BEST BETS | June 27 – July 3, 2019

Driving-Miss-Daisy

WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: Jill Jane Clements and Rob Cleveland in Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s previous production of Driving Miss Daisy. Photo by Casey Gardner Photography.

Last chance

Five Guys Named Moe. Through June 30. Theatrical Outfit. Get ready for this musical tribute to R&B pioneer Louis Jordan, whose slant on jazz paved the way for rock and roll in the ‘50s. See the story of down-on-his-luck Nomax as he’s listening to the radio in the wee hours of the morning. Five guys — Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe and Little Moe — materialize and encourage Nomax to shake off the blues and seize the day. Louis Jordan’s chart-topping tunes like, “Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t My Baby,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “Knock Me a Kiss,” put Nomax, and audiences, onto the road toward bliss. Tickets and information on the Theatrical Outfit website.

FASHIONADO

BEST BETS | May 23 – May 29, 2019

AtlantaJazzFestival

WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: This weekend, Piedmont Park welcomes the Atlanta Jazz Festival, a culmination of a full month of performances and programs. Photo from the Atlanta Jazz Festival Facebook page.

On the stage

Native Gardens. Through June 2. Aurora Theatre. Based in a historic Washington D.C. neighborhood, two couples who are next-door neighbors battle for their backyards. Each wants a completely different landscape than the other. Native Gardens is on American Theatre’s Top 10 Most Produced Plays of the 2018-19 season list. In addition, playwright Karen Zacaría is fifth on American Theatre’s Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of 2018-19. Full of thoroughly-researched horticulture references, on-stage partially-real gardens, and realistic neighborly conflict, Native Gardens is sure to challenge, delight, and humor audiences! Tickets and info on the Aurora Theatre website.

FASHIONADO

BEST BETS | Mar. 14-Mar. 20, 2019

ArisTheatreCelticShorts

WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: The four provinces of Ireland represented in performances at Arís Theatre’s Celtic Shorts fundraiser event! See below for info and ticket link.

St. Patrick’s Day weekend

Magical Music Adventure. March 17. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Ignite your imagination with the sounds of the ASO and the visual theatre of Magic Circle Mime Company. The whole family will enjoy learning about the Orchestra, its music, and the art of listening on this Magical Music Adventure. The program of music includes a storyline of attempted performances from various artistic disciplines complicated by the unexpected participation of two audience members. The ensuing action includes musical challenges between bugle and trumpet and tap dancing to ballet music. Tickets and info on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra website.

FASHIONADO

BEST BETS | Jan. 10-16, 2019

TessMalisKincaid

WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Nora returns as the delicious Aurora Theatre / Actor’s Express co-pro of “A Doll’s House, Part 2” begins its Lawrenceville run. Among other notables: a one-night-only “Della’s Diner” reunion; and the approaching “Ever After” (Alliance) and  “Unexpected Play Festival” (Theatrical Outfit). Pictured: Tess Malis Kincaid as Nora Helmer in “Part 2.” Photo by Casey Gardner.

Recommended

Clarinetist Laura Ardan (left) and vocal soloists Sasha Cook, Joseph Lattanzi.

Clarinetist Laura Ardan (left) and vocal soloists Sasha Cook, Joseph Lattanzi.

All Bernstein. THURSDAY + SATURDAY ONLY.

Guest conductor Christopher Allen leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and two soloists in a program dedicated to the music of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Expect to hear Symphonic Dances from West Side Story plus music from the composer’s 1971 Mass and the Broadway shows On the Town, Wonderful Town and Peter Pan. Soloists Sasha Cooke (mezzo-soprano) and Joseph Lattanzi (baritone) join the ASO, and principal clarinetist Laura Ardan is featured.

$22-$99. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

DellasDiner

Della’s Diner: Blue Plate Special. SATURDAY ONLY.

Tickets are going fast for this reunion show, which recalls Atlanta’s 1970s and ’80s cabaret heyday. You might know Morning Glory Mountain and the characters Della, daughter Ramona, country singer Connie Sue Day, Ricky Jim Robinson and Sheriff Ronnie Frank Flaugher from Libby Whittemore’s club act or Christmas shows. She returns for one more chapter in the musical comedy soap opera, as do singer-actor Megan McFarland and creator Tom Edwards. For the uninitiated, Della is the sassy, big-hearted café owner who dispenses love, wisdom and moral advice to the parade of oddballs who visit her small-town diner. There will be a whole lot goin’ on. 

$40. 8 p.m. Out Front Theatre999 Brady Ave. NW in West Midtown. Details HERE. Online tickets no longer available. Call the box office at 404.448.2755.

ADollsHousePart2

A Doll’s House, Part 2. OPENS THURSDAY.

