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Broadway Director Joins Production of Beauty and the Beast in Sandy Springs



City Springs Theatre Company brings the legendary Broadway musical, Beauty and the Beast to Sandy Springs from March 8 to 24.
Exterior of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center

City Springs Theatre Company (CSTC) brings the legendary Broadway musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to metro Atlanta with performances from March 8 through 24.

“City Springs Theatre Company is exceptionally proud to bring this modern classic to Atlanta audiences this spring,” said Tony Award-winner and Atlanta native Shuler Hensley, who serves as CSTC’s artistic director.

“For three decades now this ‘tale as old as time’ has been delighting audiences of all ages, across the globe. With its colorful characters, dazzling musical numbers (“Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”) and the Oscar-winning title song, Beauty and the Beast promises to be family theatre at its finest,” added Hensley.

Directing and choreographing City Springs Theatre Company’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is renowned Tony Award-recipient Baayork Lee, who has performed in some of Broadway’s biggest musicals.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be performed in the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Galambos Way in Sandy Springs.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the most family-friendly show we’ve ever produced, and it’s the perfect outing for groups of any kind looking for a truly memorable theatrical experience,” noted CSTC Executive Director Natalie DeLancey.

Disney’s take on the classic story tells of Belle, an idealistic young woman trapped in a provincial town, and The Beast, who is himself a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.

If The Beast can learn to love (and be loved), the curse will end, and he will be transformed back into his former princely self. But time is running out. If The Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features a book by Linda Woolverton (author of the original animated film’s screenplay), with music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Performance schedule

Friday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 22 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m.


Belle – Diane Phelan (Broadway: School of Rock, The King And I, Into The Woods)

The Beast – Christian Magby (TV: “The Flash”)

Mrs. Potts – Candice Song Donehoo (Broadway: The King And I, National Tour: Jekyll and Hyde)

Gaston – Stanley Allyn Owen (National Tour: CATS)

Lumiere – Nick Walker Jones

Cogsworth – Luke Grooms

LeFou – DJ Plunkett (National Tour: Wicked)

Maurice – Russ Williamson

Babette – Maggie McCown

Madame de la Grande Bouche – Grace Choi

Chip – Cece Fields and Michael Wood

Silly Girls – Grace Arnold, Hannah Morrison, Emma X. O’Loughlin

The Ensemble: Ian Blanco, Emmanuel Cologne, Sammy Fossum, David Grindrod, Imani Joseph, Ben Ohnemus, Meaghan Paetkau, Javar La’Trail Parker, Ryley Perry, Zac Pritts, Caitlyn Savage, Wendell Scott, Amanda Fallon Smith

Creative and production teams

Director/Choreographer – Baayork Lee

Associate Choreographer – David Grindrod

Music Director – Griffin Strout

Conductor – Greg Matteson

Lighting Designer – Mike Wood

Sound Designer – Anthony Narcisso

Scenic Designer – Kelly Tighe

Costume Designer – Ryan Moller

Production Stage Manager – Shay Holihan

The production will also feature students from City Springs Theatre Company’s acclaimed pre- professional program, who will appear as additional ensemble members in the show.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is included in current subscriber season packages. Individual tickets (from $38 to $98) are on sale now, with discounts for seniors, students, groups and active and retired military personnel.

Visit www.CitySpringsTheatre.com or call 404-477-4365 for more information. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available by calling the box office at 404-477-4365. Gift cards are also available by calling the box office. CSTC’s Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Around Atlanta

Sneak Peek at The Westin at The Gas South District



The 348-room, 11-story hotel opens March 21

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is eagerly counting down to its grand opening this week on March 21st, marking a significant milestone as the hotel prepares to redefine hospitality in Gwinnett County. Located in the dynamic Gas South District, this cutting-edge 11-story hotel features 348 rooms and over 27,000 square feet of flexible event space across 14 rooms. As part of Concord Hospitality’s portfolio, the establishment is poised to become a game-changer in the area, offering unparalleled service and amenities.

General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart, Sales and Marketing

Under the leadership of General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart steering the Sales and Marketing efforts, the hotel is set for a successful launch. General Manager Mark Castriota expressed excitement about the imminent opening. He lauded the dedication and hard work that has paved the way for this moment. Castriota emphasized the hotel’s commitment to providing unmatched hospitality experiences in Gwinnett County. The Westin aspires to fill the hotel with skilled individuals who deliver The Westin’s signature quality service to all guests.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is more than just a place to stay; it’s a retreat for wellness and relaxation. The property boasts signature wellness initiatives, sleep-enhancing features, and breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows. Modern conveniences are standard in every room and suite, including high-speed Wi-Fi, 55-inch smart TVs, ergonomic workstations, and mini-fridges.

One of the hotel’s highlights is its rooftop bar, Overstory, which offers stunning 360-degree views of North Georgia. Here, guests can enjoy locally brewed beer, a nod to the hotel’s commitment to supporting local businesses. Additionally, the hotel will feature SweetSong Kitchen & Bar, a full-service restaurant that emphasizes locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.

