BEST BETS | May 9 – May 15, 2019

Georgia-Renaissance-Festival

WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: Looking for a 16th-century Mother’s Day celebration? Head to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, recently voted “Favorite Renaissance Festival in the Southeast”! 

Best bets for Mother’s Day weekend!

Billy Elliot. Through May 12. City Springs Theatre Company @ Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Based on the hit film and featuring a score by legend Elton John, Billy Elliot the Musical is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Billy journeys from the boxing ring to ballet class where his passion for dance is ignited, inspiring both his family and community and changing their lives forever. Set in a northern English mining town against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical uplifts with its powerful storyline, rousing score, and sensational choreography. Info on the City Springs Theatre Company website. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

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.

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BEST BETS | Jan. 4-10, 2018

Metro theaters go for the bold, ambitious and audacious this winter. It begins with “Angels in America” at Actor’s Express, with (from left)   Robert Bryan Davis, Carolyn Cook, Grant Chapman, Parris Sarter, Louis Greggory, Cara Mantella, Joe Sykes, Thandiwe DeShazor. Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.

Metro theaters go for the bold, ambitious and audacious this winter. It begins with “Angels in America” at Actor’s Express, with (from left) Robert Bryan Davis, Carolyn Cook, Grant Chapman, Parris Sarter, Louis Greggory, Cara Mantella, Joe Sykes, Thandiwe DeShazor. Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta winter season top pick. 

Opening this week

Simba (Gerard Caesar) atop Pride Rock. Photo: Deen van Meer

Simba (Gerard Caesar) atop Pride Rock. Photo: Deen van Meer

The Lion King. OPENS JAN. 10. 

Broadway in Atlanta brings Disney’s circle of life back to the Fox Theatre for a three-week run.

A cast of more than 40 breathes life into a lion cub named Simba, strutting giraffes, lumbering elephants, swooping birds and leaping gazelles.

The original production, which won six Tony awards, is in its 21st season on Broadway. This is a new North American tour.

$39-$169 plus fees. Through Jan. 28. Seats for the first week of the run and weekends are selling well.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1 p.m. Jan 11.

660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 1.855.285.8499.

[READ: THIS TOUR’S GROWN-UP NALA GREW UP IN NORCROSS]

 

Last chance

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The Adventures of Gingerbread Man. CLOSES SUNDAY.

The folktales “Hansel and Gretel,” “Androcles and the Lion,” “The Frog Prince” and “The Three Wishes” are told with glove, rod, and hand-and-rod puppets by Atlanta’s All Hands Productions. For ages 4 and up.

$11.25-$19.50. 10 + 11:30 a.m. weekdays; 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday.

Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

 

 

Next week

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** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. OPENS JAN. 12.

In repertory at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling, two-part saga set at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1 is titled Millennium Approaches, Part 2 is titled Perestroika. Kushner’s achievement, one of the landmark theatrical events of the 20th century, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1993 Tony awards. 

The Express cast: Robert Bryan Davis as Roy Cohn and Grant Chapman as Prior Walter, with Carolyn CookThandiwe DeShazorLouis Greggory (new spelling), Cara MantellaParris Sarter and Joe Sykes

$22-$40. In repertory through Feb. 17, so not both shows are seen every night. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 

King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Millennium Approaches details, tickets HEREPerestroika details, tickets HERE. Or call 404.607.7469. 

 

Leonard Bernstein. Photo: Paul de Hueck, courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein office

Leonard Bernstein. Photo: Paul de Hueck, courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein office

Leonard Bernstein and the Beethoven Seventh. JAN. 11 + 13.

Ludwig Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein were lifelong champions of two things: music and liberty. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra celebrates them throughout the 2017/18 season.

Join guest conductor Peter Oundjian for the toe-tapping ballet Fancy Free (written when Bernstein was 25 and the basis for On the Town) and for Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the last piece Bernstein conducted before his death in 1990  at age 72.

Also on the program: ASO concertmaster David Coucheron performs the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3.

$22-$107 (some sections already sold out). 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HEREor at 404.733.5000.

