BEST BETS | Feb. 28-Mar. 6, 2019

WELCOME TO ENCORE ATLANTA’S BEST BETS. A    weekly curated column. Feature photo: Cast of the US National Tour of  Les Misérables . Catch the show at the Fox Theatre this week! Photo by Matthew Murphy.

WELCOME TO ENCORE ATLANTA’S BEST BETS. A weekly curated column. Feature photo: Cast of the US National Tour of Les Misérables. Catch the show at the Fox Theatre this week! Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Les Misérables. Through March 3. Broadway in Atlanta @ Fox Theatre.

Broadway in Atlanta brings Les Misérables to the Fox Theatre! Les Misérables began its life as a concept album by creators Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg.  Now in its 32nd year, the show continues to break box offices records and is known worldwide. The show has been famously produced in 44 countries and translated to 22 languages. Set in 19th-century France and based on the eponymous novel by Victor Hugo, the show introduced many now-beloved songs to musical theatre repertoire, including “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “One Day More,” and many more. This epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in musical theatre history.  Tickets and info on the Fox Theatre website.

FASHIONADO

BEST BETS | July 19-25, 2018

“The Color Purple” (Actor’s Express) and “Titanic” continue and lead this week’s curated edition of BEST BETS. Also worth noting: “Dot” continues at True Colors, the “The Book of Mormon” drops into the Fox Theatre and “Newsies” opens at Aurora Theatre. Pictured: Denise Burse and Gilbert Glenn Brown in “Dot” at True Colors. Photo: Brenda Nicole Photography.

“The Color Purple” (Actor’s Express) and “Titanic” continue and lead this week’s curated edition of BEST BETS. Also worth noting: “Dot” continues at True Colors, the “The Book of Mormon” drops into the Fox Theatre and “Newsies” opens at Aurora Theatre. Pictured: Denise Burse and Gilbert Glenn Brown in “Dot” at True Colors. Photo: Brenda Nicole Photography.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA SPRING/SUMMER TOP PICK. 

Recommended

Latrice Pace (left) and Jeanette Illidge as Celie and Nettie. Photo: Casey Gardner

Latrice Pace (left) and Jeanette Illidge as Celie and Nettie. Photo: Casey Gardner

 ** The Color Purple. THROUGH JULY 29. At Actor’s Express.

Alice Walker’s landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel became a musical at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2004, and on Broadway in 2005 and 2015. The Express telling hews most closely to the more intimate 2015/17 revival. The story follows the hardscrabble journey of a rural Georgia woman named Celie, who fights adversity to find strength, love and the power of her own voice over a 40-year span.

Atlanta-based actor/director/educator David Koté directs. Latrice Pace is Celie, Jasmyne Hinson is Shug Avery, Kevin Harry is Mister and Kayce Grogan-Wallace is Sophia.

$22-$44 and selling well. Don’t delay. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. In the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

 

Chris Sizemore as Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the RMS Titanic. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Chris Sizemore as Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the RMS Titanic. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Titanic. EXTENDED THROUGH AUG. 19. 

The credo for major musicals at Serenbe Playhouse often seems to be “go big or go home.” Carousel and Miss Saigon come to mind. Both might be outdone, however, by artistic director Brian Clowdus’ ambitious plan for this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about the 1912 maritime disaster that killed 1,503 men, women and children. Clowdus’ staging features a cast of 40 (including regulars Niki BaduaBlake BurgessJessica De Maria, Chase Peacock and Robert Wayne) and a four-story Titanic replica that sinks nightly in the Inn Lake at Serenbe. But, as Clowdus says, “It’s not about the boat sinking. It’s about people on a voyage or quest for joy, hope and change.”

All Serenbe shows take place outdoors and can require a walk along a muddy path. Appropriate footwear recommended. 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

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Newsies. OPENS JULY 19.

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, set at the turn of the 19th century. Newsies, a Disney musical, 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. 10 a.m. matinees  (tickets start at $20) on July 31 + Aug. 7. Through Sept. 2.

(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.

Still running

Jon Carr

Jon Carr

Black Nerd. THROUGH AUG. 4. At Dad’s Garage Theatre Company.

What happens when a black kid prefers listening to Weird Al over Kendrick Lamar, attending Dragon Con over seeing Jay-Z, or watching Star Wars instead of Tyler Perry’s Madea? This dark comedy follows a young man as he navigates the expectations of his black family and his white friends, where race and geekdom collide. The script is the first solo effort from Dad’s company member Jon Carr, who collaborated on the earlier Wrath of Con.

The cast: Mandy ButlerCandy McLellanAvery Sharpe and Jon Wierenga.

$15.50-$29.50. Dad’s is at 569 Ezzard St. SE. Details, tickets HERE (you’ll save money if you buy online) or at 404.523.3141.

Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

 The Book of Mormon. THROUGH SUNDAY. 

Those shiny-faced Mormon missionaries revisit Atlanta (and Uganda) for more equal-opportunity offensiveness and a surprising amount of heart.

The Broadway company is in its seventh year; Atlanta sees the national touring company. The show, by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (“South Park”) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), won nine 2011 Tony awards, including best musical.

$34-$139 plus fees. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE, in person at the Fox ticket office or at 855.285.8499.

 

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. THROUGH JULY 29. At the Center for Puppetry Arts. Cows that type? Chickens on strike? Check out Farmer Brown’s topsy-turvy barnyard in this adaptation by the Center’s Jon Ludwig and Jason Hines. It’s based on the Caldecott Honor-winning children’s book published in 2000. The comedy uses marionette, rod and shadow puppets and is appropriate for age 4 and up. The cast-puppeteers: Dolph Amick, Brian Harrison, Mandy Mitchell, head puppeteer Amy Sweeney and Tim Sweeney. $19.50. 10 a.m. + noon Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

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Dot. THROUGH AUG. 12.

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, Variety.com says, “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: such familiar faces as 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. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 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).

J.L. Reed, Amanda Cucher. Photo: Casey Gardner

J.L. Reed, Amanda Cucher. Photo: Casey Gardner

Enchanted April. THROUGH JULY 29.

From the Weird Sisters Theatre Project. In 1922, two London housewives find themselves in dreary marriages in post-World War I society. They decide to rent an Italian villa for a ladies-only escape with two reluctant recruits. Things lost are soon found as the women clash, then begin to bond and bloom under the Mediterranean sun.

 Matthew Barber’s romantic comedy, based on the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Armin, had a four-month summer run on Broadway in 2003.

Kate Donadio MacQueen directs. The cast: Maggie Birgel, Josh Brook, Amanda CucherShelli Delgado, Stephanie Earle, J.L. Reed, Topher Payne and Holly Stevenson.

$15 plus fees. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. Performed at Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Parkway South in Marietta. Tickets HERE.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream. THROUGH JULY 29. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

‘Tis the Midsummer season. The new Shakespeare Kennesaw recently finished its run, and September brings an outdoor version from the Alliance Theatre. At the Tavern, Kenneth Wigley (Theseus, Oberon) and Dani Herd (Hippolyta, Titania) lead a large band of storytellers in a comic tale about two pairs of lovers (one requited, one not so much) and a ragtag bunch of thespians who stumble upon a chaotic fairy kingdom. J. Tony Brown directs. 

Pub menu and libations available. $21-$42. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 

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.

Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

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 recommended. 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.

Christopher Kent (from left), Chris Damiano, Scott DePoy, Laura Lindahl and Mark W. Schroeder. Photo: Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Christopher Kent (from left), Chris Damiano, Scott DePoy, Laura Lindahl and Mark W. Schroeder. Photo: Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. THROUGH JULY 28. 

Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises last season’s jukebox musical about the Man in Black. Ring of Fire tells Cash’s story through his songs — from vintage country to rockabilly to ballads — including “Daddy Sang Bass,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Going to Memphis,” “Jackson,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “I Walk the Line” and 32 more. 

The run continues GET’s partnership with the Chattahoochee Nature Center for a fourth consecutive summer and features the same cast as last season: Chris DamianoScott DePoy, Christopher Kent, Laura Lindahl and Mark W. Schroeder.

$16.50 general admission lawn seating; $36.50 reserved table seating under the pavilion; $365 for a 10-person table. Cash bar (no outside alcohol or glass allowed). 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (grounds open at 6:30 p.m.). 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Next week

TMBT founders (from left) John Welker, Rachel Van Buskirk, Heath Gill, Tara Lee and Christian Clark.

TMBT founders (from left) John Welker, Rachel Van Buskirk, Heath Gill, Tara Lee and Christian Clark.

Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. JULY 27-28.

Two pop-up performances at the High Museum of Art feature Heath Gill’s Confronting Genius, described as “a whimsical duet that looks at unshackling the artist that lives inside us all.”

Dancers from the company’s Advanced Summer Intensive program also perform. 

Terminus, founded in fall 2017, is dedicated to expanding ballet’s boundaries through contemporary movement and nontraditional approaches. Gill, along with co-founders Christian Clark, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and John Welker, were longtime Atlanta Ballet dancers.

Free for High Museum members; $14.50 non-members. Seating limited. 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The High Museum is at the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details HERE.Tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

fashionado

BEST BETS | Nov. 16-22, 2017

What do a cardboard piano and free beer have to do with Atlanta theater?   Read on to find out. Pictured, from left: Ashley Anderson and Isake Akanke in “Cardboard Piano” at Actor’s Express. Photo by   Ashley Earles-Bennett.

