that genre has purists who protect what is truly Americana. But Kill Or Be Kind doesn’t really fall into it because there’s soul involved, there’s pop involved. It’s a bit broad but I think people are starting to expect those elements now, instead of rebelling against it. Some people say pop like it’s a dirty word, but it’s nothing to dismiss just because it’s popular. Hey, the Rolling Stones were pop when they first came out. Pop is popular. You don’t have to like what’s going on now in it, but like with all of my influences, I tend to think of what it has been over the course of decades. That’s how you find and make good music. That’s all I’m trying to do.


MUSIC

MUSIC

FULL CIRCLES

Black Crowes Co-Founder Rocks His Roots with Trigger Hippy

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

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HILE CHRIS AND RICH Robinson plan a massive summer Black Crowes tour with newly hired hands, cofounder Steve Gorman is happy to play clubs and theaters with his own band. Along with bassist Nick Govrik, guitarist Ed Jurdi and Amber Woodhouse on vocals and sax, Trigger Hippy has issued an engaging new roots-rock album called Full Circle and Then Some. The title mirrors Gorman’s own musical journey from clubs to arenas to festivals as drummer in The Black Crowes. Currently headlining a small venue tour, the band arrives in Atlanta this month for a show at Vinyl in the Center Stage complex. Gorman chatted with INsite by phone from his home in Nashville.

With Joan [Osborne] and Jackie [Greene] on board, Trigger Hippy became a low-key supergroup for a little while. Yeah but that was never by design and again, everyone was busy. This time around we don’t have a hard-wired plan, we haven’t all gone out and gotten tattoos to seal the deal but it’s much more of an agreement to the goal. For us that goal is simple, we just want to be a band that can play shows and continue to write music. So we’re just a few weeks into kicking this thing off. We’re building it into something that finally feels like a real band. It’s no longer on the side-project backburner. No, it’s the only thing I want to do musically at this point. Having been in bands that changed lineups over the years, when you find the right chemistry, you should do all you can to protect and maintain it.

How did Trigger Hippy come together? You and Nick go way back at this point. It started just from jamming with Nick here in As you know, a good band is often a much closer Nashville. After we played, we bond that marriage or family. sat and drank beer until two To me the Black Crowes are in the morning. It was like, the perfect example of a band ‘Holy shit, we’re a real rhythm Friday, December 13 that had a whole laundry list of section.’ We felt like we’d really Vinyl incredible, inherent strengths recognized each other. triggerhippy.com but just couldn’t figure out what they were - or couldn’t After living in Atlanta for so admit it. The strongest version of that band was long, how did it feel to move to Nashville? those six people, playing those songs. It wasn’t just I grew up about an hour from here and Nashville the songs, it was who was playing the music. was the first place I’d go to see bands in clubs, so it had always been kind of an auxiliary home. I The Crowes are often compared to Oasis because left Atlanta twenty years ago because my life had of the whole brother-aspect, but that’s not an become an existence within a three-mile block accurate example, is it? because anything else wasn’t worth trying to get Yeah, because Oasis was the kind of band that around to. Then I lived in L.A., so in comparison had one guy primarily writing the songs from start to both, Nashville seems pretty easy to me. to finish and you had a band that wasn’t really putting their own personal stamps on the parts. It Fast forward to the Trigger Hippy timeline. The was all Noel’s masterplan and they did very well first official show was 2009, right? with it. But that wasn’t who the Black Crowes Well Trigger Hippy has been used for a variety were. With us, it was all about who was in that of things. If it had Nick and I in it, we called it that. room. People say this is now Trigger Hippy 2.0, but really it’s more like Trigger Hippy 9.0. There’s been a It must be nice to finally do whatever you want whole lot of people involved. In 2012, we found a and play the venues you choose. band that clicked and we made a record. Rounder Yeah, Nick and I took our time with this because put it out but the band at the time was something of that. We made this record in our own studio on we all had varying degrees of passion for. Nick our own dime and we aren’t answering to anybody and I wanted to put all our musical eggs into this but ourselves. basket. We wanted to be a full-time band. But everybody was busy and I was still in the Black Artistic freedom always feels good. Crowes. It really does! I’m not saying this is the best album I’ve ever played on, that’s a ludicrous Naturally it took a while to retool the band. concept either way. But I have had the least Yeah, we said if we want to continue, we need to amount of second-guessing on this record. There find people who want to do it the way we want it was never a Black Crowes album where, on the to be. So this album was basically slowly built over day it was released, I didn’t go, ‘Man, I wish I’d time, with the notion that it’s becoming a full-time done that differently.’ But with this album, I didn’t thing. have a single one of those moments.

