Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and beyond? Here are Encore Atlanta’s recommendations (in alphabetical order). Pictured: The cast of  “My Name Is Asher Lev” at Theatrical Outfit (from left) Nick Arapoglou, Lane Carlock and Brian Kurlander. Photo by Josh Lamkin.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). An irreverent, hilarious, high-speed romp through all 37 of the bard’s plays (and 154 sonnets) in only two hours. Othello goes hip-hop, Titus Andronicus becomes a cooking show, and all the histories are performed as a football game. A little Shakespeare knowledge doesn’t hurt, but it’s not essential. You’ll still have a good time. The athletic cast (pictured, from left): Nicholas Faircloth, Matt Felton and Daniel Parvis. Through Sept. 2. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. $12-$16. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, 499 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.

Kiss of the Spider Woman. OPENING THIS WEEKEND. Actor’s Express begins its 2012-13 season with this Kander and Ebb musical, based on the Manuel Puig novel and the 1985 movie of the same name. It tells the story of Valentin, a Marxist revolutionary, and Molina, a gay window dresser, who develop an uneasy friendship rooted in surviving life in a Latin American prison. As the bond between them deepens, the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Winner of seven 1993 Tony Awards including best musical and one for leading lady Chita Rivera. Through Oct. 7. Previews at 8 p.m. Aug. 23-24 ($15); opening night with reception at 8 p.m. Aug. 25 ($40). Regular performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $26-$47, plus tax (tickets are $2 cheaper when purchased online). 887 W. Marietta St. in the King Plow Arts Center. Tickets, details HERE or at 404.607.7469. For  discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.

My Name Is Asher Lev. OPENING WEEKEND. Theatrical Outfit opens its season with this coming-of-age story that explores art, family and religion. Asher, who has a prodigious artistic ability, is driven to draw and paint the world as he sees it. But he was born into a Hasidic Jewish family in post-World War II Brooklyn, and his artistic genius seems to threaten his parents and his community. The cast: Nick Arapoglou, Lane Carlock and Brian Kurlander. Directed by Mira Hirsch. $15-$40. Through Sept. 16. Previews at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23-24 ($20). Opens at 7:30 p.m. Aug 25 ($35). 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. Information at 678.528.1500. Tickets HERE or at 1.877.725.8849.

Our Town. OPENING WEEKEND. Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama — one of the great American plays — explores life, marriage and death in Grover’s Corners, N.H., in the early 1900s. It’s really about the everlasting regret of all those moments in life that go unappreciated, even if appreciating every one is impossible. Directed by Bill Murphey. $16-$20, plus fees. Through Sept. 16. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 5 p.m. Sunday. Note: The Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 shows begin at 8:30 p.m. There is a 2 p.m. matinee on Sept. 15. The Renaissance Project, 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway, H.F. Shepherd Multi-Plex, Building F, Decatur. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.250.4800.

Private Eyes. CLOSING WEEKEND. The Fern Theatre, one of Atlanta’s newer professional companies, stages Steven Dietz’s quirky romantic comedy about jealousy and revenge, and truth and reality and marital fidelity. $20. 8 p.m. Aug. 23-25. 7 Stages BackStage Theater, 1105 Euclid Ave. N.E. in the Little Five Points neighborhood. Details, tickets HERE.

Sweet Charity. Aurora Theatre‘s nine-actor staging of this 1960s musical has earned mixed reviews. On the plus side: the cast (“fills the stage with the excitement and zeal of one five times its size” — AtlantaTheaterFans.com) and the score ( “Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “The Rhythm of Life,” “I Love to Cry at Weddings”). On the minus side: the script (“fractured storytelling and underdeveloped themes” — AtlantaTheatreFans.com).  Creative Loafing’s Curt Holman summed it up this way: “Aurora Theatre brings an enormous level of energy and invention to its production without resolving some of its internal contradictions and dated qualities.” Musical theater fans still will be happy to see this seldom-staged Neil Simon-Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields effort. Directed by former Atlantan Sean Daniels, co-founder of Dad’s Garage Theatre Company. Through Sept. 2. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Discount matinee at 10 a.m. Aug. 22 ($16). Regularly $25-$35. 153 Crogan St., Lawrenceville (free parking deck attached to theater). Tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.

Time Stands Still. SNEAK PEEK. Horizon Theatre invites you to see a few scenes from its upcoming production and chat with the actors, designers and directors. This is the Southeastern premiere of  Donald Margulies’ 2010 Broadway hit about a photojournalist (Carolyn Cook) and foreign correspondent (Chris Kayser) who’ve been together for years, but must focus on themselves when they take a break from the roadside bombs. A Tony Award nominee for best play. With Robin Bloodworth and Ann Marie Gideon. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28. Free but reservations are strongly suggested. Note: The production opens Sept. 14 and runs through Oct. 14 (tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450). 1083 Austin Ave. N.E., at Euclid Avenue.

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, covering or working in the performing arts for most of her life. Full disclosure: She is affiliated with the “Our Town” staging listed above. Please email: kathy@atlantametropub.com.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich 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.

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