What do a cardboard piano and free beer have to do with Atlanta theater? Read on to find out. Pictured, from left: Ashley Anderson and Isake Akanke in “Cardboard Piano” at Actor’s Express. Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.

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

Special event

Pictured, from left: playwright Theroun Patterson, director Rachel Parish, director Rebekah Suellau, actor/playwright Mark Kendall, playwright Theresa Davis, playwright/actor Topher Payne, playwright/actor Daryl Fazio, playwright Dipika Guha.

Pictured, from left: playwright Theroun Patterson, director Rachel Parish, director Rebekah Suellau, actor/playwright Mark Kendall, playwright Theresa Davis, playwright/actor Topher Payne, playwright/actor Daryl Fazio, playwright Dipika Guha.

Home Brew Festival. ENDS SATURDAY.

 7 Stages concludes its new-play fest — the one that comes with free entry and free beer.

The 10-day event concludes with four more readings. Rachel Parish presents Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again by British playwright Alice Birch(tonight) and Pam Joyce presents Art of Gaman by Dipika Guha(Friday). 

Those readings begin at 8 p.m. Saturday begins with an 11:30 a.m. brunch discussion on “The Art of Activism.”

The readings are Topher Payne’s Angry Fags (2 p.m.) and Theresa Davis’ Then They Tell You It’s All in Your Head (8 p.m.).

Free. Reservations required HERE. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. 404.523.7647.

 

Recommended

Actor's Express

** Cardboard Piano. THROUGH DEC. 3.

 New Year’s Eve, 1999, in a remote Ugandan village. Two girls — one a local villager (Isake Akanke), the other the daughter of American missionaries (Ashley Anderson) — sneak into a church to hold a makeshift wedding for themselves. A boy soldier (Stephen Ruffin) interrupts, sparking a chain of events that changes their lives forever. The script is by South Korea-born Hansol Jung. Kennesaw State’s Karen Robinson directs. Also in the cast: Rob Demery. The drama debuted at last year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, which Express artistic director Freddie Ashley has found to be 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.

 

LORE

Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. FRIDAY ONLY (Saturday-Sunday performance sold out).

Recommended, if you can get a ticket.

This new company formed by five longtime Atlanta Ballet dancers — Christian Clark, Heath Gill, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and John Welker — performs Lore, a world premiere choreographed by Gill. It explores stories, how they are passed on and why we tell them.

$50. 7 p.m. Serenbe at Deer Hollow, 8455 Atlanta Newnan Road, Palmetto.) Tickets HERE or at 470.733.8274.

 

Opening this week

Aurora-ChristmasCanteen

Christmas Canteen. BEGINS TONIGHT.

 Aurora Theatre’s annual revue, one of its three holiday shows, turns 22 this year. This jolly variety show is schmaltzy, fun and moving in all the right ways. If you remember “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Andy Williams’ Christmas specials, spin the time machine forward a bit, and you’ll known what to expect: songs, dances, novelty numbers and a few specially placed mentions of businesses supportive of Aurora. New this year are Nick and Caroline Arapoglou as co-hosts, cast members Chani Maisonet and Cansler McGhee, and apprentice company members Daisean Garrett and Cheyanne Osoria. Returning are Jen MacQueen, Lyndsay Ricketson Brown, Christian Magby and Cecil Washington Jr. 

Get your tickets soon, this show sells out fast. $30-$65. Through Dec. 23. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No shows Nov. 21-23 (Thanksgiving). Already sold out: 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 12 + 16 (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. 

 

Topher Payne

Topher Payne

Santaland Diaries. BEGINS FRIDAY.

The news here is that longtime Crumpet Harold M. Leaver has ceded his tights to actor/playwright Topher Payne. 

Horizon Theatre’s alternative holiday tale, based on the real-life adventures of satirist David Sedaris, recalls the season he spent as an elf at Macy’s Department Store in New York City. This is an adults-only show.

$30-$45. Through Dec. 31. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Also at 6 p.m. Dec. 16 + 23.  No shows on Thanksgiving or Nov. 28. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

 

This weekend only

Alice Between. THROUGH SUNDAY.

The Alliance Theatre’sFamily Series updates Alice in Wonderland, plunking Alice down in middle school on her first day as a seventh-grader. It, too, is a world full of strange and wondrous incongruities. The original script was developed by director Rosemary Newcott, playwright Neeley Gossett and playwright/actor Steve Coulter. The cast: Ashley Anderson as Alice; Lauren Boyd as Tory; Anthony Campbell as Hatter; Joseph Pendergrast as Cheshire; and Michelle Pokopac as Caty.

Public performances: 1:30 + 4 p.m. Saturday; and 5 p.m. Sunday. The show also will tour metro middle schools. $18-$32. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 733.5000.