Aurora Theatre takes its turn with this stunning Actor’s Express co-production, a sequel of sorts to master dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic, A Doll’s House (but you needn’t know that piece to enjoy this one). Well-known contemporary playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) leaves her husband and family to seek independence unheard of in her day. Now she’s knocking to get back in and ask a huge favor. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, W Magazine and Time Out New York all called Part 2 the best play of Broadway’s 2017 season. It’s smart, funny and modern. Joining Kincaid onstage are Rob ClevelandShelli Delgado and Deadra Moore. AE artistic director Freddie Ashley directed.

$20 and up. Through Feb. 10. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Jan. 22. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Opening this weekend

Moonlight&Magnolias

Moonlight & Magnolias. OPENS THURSDAY.

At Georgia Ensemble TheatreFrankly, my dear, it almost didn’t happen. Playwright Ron Hutchinson’s 2004 inside-Hollywood farce peeks behind the camera as producer-screenwriter David O. Selznick, director Victor Fleming and screenwriter Ben Hecht lock themselves in an office with a five-day supply of peanuts and bananas trying to rescue a disastrous 1939 movie. The title: Gone With the Wind. Great cast: William S. Murphey is Selznick, Bart Hansard is Fleming, and Googie Uterhardt is Hecht. All are Atlanta actors. Note: Contains mature language and content. 

$26-$40. Through Jan. 27. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 + 26. GET performs in the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 959 Forrest St. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com

Last chance

MillionDollarQuartet

Million Dollar Quartet. CLOSES SATURDAY.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises its popular staging and moves it to the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. Return to Dec. 4, 1956, the first and only time in history that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made music together. The spot was Sun Records in Memphis. The score includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and 15 more. Chris Damiano directs, music directs and plays Cash, with Alex Canty as Elvis, Christopher Kent as Perkins and Sean McGibbon as Lewis.

$35-$40. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday. The Conant is at 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260 (do not call the Conant box office).

Still running

ShakespeareTavernPlayhouse

Love’s Labour’s Lost. THROUGH JAN. 27.

At Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Can four young men honor their pledge to avoid the opposite sex, food, drink and sleep in order to become more intellectual and contemplative? Not in Shakespeare’s comedy, especially after four young women arrive on the scene. The cast: Tatyana Arrington, Kelly Criss, Chris Hecke, Amanda LindseySarah Newby Halicks, Tamil Periasamy, Cory Phelps and J.L. Reed, among others. Georgia Gwinnett College’s Jaclyn Hofmann directs.

$22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Food and drink, including libations, available. 499 Peachtree St. NE (parking suggested in the Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across the street). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299.

Next week

EverAfter

Ever After. BEGINS JAN. 15.

This musical update on the Cinderella story christens the Alliance Theatre’s new mainstage, the Coca-Cola Stage. The show is based on the 1998 Drew Barrymore movie (and the original 1729 fairy tale). Follow a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac, who risks everything to save a friend. With the help of Leonardo da Vinci (yes, da Vinci), she must decide who she is, what she’ll fight for and how far she’ll go for love. The show comes from the award-winning New York songwriting team of Zina Goldrich (music) and Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics). Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth directs. Her 30-person cast is led by Broadway regulars Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, School of Rock); Tony Award nominee David Garrison (A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine); Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown, Side Show); and Rachel York (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Head Over Heels). Also in the cast: Atlanta-based artists Terry Burrell (Ethel, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), Chris Kayser (Alliance, Georgia Shakespeare) and Rhyn McLemore Saver. We smell Broadway aspirations.

$25 and up. Through Feb. 17. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 + 29. No shows Feb. 3. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[NO PUMPKINS IN THIS CINDERELLA STORY]

 

Johannes Moser

Johannes Moser

Shostakovich + Bernstein. JAN. 17 + 19.

Music director Robert Spano leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony, a defiant and tuneful 1941 piece that was smuggled out of Russia during Hitler’s 900-day siege of the city. German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser joins the ASO for Leonard Bernstein’s Three Meditations from Mass. Thursday’s concert includes a 6:45 p.m. chamber recital open to ticket holders for either night.

$22-$98. At 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

The Unexpected Play Festival. JAN. 14-15. See three staged readings in two days at Theatrical Outfit. $10 per reading; $25 for all three. Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. The lineup …

TheUnexpectedPlayFestival
  •         Noon Jan. 14: If I Forget by Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen). Three Jewish siblings gather for their father’s 75th birthday and negotiate how much of the past they’re willing to sacrifice for a chance at a new beginning. The cast includes Andrew BenatorLane Carlock and Brian Kurlander. Outfit education director Mira Hirsch directs.

  •           7:30 p.m. Jan. 14: Gershwin’s America. Concert pianist Alpin Hong interprets George Gershwin songs in a one-man tale about music, being a second-generation immigrant and what it means to be American. Presented in partnership with New York’s Flying Carpet Theatre Company. Flying Carpet artistic director Adam Koplan directs.

