Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and beyond? Our list of top picks includes Jonida Beqo’s autobiographical “Harabel: A Sparrow Over a Minefield” (pictured) at Theater Emory. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus.
Harabel: A Sparrow Over a Minefield. 7 TONIGHT! This one-woman triumph received its world premiere at Theatrical Outfit last season and returned for an encore run this season. Here’s another chance to catch one of Atlanta theater’s don’t-miss events (a description often handed out too easily but richly deserved here). This autobiographical piece, written and performed in stunning fashion by Jonida Beqo (Yo-NEE-duh BAY-chow), is told in poetic snapshots that follow her journey from Albanian refugee to American citizen. Justin Anderson directs. The critics: “Harabel is like discovering a stash of poems by an unknown genius. [Beqo] is both a blazing performer and writer with an uncommonly fine ear for language” (Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). FREE! Reservations required. Theater Emory’s Munroe Theatre in the Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle on the Emory University campus. Reserve tickets at 404.727.5050.
Six Degrees of Separation. THROUGH FEB. 9. A young man named Paul artfully cons himself into the lives of New York’s bourgeois by claiming to know a wealthy couple’s children and that he’s the son of Sidney Poitier. How will this charade play out? Deliciously and provocatively in another fine staging from Actor’s Express, which is having its best season in recent memory. John Guare’s piece won London’s 1993 Olivier Award for best play and the 1991 New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The large cast includes Jason-Jamal Ligon as Paul and Mary Lynn Owen, among others. The critics: “A smartly paced, witty, often thought-provoking, often scorchingly satiric show” (Andrew Alexander, ArtsATL.com); “Director Freddie Ashley’s chic Express staging is [mostly] a resounding success, briskly paced and smoothly orchestrated. It’s mainly left to Owen’s Ouisa to negotiate the play’s deepest concerns, and she does so with delicate skill” (Bert Osborne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Note: Show contains nudity and adult content. $15-$40 plus fees (buy online and save). 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 887 W. Marietta St. Note: The new King Plow Arts Center parking lot is open; it’ll now cost you $5 to park. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.SHOW. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com. (Pictured: Ligon and Owen. Photo by Jenny Hofstetter Photography)
OPENING THIS WEEKEND
The Geller Girls. THROUGH FEB. 9. This world premiere by Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer (He Looks Great in a Hat, Bluish, Managing Maxine, Broke) is in the first weekend of its run. The romantic comedy revisits 1895 Atlanta and the Cotton States and International Exposition, a time during which young sisters Rosalee and Louisa Geller find their hometown full of optimism and opportunity. $30-$65. Schedule varies, details HERE. Woodruff Arts Center, Alliance mainstage, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. For more with the playwright, see this ENCORE FEATURE.
On Golden Pond. OPENS FRIDAY | THROUGH FEB. 16. Theo Harness and Jackie Prucha, (two Atlanta actors we don’t see enough of), play the bickering Thayers spending a summer at their lake home, facing the vagaries of age and a generation gap. Kelly Criss (Weird Sisters Theatre Project) directs. $22-$27; $12 under age 12. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Stage Door Players, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE or at 770.396.1726. Tickets HERE. (Pictured: Harness and Prucha)
The Only Light in Reno. THROUGH SUNDAY. World premiere. Atlanta playwright Topher Payne (Swell Party, Angry Fags) returns to Georgia Ensemble Theatre with this trippy trip back in time. It’s August 1960 and 106 degrees in Reno, where filming on the movie The Misfits is hopelessly behind schedule. Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift are playing board games with an accused murderess, and Marilyn Monroe is locked in the bathroom. See what happened when Hollywood came to “The Biggest Little City in the World.” The critics: “The match of writer to outrageous subject is so deliciously fitting. … Fans of Payne — or Monroe, Taylor and Clift — will find plenty to enjoy here” (Andrew Alexander, ArtsATL.com); “Not much happens in Reno. But it sure makes a delicious setup for a nonstop catfight. … The problem is that Payne can’t seem to leave anything out” (Wendell Brock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). $10-$33. 8 tonight-Friday; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
THIS WEEKEND ONLY
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. TONIGHT | SATURDAY | SUNDAY. Multifaceted, multitalented pianist Wu Han, Musical America’s 2012 Musician of the Year, joins the ASO for Britten’s only piano concerto. Maestro Robert Spano conducts Berlioz’s semi-autobiographical tale of love found and lost, the colorful Symphonie fantastique. $24-$75. 8 tonight, 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
The Cat in the Hat. 10 AND 11 A.M. SATURDAY. Aurora Theatre’s Learning Library goes Seussian for this family favorite. From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that the Cat in the Hat is the most mischievous feline they’ve ever met. He turns a rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure, but what’ll happen when Mom comes home? The eight-member cast is led by Bryan Brendle, the cat in the hat. $7. Also at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 and Feb. 10. Aurora Theatre, 129 East Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered and attached parking available in city of Lawrenceville deck at 153 Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or 678.226.6222.
