The 2015-16 season at the Alliance Theatre – its 47th – features 12 productions on two stages, a musical by gospel artist BeBe Winans and the regional premiere of Ayad Ahktar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced.

Terry Burrell as Ethel Waters in “Ethel.”

Five world premieres are planned by artistic director Susan V. Booth and company: Tiger Style! by 2013 Kendeda competition winner Mike Lew (Bike America); Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story, a new musical by Winans and Charles Randolph-Wright; Merry %#*&ing Christmas from Dad’s Garage Theatre Company; Start Down, a comedy by Eleanor Burgess, the 2016 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition; and Tell Me My Dream by Pearl Cleage, part of the Youth and Family Series and written for middle-schoolers.

Here’s a closer look.


ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. Sept. 2-20. The 1963 play by Dale Wasserman, based on the Ken Kesey novel, pits rule-breaking Randall McMurphy against unyielding Nurse Ratched in a battle of wills in a mental facility that has deep consequences. Featuring an all-Atlanta cast. Booth directs.

TIGER STYLE! Sept. 30-Oct. 18. Lew’s world premiere comedy embraces the inner slacker and outer tiger parent in all of us as it follows grown-up siblings Albert and Jennifer, once star students now struggling as adults, on a trip from California to China. This is the first time a former Kendeda winner has a new work produced on the Alliance’s mainstage. Morris von Stuelpnagel, who directed Bike America, directs. (Stuelpnagel makes his directorial debut on Broadway with the April 7 opening of the comedy Hand to God.)

BORN FOR THIS: THE BeBe WINANS STORY. Jan. 20-Feb. 14, 2016. A world premiere gospel musical produced in association with Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. It follows the journey of singers BeBe and CeCe Winans from their hometown in Detroit to life on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL television show to discoveries of their own. Randolph-Wright, who directs, also directed the Tony Award-nominated Motown: The Musical.


DISGRACED. April 12-May 1, 2016. Regional premiere. The 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner tells the story of Amir Kapoor, a successful lawyer who’s distancing himself from his Muslim roots. When he and his wife, Emily, a white artist being courted by a Jewish curator, host a dinner party, friendly conversation explodes into something far deeper and more dangerous. Disgraced examines an American identity far more complicated than any melting pot.


On the Hertz Stage

A STEADY RAIN. Sept. 18-Oct. 3. By Chicago playwright Keith Huff. An edge-of-your-seat thriller about two Chicago cops who push their moral boundaries to the breaking point. A Steady Rain received its world premiere in Chicago, where it won 2008 Joseph Jefferson awards (Chicago’s Tony Award equivalent) for best new work and best new production. The 2009 Broadway staging featured Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. Jeff Perry, the Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder who plays Cyrus Beene on TV’s “Scandal,” directs. Huff’s TV credits include writing/producing Syfy’s “Helix,” AMC’s “Mad Men” and the NetFlix series “House of Cards.”

MERRY  %#*&ING CHRISTMAS. Nov. 27-Dec. 19. Directed by Dad’s Garage artistic director Kevin Gillese, co-written by Gillese and Arlen Konopaki. The third in a series of holiday mash-ups from the brain trust at Dad’s, combining split-second character changes, live music and irreverent humor. The story: When Santa’s gift-giving mania destabilizes the world economy and global warming threatens to reduce Frosty to a puddle, an unlikely duo must team up to save Christmas: Ebenezer Scrooge and a single dad in an ugly sweater. Gillese also directs.

START DOWN. Feb. 13-March 6, 2016. A world premiere by Eleanor Burgess, the 2016 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and an M.F.A. student in dramatic writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Described as a smart and funny look at work, love and get-rich-quick tech start-ups.  This award-winning play questions the way we live, the way we educate our children and our core values around technology.

ETHEL. March 25-April 17, 2016. Written by and featuring Terry Burrell (Broadway’s Dreamgirls, the Alliance’s Sophisticated Ladies, Jar the Floor). This one-woman play with music looks into the magnificent and complicated life of legendary stage and film star Ethel Waters, a versatile actress who epitomized the glamour of black vaudeville while succeeding in traditionally white performance venues. Waters was the first to record “Stormy Weather” and later starred in the movie Cabin in the Sky.


Youth and Family Series

KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL. May 27-June 21. Based on the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book by Mo Willems and directed by Rosemary Newcott. Celebrate the heart and heartache of toddler drama with this musical about a simple trip to the laundromat, which doesn’t seem so simple once the day unravels.

TELL ME MY DREAM. Oct. 30-Nov. 8. A world premiere for middle-school audiences by Alliance playwright in residence Pearl Cleage. It takes a trip back to 1910 with two middle-school time travelers, who witness a dream that became a music festival and see what life was like before Instagram and earbuds. Newcott directs.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Nov. 19-Dec. 24. David de Vries returns as Ebenezer Scrooge in this annual musical retelling of one Christmas Eve, a miser, some ghosts, a little forgiveness and a new beginning.

THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. March 12-27, 2016. Based on the C.S. Lewis novel. Follow the adventures of four siblings who go through the wardrobe and into the land of Narnia, where they’re caught in a struggle between the magical lion Aslan and the White Witch, who prefers a perpetual winter. Newcott directs.


Theatre for the Very Young

Interactive theater for ages 18 months to 5 years.

PLAY THE PLAY WITH CAT THE CAT. Oct. 21-Nov. 15. Based on the Mo Willems book series. When Cat the Cat meets a newcomer on the scene, the audience shares in the nerves and joy of the experience, and ultimately makes a room full of new friends themselves. Atlanta actor-writer-director Scott Warren directs.

BUCKET OF BLESSINGS. Jan. 12-Feb. 14, 2016. By Madhuri Shekar (winner of the 2014 Kendeda contest for In Love and Warcraft). Based on the book by Surishtha & Kabir Sehgal. Near a majestic mountain in a vast jungle with many mango trees, it has not rained for weeks and weeks. The village well and pond are dry. Monkey and his friends look everywhere for water, but they have no luck. And then Monkey remembers a story his mama used to tell him, a story about how peacocks can make it rain by dancing. Newcott directs.

THE LIZARD & EL SOL. March 8-April 3, 2016. An interactive adventure based on a famous Mexican folktale about a time when El Sol (the Sun) disappeared from the sky. Newcott again directs.

Season tickets are on sale HERE or at 404.733.5000. Single-show tickets will go on sale later.

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.

View all posts by Kathy Janich