BEST BETS | Dec. 14-20, 2017

IF YOU’RE NOT in a holiday mood, you’re kind of out of luck. Our top picks: “Christmas Canteen” (Aurora), “Ho, Ho Home for the Holidays” with Libby Whittemore (Actor’s Express) and, delightfully new this season, “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley” (Theatrical Outfit). PLEASE NOTE: The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Dec. 22 “Messiah” concert is sold out. Pictured: The company of the Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” Photo by Greg Mooney.

IF YOU’RE NOT in a holiday mood, you’re kind of out of luck. Our top picks: “Christmas Canteen” (Aurora), “Ho, Ho Home for the Holidays” with Libby Whittemore (Actor’s Express) and, delightfully new this season, “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley” (Theatrical Outfit). PLEASE NOTE: The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Dec. 22 “Messiah” concert is sold out. Pictured: The company of the Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” Photo by Greg Mooney.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season top pick. 

Recommended

The “Christmas Canteen” company (from left) Lyndsay Ricketson Brown, Nick Arapoglou, Jen MacQueen, Christian Magby, Cheyanne Osoria, Caroline Arapoglou, Benjamin Strickland, Chani Maisonet, Daisean Garrett, Cecil Washington Jr. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The “Christmas Canteen” company (from left) Lyndsay Ricketson Brown, Nick Arapoglou, Jen MacQueen, Christian Magby, Cheyanne Osoria, Caroline Arapoglou, Benjamin Strickland, Chani Maisonet, Daisean Garrett, Cecil Washington Jr. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23.

A holiday favorite (of mine). Aurora Theatre’s annual revue, one of its three seasonal shows, turns 22. The jolly variety show is schmaltzy, fun and moving in all the right ways. Think of “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Andy Williams’ Christmas specials, spin the time machine forward a bit, and you’ll know what to expect: songs, dances, novelty numbers and a few not-so-sly references to businesses that support Aurora. New this year: Nick and Caroline Arapoglou as co-hosts.

$30-$65. Many performances are already sold out, so please check before you go. Rush tickets may be available. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Watch the website for updates. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. 

Libby Whittemore as Connie Sue Day. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Libby Whittemore as Connie Sue Day. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays. CLOSES SUNDAY.

Visit Actor’s Express for a slice of Christmas fruitcake unlike any other.

Singer Libby Whittemore and alter ego Connie Sue Day (the 31st Lady of Country Music) serenade you with holiday favorites new and old (“Santa Baby,” “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree,” “Christmas in Dixie”) and novelty numbers (“The 12 Days of a White Trash Christmas”) in this two-act celebration of tinsel, jingle bells and just a titch too much eggnog.

$40. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

 

Amelia Fischer as Mary Bennett. Photo: David Woolf

Amelia Fischer as Mary Bennett. Photo: David Woolf

** Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. THROUGH DEC. 24.

An Encore Atlanta top pick. Theatrical Outfit presents the Southeastern premiere of this smart, witty, joyful piece from Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky, I and You, The Taming)and colleague Margot Melcon.

The comic drama, based on characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, takes us to 1815 England and into the life of middle sister Mary Bennet — who just might find romance amid the floor-to-ceiling volumes in the library. The cast: Amelia Fischer as Mary, with Galen CrawleyDevon HalesJonathan HorneLee OsorioMaria Rodriguez-SagerJulissa Sabino and Juan Carlos Unzueta.

 $20.50-$49. 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. 

 

This weekend only

Only very limited seating remains.

Only very limited seating remains.

A Very Merry Holiday POPS! FRIDAY-SATURDAY.

Only very limited seating still available. This year’s lineup includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Joe Gransden Big Band, Broadway’s Allison Blackwell (The Lion King, Porgy and Bess, A Night With Janis Joplin), the Melodica Men, the Atlanta All-City Chorus and choirs from Greenforest Community Baptist Church. Look for Santa and special helpers, as well. 

David Charles Abell, the new principal guest conductor of the Philly POPS, returns to the podium for a second year.

$20-$135. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

 

Select holiday

AtlantaBalletNutcracker

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. THROUGH DEC. 28. 

Atlanta Ballet dances its John McFall-choreographed Nut for the 23rd and final time. A new version debuts in 2018. McFall, the company’s artistic director from 1994 to 2016, slipped out of retirement to lead the company one more time.

You know the story. A nutcracker doll comes to life, turns into a prince and takes young Marya on a fantastical adventure.

$21.25-$125.25. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 26 + 28; and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. No show Christmas Day. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE.

Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. Tickets also at the Fox and Atlanta Ballet box offices.

[MORE: McFALL ‘NUT’ KNOWN FOR ITS MAGIC, STORYTELLING]

 

Courtney Patterson, David de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

Courtney Patterson, David de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 24. 

Alliance Theatre. Scrooge & Co. take their musical, multicultural story to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre while magic, in the form of renovations, consumes their Midtown mainstage. 

David de Vries returns as ol’ Ebenezer for a fourth season, ably assisted by such longtime cohorts as Cynthia D. Barker (Mrs. Cratchit); Andrew Benator (Marley); Lowrey Brown (Young Scrooge); Je Nie Fleming (Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber); Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Mr. Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); Joe Knezevich (Fred); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past). Marco Schittone again plays Tiny Tim. Rosemary Newcott again directs.

$20-$60. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 800.745.3000. Also at Bank of North Georgia and Cobb Energy Centre box offices.

[MORE: FOR LONGTIME DIRECTOR, EVERY ‘CAROL’ IS A NEW ONE]

 

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

The First Noel. THROUGH DEC. 24.

 True Colors Theatre Company. This musical, set in 1980s Harlem, follows three generations of a family faced with loss. The score reimagines traditional holiday favorites in jazz, gospel and pop styles.

For all ages. The cast includes Terry HenryBrittany L. IngeMargo Moorer and Brad RaymondJasmine Guy directs.

$16 + $28 including fees (and selling well). 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19; 11 a.m. Dec. 20; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Ferst Center for the Arts on the Georgia Tech campus, 349 Ferst Drive NW. Free parking.

Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849 (Ticket Alternative).

 

Emily Parrish Stembridge as Clara, Jessenia Ingram as Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Emily Parrish Stembridge as Clara, Jessenia Ingram as Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Heidi. THROUGH DEC. 31.

At Synchronicity Theatre. Johanna Spyri’s 19th-century children’s novel becomes a family-friendly musical in this staging for ages 3 and up. Heidi brings joy to everyone she meets, whether it’s her crusty grandfather in the Swiss Alps or a wheelchair-bound friend in the city. Even the goats sing.

