Alliance, Serenbe listed among Playbill’s Top 20 regional theaters

Serenbe Playhouse’s 2016 outdoor staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Serenbe Playhouse’s 2016 outdoor staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The national publication Playbill recently named 20 regional companies that every theater lover should know, breaking them into four categories: stalwarts, Broadway incubators, innovators and those that foster new work.

Greater Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, the largest theater in the Southeast, and the 9-year-old Serenbe Playhouse in Chattahoochee Hills were both named “innovators.” The list encompasses 14 cities in nine states. Here’s a rundown of all 20. How many have you hit?


The Guthrie Theater’s 2017 “Sunday in the Park With George.” Photo: T. Charles Erickson

The Guthrie Theater’s 2017 “Sunday in the Park With George.” Photo: T. Charles Erickson

These six theaters essentially created the American regional theater, Playbill says, and are all bona-fide theatrical institutions.

GOODMAN | Chicago. Dates to 1925 and is the Windy City’s oldest nonprofit company. It stages classics and new works, and is where Alliance Theatre artistic director Susan V. Booth worked before coming to Atlanta in 2001. The Goodman was the first theater to stage August Wilson’s entire Pittsburgh Cycle, the 10-play series that includes FencesJitneyKing Hedley II and Radio Golf. The musicals The Light in the Piazza and War Paint began here. It won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1992.

GUTHRIE | Minneapolis. Founded in 1963 as an alternative to Broadway, which was becoming more and more commercial. For years, the Guthrie had a resident acting company that performed in repertory. The Guthrie Lab opened in the 1980s, a place dedicated to exploring new work and performance techniques. The company won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1982.

THE MUNY | St. Louis. Founded in 1919 under the name “St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre.” It produces musicals (On the TownHands on a HardbodySide ShowThe Little Mermaid) in a giant outdoor amphitheater. Ethel Merman once recreated her Tony Award-winning performance in Call Me Madam here.

OGUNQUIT PLAYHOUSE | Ogunquit, Maine. One of the only remaining original summer-stock theaters in America. Big Broadway names like Mary Martin and John Raitt played here. The theater is on the National Register of Historic Places, with a National Level of Significance notation for its “significant contributions to performing arts education.”

Stephen Lee Anderson and eventual Tony Award nominee Carmen Cusack in the world premiere of “Bright Star” at the Old Globe. Photo: Joan Marcus

Stephen Lee Anderson and eventual Tony Award nominee Carmen Cusack in the world premiere of “Bright Star” at the Old Globe. Photo: Joan Marcus

OLD GLOBE | San Diego. Dates to 1935, when it was built as a re-creation of London’s and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The three-theater complex stages 15 productions each year and emphasizes new works. Broadway’s Bright StarA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and MurderThe Piano Lesson and Into the Woods began here. The company won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1984.

THEATRE UNDER THE STARS | Houston. Began as a presenter of annual free outdoor summer musicals but quickly became a year-round venue. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the Maury Yeston Phantom began here, as have several national and international tours. TUTS’ education department trains more than 1,700 students each year through on-site, audition-based classes and community outreach programs that visit local schools.


Broadway incubators

These six help Broadway-bound projects work out their kinks. If you like Broadway, you’ll want to keep up on their seasons, Playbill says.

AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATRE | Cambridge, Mass. Dates to 1980, is commonly known as A.R.T. and is housed at Harvard. A.R.T. does new American works, under-produced existing works and new interpretations of classics. Broadway’s night mother and 1984’s revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten began here. Since Diane Paulus became artistic director in 2008, it’s housed pre-Broadway stagings of Porgy and BessPippinThe Glass MenagerieFinding NeverlandWaitress and, most recently, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The company won the 1986 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” done in 2017 at Arena Stage. Photo: Colin Hovde

Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” done in 2017 at Arena Stage. Photo: Colin Hovde

ARENA STAGE | Washington, D.C. Founded in 1950 as one of the country’s first nonprofit theaters.

Arena was the first regional company to transfer a production to Broadway — The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones in 1968. It has developed 22 Broadway productions, including the musicals Dear Evan HansenNext to NormalTintypesThe 1940s Radio Hour and Raisin; the comedy The Velocity of Autumn; and the dramas Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Sweat. 

Arena won the inaugural Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1976.

