6/29/2019          MAX MAKES A MILLION                       Alliance Theatre               


****  ( B+ )     (For Kids)

 

****½  ( A )     (For Adults)

 

DREAM BIG

 

(Grading Explanation.  As good as this show is for children – and both audiences on Saturday were filled to the brim with enrapt young theatre-goers -- there are many aspects that will be even more thoroughly enjoyed by their parents, specifically references and homages to Beat Poets and Mingus-esque Jazz.  The following is presented with shameful apologies to the spirit and creativity of Allen Ginsberg.  His howl was, of course, at the darkness and injustices of his life, while Max’s is a more joyful dog-howl at the possibilities of a universe built on imagination. )
 

I.

 

I saw the best dog of another generation engulfed by ambition, starving ignored overdressed, dancing himself through the romping capering gamboling streets at noon looking for a clinging idea,

 

angelheaded friends and artists burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the universe,

 

burning with the angelhearted muse of poetry, jackbooting with the promise of life among the Paris among ex-pats and dreamers of dog-years of old,

 

feeding the demanding hunger of Erato’s need for fresh verse for vibrant rhyme for chance collision of word and thought and experience,

 

who, devoted to the electric energy of Manhattan in the 1950’s can’t help but yearn for the bistros and bookstores of Paris,

 

who, being a dog, suffers the indignities of angry poet-averse deli owners, the indignities of the logistics of packing, beret-wearing, and plane ticket buying,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, like his “parents” shoe-maker Morris and tango-dancing Ida (who can’t not weep when contemplating their childlessness),

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, like Oscar, the painter of invisible art, the lover of Marlene, the student of invisible gravity,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, like the Princess in the park, the Queen of Sheba in the shoe shop, the elevator operator who knows him and his destination, the drummer, the architect of the downside-up, the candyman with his trip-inducing lemon drops,

 

who, being a dog, dances to the songs of joy, odes that lift him and nourish him, and sustain him with more life force than any mass-produced kibble can dream of doing,

 

who, being a dog, lives in a primary colored stage-scape, created and controlled by the best visual and technical artists in the Alliance kennel, indeed the entire Atlanta theatre preserve,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, dreamers like Anne Marie Gideon, who wears his skin as if it were her own, and shines with a shocking spark of energy that captures the eyes and minds of young audiences to whom Ginsberg and Mingus and Kerouac and Beardon are strange names from a distant time with which they have no affinity,


who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, dreamers like Shelli Delgado, and Thomas Neal Antwon Ghant, and Tony Manna, and Diany Rodriguez, four dreamers who dare to assay forty characters (before everyone loses count) of infinite range and infinite splendor,

 

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, dreamers like Justin Ellington who created a score that evokes the best jazz musicians of the Beat Generation and gathered his own band of dreamers, including conductor Eric Baumgartner, drummer Q Robinson, saxophonist Jordan Shalhoup, whose squeals and slides and screeches evoked nothing less than his own dog howl at Euterpe’s gift,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, dreamers like Maira Kalman who created him out of nothing but imagination and rooted him in a book for young audiences,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, dreamers like Liz Diamond, who breathed life into him by adapting him for the stage, who gave him wings by directing this pulsing ode to Dreams and to Dogs,

 

who, being a dog, thrives on the company of dreamers like him, and, creates a vivid and verdant portrait of the driving force of words and images and the spectacle of a talented woman in a dog costume making us believe that she is a boy-dog named Max, who can indeed find the wherewithal to board an airplane for Paris,  who can touch our souls with his words, just as the Alliance Team can touch our souls with his story.

 

II.

 

I’m with Max in Paris

   where we wake up electrified by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the ocean they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the imagination illuminates itself and imaginary walls collapse    O skinny legions run outside    O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal Muse is here    O victory forget your fear we’re free we’re dog-howling at the promise our life lies before us because we had the courage to DREAM BIG!

 

            -- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy@aol.com    @bk_rudy    #AllianceTheatre   #MaxMakesAMillion)

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