An especially fertile winter season brings us “Angels in America,” “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” “Maytag Virgin,” “Native Guard,” “Tenderly,” “Klook and Vinette” and ASO concerts. Read on for details. Pictured: Terry Burrell as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day” (Theatrical Outfit). Photo by Chris Bartelski.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER SEASON TOP PICK.

Recommended

Carolyn Cook, in one of her many roles. Photo: Casey Gardner

** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. IN REPERTORY THROUGH FEB. 17. See both, on different days or the same one, at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling, two-part saga set at the beginning 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 Cook, Thandiwe DeShazor, Louis GreggoryCara Mantella, Parris Sarter and Joe Sykes, several of whom play multiple roles. Your time investment will be richly rewarded. $22-$40. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Millennium Approaches details, tickets HERE; Perestroika details, tickets HERE. Or call 404.607.7469. 

[MORE: THE STAGES OF WINTER —  ENCORE’S PICKS OF THE SEASON]

Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. THROUGH FEB. 18. American premiere. Horizon Theatre begins its 2018 season with a contemporary love story that comes with a soulful jazz score. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting; Vinette is on the run but doesn’t know what’s chasing her. Together, they make a tentative stab at love. Amari Cheatom (a Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta alum, the film Django Unchained) is Klook. Brittany Inge (Horizon’s Blackberry Daze) is Vinette. The script is by Lond0n-based playwright Ché Walker, who directs. Music and lyrics by Anoushka Lucas and Omar Lye-Fook, with musical direction by Atlanta’s Christian Magby. $23 and up, plus fees. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. N0 show Feb. 4 (Super Bowl Sunday). 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. THROUGH FEB. 4. Highly recommended. At Theatrical Outfit. Singer/actor Terry Burrell shimmers in this bruising bio of jazz singer Billie Holiday, performing months before her death at age 44. It’s Philadelphia, 1959. The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about Lady Day’s down-and-out life and a song list that includes “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen others. Burrell’s considerable credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dreamgirls and Into the Woods on Broadway; Lady Day off-Broadway; and Ethel, among others, at the Alliance Theatre. $18-$51. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 27-28 and Feb. 1, 3, 4. Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. 

Brad Brinkley, Courtney Patterson. Photo: Chris Bartelski

** Maytag Virgin. THROUGH FEB. 11. A regional premiere at Aurora Theatre. Audrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows an Alabama schoolteacher (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor (Brad Brinkley) in the year following her husband’s unexpected death. DC Theatre Scene called the play “a witty and earnest meditation on how people connect even when they feel they’re not ready.” Melissa Foulger, an Actor’s Express regular and a name you should know, directs. $20-$55. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 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 PoshDealz.com.

Natasha Trethewey

Native Guard. THROUGH FEB. 4. Alliance Theatre at the Atlanta History Center. A reprise of the 2014 staging based on poet Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, which juxtaposes her life as a mixed-race child with the lives of the Native Guard — black soldiers fighting for the Union in the Civil War. The twist this time: It’s performed near the History Center’s Civil War exhibition. The entire cast returns: Neal A. Ghant as the Native Guard, January LaVoy as the Poet, vocalist Nicole Banks Long and composer/music director Tyrone Jackson. Recommended for age 12 and up. $20-$47; $10 teens. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

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

Rachel Sorsa as Rosemary Clooney. Photo: Dan Carmody / Studio 7

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. CLOSES SUNDAY. At Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Described as a “fresh, personal and poignant” picture of the singer/actor who became a Hollywood legend. Tenderly follows Clooney (1928-2002) from her Kentucky childhood to Tinseltown and beyond, showing the bumps, bruises and successes along the way. The score includes “Come On-a My House,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Hey There,” “Mambo Italiano” and more. The cast: Rachel Sorsa as Clooney and Mark Cabus as the Doctor (and 11 other roles). $30-$46. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. At the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. 

Opening this week

Tess Malis Kincaid

Picnic. OPENS FRIDAY. 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 Burgess, Kara Cantrell, Larry Davis and Shelby Folks. Tess Malis Kincaid directs. $33. Previews Thursday. Through Feb. 18. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 15. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

This weekend only

Michael Kurth

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. Join music director Robert Spano and the ASO for a program comprising Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”; Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1, “Jeremiah”; and the graffiti-inspired Everything Lasts Forever, composed by ASO bassist Michael Kurth. The ASO is joined by Mexico-born pianist Jorge Federico Osorio and American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano. Includes a pre-concert chamber music recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, free for anyone with tickets to either concert. $22-$97. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Last chance

Nia Holloway. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Lion King. CLOSES SUNDAY. Broadway in Atlanta brings Disney’s circle of life back to the Fox Theatre, with a cast of 40-plus breathing life into a lion cub named Simba, strutting giraffes, lumbering elephants, swooping birds and leaping gazelles. The original production, which won six Tony awards, is in its 21st season on Broadway. This is a new North American tour. $39-$169, plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 1.855.285.8499.

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

Still running

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

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, bats, harpy eagles and pink river dolphins. Performed in Czech Black style by puppeteers Brian Harrison, Jake Krakovsky, Emily Marsh, Tim 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.

Next week

Christopher Rex

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. FEB. 1 + 3. Join music director Robert Spano and guest pianist Jorge Federico Osorio for an all-Beethoven concert, featuring the German master’s Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 3. Includes a Christopher Rex Farewell Recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, free for anyone with a ticket for either night. Rex retires this weekend, after spending the past 39 years as the ASO’s leading cellist. He’ll play Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 5 in D Major and Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat (2nd movement). $22-$102. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Lowery Brown. Photo: 7 Stages

** The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae. OPENS FEB. 3. At 7 Stages. The 38-year-old L5P company looks to ancient Greece for its first production of 2018. Euripides’ The Bacchae delves into opposite sides of human nature: the rational, civilized side represented by the king of Thebes (Lowrey Brown) and the instinctive side represented by Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy (Israel’s Ofir Nahari). 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 blind faith, abuse of power and vengeance. Michael Haverty directs. Klimchak, who builds and plays unusual instruments, provides original music, with musical direction by Bryan Mercer, and Nahari choreographing. In the Back Stage Black Box. $15-$25 (Feb. 1 preview is $15). Through Feb. 25. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 5. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. OPENS FEB. 2. At Synchronicity TheatreEdward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china. He is loved by a little girl but has no interest in anyone but himself. He’s accidentally thrown overboard while at sea, and so begins his miraculous journey. This family-friendly adaptation is based on Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 novel. The cast: Josh Brook, Jimmica Collins, Caitlin Hargraves and Justin Walker. Mira Hirsch directs. Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids in pajamas get complimentary milk and cookies. $15-$22. Through Feb. 25. 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. 

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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