HARTFORD STAGE | Hartford, Conn. Founded in 1963 and dedicated to both classic and contemporary theater. Broadway productions of Is There Life After High School?Enchanted April and The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm began here. Since Darko Tresnjak became artistic director in 2011, the pace of Broadway-bound development has picked up. Recent contributions include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and MurderAnastasia and the still-in-development stage adaptation of Rear Window. Hartford Stage won 1989 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE | La Jolla, Calif. Founded in 1947 by TV and movie actors Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. After nearly 25 years of inactivity, director Des McAnuff revived the theater in 1983 and established it as a receptive home for Broadway-bound musicals, including Big RiverThe Who’s TommyHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1995, with Matthew Broderick), Thoroughly Modern MillieJersey BoysMemphisPeter and the StarcatcherHands on a HardbodySide Show and Come From Away. It won the 1993  Regional Theatre Tony Award.

The world premiere of “August: Osage County” at Steppenwolf in 2007 with (from left) Amy Morton, Ronde Reed and Deanna Dunagan.

The world premiere of “August: Osage County” at Steppenwolf in 2007 with (from left) Amy Morton, Ronde Reed and Deanna Dunagan.

SEATTLE REPERTORY | Seattle. Founded in 1963.

A short-lived musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, titled Music Is, lasted only eight performances in 1976. The Rep was more successful in 1985 with I’m Not Rappaport, followed by The Heidi ChroniclesConversations With My FatherTwo Trains RunningThe Sisters RosensweigThe Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the UniverseThe Good Body and, most recently, Come From Away.

It won the 1990 Regional Theatre Tony Award.


STEPPENWOLF THEATRE COMPANY | Chicago. Founded in 1974 by actors Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise. Its ensemble includes actors John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Austin Pendleton, Lois Smith and Martha Plimpton, and playwrights Tina Landau, Tracy Letts and Bruce Norton. The Tony Award-winning best plays The Grapes of WrathAugust: Osage CountyWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Airline Highway began here. Steppenwolf won the 1985 Regional Theatre Tony Award.


These theaters seem committed to taking theater into new territory.

Kianné Muschett and Rodrick Covington in the Alliance’s Kendeda-winning “In the Red and Brown Water” by eventual Oscar-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. Photo: Greg Mooney

Kianné Muschett and Rodrick Covington in the Alliance’s Kendeda-winning “In the Red and Brown Water” by eventual Oscar-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. Photo: Greg Mooney

ALLIANCE | Atlanta. 

Playbill credits the artistic directorship of Kenny Leon, beginning in 1988, as a time of  major growth for the Alliance because he helped attract African-American audiences and staged world premieres, including The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Aida. Susan V. Booth, artistic director since 2001, has continued the trend, most notably with The Color Purple. Booth helped create the one-of-kind Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, which eases the transition from graduate school to a professional life for emerging playwrights, and the Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab, which gives artists of multiple theater disciplines a producing home for undeveloped work. When not undergoing renovations, as it is now, the Alliance stages 12 productions on two stages.

It won the 2007 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

FIREBRAND | Chicago. This all-musicals company was founded nine months ago by France and Danni Smith on the principle of  feminism. Any show it stages must cast at least as many women as men, lend itself to diverse casting and empower women. Its inaugural season features Lizzie, about Lizzie Borden, and 9 to 5. Future plans include developing new work and re-examining classic works with a feminist bent.

IAMA | Los Angeles. The 10-year-old company describes itself as “an ensemble of theater artists seeking to connect and cultivate a new generation of audiences” and is known for producing work that creates dialogue. Many members have been featured in TV and film projects, especially those led by producer/writer Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder”), who eventually signed on to support IAMA artistically and monetarily. She’s helping fund new-play development with a culturally diverse group of voices.

SERENBE PLAYHOUSE | Chattahoochee Hills, Ga. Founded by artistic director Brian Clowdus in 2009 to do site-specific work and grow environmental theater. All productions are performed outdoors, with the specific aim of making nature part of the experience. Serenbe is known for its design work — landing a real helicopter for a pivotal scene in Miss Saigon or creating a full-scale carnival for Carousel. The company is committed to using primarily environmentally friendly materials like LED theatrical lighting, reclaimed and recycled materials, and repurposed set pieces, all of which are easily disassembled and minimize a production’s impact on the environment.

Fostering new work

Four to keep your eyes on.

ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE | Louisville, Ky. Probably best known for its Humana Festival of New American Plays, an annual event that has introduced more than 400 plays in 40-plus years, including three eventual Pulitzer Prize winners — The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley and Dinner With Friends by Donald Margulies. It won the 1980 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

DALLAS THEATER CENTER | Dallas. Founded in 1959. It became a conservatory company known for producing experimental interpretations of classics and doing world premieres of works like Blood Money by Heather Brothers and A Texas Trilogy by Preston Jones. More recently, it has developed musicals — GiantFly By Night and Fortress of Solitude — all of which eventually played off-Broadway. It won the 2017 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina in Geffen Playhouse’s 2017 staging of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Photo: Chris Whitaker

Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina in Geffen Playhouse’s 2017 staging of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Photo: Chris Whitaker

GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE | Los Angeles.Founded in 1995 and housed by UCLA. Geffen is another Hollywood-adjacent regional theater offering film and TV actors a chance to be onstage. The list includes Jason Alexander, Annette Bening, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Kaczmarek, Alicia Silverstone and Rita Wilson. Its two performance spaces do a total of eight plays a season, mostly intimate productions of classic and contemporary works or commissions. Its commissions include The Quality of Life by Jane Anderson and Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies. It produced the world premieres of Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and The Country House by Donald Margulies.

GOODSPEED MUSICALS | East Haddam, Conn. Founded in 1959. It made a name for itself by doing older musicals for modern audiences. Its new works include the world premieres of Man of La Mancha and Annie. Today,  Goodspeed does mostly musical revivals on its main opera-house stage and new work in a second space in Chester, Conn. It won a special Tony Award in 1980 for its contributions to American musicals and the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1980.



Ebenezer Scrooge (David de Vries, left) meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bart Hansard0. Photos by Greg Mooney

Ebenezer Scrooge (David de Vries, left) meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bart Hansard0. Photos by Greg Mooney


“A Christmas Carol” runs Dec. 8-24 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

IF YOU’VE GONE LOOKING for Scrooge this season, you’ll find the Alliance Theatre’s infamous miser in a new locale.


Oh, he’s still spreading misery in 19th-century London, greedily counting his shillings and ha’pennys and turning the less fortunate out of their homes, but he’s moved from Midtown to Cobb County this season.

So, revelers from far and near, welcome to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and the Alliance’s 28th annual telling of David H. Bell’s musical, multicultural adaptation of the Dickens holiday classic.

At its redemptive core, of course, is ol’ Ebenezer — played for a fourth consecutive season by David de Vries — finally seeing the good in mankind in time to carve the Christmas goose. Oops, we sort of gave away the ending. But likely that doesn’t matter one smidge of figgy pudding.

Audiences return year after year, making this Carol one of metro Atlanta’s most popular holiday traditions.

We’ll let director Rosemary Newcott say more. Next to adapter Bell, she’s been associated with this piece more than anyone.

QUESTION: You’ve directed this Christmas Carol at least 20 times. What’s your history with the piece?

ANSWER: Yes, I’ve lived with this show a lot. I acted in the first production at the Alliance. I was in the ensemble and played a number of roles — including Fan, Scrooge’s sister, and Belle, Scrooge’s long-ago love interest. And I was Mrs. Cratchit for a while. Then David Bell started directing, and I was assistant director for about five years. I’d help him direct it here, then direct it for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, which has staged a same version for almost as long.

Q: What sort of difference has this Christmas Carol made in your life?


A: What a lovely question. It became a family event for me as my brothers and nieces and nephews all traveled here to see it. It brought us all together as a family. In 2008, my father at age 90, came to visit my sister, Mary Lou, and myself in Atlanta, and to once again see A Christmas Carol. Dad became ill during that visit and lived in assisted living in Atlanta for five years, until he died.  He was the biggest cheerleader, telling relatives and complete strangers in restaurants and stores: “It’s Broadway, just beautiful, you have to see it!” I think this adaptation is an extraordinary piece, and the longevity proves it. And I always get to remember my dad loving it so much.

Q: What about this production makes you most proud?

A: The number of people who tell me that coming to A Christmas Carol became a family tradition. They say: “We come every season, and we all dress up.” They might have a child in the family who has become old enough to see it for the first time. That’s also so lovely.

A Christmas toast with the Cratchit family. Neal A. Ghant (back, left) returns as family patriarch (and Scrooge’s employee).

A Christmas toast with the Cratchit family. Neal A. Ghant (back, left) returns as family patriarch (and Scrooge’s employee).