A unique architectural feature of The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is its 25 preset lighting configurations. It can be adjusted to reflect various events and holidays, adding a vibrant and dynamic touch to the hotel’s facade. This, along with amenities like a full-service Starbucks, an indoor pool, and the Westin WORKOUT Fitness Studios, ensures guests have everything they need for a rejuvenating stay.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is set to become a cornerstone of luxury and wellness in Gwinnett County, inviting visitors to experience a new level of hospitality.

A more in-depth feature will appear in Southwest Gwinnett magazine May/June issue.

Photos by Bruce Johnson

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Around Atlanta

Fernbank Museum Rings in 2024 with an Eight-Legged Invasion



Guests using one of Fernbank Museum's interactive displays

This winter, Fernbank Museum invites guests to come eye-to-eye with the hunting, burrowing and weaving world of spiders in the new special exhibit, “Spiders— From Fear to Fascination.”

Opening Feb. 10, 2024, and featuring over 250 live and preserved spider specimens, this exhibit will leave audiences with a new fascination for arachnids.

Guests will be able to explore an exhibition of spiders in all shapes and sizes—from the intimidatingly venomous Black Window to the famously large Huntsman—through a variety of curated displays.

Visitors will be able to virtually journey through hundreds of scattering spiders along a glowing forest floor through the use of augmented reality.

In addition to encountering live spiders, dioramas with taxidermy spiders, panels featuring real preservations and interactive components, guests will have the opportunity to use the free “Spiders Augmented Reality” app.

Some of the spiders featured in the app include the Wolf Spider, Trapdoor Spider, Desert Blonde Tarantula and more.

“Spiders evoke a combination of curiosity and horror, fear and fascination alike. The ‘Spiders — From Fear to Fascination’ exhibit is extraordinary as it makes spiders accessible and appealing, while still presenting the most up-to-date research and understanding of their biology,” said Linda S. Rayor, Cornell University‘s scientific consultant, exhibit manager of live animals and President of the American Arachnological Society.

Developed by the Australian Museum, “Spiders — From Fear to Fascination” features seven themed sections audiences can use to build their knowledge of the arachnid animal classification.

These themes include the spider family tree, diet and hunting, diversity of spiders from across the globe, spiders’ life cycles, their senses and silk production and weaving.

This exhibit will be included with General Admission at Fernbank from Feb. 10 through May 5, 2024. For more information, please visit fernbankmuseum.org/Spiders.

“Spiders — From Fear to Fascination” was created by the Australian Museum and sponsored locally in part by the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation, Inc.

Interested parties can purchase their tickets here today.

Photos courtesy of fernbankmuseum.org.

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Around Atlanta

Atlanta’s Iconic NETHERWORLD Haunted House Is Now Open



Haunt season is officially here and NETHERWORLD Haunted House opened its doors on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 with two new spine-chilling experiences.

This year, NETHERWORLD has expanded. There is a festival-styled Midway, a monster museum featuring movie props and a collection of NETHERWORLD memorabilia as well as five escape room games for many nights filled with frights.

NETHERWORLD is also introducing the PRIMORDIAL and CRYPTID CHAOS-themed haunted houses. 

In PRIMORDIAL, elemental beings of water, wind, earth and fire, fueled by the energy of the gateway to the NETHERWORLD, are on a mission to destroy.

In CRYPTID CHAOS, Cryptid Creatures and nightmarish urban legends battle it out with the Boogeyman for a spot at the top of the horror food chain. Those brave enough to enter will encounter special effects, advanced animatronics, live actors, intricate sets and much more.

“Each haunt features a continuation of past tales, with new and returning characters–the storytelling and incredible details within our haunts is something that sets us apart from the rest,” said NETHERWORLD Co- Creator Ben Armstrong

“We love building on our past themes and thrilling guests with new monsters, surprises and features, in addition to the fan-favorite elements that they have come to know, love and expect from NETHERWORLD,” he added.

Those who dare to enter both haunts will continue to NETHERWORLD’s Halloween-drenched Midway. The Midway features photo ops, a skeletal dragon and horror-themed games, complemented by plenty of monsters and creatures roaming about. 

Visitors can enjoy food and beverage options, including mini donuts, hot dogs, nachos, and gourmet popcorn. Fudge, pretzels and bratwurst have also been added to the menu. 

The mad scientist from Dr. Octane’s Bizarre Beverages is also back serving up colorful non-alcoholic fizzy, bubbling concoctions.

“Each year we aim to give both first-time haunt goers and loyal NETHERWORLD fans a new over-the-top experience,” said NETHERWORLD Co-Creator Billy Messina

“Each element we have to offer this season, from the haunts and museum to the Midway and our new Escape Game (Alien Terror), create an immersive experience for anyone who loves this season as much as we do!”

NETHERWORLD Haunted House is located at 1313 Netherworld Way, Stone Mountain, GA 30087. The experience is open from now until Nov. 11. Visit fearworld.com to purchase tickets and find available dates.

Photos by Bruce Johnson

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