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20 People to Watch - Brian Clowdus

The Serenbe Playhouse artistic director can't sit still

No one could accuse Brian Clowdus of having a quiet 2015. The Serenbe Playhouse artistic director expanded the company's schedule to year-round for the first time with a spring production of Man of La Mancha and garnered national press for the outdoor playhouse's summer production of Evita. Clowdus starred as Dr. Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Greenville, S.C., and moved an hour from Atlanta's Westside to Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills be closer to his team. But he has no plans to sit back and rest in 2016. In addition to figuring out how to land a helicopter at the tranquil, pastoral Serenbe without blowing audience members out of their seats, he's also launching a new production company for private and corporate events.

??
"Quiet people don't get noticed," Clowdus says.

??
About that helicopter. Clowdus is bringing the musical Miss Saigon to Serenbe this summer and is using the opportunity to rent and land an actual Huey chopper on site. While the musical's original Broadway production featured a life-size helicopter in a theater as part of the Vietnam story line, it will be intriguing to see how Clowdus incorporates the craft into the outdoor production. Miss Saigon will be revived on Broadway in 2017, making the Serenbe production one of the last licensed versions preceding the New York show. Given the increasing amount of national press for Serenbe and the timing in advance of the Broadway revival, the production is likely to generate a lot of buzz for Atlanta's local theater community in Georgia and nationally. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, Clowdus knows that his "bold, crazy ideas" require careful planning and work. He began strategizing for Miss Saigon a year in advance.

??
In order to help with the larger scale of the 2016 productions, Clowdus and Serenbe are doubling their small but devoted staff, which Clowdus calls a "game changer." He's also developed a solid team of actors who repeatedly appear in his productions, including Austin Tijerina (Oklahoma, Man of La Mancha) and Randi Garza (Man of La Mancha, Evita).

??
"It developed organically," Clowdus says of his team. The challenges of working outdoors at Serenbe ensure that "divas won't last here," he says. "Actors need to see the unique opportunity to create art outside of the box, and I am really loyal to people I love and love working with." From actors to the team behind the scenes, lighting directors and costume and set designers, Clowdus enjoys the shorthand developed over a history of working together.

??
"They get it, they have bought into the brand, and they are ready to create cool art."

??
While his main focus remains Serenbe, with Miss Saigon and a spring production of Carousel that promises an actual carousel and Ferris wheel, Clowdus is also forming Brian Clowdus Productions. "Well, I'm so bored and have such time on my hands," he says, laughing. Brian Clowdus Productions will be a separate company for corporate and private clients who are interested in events with a theatrical and immersive atmosphere. "I just have entrepreneurial blood in my veins," he says.



More By This Writer

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Most teenage theater geeks in Atlanta aspire to eventually take center stage at the Fox Theatre. Pace Academy alumnus Randy Harrison preps for a warm homecoming doing just that as he brings the national tour of the musical Cabaret to town. Given the ominous political nature of the show, Harrison says he believes it’s more relevant than ever in this election year, as a reminder of the importance of participating in the process.



Those who remember Harrison donning green tights in the early ‘90s Pace production of Peter Pan will be thrilled to see him all grown up two decades later, with a decidedly different look wearing lingerie and leather as the Kit Kat Klub’s Master of Ceremonies. The role, as famously played by Joel Grey on Broadway and in the 1972 film version of the musical, emanated an ethereal, otherworldly vibe alongside Liza Minnelli’s wide-eyed take on Sally Bowles. But if you’re expecting to see Harrison in that mode, think again. The current incarnation owes more to the sexed-up model Alan Cumming set up in extremely popular London and Broadway revivals of the show in the ‘90s. A self-described introvert, Harrison says he enjoys the challenge of this flirty character who teases and challenges the audience. 



“I think every introvert has the mirror opposite somewhere inside of them,” he says. “It’s kind of liberating.” On top of studying improv in his current hometown, New York, and occasionally performing in his underwear with The Skivvies, he cites this role as a major catalyst easing him out of his shell.



Given the amount of audience interaction, including the occasional chance to dance with Harrison’s character, the show changes from night to night and city to city. During a performance in North Carolina, for example, Harrison ad-libbed a line about his androgynous character having difficulty finding an appropriate restroom — he found the audience hungry to vent their frustration with him. Harrison says he looks forward to being back in Atlanta in the week before the election, really opening the possibilities for how this specific staging can go. 



