Musicals-only City Springs Theatre born

It’s official. The resident theater company at the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, part of a $189 million project creating a downtown hub for Georgia’s seventh-largest city, is called City Springs Theatre Company.

The professional, nonprofit company will produce musicals and arts education initiatives featuring regional and national artists, according to a statement. Look for its first production — 42nd Street — in September.

The leadership: Brandt Blocker (left), Shuler Hensley and Natalie Barrow. Photo: City Springs Theatre Company

The company is led by executive/artistic director Brandt Blocker, who spent 10 years leading the nearby Atlanta Lyric Theatre; associate artistic director Shuler Hensley, a Tony Award-winning actor (Oklahoma!) and Marietta native; and managing director Natalie Barrow, formerly of ArtsBridge Foundation at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. She oversees the company’s operations, fundraising and arts education programs.

The City Springs district, bordered by Allen Road on the south and Johnson Ferry Road on the north, gives Sandy Springs its first true “downtown.” Its 14 acres include multi-family housing; parkland; restaurants and coffee shops; retail; and city offices.

Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center features a 6,100-sq. ft. glass-enclosed lobby; a CityBar and balcony lounge; the three-level Byers Theatre, a proscenium built to seat 1,100; and a flexible 400-seat studio theater. The Atlanta Opera and Atlanta Ballet also will perform at the Byers, in addition to their regular seasons at Cobb Energy Centre, says Sandy Springs spokesman Sharon Kraun. Still unclear: the new company’s impact on the Marietta-based Atlanta Lyric Theatre, a 38-year-old company that also stages musicals exclusively.

City Springs Theatre’s inaugural five-show season looks like this, with each show receiving a fairly short run:

42nd Street. SEPT. 14-23. Winner of the 1981 Tony Award for best musical. It follows Broadway director Julian Marsh, who’s trying to stage a successful musical during the Great Depression. The score, by Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, includes “You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” A 2001 revival won Tonys for best musical revival and leading lady Christine Ebersole.

Elf the Musical. DEC. 7-16. Based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie about a man who’s been raised as an elf at the North Pole and goes to America to search for his true identity. The musical had limited Broadway runs in 2011 and 2013 and national tours in 2014, 2015 and 2017, including one that stopped at the Fox Theatre.

South Pacific. MARCH 8-17, 2019. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning game-changer — based on James A. Michener’s short-story collection Tales of the South Pacific — won 10 Tonys in 1950, including best musical, best libretto and best original score. A stunning 2008 revival won seven Tonys, including best musical. Its national tour visited the Fox Theatre, too. The City Springs staging will be directed and choreographed by Tony recipient Baayork Lee (A Chorus Line’s original Connie).

Billy Elliot the Musical. MAY 3-12, 2019. Set in an English town during the miners’ strike of 1984/85. It follows young Billy’s journey from boxing ring to ballet class where he discovers a passion that unites his family, inspires his community and changes his life. It won 12 Tony awards in 2009, including best musical. Some audiences may have seen its stop at the Fox Theatre.

Hairspray. JULY 12-21, 2019. The 2003 Tony-winning best musical features 1960s-style music and is based on the 1988 John Waters movie about a plump, big-haired teenager named Tracy Turnblad and her dreams of dancing on the local teenage TV dance show. The bright show also delves into issues of body-shaming and racism.

Season tickets for 2018/19 City Springs lineup will go on sale soon. Prices are not yet available, but season tickets can be reserved through the box office HERE or by calling 404.477.4365. Single-seat tickets go on sale May 1.

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Therra Gwyn Jaramillo contributed to this article.

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.

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