  •           7:30 p.m. Jan. 15: Bellwether by Steve Yockey. A 6-year-old girl’s disappearance uncovers what’s really beneath the surface in her nice, safe surburban town. The cast includes Suehyla El-Attar, Eliana Marianes, Diany Rodriguez and Joe Sykes. Outfit associate artistic director Clifton Guterman directs.

Coming up

K2

K2. JAN. 25-FEB. 9.

From Catalyst Arts Atlanta. Two climbers are stranded at 27,000 feet on their descent from an expedition to the peak of the world’s second-highest mountain. One has a broken leg; the other is trying to recover a lost rope. Playwright Patrick Meyers’ drama uses mountain climbing as a metaphor to explore a deeper theme: the recognition that human beings are free to choose whether they will live or die and do so calmly and objectively, even under the most severe conditions. The cast: Joel Coady and Dan Ford. Barrett Doyle directs. Catalyst, a six-person collective of Atlanta-based artists, storytellers, performers, designers, musicians, craftspeople and filmmakers, stages the piece in an immersive format that includes wandering through a snow-covered base camp in which sherpa tea will be served, a camp speakeasy for drinks and a cliffside environment. 

$15-$25 plus fees. 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. In the Hangar space at The Bakery Atlanta825 Warner St. SW. Details, tickets HERE.

Neal A. Ghant. Photo: Kevin Harry

Neal A. Ghant. Photo: Kevin Harry

An Octoroon. JAN. 26-FEB. 24.

At Actor’s Express. An imaginative new work from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins  (2016’s Appropriate) turns 19th-century melodrama on its ear. The script, which won off-Broadway’s 2014 Obie Award for best new play, puts the antebellum South on a collision course with 21st-century cultural politics. Trouble has been brewing at the Terrebonne Plantation ever since Judge Peyton died. Money is low, an evil overseer is up to no good, and the heir to the estate is in love with the wrong person. Jacobs-Jenkins, 33, is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grantee and has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Donya K. Washington, an Alliance Theatre producer, directs. Her cast of 11 includes Isake Akanke (Cardboard Piano), Neal A. Ghant (The Motherf**ker With the Hat) and Parris Sarter (Angels in America). 

$20-$50 and subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

fashionado

BEST BETS | Nov. 1-7, 2018

WestsideStory

Steve Yockey’s sexy-scary “Reykjavik” continues at Actor’s Express, “The Royale” throws its last punch at Theatrical Outfit, the ASO takes on Mahler’s majestic 10th Symphony and The Atlanta Opera dances and sings its way through “West Side Story.” All this + more in this week’s curated column. (“West Side Story” photo by Lynn Lane.)

Top picks

Joe Sykes (left), Michael Vine. Photo: Casey Gardner

Joe Sykes (left), Michael Vine. Photo: Casey Gardner

Reykjavik. THROUGH NOV. 18. 

Reykjavikat Actor’s Express unfolds beneath the otherworldly glow of the Northern Lights, where tourists and locals mingle in the shadows of Iceland’s capital city. As told by Los Angeles-based playwright Steve Yockey, an Atlanta favorite with a strong national reputation, eight interconnected vignettes play out. We eavesdrop on lovers, siblings, hotel employees, sex workers and even some opinionated birds. In true Yockey style (Pluto, Wolves, Octopus), this collision of sex and danger introduces a world in which the supernatural is closer than we think.

The six-person cast is directed by frequent Express (and Yockey) collaborator Melissa Foulger and features such familiar faces as Stephanie FriedmanEliana MarianesJoe Sykes and Ben Thorpe (Alliance Theatre’s Hand to God). This is a National New Play Network rolling world premiere.

$33-$35 and subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Rob Cleveland (left), Garrett Turner, Brian Kurlander. Photo: Casey Gardner

Rob Cleveland (left), Garrett Turner, Brian Kurlander. Photo: Casey Gardner

The Royale. CLOSES SUNDAY. At Theatrical Outfit.

Playwright Marco Ramirez takes a stylized, blazingly theatrical look at the segregated world of boxing at the turn of the 20th century. The New York Times called his piece “original and graceful.” The 2013 drama is loosely based on the life of Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight champion (fictionalized in the 1968 Pulitzer-winning drama The Great White Hope, which made James Earl Jones a star). We hear theatergoers are going back more than once to see this drama. Patdro Harris (Fly, Nina Simone) directs. His cast: Garrett Turner as Jay “The Sport” Jackson, Cynthia D. BarkerMarlon Burnley, Rob Cleveland and Brian Kurlander.

$18-$51 plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW (two blocks from the Peachtree Center MARTA station). Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

This weekend only

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY.

Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles returns to the podium for Austro-Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler’s majestic 10th Symphony. When Mahler (1860-1911) died, only his widow knew of this unfinished work, but its tragic melodies, shape and substance were all on paper waiting to be completed. Hear the composer’s swan song as realized by British musicologist Deryck Cooke (1919-1976).

$19-$69. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Last chance

Matt Nitchie

Matt Nitchie

Macbeth. CLOSES SUNDAY.