The score is by Joan Cushing (Junie B. Jones, Miss Nelson, Petite Rouge). Every Friday is PJs & Play (kids in pajamas  get free milk, cookies and — for this show only — Swiss chocolates).

 $20-$22; $15-$17 children. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 19-21, 26-28 and 11 a.m. Dec. 24. No show Christmas Day. KidNight Countdown, with a kid-friendly toast and treat, follows the 5 p.m. show Dec. 31. Synchronicity is in the One Peachtree Pointe complex at 1545 Peachtree St. NE.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

 

ALSO FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

invasionchristmascarol

fashionado

BEST BETS | Dec. 7-13, 2017

If you have a favorite Atlanta holiday show/concert, by all means see it. But add “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” at Theatrical Outfit to your list. The script is smart, witty and as fizzy as a Christmas cocktail; the Outfit’s staging is gorgeous. Pictured: A match made in awkward shyness — Jonathan Horne as Arthur De Bourgh and Amelia Fischer as Mary Bennet. Photo by David Woolf.

If you have a favorite Atlanta holiday show/concert, by all means see it. But add “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” at Theatrical Outfit to your list. The script is smart, witty and as fizzy as a Christmas cocktail; the Outfit’s staging is gorgeous. Pictured: A match made in awkward shyness — Jonathan Horne as Arthur De Bourgh and Amelia Fischer as Mary Bennet. Photo by David Woolf.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season top pick. 

Recommended

Benjamin Strickland, Chani Maisonet. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Benjamin Strickland, Chani Maisonet. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23.

A holiday favorite (of mine). Aurora Theatre’s annual revue, one of its three seasonal shows, turns 22.

The jolly variety show is schmaltzy, fun and moving in all the right ways. Think of “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Andy Williams’ Christmas specials, spin the time machine forward a bit, and you’ll know what to expect: songs, dances, novelty numbers and a few not-so-sly references to businesses that support Aurora. New this year: Nick and Caroline Arapoglou as co-hosts.

$30-$65. Many performances are already sold out, so please check before you go. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Watch the website for updates. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. 

 

Libby Whittemore as Connie Sue Day. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Libby Whittemore as Connie Sue Day. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays. THROUGH DEC. 17.

Visit Actor’s Express for a slice of Christmas fruitcake unlike any other. Singer Libby Whittemore and alter ego Connie Sue Day (the 31st Lady of Country Music) serenade you with holiday favorites (“Santa Baby,” “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree,” “Christmas in Dixie”) and novelty numbers (“The 12 Days of a White Trash Christmas”) in this two-act celebration of tinsel, jingle bells and just a titch too much eggnog.

$40. 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and Dec. 15-17. 

At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

 

 

Julissa Sabino, Lee Osorio as the Darcys. Photo: David Woolf

Julissa Sabino, Lee Osorio as the Darcys. Photo: David Woolf

** Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. THROUGH DEC. 24.

An Encore Atlanta top pick. Theatrical Outfit presents the Southeastern premiere of this smart, witty, joyful piece from Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky, I and You, The Taming) and colleague Margot Melcon.

The comic drama, based on characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, takes us to 1815 England and into the life of middle sister Mary Bennet sister — who just might find romance amid the floor-to-ceiling books of the Pemberley library. 

The cast: Amelia Fischer as Mary, with Galen CrawleyDevon HalesJonathan HorneLee OsorioMaria Rodriguez-SagerJulissa Sabino and Juan Carlos Unzueta

$20.50-$49. 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 Opening this weekend

Jessenia Ingram as Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Jessenia Ingram as Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Heidi. OPENS FRIDAY.

At Synchronicity Theatre. Johanna Spyri’s 19th-century children’s novel becomes a family-friendly musical in this staging for ages 3 and up. Heidi brings joy to everyone she meets, whether it’s her crusty grandfather in the Swiss Alps or a wheelchair-bound friend in the city. Even the goats sing. The score is by Joan Cushing (Junie B. Jones, Miss Nelson, Petite Rouge). Note: Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids can wear pajamas and get milk, cookies and — for this show only — chocolates. Julie Skrzypek (Fancy Nancy, The One and Only Ivan) directs.

$20-$22; $15-$17 children. Through Dec. 31. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 19-21, 26-28 and 11 a.m. Dec. 24.

No show Christmas Day. KidNight Countdown, with a kid-friendly toast and a treat, follows 5 p.m. show Dec. 31. Synchronicity is in the One Peachtree Pointe complex at 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

 

This weekend only

ASO

Christmas With the ASO. SATURDAY.

Very few seats are left for this performance. Saturday evening, Sunday concerts sold out. ASO music director Robert Shaw began this Atlanta tradition decades ago.

As it has for a number of years, the music-making comes from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Gwinnett Young Singers and the Morehouse College Glee Club, all performing  Christmas carols and hymns.

$79-$135. 2 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

 

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. FRIDAY ONLY.

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and Co. return to Symphony Hall for Big Band Holiday, with vocalists Catherine Russell and Kenny WashingtonJazz at Lincoln Centerwas created to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education and advocacy.

$80 (only rear loge seats remain). 8 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

 

Urban Nutcracker. SATURDAY-SUNDAY. 

Ballethnic Dance Company’s soulful celebration takes place on Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Avenue in the 1940s. See the smooth Chocolatier sweep Brown Sugar off to a magical land filled with leaping Reggae Rag Dolls and the spinning Black Russian. This take — also featuring Mother Spice and her tumbling Spice Drops and the bubbly Coca-Cola Pas de Six — mixes the classical ballet with modern, jazz and tap dance.

$30-$60 (a Friday dress rehearsal/preview is $15). 8 nightly. Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College, 830 Westview Drive SW. Details, tickets HERE.

Ballethnic’s “Urban Nutcracker.”

Ballethnic’s “Urban Nutcracker.”

Select holiday

atlanta-ballet-nutcracker

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. THROUGH DEC. 28.

 Atlanta Ballet dances its John McFall-choreographed Nut for the 23rd and final time. A new version debuts in 2018. McFall, the company’s artistic director from 1994 to 2016, slipped out of retirement to lead the company one more time.

You know the story. A nutcracker doll comes to life, turns into a prince and takes young Marya on a fantastical adventure.

