BEST BETS | Dec. 20-31, 2018

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WELCOME TO OUR LAST COLUMN of the year. With it, a jolly holiday to all. Many holiday shows exit after this weekend, although four hold onto a bit longe (“Christmas Carol Experience,” “Frog and Toad,” “Rudolph,” “Snow Queen”). Then set your sleigh’s GPS for some of the bigger openings of the season: “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (Aurora); “Ever After” (Alliance); and “An Octoroon” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: The Dolls and Officer Dolls of Atlanta Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo by David Woolfe. 

Holiday shows: Last chance 

Cecil Washington Jr., Briana Young. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Cecil Washington Jr., Briana Young. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Christmas Canteen. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended.

 Aurora Theatre wraps its 23rd original holiday revue with a singing, dancing cast of eight that channels the golden days of TV Christmas specials (think Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) and mixes in a few contemporary moves to create a show that will have you glowing with the magic of the season. Ricardo Aponte and Anthony P. Rodriguez co-direct. Aponte choreographs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence, who also performs. The merrymakers are Galen Crawley, Jimi Kocina, Christian Magby, Kristin Markiton, Chani Maisonet, Kenny Tran, Cecil Washington Jr. and Briana Young. Check the Aurora website for sold-out dates before you go. $30 and up. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

Courtney Patterson, David de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

Courtney Patterson, David de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. CLOSES CHRISTMAS EVE.

The biggest “bah humbug” of them all winds down. The Alliance Theatre has taken its musical, multicultural telling (by one-time associate artistic director David H. Bell) to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season of family-friendly revelry. David de Vries returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s joined by such familiar faces as Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); and Courtney Patterson(Ghost of Christmas Past). Rosemary Newcott again directs. The caroling is gorgeous. Note: Metal detectors are in place for every performance, so allow extra time to enter the venue.

$14-$115. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 2:30 p.m. Monday. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[DIRECTOR ROSEMARY NEWCOTT GOES ‘CAROL’-ING ONE MORE TIME]

 

Libby Whittemore

Libby Whittemore

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended.

Singer and funny lady Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express with her 10th edition of this happy holiday songfest. It dates back even further, though, to her entrepreneurial days as the headliner at Buckhead’s late, great Libby’s, A Cabaret. She’s joined, as always, by Connie Sue Day, the 31st Lady of Country Music. Expect holiday classics old and new (“Hard Candy Christmas,” “River”), novelty tunes (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”) and perhaps a verse or two penned by Connie Sue herself. You’ll hear plenty at the two-hour show and go home merry and bright. Just beware of Connie Sue’s Dynel wig.

$40. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Actor’s Express is in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Jonathan Horne, Amelia Fischer. Photo: David Woolf

Jonathan Horne, Amelia Fischer. Photo: David Woolf

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended. 

Theatrical Outfit reprises its 2017 holiday hit with a script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson and colleague Margot Melcon. This witty sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on socially awkward sister Mary and a potential romantic entanglement. Miss Bennet is the fourth-most-popular play in America this season, with productions at 13 theaters nationwide. Notable Atlanta theater artist Carolyn Cook directs the Outfit staging. Amelia Fischer and Jonathan Horne return as Mary Bennet and Arthur De Bourgh. Also returning are Devon Hales and Juan Carlos Unzueta. New to the cast are Stephanie Friedman,Jeanette IllidgeJasmine Thomas and Justin Walker

$18-$51 plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Outfit performs downtown at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

Jonathan Horne, Amelia Fischer. Photo: David Woolf

Jonathan Horne, Amelia Fischer. Photo: David Woolf

The Nutcracker. CLOSES CHRISTMAS EVE. Recommended. Atlanta Ballet‘s first new Nutcracker in 23 seasons is a $3.7 million staging choreographed by Russian-born Yuri Possokhov, an old friend and colleague of artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin. It returns to the original source material: German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 fantasy story “Nutcracker and Mouse King,” and sets the opening Christmas Eve party in a small German village. Look for new scenic, costume and lighting designs as well as projections to tell the story of a little girl named Marie and her come-to-life Nutcracker Prince. $35-$140. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday; 1 p.m. Christmas Eve. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303.

Jacob Bush and Jackie Nash (standing) with their chicks. Photo: Gene Schiavone

[A NUTCRACKER FOR A NEW GENERATION]

Jeremy Aggers. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Jeremy Aggers. Photo: Chris Bartelski

This Wonderful Life. CLOSES DEC. 23.

New this season. This one-man version of the Jimmy Stewart film classic joins Aurora Theatre’s holiday lineup. Jeremy Aggers (Singles in Architecture, Hands on a Hardbody) plays everybody — George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Mary, Mr. Gower, Zuzu, etc. The script is by playwright Steve Murray (whom you might know from his days as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic). In repertory with the company’s one-man Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (featuring producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez). Associate artistic director Justin Anderson directs. $20. Three performances remain: 8 p.m. Dec. 20 + 22; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. 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.

Holiday shows: Still running

Daniel Burns (left), Jordan Patrick, Lilliangina Quiñones. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Daniel Burns (left), Jordan Patrick, Lilliangina Quiñones. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Christmas Carol Experience. THROUGH DEC. 30.

New this season. Charles Dickens’ Scrooge story is spun on its head in this immersive event from Brian Clowdus Experiences. Follow Ebenezer and his otherworldly goings-on through the rooms of the historic Wren’s Nest, where you’ll find holiday merriment, carols and lessons to remember. Atlanta-based actor Daniel Burns is Ebenezer Scrooge. Also in the cast of five: Rosie Gyselinck, Jordan Patrick as Jacob Marley, Lilliangina Quiñones and Julie Trammel. Clowdus, known for his environmental, site-specific work at Serenbe Playhouse, directs. The Wren’s Nest, once the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit creator Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), is now a cultural center that preserves Harris’ legacy and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing.