Q: How do you keep it fresh and new?

A: I reread Dickens’ original text. It’s such a beautiful piece to revisit, and it always pulls me back. Every year is a new year, and our production is that way, too. There are always new actors, and they always bring new ideas. My job is always to be as true to the story and characters as possible, because then it’s going to work.

The story is so positive in the way it affects audiences — that’s like a gift. Because we’re staging it in the Cobb Energy Centre this year, it’s paramount that I make sure the story’s sentiment doesn’t get lost in the largeness of the place.

Q: How do you account for the story’s timeless power?

A: It’s more than a gentle reminder of what’s most important in life. We only have a short time in this world, and what are you going to do with that time? That’s just one message, but it’s a big one. Scrooge is wasting his life. He has isolated himself from anybody and any joy and, because of that, he is wasting away and has no idea.

Also, for me, its power involves the child that’s in all of us still. I’m so much about serving the child and the child within. We submerge it, but we need it. This story reminds us it’s OK to think and feel like a child does, in that sincere and joyful and uncomplicated, uncluttered way.


Q: This might be impossible, but do you have a favorite line?

A: I have many. But what comes to mind is a line spoken by Fred Watkins, who will be played so beautifully again by Joe Knezevich. It’s about the measure of a man.

“Oh, uncle. The measure of a man’s life is the measure of this season. Measures of forgiveness and charity; of opening hearts so long shut up against the evils of this world and joining with a multitude of other hearts in celebrating all that is holy and good; celebrating all that man is capable of, yet so often ignores.


BEST BETS | Sept. 14-20, 2017

shakespeare in love

“The Christians” (Actor’s Express) and “Bengal Tiger” (7 Stages) open this week. Other top picks: “Burnpile” (Aurora) and “Shakespeare in Love” (Alliance). Pictured: Thomas Azar as Will Shakespeare and Bethany Anne Lind as Viola. Photo by Greg Mooney

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season recommendation.

Special event

Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, in a scene from “The Lavender Scare.” Photo: Courtesy of the Atlanta Jewish Film Fest

Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, in a scene from “The Lavender Scare.” Photo: Courtesy of the Atlanta Jewish Film Fest

AJFF Selects: The Lavender Scare. 7 tonight. 

This 77-minute documentary provides the first in-depth account of a Cold War campaign to purge homosexuals from the federal government.

Directed by Josh Howard, an Emmy Award-winning  “60 Minutes” producer, it captures the outrage and activism that helped ignite the modern gay rights movement. Howard will attend the screening.

(Note: The play Perfect Arrangement, by Atlanta’s Topher Payne, looks at the same era and runs Feb. 22-March 11 at Theatrical Outfit.) 

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival co-presents this 2017 docu with Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival.

$15; $30 VIP (includes a chance to meet Howard at a post-screening reception at Apres Diem, a ticket for one drink and light appetizers).

Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.701.6104.




Brian Kurlander. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett

Brian Kurlander. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett


This 2014 script by Lucas Hnath (Broadway’s A Doll’s House, Part 2) asks how far you’ll go for something to believe in.

 Actor’s Express calls it “a provocative excavation of modern faith.” The setting is a megachurch that’s rocked when its pastor discards fundamentalist Christianity in favor of something more inclusive. Director Freddie Ashley’s cast is led by Brian Kurlander and Enoch King. Expect to hear church choirs, too.

$20 previews; $40 opening night; regularly $28 (subject to change). Through Oct. 15. 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.


Kevin Harry in “Hunchback.” Photo: Daniel Parvis

Kevin Harry in “Hunchback.” Photo: Daniel Parvis

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. CLOSES SUNDAY. 

This Theatrical Outfit / Aurora Theatre co-production finishes its run downtown at the Rialto Center for the Arts. 

The Alan Menken-Stephen Schwartz-scored show is based on the Victor Hugo novel and the 1996 Disney movie, and follows a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. 

Haden Rider returns as Quasimodo and Julissa Sabino as Esmeralda.

$18-$51 (subject to change). 11 a.m. + 7:30 p.m. today; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 

80 Forsyth St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.



** Shakespeare in Love. THROUGH SEPT. 24. 

The Alliance Theatre‘s fall opener features a reunion of some of the most talented folks from the late, lamented Georgia Shakespeare, including artistic director Richard Garner. He directs this love letter to the bard, based on the 1998 film that won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.

