snow top of BB- Group 1

Best Bets’ faithful will put Actor’s Express’ Threshold New Play Festival atop their lists. New this week: “Big Fish” (Theatrical Outfit), “Let Nothing You Dismay” (Stage Door Players), “The Snow Queen” (Serenbe Playhouse). Pictured: Serenbe’s outdoor “Snow Queen.” Hint: It really snows. Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall season best bet

Recommended

actors-express-logo-large** Threshold New Play Festival. FRIDAY-SUNDAY. At Actor’s Express. Four Georgia-bred productions get an early look in this second year of AE’s new-play festival. The Flower Room by Daryl Lisa Fazio (8 p.m. Dec. 2) follows an uptight academic who loses her job teaching primitive sexual behavior and then explores a new career writing erotica. Southern Haunt, a Southern Gothic thriller by Kathryn Walat (2 p.m. Dec. 3), details the secrets (and ghosts) unearthed when a Savannah dive-bar bartender and an out-of-towner have a one-night stand. What’s Past, a musical by Jessica De Maria and Chase Peacock (8 p.m. Dec. 3), follows two extraordinary siblings on a journey through time and memory to unravel family mysteries. And Coyote Hour by Margaret Baldwin (3 p.m. Dec. 4) is about an Atlanta woman determined to get to the truth of reports of coyotes in her neighborhood. All readings are free, but reservations are highly recommended HERE. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. NW. 404.607.7469.

The Threshold playwrights (from left) Daryl Lisa Fazio, Kathryn Walat, Jessica De Maria, Chase Peacock and Margaret Baldwin.
The Threshold playwrights (from left) Daryl Lisa Fazio, Kathryn Walat, Jessica De Maria, Chase Peacock and Margaret Baldwin.

This weekend only

ChristmasStory270x200A Christmas Story. THROUGH SUNDAY. The latest national tour of this holiday movie-turned-stage musical visits the Fox Theatre for a third time, telling the story of 9-year-old Ralphie, who wants nothing more than an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas. The setting is middle-class Indiana at the end of the Great Depression. $30-$110. 7:30 tonight-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[SEE HOW THIS 1983 FEATURE FILM BECAME A HOLIDAY RITUAL]

New this week

Photo illustration: BreeAnne Clowdus
Photo illustration: BreeAnne Clowdus

Big Fish. PREVIEWS TONIGHT-FRIDAY | OPENS SATURDAY. At Theatrical Outfit. Meet Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman whose biggest hope is to live life to its fullest. His tall tales thrill everyone but son Will, who’s about to become a father himself. Will demands to know the truth behind Dad’s epic stories of giants, fortune-telling witches and mermaids. Inspired by the Daniel Wallace novel and Tim Burton’s 2003 movie. The score is from Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family, off-Broadway’s The Wild Party). The $23-$50 (opening night); regularly $22-$46. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theatre at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Dismayed: Gina Rickicki, Doyle Reynolds. Photo: Stage Door Players
Dismayed: Gina Rickicki, Doyle Reynolds. Photo: Stage Door Players

Let Nothing You Dismay. OPENS FRIDAY | THROUGH DEC. 18. At Stage Door Players. The Gordons, the Sapersteins and all the other crazy folks in Kevin and Allie’s life are back to meddle in the arrival of the couple’s first child. Last season’s run of this holiday comedy by Atlanta playwright Topher Payne sold out. The original eight-person cast returns, playing 22 characters in a celebration of family … and all that goes with it. $15-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets via the box office at 770.396.1726.

Serenbe_-_Snow_QueenThe Snow Queen. OPENS TONIGHT | THROUGH DEC. 23. Serenbe Playhouse takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale into the woods for a third time, emphasizing the wintry nature of the tale, as young Gerda fights her fears on a journey to save her brother, Kai, from the icy lady’s enchantment. Performed in the Natural Playground at Serenbe in a staging that travels (with no seating). Chairs available by request through the box office (770.463.1110). $15-$20. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 6 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (some shows already sold out). 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions, parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

"Canteen" habitué Brandon O'Dell, who also wrote this year's script. Photo: Chris Bartelski
“Canteen” habitué Brandon O’Dell, who also wrote this year’s script. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Holiday shows (all ages)

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23. Back for its 21st year at Aurora Theatre. This original variety show changes annually but always includes physical comedy, holiday favorites, novelty numbers and a few surprises. If you want to go, act fast: The Canteen always sells out. $30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Dec. 7, 14 + 21 ($20 + up). 28 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered and attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

A Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 24. Last chance to see this staging in this space. The Alliance Theatre’s annual show — David H. Bell’s multicultural, carol-filled celebration — will be done off-site in 2017 during Alliance renovations. Bell will premiere a new version for the new mainstage in 2018, in time for the company’s 50th anniversary season. David de Vries returns as Scrooge, Chris Kayser is Jacob Marley and Marc Schittone debuts as Tiny Tim. $20 and up. Tuesday-Sunday, but times vary. Details HERE. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Scrooge (David de Vries) encounters the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bart Hansard). Photo: Greg Mooney
Scrooge (David de Vries) meets a ghost (Bart Hansard). Photo: Greg Mooney

[CATCH UP WITH 8 TINY TIMS FROM CHRISTMASES PAST]

Anthony P. Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Anthony P. Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski

A Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 23. At Aurora TheatreArtistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez returns as Ebenezer Scrooge — and many other characters — for the 10th time, in his annual one-man telling of the Christmas classic. Much like Dickens himself, Rodriguez focuses on the art of storytelling. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in repertory with The 12 Dates of Christmas. Harvel Lab, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222

Clarice meets Rudolph.
Clarice meets Rudolph.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. THROUGH DEC. 31. Rudolph, Clarice, Hermey, the Misfit Toys and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster all return to the Center for Puppetry Arts. The Jon Ludwig script is based on the 1964 stop-motion animated TV special from Rankin/Bass. Told with rod, black light and body puppets. For ages 4 and up. $20.50. 10 + 11:45 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; noon + 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. No shows Christmas Day. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3089.