Cabaret, for the uninitiated, is set in 1931 Berlin in a deliciously dirty nightclub. The seedy backdrop carries a foreboding tone as artists and everyday citizens indulge in escapist entertainment, while the Nazi movement gathers strength in the city. Much of Cabaret’s dialogue, written in response to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, is unfortunately spot-on today without the need for many updates. 



“Audiences may think that we’ve added some of the most relevant political material, but that has always been in there,” Harrison says. “The message of the show, for me, is that there are repercussions for being politically disengaged, how that can escalate.” 



Harrison is no stranger to edgy, political material. Within three months of graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 2000, he landed a starring role as Justin on the racy Showtime television series “Queer as Folk.” He has since continued to perform live theater, including a stint on Broadway opposite Joel Grey in the musical Wicked. He says he plans to stick with the Cabaret tour through February 2017. 

“I’ve found myself loving America more than I expected,” he says, noting the interesting differences in audience reactions as the tour travels the country. “The reaction is always different, and it’s not necessarily what you would expect.”

Cabaret. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., Nov. 1-3; 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 4; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 6. The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-881-2100. foxtheatre.org.

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Most teenage theater geeks in Atlanta aspire to eventually take center stage at the Fox Theatre. Pace Academy alumnus Randy Harrison preps for a warm homecoming doing just that as he brings the national tour of the musical ''''''Cabaret'' to town. Given the ominous political nature of the show, Harrison says he believes it’s more relevant than ever in this election year, as a reminder of the importance of participating in the process.

____

Those who remember Harrison donning green tights in the early ‘90s Pace production of ''''''Peter Pan'' will be thrilled to see him all grown up two decades later, with a decidedly different look wearing lingerie and leather as the Kit Kat Klub’s Master of Ceremonies. The role, as famously played by Joel Grey on Broadway and in the 1972 film version of the musical, emanated an ethereal, otherworldly vibe alongside Liza Minnelli’s wide-eyed take on Sally Bowles. But if you’re expecting to see Harrison in that mode, think again. The current incarnation owes more to the sexed-up model Alan Cumming set up in extremely popular London and Broadway revivals of the show in the ‘90s. A self-described introvert, Harrison says he enjoys the challenge of this flirty character who teases and challenges the audience. 

____

“I think every introvert has the mirror opposite somewhere inside of them,” he says. “It’s kind of liberating.” On top of studying improv in his current hometown, New York, and occasionally performing in his underwear with The Skivvies, he cites this role as a major catalyst easing him out of his shell.

____

Given the amount of audience interaction, including the occasional chance to dance with Harrison’s character, the show changes from night to night and city to city. During a performance in North Carolina, for example, Harrison ad-libbed a line about his androgynous character having difficulty finding an appropriate restroom — he found the audience hungry to vent their frustration with him. Harrison says he looks forward to being back in Atlanta in the week before the election, really opening the possibilities for how this specific staging can go. 

____

''Cabaret'', for the uninitiated, is set in 1931 Berlin in a deliciously dirty nightclub. The seedy backdrop carries a foreboding tone as artists and everyday citizens indulge in escapist entertainment, while the Nazi movement gathers strength in the city. Much of ''Cabaret''’s dialogue, written in response to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, is unfortunately spot-on today without the need for many updates. 

____

“Audiences [may] think that we’ve added some of the most relevant political material, but that has always been in there,” Harrison says. “The message of the show, for me, is that there are repercussions for being politically disengaged, how that can escalate.” 

____

Harrison is no stranger to edgy, political material. Within three months of graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 2000, he landed a starring role as Justin on the racy Showtime television series “Queer as Folk.” He has since continued to perform live theater, including a stint on Broadway opposite Joel Grey in the musical ''Wicked''. He says he plans to stick with the ''Cabaret'' tour through February 2017. 

“I’ve found myself loving America more than I expected,” he says, noting the interesting differences in audience reactions as the tour travels the country. “The reaction is always different, and it’s not necessarily what you would expect.”

[http://foxtheatre.org/events/cabaret/|Cabaret][http://foxtheatre.org/events/cabaret/|.'' 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., Nov. 1-3; 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 4; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 6. The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-881-2100. foxtheatre.org.'']

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Most teenage theater geeks in Atlanta aspire to eventually take center stage at the Fox Theatre. Pace Academy alumnus Randy Harrison preps for a warm homecoming doing just that as he brings the national tour of the musical Cabaret to town. Given the ominous political nature of the show, Harrison says he believes it’s more relevant than ever in this election year, as a reminder of the importance of participating in the process.