This brief Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse staging casts Matt Nitchie in the title role. One fateful evening, three weird sisters greet Macbeth and Banquo with visions of what could be. Do their magical prophecies lead to blood-curdling, murderous and tragic events in Scotland? Or are Macbeth and his power-hungry wife to blame? Dani Herd is Lady Macbeth.

$22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Pub menu and spirited beverages available. 499 Peachtree St. NE. Parking recommended in Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across Peachtree Street. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0. Discount Tavern gift cards at PoshDealz.com.

Opening this week

Chris Harding (left), Eric Lang. Photo: Marcus Geduld

Chris Harding (left), Eric Lang. Photo: Marcus Geduld

Not About Heroes.PREVIEWS THURSDAY. OPENS FRIDAY.

Arís Theatre commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with this story of friendship between a shell-shocked British soldier and a famous poet. Wilfred Owen is 24 when he meets poet, protester and soldier Siegfried Sassoon at Scotland’s Craiglockhart War Hospital. Their mutual love of words and disillusionment with war draws them together. The script is by British playwright Stephen MacDonald (1933-2009). Chris Harding is Owen; Eric Lang is Sassoon. Both are Atlanta-based actors. Frank Miller, a longtime theater lecturer at Georgia State University, directs.

$18-$28. Through Nov. 18. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 7 Stages BackStage space, 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Tickets HERE.

Andrew Bidlack (from left), Vanessa Becerra and DJ Petrosino sing Tony, Maria and Bernardo.

Andrew Bidlack (from left), Vanessa Becerra and DJ Petrosino sing Tony, Maria and Bernardo.

West Side Story. OPENS SATURDAY.

The Atlanta Opera presents the American musical classic by Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim about battling gangs in 1950s New York. The score is indelible — “Maria,” “Tonight,” “America,” “Cool,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere,” among others. American soprano Vanessa Becerra is Maria, with American tenor Andrew Bidlack as Tony, American baritone Brian Vu as Riff and DJ Petrosino as Bernardo, a role he performed in August at The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. Internationally recognized director Francesca Zambello directs. Sung in English with English supertitles.

$43-$139. 8 p.m. Nov. 3, 9 + 10; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6; and 3 p.m. Nov. 11. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.

[LEARN HOW WEST SIDE STORY MADE THE LEAP TO OPERA]

Still running

Robert Lee Hindsman

Robert Lee Hindsman

The Edgar Allan Poe Experience. THROUGH OCT. 31.

At the Wren’s Nest, in collaboration with Brian Clowdus Experiences. Venture through one of Atlanta’s most historic homes with this immersive event and become part of some of Poe’s most thrillingly famous tales, including The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. The actors: Truman Griffin, Robert Lee Hindsman, Courtney Locke, Shannon McCarren and Skye Passmore.

$40-$45. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Sunday; 8 + 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The Wren’s Nest, now a cultural center and once the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit creator Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), preserves his legacy and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing. 1050 Ralph D. Abernathy Blvd. SW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.753.7735.

Jennifer Levison. Photo: Casey Gardner

Jennifer Levison. Photo: Casey Gardner

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.THROUGH NOV. 11.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell presents this one-woman romantic comedy with live, onstage cooking (eight audience members can sit onstage and dine as the show progresses). The piece is based on the 2009 book I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir of Good Food and Bad Boyfriends by Giulia Melucci. The comedy has been described as “a foodie’s dream version of ‘Sex and the City.'” Atlanta actor Jennifer Levison, perhaps better known for her Souper Jenny restaurants, is the lone cast member. Rachel May, Synchronicity Theatre artistic director, directs.

$26-$42. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 4 p.m. Nov. 3 + 10. GET performs in the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 959 Forrest St. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

SleepyHollow

The Sleepy Hollow Experience. THROUGH NOV. 11. 

The Headless Horseman rides again as Serenbe Playhouse presents a sixth season of its outdoor fright fest. Washington Irving’s 1820 horror story follows schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and his efforts to win the heart of Katrina Van Tassel. This year’s show is a new adaptation by artistic director Brian Clowdus. The cast: Erik Poger Abrahamsen, Erin Burnett, Jeremy Gee, Anna Lanier, Jordan Patrick and Madison Welch.

$30-$45 (rain insurance available). 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 + 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Family-friendly stagings at 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday include fall festival events before the show and at intermission. Note: Tickets have been added to previously sold-out performances. Done in the Horseman’s Meadow. Most Serenbe shows require a walk along a path that can be muddy. Appropriate footwear suggested. This is a traveling show, without seating. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, chairs, etc.), contact the box office. 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110.

Kyle Larkins (left), Tony Hayes. Photo: Tyler Ogburn Photography

Kyle Larkins (left), Tony Hayes. Photo: Tyler Ogburn Photography

The View Upstairs. THROUGH NOV. 10. At Out Front Theatre Company.