$21.25-$125.25. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 26 + 28; and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. No show Christmas Day. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. Tickets also at the Fox and Atlanta Ballet box offices. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[MORE: McFALL ‘NUT’ KNOWN FOR ITS MAGIC, STORYTELLING]

 

David de Vries as Scrooge, Neal A. Ghant as Bob Cratchit. Photo: Greg Mooney

David de Vries as Scrooge, Neal A. Ghant as Bob Cratchit. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 24.

 Alliance Theatre. Scrooge & Co. take their musical, multicultural story to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre while magic, in the form of renovations, consumes their Midtown mainstage. David de Vriesreturns as ol’ Ebenezer for a fourth season, ably assisted by such longtime cohorts as Cynthia D. Barker (Mrs. Cratchit); Andrew Benator (Marley); Lowrey Brown (Young Scrooge); Je Nie Fleming (Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber); Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Mr. Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); Joe Knezevich (Fred); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past). Marco Schittone again plays Tiny Tim. Rosemary Newcott again directs.

$20-$60. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. No shows Dec. 9. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta.

Details, tickets HERE or at 800.745.3000. Also at Bank of North Georgia and Cobb Energy Centre box offices.

[MORE: FOR LONGTIME DIRECTOR, EVERY YEAR IS A NEW YEAR]

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

The First Noel. THROUGH DEC. 24.

 True Colors Theatre Company. This musical, set in 1980s Harlem, follows three generations of a family faced with loss. The score reimagines traditional holiday favorites in jazz, gospel and pop styles. Good for all ages. The cast includes Terry HenryBrittany L. IngeMargo Moorer and Brad RaymondJasmine Guy directs.

$16 + $28 including fees (selling well). 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 12; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19; 11 a.m. Dec. 20; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23.

 Ferst Center for the Arts on the Georgia Tech campus, 349 Ferst Drive NW. Free parking. Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849 (Ticket Alternative).

 

ALSO FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

The Bumble in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The Bumble in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Coming up

Joe Gransden and his big band. Photo: Ben Vigil

Joe Gransden and his big band. Photo: Ben Vigil

A Very Merry Holiday POPS! DEC. 15-16.

This year’s lineup includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Joe Gransden Big Band, Broadway’s Allison Blackwell (The Lion King, Porgy and Bess, A Night With Janis Joplin), the Melodica Men, the Atlanta All-City Chorus and choirs from Greenforest Community Baptist Church of Atlanta.

Look for Santa and special helpers. David Charles Abell, the new principal guest conductor of the Philly POPS, returns to the podium for a second year.

$20-$135. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

fashionado

BEST BETS | Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2017

t’s beginning to look a lot like … well, you know. Pictured, from left: “Christmas Canteen” with Caroline and Nick Arapoglou (Aurora Theatre); “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Theatrical Outfit); and “The Snow Queen” (Serenbe Playhouse). Photo/illustrations by Chris Bartelski, Daryl Fazio, BreeAnne Clowdus.

t’s beginning to look a lot like … well, you know. Pictured, from left: “Christmas Canteen” with Caroline and Nick Arapoglou (Aurora Theatre); “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Theatrical Outfit); and “The Snow Queen” (Serenbe Playhouse). Photo/illustrations by Chris Bartelski, Daryl Fazio, BreeAnne Clowdus.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season top pick. 

Recommended

Stephen Ruffin (from left), Ashley Anderson, Isake Akanke, Rob Demery. Photo: Studio 7 Photography

Stephen Ruffin (from left), Ashley Anderson, Isake Akanke, Rob Demery. Photo: Studio 7 Photography

** Cardboard Piano. CLOSES SUNDAY.

 New Year’s Eve, 1999, in a remote Ugandan village. Two girls — one a villager (Isake Akanke), the other from a missionary family (Ashley Anderson) — sneak into a church to wed. A boy soldier (Stephen Ruffin) interrupts and lives are changed forever. Also in the cast: Rob Demery. The script is by South Korea-born playwright Hansol Jung. Kennesaw State’s Karen Robinson directs.

The drama, intense and provocative, debuted at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, where Express artistic director Freddie Ashley has found fertile ground.

8 tonight-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Aurora-ChristmasCanteen

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23.

A holiday favorite (of mine). Aurora Theatre’s annual revue, one of its three seasonal shows, turns 22.

The jolly variety show is schmaltzy, fun and moving in all the right ways. Think of “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Andy Williams’ Christmas specials, spin the time machine forward a bit, and you’ll know what to expect: songs, dances, novelty numbers and a few not-so-sly references to businesses that support Aurora.

New this year: Nick and Caroline Arapoglou as co-hosts. Get tickets soon; this show sells out fast.

$30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Already sold out: Dec. 3; Dec. 5 (both shows); Dec. 9 (both shows); Dec. 10 (2:30 p.m. show); Dec. 12 (both shows); 8 p.m. Dec. 16 (both shows); and Dec. 17 (10 a.m.); and Dec. 19 (10 a.m.) Watch the website for updates.

128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. 

Lauren Gunderson is the most-produced playwright in America this season.

Lauren Gunderson is the most-produced playwright in America this season.

** Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS SATURDAY.

An Encore Atlanta fall/winter top pick. Theatrical Outfit presents the Southeastern premiere of this piece from Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky, I and You, The Taming) and colleague Margot Melcon.

The drama, based on characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, takes us to 1815 England and into the life of middle Bennet sister Mary, her hopes for independence, intellectual rigor and perhaps even love. 

Atlanta actor/director Carolyn Cook leads a strong cast featuring Amelia Fischer as Mary, with Galen CrawleyDevon HalesJonathan HorneLee OsorioMaria Rodriguez-SagerJulissa Sabino and Juan Carlos Unzueta.

 $20.50-$49. Through Dec. 24. 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 Opening this weekend

christmas-at-sweet-apple

Christmas at Sweet Apple. BEGINS FRIDAY.

At Stage Door Players. A feel-good, hometown celebration told through story and song and based on the writings of celebrated Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Celestine Sibley(1914-1999). Sibley’s sharp but folksy take on life and people remains timeless. Atlanta playwright Phillip DePoy wrote the script. The cast includes Scott E. DePoy, Karen Howell, Kate Johnson, Paige Mattox and Jeremy Wood.

$15-$33. Through Dec. 17. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

 

SnowQueen

The Snow Queen. OPENS TONIGHT. 

Serenbe Playhouse takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale into the woods once again, emphasizing the wintry nature of the tale, as young Gerda fights fear on a journey to save her brother from the icy lady’s evil magic.

Performed outdoors in a staging that travels (without seating); request chairs through the box office at 770.463.1110.

