ROSWELL, Ga. – Georgia Ensemble Theatre is celebrating its 25th year in Roswell, and it is also the last season for co-founder and Artistic Director Robert Farley – so this season is taking a page from old New Orleans: Laissez les bon temps rouler!
“Every play is going to be a party,” said Farley. “It’s our silver anniversary and everybody is going to have a great time. Our theme for the season is It’s Your Party.
“It’s a celebration and a tribute to our partners, donors and patrons.”
It a season for new theater experiences and greeting old friends. The kickoff play is a double shot of theater magic. First, it is the smash Broadway hit “Once On This Island.”
“It’s set on a Caribbean Island,” Farley said. “It’s a fable like the Little Mermaid, but with that Caribbean beat. We are so lucky to get this one. It’s headed back to Broadway and they would [license] it to us.”
Directed and choreographed by Atlanta’s Ricardo Aponte, Farley said he thinks “Island” will set the tone for the entire season.
“The music will really move you. You can’t keep still,” he said.
In October, Georgia Ensemble Theatre brings the latest Topher Payne comedy called “Morningside,” set in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta. Think “Steel Magnolias” with a case of Champagne.
After Christmas, it is time for “Tenderly – The Rosemary Clooney Musical,” and the chance to revisit her story and her many golden hits. It promises to be another great bio-musical for the company.
In March, it is another of those “hellzapoppin” screwball comedies, “A Comedy of Tenors,” the long awaited companion to “Lend Me a Tenor” of Broadway and Tony fame.
In April, Farley will direct his last Georgia Ensemble Theatre play. He will go out not with a whimper, nor just a bang. He will reprise the company’s all-time greatest hit “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story.”
So he just might tear the roof off.
Simply the best rock ‘n’ roll musical of all time, “Buddy Holly” has been the theatre’s most requested “return” show.
“I’m going to do what I enjoy most, which is telling a great story with some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs ever written,” Farley said.
This is Farley’s last season and he wants it to be the best. He just may get his wish.
It is also the season in which Assistant Artistic Director Alan Kilpatrick steps up to take on the duties of artistic director.
“I think it was brilliant for the board to bring me in early on in 2016,” Kilpatrick said. “We had a year now for the audiences, the subscribers and the donors to have gotten to know my face. Next year, I won’t be ‘that new guy.’”
Farley echoed those thoughts.
“I didn’t want GET to get ‘founder’s syndrome.’ What we have built here is bigger than one person. Besides, Anita [Farley, co-founder and managing director] is staying on,” Farley said.
Kilpatrick piped up, “My first question was, ‘Is she staying?’”