Those who remember Harrison donning green tights in the early ‘90s Pace production of Peter Pan will be thrilled to see him all grown up two decades later, with a decidedly different look wearing lingerie and leather as the Kit Kat Klub’s Master of Ceremonies. The role, as famously played by Joel Grey on Broadway and in the 1972 film version of the musical, emanated an ethereal, otherworldly vibe alongside Liza Minnelli’s wide-eyed take on Sally Bowles. But if you’re expecting to see Harrison in that mode, think again. The current incarnation owes more to the sexed-up model Alan Cumming set up in extremely popular London and Broadway revivals of the show in the ‘90s. A self-described introvert, Harrison says he enjoys the challenge of this flirty character who teases and challenges the audience. 



“I think every introvert has the mirror opposite somewhere inside of them,” he says. “It’s kind of liberating.” On top of studying improv in his current hometown, New York, and occasionally performing in his underwear with The Skivvies, he cites this role as a major catalyst easing him out of his shell.



Given the amount of audience interaction, including the occasional chance to dance with Harrison’s character, the show changes from night to night and city to city. During a performance in North Carolina, for example, Harrison ad-libbed a line about his androgynous character having difficulty finding an appropriate restroom — he found the audience hungry to vent their frustration with him. Harrison says he looks forward to being back in Atlanta in the week before the election, really opening the possibilities for how this specific staging can go. 



Cabaret, for the uninitiated, is set in 1931 Berlin in a deliciously dirty nightclub. The seedy backdrop carries a foreboding tone as artists and everyday citizens indulge in escapist entertainment, while the Nazi movement gathers strength in the city. Much of Cabaret’s dialogue, written in response to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, is unfortunately spot-on today without the need for many updates. 



“Audiences may think that we’ve added some of the most relevant political material, but that has always been in there,” Harrison says. “The message of the show, for me, is that there are repercussions for being politically disengaged, how that can escalate.” 



Harrison is no stranger to edgy, political material. Within three months of graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 2000, he landed a starring role as Justin on the racy Showtime television series “Queer as Folk.” He has since continued to perform live theater, including a stint on Broadway opposite Joel Grey in the musical Wicked. He says he plans to stick with the Cabaret tour through February 2017. 

“I’ve found myself loving America more than I expected,” he says, noting the interesting differences in audience reactions as the tour travels the country. “The reaction is always different, and it’s not necessarily what you would expect.”

Cabaret. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., Nov. 1-3; 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 4; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 6. The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-881-2100. foxtheatre.org.

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Article

Thursday October 27, 2016 04:20 pm EDT
Pace Academy alum stars in national tour of 'Cabaret' | more...
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  string(3258) "image-1?     One of Atlanta’s hottest theater tickets this summer is Miss Saigon at Serenbe Playhouse. The musical has pre-sold five times more than the venue’s previous biggest hit, last summer’s Evita. The run has also been extended for a week — all this before opening night! Artistic Director Brian Clowdus and co. are bringing all of the drama you’d expect from a Serenbe production, including landing a real Huey helicopter at the show’s conclusion every night. It’s a spectacular way to usher out the show’s final regional production before a Broadway revival, slated to arrive in 2017.   ??
     ??           Clowdus channels highly cinematic elements for this production, including costuming actors as Vietnamese locals and U.S. soldiers serving drinks and greeting the audience. Miss Saigon  comes from writers Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubill, who both also co-wrote Les Miserables. The musical  is based loosely on the story of Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” but set in 1970s Saigon.    ??
     ??           “It deals with one of our most heated topics, the Vietnam War, but that really serves as the background to a love story,” Clowdus says. “For me, I’m never interested in telling a story about a war, it’s a story about people and how they are affected by the war.”    ??
jump??      ??           Given that half of the characters in the show are Vietnamese, casting can bring up some tricky questions about “racial accuracy,” and the original Broadway production faced protests regarding the use of makeup to change skin tones and facial features of some of the actors. Serenbe conducted a national talent search, obtaining hundreds of video submissions in order to complete the cast. “It was very important to me to cast Miss Saigon in a way that was racially accurate,” Clowdus says. “We decided to cast every Vietnamese role with an Asian-American. I have a commitment to local talent first, but if they’re not here, I’m not going to cast someone who is not appropriate for the role.”    ??
     ??           In addition to bringing in five actors from outside Atlanta, including Niki Badua in the lead role of Kim, the audition process expanded the casting pool for future Serenbe productions. While “colorblind casting” is often used to great effect in cities like Atlanta where there is a diverse talent pool, Clowdus says, “The purpose of colorblind casting is to give people of color opportunities, it’s not to give white people opportunities in roles of color. There are certain shows that you can colorblind cast, but Miss Saigon is not one of them because, while it’s a love story. It’s about two different worlds, America and Vietnam, period.”     ??
  With the addition of new talent to the Serenbe casting pool for this and future productions, Miss Saigon should be the next step in the exciting journey of this relatively new theater company. Now Clowdus’ biggest problem is figuring out how to top this production with the soon-to-be announced new season.