$50; $45 under age 18, senior citizens and military. 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Also at 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. Tickets HERE.

Greg Maurice Hunter (left), Matt Baum. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Greg Maurice Hunter (left), Matt Baum. Photo: Jerry Siegel

A Year With Frog and Toad. THROUGH DEC. 30. Recommended.

A rare family show that speaks to adults as well as the kiddos. This musical tale about a year in the lives of two best friends returns to Synchronicity Theatre. The Tony-nominated show follows the cheerful, popular Frog (Matt Baum) and the rather grumpy Toad (Greg Maurice Hunter) through four, fun-filled seasons. It’s part vaudeville and part make-believe as well as funny and moving. Also in the cast: Taryn Carmona, Elliott Folds and Lyndsay Ricketson. Jenna Tamisea, artistic director of GLOW Lyric Theatre in Greenville, S.C., directs. Synchronicity’s 2006 staging won Suzi Bass awards for outstanding musical, direction and costume design. The show is based on the Newbery and Caldecott Medal-winning books by Arnold Lobel.

$16-$31 (under age 2 free). 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5:30 p.m. Sunday. School matinees available. Every Friday is PJs and Play (kids in PJs get free milk and cookies). Synchronicity is in the Peachtree Pointe Complex, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Still running (non-holiday)

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Million Dollar Quartet. THROUGH JAN. 12. 

Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises its popular staging and takes it to the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. Return to Dec. 4, 1956, the magical day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made music together — for the first and only time ever — at Sun Records in Memphis. The score includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and 15 more. Chris Damiano directs, music directs and plays Cash, with Alex Canty as Elvis, Christopher Kent as Perkins and Sean McGibbon as Lewis.

$35-$40. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Conant is at 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260 (do not call the Conant box office).

 

Returning for the holidays

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Yukon Cornelius in “Rudolph.”

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Closes Dec. 22. The one-man telling with actor/artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez. At Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab. 678.226.6222. 

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Closes Dec. 23. As they have for 20-plus years, a handful of actors brings the story alive at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Through Dec. 30. Based on the timeless Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. At the Center for Puppetry Arts404.873.3391.

THE SNOW QUEEN. Through Jan. 6. A traveling, site-specific show done outdoors and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. At Serenbe Playhouse770.463.1110.

Coming up

A Doll’s House, Part 2. JAN. 10-FEB. 10. Recommended. Aurora Theatre gets its turn with this stunning Actor’s Express co-production, a sequel of sorts to master dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic, A Doll’s House (but you needn’t know that piece to enjoy this one). Well-known contemporary playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) leaves her husband and family to seek out independence unheard of in that day. Now she’s knocking on that door, wanting a favor. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, W Magazine and Time Out New York all described Part 2 as the best play of Broadway’s 2017 season. It’s smart, funny and modern. Joining Kincaid onstage are Rob ClevelandShelli Delgadoand Deadra Moore. AE artistic director Freddie Ashley directed. $20 and up. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Jan. 22. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Ever After. Jan. 15-Feb. 17. Recommended. This musical update on the Cinderella story christens the Alliance Theatre’s new mainstage, aka the Coca-Cola Stage. It’s based on the 1998 Drew Barrymore movie (and the original 1729 fairy tale). Follow a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac, who risks everything to save a friend. With the help of Leonardo da Vinci (yes, da Vinci), she must decide who she is, what she’ll fight for and how far she’ll go for love. The musical comes from the award-winning songwriting team of Zina Goldrich (music) and Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics). Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth directs. Her 30-person cast is led by Broadway regulars Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, School of Rock) as Danielle, Tony Award nominee David Garrison (A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine) as da Vinci, Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown, Side Show) and Rachel York (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Head Over Heels), along with Atlanta-based artists Terry Burrell (Ethel, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), Chris Kayser (Alliance, Georgia Shakespeare) and Rhyn McLemore Saver. This one has the scent of Broadway-bound all about it. $25 and up. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 + 29. No shows Feb. 3. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Moonlight & Magnolias. JAN. 10-27. Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Playwright Ron Hutchinson’s 2004 inside-Hollywood farce peeks behind the camera as producer-screenwriter David O. Selznick, director Victor Fleming and screenwriter Ben Hechtlock themselves in an office with a five-day supply of peanuts and bananas trying to rescue a near-disaster 1939 movie. Its title: Gone With the Wind. Great cast: William S. Murphey is Selznick, Bart Hansard is Fleming and Googie Uterhardt is Hecht. All are Atlanta actors. Note: Contains mature language and content. $26-$40. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 + 26. GET performs in the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 959 Forrest St. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

An Octoroon. JAN. 26-FEB. 24. Recommended. Actor’s Express. An imaginative new work from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins(2016’s Appropriate) turns 19th-century melodrama on its ear in a riotous romp. The script puts the antebellum South, says the Express, on a collision course with 21st-century cultural politics. The piece won off-Broadway’s 2014 Obie Award for best new play. The plot: Trouble has been brewing at the Terrebonne Plantation ever since Judge Peyton died. Money is low, an evil overseer is up to no good, and the heir to the estate is in love with the wrong person. Jacobs-Jenkins, 33, is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grantee and has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Donya K. Washington, an Alliance Theatre producer, directs. Her cast of 11 includes Isake Akanke (Cardboard Piano), Neal A. Ghant (The Motherf**ker With the Hat) and Parris Sarter (Angels in America). $20-$50 and subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

fashionado

BEST BETS | Dec. 13-19, 2018

best bets encore atlanta fashionado

CHRISTMAS, ANYONE? Your best bets this week range from concerts to a ballet and include musicals, puppets, dramas, satires, one-person shows and something for families, kids, grown-ups and the biggest “bah, humbugs” in your bunch. Pictured: Greg Maurice Hunter (left) and Matt Baum as best buddies Toad and Frog, respectively, at Synchronicity Theatre. Photo by Jerry Siegel.