The 2017 off-Broadway musical follows a young fashion designer (Kyle Larkins) in modern-day New Orleans. When he buys an abandoned building in the French Quarter, he’s transported to the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant 1970s gay bar where a forgotten community comes to life. The piece recalls the 1973 arson attack at the Big Easy’s real-life UpStairs Lounge, which killed 32. Paul Conroy, Out Front’s founder and artistic director, directs. His cast includes Justin Dilley, Tony Hayes, Felicia Hernandez, Quinn Xavier Hernandez, Keena Redding Hunt, Trevor Perry, Jamie Smith, John Henry Ward and Byron Wigfall. 

$25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. 999 Brady Ave. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Next week

Translation

Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. NOV. 9-11. 

Translation, a world premiere, is described as an immersive dance work by Atlanta native Troy Schumacher, a soloist and New York City Ballet choreographer. The living art installation is designed to lead audiences on a sensory journey. These performances expand on Schumacher’s 2017 version of the piece. TMBT, as the company is known, was founded a year ago by five former Atlanta Ballet principal dancers with a combined 85 years of professional experience — Christian Clark, Heath Gill, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and John Welker. Their mission: mixing ballet and modern styles to create new theatrical dance.

$35-$40. 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 8 p.m. Sunday (Saturday night performance sold out). Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th St. NW. Details, tickets HERE.

Coming up

Christmas-Canteen

Christmas Canteen. NOV. 15-DEC. 23.

We know you’re still working through your Halloween candy stash, but this original Aurora Theatre holiday revue — now in its 23rd season — sells very quickly, so don’t delay. A singing, dancing cast of eight channels the golden days of TV Christmas specials (think Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) and mixes in a few contemporary moves to create a show that will have you glowing with the magic of the season. Ricardo Aponte and Anthony P. Rodriguez co-direct. Aponte also choreographs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence. This year’s merrymakers are Galen Crawley, Jimi Kocina, Christian Magby, Kristin Markiton, Chani Masionet, Kenny Tran, Cecil Washington Jr. and Briana Young.

$30 and up; $20 and up for Tuesday morning matinees. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m. matinees Nov. 27, Dec. 11 + Dec. 18. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

fashionado

BEST BETS | Aug. 9-15, 2018

Branford Marsalis

The third Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival wraps this week, and the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center gets its first dates. Show titles to check out: “Dot” (closing at True Colors); the independent “Blackbird” and “On the Third Day“; and the Essential New Play Fest. Pictured: Jazz master Branford Marsalis, who brings his quartet to Sandy Springs on Saturday.

Recommended

Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival

Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival.MONDAY-TUESDAY.

And then there were two. This year’s fest is half over, but you can still catch Sundays at Four by Brittani Minnieweather, Jamie Walker and Jonathan Peacock, and The Fairy Hoax by Tom Diggs and Jay D’AmicoSundays at Four is when the Washington family gathers for fellowship. The musical looks at what happens when family dynamics are challenged, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. See it at 8 p.m. Monday. The Fairy Hoax is about a 13-year-old British girl who fakes photos of fairies to get her mother’s attention. It’s based on the real-life Cottingley Fairy Hoax in 1917. See it at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

$17 per show. Out Front Theatre, at 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown, plays host. Details, tickets HERE

Dash Clowdus-Howe. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Dash Clowdus-Howe. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Titanic. THROUGH AUG. 19.

Tough ticket, but seats have been added to sold-out performances. The outdoors-only Serenbe Playhouse arguably tops its Carousel (performed with a real carnival) and Miss Saigon (featuring a Huey helicopter that took flight) with artistic director Brian Clowdus’ ambitious staging of this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

The time: 1912. The place: aboard the RMS Titanic. Clowdus employs a cast of 40 (including regulars Niki BaduaBlake BurgessJessica De Maria, Chase Davidson and Robert Wayne) and a four-story Titanic replica that sinks nightly in the Inn Lake at Serenbe. “It’s not about the boat sinking,” Clowdus says. “It’s about people on a voyage or quest for joy, hope and change.” All Serenbe shows require a walk along a sometimes muddy path. Appropriate footwear suggested. This show does include seating. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, etc.), contact the box office.

$35 and up. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110.

Opening this week

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

The Tortoise, the Hare & Other Aesop’s Fables. BEGINS AUG. 14.

Part of the Center for Puppetry Arts’ Theatre for the Very Young (age 2 and up). The musical performance tells five tales in a circus-style show adapted by Atlanta theater artist Michael Haverty and featuring glove, rod and shadow puppets.

Previews Aug. 14-15 ($11.25). Regularly $19.50. Opens Aug. 16. Through Sept. 23. 10 +11:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. Free parking. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

This weekend only

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Branford Marsalis Quartet. SATURDAY ONLY.

The NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and friends help inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Marsalis is one of the most respected instrumentalists of his time. The Branford Marsalis Quartet is widely considered one of the most innovative and forward-thinking jazz ensembles working today. The quartet’s usual lineup includes pianist Joey Calderazzo, drummer Justin Faulkner and bass guitarist Eric Revis.

$40-$65. 8 p.m. Byers Theatre. 1 Galambos Way (bordered by Sandy Springs Circle and Allen, Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads), Sandy Springs. Underground parking on-site. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.206.2022.

Closing this week

Denise Burse, Benedetto Robinson. Photo: Brenda Nicole Photography

Denise Burse, Benedetto Robinson. Photo: Brenda Nicole Photography

Dot. CLOSES SUNDAY. At True Colors Theatre Company.

This gentle comedy by Colman Domingo uses humor to look at issues surrounding aging parents and midlife crises. The setting is Christmastime in urban West Philly. The playwright, says Variety.com, “sees the absurdity and human comedy in a messy, volatile, all-too-real family dynamic.” Atlanta-born, New York-based stage/film actor Denise Burse is Dot. Also in the cast: Gilbert Glenn BrownTinashe Kajese-BoldenRhyn McLemore Saver and Lee Osorio. True Colors co-founder and artistic director Kenny Leon directs. Contains adult language, situations.

$20-$35. 7:30 tonight-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. True Colors performs at the Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849 (Ticket Alternative).

Still running

Blackbird

Blackbird. THROUGH AUG. 19.

Fifteen years ago, Ray was convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl named Una. He’s served his prison sentence, changed his name, moved and started a new life. When Una stumbles upon a recent photo of Ray, she decides to confront him. Scottish playwright David Harrower’s 2005 drama is staged here by Right On Productions and Frat Pack Productions. Jayson Warner Smith (TV’s “The Walking Dead” and “Rectify”) is Ray; Heather Rule is Una. Marc Gowan directs. Blackbird won London’s Olivier Award for best new play in 2007 and had a critically acclaimed Broadway run in 2016 with Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams. It earned three Tony Award nominations.

$20 plus fees. Robert Mello Studio Blackbox, 4048 Flowers Road, Suite 210, Doraville. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets HERE.

Built To Float

Built to Float. THROUGH AUG. 25. World premiere.

Atlanta-based playwright Rachel Graf Evans’ surrealistic family drama, part of the 2018 Essential New Play Festival, asks: “Is Tess fine?” Tess tells her sister she is, but strange things keep happening in her home, and the two women try to keep from drowning in the legacy of their troubled past. Essential founder Peter Hardy directs. Note: Performed in repertory with Woke, a world premiere by Avery Sharpe. The Essential fest, in its 20th season, is dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. It includes a third world premiere Aug. 16-17 and Bare Essentials staged readings. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary.

$25. Usually 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday but check dates and times before you go. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

On the third day

On the Third Day. THROUGH AUG. 19.

A world premiere by Atlanta playwright Amina S. McIntyre. Meet the Lansings. Three years ago their eldest son and oldest brother was killed. Now family members must come together to decide the fate of the two men who shot him. The drama, an examination of grief, ritual and family, is set in Atlanta and inspired by events in McIntyre’s life. Presented by Los Angeles/Atlanta-based VanguardRepMatthew Kellen Burgos directs a five-person cast. 

$20. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Windmill Arts Center, 2823 Church St., East Point. Details, tickets HERE.

Adrianna Trachell. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Adrianna Trachell. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Newsies. THROUGH SEPT. 2.

The 2012 Disney musical tells the real-life story of New York City’s Newsboy Strike of 1899, when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst tried to take advantage of the newsboys to increase profits. The newsboys’ response: Strike! Aurora Theatre uses a cast of 31 to tell the story, which features a Tony Award-winning score by Jack Feldman and Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid)Justin Anderson directs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence and choreography by Ricardo Aponte.

$30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. (Note: The show, a co-production with Atlanta Lyric Theatre, plays the Lyric’s Marietta space Oct. 19-Nov. 4.) Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Aaron Schilling. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Aaron Schilling. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Peter Pan. THROUGH AUG. 26. 

Serenbe Playhouse calls this a “world premiere musical pirate adventure.” If you’re so inclined, sail to the second star on the right and straight on till morning to revisit J.M. Barrie’s 1904 tale about Peter, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and Neverland. Complications arise when the Lost Boys get homesick and Captain Hook returns seeking revenge. The story is by Roger Q. Mason, the score by London-trained, New York regular Ella GraceMichael Alvarez, who works largely in Britain, directs. Serenbe, which does outdoor, site-specific shows, sets Peter Pan at its Mado Hideaway. All shows take place in the woods and require a walk along a sometimes muddy path. Appropriate footwear suggested. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, etc.), contact the box office.

$13-$30. 11 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Avery Sharpe

Avery Sharpe

Woke. THROUGH AUG. 26. World premiere.

