Metro theaters go for the bold, ambitious and audacious this winter. It begins with “Angels in America” at Actor’s Express, with (from left) Robert Bryan Davis, Carolyn Cook, Grant Chapman, Parris Sarter, Louis Greggory, Cara Mantella, Joe Sykes, Thandiwe DeShazor. Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.
** Indicates an Encore Atlanta winter season top pick.
Opening this week
The Lion King. OPENS JAN. 10. Broadway in Atlanta brings Disney’s circle of life back to the Fox Theatre for a three-week run. A cast of more than 40 breathes 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. Through Jan. 28. Seats for the first week of the run and weekends are selling well. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1 p.m. Jan 11. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 1.855.285.8499.
The Adventures of Gingerbread Man. CLOSES SUNDAY. The folktales “Hansel and Gretel,” “Androcles and the Lion,” “The Frog Prince” and “The Three Wishes” are told with glove, rod, and hand-and-rod puppets by Atlanta’s All Hands Productions. For ages 4 and up. $11.25-$19.50. 10 + 11:30 a.m. weekdays; 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.
** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. OPENS JAN. 12. In repertory at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling, two-part saga set at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1 is titled Millennium Approaches, Part 2 is titled Perestroika. Kushner’s achievement, one of the landmark theatrical events of the 20th century, 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 Greggory (new spelling), Cara Mantella, Parris Sarter and Joe Sykes. $22-$40. In repertory through Feb. 17, so not both shows are seen every night. 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.
Leonard Bernstein and the Beethoven Seventh. JAN. 11 + 13. Ludwig Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein were lifelong champions of two things: music and liberty. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra celebrates them throughout the 2017/18 season. Join guest conductor Peter Oundjian for the toe-tapping ballet Fancy Free (written when Bernstein was 25 and the basis for On the Town) and for Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the last piece Bernstein conducted before his death in 1990 at age 72. Also on the program: ASO concertmaster David Coucheron performs the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3. $22-$107 (some sections already sold out). 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. PREVIEWS JAN. 11-12. OPENS JAN. 13. At Theatrical Outfit. Philadelphia, 1959. An audience gathers at Emerson’s on the city’s south side to witness, unknowingly, one of legendary singer Billie Holiday’s last solo performances. The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about her down-and-out life and a songlist that features “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen others. Terry Burrell (Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dreamgirls, Into the Woods; the Alliance Theatre’s Ethel) plays Holiday, a role she’s done off-Broadway. $18-$51. Through Feb. 4. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 14, 18, 20-21, 25, 27-28 and Feb. 1, 3, 4. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
The Magic Flute. JAN. 13-14. The Atlanta Opera Studio performs an hourlong version of the Mozart piece about Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue the beautiful Pamina, a story of good and evil and love told with singing actors and puppets. The Studio artists, part of the opera company’s artist-in-residence program, will sing in English. $20. 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday (a 3 p.m. performance is sold out). Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.
** Maytag Virgin. OPENS JAN. 11. A regional premiere at Aurora Theatre. Audrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows Alabama schoolteacher Lizzy Nash (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor, Jack Key (Brad Brinkley), in the year following the unexpected death of Lizzy’s husband. 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. Through Feb. 11. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 16 show sold out. 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.
Native Guard. OPENS JAN. 13. 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 Native Guard — black soldiers fighting for the Union during the Civil War. The twist this time: It’s performed alongside 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. Through Feb. 4. 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.
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. OPENS JAN. 11. At Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Billed as a “fresh, personal and poignant” picture of the singer/actor who became a Hollywood legend. Tenderly follows Clooney (1928-2002) from her childhood in Maysville, Ky., through her girl-singer days and onto 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). James Donadio directs. $30–$46 (previews cheaper). Performed at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Kathleen Battle: Underground Railroad. JAN. 19 ONLY. Join renowned soprano Kathleen Battle, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Morehouse College Glee Club, the Spelman College Glee Club and conductor Chelsea Tipton II to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The evening features spirituals inspired by the journey to freedom along the Underground Railroad. $39. 8 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000. Tickets only at Ticketmaster HERE.