Cecil Washington Jr. (left), Jimi Kocina. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Cecil Washington Jr. (left), Jimi Kocina. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Top picks

Christmas Canteen.THROUGH DEC. 23.

 Aurora Theatre joyously stages its 23rd original holiday revue. A singing, dancing cast of eight channels the golden days of TV Christmas specials (think Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) and mixes in a few contemporary moves to create a show that will have you glowing with the magic of the season. Ricardo Aponte and Anthony P. Rodriguez co-direct. Aponte choreographs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence, who also performs. This year’s merrymakers are Galen Crawley, Jimi Kocina, Christian Magby, Kristin Markiton, Chani Maisonet, Kenny Tran, Cecil Washington Jr. and Briana Young.

Check the Aurora website for sold-out dates before you go. $30 and up. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m. matinee ($20 and up) Dec. 18. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

David de Vries

David de Vries

A Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 24.

The biggest “bah humbug” of them all. The Alliance Theatre takes its musical, multicultural telling (penned by David H. Bell) back to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season. David de Vries returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. Joining him are many familiar faces, including Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past). Rosemary Newcott once again directs.

The caroling is gorgeous, and irresistible. Family-friendly. Note: Metal detectors are in place for every performance, so allow extra time to enter the venue. $14-$115. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Also at 7 p.m. Dec. 23. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[DIRECTOR ROSEMARY NEWCOTT GOES ‘CAROL’-ING ONE MORE TIME]

 

Justin Walker, Jasmine Thomas. Photo: David Woolf

Justin Walker, Jasmine Thomas. Photo: David Woolf

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.THROUGH DEC. 23. 

Theatrical Outfit reprises its 2017 holiday hit with a script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson and colleague Margot Melcon.

This witty sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on socially awkward sister Mary and a potential romantic entanglement. 

Miss Bennet is the fourth-most-popular play in America this season, with productions at 13 theaters nationwide. Notable Atlanta theater artist Carolyn Cook directs the Outfit staging. Amelia Fischer and Jonathan Horne return as Mary Bennet and Arthur De Bourgh. Also returning are Devon Hales and Juan Carlos Unzueta. New to the cast are Stephanie FriedmanJeanette IllidgeJasmine Thomas and Justin Walker

$18-$51 plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 a.m. Dec. 13 + 20. The Outfit performs downtown at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. 


nutcracker ballet

The Nutcracker. THROUGH DEC. 24. 

Atlanta Ballet unveils its first new Nutcracker in 23 seasons, a $3.7 million staging choreographed by Russian-born Yuri Possokhov, an old friend and colleague of artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin.

This telling returns to the original source material: German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 fantasy story “Nutcracker and Mouse King.” It sets the opening Christmas Eve party in a small German village, and features new scenic, costume and lighting designs as well as projections to tell the story of a little girl named Marie and her come-to-life Nutcracker Prince.

$35-$140. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1 p.m. Dec. 24. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303.

[A NUTCRACKER FOR A NEW GENERATION]

 

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A Year With Frog and Toad. THROUGH DEC. 30.

A rare family show that speaks to adults as well as kiddos. This musical tale about a year in the lives of two best friends returns to Synchronicity Theatre. The Tony-nominated show follows the cheerful, popular Frog (Matt Baum) and the rather grumpy Toad (Greg Maurice Hunter) through four, fun-filled seasons. It’s part vaudeville and part make-believe as well as funny and moving. Also in the cast: Taryn Carmona, Elliott Folds and Lyndsay Ricketson. Jenna Tamisea, artistic director of GLOW Lyric Theatre in Greenville, S.C., directs. Synchronicity’s 2006 staging won Suzi Bass awards for outstanding musical, direction and costume design. The show is based on the Newbery and Caldecott Medal-winning books by Arnold Lobel.

$16-$31 (under age 2 free). 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5:30 p.m. Sunday. School matinees available. Every Friday is PJs and Play (kids in PJs get free milk and cookies). Synchronicity is in the Peachtree Pointe Complex, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Opening this week

Chris Damiano. Photo: Cayce Callaway Photography

Chris Damiano. Photo: Cayce Callaway Photography

Million Dollar Quartet. DEC. 14-JAN. 12. 

Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises its popular staging and takes it on the road to the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. Return to Dec. 4, 1956, the magical day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made music together — for the only time ever — at Sun Records in Memphis. The score includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and 15 more. Chris Damiano directs, music directs and plays Cash, with Alex Canty as Elvis, Christopher Kent as Perkins and Sean McGibbon as Lewis.

$35-$40. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Conant is at 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260 (do not call the Conant box office). Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

New holiday shows

Jordan Patrick. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Jordan Patrick. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Christmas Carol Experience. THROUGH DEC. 30.

