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“The Crucible,” opening Jan. 21 at Actor’s Express, is one of the winter theater season’s don’t-miss productions. Also, this is your last call for “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” (Synchronicity), “Rudolph” (Center for Puppetry Arts) and “The Snow Queen” (Serenbe Playhouse). Pictured, from left, are the young women of “The Crucible”: Lucy Gross, Abby Holland, Shelli Delgado, Kiona Reese and Falashay Pearson. Photo by Greg Mooney.

Last chance

Janeva Sibdhannie (from left), Allison Dixon, Brian Jordan and Megan Wheeler. Photo: Katie V. Cathell
Janeva Sibdhannie (from left), Allison Dixon, Brian Jordan and Megan Wheeler. Photo: Katie V. Cathell

Mr. Popper’s Penguins. CLOSES SUNDAY. Synchronicity Theatre celebrates the holidays with this non-holiday, family-friendly musical based on the 1938 children’s book. Mr. Popper 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 are penguins. Lots of them. And puppets. For ages 3 and up. $20-$22; $15-$16 kids. This week’s performances: 2 p.m. today-Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. Note: Saturday’s show is a special “Kidnight” New Year’s Eve celebration with sparkling cider and a penguin leap after the performance. It’s also PJs & Play — kids (and kids at heart) can wear pajamas and have milk and cookies at the show. Synchronicity Theatre at Peachtree Pointe in Midtown, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

CX-rudolph-santaRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. CLOSES SATURDAY. Rudolph, Clarice, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, the Misfit Toys and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster finish another holiday run at 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. This week’s performances: 2 p.m. today; 10 a.m., noon + 2 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m., 1 + 3 p.m. Saturday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3089.

Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Snow Queen. CLOSES FRIDAY. Serenbe Playhouse takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale into the woods once again, emphasizing the wintry nature of the tale, as young Gerda fights fear on a journey to save her brother from the icy lady’s evil magic. Performed in the Natural Playground in a staging that travels (without seating). Request chairs through the box office at 770.463.1110. $15-$20. Remaining shows: 6 + 8 tonight-Friday. 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions, parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. 

Next week

Stephenson
Stephenson

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. JAN. 5 + 7. Trumpets were simpler instruments, with no keys and a limited range before Haydn wrote his Trumpet Concerto. A friend of the composer worked years to develop the precursor to today’s valved trumpet. Haydn wrote this concerto to show off the new instrument. Principal trumpeter Stuart Stephenson plays it in his ASO solo debut. Also on the program: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Toronto-born conductor Peter Oundjian is on the podium. $20-$79. 8 nightly. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Payne
Payne

Greetings Friend Your Kind Assistance Is Required. JAN. 5-22. A world premiere comedy from Atlanta playwright Topher Payne at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. When a retired schoolteacher opens a spam email, she and her best friend begin the journey of a lifetime, one that includes danger, romance and a new sense of purpose. Shannon Eubanks directs a cast that includes Karen Howell, Stacy Melich, Brenda Porter and Parris Sarter. $26-$35 and up. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Photo: Mesner Puppet Theater
Photo: Mesner Puppet Theater

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf. JAN. 3-22. Rod, shadow and mask puppets are used as Mr. A. Wolf tries to explain what really happened to those houses made of straw, sticks and bricks, along with the three little pigs who lived there. This production, from Mesner Puppet Theater in Kansas City, Mo., is based on a 1996 book by Jon Scieszka. $20.50. 10 + 11:30 a.m. Jan. 3-6 and 17; 10 + 11:30 a.m. Jan. 11-13 and 18-20; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3 p.m. Jan. 7 and 14-15; and 1 + 3 p.m. Jan. 14-15 and 21-22. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW (at 18th Street). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Coming up

400p crop create logoCreate ATL. JAN. 8. This free festival features family-oriented fun from the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art. The afternoon includes backstage tours at the Alliance, an introduction to the percussion family with the ASO, admission to the Eric Carle exhibition at the High, ukulele workshops and contemporary dance performances by StaibdanceNote: Some free-event tickets will go fast, so advance registration is recommended. 1-4 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Register HERE. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Horne
Horne