This prize-winning dramatic comedy by Atlanta actor/playwright Avery Sharpe is part of the Essential New Play Festival (it runs in repertory with Built to Float). The script follows two close friends from different backgrounds trying to navigate the high school-to-college transition when a calamitous event captures national attention. They’re forced to face their conflicting understandings of social awareness as they search for what it truly means to be “woke.” Ellen McQueen directs. The 20-year-old Essential fest is dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. It includes a third world premiere Aug. 16-17 and Bare Essentials staged readings. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary.

$25. Usually 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 + 7 p.m. Saturday but check dates and times before you go. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Next week

book of will

The Book of Will. BEGINS AUG. 15.

At Theatrical Outfit. This love letter to Shakespeare features the trademark smarts and humor of oft-produced playwright Lauren Gunderson. It opens the company’s 2018/19 season. The place: London and Stratford-upon-Avon. The time: Three years after Will’s death. The bard’s legacy depends on a circle of devoted writers, actors and friends determined to preserve his work and print a definitive collection of his plays. A fast and loose version of Hamlet sends them into high drive — with plenty of challenges to overcome. Gunderson, a Decatur-born, San Francisco-based writer, won the 2018 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for this script. The Outfit’s 10-person cast includes Elisa Carlson, Suehyla El-Attar, artistic director/actor Tom Key, William S. Murphey and Doyle Reynolds. David Crowe (Silent Sky) directs.

Previews Aug. 15-17 ($18-$36). Opens Aug. 18 ($23.50-$51). Regularly $22.50-$49. Through Sept. 9. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday (no matinee Aug. 18); and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

BunchOfDifferentWaysIdLikeToDie

A Bunch of Different Ways I’d Like to Die. AUG. 16-17 ONLY.

Part of the 2018 Essential New Play Festival. Described as a dark, comic meditation on life and mortality by one of Atlanta’s more distinguished actors. Written and performed by Tim McDonough, a longtime member of Georgia Shakespeare (King Lear, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman). He won a Suzi Bass Award for his work as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and has acted at the Alliance Theatre, Marietta’s Theatre in the Square, Horizon Theatre and the late Theater Gael. He also acts at Emory University (Theater Emory), where he teaches theater studies. $25. 8 nightly. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com

Coming up

 Joe Gransden (left), Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

 Joe Gransden (left), Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Joe Gransden Big Band featuring Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. AUG. 16 ONLY. 

Gransden and friends help inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center by swinging in the intimate Studio Theatre. The 16-piece big band, formed in 2009, performs around the country and has a standing gig at Atlanta’s Cafe 290 (the first and third Monday every month). This cabaret event offers dinner, drinks and music, featuring guest vocalist Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., a Sinatra-style vocalist and the Season 6 winner of the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent.” Reserved table seating gives patrons the option to dine during the show.

Sutton Foster   

Sutton Foster

 

Sutton Foster. AUG. 18 ONLY. Highly recommended.

The two-time Tony Award winner (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes) helps inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center with a concert based on her latest CD, Take Me to the World. You may also know Foster, who has done 11 Broadway shows (including The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women and Violet), from the TV Land series “Younger.” Take Me to the World dropped June 1 and includes songs by theater composers Jason Robert Brown, Kander & Ebb, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim; pop songwriters Paul Simon and James Taylor; and the Broadway shows Guys and Dolls, Purlie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Singin’ in the Rain and Violet. Expect a new set list, not the one Foster did in April at Atlanta Symphony Hall.

$35-$90. 8 p.m. Byers Theatre. 1 Galambos Way (bordered by Sandy Springs Circle and Allen, Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads), Sandy Springs. Underground parking on-site. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.206.2022.

 

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HAMILTON - A THEATRICAL REVOLUTION

Hamilton

Who knew our Founding Fathers could be this cool?

Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, that’s who.

“Hamilton” runs May 22-June 10 at the Fox Theatre. Details, tickets (which can top $600) HERE or at  855.285.8499.

YOU MIGHT NOT have given him much thought until recently, but the guy on the $10 bill has become the most popular Founding Father in the land. His name is Hamilton, and here’s how it happened.

Vanessa Nadal and Tony Award-winning husband Lin-Manuel Miranda. Photo: Getty Images

Vanessa Nadal and Tony Award-winning husband Lin-Manuel Miranda. Photo: Getty Images

In the summer of 2007, just before his In the Heights moved to Broadway, playwright-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was vacationing in Mexico with then-girlfriend Vanessa Nadal. He was reading Ron Chernow’s 818-page Alexander Hamilton.

Choosing that biography was some sort of crazy fate, Miranda says. At one point he turned to Nadal and said, “I think this is a great hip-hop musical.”

“That sounds cool,” she replied.

Miranda and Nadal had known each other since high school, and he held great stock in her opinions, even though she’s not particularly fond of musicals. Her response was all the encouragement he needed.

“Can you have Angelica rap?” Nadal asked Miranda. “That would be cool.”

