BEST BETS | June 13 – 19, 2019


WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: Still from the classic film Casablanca.

This weekend only

Casablanca with the ASO. June 14 & 15. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy the 1942 cinematic classic on the big screen with a live score performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Tickets and info on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra website. 

Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival. June 14 – June 16. The Home Depot Backyard @ Mercedes Benz Stadium. Observed since 1866, this year’s Juneteenth celebration will move to the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Numerous vendors will offer cuisine, art, books, cosmetics, and more! The weekend’s celebrations will also include a parade and music performances. Read more on the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival website.


BEST BETS | March 28-April 4, 2018

Serenbe Playhouse

The Alliance Theatre’s “Hospice + Pointing at the Moon” and Serenbe Playhouse’s “The Little Mermaid” (opening Thursday) top this week’s curated Best Bets column, which sees less action than usual, perhaps because of the Easter holiday. Pictured: Sydney Robert’s scenic design for Serenbe’s “Mermaid,” made entirely from recyclables. Illustration courtesy of Serenbe Playhouse.



Terry Burrell (left), Tinashe Kajese-Bolden. Photo: James Barker

Terry Burrell (left), Tinashe Kajese-Bolden. Photo: James Barker

** Hospice + Pointing at the Moon. THROUGH APRIL 15. Alliance Theatre.

Two one-acts become a single piece of theater in the hands of playwright Pearl Cleage and A-list Atlanta actors Terry Burrell and Tinashe Kajese-BoldenHospice dates to 1983; Pointing at the Moon is a world premiere. Both feature the same house in Atlanta’s West End and a character named Jenny Anderson, seen at two stages in her life, 30 years apart. The piece wrestles with the complexities of womanhood and how a parent’s love — or a longing for that love — shapes us.

$60-$75; $10 teens with high school/middle school ID. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details, tickets HERE or 404.733.5000.


New this week

The Little Mermaid. BEGINS THURSDAY. 

Go under the sea (or at least lakeside) with Serenbe Playhouse in Chattahoochee Hills. All Serenbe shows are outdoors and site-specific, so Ariel and Prince Eric, Flounder, Flotsam, Jetsam and the rest will be spinning their musical tale at the Grange Lake at Serenbe. The Tony Award-nominated score includes “Part of Your World,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and, of course, “Under the Sea.” Miss Saigon‘s Niki Badua and Chase Peacock return as Ariel and Eric, with Deborah Bowman (Cabaret) as the deliciously evil sea witch Ursula. Look closely at the set: It’s made entirely of recyclables.

$30-$43. Through April 22. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Details, tickets, directions HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at

Tatyanna Arrington (bottom, from left), Chris Hecke, Kelly Criss. Top, from left: Amanda Lindsey, Sarah Newby Halicks.

Tatyanna Arrington (bottom, from left), Chris Hecke, Kelly Criss. Top, from left: Amanda Lindsey, Sarah Newby Halicks.

Love’s Labours Lost. OPENS SATURDAY. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Can four young men honor their pledge to avoid the opposite sex, food, drink and sleep for the sake of becoming more intellectual and contemplative? Not in Shakespeare’s world, especially when four young women arrive on the scene. The cast includes Anthony P. Rodriguez, Aurora Theatre’s artistic director, as Don Armado. Jaclyn Hofmann directs.

$15 preview Thursday; $20 preview Friday. Regularly $22-$45. Through April 22. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday (no show April 1). 

Pub menu and full bar 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, Ext. 0.

Still running


Freaky Friday: A New Musical. THROUGH APRIL 22. Horizon Theatre.

When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again before mom’s big wedding. Freaky Friday, a new musical based on the Mary Rodgers novel and Disney movies, updates an American staple known for its heart and laughs.

The score comes from Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning team behind Next to Normal and If/Then. Director Heidi Cline McKerley’s cast includes Jennifer Alice AckerRandi Garza, Jill Hames, Christian Magby and Juan Carlos Unzueta

$25-$45. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE at Euclid Avenue (Inman Park + Little Five Points). Free parking.

Details tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.


Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. THROUGH MAY 13. Center for Puppetry Arts. 

It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how, says the sassy cat in the red-and-white hat. He’s feline full of mischief (and magic) in this stage telling, done with rod puppets and based on the 1957 children’s book by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. This version was first produced by the National Theatre of Britain. The center’s Jon Ludwig directs here. For ages 4 and up.

