“The Christians” (Actor’s Express) and “Bengal Tiger” (7 Stages) open this week. Other top picks: “Burnpile” (Aurora) and “Shakespeare in Love” (Alliance). Pictured: Thomas Azar as Will Shakespeare and Bethany Anne Lind as Viola. Photo by Greg Mooney
** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season recommendation.
AJFF Selects: The Lavender Scare. 7 tonight. This 77-minute documentary provides the first in-depth account of a Cold War campaign to purge homosexuals from the federal government. Directed by Josh Howard, an Emmy Award-winning “60 Minutes” producer, it captures the outrage and activism that helped ignite the modern gay rights movement. Howard will attend the screening. (Note: The play Perfect Arrangement, by Atlanta’s Topher Payne, looks at the same era and runs Feb. 22-March 11 at Theatrical Outfit.) The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival co-presents this 2017 docu with Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival. $15; $30 VIP (includes a chance to meet Howard at a post-screening reception at Apres Diem, a ticket for one drink and light appetizers). Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.701.6104.
** The Christians. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS SATURDAY. This 2014 script by Lucas Hnath (Broadway’s A Doll’s House, Part 2) asks how far you’ll go for something to believe in. Actor’s Express calls it “a provocative excavation of modern faith.” The setting is a megachurch that’s rocked when its pastor discards fundamentalist Christianity in favor of something more inclusive. Director Freddie Ashley’s cast is led by Brian Kurlander and Enoch King. Expect to hear church choirs, too. $20 previews; $40 opening night; regularly $28 (subject to change). Through Oct. 15. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. CLOSES SUNDAY. This Theatrical Outfit / Aurora Theatre co-production finishes its run downtown at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The Alan Menken-Stephen Schwartz-scored show is based on the Victor Hugo novel and the 1996 Disney movie, and follows a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. Haden Rider returns as Quasimodo and Julissa Sabino as Esmeralda. $18-$51 (subject to change). 11 a.m. + 7:30 p.m. today; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 80 Forsyth St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.
** Shakespeare in Love. THROUGH SEPT. 24. The Alliance Theatre‘s fall opener features a reunion of some of the most talented folks from the late, lamented Georgia Shakespeare, including artistic director Richard Garner. He directs this love letter to the bard, based on the 1998 film that won seven Academy Awards, including best picture. Young Will Shakespeare (Thomas Azar) has writer’s block as the deadline for his new play looms. Enter his muse, Viola (Bethany Anne Lind). The 23-member cast includes such former Georgia Shakes regulars as Barrett Doyle, Allan Edwards, Neal A. Ghant, Chris Kayser, Tess Malis Kincaid, Joe Knezevich and Lind. $10-$75. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday (no 8 p.m. show Sept. 24). Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up. THROUGH OCT. 1. A lecherous goat, Pentecostals on the radio, a clutter of in-bred cats, phone calls from death row and Daddy’s burnpile are among the elements in this Southern coming-of-age tale from Lucy Alibar, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Atlanta actor Taylor M. Dooley, a Dad’s Garage regular seen too infrequently on other stages, is the sole cast member. Part of Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab Series. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 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.
Opening this week
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. PREVIEWS TONIGHT | OPENS FRIDAY. 7 Stages begins its season with this Pulitzer-nominated drama from playwright Rajiv Joseph (Gruesome Playground Injuries). The lives of two U.S. Marines and their Iraqi translator are irrevocably changed when they meet a tiger who haunts Baghdad’s rubble-strewn streets. Co-artistic director Michael Haverty directs a cast that features Kevin Stillwell as the Tiger and includes Paris Benjamin, Marium Khalid, Rudy Roushdi, Joe Sykes, Markell Williams and Sam Younis. The drama had a limited run on Broadway in 2011 with Robin Williams as the tiger. $22 and up. Through Oct. 8. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday (no show Sept. 17). Additional show at 8 p.m. Sept. 18. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.
Once on This Island. OPENS TONIGHT. Georgia Ensemble Theatre begins its 25th season with this 1991 musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Anastasia). It’s a beautifully told story of life, pain, love, grief, faith, hope and buoyant Caribbean rhythms. One stormy night on an island in the French Antilles, the cracking thunder makes a small girl cry. To comfort her, the village storytellers share the tale of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with a grand homme. Nominated for eight 1991 Tony awards, including best musical. Ricardo Aponte directs and choreographs. $33-$43. Through Oct. 1. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No 4 p.m. show Sept. 16. GET performs at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Closing this week
Mother Goose. CLOSES SUNDAY. In this Center for Puppetry Arts staging, audience members must sing, wiggle and clap to help Mary Mary (Jimmica Collins) find a missing Mother Goose. All the citizens of Rhymeville are also on the case, including Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, and both Jack and Jill. For ages 2 and up. Uses hand-and-rod, rod and glove puppets. $19.50. 10 + 11 a.m. today-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.
The Taming of the Shrew. CLOSES SUNDAY. The untamed, unwed Katherine is wooed for convenience by the charismatic but bawdy bachelor Petruchio in one of Shakespeare’s best-known comedies. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse regulars Dani Herd and Matt Nitchie play the warring duo. Pub menu and libations available. $22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0. Discount gift cards at PoshDealz.com.