“Alice Between” features (from left) Lauren Boyd, Ashley Anderson as Alice, Anthony Campbell (partially hidden) and Michelle Pokopac. Photo: Greg Mooney

“Alice Between” features (from left) Lauren Boyd, Ashley Anderson as Alice, Anthony Campbell (partially hidden) and Michelle Pokopac. Photo: Greg Mooney

Donald Runnicles

Donald Runnicles

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. TONIGHT + SATURDAY. 

Verdi’s Requiem is a bucket-list experience, the ASO says. It performs the 1874 piece with the full orchestra, the ASO Chorus and four soloists from the opera world — Erin Wall, a “soprano of radiance, pristine beauty and tingling top notes” (Financial Times); mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton; tenor Dimitri Pittas; and bass Peter Rose.

Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles is on the podium.

$22-$97. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733-5000.

 

Azam Ali and Carmen Rizzo.

Azam Ali and Carmen Rizzo.

The Fourth Light Project. SATURDAY.

 Niyaz, the Iranian-Canadian musical duo of Azam Ali and Carmen Rizzo, visits Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts with an immersive multimedia experience blending medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from Persian Gulf nations with acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics.

The Huffington Post calls Niyaz “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music.”

$32-$63. 8 p.m. 80 Forsyth St. NW. Free (validated) parking in the 100 Peachtree garage (formerly the Equitable Deck) on Fairlie Street. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.413.9849.

 

Ongoing

alliance-theater

Crossing Delancey. THROUGH NOV. 25.

At 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); Bubbie zeroes in on Sam the pickle man (Andrew Benator). Who will prevail? 

$10-$70. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-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]

 

ShakespeareTavern

Twelfth Night. THROUGH NOV. 26.

 A shipwreck, separated identical twins, mistaken identities, romance, revenge and one pair of yellow stockings. Welcome to Orsino’s court and the zany world of Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Chris Hecke is Orsino. 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

rudolph-red-nosed-reindeer

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

We’ve barely had frost on the pumpkins, and Thanksgiving is still days away, but the most famous reindeer is back at the Center for Puppetry Arts. The piece, adapted by artistic director Jon Ludwig, remains faithful to the classic 1964 Rankin-Bass TV special, known for its  stop-motion animation. All our favorite characters return: Rudolph, Clarice, Sam the Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the Elf, the Misfit Toys, the Bumble and, of course, Santa. For age 4 and up.

$11.25-$19.50. No shows Thanksgiving or Christmas days. 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. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Coming up

MISSBENNET

** Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. OPENS 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) 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 directs a strong cast led by 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.

fashionado

AN ALLIANCE OF GOOD AND EVIL

THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE INDELICATE HAND TO GOD, WHICH FITS NICELY WITH THE DAD’S GARAGE VIDE — AND DON’T SAY YOU HAVEN’T BEEN WARNED.

THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE INDELICATE HAND TO GOD, WHICH FITS NICELY WITH THE DAD’S GARAGE VIDE — AND DON’T SAY YOU HAVEN’T BEEN WARNED.

“Hand to God” runs Oct. 20-Nov. 12 at Dad’s Garage Theatre as part of the Alliance Theatre’s 2017/18 on-the-road season, made necessary by renovations at the Woodruff Arts Center. Details, tickets HERE. Directions HERE.

ON ONE HAND, you’re a good person.

Of course there are degrees and definitions of being a good person.

Actor Ben Thorpe (right) and Tyrone the Puppet make nice at “Hand to God” rehearsals. Puppet design by Linda Roethke. Photo: A’riel Tinter.

Actor Ben Thorpe (right) and Tyrone the Puppet make nice at “Hand to God” rehearsals. Puppet design by Linda Roethke. Photo: A’riel Tinter.

On the other hand, well, there’s the other hand. That’s the one that wants to tell the jerks of the world to put it in their patooties.

That hand holds your uglier thoughts, darkest desires, questions of self-worth. It’s full of personal baggage that dates, maybe, to childhood.

The black comedy Hand to God puts both hands in a blender and spits them out in a tornado of angst and hilarity.

This Robert Askins play, with a deliciously creepy puppetry element, ran off-Broadway in 2011/12 and again in 2014. The 2014 version won the Off-Broadway Alliance’s best new play award. A 2015 Broadway production earned five Tony nominations, including one for best new play.

Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth has had her eye on this irreverent piece of theater, set mostly in the basement of a small evangelical Christian church in Cypress, Texas, for some time.

Playwright Robert Askins (left) grew up in Cypress, Texas, where “Hand to God” is set. Of the black comedy director Marc Masterson says, “We’re gonna play, we’re gonna have fun, and we’ll make this thing our own.”

Playwright Robert Askins (left) grew up in Cypress, Texas, where “Hand to God” is set. Of the black comedy director Marc Masterson says, “We’re gonna play, we’re gonna have fun, and we’ll make this thing our own.”