$15 + $20. Through Dec. 30. 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (expands to Tuesday-Sunday on Dec. 19); 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday (Tuesdays added as of Dec. 19).

10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions, parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

This week only

Fox-Phantom

Love Never Dies. THROUGH SUNDAY. 

Broadway in Atlanta presents this sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

The year is 1907, and it has been a decade since the Phantom vanished from the Paris Opera House. He has made a new life for himself among the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island — but has never stopped yearning for his musical protégée, Christine Daaé.

$44-$144. 7:30 tonight; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE.

Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[READ: BROADWAY’S KAREN MASON PLAYS THE DEVOTED MADAME GIRY]

 

One night only

opera to opry

From Opera to Opry: Liquor, Love and the Lord. TUESDAY. 

The Atlanta Opera mixes arias with twang in its second annual holiday concert at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Opera singers (tenor Jonathan Burton, baritones Corey Crider and Michael Mayes, soprano Leah Partridge) mix it up with Cletus McHatfield and the McHatfield Fambly Singers, performing everything from Mozart, Puccini and Verdi to Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and George Jones.

$35. 7:30 p.m. All seats general admission. The Tavern opens at 6:15 p.m. for early drinks and dinner.

499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Parking in the hospital deck is recommended. Tickets, details HERE or at 404.881.8885.

 

Select holiday

blacknativity

Black Nativity. THROUGH DEC. 17.

This African-American telling of the Christmas story was written in 1961 by acclaimed poet/playwright Langston Hughes (1902-1967). This one-act version, produced by Dominion Entertainment Group, takes audiences from a traditional black church to an Africanized Jerusalem through dance, spirituals, anthems and toe-tapping gospel numbers (“My Way Is Cloudy,” “Poor Baby Jesus,” “Mary Did You Know,” “What Child Is This” and many others).

$25-$50. Runs Wednesday-Sunday, but curtain times vary, so please check HERESouthwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

OTHER HOLIDAY SHOWS WORTH A LOOK:

Coming up

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. OPENS DEC. 8. Atlanta Ballet dances its John McFall-choreographed Nut for the 23rd and final time. A new version debuts in 2018. McFall, the company’s artistic director from 1994 to 2016, slipped out of retirement and into his ballet slippers to lead the company one more time. You know the story. A nutcracker doll comes to life, turns into a prince and takes young Marya on a fantastical adventure.

$21.25-$125.25. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 26 + 28; and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. No show on Christmas. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. Tickets also at the Fox and Atlanta Ballet box offices. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[MORE: McFALL ‘NUT’ KNOWN FOR ITS MAGIC, STORYTELLING]

David de Vries returns as Scrooge for a fourth season. Photo: Greg Mooney

David de Vries returns as Scrooge for a fourth season. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. OPENS DEC. 8.

Alliance Theatre. Scrooge & Co. take their musical, multicultural story to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre this season while magic, in the form of renovations, consumes their Midtown mainstage. David de Vries returns as ol’ Ebenezer for a fourth season, ably assisted by such longtime cohorts as Cynthia D. Barker (Mrs. Cratchit); Andrew Benator (Marley); Lowrey Brown (Young Scrooge); Je Nie Fleming (Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber); Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Mr. Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); Joe Knezevich (Fred); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past). Marco Schittone plays Tiny Tim for a second season. Rosemary Newcott again directs.

$20-$60. Through Dec. 24. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. No shows Dec. 9. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 800.745.3000. Also at Bank of North Georgia and Cobb Energy Centre box offices.

[MORE: FOR LONGTIME DIRECTOR, EVERY YEAR IS A NEW YEAR]

 

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

Photo: True Colors Theatre Company

The First Noel. OPENS DEC. 8.

True Colors Theatre Company. This musical, set in 1980s Harlem, follows three generations of a family faced with loss. The score reimagines traditional holiday favorites in jazz, gospel and pop styles. Good for all ages. The cast includes Terry HenryBrittany L. IngeMargo Moorer and Brad RaymondJasmine Guy directs.

$16 + $28 including fees (selling well). Through Dec. 24. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 12; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19; 11 a.m. Dec. 20; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Ferst Center for the Arts on the Georgia Tech campus, 349 Ferst Drive NW.

Free parking. Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849 (Ticket Alternative).

Jessenia Ingram is Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Jessenia Ingram is Heidi. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Heidi. OPENS DEC. 8.

At Synchronicity Theatre. Johanna Spyri’s 19th-century children’s novel becomes a family-friendly musical in this staging for ages 3 and up. Heidi brings joy to everyone she meets, whether it’s her crusty grandfather in the Swiss Alps or a wheelchair-bound friend in the city. Even the goats sing.

The score is by Joan Cushing (Junie B. Jones, Miss Nelson, Petite Rouge). Note: Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids can wear pajamas and get milk, cookies and — for this show only — chocolates. Julie Skrzypek (Fancy Nancy, The One and Only Ivan) directs.

$20-$22; $15-$17 children. Through Dec. 31. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2 p.m. Dec. 19-21, 26-28 and 11 a.m. Dec. 24. No show Christmas Day. KidNight Countdown, with a kid-friendly toast and a treat, follows 5 p.m. show Dec. 31. Synchronicity is in the One Peachtreee Pointe complex at 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Libby Whittemore

Libby Whittemore

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays. DEC. 9-17.

Visit Actor’s Express for a slice of Christmas fruitcake unlike any other.

Singer Libby Whittemore and alter ego Connie Sue Day (the 31st Lady of Country Music) serenade you with holiday favorites (“Santa Baby,” “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree,” “Christmas in Dixie”) and novelty numbers (“The 12 Days of a White Trash Christmas”) in this two-act celebration of tinsel, jingle bells and just a titch too much eggnog.

$40. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9-10, 15-17. At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Photo: Ballethnic Dance Company

Photo: Ballethnic Dance Company

Urban Nutcracker. DEC. 9-10.

Ballethnic Dance Company’s soulful celebration takes place on Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Avenue in the 1940s. See the smooth Chocolatier sweep Brown Sugar off to a magical land filled with leaping Reggae Rag Dolls and the spinning Black Russian. This take — also featuring Mother Spice and her tumbling Spice Drops and the bubbly Coca-Cola Pas de Six — mixes the classical ballet with modern, jazz and tap dance.

$30-$60 (a Dec. 8 dress rehearsal/preview is $15). 8 nightly. Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College, 830 Westview Drive SW. Details, tickets HERE.

