Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and beyond? Here are Encore Atlanta’s recommendations (in alphabetical order). Pictured: Craig Waldrip as Molina and Bryant Smith as Valentin in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” at Actor’s Express. Photo: Offhand Photography.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). CLOSING WEEKEND. An irreverent, hilarious, high-speed romp through all 37 of the bard’s plays (and 154 sonnets) in two hours. Othello goes hip-hop, Titus Andronicus becomes a cooking show, and 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. And you can always buy a pint at the bar. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. $12-$16. Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, 499 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299. For discount cards, good for tickets, food and drink, visit PoshDealz.com.

The King and I. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most sumptuous musical comes to the Fox Theatre via Theater of the Stars. Both passion and politics are in play when British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens travels to 1860s Siam (now Thailand) to teach the King’s children. Based on the memoirs of the real-life Anna. The show won five 1952 Tony Awards, including best musical, and is just as timeless as ever. The score includes “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “Shall We Dance” and many others. The TOTS cast is led by Victoria Mallory as Anna and Ronobir Lahiri as the King. Sept. 5-11. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday. $23-$58. 660 Peachtree St. N.E. Tickets, details HERE or at 1.800.ATL.TIXX. For ticket discounts that include a gift card to the Terrace restaurant, visit PoshDealz.com. Did you know The King and I almost never happened? STORY HERE.

Kiss of the Spider Woman. Actor’s Express opens its 2012-13 season with this musical thriller from Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) based on the Manuel Puig novel and the 1985 movie of the same name. It tells the story of Valentin and Molina, a Marxist revolutionary and a gay window dresser, respectively, who develop an uneasy friendship rooted in surviving life in a Latin American prison. Directed by Express Artistic Director Freddie Ashley. The critics: “Mr. Ashley does a fine job of steering a large, energetic cast and turns Spider Woman into an exotic, ultimately moving evening of musical theater” (Atlanta INtown); “One of the theater’s strongest productions in recent history” (AtlantaTheaterFans.com). The show won seven 1993 Tony Awards including best musical. Through Oct. 7. 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. Theatrical Outfit opens its season with this coming-of-age story about art, family and religion in post-WWII Brooklyn. The critics: “Brilliant … riveting … revelatory,” says AtlantaTheater Fans.com; “Nick Arapoglou plays so effectively against type it’s as though he’s been replaced by his own evil twin,” says Curt Holman, Creative Loafing; “Played by a top-notch cast … Arapoglou’s energy and charisma is undeniable,” says Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The cast — Arapoglou, Lane Carlock and Brian Kurlander — plays a total of eight characters. Directed by Mira Hirsch (of the former Jewish Theatre of the South). $15-$40. Through Sept. 16. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 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. NOTE: See scenes from Asher Lev, based on the Chaim Potok novel, at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Decatur Book Festival (Decatur Library,  215 Sycamore St.). The free event includes a discussion with the cast and members of Atlanta’s visual arts and Jewish communities. Get up close and personal with Kurlander HERE.

Our Town. 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. A dedicated cast gets all the big and small moments right in a space that could treat them more kindly. Actor-about-town Bill Murphey makes his directorial debut. $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 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.

Sweet Charity. FINAL WEEK. 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). On the minus: 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. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $25-$35. 153 Crogan St., Lawrenceville (free parking deck attached to theater). Tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.

The Tranquil Tortoise and the Hoppity Hare. ONE WEEK ONLY. The Alliance Theatre invites those age 5 and younger (and their grown-ups) to this piece about the famous race. The audience is invited into the center of the track to experience the action all around them. Told with dance, movement, music and storytelling. Sept. 4-8. 9:30 and 11 a.m. In the Hertz Stage. $10. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Tickets, details at 404.733.5000.


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 “Our Town” 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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