Wicket. THROUGH OCT. 7. World premiere. Many Bothans died in the making of this musical parody, say the folks at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company. Wicket tells the classic Star Wars tale from the Ewoks’ perspective, which means they’ll sing, dance and share the true story of life inside the Galactic Federation. Not recommended for anyone not old enough for adult humor and anyone who doesn’t enjoy it. Kennesaw State’s Rick Lombardo (Little Shop of Horrors at Actor’s Express) directs, with script & lyrics by Travis Sharp and score & lyrics by Haddon Kime. $12.50-$29.50 (always cheapest online). 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 569 Ezzard St. SE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.3141. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
** Abigail/1702. SEPT. 21-OCT. 15. Aurora Theatre catches up with the evil Abigail Williams from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Ten years later she’s haunted by the lives she ruined and the blood on her hands. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s 2012 script finds her in Boston, seeking salvation. To her, forgiveness is everything, but it might come at an unthinkable price. Justin Anderson directs a cast led by Diany Rodriguez. You may know Aguirre-Sacasa from Say You Love Satan (Dad’s Garage, 2001), Weird Comic Book Fantasy (Dad’s, 2003) and Good Boys and True (Actor’s Express, 2010). This 90-minute drama has no intermission and contains mature themes. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. $20-$55. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. SEPT. 21 + 23. Music director Robert Spano and the ASO begin a new season with An American in Paris, George Gershwin’s postcard from France. The swinging showpiece, which inspired the Academy Award-winning film and recent Broadway musical, caps a night of American music. The program includes “A Thousand Words” by ASO bassist Michael Kurth; and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, an Atlanta favorite, who solos in Bernstein’s jazz-inspired Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety. $32-$113. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
** Project Dawn. SEPT. 22-OCT. 29. At Horizon Theatre. Audiences will be on both sides of the judicial system in this fact-based story about an innovative program dedicated to rehabilitating sex workers, not punishing them. Seven actors double as victims/participants and court staff. Artistic director Lisa Adler leads a cast of familiar Atlanta faces (Lane Carlock, Carolyn Cook, Marianne Fraulo, Maria Rodriguez-Sager, Bobbi Lynne Scott) and some that will be familiar soon Synchronicity’s Eclipsed; Brooke Owens, Synchronicity’s Anne Boleyn; and Christy Clark, Horizon’s Blackberry Daze). This National New Play Network rolling world premiere was written by Karen Hartman, who used a revolutionary Philadelphia court as the basis for her script. Her drama tests the thin lines between freedom and slavery, and activism and obsession. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. $25 and up. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.
** Sense and Sensibility. SEPT. 22-OCT. 15. A regional premiere at Synchronicity Theatre. Jane Austen can be fun! Just ask playwright Kate Hamill. Her 2014 adaptation of the beloved novel ratchets up the energy level, using inventive staging and a cast of 10 to play the Dashwoods, the Ferrars and a busy bunch of gossips that show just how the very private worlds of Georgian-era Brits lacked privacy. Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout calls it “a version so full of galloping comic vitality as to suggest a bunch of stupendously clever kids playing dress-up in the nursery.” Artistic director Rachel May directs an athletic cast led by Shelli Delgado as Elinor Dashwood, Jennifer Schottstaedt as Marianne Dashwood, Justin Walker as Edward Ferrars and Bryant Smith as Col. Brandon. One Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. $30. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.
The Seven Deadly Sins. OPENS SEPT. 28. The Atlanta Opera begins its season with an intimate cabaret experience that looks at the duality of the character(s), Anna I and Anna II, two sides of the same woman. She embarks on a seven-city pursuit of the American Dream, uncovering each of the seven deadly sins along the way: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. The Kurt Weill–Bertolt Brecht piece was first performed in 1933. Serenbe Playhouse Artistic Director Brian Clowdus directs his first opera; Rolando Salazar conducts. $50 all seats. Through Oct. 6. Note: Sept. 28, 30 and Oct. 6 performances are sold out. Remaining shows: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 3-5; 3 p.m. Oct. 1. Performed at Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce as part of the opera’s Discoveries series, 716 Ponce de Leon Place NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.
** The King and I. SEPT. 26-OCT. 1. At the Fox Theatre. East meets West — and they don’t always get on nicely — in what is, by all accounts, a definitive version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. This production comes from Lincoln Center and director Bartlett Sher, both responsible for the wonderfully inventive, picture-perfect South Pacific that played the Fox in 2010. If you need a refresher, The King and I takes place in the 1860s, when the King of Siam hires an English schoolteacher to tutor his wives and children. There’s an undeniable emotional and intellectual attraction between them; a slave girl from Burma (Tuptim) and her forbidden lover (Lun Tha) have the primary romance, with the King’s favorite wife (Lady Thiang) also playing a key role. The score includes “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “A Puzzlement,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful” and “Shall We Dance,” among others. 660 Peachtree St. NE. $30-$135. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.