Our number of top picks rockets with the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival, “Between Riverside and Crazy” (True Colors), “Blackberry Daze” (Horizon), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Aurora) and “Little Shop of Horrors” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: TC Carson and Brittany Inge in “Blackberry Daze.” Photo by Greg Mooney.
** Indicates an Encore Atlanta spring/summer season recommendation.
Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival. SUNDAY-TUESDAY. The second annual AMTF introduces three shows — one that eyeballs corrupt politicians (titled Cakewalk), another that flips an Ovid myth upside down (In the Middle of the Ocean) and a third that digs into the biblical stories of Mary of Nazareth (Mother of God). These are works-in-progress, with some more finished than others; you’ll be among the first theatergoers to see them, often with some of Atlanta’s best actors. See In the Middle of the Ocean at 8 p.m. Sunday; Cakewalk at 8 p.m. Monday; and Mother of God at 8 p.m. Tuesday. $15 per show. The fest’s 2017 home base is Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
** Between Riverside and Crazy. THROUGH AUG. 6. The New York Times called this 2015 Pulitzer winner “a dizzying and exciting place to be,” and said that playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis “has a splendid ear in blurring lines between the sacred and profane.” The story: Ex-cop “Pops” Washington (Earl Billings, the AFLAC commercial guy) is trying to hold onto his dignity and one of the last great rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan, but he’s had enough. His wife has died, the liquor store can’t keep pace with his thirst, and his last living relative is complicating everything. Eric J. Little directs. Adult content: Recommended for ages 16 and up. $20-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road. Details HERE. Tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or 877.725.8849.
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.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. THROUGH AUG. 27. Critical and audience response has been nearly rapturous for this musical about a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. The Aurora Theatre season opener is co-produced by Theatrical Outfit. The two previously teamed on In the Heights and Memphis. 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. Also at 10 a.m. Aug. 1 and 15 ($20). The Aug. 22-24 shows are sold out; other performances are selling well, so please check ticket availability 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.)
** Little Shop of Horrors. THROUGH AUG. 29. Actor’s Express has added three Saturday-afternoon performances to its Skid Row-set cult musical about a nebbish botanist, his unrequited love, his cranky boss and a giant, insatiable 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 talented 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. this Saturday and 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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Opening this week
Ada and the Memory Engine. PREVIEWS TONIGHT | OPENS FRIDAY. Essential Theatre begins its 2017 festival with this script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson. Her 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 deemed it an “intelligent play about intelligent historical people that has been crafted by intelligent theater artists for an intelligent audience.” Ashley Anderson is Ada, with Mark Cosby as the supportive, influential Charles Babbage. $15 preview; regularly $20-$25. In repertory through Aug. 27. Details HERE, tickets HERE. At the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. CLOSES SUNDAY. At the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Two pairs of lovers (one requited, one not so much) and a ragtag group of thespians find themselves lost in the woods as quarreling leaders turn a fairy kingdom on its head. With Kenneth Wigley as Theseus and Oberon, Dani Herd as Hippolyta and Titania, and Charlie T. Thomas as Bottom. What fools these mortals be! Pub menu and beverages available. $15-$39. 7:30 tonight-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299.
Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. CLOSES SATURDAY. Georgia Ensemble Theatre and the Chattahoochee Nature Center partner for a concert version of the 2006 Broadway tuner, which tells the story of the Man in Black through more than 20 of his hits, including “A Boy Named Sue,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and “I Walk the Line.” The concert reunites Chris Damiano and Christopher Kent (GET’s Million Dollar Quartet) and includes Scott DePoy, Laura Lindahl and Mark Schroeder. Picnicking allowed; cash bar on-site. $15 general admission lawn seats; $30 reserved pavilion table. 8 tonight-Saturday. Nature Center opens at 6:30 p.m. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.
Annie Get Your Gun. THROUGH AUG. 6. At Stage Door Players. Irving Berlin’s valentine to show biz tells the tale of sharpshooting rivals Annie Oakley (Paige Mattox) and Frank Butler (Bryant Smith) with a million-dollar score — “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Lost in His Arms,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “Anything You Can Do” and, of course, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The 1946 Broadway original, starring the legendary Ethel Merman, ran three years. $15-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.
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.
Cabaret. OPENS AUG. 3. It’s 1931 Berlin and the Nazis are beginning to take power. The setting at Serenbe Playhouse: Outdoors, of course, in and around the seedy Kit Kat Klub, where a young American writer pursues English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Molly Tynes) and everything is overseen by the 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 costs extra. Through Aug. 27. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 9110 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110.
Outlying Islands. TUESDAY ONLY. A staged reading by Atlanta’s Celtic-themed Arís Theatre. Scottish playwright David Greig’s script is inspired by events that took place on Gruinard Island off the west coast of Scotland in August 1939, on the eve of World War II. What happened — the testing of biological weapons — wasn’t declassified until 1997. $10; $7.50 students. 7:30 p.m. Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University. 1700 N. Decatur Road. Details, tickets HERE.
Space Girl. PREVIEWS AUG. 10 | OPENS AUG. 11. World premiere from the Weird Sisters Theatre Project. Arugula just wants to fit in, but it’s not easy when you’re a teenage alien from the planet Zlagdor. In an alien 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. Julie 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.