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.
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.
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.
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 Cleveland, Shelli 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. OPENS THURSDAY.
At Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Frankly, 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
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.
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 Lindsey, Sarah 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.
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.
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.
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 …
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 Benator, Lane 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.
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.
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).