The Alliance Theatre returns to the Woodruff Arts Center in 2018/19 (mostly), throwing itself and its audiences an ambitious 12-show birthday party.

 

THE ALLIANCE THEATRE christens its brand-spanking-new mainstage in 2018/19 with five world premieres, two regional premieres, new work from Atlanta artists Pearl Cleage, Phillip DePoy and Mary Lynn Owen, and a piece by Faith Salie of National Public Radio and “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

The Alliance, which turns 50 next season, has produced 110 world premieres since its founding in 1968, becoming a heavyweight in the world of American regional theater and winning the regional theater Tony Award in 2007. Susan V. Booth has led the company as artistic director since 2001.

“The best part of theater, I’ve always thought,” Booth said in a statement, “is the living and breathing pulse it gives to human language, the elevation of the spoken word to an art form, and the pure wonder that a mere mortal can say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.”

After a season on the road to allow for renovations, the company returns to its Midtown home at the Woodruff Arts Center. The new 650-seat Coca-Cola Stage opens in October with  events for subscribers, patrons, artists and the community, and sees its first production in January. It has been redesigned to upgrade the theatergoing experience for patrons by creating a more intimate, comfortable and sound-sensitive space (the old mainstage seated 770). The renovation project included upgrades to rehearsal, education and artist support spaces. The 200-seat Hertz Stage, a flexible black-box space, received technical upgrades.

Susan V. Booth

In January, the Coca-Cola Stage debuts with the musical Ever After, based on the 1998 movie with Drew Barrymore. The score comes from the award-winning songwriting team of Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler. Booth will direct, with JoAnn M. Hunter choreographing.

The Coca-Cola stage will see three productions and the Hertz Stage will see four, including the 2019 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. One show will be done outdoors at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Christmas Carol returns to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season and all three Family Series shows will be done at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Theatre.

Season tickets are on sale now as are single tickets for Winnie-the-Pooh. Single tickets for the rest of the season go on sale in August.  Details, tickets HERE.

In chronological order, the 12-show season lines up like this:

June

WINNIE-THE-POOH   |  June 7-July 8. Rich Theatre. Family Series. Journey through the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh Bear, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kango, Roo and Owl, as each of their adventures turns into another. Le Clanché du Rand wrote the script, with music by Allan J. Friedman and lyrics by A.A. Milne, Kristin Sergel and du Rand. Leora Morris, the Alliance’s 2016/17 Yale Directing Fellow, directs. The exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic runs concurrently (June 3-Sept. 2) at the High Museum of Art, in its first U.S. visit. Show details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[POOH BECOMES 4th FAMILY-CENTERED PARTNERSHIP FOR ALLIANCE, HIGH MUSEUM]

September-October

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM  |  Sept. 5-Oct. 21. Atlanta Botanical Garden. A world premiere adaptation from David Catlin of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company (Lookingglass Alice, Moby Dick). Described as a whimsical, outdoor version of the Shakespeare comedy, in which two couples deal with love and all its complications — confusion, jealousy and passion. On their journey to happily ever after, the lovers encounter a band of actors, wood sprites and elves, a botched love potion and the wedding of a king. Catlin directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

NICK’S FLAMINGO GRILL   |  Sept. 29-Oct. 28. Hertz Stage. A world premiere musical by actor, playwright, director, musician, composer, novelist and educator Phillip DePoy (2015’s Edward Foote). Inspired by the true story of the first integrated nightclub in Atlanta and featuring 10 original jazz songs (by DePoy and Tyrone Jackson). The story: Two World War II ex-GIs have become jazz musicians and found great success in the nightclubs of Paris. This convinces them that their mixed-race act will be a hit in the States, too. So they return home, to 1950s Georgia. Tinashe Kajese-Bolden (Synchronicity Theatre’s Suzi Bass Award-winning Eclipsed) directs, with musical direction by Jackson. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

PAIGE IN FULL   Oct. 6-13. Rich Theatre. Family Series. This piece for middle-school audiences, first seen in 2010, uses poetry, dance, media and music to tell the story of a multicultural girl and her journey through hip-hop to self-discovery. Paige in Full looks at how ethnicity and pop culture shape our identities, in what’s described as a “personal, yet universal story.” Written and choreographed by Paige Hernandez. Hernandez — a multidisciplinary performer, director, choreographer — has been named a Classroom Hero by The Huffington Post, a Citizen Artist Fellow by the Kennedy Center and one of “Six Theater Workers You Should Know” in American Theatre magazine. Hernandez and the Alliance’s Rosemary Newcott direct. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