TRIGGER HIPPY

Album Reviews

REVIEWS BY JOHN B. MOORE

Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police

(American Laundromat Records) Juliana Hatfield’s 2018 tribute to Olivia Newton-John, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (naturally), was as satisfying as it was unexpected. One of the most underrated singers of the ‘90s, Hatfield, turned her distinctively impassioned vocals on songs that for decades had become shorthand for ‘80s bubble gum pop for many cynical listeners and in doing so, was able to get across her genuine appreciation for songs that shaped her as a musician. So, it should come as no surprise that Hatfield brings the same mix of deference and love to this set of songs by The Police, another one of her big musical influences. This collection includes some of their biggest hits (“Can’t Stand Losing You,” “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take”) as well as deeper cuts (“Rehumanize Yourself,” “Landlord”) and each track here is essentially a love note to the trio, building onto the foundation they created decades ago with her own unique style. And while there is not a single song on this record that should be skipped past, her versions of “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” and “Canary In the Coalmine” are no less than remarkable. So much more than a standard covers album or tribute record, Sings the Police obviously comes from a place of joy and respect. Can’t wait to see who gets the Hatfield treatment next.

Jake La Botz

They’re Coming For Me (Hi-Style Records) If Dr. John grew up a punk rocker in the Midwest rather than in the jazz and funk clubs of voodoo-soaked New Orleans, chances are he’d sound a lot like Jake La Botz. On They’re Coming For Me, the Nashville, by way of Chicago, musician turns in a wildly eclectic, deeply satisfying gumbo of blues, funk, jazz and even snatches of rock. And despite being decades younger than the brilliant, dearly missed Night Tripper, you can hear traces of his influence in both Botz’s music as well as his fantastical characters. It’s the music that first draws you in, from haunting guitars, organs and pianos. But’s it’s the characters in the songs that keep you coming back for more, whether it’s stories about Sasquatch, (“Hey Bigfoot”) or a song about a guy trying to fix everything around him with glue… or likely about something so much more (“Johnnybag the Superglue”). It’s Botz’s knack for a witty turn of phrase that makes this set so compelling. Elsewhere songs like “Grace Of The Leaves” and “Without The Weight,” two of the most stripped down tracks from this collection, manage to be just as captivating. With They’re Coming For Me, Botz’s sophomore effort, he has manages to up the stakes considerably thanks to such a strong effort, likely earning him a slew of new followers and setting a pretty high bar for his next act.

Daystar

The Complete Recordings (Self-released)

Nineteen-seventy’s power pop never sounded so good. Portland-based four piece Daystar may borrow inspiration liberally from bands like Big

Star, Wings and Badfinger, but their songs still manage to smack of originality. The Complete Recordings is a masterclass in building, taking the foundation of some of the best post-Beatles bands to ever commit to wax and then erecting a wildly satisfying modern take on those sounds. Comprised of veterans of various Northwest bands, the members of Daystar - despite playing in groups that were previously all over the genre map - shared a fondness for classic power pop and it shows. Songs like the beautifully sublime “Warped Reality” and “A Lot Of Love” are vaguely nostalgic, with a timeless vibe. Elsewhere, the band shows they’re not afraid of volume with up tempo tracks like “Buttons & Brass.” Chill and mellow or turn-itup rock and roll, The Complete Recordings has a vibe for just about any mood.

The Lonesome Billies

Right On Time (Stay Lonesome Records)

Who would have thought some of the best Outlaw Country-inspired music would be coming out of the Pacific Northwest? On Right On Time, their second LP and first since 2015, The Lonesome Billies pick up right where they left off, but with a little more groove this time around. Across a dozen tracks of twangy Telecaster riffs and a baritone that even Waylon Jennings would envy, The Lonesome Billies prove they deserve just as much attention as folks like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell for making it safe to finally enjoy country music again. Songs like “Sad Old Man” and the so brilliantly, smartly macabre it could have been written by Johnny Cash “If You’re Gonna Hang Me” go on to highlight just how sorely these guys have been missed over the last few years. The general song themes: death, loneliness and simply not giving a shit also bring to mind a lot of the punk acts that clearly had as much influence on the band as the Outlaw Country giants of the ‘70s. The Lonesome Billies are back and they’ve brought more hooks and a lot more funk for this go ‘round.

THE MAVERICKS Play The Hits

(Thirty Tigers/Mono Mundo Recordings) Ah, the covers album. Once seen as little more than a stop gap until the band could pull together enough new material for a new album, lately, thanks to folks like Corb Lund and Ben Lee’s soon-to-be released record, cover albums seem to be moving towards a much more satisfying experimental phase (Americana Lund covering AC/DC, Indie stalwart Lee covering Fugazi, for example). And while The Mavericks don’t venture too far beyond their influences on Play The Hits, the record is still crammed with a mix of good-to-great cover songs. Among the best is their take on Waylon Jennings’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and the fantastically inventive spin on Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” complete with their trademark Tex Mex horns and accordion. Even on some of the more ho hum tracks here, like John Anderson’s “Swingin’” (the early ‘80s country song was never that great to begin with), the band manages to elevate the original thanks to Raul Malo’s remarkably smooth croon (his voice on Hank Cochran’s “Why Can’t She Be You” is simply stunning). The band’s stated goal was to tackle songs that they started playing early on in their three decades together as a group. That explains why Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” was in the mix, despite that song having nearly been covered to death at this point. Though not as great as their last few albums of all original songs, Play The Hits is still a fun holdover until the band comes back with another record. insiteatlanta.com • December 2019 • PG 17


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