Holiday shows (better for grown-ups)

Love isn't always pretty. Pictured: Renita James. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Love isn’t always pretty. Pictured: Renita James. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The 12 Dates of Christmas. THROUGH DEC. 23. At Aurora TheatreRenita James plays Mary, the unlucky woman who sees her fiancé kiss someone else on national TV while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, then bumbles her way back into the dating pool. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday in repertory with Anthony P. Rodriguez’s one-man A Christmas Carol. Harvel Lab, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

Courtenay Collins. Photo: Greg Mooney
Courtenay Collins. Photo: Greg Mooney

Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays. IN PREVIEWS FRIDAY | OPENS DEC. 7. At the Alliance Theatre, where the Hertz Stage becomes a living room with twinkly lights and cocktails. Expect music, stories, surprises, cookies, crafts, Atlanta singer/actor Courtenay Collins’ good humor and a special guest artist each night. Collins won’t share details, but we’ve heard the names Tom Key, TV newswoman Brenda Wood, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and Collins’ Juilliard pal Laura Linney bandied about. Collins is backed by a three-piece combo. Through Dec. 24. Some dates are already sold out. $20-$42. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Meet Collins in this ENCORE FEATURE.

[HEAR SNIPPETS FROM COLLINS’ A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS CD]

Dad's xmas invasionInvasion: Christmas Carol. THROUGH DEC. 24 + DEC. 29-30. Dad’s Garage Theatre Company gives the Christmas classic a swift kick in the Dickens. The merry band of improvisers is back to skewer that most quintessential of holiday shows. Theatergoers will see Scrooge’s past, present and future unfold in new, unpredictable ways each night. God help us, everyone. $5.50-$35 (it depends). 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, plus 8 p.m. Dec. 19-21. 569 Ezzard St. S.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.3141 (tickets cheaper online). Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

krampus 2Krampus Christmas. DEC. 8-17. This is your last chance to deck your ho-ho-halls with debauchery. After a run of nearly 10 years, 7 Stages is saying goodbye to its dark, twisty anti-holiday tradition. There’s a plot to turn the world into one giant mall, you see, and there is only one myth-made-manifest that can stop it: Krampus of the Black Forest! If you know what that means, this show is for you. But. Not. For. Children. With the Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra. Tickets start at $22.50. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

Lala Cochran (from left), Harold M. Leaver, Enoch King.
Lala Cochran (from left), Harold M. Leaver, Enoch King.

The Santaland Diaries. THROUGH DEC. 31. Harold M. Leaver returns as Crumpet in this Horizon Theatre tradition, recounting the sad-but-true tales of an unemployed writer’s stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf. His helpers: the terrific Lala Cochran and Enoch King. The script is by David Sedaris. Expect snark and satire. (Not recommended for children. Take them to Horizon’s Madeline’s Christmas instead.) $25-$40. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE (at Euclid Avenue). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Next week

AB-NUT-121516-0730-1Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. DEC. 9-24. Marya and her Nutcracker travel to distant lands in this Russian-themed interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic by former Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall (a new version is planned for next year). These performances are the last for dancer John Welker, who’s retiring after 22 years with the company. $25 and up. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20; 2 + 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21-23; and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[ENCORE FEATURE: DANCER JOHN WELKER CALLS IT A CAREER]

aso xmasChristmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. DEC. 9-10. An Atlanta tradition that began decades ago with music director Robert Shaw. Again this year, the Morehouse College Glee Club and Gwinnett Young Singers join the ASO and Chorus for carols and hymns. Norman Mackenzie, director of choruses, conducts. Three performances only. $22-$70. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000. Tickets online via Ticketmaster HERE.

Brandon Partrick. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Brandon Partrick. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Mr. Popper’s Penguins. DEC. 9-JAN. 1. Synchronicity Theatre celebrates the holidays with this family-friendly musical based on the 1938 children’s book. Mr. Popper (Brandon Partrick) is a humble house painter who gets a cool surprise when an Antarctic explorer sends him a gift. Six actors play more than 23 characters, and there will be puppets. All Friday shows are PJs & Play, which means that kids (and kids at heart) can wear pajamas and have milk and cookies while watching the show. For ages 3 and up. $20-$22; kids $15-$16. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. School matinees at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday (call ahead for details and tickets). Synchronicity Theatre at Peachtree Pointe in Midtown, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Moscow Ballet. DEC. 9-10. Some of Russia’s best dancers visit Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts with their Great Russian Nutcracker. Look for larger-than-life props, a Christmas tree that grows to 60 feet and more than a little magic. $31-$178. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 5 p.m. Saturday. The Rialto is at 80 Forsyth St. NW in downtown Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.413.9849.

22551_peterpan250Peter Pan. DEC. 9-10. With this two-day, three-performance staging, Atlanta Lyric Theatre refuses to grow up. You know the story and much of the Moose Charlap-Jule Styne-Carolyn Leigh-Betty Comden-Adolph Green score: “I’m Flying,” “Neverland,” “I’ve Got to Crow.” Leslie Bellair plays Peter. Flying effects by ZFX Flying of California. $25-$61.50 plus fees. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway. Details HERE. Tickets via Ticketmaster HERE or at 800.745.3000.

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About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, 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