Miranda spent the next seven years writing the book, music and lyrics for Hamilton. Nadal came home from work one day and said, “Your king tune was stuck in my head all day — that’s probably a good sign.” She was right. King George’s witty Beatle-esque “You’ll Be Back” became a showstopper for Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff.

Miranda, now 38, considers Hamilton a love letter to his wife. “This show simply doesn’t exist without Vanessa,” he says. He calls her the “best of wives and best of women,” just as Hamilton does his wife, Eliza.

Julia K. Harriman, who plays Eliza in Atlanta, says the role “is easily the coolest thing to ever happen to me.”

Best of wives, best of women

Julia K. Harriman is Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.

Julia K. Harriman is Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.

Harriman, 25, has worked mostly as a singer-songwriter and voice-over artist, with little theater experience. She often had trouble getting cast, she says, citing her Asian-Caucasian heritage.

“I’d go in for a commercial, and they’d try to match me up with parents, but then they couldn’t be convinced that I looked like I could be the child of those parents. I never saw someone that looked like me.”

In Hamilton, that’s an advantage. From the get-go, Miranda envisioned a multicultural cast — to represent a nation born to welcome immigrants and to signal America’s diversity today.

For her first 10 months in Hamilton, Harriman stood by for the three Schuyler sisters, which meant learning four key roles, a time she calls “terrifying and intense.” She only knew a song or two from the score when she auditioned and was cast before ever seeing it.

One historic day in 2015 …

Hamilton opened on Broadway on Aug. 6, 2015, and became an immediate box-office hit and critical favorite.

“I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show,” New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote. “But Hamilton … might just about be worth it.”

Hamilton won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for best musical. It won 11 of the 16 Tony categories in which it was nominated, including direction (Thomas Kail), leading actor (Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr), featured actress (Renee Elise Goldsberry’s Angelica Schuyler), featured actor (Daveed Diggs’ Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson), book and score (Miranda), choreography, orchestrations, costumes and lights.

Chris De’Sean Lee as Thomas Jefferson (center, he also plays the Marquis de Lafayette) and the “Hamilton” company. Photo: Joan Marcus

Chris De’Sean Lee as Thomas Jefferson (center, he also plays the Marquis de Lafayette) and the “Hamilton” company. Photo: Joan Marcus

The one-of-a-kind musical shows no signs of slowing. Four productions are playing simultaneously around the country, a feat never before accomplished. That means that more than 8,000 people experience Hamilton somewhere in North America each night, the Hollywood Reporter says. It’s also in London, and Miranda is planning to reprise his leading role and take Hamilton to Puerto Rico.

How to account for this watershed moment in theater history? The words “epic” and “contemporary” come to mind.

A musical for non-musical lovers

Hamilton’s theme — the birth of a nation — is likely as big as they get. Among its cast of characters are three presidents, several vice presidents, a king, assorted U.S. Cabinet members and that scrappy title character introduced as “a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished in squalor …”

The Schuyler sisters — Eliza, Angelica and Peggy — sneak into New York City to watch the men at work.

The Schuyler sisters — Eliza, Angelica and Peggy — sneak into New York City to watch the men at work.

The show’s up-to-the-minute vibe, multiracial casting, earth-tone design, energetic choreography, layered lyrics and melodic score (incorporating rap, soul, R&B and traditional Broadway sounds) have won over throngs who claim to have never liked musicals before.

“The show in New York is different from our show,” Harriman says admiringly, “and our show is different from any of the others.” The freewheeling combinations of 28 diverse cast members “bring a whole new light every single time to this beautiful material and stunning choreography.”

Harriman says she enjoys meeting and chatting with kids who see Hamilton as part of the show’s educational outreach.

“My favorite thing of all is when kids who’ve just seen the show say that now they can see themselves up onstage someday. This show is opening doors, crashing down barriers.”

As Vanessa Nadal might say: “That’s cool.”

***

HAPPY HOMECOMING

Four Hamilton cast members come from Georgia. They are:

Chris De’Sean Lee (from left), Jeffrey Duffy, Jennifer Geller, Hope Endrenyi.

Chris De’Sean Lee (from left), Jeffrey Duffy, Jennifer Geller, Hope Endrenyi.

CHRIS De’SEAN LEE (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson) was born in Augusta and raised in Atlanta. He recently completed his junior year at Belmont University in Nashville.

JEFFERY DUFFY (Ensemble) has roots in Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood. He attended Pebblebrook High School/Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts and received his B.F.A. from The Juilliard School. In 2017, Dance Magazine named him one of “25 to Watch.”

JENNIFER GELLER (Ensemble) grew up in Marietta and attended Pebblebrook High’s CCCEPA. She has performed in regional theater and toured with Bring It On: The Musical.

 HOPE ENDRENYI (Swing) grew up and trained in Marietta. She, too, attended Pebblebrook High’s CCCEPA. She has a B.F.A. in dance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

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