Young Will Shakespeare (Thomas Azar) has writer’s block as the deadline for his new play looms.

Enter his muse, Viola (Bethany Anne Lind). The 23-member cast includes such former Georgia Shakes regulars as Barrett Doyle, Allan Edwards, Neal A. Ghant, Chris Kayser, Tess Malis KincaidJoe Knezevich and Lind. 

$10-$75. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday (no 8 p.m. show Sept. 24).

Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.



Taylor M. Dooley. Photo: Daniel Parvis

Taylor M. Dooley. Photo: Daniel Parvis

Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up. THROUGH OCT. 1. 

A lecherous goat, Pentecostals on the radio, a clutter of in-bred cats, phone calls from death row and Daddy’s burnpile are among the elements in this Southern coming-of-age tale from Lucy Alibar, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Atlanta actor Taylor M. Dooley, a Dad’s Garage regular seen too infrequently on other stages, is the sole cast member.

Part of Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab Series. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 

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


Opening this week

Joe Sykes. Photo: Stungun Photography

Joe Sykes. Photo: Stungun Photography

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. PREVIEWS TONIGHT | OPENS FRIDAY.

7 Stages begins its season with this Pulitzer-nominated drama from playwright Rajiv Joseph (Gruesome Playground Injuries). 

The lives of two U.S. Marines and their Iraqi translator are irrevocably changed when they meet a tiger who haunts Baghdad’s rubble-strewn streets.

Co-artistic director Michael Haverty directs a cast that features Kevin Stillwell as the Tiger and includes Paris Benjamin, Marium Khalid, Rudy Roushdi, Joe Sykes, Markell Williams and Sam Younis. 

The drama had a limited run on Broadway in 2011 with Robin Williams as the tiger.

$22 and up. Through Oct. 8. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday (no show Sept. 17). Additional show at 8 p.m. Sept. 18. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.




Once on This Island. OPENS TONIGHT.

 Georgia Ensemble Theatre begins its 25th season with this 1991 musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Anastasia). It’s a beautifully told story of life, pain, love, grief, faith, hope and buoyant Caribbean rhythms. One stormy night on an island in the French Antilles, the cracking thunder makes a small girl cry. To comfort her, the village storytellers share the tale of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with a grand homme.

Nominated for eight 1991 Tony awards, including best musical. Ricardo Aponte directs and choreographs. 

$33-$43. Through Oct. 1. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No 4 p.m. show Sept. 16. GET performs at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at

Closing this week

Jimmica Collins

Jimmica Collins

Mother Goose. CLOSES SUNDAY.

In this Center for Puppetry Arts staging, audience members must sing, wiggle and clap to help Mary Mary (Jimmica Collins) find a missing Mother Goose.

All the citizens of Rhymeville are also on the case, including Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, and both Jack and Jill.

For ages 2 and up. Uses hand-and-rod, rod and glove puppets.

$19.50. 10 + 11 a.m. today-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW.

Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.



The Taming of the Shrew. CLOSES SUNDAY.

The untamed, unwed Katherine is wooed for convenience by the charismatic but bawdy bachelor Petruchio in one of Shakespeare’s best-known comedies. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse regulars Dani Herd and Matt Nitchie play the warring duo. Pub menu and libations available. 

$22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0. Discount gift cards at

Still running

The “Wicket” company. Photo: Haylee Anne Kitties

The “Wicket” company. Photo: Haylee Anne Kitties

Wicket. THROUGH OCT. 7. World premiere. 

Many Bothans died in the making of this musical parody, say the folks at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company

Wicket tells the classic Star Wars tale from the Ewoks’ perspective, which means they’ll sing, dance and share the true story of life inside the Galactic Federation.

Not recommended for anyone not old enough for adult humor and anyone who doesn’t enjoy it. Kennesaw State’s Rick Lombardo (Little Shop of Horrors at Actor’s Express) directs, with script & lyrics by Travis Sharp and score & lyrics by Haddon Kime.

$12.50-$29.50 (always cheapest online). 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 569 Ezzard St. SE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.3141. Discount tickets at


Next week

Diany Rodriguez. Photo: Up the Hill Productions

Diany Rodriguez. Photo: Up the Hill Productions

** Abigail/1702. SEPT. 21-OCT. 15.

Aurora Theatre catches up with the evil Abigail Williams from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Ten years later she’s haunted by the lives she ruined and the blood on her hands. 