The Crucible. JAN. 21-FEB. 19. At Actor’s Express. The witching hour is at hand in the tight-knit community of Salem, where personal vendettas collide with lust and superstition, fueling widespread hysteria. Do witches walk among us, or has revenge created a monster? Arthur Miller’s American classic, written in response to McCarthyism in the 1950s, is as timely as ever. Artistic director Freddie Ashley’s large multicultural cast features Jonathan Horne as John Proctor, Courtney Patterson as Elizabeth Proctor and Shelli Delgado as Abigail Williams. $20-$40. Director’s rough cut at 8 p.m. Jan. 18; previews at 8 p.m. Jan. 19-20; opening is 8 p.m. Jan. 21. Regularly 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 40.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Diana Huey is Ariel in the latest version of “The Little Mermaid” to play the Fox Theatre. Photo: Mark Kitaoka for Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
Diana Huey is Ariel in the latest version of “The Little Mermaid” to play the Fox Theatre. Photo: Mark Kitaoka for Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.

The Little Mermaid. JAN. 12-15. Five performances only. One of Disney’s many stage musicals, retooled in recent years, returns to the Fox Theatre with Ariel, Prince Eric, King Triton, Sebastian, Flotsam, Jetsam and the evil Ursula telling a story of romance and life under the sea. The Alan Menken-Howard Ashman score includes “Part of Your World,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl.” This production was created by the Fifth Avenue Theatre in Seattle. $33.50-128.50. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details HERE. Tickets at the Fox box office, HERE or via Ticketmaster at 855.285.8499.

[MEET STEVE BLANCHARD, AKA KING TRITON, HAPPY AS A CLAM UNDER THE SEA]

image only Aurora-Mountaintop-220x220The Mountaintop. JAN. 12-FEB. 12. At Aurora Theatre. Return to April 3, 1968, and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in Katori Hall’s 2008 script. It reimagines the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on Earth, a magical encounter told with humor, history and two characters. Featuring two of Atlanta’s finer actors: Neal A. Ghant as King and Cynthia D. Barker as a hotel maid named Camae. Eric J. Little directs. The drama, written when Hall was in her 20s, earned a 2010 Olivier award in London. The 2011 Broadway version, with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, received mixed reviews and ran fewer than four months. $20-$55. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 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.

At "Troubadour's" first rehearsal (from left) Kristian Bush, Janece Shaffer and Susan V Booth. Photo: A’riel Tinter
At “Troubadour’s” first rehearsal (from left) Kristian Bush, Janece Shaffer and Susan V Booth. Photo: A’riel Tinter

Troubadour. JAN. 18-FEB. 27. A world premiere musical from Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer (The Geller Girls, Broke) and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush at the Alliance Theatre. Described as “a feel-good romantic comedy,” it begins in 1951 Nashville and features a country music legend about to retire, his musician son, an aspiring singer-songwriter named Inez and Izzy the rodeo tailor. $20-$72. Previews Jan. 18-24. Opens Jan. 25. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. No 2:30 p.m. show Jan. 21. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[READ: HOW THE CREATORS BONDED OVER SCRAMBLED EGGS & DIET COKE]

theatrical_outfit_logo-300x85The UNEXPECTED Play Reading FestivalJAN. 21-22. Theatrical Outfit holds its first-ever festival of play readings, offering four new (or newish) scripts in two days with what can accurately be called first-rate Atlanta talent. The scripts are by Atlanta playwright-actor Suehyla El-Attar; Atlanta-born, Baltimore-based Matthew Buckley Smith, who’s known mainly as a poet; Karen Zacarías (Horizon Theatre’s The Book Club Play); and Anna Ziegler (the award-winning Photograph 51, Synchronicity Theatre’s The Minotaur). Directing are frequent Actor’s Express collaborator Melissa Foulger, Aurora Theatre’s Jaclyn Hofmann, Outfit artistic director Tom Key and playwright-actor Topher Payne. The acting pool includes Adam Fristoe, Randi Garza, Ann Marie Gideon, Clifton Guterman, Wendy Melkonian, Diany Rodriguez, Julissa Sabino and Maria Rodriguez-Sager. $10.80 per reading or $37.80 for a four-reading pass. 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Theatrical Outfit at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

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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