Stage Door Players this week furloughed artistic director Robert Egizio, who has led the Dunwoody theater company for 16 years. That leaves managing director Debbie Fuse as its lone remaining staff member. The Stage Door board cited falling income and the inability to produce shows in the midst of COVID-19.
Facebook exploded with support for Egizio and criticism for the board’s decision.
“If you know and respect Robert Egizio and his work with Stage Door Players, please make your voices heard,” Sarah Cave, a former Stage Door board member and friend of Egizio’s, said in a Facebook post that included the text of her email to Fuse and the board. It reads, in part:
“I am writing today to express my grave concern and utter disappointment with the decision made regarding Robert Egizio. As secretary of the board from 2007 to 2011, I watched as Robert turned Stage Door Players from ‘that community theater in Dunwoody’ to a well-respected, well-run regional theater.
Cave, who encouraged others to contact the board, said that since Egizio began his tenure in 2004, he’d increased the season-subscriber base from 250 to 1,400, significantly raised the level of talent onstage, and formed a group of professional technicians to design sets, lighting, sound and props.
“‘Furloughing’ him,” wrote Cave, who’s also an actor and arts and culture consultant, “is a decision that will potentially serve as a short-term gain but will result in a long-term loss. Not just for Stage Door, but for the Atlanta theater community and the city of Dunwoody. Because at this moment in time, Stage Door IS Robert Egizio.”
Laura Floyd, an actor and theater educator, urged the board to reconsider. “I know we are facing unprecedented times,” she wrote in a letter also posted on Facebook. “However, this is a decision that, I fear, will make any potential recovery for Stage Door Players impossible.”
ArtsATL doesn’t know how many emails or letters the Stage Door board has received this week, but there have been at least 50 comments in support of Egizio on Facebook.
Stage Door has canceled all current productions, with an eye toward a possible return in early 2021. Its stage has been dark since The Glass Menagerie closed December 8.
In announcing its decision on the Stage Door Players’ website, board members cited a 55 percent loss in revenue, which largely comes from tickets sales and season subscribers. It had previously taken these steps:
- Releasing a part-time employee in March.
- Reducing the hours and salaries of the artistic director and managing director.
- Asking season subscribers to donate the balance of their tickets back to the theater.
Stage Door does a mix of contemporary comedies, classic American plays and musicals.
Théâtre du Rêve plans season of virtual “salons”
Théâtre du Rêve, Atlanta’s French-language theater, turns 25 this year. And, in a season of COVID-19, is planning a virtual lineup of plays, poetry, international art, entertainment, community, discussion and a signature cocktail/mocktail to make while you take part from home. The salons begin in Harlem and end in West Africa. The season:
- September 13. The Harlem Connection: Paris, Négritude and the Harlem Renaissance.
- November 8. French in North America: Quebec, Acadia and Cajun Country.
- January 10, 2021. Caribbean Cruise: A theatrical tour of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Haiti.
- March 14, 2021. Casablanca to Cairo: North Africa and the Middle East.
- May 16, 2021. Modern West Africa: Francophone African Voices of the 21st Century.
The Harlem Connection takes place in Paris during the Jazz Age, and explores the connection between the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of a powerful new literary movement called la Négritude. The salon begins at 3 p.m. Atlanta actor-director Thandi DeShazor directs a cast featuring Asia Howard, Maxton Jones, Enoch Armando King, Brian Kurlander, Cameryn Richardson, Kerwin Thompson and Vallea Woodbury.
Tickets are free but donations are encouraged. Register HERE to receive the Zoom link and that salon’s cocktail recipe.
Concert series replaces fall musicals at City Springs
Instead of starting its third season with two fall musicals, City Springs Theatre will stage four virtual concerts in what it’s calling its “Broadway Concert Series.” The series begins September 24 with Give Our Regards to Broadway and ends December 19 with Mistletoe Magic. Each will feature a small cast and orchestra all socially distanced and performing in the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.
As of now, the company plans to continue its regular season in 2021 with Mamma Mia! (March 12-21), Into the Woods (May 7-16) and West Side Story (July 9-18). The concert series looks like this:
GIVE OUR REGARDS TO BROADWAY. Streaming September 24-26. Expect songs from A Chorus Line, Follies, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and more. The cast: Jeanette Illidge, Benjamin Moore, Kristine Reese and Billy Tighe (Broadway’s Pippin revival). Tickets are $35. Call 404.477.4365 or click HERE.
BROADWAY IN REVUE. Streaming October 22-24. Survey the Great White Way’s jukebox musicals with tunes from Ain’t Too Proud, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Mamma Mia! and Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. Streaming November 19-21. Atlanta-based big-band trumpeter Joe Grandsen headlines a trip through the Great American Songbook, with music by Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Jule Styne and Harry Warren.
MISTLETOE MAGIC. Streaming December 17-19). Hear some of your favorite holiday songs performed by pianist Joe Alterman, who joins the City Springs Orchestra and Singers.
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