Life in bloom: Georgia Ensemble, the arts, symphony and spring



When spring finally decided to peer out of the rain, the mist and the cold, it seems like all of North Fulton burst in bloom with it. My Lady Wife and I have had a wonderful weekend with spring at last wiping the sleep out of its eyes, popping out the dogwood and azalea blossoms and getting people out of the house.

Here was an introduction to spring with live theater followed by the Alpharetta Spring Arts Festival and the Johns Creek Symphony in concert. The arts it seems are truly in bloom.

Our weekend started Thursday with Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s grand finale of its 20th season. That milestone in itself is an amazing testament to what Bob and Anita Farley have accomplished with their theater.

With their most ambitious musical to date, the full-blown classic Broadway musical, “Hello Dolly,” the Farleys put an exclamation on this 20th season with a smash hit.

We love going to GET productions. They are always a mix of what is new in theater and what is best.

With “Dolly,” GET has the best material and does the most with it.

First, it is a classic musical with some of the signature songs associated with The Great White Way. There is no anthem to second chances in life like “Before the Parade Passes By.” Few love songs surpass “It Only Takes a Moment.” Bob Farley says rightly, the show is one hit after another.

GET recruited Broadway veteran Courtnay Collins as the irrepressible Dolly, and she is masterful. As Dolly, Courtnay has only one job really, step onto the stage and own it. She does.

“Hello Dolly,” is of course the story of just one magical day in 1910 New York. And it is the tale of eight couples on the town looking for adventure and finding love.

The cast is superb, more than answering to the demands that they act, sing and dance. Oh, do they dance. The costumes are gorgeous and the music is divine.

“This is the first classic Broadway musical we have taken on. It was time to test our mettle and strength. It is the most gratifying production we’ve ever done,” Bob Farley said.

We were thoroughly entertained. It’s a play full of energy and fun.

But our weekend was just getting started. Saturday blew up with a gorgeous spring day as only metro Atlanta can produce them. My Lady Wife said we just had to go to the Alpharetta Spring Arts Festival.

So off we went Saturday afternoon to walk around the booths seeing some extraordinarily creative people and the things they can conceive and make. Paintings, photography, sculpture, fine jewelry and folk art were plentiful.

It was simply a feast for the eyes.

The festival had to share some space downtown with the Alpharetta Farmers Market, and that was a good thing. So there was plenty to munch on and fresh vegetables to take home.

With live music, food vendors and lots of people-watching, it was lovely day. Of course that “had to have” bracelet my wife found was a surprise (to me), but we really enjoyed a great day in the sun with a lot of visual excitement.

Then came Saturday night in Johns Creek where the Johns Creek Symphony took a new tack with Big Band music. Classic American music from the ‘30s and ‘40s from the likes of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin is just as memorable today as it was when people were “stompin’ at the Savoy.”

It just goes to show North Fulton has continued to work on its quality of life. The arts have always added so much to enrich our lives. It has not been accidental. Having the arts in the community enriches us. Like any asset, it must be nurtured and preserved.

Fortunately, the cities of North Fulton see the value of the arts – both economically and culturally. The arts engage us and connect us to the world at large. And most of all, they get us out of the house on beautiful spring days.

If the rest of spring is going to be like this, that is just OK by me.

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