With its Woodruff Arts Center space under renovation, Booth decided the moment for Hand to God was now and that the gutsy, admittedly foul-mouthed comedy was a great fit for the risk-ready Dad’s Garage Theatre Company.

Directing is Booth’s friend and colleague Marc Masterson, who’s in his seventh and final season as artistic director at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif. “We’re gonna play, we’re gonna have fun, and we’ll make this thing our own,” he says.

The comedy centers on a teenager named Jason and his mom, Margery. Things have been shaky, especially since Jason’s dad died. Now Margery’s been hired to lead the church’s puppet club. She didn’t bargain for sock-puppet domination.

Masterson, 60, had no prior association with Hand to God. “I just started reading it and kept laughing out loud. That was a very good sign.”

Welcome to church! Set designer Michael B. Raiford, who’s based in Austin, Texas, has created this world for “Hand to God.” Photo: A’riel Tinter

Welcome to church! Set designer Michael B. Raiford, who’s based in Austin, Texas, has created this world for “Hand to God.” Photo: A’riel Tinter

Like the playwright, Masterson is from Texas. He says, jokingly, that he’s still “a recovering Southerner,” but that he’s never lumped all Southerners together. “I know the difference between North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas.

“I also know Cypress, Texas, before it got swallowed by the city of Houston,” he says. Some folks “won’t see Texas as Southern. But I’m here to tell you that Cypress, Texas, is about as Southern as it gets.”

Hand to God’s edgy high spirits fill the page and the stage. Stage directions are peppered with “maybes.” In an Act 2 moment, for example, the playwright didn’t write “Pastor Greg walks out.” He wrote “Pastor Greg walks the f#%# out.”

These, says Masterson, are gifts from the playwright.

Wendy Melkonian plays Margery, the mom. Alliance credits include “Ugly Lies the Bone,” “Seussical,” “Sister Act!” and “A Christmas Carol.”

Wendy Melkonian plays Margery, the mom. Alliance credits include “Ugly Lies the Bone,” “Seussical,” “Sister Act!” and “A Christmas Carol.”

“Sometimes writers want it done the way they see it in their heads and that’s the only way that’s valid,” he says. But with Hand to God, five actors are invited to seize and run with the play’s adventurous spirit. “It’s left up to them to find their own path through the story.” (Those actors are Allan Edwards, Alexandra Fickens, Wendy Melkonian, Ben Thorpe and Patrick Wade.)

Masterson isn’t a puppet virgin, so to speak. One of his earliest professional jobs was directing at Lovelace Marionettes in Pittsburgh. “What I learned is that not every actor can project a personality onto an inanimate object, can make it come alive. It’s a different approach to acting and takes a special skill set.”

The dual role of the troubled Jason and his left-hand guy Tyrone (a rude, crude, sassy puppet) requires both mental and verbal gymnastics.

Masterson cast the 28-year-old Thorpe, a Snellville native making his Alliance Theatre debut. Thorpe calls the role the most challenging he’s ever had. He read the play almost daily last summer and planned to have his lines memorized before rehearsals began.

The troublemaking Tyrone (left) and a lady puppet. Designs by Linda Roethke.

The troublemaking Tyrone (left) and a lady puppet. Designs by Linda Roethke.

While studying musical theater at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, one lesson that stuck with him was this: “Always return to the text of the play.”

Certain lines jump off the page after repeated readings, Thorpe says. Things that happen when Jason is offstage say a lot about what his home life must be like.

Thorpe says he appreciates the play’s softer side and what it “might have to say about listening to your kids, and how kids can better listen to their parents, and how families and communities can take better care of each other.”

Masterson offers these instructions. “If you’re easily offended, it could be a rough night. Leave your inhibitions at the door. Come with an open mind and be ready to laugh. Even be ready to laugh at yourself.”

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SUZI NOMINATIONS: ALLIANCE, AURORA DOMINATE

Synchronicity Theatre’s “Eclipsed” received seven nominations, including best ensemble of a play. The cast included Charity Purvis Jordan (left) and Asha Duniani plus Isake Akanke, Shayla Love and Parris Sarter. Photo by Jerry Siegel

Synchronicity Theatre’s “Eclipsed” received seven nominations, including best ensemble of a play. The cast included Charity Purvis Jordan (left) and Asha Duniani plus Isake Akanke, Shayla Love and Parris Sarter. Photo by Jerry Siegel

ATLANTA THEATER’S 2017 SUZI NOMINATIONS HONOR 13 METRO COMPANIES AND 43 PRODUCTIONS. HOW MANY DID YOU SEE?