 

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ALL DECKED OUT

Ebenezer Scrooge (David de Vries, left) meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bart Hansard0. Photos by Greg Mooney

Ebenezer Scrooge (David de Vries, left) meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bart Hansard0. Photos by Greg Mooney

THE ALLIANCE’S TELLING OF ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ TURNS 28 THIS SEASON, BUT FOR DIRECTOR ROSEMARY NEWCOTT, IT’S A NEW SHOW EVERY YEAR.

“A Christmas Carol” runs Dec. 8-24 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

IF YOU’VE GONE LOOKING for Scrooge this season, you’ll find the Alliance Theatre’s infamous miser in a new locale.

ChristmasCarol

Oh, he’s still spreading misery in 19th-century London, greedily counting his shillings and ha’pennys and turning the less fortunate out of their homes, but he’s moved from Midtown to Cobb County this season.

So, revelers from far and near, welcome to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and the Alliance’s 28th annual telling of David H. Bell’s musical, multicultural adaptation of the Dickens holiday classic.

At its redemptive core, of course, is ol’ Ebenezer — played for a fourth consecutive season by David de Vries — finally seeing the good in mankind in time to carve the Christmas goose. Oops, we sort of gave away the ending. But likely that doesn’t matter one smidge of figgy pudding.

Audiences return year after year, making this Carol one of metro Atlanta’s most popular holiday traditions.

We’ll let director Rosemary Newcott say more. Next to adapter Bell, she’s been associated with this piece more than anyone.

QUESTION: You’ve directed this Christmas Carol at least 20 times. What’s your history with the piece?

ANSWER: Yes, I’ve lived with this show a lot. I acted in the first production at the Alliance. I was in the ensemble and played a number of roles — including Fan, Scrooge’s sister, and Belle, Scrooge’s long-ago love interest. And I was Mrs. Cratchit for a while. Then David Bell started directing, and I was assistant director for about five years. I’d help him direct it here, then direct it for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, which has staged a same version for almost as long.

Q: What sort of difference has this Christmas Carol made in your life?

RosemaryNewcott

A: What a lovely question. It became a family event for me as my brothers and nieces and nephews all traveled here to see it. It brought us all together as a family. In 2008, my father at age 90, came to visit my sister, Mary Lou, and myself in Atlanta, and to once again see A Christmas Carol. Dad became ill during that visit and lived in assisted living in Atlanta for five years, until he died.  He was the biggest cheerleader, telling relatives and complete strangers in restaurants and stores: “It’s Broadway, just beautiful, you have to see it!” I think this adaptation is an extraordinary piece, and the longevity proves it. And I always get to remember my dad loving it so much.

Q: What about this production makes you most proud?

A: The number of people who tell me that coming to A Christmas Carol became a family tradition. They say: “We come every season, and we all dress up.” They might have a child in the family who has become old enough to see it for the first time. That’s also so lovely.

A Christmas toast with the Cratchit family. Neal A. Ghant (back, left) returns as family patriarch (and Scrooge’s employee).

A Christmas toast with the Cratchit family. Neal A. Ghant (back, left) returns as family patriarch (and Scrooge’s employee).

Q: How do you keep it fresh and new?

A: I reread Dickens’ original text. It’s such a beautiful piece to revisit, and it always pulls me back. Every year is a new year, and our production is that way, too. There are always new actors, and they always bring new ideas. My job is always to be as true to the story and characters as possible, because then it’s going to work.

The story is so positive in the way it affects audiences — that’s like a gift. Because we’re staging it in the Cobb Energy Centre this year, it’s paramount that I make sure the story’s sentiment doesn’t get lost in the largeness of the place.

Q: How do you account for the story’s timeless power?

A: It’s more than a gentle reminder of what’s most important in life. We only have a short time in this world, and what are you going to do with that time? That’s just one message, but it’s a big one. Scrooge is wasting his life. He has isolated himself from anybody and any joy and, because of that, he is wasting away and has no idea.

Also, for me, its power involves the child that’s in all of us still. I’m so much about serving the child and the child within. We submerge it, but we need it. This story reminds us it’s OK to think and feel like a child does, in that sincere and joyful and uncomplicated, uncluttered way.

xmaschoral

Q: This might be impossible, but do you have a favorite line?

A: I have many. But what comes to mind is a line spoken by Fred Watkins, who will be played so beautifully again by Joe Knezevich. It’s about the measure of a man.

“Oh, uncle. The measure of a man’s life is the measure of this season. Measures of forgiveness and charity; of opening hearts so long shut up against the evils of this world and joining with a multitude of other hearts in celebrating all that is holy and good; celebrating all that man is capable of, yet so often ignores.

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GOODNIGHT, SWEET PRINCE

Longtime Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall is saluted by his dancers during the 2016 staging of his “Nutcracker.” Photo: Kim Kenney

Longtime Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall is saluted by his dancers during the 2016 staging of his “Nutcracker.” Photo: Kim Kenney

AFTER MORE THAN 500 PERFORMANCES AND 23 SEASONS, ATLANTA BALLET DANCES  JOHN McFALL’S ‘NUTCRACKER’ FOR THE LAST TIME.

“Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker” makes it annual visit to the Fox Theatre, opening Dec. 8 and running through Dec. 28. Tickets, details HERE. 

AS THE BYRDS SANG a half-century ago, “to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn.”

Even if your Nutcracker ballet is as pretty as a Christmas card. Even if it has a splendid balance of humor, beauty and elegance. And enough clever and dynamic choreography and rosy-cheeked children. Even then, change is inevitable.

Retired artistic director John McFall says his “Nut” has a “Las Vegas-style of theatrical lifts and a bit of circus. More gusto and a sense of enthusiasm.” Photo: Charlie McCullers

Retired artistic director John McFall says his “Nut” has a “Las Vegas-style of theatrical lifts and a bit of circus. More gusto and a sense of enthusiasm.” Photo: Charlie McCullers

This year is the 23rd and final presentation of just such a Nutcracker: the successful and imaginative rendering that John McFall, as artistic director, created decades ago for Atlanta Ballet. McFall retired in 2016, and his Nutcracker follows suit when this season’s final curtain falls Dec. 28.

Before McFall, the company mostly staged George Balanchine’s traditional version of the holiday ballet set to Peter Tchaikovsky’s music. McFall’s successor, the Bolshi-trained Gennadi Nedvigin, will debut a new Nutcracker in 2018.

