Holidays with The Chalks – an Atlanta Theater Fans Review

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Holidays with the Chalks at the Alliance Theatre

Leenya Rideout, Kathryn Markey and Mary Brienza in Holidays with The Chalks. Photo by Greg Mooney

When thinking about the Chalks, it could be easy to think of them as a the Mandrell Sisters plus a little Ray Stevens with a dash of outlaw country in them, but that idea wouldn’t quite capture the experience of Holidays with The Chalks at the Alliance Theater. A hilariously entertaining musical staged as a concert in a bar, the show offers Atlanta a unique and memorable way to celebrate the season.

Attending a performance of this show will be a theater experience like no other. Anyone expecting to find the typical theater set-up will be surprised. The Alliance’s Hertz stage has been transformed into a honky tonk named Tubby’s, complete with a full bar, stage, tables and dart boards. Kat Conley’s amazing design creates the perfect atmosphere for the show, which begins in the lobby. There audience members will find The Chalks museum with handwritten lyrics on a Krispy Kream box among other items.

Once inside, country music blares over the speakers, drinks are served and darts are thrown while audience members wait for the ladies to take the stage. As soon as the lights dim, the laughter begins. The story, while preposterous at times, is parody and satire on par with anything Seth MacFarlane could dream up. It is witty, touching and funny. There are no sacred cows and everything is fair game.

Holidays with the Chalks at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre

Leenya Rideout, Kathryn Markey and Mary Brienza in the Alliance Theatre’s world premiere production, Holidays with The Chalks. Photo by Greg Mooney

This smartly written spoof on a country band takes the guise of a concert. The sisters Belva (Leenya Rideout), Judelle (Kathryn Markey) and Judeen (Mary Brienza ) are performing for the first time, as community service,  after serving a 90 day sentence on their bus after burning down Tubby’s earlier in the year. Throughout the concert, the ladies perform songs that reflect each of their struggles and defining moments.

In contrast to their mantra that the more you drink the better they sound, these ladies can belt out a song. Even when they are singing in a traditional country twang, there are moments where the musical allows them to showcase their range and powerful vocal abilities.

From absurd lyrics and choreography to sibling rivalry and not so subtle innuendos, the show will have you laughing and thoroughly entertained (and the music is quite appealing too).  Their songs range from being about an alien abduction and a s&m affair with the music minister to ones about the seven deadly sins and drinking. Complete with audience participation, the show provides an entertaining evening like no other.

Holidays with The Chalks plays on the Alliance Theater’s Hertz Stage through December 23, 2012. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show runs a little over ninety minutes with no intermission (although like at a concert, moving around to go to the bathroom or the bar is acceptable).

– Kenny Norton