THE ALLIANCE THEATRE producing on two stages, leads 2017 Suzi Bass Award hopefuls with 42 nominations, followed by Aurora Theatre (24), Actor’s Express (19), Horizon Theatre (14) and Synchronicity Theatre (11). The Alliance is the largest theater in the Southeast.

Aurora Theatre’s “The Bridges of Madison County” (with nominees Travis Smith and Kristin Markiton) tied with the Alliance Theatre’s “The Prom” as the most-nominated production. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Aurora Theatre’s “The Bridges of Madison County” (with nominees Travis Smith and Kristin Markiton) tied with the Alliance Theatre’s “The Prom” as the most-nominated production. Photo: Chris Bartelski

In all, 13 professional theater companies were recognized with nominations for Atlanta’s version of Broadway’s Tony awards.

Production-wise, the nominees are led by The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora and The Prom at the Alliance (both with 12); The Crucible at Actor’s Express (11); Nobody Loves You at Horizon (10); and Troubadour at the Alliance (9).

The 13th annual Suzi Bass Awards happen Nov. 6 at the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. The evening includes awards, performances and a reception with nibbles and a cash bar. Tickets to the general public will be on sale soon. The awards were founded in 2003 to celebrate outstanding work in live theater and the artists who produce it.        

THE NOMINEES

Outstanding world premiere

  • The Prom at the Alliance Theatre
  • Singles in Agriculture at Aurora Theatre
  • Strait of Gibraltar at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Too Heavy for Your Pocket at the Alliance 
  • Troubadour at the Alliance
The Alliance Theatre’s “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” is nominated for best world premiere. Its cast (from left) Eboni Flowers, Rob Demery, Stephen Ruffin and Markita Prescott. Photo: Greg Mooney

The Alliance Theatre’s “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” is nominated for best world premiere. Its cast (from left) Eboni Flowers, Rob Demery, Stephen Ruffin and Markita Prescott. Photo: Greg Mooney

Play

  • The Crucible at Actor’s Express

  • Eclipsed at Synchronicity 

  • King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3 at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
  • Singles in Agriculture at Aurora 
  • Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance 

Direction/play

  • Justin Anderson for Singles in Agriculture at Aurora 
  • Freddie Ashley for The Crucible at Actor’s Express
  • Jessica Holt for Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance 
  • Tinashe Kajese-Bolden for Eclipsed at Synchronicity 
  • Jeff Watkins for King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3 at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Female lead actor/play

  • Cynthia D. Barker for The Mountaintop (Aurora)
  • Lauren Lane for Singles in Agriculture (Aurora)
  • Julie Jesneck for Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance)
  • Christina Leidel for The Miracle Worker (Gypsy Theatre Company)
  • Brooke Owens for Anne Boleyn (Synchronicity)
  • Courtney Patterson for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)

Male lead actor/play

  • Jeremy Aggers for Singles in Agriculture (Aurora)
  • Neal Ghant for The Mountaintop (Aurora)
  • Jonathan Horne for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Brian Kurlander for How to Use a Knife (Horizon)
  • Geoffrey D. Williams for Thurgood (Theatrical Outfit)

Female featured actor/play

  • Shelli Delgado for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Ellen McQueen for The Tragedy of King Richard III (Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse)
  • Wendy Melkonian for Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance)
  • Falashay Pearson for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Vallea E. Woodbury for Singles in Agriculture (Aurora)

Male featured actor/play

  • Adeoye for Moby Dick (Alliance)
  • Bryan Davis for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Jeff McKerley for The Legend of Georgia McBride (Actor’s Express)
  • Lee Osorio for Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance)
  • Tamil Periasamy for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Drew Reeves for King Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse)

Ensemble/play

  • The Canterbury Tales at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse (Laura Cole, Nicholas Faircloth, Rivka Levin, Drew Reeves, Adam King, Enoch King, Amanda Lindsey, Kirstin Calvert)

  • The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse (Chris Hecke, Steve Hudson, Gina Rickicki, Andrew Houchins, J.L. Reed, Enoch King, Matt Felten, Jennifer Lamort, India S. Tyree, Matt Nitchie, Amanda Lindsey, Dani Herd)

  • Eclipsed at Synchronicity(Asha Duniani, Charity Purvis Jordan, Shayla Love, Parris Sarter, Isake Akanke)
  • Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) at Actor’s Express (Seun Soyemi, Damian Lockhart, Meagan Dilworth, Jason-Jamal Ligon, Rob Cleveland, Evan Cleaver, Brittany Inge, Marcus Hopkins-Turner, Richard McDonald, Bryan Davis)
  • Too Heavy for Your Pocket at the Alliance (Rob Demery, Eboni Flowers, Markita Prescott, Stephen Ruffin)

Costume design/play

  • Deyah Brenner for The Legend of Georgia McBride (Actor’s Express)

  • Anné Carole Butler for King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3 (Shakespeare Tavern)