Miss Saigon. $30-$35. Opens 8 p.m. Thurs., July 21. Runs through August 14. Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, #210, Palmetto. 770-463-1110. www.serenbeplayhouse.com."
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  string(3391) "[image-1]?     One of Atlanta’s hottest theater tickets this summer is ''Miss Saigon'' at Serenbe Playhouse. The musical has pre-sold five times more than the venue’s previous biggest hit, last summer’s ''Evita''. The run has also been extended for a week — all this before opening night! Artistic Director Brian Clowdus and co. are bringing all of the drama you’d expect from a Serenbe production, including landing a real Huey helicopter at the show’s conclusion every night. It’s a spectacular way to usher out the show’s final regional production before a Broadway revival, slated to arrive in 2017.   ??
     ??           Clowdus channels highly cinematic elements for this production, including costuming actors as Vietnamese locals and U.S. soldiers serving drinks and greeting the audience. ''Miss Saigon''  comes from writers Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubill, who both also co-wrote ''Les Miserables''. The musical  is based loosely on the story of Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” but set in 1970s Saigon.    ??
     ??           “It deals with one of our most heated topics, the Vietnam War, but that really serves as the background to a love story,” Clowdus says. “For me, I’m never interested in telling a story about a war, it’s a story about people and how they are affected by the war.”    ??
[jump]??      ??           Given that half of the characters in the show are Vietnamese, casting can bring up some tricky questions about “racial accuracy,” and the original Broadway production faced protests regarding the use of makeup to change skin tones and facial features of some of the actors. Serenbe conducted a national talent search, obtaining hundreds of video submissions in order to complete the cast. “It was very important to me to cast ''Miss Saigon'' in a way that was racially accurate,” Clowdus says. “We decided to cast every Vietnamese role with an Asian-American. I have a commitment to local talent first, but if they’re not here, I’m not going to cast someone who is not appropriate for the role.”    ??
     ??           In addition to bringing in five actors from outside Atlanta, including Niki Badua in the lead role of Kim, the audition process expanded the casting pool for future Serenbe productions. While “colorblind casting” is often used to great effect in cities like Atlanta where there is a diverse talent pool, Clowdus says, “The purpose of colorblind casting is to give people of color opportunities, it’s not to give white people opportunities in roles of color. There are certain shows that you can colorblind cast, but ''Miss Saigon'' is not one of them because, while it’s a love story. It’s about two different worlds, America and Vietnam, period.”     ??
  With the addition of new talent to the Serenbe casting pool for this and future productions, ''Miss Saigon'' should be the next step in the exciting journey of this relatively new theater company. Now Clowdus’ biggest problem is figuring out how to top this production with the soon-to-be announced new season.

[http://www.serenbeplayhouse.com/shows-events/current-season|Miss Saigon. ''$30-$35. Opens 8 p.m. Thurs., July 21. Runs through August 14. Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, #210, Palmetto. 770-463-1110. [http://www.serenbeplayhouse.com.|www.serenbeplayhouse.com.]'']"
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  string(3514) "       2016-07-19T15:41:00+00:00 The heat is on in Serenbe   Keely L. Herrick 13329822 2016-07-19T15:41:00+00:00  image-1?     One of Atlanta’s hottest theater tickets this summer is Miss Saigon at Serenbe Playhouse. The musical has pre-sold five times more than the venue’s previous biggest hit, last summer’s Evita. The run has also been extended for a week — all this before opening night! Artistic Director Brian Clowdus and co. are bringing all of the drama you’d expect from a Serenbe production, including landing a real Huey helicopter at the show’s conclusion every night. It’s a spectacular way to usher out the show’s final regional production before a Broadway revival, slated to arrive in 2017.   ??
     ??           Clowdus channels highly cinematic elements for this production, including costuming actors as Vietnamese locals and U.S. soldiers serving drinks and greeting the audience. Miss Saigon  comes from writers Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubill, who both also co-wrote Les Miserables. The musical  is based loosely on the story of Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” but set in 1970s Saigon.    ??
     ??           “It deals with one of our most heated topics, the Vietnam War, but that really serves as the background to a love story,” Clowdus says. “For me, I’m never interested in telling a story about a war, it’s a story about people and how they are affected by the war.”    ??
jump??      ??           Given that half of the characters in the show are Vietnamese, casting can bring up some tricky questions about “racial accuracy,” and the original Broadway production faced protests regarding the use of makeup to change skin tones and facial features of some of the actors. Serenbe conducted a national talent search, obtaining hundreds of video submissions in order to complete the cast. “It was very important to me to cast Miss Saigon in a way that was racially accurate,” Clowdus says. “We decided to cast every Vietnamese role with an Asian-American. I have a commitment to local talent first, but if they’re not here, I’m not going to cast someone who is not appropriate for the role.”    ??
     ??           In addition to bringing in five actors from outside Atlanta, including Niki Badua in the lead role of Kim, the audition process expanded the casting pool for future Serenbe productions. While “colorblind casting” is often used to great effect in cities like Atlanta where there is a diverse talent pool, Clowdus says, “The purpose of colorblind casting is to give people of color opportunities, it’s not to give white people opportunities in roles of color. There are certain shows that you can colorblind cast, but Miss Saigon is not one of them because, while it’s a love story. It’s about two different worlds, America and Vietnam, period.”     ??
  With the addition of new talent to the Serenbe casting pool for this and future productions, Miss Saigon should be the next step in the exciting journey of this relatively new theater company. Now Clowdus’ biggest problem is figuring out how to top this production with the soon-to-be announced new season.