The story of a nutcracker doll that comes to life and turns into a prince, and a young girl’s fantasy adventure, has always lent itself to creative interpretation. McFall calls Tchaikovsky’s lush and sprightly 1892 score “film music — way ahead of its time.”

In McFall’s Nutcracker, the audience is transported to a Christmas party at the Petrov home in St. Petersburg, Russia, circa 1850. Costumes by Judanna Lynn, and scenery by Peter Horne and Michael Hagen, have been praised for evoking that time and place as has McFall’s sense of whimsy and wonder.

McFall takes his sweet time with that party scene, inviting us to sit back and bask in the merriment. Before too long, though, he serves up a comedic and athletically rigorous “battle of the rats.”

 

This “Nutcracker” likely will be remembered for its beauty, enchantment, magical moments and storytelling, Atlanta Ballet dancers say. Photo: Kim Kenney

This “Nutcracker” likely will be remembered for its beauty, enchantment, magical moments and storytelling, Atlanta Ballet dancers say. Photo: Kim Kenney

From a breathtaking scene with a gentle snowfall and a dozen Snowflakes weaving in and out of one another, to some classical pas de deux, there’s also intricate choreography to please serious dance fans.

For what will this Nutcracker be remembered? Its overall beauty and enchantment, many magical moments and a sharp focus on storytelling. That’s the word from dancers Nadia Mara and Jacob Bush, who have each danced lead roles over the years.

There are always several casts performing the Nut, so depending on which one you see, Mara this year may dance the Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy or Dew Drop Fairy. Bush will do the Snow King (his favorite, “because the pas de deux is amazing, and I just get swept away”), the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier or Drosselmeyer the toymaker.

It’s the enigmatic Drosselmeyer who takes the girl Marya on her eye-popping journey to a land of snow and crystal, the Sugar Candy Kingdom and an exotic ball showcasing cultural dances.

Photo: Kim Kenney

Photo: Kim Kenney

McFall suggests that his Nutcracker has a “women’s lib” vibe. His Marya “liberates herself and discovers her world is filled with possibility. She is courageous, defines herself and shatters the glass ceiling.”

Deepening the storytelling may be McFall’s top strength, say Mara and Bush.

“I’ve seen lots of Nutcrackers and some have seemed a bit two-dimensional,” Bush says. “John has always been very good at using every character, including every kid onstage, and they don’t jump up and down. Every one of them is given specific steps and is encouraged to be part of the story.”

“John spent so much time on the details,” says dancer Nadia Mara (center). “That’s how to get everyone caught up in a story.” Photo: Charlie McCullers

“John spent so much time on the details,” says dancer Nadia Mara (center). “That’s how to get everyone caught up in a story.” Photo: Charlie McCullers

Says Mara: “John spent so much time on the details. That’s how to get everyone caught up in a story.”

Some 200 youngsters from the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education perform annually in this Nutcracker.

“Audiences return year after year if the production is theatrical, vibrant and inspiring,” McFall says. “There has to be a rhythm and pace that invigorates and stimulates.”

To keep the Nutcracker story moving, McFall rearranged some musical sequences. American audiences, he says, “are easily bored, so less is better. I omitted or edited what might be described as 19th-century storytelling. My version has a Las Vegas-style of theatrical lifts and a bit of circus. More gusto and a sense of enthusiasm.”

McFall interrupted his retirement to prepare the company for this final Nutcracker of his. Nedvigin worked alongside him the past two seasons and called it a “wonderful experience.”

“John McFall’s version of Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker has touched the lives of so many children and families throughout the past two decades,” Nedvigin says.

Photo: Kim Kenney

Photo: Kim Kenney

It’s too soon for Nedvigin to say much about next year’s new Nutcracker, but he does say he’s gathered a “top-notch” creative team. It includes renowned choreographer Yuri Possokhov, formerly of the Bolshoi and San Francisco ballets. His Cinderella for the Bolshoi (2006) and Don Quixote for the Joffrey Ballet (2011) are among his many triumphs. Atlanta Ballet danced his Firebird last April.

What Nedvigin will say is that the next Nut will be “extraordinary” and “take audiences on a journey that is truly larger than life.”

For now, we have a twilight moment for this long-loved Nutcracker.

“It is truly dear to my heart,” Mara says. “I love doing the Sugar Plum Fairy. It doesn’t matter if I’ve done it a hundred times. I still get goose bumps. And I love that feeling. We don’t get to have happy goose bumps all the time.”

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BEST BETS | Nov. 22-29, 2017

Here comes Santa Claus. And Jane Austen. And please don’t miss “Cardboard Piano” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: The “Christmas Canteen” company at Aurora Theatre. Bottom, center: Nick Arapoglou. Middle, from left: Lindsay Ricketson Brown, Jen MacQueen, Chani Maisonet. Top, from left: Christian Magby, Caroline Arapoglou, Cecil Washington Jr. and Benjamin Strickland. Photo by Chris Bartelski.

Here comes Santa Claus. And Jane Austen. And please don’t miss “Cardboard Piano” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: The “Christmas Canteen” company at Aurora Theatre. Bottom, center: Nick Arapoglou. Middle, from left: Lindsay Ricketson Brown, Jen MacQueen, Chani Maisonet. Top, from left: Christian Magby, Caroline Arapoglou, Cecil Washington Jr. and Benjamin Strickland. Photo by Chris Bartelski.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season top pick. 

Recommended

Isake Akanke (from left), Stephen Ruffin, Rob Demery, Ashley Anderson. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett

Isake Akanke (from left), Stephen Ruffin, Rob Demery, Ashley Anderson. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett

** Cardboard Piano. THROUGH DEC. 3.

 New Year’s Eve, 1999, in a remote Ugandan village. Two girls — one a villager (Isake Akanke), the other from a missionary family (Ashley Anderson) — sneak into a church to wed each other. A boy soldier on the run (Stephen Ruffin) interrupts, sparking a chain of events that changes everyone’s lives forever. Also in the cast: Rob Demery. The script is by South Korea-born playwright Hansol Jung. Kennesaw State’s Karen Robinson directs. The drama, intense and provocative, debuted at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, where Express artistic director Freddie Ashley has found fertile ground.

8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 

Aurora-ChristmasCanteen

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23.

A holiday favorite (of mine). Aurora Theatre’s annual revue, one of its three seasonal shows, turns 22. The jolly variety show is schmaltzy, fun and moving in all the right ways. Think of “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Andy Williams’ Christmas specials, spin the time machine forward a bit, and you’ll know what to expect: songs, dances, novelty numbers and a few not-so-sly references to businesses that support Aurora.

