“New,” “local” and “race” are among the adjectives that best describe the Alliance Theatre‘s 2016-17 season, the company’s 48th. The lineup features 16 productions, including 10 world premieres, four musicals and five shows by Atlanta playwrights.
This is a season worthy of a major regional American theater.
“I have always loved the notion ‘go big or go home’ — that small choices lead to small experiences,” Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth said in a statement. “The 2016-17 season is full of big stories with even bigger aspirations.”
The world premieres break down this way: Alliance Stage (3), Hertz Stage (1), Youth and Family Series (3) and Theatre for the Very Young (3).
The 2016-17 season is also the last time theatergoers will visit the Alliance in its current configuration. Construction on renovations is to begin in the summer of 2017, making performances at the Woodruff Arts Center impossible.
The 2017-18 season will take place at venues around the city, and the Alliance plans to opens its new home in fall 2018, in time for its 50th anniversary season.
For now, back to the present. Here’s a closer look at the coming season.
On the Alliance Stage (mainstage)
The Prom. AUG. 18-SEPT. 25. A world premiere musical. Emma becomes an instant outcast and national headline when her Indiana high school cancels the prom rather than let her attend with her girlfriend. A group of fading celebrities who take up the cause only complicate things further. The creative team is led by director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw (last season’s Tuck Everlasting, about to begin previews on Broadway) and includes Bob Martin (book), Chad Beguelin (book, lyrics) and Matthew Sklar (music). They have two Tony awards and 12 nominations among them for such shows as Aladdin, Book of Mormon, The Drowsy Chaperone, Elf and The Wedding Singer. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Moby Dick. OCT. 12-30. Trapeze and acrobatic work turn this seafaring tale into an experiment in aerial storytelling. An adaptation by the actor-athletes of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company and Actors Gymnasium. “A triumph of grand theatrical imagination, deep thought, superb acting and eye-popping, ingeniously deployed physical daring” (Chicago Sun-Times). Lookingglass’ David Catlin adapted and directs here, a co-production with Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Troubador. JAN. 18-FEB. 12, 2017. A world premiere musical by Atlanta-based playwright Janece Shaffer (The Geller Girls, Broke), with original music by Kristian Bush of the band Sugarland. Described as a feel-good romantic comedy that begins in 1951 Nashville and features a country music legend about to retire, his son and a rodeo tailor named Inez. Booth directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
The Temple Bombing. FEB. 22-MARCH 12, 2017. World premiere. By Jimmy Maize of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project. He also directs. Adapted from the book by Melissa Fay Greene. The drama recounts the 1958 attack on The Temple that bolstered local and national support for dramatic social change. Developed in association with The Temple and Tectonic. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
On the Hertz Stage
Ugly Lies the Bone. SEPT. 16-OCT. 9. A drama by Florida-born, New York-based playwright Lindsey Ferrentino about a soldier named Jess, who returns home with more than emotional scars. She turns to a new virtual-reality therapy to escape her physical and emotional pain and put the pieces of her life back together. The New York Times calls Ferrentino “a brave playwright and a writer of dauntless conviction.” Jessica Holt, the Alliance Yale directing fellow and a former classmate and collaborator of Ferrentino’s, directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays. DEC. 2-24. Atlanta singer Courtenay Collins brings her holiday cabaret to the Woodruff. Join her for an evening of music, drinks, stories, laughter — and maybe even home-baked cookies. Booth directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Too Heavy for Your Pocket. FEB. 4-26, 2017. A world premiere by Atlanta-based playwright Jiréh Breon Holder, winner of the 2017 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. Described as a look at the personal cost and private struggles behind public events, the bonds of friendship and what defines family. Set in rural Tennessee at the peak of the civil rights movement. Holder, a Morehouse College graduate, was formerly the Alliance’s Kenny Leon fellow, earned his M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale and returns to Atlanta soon as the 2016-18 playwriting fellow at Emory University. (The Kendeda competition is judged blindly, without playwrights’ names attached to scripts.) Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
The Magic Negro and Other Blackity Blackness, as Told by an African-American Man, Who Also Happens to Be Black. MARCH 24-APRIL 15, 2017. Race cards, white flight, Aunt Jemima and Black Jesus are all fair game in this hilarious and gutsy one-man show by Mark Kendall of Dad’s Garage, where it was first seen. He dissects common themes in the African-American experience, and makes audiences laugh and ask themselves why. Kendall continued developing the show in the Alliance’s Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab. It’s the first Reiser project to get a full production in the 200-seat Hertz Stage. Directed by the Second City’s Anthony LeBlanc. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Youth and Family Series
Pancakes, Pancakes! JUNE 3-JULY 10. A world premiere musical based on the Eric Carle book of the same name. Pancakes, Pancakes! explores the process of cooking and celebrates the joy in the labor and the final feast. This play with music was written by Alliance/Kendeda alum Kenneth Lin (Warrior Class), with music by Philip DePoy (Edward Foote). David de Vries directs. Presented in conjunction with the High Museum of Art exhibition I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle. David deVries directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Slur. NOV. 5-12. A world premiere by Greg Changnon, a middle-school teacher at the Paideia School. Daisy is a typical middle-schooler, or so she thought until someone wrote a religious slur on her locker. Now Daisy, who has always found it hard to fit in, finds her ideas about herself getting more and more blurred. Are we what society says we are, she wonders. Or can we be whoever we want to be? Written in collaboration with Changnon’s students and actors in the Alliance’s summer drama camps. Rosemary Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
A Christmas Carol. NOV. 25-DEC. 24. The Dickens classic, as adapted by David H. Bell, returns once again with its multicultural cast, caroling and bah, humbugs. Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Cinderella and Fella. MARCH 19-APRIL 9, 2017. A world premiere musical. Shaffer (Troubador) teams with S. Reneé Clark, an Atlanta-based music director, pianist, composer, arranger, actor and instructor, on this retelling of the Cinderella story that is more high-tops than glass slippers. Expect some magic from lightning bugs, singing cicadas and oozing mud, too. Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Theatre for the Very Young
Interactive theater for ages 18 months to 5 years. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Babies in Space. MAY 21-AUG. 28. A world premiere curated by Atlanta-based Dashboard Co-op, with the help of Fly on a Wall dance collective. An interactive outer-space playscape and performance for ages 0 to 24 months and their caregivers. It’s an imaginative journey in which babies and toddlers consider Earth’s small place in space as they moonwalk, crawl, jump and play. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
From Head to Toe. SEPT. 24-NOV. 6. A world premiere based on the Eric Carle book. Young audience members are invited to think, observe and move like their favorite animals, helping “create” the animals in the book, bring them to life and mimic their movements. Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Play the Play With Cat the Cat. JAN. 10-FEB. 19, 2017. The characters from Mo Willems’ book series return for a second time in this piece written and directed by Atlanta theater artist Scott Warren. The piece explores the sometimes terrifying experience of making new friends. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Dinosaur! MARCH 14-APRIL 9, 2017. A world premiere in collaboration with science educators from the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. It’s designed as a gentle, awe-inspiring introduction to the wonders of the prehistoric world. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Season tickets are on sale now HERE or at 404.733.4600.