Charles Dickens’ Scrooge story gets spun on its head in this immersive event from Brian Clowdus Experiences. Follow Ebenezer and his otherworldly goings-on through the rooms of the historic Wren’s Nest, where you’ll find holiday merriment, carols and lessons to remember. Atlanta-based actor Daniel Burns is Ebenezer Scrooge. The cast of five includes Rosie Gyselinck, Jordan Patrick as Jacob Marley, Lilliangina Quiñones and Julie Trammel. Clowdus, known for his environmental, site-specific work at Serenbe Playhouse, directs. The Wren’s Nest, once the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbitcreator Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), is now a cultural center that preserves Harris’ legacy and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing.

$50; $45 under age 18, senior citizens and military. 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Also at 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. Tickets HERE.

Jerry Aggers. Photo: Casey Gardner

Jerry Aggers. Photo: Casey Gardner

This Wonderful Life. THROUGH DEC. 23.

This one-man version of the Jimmy Stewart film classic is new to Aurora Theatre’s holiday lineup. Jeremy Aggers (Singles in Architecture, Hands on a Hardbody) plays everybody — George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Mary, Mr. Gower, Zuzu, etc. The script is by playwright Steve Murray (whom you might know from his days as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic). In repertory with the company’s one-man Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (featuring producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez). Associate artistic director Justin Anderson directs.

$20. Performances at 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 15, 18, 20 + 22; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 16 + 23. 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.

Returning holiday shows of note

Libby Whittemore

Libby Whittemore

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. DEC. 14-23.

Singer and funny lady Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express with her 10th edition of this happy holiday songfest. It dates back even further, though, to her entrepreneurial days as the headliner at Buckhead’s late, great Libby’s, A Cabaret.

She’s joined, as always, by Connie Sue Day, the 31st Lady of Country Music. Expect holiday classics old and new (“Hard Candy Christmas,” “River”), novelty tunes (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”) and perhaps a verse or two penned by Connie Sue herself. You’ll hear plenty at the two-hour show and go home merry and bright. Just beware of Miss Day’s Dynel wig.

$40. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Actor’s Express is in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Holiday shows: This week only

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HANDEL’S MESSIAHDec. 13-14. Two performances. Featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A FESTIVE FAMILY HOLIDAY. Dec. 16 only. Two performances. Join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stephen Mulligan to hear favorite holiday tunes and … maybe … see Santa. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY. Dec. 17 only. A one-man telling of the Truman Capote story about an Alabama boy and his elderly, eccentric cousin with actor/artistic director Tom Key.  At Theatrical Outfit. 678.528.1500.


Also for the holidays (ongoing)

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Anthony P. Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Anthony P. Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Through Dec. 22. The return of the one-man telling with actor/artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez. At Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab. 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Through Dec. 23. As they have for 20-plus years, a handful of actors brings the story alive at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

ELF THE MUSICAL. Through Dec. 16. The stage version of the 2003 Will Ferrell movie comedy. Allow extra time to get through venue security at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. City Springs Theatre Company. 404.477.4365.

INVASION: CHRISTMAS CAROL. Through Dec. 20. An improvised version of the Dickens classic with surprise special guests. Even cast members don’t know who will show up, or when. Dad’s Garage. 404.523.3141. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Through Dec. 30. Based on the timeless Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. At the Center for Puppetry Arts404.873.3391.

THE SNOW QUEEN. Through Jan. 6. A traveling, site-specific show done outdoors and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. At Serenbe Playhouse770.463.1110.

fashionado

A WHOLE NEW WORLD - ALADDIN AT THE FOX THEATRE

The Genie and the company of “Aladdin.” Photos courtesy of Disney Theatrical Productions.

The Genie and the company of “Aladdin.” Photos courtesy of Disney Theatrical Productions.

How the ‘Aladdin’ creative team brought the animated feature film to the Broadway stage.

Broadway in Atlanta brings “Aladdin” to the Fox Theatre for a Sept. 12-23 run. Details, tickets HERE or at 855. 285.8499.

EARLY IN THE EVOLUTION of Aladdin, composer Alan Menken, book writer/lyricist Chad Beguelin and director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw got together to write a new song for the stage musical — the kind of collaboration that probably could happen only on Broadway.

Jasmine and Aladdin find a whole new world in each other’s eyes amid the nobles, misfits and villains in the Middle Eastern city of Agrabah.

Jasmine and Aladdin find a whole new world in each other’s eyes amid the nobles, misfits and villains in the Middle Eastern city of Agrabah.

“We needed to write a new song for the Genie, [for] when he’s going to free Aladdin from the dungeon in Act 2,” says Menken. “And we wrote this song called ‘Somebody’s Got Your Back.’ It was just one of those old-fashioned theater mo­ments where you lock three people in a room. I run over to the piano and try an idea, Casey gets up and gets kind of a movement idea. And Chad shouts out lyric ideas. Within half an hour, we had the beginning of this song. The best part of the process is always the initial creativity, the initial writing — and that was a great moment.”

Aladdin opened on Broadway on Feb. 26, 2014, and is more than 1,900 performances into that run in addition to this national tour. The show won a featured actor Tony Award for its original genie, James Monroe Iglehart, and nominations for best book of a musical, original score and choreography.

It’s easy to imagine the late lyricist How­ard Ashman being ridiculously pleased with the success of his Disney-based work with longtime writing partner Menken. Their iconic scores for the animated movies The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast both found second lives as Broadway musicals.

But what of their last Disney project together — 1992’s Aladdin? Die-hard fans know that Menken and Ashman had written 11 songs for the movie, only to have most of them cut from early drafts of the screenplay. Ashman’s 1991 death, from AIDS-related complications, had complicated production.

Did any of those songs still exist? Could a reimagined Aladdin make it to Broadway? The answers are “yes.” The final version of the show joins several of Ashman’s original ideas for the movie with new, wholly theatrical notions from the new blue-chip creative team.