November-December

KNEAD   |   Nov. 13-Dec. 9. Hertz Stage. This world premiere, written by and featuring Atlanta theater artist Mary Lynn Owen, was developed through the Alliance’s third Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab, which provides a producing home for works in development. The story: In the wee hours of the morning, a woman bakes bread, determined that her mother’s incomprehensible recipe will finally work. But something is different on this night. Time and memory keep interfering — the kneading, rising, shaping and baking, all in real time — become a journey into the unpredictability of, well, just about everything. Owen, who has been seen on most, if not all, metro stages, is a 2016 Suzi Award-winning best actress for her work in Aurora Theatre’s Wit. Atlanta-based artist David de Vries directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL     Dec. 12-24. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. This is the Alliance’s traditional musical, multicultural adaptation from David H. Bell, the company’s associate artistic director in its Kenny Leon years. As you might well know, it’s Christmas Eve, and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by four ghosts — his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. He gets one last chance to reshape his future. Newcott directs. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

January-February

EVER AFTER   Jan. 19-Feb. 17. Coca-Cola Stage. A new take on the Cinderella legend, based on the 1998 feature film (and the original 1729 fairy tale). Follow a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac, who risks everything to save a friend from an unjust fate. 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. In its 2015 world premiere run at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., critics praised Ever After for its score but were less enthusiastic about the script. At the time, there was speculation of a Broadway run, which hasn’t happened yet. Creators Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics) and Zina Goldrich (composer) have been collaborating since 1993. Among other honors, they were the first women to win the Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriting. Their other projects include Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School and Dear Edwina (both off-Broadway); The Great American Mousical, based on the best-selling book by Julie Andrews (Goodspeed Opera House); and Snow White Rose Red (and Fred) at the Kennedy Center. Goldrich and Heisler are also performing and recording artists. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

February-March

GOODNIGHT, TYLER    Feb. 16-March 10. Hertz Stage. This world premiere by Northwestern University’s B.J. Tindal is the 2019 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. “Who was Tyler Evans?,” it asks. Apparently, he was either a beloved best friend, grandson, mentor and fiancé, or a young black man killed by a police officer. To control the contradicting narratives of his death, Tyler haunts his best friend as other friends and relatives quibble over his legacy. The Alliance describes Goodnight, Tyler as a “contemporary and unexpectedly humorous drama.” Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

March-April

THE WIZARD OF OZ  |  March 9-April 14. Rich Theatre. Family Series. The Alliance first told this 70-minute, family-friendly version of L. Frank Baum’s Oz tale in 2012. It includes such iconic Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg songs as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” as well as puppetry and a whimsical nod to American folk art in its design and costumes. Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

ANGRY, RAUCOUS AND SHAMELESSLY GORGEOUS   |   March 20-April 14. Coca-Cola Stage. World premiere. Much-loved Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage draws on a life of art and activism to probe today’s political landscape. The story: Two former activists set out to find a candidate they can back in an upcoming congressional race and find a political landscape quite different from the one they knew in their 1970s glory days. The wave of womanpower draws them back to the fight but seems a strange place — long on contradictions and short on sisterhood — which makes them question their values and a friendship that has lasted 30 years. Booth directs. Cleage’s Hospice + Pointing to the Moon, an Alliance production being staged at the Southwest Arts Center, began previews Friday. The two-person drama about family runs through  April 15. Angry, Raucous details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[READ: HOSPICE + POINTING TO THE MOON FEATURES A-LIST ACTORS TERRY BURRELL, TINASHE KAJESE]

April

APPROVAL JUNKIE   |  April 5-28. Hertz Stage. World premiere. Written by and featuring Faith Salie. Salie, a comedian and Emmy Award-winning journalist, returns to Georgia to adapt her memoir into a  one-woman show. From winning her high-school beauty pageant to choosing the perfect outfit for her divorce, she has spent a lifetime looking for validation in all the wrong places. Here she  reveals how she finally won gold stars from her toughest critic. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

May

RIDE THE CYCLONE    |  May 1-26. Coca-Cola Stage. A regional premiere musical from the Canadian team of Brooke Maxwell (music and lyrics) and Jacob Richmond (music, lyrics and book). The story: The St. Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17 p.m. At 8:19 the front axle will break, sending them to their deaths. A mechanical fortuneteller invites each one of the six singers to tell their story of a life interrupted — with the promise of a prize like no other. Ride the Cyclone began life in 2009 at Atomic Vaudeville in Victoria, British Columbia, and went on to win three Toronto Theatre Critics awards (2012) and make its American premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (2015). New York Times critic Charles Isherwood listed the 2016 off-Broadway production among his Top 10 shows of the year, calling it “just plain fun from start to finish … wildly original … [and] part comedy, part tragedy and wholly unexpected.” Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

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