By Jeffrey Silvey
In the middle of Marietta Square, just across the street from the Gone with the Wind film museum, a rebirth is taking place. Just like the phoenix bird is reborn from its ashes, Theatre in the Square reemerges after a two-year absence with their production of Birds of a Feather, based on The Birdcage and La Cage Aux Folles.
The play, taken from a script by Mary Beth Morrison and directed by Tony Smithey, tells the story of a young couple in college who want to get married. The bride-to-be comes from a conservative family and her father is a U.S. Senator engulfed in a scandal that threatens his reelection.
The guy was raised by his gay fathers, who also happen to own and operate a popular drag club. The guy and his family, in an effort to win over the conservative family of the girl, pose as an ideal family unit.
Confusion and hilarity ensue as they all prepare for a first time family gathering, and they realize that what makes a family most ideal is love and support.
The show, the theatre’s first production since closing two years ago, starts with a gaggle of drag queens entering the theatre and performing “We are Family” by Sister Sledge. As they mouth the words “We fly just like birds of a feather,” it becomes apparent where the title comes from, as well as the show’s overall point.
Ultimately, the play is about different types of families and the connections we share in our lives. The sense of family is what helped the Theatre in the Square reopen. From observing the production and commitment everyone involved has in the show, the grass roots movement they have adopted becomes evident, strong and effective.
It’s the exact kind of feeling that a theatre with a second chance should have.
“We’re doing this show because we want to continue to keep theatre alive,” said Tony Smithey, the show’s director and star drag queen. Since 2009, 16 different theatres across the Atlanta area have closed, causing a real need for sustainable and explorative theatre in the metro area. Theatre in the Square seeks to meet that need.
The vision for the newly reopened theatre goes well beyond the stage. The goal is for Theatre in the Square to be an all encompassing artistic venue. They will be producing African American theater, children’s theater, comedy nights, concerts and evening of dance in an effort to be a fully diverse production house.
In addition to live performing arts, it will also feature artworks in the lobby. Upcoming shows include the World War II drama Letters from the Front and the holiday favorite A Christmas Carol.
Birds of a Feather runs until Oct. 18 at Theatre in the Square. Call 770-426-4800 or buy tickets online.