It began when Beguelin, a Tony-nominated lyricist (The Wedding Singer) was asked to collaborate on a draft of a stage version of Aladdin. When Menken saw Beguelin’s first draft, he realized it was time to resurrect the film’s deleted songs and debut them for a new generation.

A company of nearly 30 brings the 2014 musical to the Fox Theatre for the first time.

A company of nearly 30 brings the 2014 musical to the Fox Theatre for the first time.

“It’s been re­ally a unique process,” Begue­lin says. “The task was to create Aladdin ‘the new stage musical,’ but also to integrate these lost songs. It’s been like putting together a musical puzzle.”

Audiences can still expect their favorites — in­cluding the Oscar-winning Menken/Tim Rice song “A Whole New World” and a swinging “Friend Like Me.”

Getting Aladdin on Broadway was a memo­rable experience, even for someone with a track record like Menken’s. “Coming to the show is like opening up, in a sense, a treasure trove — or a ‘cave of wonders,’ if you will — of material that was intended for the animated movie,” he says.

Ultimately, Nicholaw — familiar to Atlanta audiences for his work at the Alliance Theatre (The Prom, Tuck Everlasting) thinks audiences will welcome the “new” Menk­en/Ashman tunes and the new Menken/Be­guelin songs. “It’s about keeping all the stuff that everyone loves from the movie and, in order to get it onstage, give it a musical-comedy heart.”

::

This article originally ran in Disney twenty-three, a publication of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club.

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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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The Book of Mormon at the Fox Theatre

Above, from left: Monica L. Patton as a villager, Kevin Clay as Elder Price and Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Above, from left: Monica L. Patton as a villager, Kevin Clay as Elder Price and Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Seven years after recalibrating Broadway’s funny bone, The Book of Mormon maintains its popularity and edge and proves it has serious staying power.

“The Book of Mormon” runs July 17-22 at the Fox Theatre. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

IT’S BEEN SEVEN YEARS since The Book of Mormon opened on Broadway and 2½ years since its missionaries tap-danced their way into the Fox Theatre.

Josh Gad (left) and Andrew Rannells in the original Broadway cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

Josh Gad (left) and Andrew Rannells in the original Broadway cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

In that span, the careers of many original Mormons have taken off. Tony nominees Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad (the original Elders Price and Cunningham), composer Robert Lopez (Frozen) and director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (Mean Girls, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Prom) have all become go-to guys in New York and beyond.

Rannells, a two-time Tony nominee, is on Broadway in the limited run of the landmark gay drama The Boys in the Band. Since Mormon, he’s played King George in Hamilton and Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and made his mark on HBO’s Girls, playing Elijah Krantz, an ex of creator Lena Dunham’s Hannah.

Gad has voiced the role of Olaf in the Frozenmovie and was LeFou in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. He’s been attached as a writer of a possible Gilligan’s Islandmovie and rumored to be the top choice for Seymour in a Little Shop of Horrors movie remake. And he’s been pitching himself to play the Penguin in the Batmanfilm franchise.

But that was then, this is now. We’re pretty familiar with those smiling, doorbell-ringing lads and their snappy waves as they say, “Hello!” We also know that Elder Price won’t be dispatched to Orlando and will, instead, go to an AIDS-stricken village in Uganda. So why do we keep coming back?

The missionaries. They would like to share with you the most amazing book. Did you know Jesus lived in the U.S.A.? Photo: Julieta Cervantes

The missionaries. They would like to share with you the most amazing book. Did you know Jesus lived in the U.S.A.? Photo: Julieta Cervantes

 “It’s the laughter,” says Ron Bohmer, who’s toured with the award-wining musical for 3½ years, longer than just about anyone. “We need to laugh. But a really good time in life is pretty rare. So if we can get the chance to have that really good time all over again, then we want to. You can’t relive your wedding day, except maybe by watching the video. But you can buy a ticket to this show and have that laugh-out-loud experience again.”

Bohmer, who plays the Missionary Training Center Voice, Elder Price’s dad, Joseph Smith and a mission president), is a 56-year-old journeyman actor on and off Broadway, so his words carry some weight.

Ron Bohmer

Ron Bohmer

The show’s comedy produces “huge tears through laughter,” he says. “It’s like a drug you can’t buy. It sends us all out into life with a positive feeling.”

Mormon, created by Lopez and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, lampoons its fair share of atrocities which, in the wrong hands, could be far less funny. When it opened, Vogue magazine called the show “the filthiest, most offensive and — surprise — the sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway … and quite possibly the funniest musical ever.”

The show has its naysayers but has proved overwhelmingly popular, having grossed more than $500 million to date and still playing to overflow houses in New York and on tour. It also has companies traveling in Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Mormon’s creative team “put something together that’s truly incredible,” Bohmer says. “I just want to stay out of the way of the script — there’s nothing to fix. It’s just, ‘deliver the mail’ cause the mail is so good.

“The beauty of the show is that it never insults in any way,” Bohmer says. “It never says, ‘Look how stupid or goofy these boys are.’”

Even Mormons have proved relatively accepting. The Church of Latter-day Saints regularly buys ads in the Broadway Playbill and other theater programs, saying: “You’ve Seen the Play … Now Read the Book,” using the spoofy show to attract potential converts.

Bohmer has played the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and Enjolras in Les Miserables at points in his career, so he’s seen some long runs. That doesn’t negate his gratitude for Mormon. “This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been in a show with this kind of legs,” he says. “I’m lucky, I’m treated very well, and I don’t take it for granted.”

