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We have four top picks, including “Ada and the Memory Engine” (Essential), and three openings, including Weird Sisters’ world premiere of “Space Girl.” Pictured (from left): Holly Stevenson, Mark Cosby (as Babbage), Ashley Anderson (as Ada) and Brandon Partrick in “Ada and the Memory Engine.” Photo by Elisabeth Cooper.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta summer season recommendation.

Recommended

essential ada logoAda and the Memory Engine. THROUGH AUG. 27. Audience and critical acclaim have greeted this script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson, part of  this summer’s Essential Theatre play fest. The 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 praised its intelligence, which shines through in a finely acted, though bare-bones staging here. Ashley Anderson is Ada, with Mark Cosby as the supportive, influential Charles Babbage. $20-$25. In repertory, check the schedule HERE. At the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details HERE, tickets HERE.

TC Carson. Photo: Greg Mooney
TC Carson. Photo: Greg Mooney

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 Inge, Naomi Lavette, Christian 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.

TO-AUR-HUNCH-090917-0230-1The Hunchback of Notre Dame. THROUGH AUG. 27. Critics and audiences are applauding  this Aurora Theatre musical, staged in partnership with Theatrical Outfit. The show follows a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. Justin 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. Aug. 22-24 shows are sold out; check other performances 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.) Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Kandace Arrington as Audrey II. Photo: Casey Gardner
Kandace Arrington as Audrey II. Photo: Casey Gardner

** Little Shop of Horrors. THROUGH AUG. 20. A true joy. Actor’s Express has added Saturday matinees to the run of this Skid Row-set cult musical about a nebbish botanist, his unrequited love, his cranky boss and a very hungry, very mean 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 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. 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.

Opening this week

Sara Esty brings her ballet background to "Paris." Photo: Matthew Murphy
Sara Esty brings her ballet background to “Paris.” Photo: Matthew Murphy

An American in Paris. OPENS TUESDAY. New to Atlanta and, by all accounts, one of the most gorgeous productions of the 2015 Broadway season. Playwright Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, The Light in the Piazza) updates the story from the 1951 Gene Kelly movie, setting it in 1945 at the close of World War II. The lush score is compliments of George and Ira Gershwin — “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “’S Wonderful,” “Shall We Dance,” “But Not for Me,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” and “They Can’t Take that Away From Me.” Nominated for 14 Tony awards, including best musical. Won for choreography, orchestrations, scenic design and lighting design. The first national tour makes its first stop in Atlanta, at the Fox Theatre, under the aegis of Broadway in Atlanta. $30-125. Through Aug. 20. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[BALLET TO THEATER & BACK FOR LEADING LADY SARA ESTY]

Jimmica Collins
Jimmica Collins

Mother Goose. OPENS AUG. 15. In this Center for Puppetry Arts staging, Mother Goose is missing, and audience members are asked to sing, wiggle and clap along to help Mary Mary find her. Also on the case: Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Jack and Jill, and other citizens of Rhymeville. For ages 2 and up. Uses rod, hand-and-rod and glove puppets. $19.50. Through Sept. 17. 10 + 11 a.m. some Tuesdays + Wednesdays; 10 + 11 a.m. Thursday-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sundays. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details HERE or at 404.873.3391.

space girl weird summer 2017Space Girl. PREVIEWS TONIGHT | OPENS FRIDAY. World premiere from the second-gen producers of the Weird Sisters Theatre Project (Shelli Delgado, Rachel Frawley, Kate Donadio MacQueen, Julie Skrzypek and Rebekah Suellau). The plot: Arugula just wants to fit in, but it’s not easy when you’re a teenage alien from the planet Zlagdor. In a 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. 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.

Still running

another mother logoAnother Mother. THROUGH AUG. 26. World premiere. Atlanta playwright G.M. Lupo’s script is the second entry in Essential Theatre’s summer play fest. It follows the journey of a woman named Genevieve, who’s piecing together the identities and relationships between her biological mother, her birth mother and the mother who raised her. $20-$25. In repertory; check schedule HEREDetails HERE, tickets HERE. At the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.

Molly Tynes. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Molly Tynes. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Cabaret. THROUGH AUG. 27. It’s 1931 Berlin and the Nazis are coming to power. The setting at Serenbe Playhouse is outdoors, of course, in and around the squalid Kit Kat Klub, where a young American writer (Lee Osorio) pursues English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Molly Tynes) and everything is overseen by the androgynous see-no-evil, hear-no-evil 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 is extra. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 9110 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Into the woods with "Robin Hood." Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Into the woods with “Robin Hood.” Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

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 PoshDealz.com.

Next week

His and Hers Cabaret. AUG. 19 ONLY. Stage Door Players presents a gender-bending benefit of music in which women sing songs usually sung by men and vice versa. The lineup, subject to change, includes Paige Mattox and Bryant Smith of the just-closed Annie Get Your Gun, Daniel Burns, Sarah Cave, Kelly Martin, Jen MacQueen, Jeremy Wood and Laura Floyd Wood, among others. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. VIP tickets ($50) include a private reception, a bottle of champagne and reserved prime seating. 8 p.m. (VIP reception at 7 p.m.) 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody. Tickets, details HERE or at 770.396.1726. 

Coming up

lessonA Lesson Before Dying. PREVIEWS AUG. 24 | OPENS AUG. 25. This drama, based on Ernest J. Gaines’ 1993 novel, loosely adapts the true story of a young man twice sentenced to die in the Louisiana electric chair in the 1940s. Romulus Linney’s script sets the action in 1948 in a small plantation community in Cajun country. A young man, jailed for a murder he didn’t commit, has lost his self-respect and will soon lose his life. He and a young teacher show each other how to face their very different futures with dignity and strength. Presented by Dominion Entertainment (Jar the Floor, Black Nativity) with a cast led by Simeon Daise, Enoch King, Elisabeth Omilami and Kerwin Thompson. $30 plus fees. Through Sept. 3. 8 p.m. Aug. 24-25; 11 a.m. Aug. 31; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive in Decatur. Details HERE. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets HERE. Discount ticket at PoshDealz.com.

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About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

View all posts by Kathy Janich