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s 2012 script finds her in Boston, seeking salvation. To her, forgiveness is everything, but it might come at an unthinkable price.

Justin Anderson directs a cast led by Diany Rodriguez. You may know Aguirre-Sacasa from Say You Love Satan (Dad’s Garage, 2001), Weird Comic Book Fantasy (Dad’s, 2003) and Good Boys and True (Actor’s Express, 2010).

This 90-minute drama has no intermission and contains mature themes.

128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. $20-$55. Details, tickets HERE or at  678.226.6222.


Michael Kurth

Michael Kurth

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. SEPT. 21 + 23.

Music director Robert Spano and the ASO begin a new season with An American in Paris, George Gershwin’s postcard from France.

The swinging showpiece, which inspired the Academy Award-winning film and recent Broadway musical, caps a night of American music.

The program includes “A Thousand Words” by ASO bassist Michael Kurth; and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, an Atlanta favorite, who solos in Bernstein’s jazz-inspired Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety.

$32-$113. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.



** Project Dawn. SEPT. 22-OCT. 29. 

At Horizon Theatre. Audiences will be on both sides of the judicial system in this fact-based story about an innovative program dedicated to rehabilitating sex workers, not  punishing them. Seven actors double as victims/participants and court staff.

Artistic director Lisa Adler leads a cast of familiar Atlanta faces (Lane CarlockCarolyn CookMarianne FrauloMaria Rodriguez-Sager) and some that will be familiar soon (Shayla Love, Synchronicity’s Eclipsed; Brooke Owens, Synchronicity’s Anne Boleyn; and Christy Clark, Horizon’s Blackberry Daze). This National New Play Network rolling world premiere was written by Karen Hartman, who used a revolutionary Philadelphia court as the basis for her script. Her drama tests the thin lines between freedom and slavery, and activism and obsession. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue.

$25 and up. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.


Shelli Delgado, Jennifer Schottstaedt. Photo: Herry Siegel

Shelli Delgado, Jennifer Schottstaedt. Photo: Herry Siegel

** Sense and Sensibility. SEPT. 22-OCT. 15

A regional premiere at Synchronicity Theatre. Jane Austen can be fun! Just ask playwright Kate Hamill.

Her 2014 adaptation of the beloved novel ratchets up the energy level, using inventive staging and a cast of 10 to play the Dashwoods, the Ferrars and a busy bunch of gossips that show just how the very private worlds of Georgian-era Brits lacked privacy. Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout calls it “a version so full of galloping comic vitality as to suggest a bunch of stupendously clever kids playing dress-up in the nursery.” Artistic director Rachel May directs an athletic cast led by Shelli Delgado as Elinor Dashwood, Jennifer Schottstaedt as Marianne Dashwood, Justin Walker as Edward Ferrars and Bryant Smith as Col. Brandon.

One Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. $30. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.



The Seven Deadly Sins. OPENS SEPT. 28.

The Atlanta Opera begins its season with an intimate cabaret experience that looks at the duality of the character(s), Anna I and Anna II, two sides of the same woman. She embarks on a seven-city pursuit of the American Dream, uncovering each of the seven deadly sins along the way: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. The Kurt WeillBertolt Brecht piece was first performed in 1933. Serenbe Playhouse Artistic Director Brian Clowdus directs his first opera; Rolando Salazar conducts.

$50 all seats. Through Oct. 6. Note: Sept. 28, 30 and Oct. 6 performances are sold out. Remaining shows: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 3-5; 3 p.m. Oct. 1. Performed at Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce as part of the opera’s Discoveries series, 716 Ponce de Leon Place NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.



Coming up

Jose Llana as the King of Siam. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Jose Llana as the King of Siam. Photo: Matthew Murphy

** The King and I. SEPT. 26-OCT. 1. At the Fox Theatre.

East meets West — and they don’t always get on nicely — in what is, by all accounts, a definitive version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. This production comes from Lincoln Center  and director Bartlett Sher, both responsible for the wonderfully inventive, picture-perfect South Pacific that played the Fox in 2010. If you need a refresher, The King and I takes place in the 1860s, when the King of Siam hires an English schoolteacher to tutor his wives and children. There’s an undeniable emotional and intellectual attraction between them; a slave girl from Burma (Tuptim) and her forbidden lover (Lun Tha) have the primary romance, with the King’s favorite wife (Lady Thiang) also playing a key role. The score includes “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “A Puzzlement,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful” and “Shall We Dance,” among others.