Miss Saigon. $30-$35. Opens 8 p.m. Thurs., July 21. Runs through August 14. Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, #210, Palmetto. 770-463-1110. www.serenbeplayhouse.com.             13087877 17443521        http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/07/0a6cb5_20v2.png                  The heat is on in Serenbe "
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Tuesday July 19, 2016 11:41 am EDT
image-1? One of Atlanta’s hottest theater tickets this summer is Miss Saigon at Serenbe Playhouse. The musical has pre-sold five times more than the venue’s previous biggest hit, last summer’s Evita. The run has also been extended for a week — all this before opening night! Artistic Director Brian Clowdus and co. are bringing all of the drama you’d expect from a Serenbe production,... | more...
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  string(4028) "Young Atlantans or more recent transplants might not be aware of one of the darkest periods in our recent history. From 1979 to 1981, more than 20 African-American children and adults were murdered in the city. The killings are collectively known as the Atlanta Child Murders, and this trauma serves as the setting for a new play, Serial Black Face. The play's story follows the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter dealing with the aftermath of their missing son and brother during this terrifying time. Playwright Janine Nabers wasn't alive at the time of the murders. She felt affected by the slayings much later, realizing her older siblings — also born in the South — lived the same general area when the children started to go missing. The play, winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series prize, gets its world premiere at Actor's Express.

"The play really looks at this period in history from the inside out," Director Freddie Ashley says. "It's not an overview or recounting of the events. It's really looking at what it was like for a mother and daughter in this time period going through the ordeal of having a missing child — and how they get through it." Far from the soapy exposé treatment, Serial Black Face follows the intensely personal, emotional journey of one fictional family based on the very real tragedies.

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The play's title, Serial Black Face, may appear controversial at first glance. To be clear, it's not about a character in black face makeup. "The title alludes to the repetition of black people, black faces, that were repetitively being taken during the Atlanta Child Murders when no one had the means to stop it," Nabers says. Another twist on the title, Ashley adds, is it was significant that the killer, Wayne Williams, was ultimately found to be an African-American — especially considering most serial killers at the time like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy were white. The idea the murderer could have been a member of the community where the victims lived heightened a sense of fear. One of the characters is incredulous at the concept of a serial killer with a "black face," but the children disappeared in the middle of the afternoon — without anyone noticing, suggesting the killer appeared physically unthreatening, like any other insider. The term "serial" also relates to the cyclical nature of history, as the playwright stated violence against African-American children remains relevant: "Only now it's #blacklivesmatter. Yesterday it was this," Nabers says. The playwright has been active in the Actor's Express production from casting through rehearsals, balancing her responsibilities as a writer on the Bravo television series "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce."