$11.25-$19.50. 10 + 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday (no shows April 1). 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Coming up

Robert McDuffie

Robert McDuffie

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. APRIL 5-6.

Artistic director Robert Spano conducts. With guest violinist Robert McDuffie. The program: the effervescent May Cause Dizziness by the ASO’s Michael Kurth; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica;” and Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’sSymposium).

$12-$87. 8 nightly. Ticket holders for both concerts are invited to attend an chamber concert by the ASO’s 2018 Talent Development Program Aspire Award winners. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.


Photo: Aurora Theatre

Photo: Aurora Theatre

El Gran Día de la Madre (The Great Mother’s Day). OPENS APRIL 6. Aurora Theatre.

A mother, daughter and granddaughter — all keepers of dark secrets — have a Mother’s Day reckoning in a family mausoleum. Expect multi-generational love, tears and laughs in the comedy from Chile, which travels next to Spain.  As part of Teatro Aurora, El Gran Día de la Madre is performed in Spanish with English supertitles. The script is by Chascas y Quintanilla. Daniel Jáquez directs.

$20-$30. Through April 29. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. In the Harvel Lab. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. 


Photo: The Atlanta Opera

Photo: The Atlanta Opera

Out of Darkness: Two Remain. OPENS APRIL 5. Atlanta Opera

Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s two-act piece centers on Holocaust survivors visited by ghosts of their past. In Act 1, Krystyna shares her survival story with a journalist and is helped by the ghosts of Auschwitz inspired by her lyrics. In Act 2, Gad Beck is visited by his first true love, the poet Manfred Lewin, who died in Auschwitz. As Manfred implores Gad to remember and celebrate their love, the truth of their stories and fates emerges. Based in part on the true stories of two Holocaust survivors: the Polish dissident Krystyna Zywulska (1914-1993) and Gad Beck (1923-2012), a gay German Jew. General & artistic director Tomer Zvulun directs.

$50. Through April 15. 7:30 nightly. Performed in English with English supertitles. Presented in collaboration with Theatrical Outfit at the Outfit’s Balzer Theater at Herren’s downtown, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.


Taylor M. Dooley (right). Photo: Jerry Siegel

Taylor M. Dooley (right). Photo: Jerry Siegel

** Ripe Frenzy. OPENS APRIL 13. Synchronicity Theatre

This world premiere by Jennifer Barclay won the National New Play Network’s 2016 Smith Prize for political theater. It tells the story of a mass shooting in a small American town from multiple points of view and through the lens of Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town. Barclay examines all sides of a tragedy that has ruptured the spirit in a once- idyllic community. Community conversations follow every performance. The cast: Taylor M. Dooley (Aurora Theatre’s Burnpile); Megan Cramer (Georgia Shakespeare back in the day); Danyé Evonne; Parker Fox Ciliax; and Lizzy Liu. Rachel May directs. 

$27-$31 (previews cheaper; swanky seat upgrades available). Through May 6. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Synchronicity in Midtown’s One Peachtree Pointe building, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.


Tu Tu & More. APRIL 13-15. Atlanta Ballet. Three works spotlight the range of dance today: Blink, a world premiere by former Atlanta Ballet dancer Tara Lee, a founder of the new Terminus Modern Ballet TheatreMinus 16 by frequent collaborator and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin; and the Atlanta Ballet premiere of Tu Tu, promising a highly stylized classical work with a twist (choreography by frequent collaborator Stanton Welch, music by Maurice Ravel).

$20-$129. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303. Discount tickets at





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The Alliance Theatre mostly returns to the Woodruff Arts Center in 2018/19, throwing itself and its audiences an ambitious 12-show birthday party.

THE ALLIANCE THEATRE christens its brand-spanking-new mainstage in 2018/19 with five world premieres, two regional premieres, new work from Atlanta artists Pearl CleagePhillip DePoy and Mary Lynn Owen, and a piece by Faith Salie of National Public Radio and “CBS News Sunday Morning.”


The Alliance, which turns 50 next season, has produced 110 world premieres since its founding in 1968, becoming a heavyweight in the world of American regional theater and winning the regional theater Tony Award in 2007. Susan V. Booth has led the company as artistic director since 2001.