660 Peachtree St. NE. $30-$135. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.



BEST BETS | July 27-Aug. 2, 2017

TC Carson and Brittany Inge in “Blackberry Daze.” Photo by Greg Mooney.

Our number of top picks rockets with the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival, “Between Riverside and Crazy” (True Colors), “Blackberry Daze” (Horizon), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Aurora) and “Little Shop of Horrors” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: TC Carson and Brittany Inge in “Blackberry Daze.” Photo by Greg Mooney.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta spring/summer season recommendation.


cakewalk In the Middle of the Ocean mother of god atlanta

Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival. SUNDAY-TUESDAY. The second annual AMTF introduces three shows — one that eyeballs corrupt politicians (titled Cakewalk), another that flips an Ovid myth upside down (In the Middle of the Ocean) and a third that digs into the biblical stories of Mary of Nazareth (Mother of God). These are works-in-progress, with some more finished than others; you’ll be among the first theatergoers to see them, often with some of Atlanta’s best actors. See In the Middle of the Ocean at 8 p.m. Sunday; Cakewalk at 8 p.m. Monday; and Mother of God at 8 p.m. Tuesday. $15 per show. The fest’s 2017 home base is Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Tickets HERE. Discount tickets at

Earl Billings as “Pops.”

Earl Billings as “Pops.”

** Between Riverside and Crazy. THROUGH AUG. 6.

The New York Times called this 2015 Pulitzer winner “a dizzying and exciting place to be,” and said that playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis “has a splendid ear in blurring lines between the sacred and profane.”

The story: Ex-cop “Pops” Washington (Earl Billings, the AFLAC commercial guy) is trying to hold onto his dignity and one of the last great rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan, but he’s had enough. His wife has died, the liquor store can’t keep pace with his thirst, and his last living relative is complicating everything. Eric J. Little directs.

Adult content: Recommended for ages 16 and up. $20-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road. Details HERE.

Tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or 877.725.8849.

blackberry daze horizon theatre

Blackberry Daze. THROUGH AUG. 27. At Horizon Theatre. Secrets and seduction stun a small Virginia town at the end of World War I, when a provocative gambler (TC Carson) works his magic on three unsuspecting women. Adapted by Ruth P. Watson and Thomas W. Jones II from Watson’s novel Blackberry Days of Summer. The blues score is by William Knowles; Jones directs. Also in the cast: Christy Clark, Brittany IngeNaomi LavetteChristian Magby and Ayana Reed. $25 and up. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE (at Euclid Avenue). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Julissa Sabino. Photo: Daniel Parvis

Julissa Sabino. Photo: Daniel Parvis

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. THROUGH AUG. 27. Critical and audience response has been nearly rapturous for this musical about a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. The Aurora Theatre season opener is co-produced by Theatrical Outfit. The two previously teamed on In the Heights and MemphisJustin Anderson directs a cast led by Halen Rider as Quasimodo and Julissa Sabino as Esmeralda.

$30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Aug. 1 and 15 ($20). The Aug. 22-24 shows are sold out; other performances are selling well, so please check ticket availability before you go. 

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. (The Theatrical Outfit staging runs Sept. 7-17 at the Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta.)

William S. Murphey (from left), Juan Carlos Unzueta, Kylie Brown. Photo: Casey Gardner

William S. Murphey (from left), Juan Carlos Unzueta, Kylie Brown. Photo: Casey Gardner

** Little Shop of Horrors. THROUGH AUG. 29.

 Actor’s Express had added three Saturday-afternoon performances to its Skid Row-set cult musical about a nebbish botanist, his unrequited love, his cranky boss and a giant, insatiable plant. The horror-comedy ran off-Broadway for five years in the 1980s, became a 1986 movie and was revived on Broadway in 2003.

You might know the tunes “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green.” The talented cast is led by Juan Carlos Unzueta (the Piragua Guy from Aurora/Theatrical Outfit’s In the Heights) as Seymour, Kylie Brown as Audrey and William S. Murphey as Mr. Mushnik.

$28 and up, plus taxes. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Additional shows at 1 p.m. this Saturday and Aug. 12 + 19. At the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at

Opening this week

Ada and the Memory Engine

Ada and the Memory Engine. PREVIEWS TONIGHT | OPENS FRIDAY.

 Essential Theatre begins its 2017 festival with this script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson. Her subject is Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the British mathematician who became the world’s first computer programmer.