This play dares audiences to see how other families deal with grief and loss under such extreme circumstances and to view a woman making difficult choices without the color of judgment. While being careful not to spoil the plot, Ashley notes "ultimately there is a thread of hope" that runs through this moving story — and audiences are likely to discover our collective experiences ultimately serve more to unite us than to divide us."
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  string(4247) "Young Atlantans or more recent transplants might not be aware of one of the darkest periods in our recent history. From 1979 to 1981, more than 20 African-American children and adults were murdered in the city. The killings are collectively known as the Atlanta Child Murders, and this trauma serves as the setting for a new play, ''[https://www.actors-express.com/plays/serial-black-face|Serial Black Face]''. The play's story follows the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter dealing with the aftermath of their missing son and brother during this terrifying time. Playwright [http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/janine-nabers-wins-yale-drama-series-prize/|Janine Nabers] wasn't alive at the time of the murders. She felt affected by the slayings much later, realizing her older siblings — also born in the South — lived the same general area when the children started to go missing. The play, winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series prize, gets its world premiere at Actor's Express.

"The play really looks at this period in history from the inside out," Director Freddie Ashley says. "It's not an overview or recounting of the events. It's really looking at what it was like for a mother and daughter in this time period going through the ordeal of having a missing child — and how they get through it." Far from the soapy exposé treatment, ''Serial Black Face'' follows the intensely personal, emotional journey of one fictional family based on the very real tragedies.

The actress at the center of the drama, [https://www.actors-express.com/people/tinashe-kajese|Tinashe Kajese], faces a challenging role to inhabit for repeated performances. Kajese portrays mother Vivian. As parent of a 3-year-old boy herself, Kajese says she's aware it will be a difficult role to shake off at the end of the night, even though she is no stranger to intense dramas (she recently co-starred in the Alliance's powerful production of ''Disgraced''). "It's very personal to me," she says. "This is one of the most emotionally challenging plays I've ever done." At the end of the day, she says being deliberate to separate the stage from life is important, "or you're going to go crazy." Regardless, she is excited to be involved in a play where women — and in particular, African-American women — are at the center of the dramatic action, rather than relegated to supporting roles in the narrative.

The play's title, ''Serial Black Face'', may appear controversial at first glance. To be clear, it's not about a character in black face makeup. "The title alludes to the repetition of black people, black faces, that were repetitively being taken during the Atlanta Child Murders when no one had the means to stop it," Nabers says. Another twist on the title, Ashley adds, is it was significant that the killer, Wayne Williams, was ultimately found to be an African-American — especially considering most serial killers at the time like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy were white. The idea the murderer could have been a member of the community where the victims lived heightened a sense of fear. One of the characters is incredulous at the concept of a serial killer with a "black face," but the children disappeared in the middle of the afternoon — without anyone noticing, suggesting the killer appeared physically unthreatening, like any other insider. The term "serial" also relates to the cyclical nature of history, as the playwright stated violence against African-American children remains relevant: "Only now it's #blacklivesmatter. Yesterday it was this," Nabers says. The playwright has been active in the Actor's Express production from casting through rehearsals, balancing her responsibilities as a writer on the Bravo television series "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce."

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Wednesday March 30, 2016 04:00 am EDT
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  image-1 It’s that old story: Girl goes to fair, girl meets cute carnie boy, boy gets fired, girl ends up pregnant and alone. Serenbe Playhouse’s artistic director Brian Clowdus is staging another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, but it won’t be the traditional take on Carousel. “You know me,” Clowdus says. “Anything I do, I want to reinvent and shake up.” Serenbe’s productions take place outdoors and for this show, Clowdus continues the trend and plans to bring in an actual fair — complete with a Ferris wheel, strongman mallet game, and, naturally, an actual carousel. The audience can buy tickets to ride the rides and munch on popcorn, cotton candy, King of Pops treats, and specialty cocktails before the show and at intermission.

 The artwork for the show indicates this will be a darker, more gothic environment, somewhere between American Horror Story’s “Freak Show” season and an afternoon at Buford Highway’s Plaza Fiesta. “The turn-of-the-century carnivals and sideshows kind of went hand in hand,” Clowdus says. “It was very normal for a carnival to have human wonders or ‘freaks.’” In this production, there will be sideshow characters throughout the show, representing the grim world of the hero, Billy (Edward McCreary), as well as the more refined townie characters who reflect the heroine, Julie (Kelly Martin), and her world. For those unfamiliar with the play, an innocent day at the fair turns bleak for Julie when she is seduced by Billy, starting a chain of events that results in him losing his job and leaving her with child and on her own. So, perhaps best to leave the preteens at home for this one, as the subject matter airs on the adult side. 

 Clowdus conceived the idea after working with much of the cast on another Rodgers and Hammerstein production, Oklahoma, two years ago. The cast — which, in addition to McCreary and Martin, also included Jessica Miesel, Lala Cochran, and Austin Tijerina, among others — enjoyed working together so much he decided a reunion was in order.
  