The show triumphs, he believes, because its heart is as big as its humor is daring. “It celebrates the goodness of humanity and the value of faith and religion. I think it tries to tell us that no matter what you believe, faith is important, but faith is here to serve you. Faith should make it easier for us to get through the day.”

This show, he adds, “just keeps telling you the truth without telling you what to think about it. It lets you make your own decisions.”

To that we say, “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”

Uganda!? Cool, like “Lion King.” Connor Peirson (far right, as Elder Cunningham) shares the good news with villagers. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Uganda!? Cool, like “Lion King.” Connor Peirson (far right, as Elder Cunningham) shares the good news with villagers. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

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BEST BETS | April 26-May 2, 2018

best bets encore atlanta

Topping this week’s curated BEST BETS column are the world premieres of “The Flower Room” at Actor’s Express and “Ripe Frenzy” at Synchronicity, plus 7 Stages’ timely “Revolt” and The Atlanta Opera’s “Carmen.” Plus. Much. More. Pictured: A scene from Bizet’s “Carmen,” onstage this weekend and next at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Photo: The Atlanta Opera.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER/SPRING SEASON TOP PICK.

Recommended

Eliana Marianes

Eliana Marianes

 ** The Flower Room. THROUGH MAY 13. Actor’s Express. World premiere. 

Atlanta playwright Daryl Lisa Fazio’s comedy follows an uptight academic named Ingrid (Stacy Melich), who researches sexual behavior in primitive cultures while remaining closed off from her own sexual side. When she loses her university job, she turns to writing erotica to pay the bills — unleashing her own journey of, well, discovery.

Express regular Melissa Foulger directs a cast that includes Matthew Busch (The Thrush and the Woodpecker)Eliana Marianes and Joshua Quinn

$31-$44. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

 

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Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. OPENS THURSDAY. 7 Stages.

British playwright Alice Birch’s 2014 script has a way of making you question everything you say when it comes to discussing women and their relationships with men, one another and the world. 7 Stages says it decided to produce Revolt “to address the urgent mood in our community and nation surrounding issues of women’s rights and systemic prejudice.” Atlanta-based theater artist Rachel Parish directs.

Her cast: Dorothy Victoria Bell-Polk, Christopher Hampton, Renita JamesBrooke OwensMary Lynn Owen (a two-time Suzi Bass Award winner) and Patrick Wade. On the mainstage.

$22.50-$28. Through May 13. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

[WHY ‘REVOLT’ + WHY NOW AT 7 STAGES]

Parker Fox Ciliax, Taylor M. Dooley. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Parker Fox Ciliax, Taylor M. Dooley. Photo: Jerry Siegel

** Ripe Frenzy. THROUGH MAY 6. Synchronicity Theatre

This world premiere by Jennifer Barclay won the National New Play Network’s 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theater. It tells the before and after of a mass shooting in a small American town from multiple points of view and through the lens of Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town. “It’s about what got us here,” says director Rachel May. “And what we do afterward.” Community conversations follow each performance.

The cast: Taylor M. Dooley (Aurora Theatre’s Burnpile); Danyé Brown; Megan Cramer (Georgia Shakespeare, back in the day); Parker Fox Ciliax; and Lizzy Liu. 

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

Opening this week

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Carmen. OPENS SATURDAY. The Atlanta Opera

Georges Bizet’s opéra comique might be the most beloved opera of all time. It tracks the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier seduced by a Gypsy. Its story was groundbreaking — and controversial — in the 19th century. Franco-Armenian mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan sings Carmen. Italian tenor Gianluca Terranova, seen as Rodolfo in Atlanta Opera’s La bohème, sings Don José. Carmen was last seen in Atlanta in 2012 and played to sold-out houses. It’s sung in French with English supertitles.

$50-$156. 8 p.m. Saturday + May 4; 7:30 p.m. May 1; and 3 p.m. May 6. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com

[READ MORE: IN CARMEN, THREE’S A CROWD]

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Lazybed. PREVIEWS THURSDAY | OPENS FRIDAY. 

Arís!, Atlanta’s stage for Celtic culture, takes on Scottish playwright Iain Crichton Smith’s dark philosophical comedy about a man in the midst of a metaphysical crisis, essentially a meditation on life, death, love and the meaning of all we hold dear. Murdo, the man in question, is a Scottish crofter (farmer) who has taken to his bed. While he malingers, he’s visited by his brother, his gossipy neighbor, his girlfriend, an insurance salesman, a minister, a medical specialist, Immanuel Kant and Death — who keeps stopping by to chat. Kyle Crew directs. 

$23-$28 (Thursday preview is $18). Through May 13. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE.

 

Lee Osorio

Lee Osorio

The Life and Death of Richard the Second. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS SATURDAY.

In this Shakespeare history play, King Richard (Lee Osorio) lies and steals his way to riches in order to finance his invasion of Irish lands but is taken down by Henry Bolingbroke (Maurice Ralston) and the Earl of Northumberland (Al Stilo) and imprisoned, leading to the crowning of King Henry IV.

Also in the cast: J. Tony Brown, Chris Hecke, Heidi Cline McKerley and Tamil Periasamy.

$21-$42 ($15 preview Thursday; $20 preview Friday). Through May 13. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Pub menu and full bar available.

499 Peachtree St. NE (parking suggested in the Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across the street). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

This weekend only

Carlo Rizzi

Carlo Rizzi

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY-SUNDAY.

Italian conductor Carlo Rizzi leads the ASO in a program featuring Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “Classical”; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2; and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto. The latter is performed by the symphony’s principal oboist, Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, who joined the ASO in the 2007/08 season.