 

ladyday

** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. PREVIEWS JAN. 11-12. OPENS JAN. 13.

At Theatrical Outfit. Philadelphia, 1959. An audience gathers at Emerson’s on the city’s south side to witness, unknowingly, one of legendary singer Billie Holiday’s last solo performances.

The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about her down-and-out life and a songlist that features “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen others. Terry Burrell (Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dreamgirls, Into the Woods; the Alliance Theatre’s Ethel) plays Holiday, a role she’s done off-Broadway. 

$18-$51. Through Feb. 4. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 14, 18, 20-21, 25, 27-28 and Feb. 1, 3, 4. 

The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Photo: Jeff Rothman / 2010

Photo: Jeff Rothman / 2010

The Magic Flute. JAN. 13-14.

 The Atlanta Opera Studio performs an hourlong version of the Mozart piece about Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue the beautiful Pamina, a story of good and evil and love told with singing actors and puppets.

The Studio artists, part of the opera company’s artist-in-residence program, will sing in English.

$20. 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday (a 3 p.m. performance is sold out).

Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.

 

poshmaytag

** Maytag Virgin. OPENS JAN. 11.

A regional premiere at Aurora TheatreAudrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows Alabama schoolteacher Lizzy Nash (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor, Jack Key (Brad Brinkley), in the year following the unexpected death of Lizzy’s husband.

DC Theatre Scene called the play “a witty and earnest meditation on how people connect even when they feel they’re not ready.” Melissa Foulger, an Actor’s Express regular and a name you should know, directs.

$20-$55. Through Feb. 11. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 16 show sold out. 

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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 

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Native Guard. OPENS JAN. 13. 

Alliance Theatre at the Atlanta History Center. A reprise of the  2014 staging based on poet Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, which juxtaposes her life as a mixed-race child with the Native Guard — black soldiers fighting for the Union during the Civil War.

The twist this time: It’s performed alongside the History Center’s Civil War exhibition.

The entire cast returns: Neal A. Ghant as the Native Guard, January LaVoy as the Poet, vocalist Nicole Banks Long and composer/music director Tyrone Jackson. Recommended for age 12 and up.

$20-$47; $10 teens. Through Feb. 4. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 

130 West Paces Ferry Road NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: REVISITING ‘NATIVE GUARD’]

 

tenderly

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. OPENS JAN. 11.

At Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Billed as a “fresh, personal and poignant” picture of the singer/actor who became a Hollywood legend. Tenderly follows Clooney (1928-2002) from her childhood in Maysville, Ky., through her girl-singer days and onto Tinseltown and beyond, showing the bumps, bruises and successes along the way.

The score includes “Come On-a My House,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Hey There,” “Mambo Italiano,” and more. The cast: Rachel Sorsa as Clooney and Mark Cabus as the Doctor (and 11 other roles). James Donadio directs.

$30–$46 (previews cheaper). Performed at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 

Coming up

Kathleen Battle

Kathleen Battle

Kathleen Battle: Underground Railroad. JAN. 19 ONLY.

Join renowned soprano Kathleen Battle, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Morehouse College Glee Club, the Spelman College Glee Club and conductor Chelsea Tipton II to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The evening features spirituals inspired by the journey to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

$39. 8 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE.

Details HERE or at 404.733.5000. Tickets only at Ticketmaster HERE.

 

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GROWING PAINS

An original illustration by John Tenniel from the “Alice” books. Tenniel (1820-1914) was a British illustrator, graphic humorist and political cartoonist.

An original illustration by John Tenniel from the “Alice” books. Tenniel (1820-1914) was a British illustrator, graphic humorist and political cartoonist.

WITH A SIGNIFICANT NOD TO LEWIS CARROLL, THE ALLIANCE THEATRE FLAYS OPEN THE STRUGGLES OF MIDDLE SCHOOL’S ANGSTY DAYS AND NIGHTS.

Public performances of “Alice Between,” a world premiere, begin Sunday and run through Nov. 19 at the Rich Auditorium in the Woodruff Arts Center. Details, tickets HERE.