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  string(2785) "       2016-03-21T17:24:00+00:00 Take a dark spin on Serenbe's Carousel   Keely L. Herrick 13329822 2016-03-21T17:24:00+00:00  
  image-1 It’s that old story: Girl goes to fair, girl meets cute carnie boy, boy gets fired, girl ends up pregnant and alone. Serenbe Playhouse’s artistic director Brian Clowdus is staging another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, but it won’t be the traditional take on Carousel. “You know me,” Clowdus says. “Anything I do, I want to reinvent and shake up.” Serenbe’s productions take place outdoors and for this show, Clowdus continues the trend and plans to bring in an actual fair — complete with a Ferris wheel, strongman mallet game, and, naturally, an actual carousel. The audience can buy tickets to ride the rides and munch on popcorn, cotton candy, King of Pops treats, and specialty cocktails before the show and at intermission.

 The artwork for the show indicates this will be a darker, more gothic environment, somewhere between American Horror Story’s “Freak Show” season and an afternoon at Buford Highway’s Plaza Fiesta. “The turn-of-the-century carnivals and sideshows kind of went hand in hand,” Clowdus says. “It was very normal for a carnival to have human wonders or ‘freaks.’” In this production, there will be sideshow characters throughout the show, representing the grim world of the hero, Billy (Edward McCreary), as well as the more refined townie characters who reflect the heroine, Julie (Kelly Martin), and her world. For those unfamiliar with the play, an innocent day at the fair turns bleak for Julie when she is seduced by Billy, starting a chain of events that results in him losing his job and leaving her with child and on her own. So, perhaps best to leave the preteens at home for this one, as the subject matter airs on the adult side. 

 Clowdus conceived the idea after working with much of the cast on another Rodgers and Hammerstein production, Oklahoma, two years ago. The cast — which, in addition to McCreary and Martin, also included Jessica Miesel, Lala Cochran, and Austin Tijerina, among others — enjoyed working together so much he decided a reunion was in order.
  
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Article

Monday March 21, 2016 01:24 pm EDT


image-1 It’s that old story: Girl goes to fair, girl meets cute carnie boy, boy gets fired, girl ends up pregnant and alone. Serenbe Playhouse’s artistic director Brian Clowdus is staging another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, but it won’t be the traditional take on Carousel. “You know me,” Clowdus says. “Anything I do, I want to reinvent and shake up.” Serenbe’s productions take place...

| more...
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  string(3514) "image-1For Atlanta actress Terry Burrell, she dreamt of creating a one-woman show about stage and screen star Ethel Waters back in 1990. But it would be 20 years before she had the real life experience necessary to bringing such a complicated woman’s story into full form. (Waters was born in 1896 to a teenage rape victim, spending her childhood in poverty before entering an abusive marriage at an early age — the woman underwent a lot of strife before embarking on a rich career in theater.) After staging runs of Waters' Ethel in Philadelphia in 2012 and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2013, the play preps to hit the stage in Atlanta as part of the Hertz Stage Series at the Alliance Theatre.
 
 “Back in 1990, I just had this intuitive sense that I was going to need something like this one day,” Burrell says. “At the time, I had no interest in writing it because I didn’t consider myself a writer — just an actor.” She made attempts with co-writers over the years, but nothing ever gelled. “Then in 2010, literally this voice spoke to me and said ‘If you don’t do this now, it is never going to be done,’” she says. 
 

Burrell discovered she could bring more of her individual truth to the character of Ethel Waters through her own learned experiences, many of which matched with the African-American actress and singer. She relied on a Waters autobiography for much of the factual information but also conducted extensive interviews over the years with people like actor/dancer Charles "Honi" Coles who knew the star. Actress Leslie Uggams, who was mentored by Waters when Uggams was a child, was able to provide some key insights into the bearing and physical presence of the statuesque legend. 
 
 Waters was one of the most glamorous stars of the vaudeville era, who was also hugely successful in films and on Broadway. She was the second African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award (for her role in the 1949 film Pinky) and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award (for her role in the television show "Route 66" in 1962). Burrell’s play introduces Waters in her 50s during the 1950s, a time where the Hollywood opportunities were thin for some.

  "If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills." — Terry Burrell 
 “She had done films, been a recording artist for Columbia Records for 10 years straight, and then all of a sudden nothing was happening," Burrell says. "I mean, she was singing in churches for a few dollars.” In the play, Waters tells the story of her life to the audience as she would to a confidante, letting the public mask slip aside and giving an adult woman’s honest perspective on love, work, and life in the South.
 
 While Burrell may be the face of the project, she notes the support of the staff at the Alliance has been essential in helping her shape the script. 
 