$22-$102. 8 p.m. Thursday + Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[ASO IN 18/19: MORE BERNSTEIN, BEETHOVEN + BISS]

Last chance

Ethan Ray Parker (from left), Jeremy Aggers, Ricardo Aponte. Photo: Dan Carmody / Studio 7

Ethan Ray Parker (from left), Jeremy Aggers, Ricardo Aponte. Photo: Dan Carmody / Studio 7

Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story. CLOSES SUNDAY.

Making another return to Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Tells the story of Holly’s meteoric rise to fame, from the moment in 1957 when “That’ll Be The Day” hit the radio until his death less than two years later.

The show features more than 20 of his greatest hits, including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” “Oh Boy,” etc., plus Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” Jeremy Aggers (Edward Foote at the Alliance) makes his GET debut as Holly, with Ricardo Aponte (who directs) as Valens and Ethan Ray Parker as the Big Bopper.

$33-$43. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Joselin Reyes. Photo: Casey Gardner

Joselin Reyes. Photo: Casey Gardner

El Gran Día de la Madre (The Great Mother’s Day). CLOSES SUNDAY. Aurora Theatre.

A mother, daughter and granddaughter — all keepers of dark secrets — have a Mother’s Day reckoning in a family mausoleum. Expect multigenerational love, tears and laughs in this comedy from Chile, which next travels to Spain.

Part of Teatro Aurora and performed in Spanish with English supertitles. The script is by Chascas y Quintanilla. Daniel Jáquez directs.

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

Still running

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

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

$11.25-$19.50. Showtimes: 10 + 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

 

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BEST BETS | Feb. 15-21, 2018

best bets encore atlanta

 by Kathy Janich

Alvin Ailey dances on,  and “King Hedley” and “Rent” arrive. Last call for “Angels in America” (Actor’s Express), “Klook and Vinette” (Horizon Theatre), “The Mystery of Love & Sex” (Out Front Theatre) and “Picnic” (Stage Door Players). Pictured: Eddie Bradley Jr. as Stool Pigeon (with Tonya Jackson and Tiffany Denise Hobbs) in “King Hedley II” at True Colors. Photo by Horne Bros. Productions.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER SEASON TOP PICK.

Recommended

“Revelations” concludes each Alvin Ailey performance.

“Revelations” concludes each Alvin Ailey performance.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. THROUGH SUNDAY.

This brilliant 32-member company concludes its annual Atlanta visit with a program that looks to the past — specifically 1960, the 1980s and 2004 — to entertain, provoke and inform the future.

The lineup includes artistic director Robert Battle’s MassShelterby Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section; Talley Beatty’s Stack-Up; and the Alvin Ailey creation Revelations (which concludes every performance). 

$22-$86. 8 tonight-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[AILEY’S ROBERT BATTLE: ‘THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IS NOT A ONE-NOTE SAMBA’]

 

Thandiwe DeShazor, Grant Chapman. Photo: Casey Gardner

Thandiwe DeShazor, Grant Chapman. Photo: Casey Gardner

** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. CLOSES SATURDAY. At Actor’s Express.

Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s time-traveling saga set at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1 is titled Millennium Approaches; Part 2 is Perestroika. Kushner’s achievement, a 20th-century theatrical landmark, 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 GreggoryCara MantellaParris Sarter and Joe Sykes, many of whom play multiple roles.

$22-$40. See Part 2 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. See Part 1 at 2 p.m. Saturday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Millennium Approaches details, tickets HEREPerestroika details, tickets HERE. Or call 404.607.7469. 

[SEE: THE STAGES OF WINTER —  ENCORE NAMES THE BEST OF THE SEASON]

 

Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. CLOSES SUNDAY.

American premiere. Horizon Theatre tells a contemporary love story with a soulful jazz score. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting; Vinette is on the run but doesn’t know why. Together, they take a stab at love. Amari Cheatom (the film Django Unchained and a Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta alum) is Klook. Brittany Inge (Horizon’s Blackberry Daze) is Vinette.

The script is by London-based playwright Ché Walker, who directs. 

$23 and up, plus fees. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

 

Lowrey Brown. Photo StunGun Photography

Lowrey Brown. Photo StunGun Photography

** The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae. THROUGH FEB. 25. At 7 Stages

The 38-year-old Little Five Points company looks to ancient Greece for its first production of 2018. Euripides’ The Bacchae delves into opposite sides of human nature and remains frighteningly topical with its warning about what can happen when citizens blindly follow their political leaders. This world premiere telling comes from Margaret Baldwin, an Atlanta playwright of note, and uses opera, dance, puppetry and physical theater to tell its story of faith, abuse of power and vengeance. Co-artistic director Michael Haverty directs. Klimchak, who builds and plays unusual instruments, provides original music.

With musical direction by Bryan Mercer and choreography by Israel-based actor, dancer and clown Ofir Nahari, who’s also in the cast. In the Back Stage Black Box. Runs 80 minutes with no intermission.

$15-$25. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

 

Josh Brook and Edward. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Josh Brook and Edward. Photo: Jerry Siegel

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. THROUGH FEB. 25. At Synchronicity Theatre

Edward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china who’s loved by a little girl but must go on a miraculous journey before he can love anyone back. This family-friendly adaptation — which includes toy piano, harmonica, guitar and banjo — is told simply and elegantly by a versatile cast of four: Josh Brook, Jimmica Collins, Caitlin Hargraves and Justin Walker. 

Mira Hirsch directs. The piece is based on Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 young adult novel. Note: Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids in pajamas get complimentary milk and cookies. Runs two hours with one intermission.

$15-$22. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. One Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636. 