IN ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, the 1865 tall tale by Lewis Carroll, the main character falls down a rabbit hole. Then it’s just one nonsensical thing after another.

alice between

Kind of like middle school.

With Alice Between, which it commissioned for family audiences, the Alliance Theatre does a riff on Carroll’s fantasy, addressing the stings and arrows of those middle-school years.

As Alice begins, the title character is late, very late for her very important first day as a new student at Landwunder Middle School. She’s also lost, and no one at the ginormous place will tell her how to find the “700 hallway.”

We all know that middle school can be crazy. And cruel. In this chapter of life, kids are full of insecurities. Loyalties come and go and friendship trauma is constant. Who will be popular? Who will just get by, be labeled an oddball or, worse yet, a loser?

All of this angst, and more, lives in Alice Between.

At one point, Alice (Ashley Anderson) spats with a former friend (Lauren Boyd). An onlooker (Anthony Campbell) overhears and comments: “Wow, I’m starting to miss the part where they were trying to kill each other with a dodgeball instead of with words.”

The “Alice” company (from left) includes understudy Heidi Rider, actors Lauren Boyd and Michelle Pokopac, Ashley Anderson (as Alice) and understudy Ryan Vo. In the background: group services manager Davior Snipes. Photo: Kathleen Covington

The “Alice” company (from left) includes understudy Heidi Rider, actors Lauren Boyd and Michelle Pokopac, Ashley Anderson (as Alice) and understudy Ryan Vo. In the background: group services manager Davior Snipes. Photo: Kathleen Covington

Co-playwrights Neeley Gossett and Steve Coulter have set their Alice in a present-day middle school, developing the script with significant input from metro middle-schoolers themselves.

Some 17,000 students will see the show at its Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Auditorium, which also hosts a handful of public performances. Thousands more students will see it at their schools.

“Alice” playwrights Steve Coulter (left) and Neeley Gossett, and associate artistic director Christopher Moses.

“Alice” playwrights Steve Coulter (left) and Neeley Gossett, and associate artistic director Christopher Moses.

Since Alice Between lies in his jurisdiction, we asked Christopher Moses, associate artistic director and education director, for a little insight on the Alliance’s programming for family audiences.

QUESTION: How, and with whom, did Alice Between begin?

MOSES: Rosemary Newcott [the Alliance’s director of theater for youth] had the idea of using Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for the middle-school experience.

Director Rosemary Newcott shares design elements with the entire “Alice” company on Day 1 of rehearsals. Photo: Kathleen Covington

Director Rosemary Newcott shares design elements with the entire “Alice” company on Day 1 of rehearsals. Photo: Kathleen Covington

Q: Why does a fresh take on Carroll’s 152-year-old novel work for today’s 11- to 14-year-olds?

A: A girl falls down a rabbit hole and into an illogical world. She experiences this madness, this world that follows a set of indecipherable rules. We’ve worked with, and heard from, so many middle-school students who’ve revealed that that’s exactly how it is for them. Their struggles and anxieties are very real. They almost feel as if school rules and regulations are sometimes working against them.

Q: Alice Between seems a bit like Alice in Wonderland-meets-Mean Girls because of its biting humor, doesn’t it?

A: Absolutely. There’s so much questioning and discovery in the formative years of middle school [along with] humor and absurdity that seems to be a hallmark of this period in our lives.

Q: Can you say more about the Alliance’s work with the middle-school audience?

A: We’ve had a commitment to developing new work specifically for them for years and always include them in the long artistic process. The play is not baked until we open, and it goes through a series of workshops — first with a wide array of middle-school students. We could not do this without their deep investment. Once the play is in formal rehearsals, the professional cast and creative team continue to mine the story for its truth.

Q: Often adults play students in these productions. Is that the case this time?

A: Yes. We hire young professional actors who have the ability, insights and experience to dive into a new script and a new story, and deliver the material. It’s also a practical matter. We tour the show to schools in the daytime.

Q: Alice Between has just five actors. How do you convey that this story is set in a place with many, many students?

A: The audience becomes part of the school population. It’s a fun conceit.

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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