Lombardi. THROUGH FEB. 9. The Super Bowl trophy is named for him, but few know the real story of iconic Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi — his inspirations, his passions and his ability to drive people to achieve what they never thought possible. Diligent young reporter Michael McCormick takes us inside the life of the giant in this Aurora Theatre production. Recent Suzi Award winner Justin Anderson directs. Cast: Bart Hansard as Lombardi; Carolyn Cook as his wife, Marie; Christopher Moses as McCormick; John Stewart as Dave Robinson; Brody Wellmaker as Paul Hornung; and Jacob York as Jim Taylor. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Additional show at 10 a.m. Feb. 5 ($16); no evening show that night. Note: This show is selling well, so check ticket availability before heading to the theater. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered and attached parking available in city of Lawrenceville deck at 153 Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com. (Pictured: Cook and Hansard as Marie and Vince Lombardi. Photo by Chris Bartelski)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. JAN. 30-31 | FEB. 1. Guest conductor Roberto Abbado leads the orchestra in Mussorgsky’s Prelude to Khovanshchina, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, the latter with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist. $24-$75. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
The Book of Mormon. JAN. 28-FEB. 9. Broadway in Atlanta presents the irreverent, multi-award- winning musical juggernaut about two young elders’ mission to Uganda. Ben Brantley of The New York Times calls it “the best musical of this century.” Entertainment Weekly calls it “the funniest musical of all time.” The show from “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, nearing its third anniversary on Broadway, makes its first stop in Atlanta. It won nine 2011 Tony awards, including best musical. $40-$145. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE. For more on Book of Mormon, see this ENCORE FEATURE. (Also: See CRUSH item below.)
Brave New Works. JAN. 30-FEB. 15. The Playwriting Center of Theater Emory celebrates new plays with this free festival of readings and workshops. All events begin at 7 p.m. The schedule: Jan. 30 — Selections from In Love and Warcraft and other new work by Madhuri Shekar, the 2014 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition; Feb. 1 — The Bitch of Balaclava by Patricia Henritze, about Florence Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War; Feb. 6 — Selections from A Work of Pure Fiction and Total Power Exchange by Edith Freni; Feb. 7 — A reading of Native Guard by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey; Feb. 13 — Selections from An Elaborate System of Ropes and Pulleys and other new work by Jeff J. Peterson; and Feb. 15 — The Sapelo Project, curated by Josiah Watts and directed by Janice Akers, using music, movement, spoken word, acting and video to celebrate Sapelo Island’s rich culture and oral history. Free. Reservations required (call 404.727.5050). Emory University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, 1700 North Decatur Road. Details HERE.
CRUSH: A Valentine to the ’90s. FEB. 3 ONLY. Excited about The Book of Mormon coming to town? Now there’s even more reason. TheBestArts.com will present cast members in a one-night-only cabaret event to benefit Project Open Hand and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. More than 20 singers, dancers and actors will showcase their talents, backed by a live band. Includes a cash bar. $50; $100 VIP (includes pre-show reception with the show’s leading performers). 6:30 p.m. silent auction with Mormon memorabilia; 7:30 p.m. show. A live auction mid-show will let audience members bid for a chance to join the company backstage at the Fox Theatre, where Book of Mormon will play. 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. N.E. in Midtown. Tickets HERE.
Off the EDGE. JAN. 31 | FEB. 1. The Rialto Center for the Arts and Kennesaw State University partner to bring some of the world’s most innovative dance companies to town. Friday’s performance includes Dance Heginbotham of New York, Wayne McGregor Random Dance of London, Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi and Compagnie Käfig of France. Saturday’s performance features Hubbard Street Dance of Chicago, Dance Heginbotham of New York, Wayne McGregor Random Dance of London, the KSU Dance Department and Michelle Dorrance of New York with Atlanta vocalist Aaron Marcellus. $34-$62. At the Rialto, 80 Forsyth St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.413.9849.
Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, working in or covering the performing arts for most of her life. Full disclosure: She’s affiliated with Aurora Theatre listed above. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.