  • Nyrobi Moss for Eclipsed (Synchronicity)
  • Abby Parker for Anne Boleyn (Synchronicity)
  • Erik Teague for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)

Lighting design/play

  • William C. Kirkham for Moby Dick (Alliance)

  • Liz Lee for Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance)

  • Joseph P. Monaghan III for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)
  • Mary Parker for Constellations at (Horizon)
  • Kathy A. Perkins for Eclipsed (Synchronicity)

Scenic design/play

  • Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Appropriate (Actor’s Express)

  • Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Eclipsed (Synchronicity)

  • Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Freed Spirits (Horizon)
  • Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for How to Use a Knife (Horizon)
  • Leslie Taylor for The Legend of Georgia McBride (Actor’s Express)

Sound design/play

  • Preston Goodson for The Legend of Georgia McBride (Actor’s Express)

  • Chika Kaba Ma’atunde for Simply Simone (Theatrical Outfit)

  • Kate Marvin for Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance)
  • Kay Richardson for Eclipsed (Synchronicity)
  • Ed Thrower for The Crucible (Actor’s Express)

Musical

  • Big Fish at Theatrical Outfit
  • The Bridges of Madison County at Aurora 
  • Nobody Loves You at Horizon Theatre
  • The Prom at the Alliance 
  • Troubadour at the Alliance 

Direction of a musical

  • Justin Anderson for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

  • Susan V. Booth for Troubadour (Alliance)

  • Brian Clowdus for Grease (Serenbe Playhouse)
  • Heidi McKerley for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)
  • Casey Nicholaw for The Prom (Alliance)

Musical direction

  • Brandon Bush for Troubadour (Alliance)

  • Mary-Mitchell Campbell for The Prom (Alliance)

  • Alli Lingenfelter for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)
  • Chika Kaba Ma’atunde for Simply Simone (Theatrical Outfit)
  • Ann-Carol Pence for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

Choreography

  • Ricardo Aponte for The Legend of Georgia McBride (Actor’s Express)

  • Bubba Carr for Grease (Serenbe)

  • Heidi Cline McKerley & Jeff McKerley for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)
  • Casey Nicholaw for The Prom (Alliance)
  • Melissa Zaremba for Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Legacy Theatre)

Musical lead actor/female 

  • Kylie Brown for Ghost the Musical (Georgia Ensemble Theatre)

  • Randi Garza for Grease (Serenbe)

  • Caitlin Kinnunen for The Prom (Alliance)
  • Beth Leavel for The Prom (Alliance)
  • Kristin Markiton for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

Musical lead actor/male

  • Brooks Ashmanskas for The Prom (Alliance)

  • Andrew Benator for Troubadour (Alliance)

  • Chase Peacock for Ghost the Musical (Georgia Ensemble)
  • Travis Smith for Big Fish (Theatrical Outfit)
  • Travis Smith for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora) 

Musical featured actor/female

  • Jennifer Alice Acker for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)

  • Kandice Arrington for Ghost the Musical (Georgia Ensemble)

  • Wendy Melkonian for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)
  • Valarie Payton for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)
  • Julissa Sabino for Grease (Serenbe)

Musical featured actor/male

  • Rob Cleveland for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

  • Don Finney for The Threepenny Opera (7 Stages)

  • Matt Lewis for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)
  • Brad Raymond for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)
  • Austin Tijerina for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)

Ensemble/musical

  • Church Basement Ladies at the Legacy Theatre (Amanda Lyn Hornberger, Autumn O’Ryan, Katie Patterson, Nikki Savitt, Jeremy Skidmore)

  • Company at Actor’s Express (Lowrey Brown, Rhyn Saver, Daniel Burns, Jimmica Collins, Laura Floyd, Dan Ford, Jill Hames, Steve Hudson, Phillip Lynch, Kelly Chapin Martin, Jessica Miesel, Emily Stembridge, Craig Waldrip, Libby Whittemore

  • Million Dollar Quartet, a Georgia Ensemble & Atlanta Lyric Theatre co-production (Chase Peacock, Allison Wilhoit, Chris Damiano, Christopher Kent, Justin D. Thompson, Ethan Ray Parker, Andrew Patton, Kroy Presley)
  • Smokey Joe’s Cafe at the Legacy (Nick Abbott, Amanda Bridgette, Brian L. Boyd, Meg Dickens, Jordan Ellis, Rakeem Lawrence, Allie Richardson, Hillary Scales-Lewis, Christopher “CJ” Williams)

Costume design/musical

  • DeeDee Chmielewski for The Threepenny Opera (7 Stages)

  • Lex Liang for Troubadour (Alliance)

  • Brandon McWilliams for Grease (Serenbe)
  • Linda Patterson for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)
  • Ann Roth & Matthew Pachtman for The Prom (Alliance)