Opening this week

true-King-Hedley

** King Hedley II. NOW OPEN | THROUGH  MARCH 11. At True Colors Theatre Company

August Wilson (1945-2005) is one of the great American playwrights of any century, and a personal favorite. King Hedley is part of his 10-play Century, or Pittsburgh, Cycle, all reflecting the black experience in 20th-century America. King (Neal A. Ghant, fresh from the Alliance Theatre’s Native Guard) is an ex-con peddling stolen refrigerators in inner-city Pittsburgh in the 1980s. His goal: Buy a new business and, thus, a new life. Surrounding him in his quest, for better or worse, are his wife, his mother, his mother’s ex-lover, his best friend and a neighbor named Stool Pigeon (Eddie Bradley Jr.), a mystical sort of truthsayer.

Also in the cast: Tiffany Denise HobbsTonia Jackson, E. Roger Mitchell and Eugene H. Russell IV). Jamil Jude directs. Some consider King Hedley II a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It seemed so in a mesmerizing production at the Alliance Theatre in 2003/04. Recommended for age 16 and up (language, content).

$20-$35. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details HERE, tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or at 877.725.8849.

Aaron Alcaraz as Angel. Photo: Carol Rosegg

Aaron Alcaraz as Angel. Photo: Carol Rosegg

 Rent. OPENS TUESDAY. A 25th anniversary tour. 

Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking rock musical was the Hamilton of its day. Loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème, it follows an unforgettable year in the hand-to-mouth lives of seven artists — a filmmaker, a musician, a performance artist and a drag queen among them — struggling in the shadow of drugs, poverty and AIDS. 

Rent won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1996 Tony awards, including best musical, and helped launch the careers of Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs.

The score includes Seasons of Love, Light My Candle and La Vie Boheme.

$30-$145.50. Through Feb. 28. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[BACK TO THE BEGINNING: REMEMBERING JONATHAN LARSON’S EPIC ACHIEVEMENT]

This weekend only

Jorge Federico Osorio

Jorge Federico Osorio

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. 

Italian maestro Roberto Abbado returns for Franz Schubert’s Unfinished symphony.

Guest pianist Jorge Federico Osorio (“a serious and cultivated Beethoven player,” says the Chicago Tribune) leads Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, completing the ASO’s performances of all five Beethoven piano concertos this season.

Also scheduled: Rossini’s overture to Semiramide.

$17-$97. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Last chance

Terrance Smith (left), Tiffany Morgan, Rachel Wansker,  Donald McNamus. Photo: Tyler Ogburn

Terrance Smith (left), Tiffany Morgan, Rachel Wansker,  Donald McNamus. Photo: Tyler Ogburn

The Mystery of Love & Sex. CLOSES SUNDAY.  At Out Front Theatre Company.

London-born playwright Bathsheba “Bash” Doran’s four-character drama is an unexpected love story about where souls meet and the consequences of growing up. Charlotte and Jonny have been best friends since age 9. She’s Jewish, he’s Christian; he’s black, she’s white. These differences intensify their connection until the complications of sexual desire tiptoe in.

The drama premiered in 2014 at Lincoln Center (“written with compassion and wry wisdom,” said The New York Times) and has played Chicago and Los Angeles. Doran also has written for TV (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Masters of Sex,” “Smash”). Working Title Playwrights‘ Amber Bradshaw directs a cast comprising Donald McNamusTiffany Morgan, Terrance Smith and Rachel Wansker. Note: Contains nudity. 

$20 + $25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755.

Still running

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The Jungle Book. THROUGH MARCH 4. Alliance Theatre at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center.

Mowgli, a boy abandoned in the jungle, must find his place in the community of animals with the help of Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Akela the old wolf.  Shere Khan the tiger, however, doesn’t think he belongs.

Based on the Rudyard Kipling stories. With a score and musical direction by S. Renee Clark. Rosemary Newcott directs.

$18-$32. 1 + 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[MARKELLE GAY IS BEARLY FAMOUS, BUT YOU’LL LIKELY BE HEARING FROM HIM]

 

Brittany L. Smith, Seun Soyemi. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Brittany L. Smith, Seun Soyemi. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Ontario Was Here. THROUGH MARCH 4. At Aurora Theatre.

Kansas-based playwright Darren Canady, the 2007 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, returns to metro Atlanta with this contemporary drama. It follows two social workers (Brittany L. SmithSeun Soyemi) on the front lines of Kansas City’s Department of Children and Families. Tempers flash when the co-workers (and former lovers) clash over what’s best for a 9-year-old boy named Ontario. Their decisions could mean life or death. Cynthia D. Barker, better known for her work onstage, directs.

This show is part of Aurora’s Harvel Lab Series, done in its smaller black-box space.

$20-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 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.

Picnic. CLOSES SUNDAY. At Stage Door Players

William Inge’s 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama argues that youth is a gift to be savored, not squandered. When Labor Day weekend arrives in the Kansas backyards of two middle-aged widows, so does a vital young man who upsets the social order. The cast: Blake BurgessKara Cantrell, Larry Davis and Shelby Folks. Tess Malis Kincaid directs. Inge (Bus Stop; Come Back, Little Sheba) was known for bringing small-town life in America’s Midwest to Broadway. $33. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

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Rainforest Adventures. THROUGH MARCH 4.

Return to the Amazonian jungle with the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Brazilian music accompanies this communion with 30-plus exotic plants and animals, including howler monkeys, harpy eagles, sloths, big cats and pink river dolphins. Performed in Czech Black style by puppeteers Brian Harrison, Jake Krakovsky, Emily MarshTim Sweeney and Anna Claire Walker. For ages 4 and up.

$19.50 non-members; $9.75 members. 10 + 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

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