“The best part of theater, I’ve always thought,” Booth said in a statement, “is the living and breathing pulse it gives to human language, the elevation of the spoken word to an art form, and the pure wonder that a mere mortal can say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.”

After a season on the road to allow for renovations, the company returns to its Midtown home at the Woodruff Arts Center. The new 650-seat Coca-Cola Stage opens in October with  events for subscribers, patrons, artists and the community, and sees its first production in January. It has been redesigned to upgrade the theatergoing experience for patrons by creating a more intimate, comfortable and sound-sensitive space (the old mainstage seated 770). The renovation project included upgrades to rehearsal, education and artist support spaces. The 200-seat Hertz Stage, a flexible black-box space, received technical upgrades.

Susan V. Booth

Susan V. Booth

In January, the Coca-Cola Stage debuts with the musical Ever After, based on the 1998 movie with Drew Barrymore. The score comes from the award-winning songwriting team of Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler. Booth will direct, with JoAnn M. Hunter choreographing.

The Coca-Cola stage will see three productions and the Hertz Stage will see four, including the 2019 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. One show will be done outdoors at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Christmas Carol returns to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season and all three Family Series shows will be done at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Theatre.

Season tickets are on sale now as are single tickets for Winnie-the-Pooh. Single tickets for the rest of the season go on sale in August.  Details, tickets HERE.

In chronological order, the 12-show season lines up like this:



WINNIE-THE-POOH   |  June 7-July 8. Rich Theatre.

Family Series. Journey through the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh Bear, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kango, Roo and Owl, as each of their adventures turns into another. Le Clanché du Rand wrote the script, with music by Allan J. Friedman and lyrics by A.A. Milne, Kristin Sergel and du Rand. Leora Morris, the Alliance’s 2016/17 Yale Directing Fellow, directs.

The exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic runs concurrently (June 3-Sept. 2) at the High Museum of Art, in its first U.S. visit. Show details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.




A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM  |  Sept. 5-Oct. 21. Atlanta Botanical Garden.

A world premiere adaptation from David Catlin of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company (Lookingglass Alice, Moby Dick). Described as a whimsical, outdoor version of the Shakespeare comedy, in which two couples deal with love and all its complications — confusion, jealousy and passion. On their journey to happily ever after, the lovers encounter a band of actors, wood sprites and elves, a botched love potion and the wedding of a king. Catlin directs.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.


NICK’S FLAMINGO GRILL   |  Sept. 29-Oct. 28. Hertz Stage.

A world premiere musical by actor, playwright, director, musician, composer, novelist and educator Phillip DePoy (2015’s Edward Foote). Inspired by the true story of the first integrated nightclub in Atlanta and featuring 10 original jazz songs (by DePoy and Tyrone Jackson).

The story: Two World War II ex-GIs have become jazz musicians and found great success in the nightclubs of Paris. This convinces them that their mixed-race act will be a hit in the States, too. So they return home, to 1950s Georgia. Tinashe Kajese-Bolden (Synchronicity Theatre’s Suzi Bass Award-winning Eclipsed) directs, with musical direction by Jackson.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.


PAIGE IN FULL   Oct. 6-13. Rich Theatre.

Family Series. This piece for middle-school audiences, first seen in 2010, uses poetry, dance, media and music to tell the story of a multicultural girl and her journey through hip-hop to self-discovery. Paige in Full looks at how ethnicity and pop culture shape our identities, in what’s described as a “personal, yet universal story.” Written and choreographed by Paige Hernandez. Hernandez — a multidisciplinary performer, director, choreographer — has been named a Classroom Hero by The Huffington Post, a Citizen Artist Fellow by the Kennedy Center and one of “Six Theater Workers You Should Know” in American Theatre magazine. Hernandez and the Alliance’s Rosemary Newcott direct.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.




KNEAD   |   Nov. 13-Dec. 9. Hertz Stage.

This world premiere, written by and featuring Atlanta theater artist Mary Lynn Owen, was developed through the Alliance’s third Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab, which provides a producing home for works in development.

The story: In the wee hours of the morning, a woman bakes bread, determined that her mother’s incomprehensible recipe will finally work. But something is different on this night. Time and memory keep interfering — the kneading, rising, shaping and baking, all in real time — become a journey into the unpredictability of, well, just about everything. 

