Want to put some culture in your weekend? Our recommendations are many and include “Memphis” at Aurora Theatre with (front) Naima Carter Russell and (back, from left) Brian Walker, India S. Tyree, Judith Franklin and Fenner Eaddy. Photo by Chris Bartelski.
Chasin’ dem Blues. THROUGH AUG. 9. True Colors Theatre Company ends its 2014-15 season with this musical drama about the untold story of Chicago’s Paramount Records, based on bluesman Willie Dixon’s belief that “blues is the roots, the other musics are the fruits.” $15-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No show this Friday night. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road S.W. Details, tickets HERE.
Memphis. THROUGH AUG. 30. This Aurora Theatre–Theatrical Outfit co-pro opens in Lawrenceville before moving to downtown Atlanta in September. The 2010 Tony Award-winning best musical, inspired by true events, features pioneering disc jockey Huey Calhoun who moves the iconic sound of Southern rock ‘n’ roll from radio to TV while in the midst of an interracial romance. Adult situations and violence. $25-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The theater is at 128 Pike St.; free, attached and covered parking in city lot at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.
Rent. EXTENDED AGAIN, THROUGH AUG. 22. Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize) rock musical reimagines Puccini’s la Boheme in New York City’s East Village. The 1996 show feels a bit dated, but Actor’s Express promises to blow the dust off with an environmental staging (think Murder Ballad). It’s selling out, so plan ahead. $26-$45. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. (Pictured: Jeremy Parker Hobbs as Roger. Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus)
Uprising. THROUGH AUG. 23. In this world premiere, Atlanta playwright Gabrielle Fulton tells a tale of freedom and romance, lacing it with blues-rooted spirituals, danger and magic realism. It takes place in the aftermath of John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, when a young woman named Sal (the wonderful Cynthia D. Barker) encounters a revolutionary on the run after the would-be slave revolt. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood. THROUGH SUNDAY. Stage Door Players offers this dark and twisty musical by Rupert Holmes (“The Piña Colada Song”). It begins when the Music Hall Royale “puts on” its rendition of an unfinished Dickens mystery. Drood, the title character, inexplicably disappears and, by the end of the night, the audience votes on who his murderer might be. $15-$30 in advance. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Additional show at 8 tonight. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726. Meet Atlanta actor Jessica De Maria, who plays Helena Landless, in this ENCORE SNAPSHOT.
OPENING THIS WEEKEND
Lillian Likes It. OPENS FRIDAY | THROUGH AUG. 23. In repertory with The Old Ship of Zion by Natalia Naman as part of the 2015 Essential Theatre Festival. Lillian, a world premiere by Joshua Mikel of Conyers. The quirky comedy begins as a satirical look at social media but deepens when Lillian thinks she has found the perfect guy. Does it matter that he’s dead if she can chat with him online? Winner of the 2015 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award. Be forewarned: The Essential fest, which celebrates Georgia playwrights, can produce blindingly wonderful work as well some unfortunate misses. $15-$20 advance. At 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Sunday + 8 p.m. Monday this week. Check schedule for future performances. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at email@example.com.
Almost Heaven, John Denver’s America. THROUGH AUG. 8. Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises its popular 2013 staging of this folk-rock musical at the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Ben Brady Pavilion. The score includes “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and many more. The original cast returns: Dolph Amick, Mary Nye Bennett, Christopher Damiano, Scott DePoy and Jeremy Wood. Theatergoers can bring a picnic or order from Talk of the Town’s catering menu for pickup on-site. Cash bar. $15 lawn seating; $30 table seating. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets, catering info HERE or 770.641.1260.the
Evita. THROUGH AUG. 16. Serenbe Playhouse wraps its summer season with this dramatized account of the life, rise and demise of Argentine first lady Eva Duarte de Péron, the role that made Patti LuPone a Broadway star and gave Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice an early hit. Randi Garza is Eva. For ages 12 and up. Performed, as all Serenbe shows are, in an outdoor location, rain or shine. This time, it’s the Open Air Room. $30-$35. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or art 770.463.1110. (Pictured, from left, César Augusto as Juan Péron, Randi Garza as Eva and Charlie Brady as Che. Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus)
Nelle’s Story: The World of Harper Lee. THROUGH AUG. 9. Nelle’s Story by Melita Easter is the inaugural production of Synchronicity Presents, a new series of curated theatrical events at Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown. This one-woman show features Mandi Lee (no relation) as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird. An Athena Group production directed by Carolyn Cook. 8 tonight-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. 1545 Peachtree St. N.E. in the Peachtree Pointe building. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636. (Pictured: Mandi Lee as Harper Lee)
The Old Ship of Zion. THROUGH AUG. 21. In repertory with Lillian Likes It by Joshua Mikel as part of the 2015 Essential Theatre Festival. Zion, a world premiere by Natalia Naman of Columbus, is a drama with music about people searching for a spiritual life in trying times. An elder named Mama Gwen and a church-loving young man named Quincy, who’s beginning to realize he’s gay, are among the characters trying to save their small African-American church. Be forewarned: The Essential fest, which celebrates Georgia playwrights, can produce blindingly wonderful work as well some unfortunate misses. $15-$20 advance. At 8 p.m. Saturday + 2 p.m. Sunday this weekend. Also at 8 p.m. Aug. 6. Check schedule for future performances. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. S.W. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Secret Garden. THROUGH AUG. 16. World premiere. The coming-of-age story about recently orphaned Mary Lennox is adapted by playwright and frequent Serenbe collaborator Rachel Teagle and performed in the new (and permanent) English Garden at Serenbe. Based on the 1911 Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. $10-$20. 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Serenbe Playhouse, 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. Full disclosure: She’s affiliated with Synchronicity Theatre mentioned above. Please email: email@example.com.