In calling this 2015 bio-play a “rare and special artistic achievement,” The Huffington Post deemed it an “intelligent play about intelligent historical people that has been crafted by intelligent theater artists for an intelligent audience.” Ashley Anderson is Ada, with Mark Cosby as the supportive, influential Charles Babbage. $15 preview; regularly $20-$25. In repertory through Aug. 27. Details HERE, tickets HERE. At the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.

Last chance

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. CLOSES SUNDAY. At the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Two pairs of lovers (one requited, one not so much) and a ragtag group of thespians find themselves lost in the woods as quarreling leaders turn a fairy kingdom on its head. With Kenneth Wigley as Theseus and Oberon, Dani Herd as Hippolyta and Titania, and Charlie T. Thomas as Bottom. What fools these mortals be! Pub menu and beverages available. $15-$39. 7:30 tonight-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299.

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. CLOSES SATURDAY. Georgia Ensemble Theatre and the Chattahoochee Nature Center partner for a concert version of the 2006 Broadway tuner, which tells the story of the Man in Black through more than 20 of his hits, including “A Boy Named Sue,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and “I Walk the Line.” The concert reunites Chris Damiano and Christopher Kent (GET’s Million Dollar Quartet) and includes Scott DePoy, Laura Lindahl and Mark Schroeder. Picnicking allowed; cash bar on-site. $15 general admission lawn seats; $30 reserved pavilion table. 8 tonight-Saturday. Nature Center opens at 6:30 p.m. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Still running

Annie Get Your Gun

Annie Get Your Gun. THROUGH AUG. 6. At Stage Door Players. Irving Berlin’s valentine to show biz tells the tale of sharpshooting rivals Annie Oakley (Paige Mattox) and Frank Butler (Bryant Smith) with a million-dollar score — “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Lost in His Arms,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “Anything You Can Do” and, of course, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

The 1946 Broadway original, starring the legendary Ethel Merman, ran three years. $15-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

Robin Hood. EXTENDED THROUGH AUG. 27. Serenbe Playhouse takes to the skies (via zip lines) to tell the family-friendly story of the outlaw (Jordan Patrick) devoted to Maid Marian (Casey Shuler) and doing good deeds with his Merry Men. This adaptation by frequent Serenbe collaborator Rachel Teagle includes original music by Grammy nominee John Burke. $10-$20. 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Performed at the Farmers Market Hideaway in Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at

Next week

Brian Clowdus. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Brian Clowdus. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Cabaret. OPENS AUG. 3.

It’s 1931 Berlin and the Nazis are beginning to take power.

The setting at Serenbe Playhouse: Outdoors, of course, in and around the seedy Kit Kat Klub, where a young American writer pursues English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Molly Tynes) and everything is overseen by the Emcee (Serenbe artistic director Brian Clowdus).

The score is by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The 1967 original won the Tony Award for best musical and made a star of Joel Grey. The 1998 version won the Tony Award for best revival of a musical and cemented stardom for Alan Cumming.

$35 + $40; VIP seating costs extra. Through Aug. 27. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 9110 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110.

Outlying Islands

Outlying Islands. TUESDAY ONLY.

A staged reading by Atlanta’s Celtic-themed Arís Theatre. Scottish playwright David Greig’s script is inspired by events that took place on Gruinard Island off the west coast of Scotland in August 1939, on the eve of World War II.

What happened — the testing of biological weapons — wasn’t declassified until 1997.

$10; $7.50 students. 7:30 p.m. Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University.  1700 N. Decatur Road. Details, tickets HERE.

Coming up

Space Girl. PREVIEWS AUG. 10 | OPENS AUG. 11.

Space Girl

World premiere from the Weird Sisters Theatre Project

Arugula just wants to fit in, but it’s not easy when you’re a teenage alien from the planet Zlagdor. In an alien world where the only things that make sense are roller derby and salad, Arugula and her father, Nancy, must find out what it means to be human before time runs out for Planet Earth. This Mora V. Harris comedy was a finalist in the 2017 Alliance/Kendeda National Playwriting Competition. Julie Skrzypek directs.

$15 preview; regularly $20. Plus fees. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 3 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 7 p.m. Sunday. Pay-what-you-can show at 8 p.m. Aug. 14. Alliance Theatre, 3rd Floor Black Box, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets HERE.

fashionado / Encore Atlanta