Owen, who has been seen on most, if not all, metro stages, is a 2016 Suzi Award-winning best actress for her work in Aurora Theatre’s Wit. Atlanta-based artist David de Vries directs.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL     Dec. 12-24. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

This is the Alliance’s traditional musical, multicultural adaptation from David H. Bell, the company’s associate artistic director in its Kenny Leon years. As you might well know, it’s Christmas Eve, and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by four ghosts — his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. He gets one last chance to reshape his future. Newcott directs. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.



EVER AFTER     Jan. 19-Feb. 17. Coca-Cola Stage.

A new take on the Cinderella legend, based on the 1998 feature film (and the original 1729 fairy tale). Follow a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac, who risks everything to save a friend from an unjust fate. 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. In its 2015 world premiere run at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., critics praised Ever After for its score but were less enthusiastic about the script. At the time, there was speculation of a Broadway run, which hasn’t happened yet.

Creators Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics) and Zina Goldrich(composer) have been collaborating since 1993. Among other honors, they were the first women to win the Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriting. Their other projects include Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School and Dear Edwina (both off-Broadway); The Great American Mousical, based on the best-selling book by Julie Andrews (Goodspeed Opera House); and Snow White Rose Red (and Fred) at the Kennedy Center. Goldrich and Heisler are also performing and recording artists.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.



GOODNIGHT, TYLER    Feb. 16-March 10. Hertz Stage.

This world premiere by Northwestern University’s B.J. Tindal is the 2019 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. “Who was Tyler Evans?,” it asks. Apparently, he was either a beloved best friend, grandson, mentor and fiancé, or a young black man killed by a police officer.

To control the contradicting narratives of his death, Tyler haunts his best friend as other friends and relatives quibble over his legacy. The Alliance describes Goodnight, Tyler as a “contemporary and unexpectedly humorous drama.”

Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.


THE WIZARD OF OZ  |  March 9-April 14. Rich Theatre.

Family Series. The Alliance first told this 70-minute, family-friendly version of L. Frank Baum’s Oz tale in 2012. It includes such iconic Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg songs as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” as well as puppetry and a whimsical nod to American folk art in its design and costumes. Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.


ANGRY, RAUCOUS AND SHAMELESSLY GORGEOUS   |   March 20-April 14. Coca-Cola Stage.

World premiere. Much-loved Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage draws on a life of art and activism to probe today’s political landscape.

The story: Two former activists set out to find a candidate they can back in an upcoming congressional race and find a political landscape quite different from the one they knew in their 1970s glory days. The wave of woman-power draws them back to the fight but seems a strange place — long on contradictions and short on sisterhood — which makes them question their values and a friendship that has lasted 30 years. Booth directs.

Cleage’s Hospice + Pointing to the Moon, an Alliance production being staged at the Southwest Arts Center, began previews Friday. The two-person drama about family runs through April 15. Angry, Raucous details HERE or at 404.733.5000.




APPROVAL JUNKIE   |  April 5-28. Hertz Stage.

World premiere. Written by and featuring Faith Salie. Salie, a comedian and Emmy Award-winning journalist, returns to Georgia to adapt her memoir into a  one-woman show.

From winning her high-school beauty pageant to choosing the perfect outfit for her divorce, she has spent a lifetime looking for validation in all the wrong places. Here she  reveals how she finally won gold stars from her toughest critic. 

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.



RIDE THE CYCLONE    |  May 1-26. Coca-Cola Stage.

A regional premiere musical from the Canadian team of Brooke Maxwell (music and lyrics) and Jacob Richmond (music, lyrics and book). The story: The St. Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17 p.m. At 8:19 the front axle will break, sending them to their deaths. A mechanical fortuneteller invites each one of the six singers to tell their story of a life interrupted — with the promise of a prize like no other. 

Ride the Cyclone began life in 2009 at Atomic Vaudeville in Victoria, British Columbia, and went on to win three Toronto Theatre Critics Awards (2012) and make its American premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (2015). New York Times critic Charles Isherwood listed the 2016 off-Broadway production among his Top 10 shows of the year, calling it “just plain fun from start to finish … wildly original … [and] part comedy, part tragedy and wholly unexpected.”

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.