 “This is the first time that I’m feeling that it is the show that I want it to be,” she says. And naturally, she says she learned a lot about herself in the process of studying Waters’ life. “I’ve realized that I’m a lot more courageous than I give myself credit for,” she says. “If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills.” It takes a grown woman to face her fears and find her own success, and sometimes history leads the way. 

Alliance Theatre stages Ethel  March 25-April 17.
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 “Back in 1990, I just had this intuitive sense that I was going to need something like this one day,” Burrell says. “At the time, I had no interest in writing it because I didn’t consider myself a writer — just an actor.” She made attempts with co-writers over the years, but nothing ever gelled. “Then in 2010, literally this voice spoke to me and said ‘If you don’t do this now, it is never going to be done,’” she says. 
 

Burrell discovered she could bring more of her individual truth to the character of Ethel Waters through her own learned experiences, many of which matched with the African-American actress and singer. She relied on a Waters autobiography for much of the factual information but also conducted extensive interviews over the years with people like actor/dancer Charles "Honi" Coles who knew the star. Actress Leslie Uggams, who was mentored by Waters when Uggams was a child, was able to provide some key insights into the bearing and physical presence of the statuesque legend. 
 
 Waters was one of the most glamorous stars of the vaudeville era, who was also hugely successful in films and on Broadway. She was the second African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award (for her role in the 1949 film ''Pinky'') and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award (for her role in the television show "Route 66" in 1962). Burrell’s play introduces Waters in her 50s during the 1950s, a time where the Hollywood opportunities were thin for some.

  "If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills." — Terry Burrell 
 “She had done films, been a recording artist for Columbia Records for 10 years straight, and then all of a sudden nothing was happening," Burrell says. "I mean, she was singing in churches for a few dollars.” In the play, Waters tells the story of her life to the audience as she would to a confidante, letting the public mask slip aside and giving an adult woman’s honest perspective on love, work, and life in the South.
 
 While Burrell may be the face of the project, she notes the support of the staff at the Alliance has been essential in helping her shape the script. 
 
 “This is the first time that I’m feeling that it is the show that I want it to be,” she says. And naturally, she says she learned a lot about herself in the process of studying Waters’ life. “I’ve realized that I’m a lot more courageous than I give myself credit for,” she says. “If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills.” It takes a grown woman to face her fears and find her own success, and sometimes history leads the way. 

__[/atlanta/ethel/Event?oid=17054685|''Alliance Theatre stages ''Ethel '' March 25-April 17.'']__
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Burrell discovered she could bring more of her individual truth to the character of Ethel Waters through her own learned experiences, many of which matched with the African-American actress and singer. She relied on a Waters autobiography for much of the factual information but also conducted extensive interviews over the years with people like actor/dancer Charles "Honi" Coles who knew the star. Actress Leslie Uggams, who was mentored by Waters when Uggams was a child, was able to provide some key insights into the bearing and physical presence of the statuesque legend. 
 
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  "If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills." — Terry Burrell 
 “She had done films, been a recording artist for Columbia Records for 10 years straight, and then all of a sudden nothing was happening," Burrell says. "I mean, she was singing in churches for a few dollars.” In the play, Waters tells the story of her life to the audience as she would to a confidante, letting the public mask slip aside and giving an adult woman’s honest perspective on love, work, and life in the South.
 
 While Burrell may be the face of the project, she notes the support of the staff at the Alliance has been essential in helping her shape the script. 
 
 “This is the first time that I’m feeling that it is the show that I want it to be,” she says. And naturally, she says she learned a lot about herself in the process of studying Waters’ life. “I’ve realized that I’m a lot more courageous than I give myself credit for,” she says. “If I stopped to think about what I’m doing on the scale that I’m doing it, I would probably run for the hills.” It takes a grown woman to face her fears and find her own success, and sometimes history leads the way. 

Alliance Theatre stages Ethel  March 25-April 17.
             13086743 17054303        http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/03/043a6d_ethel_20__20walnut_20street_20theater_20production.png                  Hollywood legend Ethel Waters' glamorous, tumultuous life gets bio treatment "
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Article

Friday March 18, 2016 09:53 am EDT
image-1For Atlanta actress Terry Burrell, she dreamt of creating a one-woman show about stage and screen star Ethel Waters back in 1990. But it would be 20 years before she had the real life experience necessary to bringing such a complicated woman’s story into full form. (Waters was born in 1896 to a teenage rape victim, spending her childhood in poverty before entering an abusive marriage at... | more...
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