Lighting design/musical

  • Bradley Bergeron for Grease (Serenbe)

  • Kevin Frazier for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

  • Kenneth Posner for The Prom (Alliance)
  • Bryan Rosengrant for Ghost the Musical (Georgia Ensemble)
  • Ken Yunker for Troubadour (Alliance)

Scenic design/musical

  • Kat Conley for Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays (Alliance)

  • Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)

  • Scott Pask for The Prom at the (Alliance)
  • Julie Allardice Ray for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)
  • Todd Rosenthal for Troubadour (Alliance)

Sound design/musical

  • Clay Benning for Troubadour (Alliance)

  • Rob Brooksher for Nobody Loves You (Horizon)

  • Preston Goodson for Ghost the Musical (Georgia Ensemble)
  • Peter Hylenski for The Prom at the (Alliance)
  • John McKenzie for Million Dollar Quartet (Georgia Ensemble & Atlanta Lyric)
  • Daniel Pope for The Bridges of Madison County (Aurora)

Outstanding production/Theater for Young Audiences

  • Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance

  • From Head to Toe at the Alliance 

  • Old MacDonald’s Farm at the Center for Puppetry Arts
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora 

New work/TYA

  • Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance

  • The Dancing Granny at the Alliance 

  • The Dancing Handkerchief at Theatrical Outfit
  • From Head to Toe at the Alliance 

Direction/TYA

  • Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance (director Rosemary Newcott, music director S. Renee Clark)

  • From Head to Toe at the Alliance (director Rosemary Newcott)

  • Old MacDonald’s Farm at the Center for Puppetry Arts (director Amy Sweeney)
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora Theatre (director Justin Anderson, musical director Ann-Carol Pence)

Ensemble/TYA

  • Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance (Terry Burrell, S. Renee Clark, Courtenay Collins, Molly Coyne, Scott E. DePoy, Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, India S. Tyree, Brian Walker)

  • Old MacDonald’s Farm at the Center for Puppetry Arts (Seth Langer, Amy Sweeney)

  • The One and Only Ivan at Synchronicity (Chris Hecke, Renita James, Benjamin DeWitt Sims, Jeffrey Sneed, Precious West)
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora (Jenise Cook, Elliott Felds, Juan Carlos Unzueta, Amber Hamilton, Candice Mclellan, Bryan Montemayor)

Design/TYA

  • Cinderella and Fella at the Alliance Theatre (scenic designer Kat Conley; costume designer Sydney Roberts; lighting designer Jake DeGroot; sound designer Clay Benning)

  • Cinderella Della Circus at the Center for Puppetry Arts (puppet designer Jason Hines; scenic designer Rochelle Barker Shinn; lighting designer Liz Lee; sound designers Mimi Epstein & Gregory Montague)

  • Old MacDonald’s Farm at the Center for Puppetry Arts (puppet designer Jason Hines; scenic designer Ryan Sbaratta; costume designer Carole D’Agostino; lighting designer Gregory Montague; sound designer Dolph Amick)
  • Robin Hood at Serenbe (scenic designer Scott Sargent; costume designer DeeDee Chmielewski; properties designer Stephanie Polhemus)
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff at Aurora (scenic & costume designers Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay; lighting designer Andre C. Allen; sound designer Thom Jenkins)

NOMINATIONS BY PRODUCTION

12: The Bridges of Madison County & The Prom

11: The Crucible

10: Nobody Loves You 

9: Troubadour 

7: Eclipsed & Ugly Lies the Bone

6: Grease Singles in Agriculture 

5: Cinderella and FellaGhost the Musical & The Legend of Georgia McBride

4: King Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3Old MacDonald’s Farm & Three Billy Goats Gruff 

3: From Head to Toe 

2: Anne BoleynBig FishHow to Use a KnifeMillion Dollar QuartetThe MountaintopSimply SimoneSmokey Joe’s CaféThe Threepenny Opera; & Too Heavy for Your Pocket

1: Appropriate; Canterbury TalesChurch Basement LadiesCinderella Della CircusThe Comedy of ErrorsCompanyConstellationsCourtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the HolidaysThe Dancing GrannyThe Dancing HandkerchiefFather Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)Freed SpiritsThe Miracle WorkerThe One and Only IvanRobin Hood; Strait of Gibraltar; ThurgoodThe Tragedy of King Richard III

NOMINATIONS BY COMPANY

42: Alliance Theatre 

24: Aurora Theatre 

19: Actor’s Express 

14: Horizon Theatre 

11: Synchronicity Theatre

7: Georgia Ensemble Theatre; Serenbe Playhouse; & Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

6: Theatrical Outfit 

5: Center for Puppetry Arts 

3: Legacy Theatre 

2: 7 Stages

1: Gypsy Theatre Company