In July, Stone Soup, a popular Grant Park restaurant, started a monthly cabaret show hosted by my friend Clay Spurz and his company of performers. It was a grand time. One of the highlights was Joe Kelly, accompanied by Spurz, reciting the poem Nevermore, as seen in this YouTube video below. The August Buffet and Cabaret will be Friday August 9th and Saturday the 10th. This time Alana Cheshire will join Joe Kelly, “Scooter” Fredman and Spurz with lots of new songs and scenes.
Don’t ask me how I’ve lived in the ATL for 15 years and NEVER seen the laser show at Stone Mountain Park. There is simply no excuse! But my friend Sue wanted to go and despite the monsoon that is Atlanta weather lately, we went.
But we took a few precautions. The traditional way to do the laser show is to spread out a blanket and have a picnic (no alcohol allowed) on the lawn. Even if the forecast hadn’t predicted thunderstorms, the ground was bound to be waterlogged from almost three solid weeks of rain, so a picnic didn’t seem like the best idea. A tiny bit of online research (how did we learn about things before the World Wide Web?) showed additional options. We bought tickets ($25 each, plus tax and $10 “parking” fee to enter park) for Terrace Seating with Dinner. The ticket included a buffet dinner (BBQ Pork, Fried Chicken, baked beans, potato salad, rolls), dessert (ice cream cup in vanilla or chocolate), beverages (I didn’t see any sodas, but there was plenty of lemonade, ice tea & water), unlimited popcorn (until the start of the show) AND a free glow item. It was well worth the money, even a value. BUT it wasn’t everything that the website promised: this was just terrace seating NOT reserved seating as the site specifically says.
For those who have never tried this option, I recommend it. BUT it would have been MUCH easier with more information–which easily could have been printed on the ticket. In fact, the ticket didn’t tell you much at all, so we drove to the park blind. At the gate we were given horrible directions to where we needed to go (“bear left, then go a half mile, no, maybe a mile…well, no more than a mile and a half. Then it’s the second parking lot on the left.” It was the parking lot on the right.) Frankly, we were lucky. We happened to pull into the correct parking lot (by chance) and I went to the ticket booth because they seemed to be the best place to get information. “Terrace” isn’t a place on the map. And it isn’t a restaurant. What they mean is the back terrace of Memorial Hall. It has a roof, but that isn’t much protection from the elements. And they also don’t mention that if you buy the ticket online, you have to redeem it (printed or right off your phone) at a ticket booth.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a “more information” type of person. I depend on the information in websites and tickets. I don’t like to have to continuously ask where to go next. I was frustrated. It is a fun event and I highly recommend it to everyone. But they do the laser show every single day of the summer so it seems like they could have this well organized.
I do want to add that the lovely woman who waited on us at the terrace (Gina?) was fabulous. I could not have asked for better customer service. It’s been my experience that Stone Mountain Park employees are exceptionally kind and concerned about making sure that you have a positive experience. It was this that made up for the lack of communication.
In the end, for me, while the communication could have been better, the dinner was acceptable, the customer service excellent and the laser show exceeded my expectations. And that was despite rain and heavy crowds. A very good evening!
Stone Soup Kitchen is an eclectic restaurant. It’s normally open for breakfast and lunch and is filled with folk art you won’t see anywhere else. Sometimes called a “hippie outpost,” it’s a laid back soup and sandwich shop heavy on vegetarian options. Their clientele may be aging flower children, but it’s hard to imagine a better fit with the Grant Park/Cabbagetown community.
I lucked into the first cabaret, a musical experiment, this past Friday at Stone Soup. The performance space is a covered porch with an intimate greenhouse feel, and it was completely sold out. With only ceiling fans (air conditioning coming very soon!) we were lucky for a break from both the incessant rain and the usual summer temperatures. The crowd was mostly friendly middle aged couples. They were chatty enough that it was almost hard to get them to stop visiting long enough to start the show! For $25 (if you called ahead, $30 if you didn’t) you got a buffet dinner of two kinds of soup and salad, plus one adult beverage and the floor show. There was even peach cobbler for dessert. This seems a terrific value to me and I hope this won’t be the last cabaret.
The show was put on By Clay Spurz & Company, a group of longtime friends and performers. Clay Spurz is a talented, electric mix of musician, song writer, performer, Chinese philosopher & linguist, and skit comedian. The “& Company” includes Britt Dean (who sings with Spurz in the trio, The Band of Desperate Men); Lesly Fredman (organizer/operator of Cold Soup Theatre, a creativity coach, and the show’s director), Joe Kelly (former Artistic Director of the Atlanta Contemporary Dance Company) and Marian “Sundance” Sanderson (a multilingual translator, actor, dancer and singer).
This cabaret is not about perfection. It is about fun. The get the idea that a million things could possibly go wrong with the performance, but the player know how to roll with the punches and audience will still have a good time. This is a troupe that has worked together for years in various combinations and they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. The camaraderie is infectious. The night included dance and a Poe recitation by Kelly (seen in this YouTube video). Also, storytelling, singing and dance by Sanderson; an audience sing along and comic relief with Dean; and character comedy by Fredman. Spurz was in virtually every skit, sang several original songs and accompanied almost every act on his guitar.
My hope is that the cabaret will become a monthly event, but that decision isn’t firm yet. If another is scheduled, I’ll be sure to post it here.
Stone Soup Kitchen is located at the intersection of Woodward and Boulevard. A small parking lot is located behind the restaurant with an entrance off Boulevard. They typically close midafternoon, but opened for this special, sold out event.
584 Woodward Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30312