New this year: Nick and Caroline Arapoglou as co-hosts, cast members Chani Maisonet and Cansler McGhee, and apprentice performers Daisean Garrett and Cheyanne Osoria. Returning are Jen MacQueen, Lyndsay Ricketson Brown, Christian Magby and Cecil Washington Jr. Get tickets soon; this show sells out fast.

$30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No shows Nov. 22-23 (Thanksgiving). Already sold out: Nov. 28; Dec. 5 (both shows); Dec. 9 (both shows); Dec. 12 (both shows); 8 p.m. Dec. 16; and Dec. 17 (watch the website for updates).

128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. 

This weekend only

Jenn Gambatese (clockwise, from top left), Kissy Simmons, Alton Fitzgerald White, Josh Strickland.

Jenn Gambatese (clockwise, from top left), Kissy Simmons, Alton Fitzgerald White, Josh Strickland.

Disney’s Broadway Hits. SATURDAY-SUNDAY.

Four Broadway performers join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for a concert featuring songs from nine award-winning scores — by Phil Collins(Tarzan); Elton John (Aida, The Lion King); Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Newsies); and Richard & Robert Sherman (Mary Poppins).

The Broadway singers are Jenn Gambatese and Josh Strickland (Tarzan), and Alton Fitzgerald White and Kissy Simmons (The Lion King). Principal pops conductor Michael Krajewski takes the baton. 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

$29-$89. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Last chance

Mary Lynn Owen. Photo: Greg Mooney

Mary Lynn Owen. Photo: Greg Mooney

Crossing Delancey. CLOSES SATURDAY.

Staged by the Alliance Theatre. You might remember the 1988 movie; the stage version came first. Bubbie (Mary Lynn Owen) is an 80-year-old Jewish grandmother determined to see granddaughter Izzy (Sochi Fried) marry the right man. Izzy has her eyes on an author (Daniel Thomas May), while Bubbie zeroes in on Sam the pickle man (Andrew Benator).

$10-$70. 7:30 tonight-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Performed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road (the Alliance’s home is under renovations). Tickets, details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[READ MORE: EVERYBODY OUGHT TO HAVE A BUBBIE]

 

Sarah Newby Halicks, ONeil Delapenhaat, Brooke Owens.

Sarah Newby Halicks, ONeil Delapenhaat, Brooke Owens.

Twelfth Night. CLOSES SUNDAY.

 A shipwreck, separated identical twins, mistaken identities, romance, revenge and one pair of yellow stockings.

Welcome to Orsino’s court (Chris Hecke is Orsino) and the zany world of Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Pub menu and spirited beverages available.

$22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 99 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown).

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299. Discount gift cards at PoshDealz.com.

 

Select holiday

blacknativity

Black Nativity. OPENS NOV. 29.

The African-American telling of the Christmas story was written in 1961 by acclaimed poet/playwright Langston Hughes (1902-1967).

This one-act version, produced by Dominion Entertainment Group, takes audiences from a traditional black church to an Africanized Jerusalem through dance, spirituals, anthems and toe-tapping gospel numbers (“My Way Is Cloudy,” “Poor Baby Jesus,” “Mary Did You Know,” “What Child Is This” and many others).

$25-$50. Through Dec. 17. Runs Wednesday-Sunday, but curtain times vary, so check HERESouthwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

aurora

A Christmas Carol / The 12 Dates of Christmas. OPENS FRIDAY.

Aurora Theatre runs this holiday twofer in rotating repertory in its Harvel Lab studio space. Artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez does his one-man telling of the Scrooge story for an 11th season. In the one-woman 12 Dates, Renita James plays the unfortunate woman who sees her fiancé kiss another woman on national TV — while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, no less. Bah, humbug. Her life unspools from there.

Through Dec. 23. Dates and times vary. Christmas Carol details, tickets HERE

12 Dates details, tickets HERE. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Call 678.226.6222. 

rudolphtherednosereindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. THROUGH DEC. 31.

The most famous reindeer of all is back at the Center for Puppetry Arts. This oft-revisited piece remains faithful to the plot of the classic 1964 Rankin-Bass TV special.

All your favorite characters return: Rudolph, Clarice, Sam the Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the Elf, the Misfit Toys, the Bumble and, of course, Santa. For ages 4 and up.

$6.75-$35. No show on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Curtain is generally at 10 + 11:45 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday, but times vary through the holidays, so check ahead HERE. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Serenbe-SnowQueen

The Snow Queen. OPENS NOV. 30.

Serenbe Playhouse takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale into the woods once again, emphasizing the wintry nature of the tale, as young Gerda fights fear on a journey to save her brother from the icy lady’s evil magic. Performed outdoors in a staging that travels (without seating). Request chairs through the box office at 770.463.1110. $15 + $20.

Through Dec. 30. 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (expands to Tuesday-Sunday on Dec. 19); 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday (Tuesdays added beginning Dec. 19). 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills.

Directions, parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Coming up

LOVENEVERDIES

Love Never Dies. OPENS NOV. 28.

 Broadway in Atlanta presents this sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907, and it’s been a decade since the Phantom vanished from the Paris Opera House. He has made a new life for himself among the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island — but has never stopped yearning for his musical protégée, Christine Daaé.

$44-$144. Through Dec. 3. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[READ: BROADWAY’S KAREN MASON PLAYS THE DEVOTED MADAME GIRY]

 

Amelia-Fischer

** Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. BEGINS NOV. 30.

An Encore Atlanta fall/winter top pick. Theatrical Outfit presents the Southeastern premiere of this piece from Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky, I and You, The Taming) and colleague Margot Melcon.

The holiday show, based on characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, takes us to 1815 England and focuses on the middle Bennet sister, Mary, and her hopes for independence, intellectual rigor and perhaps even love. Atlanta actor/director Carolyn Cook leads a strong cast featuring Amelia Fischer as Mary, with Galen CrawleyDevon HalesJonathan HorneLee OsorioMaria Rodriguez-SagerJulissa Sabino and Juan Carlos Unzueta

$20.50-$49. Through Dec. 24. 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

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CALL HER MADAME

Raising a glass in “Love Never Dies'” “Dear Old Friend” number are (from left) Mary Michael as Meg Giry, Meghan Picerno as Christine Daaé, Karen Mason as Madame Giry and Sean Thompson as Raoul. Photo: Joan Marcus

Raising a glass in “Love Never Dies'” “Dear Old Friend” number are (from left) Mary Michael as Meg Giry, Meghan Picerno as Christine Daaé, Karen Mason as Madame Giry and Sean Thompson as Raoul. Photo: Joan Marcus

LEARNING THAT ‘LOVE NEVER DIES’ HAD A GOOD ROLE FOR A ‘RIPER,’ NEW YORK STAGE AND CABARET REGULAR KAREN MASON SIGNS ON AS MADAME GIRY.

“Love Never Dies,” a sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera,” runs Nov. 28-Dec. 3 at the Fox Theatre. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

IT’S A WELL-KNOWN FACT that to truly enjoy movies, theater and such, you often need to suspend disbelief. So, welcome to Love Never Dies, a sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running musical in Broadway history at 28 years and counting.

Gardar Thor Cortes is the Phantom in “Love Never Dies,” which begins its U.S. journey with this tour. Meghan Picerno is Christine Daaé. Photo: Joan Marcus

Gardar Thor Cortes is the Phantom in “Love Never Dies,” which begins its U.S. journey with this tour. Meghan Picerno is Christine Daaé. Photo: Joan Marcus

Lloyd Webber began working on a sequel a few years after Phantom opened in London in 1986 but didn’t begin writing the score until 2007. There’s even a story about how his initial score was strangely deleted, not by a phantom, but by Lloyd Webber’s kitten, which climbed onto the composer’s digital piano.

Love Never Dies takes place more than a decade after the Phantom ends, on New York’s Coney Island in 1907.The Phantom is still hiding in the shadows. Wait a sec. Did you think the poor guy with the hideous face died of a broken heart? Think again. We never saw his body at the end of Phantom, only his mask. The ending was ambiguous.

In this sequel, which creators consider a stand-alone show, the tortured man has made his way to New York with the help of Madame Giry, ballet mistress at the Paris Opera House, and her daughter, Meg. Now the masked man owns Phantasma, a Coney Island amusement park with burlesque and freak shows. Madame Giry and Meg work for him.

 

Performers at Coney Island’s Phantasma include (from left) Richard Koons as Squelch, Katrina Kemp as Fleck and Stephen Petrovich as Gangle. Photo: Joan Marcus

Performers at Coney Island’s Phantasma include (from left) Richard Koons as Squelch, Katrina Kemp as Fleck and Stephen Petrovich as Gangle. Photo: Joan Marcus

That’s all you need to know, except that love never dies. Now called Mr. Y, the Phantom still yearns for soprano Christine Daaé. Will Christine show up on Coney Island? What about her Raoul? Has it been happily ever after?

Love Never Dies opened in London in 2010 to less-than-lovely reviews. It was then overhauled by a new director, Simon Phillips(Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical). His prime goal: to make the show achieve “a much stronger connection to the original Phantom and those characters,” says associate director Gavin Mitford.

Phillips’ version launched in 2011 in Australia, where it was filmed for a 2012 DVD. It has been staged in Denmark, Germany and Japan but has never gone to Broadway. The Fox Theatre gets the reportedly lavish production on its first North American tour.

Karen Mason, a well-regarded cabaret singer and Broadway performer, is Madame Giry, a more prominent role this time. For starters, she gets to close the first act with the angst-filled number “Ten Long Years.”

With that song, Mason does what she’s known for: Belt it out. At theaters across the country, she’s handled Mama Rose in Gypsy. On Broadway, she originated the role of “man-eating dynamo” Tanya in Mamma Mia! On Broadway and in Los Angeles, she played faded screen star Norma Desmond in the original Sunset Boulevard, going on about 250 times as the standby for Glenn Close, Betty Buckley and Elaine Paige. She’s also been in the Broadway companies of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and Hairspray.

The many faces of Karen Mason (clockwise, from left): As Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” and the feisty Tanya in “Mamma Mia!,” both on Broadway, and on the cabaret stage.

The many faces of Karen Mason (clockwise, from left): As Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” and the feisty Tanya in “Mamma Mia!,” both on Broadway, and on the cabaret stage.

“One day I’m watching ‘Star Trek’ reruns, and the next day I’m starring in a Broadway show,” she recalls of her long stint as the Norma standby.

Unlike many performers who stick to one domain, Mason has steadily swung from solo cabaret (including a “legendary” Christmas show) to musical theater, from concert performances to recordings. “It’s About Time,” a collection of show tunes and standards, is her latest and seventh CD. (Some  might recall that in the early 1990s she headlined at Libby’s A Cabaret in Buckhead).

Mason never played Phantom’s Madame Giry. She heard about Love Never Dies “and that there was a good role for a ‘riper’” (someone mature). At 66, she was glad to learn that in this go-round Madame Giry sings in a lower register than in Phantom. “Vocally, this Madame Giry fits beautifully in my voice,” she says. “Let’s just say that she doesn’t have many quiet moments.”

[SEE: KAREN MASON SINGS “EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES”]

Mason connects with the role another way. Madame Giry senses “that she’s potentially going to lose what she has built. I understand that in a very personal way — what it’s like when some big thing happens and you can’t be sure how things will go for you.

“It’s that fear of — now what? The fear that it could all be taken away from you. Madame Giry has a lot to lose, and if Christine Daaé becomes a distraction, who knows what’s going to happen?”

The Love Never Dies company is filled with mostly young talents, so Mason helps balance things “as a beacon in the industry,” Mitford says. “She’s extremely generous, talented, wonderfully experienced. From a personality and character perspective, we get the depth of someone who has been a fighter, and the finesse of someone at the top of her game. Her spectrum and range is very hard to find. She really is a gem.”

“I’ve never laughed so hard, I’ve never worked so hard,” Mason says of rehearsing for the tour.

“It’s very exciting when you can create something without thinking about how someone else did it. I get to put my own imprint on Madame Giry. That’s very exciting and freeing. It’s a big responsibility but also a great joy to start at zero and work your way up.”

                       The “Love Never Dies” company onstage in Utica, N.Y. Photo: Joan Marcus

                       The “Love Never Dies” company onstage in Utica, N.Y. Photo: Joan Marcus

Mason’s career versatility allows her to explore different sides of her personality. She adores the intimacy of cabaret shows, “sharing stories with people who are right there, so close to me. I can be heartfelt.”

In theater, she says, “I can be big and loud. And in a big musical like this one, you discover other parts of yourself as you dig into your character. You’re telling a much larger story, but you’re just a mere part of that story.”

How lucky she is to get to do it all, she adds. “It keeps me sane in so many ways.”

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