mountaintop_CROP

“The Mountaintop” opens tonight at Aurora Theatre with Neal A. Ghant (above) as Martin Luther King Jr. Also among our top picks: The world premieres of “Troubadour” (Alliance) and “Greetings Friend” (Georgia Ensemble).

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta winter season recommendation

Recommended

Stacey Melich. Photo; Dan Carmody/Studio 7
Stacey Melich. Photo: Dan Carmody/Studio 7

Greetings Friend Your Kind Assistance Is Required. THROUGH JAN. 22. A world premiere from prolific 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. Cast: 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.

Cynthia D. Barker
Cynthia D. Barker

** The Mountaintop. OPENS TONIGHT | THROUGH FEB. 12. At Aurora Theatre. Return to April 3, 1968, and Memphis’ Lorraine Motel 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. See it to watch two of Atlanta’s best actors — Neal A. Ghant as King and Cynthia D. Barker as a hotel maid named Camae— do their thing. 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 less 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.

** Troubadour. BEGINS WEDNESDAY | THROUGH 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 and a rodeo tailor. $20-$72. Previews through Jan. 24. Opens Jan. 25 (sold out). 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. Limited discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

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

This weekend only

Kirill Gerstein
Kirill Gerstein

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. TONIGHT + SATURDAY. Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles leads a program featuring the world premiere of American composer Marc Neikrug’s The Unicorn of Atlas Peak. Also on the program: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (1879 version) with American pianist Kirill Gerstein, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. $20-$79. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Connor Russell as Flounder, and friends. Photo: Tracy Martin
Connor Russell as Flounder, and friends. Photo: Tracy Martin

The Little Mermaid. TONIGHT-SUNDAY. 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 and on the land. 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 tonight; 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]

Still running

Chris Kayser (left), Laura Cole.
Chris Kayser (left), Laura Cole.

Doctor Faustus. THROUGH JAN. 29. The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse tells Christopher Marlowe’s story of a man whose insatiable thirst for knowledge leads him to the black arts, where he discovers the sensual world of indulgence, devils and temptation beyond imagining. For this, he trades his soul. Told by two actors (Chris Kayser and Laura Cole) in 90 minutes without intermission. $15-$46. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 p.m. Jan. 14, 21, 27-28 (just drinks, no food). 499 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299.

Photo: Mesner Puppet Theater
Photo: Mesner Puppet Theater

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

Next week

Donald Runnicles
Donald Runnicles

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. JAN. 19 ONLY. Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles leads the premiere of Bruckner’s Te Deum. The ancient Latin hymn of praise to God is the title of the closing piece and the dedication of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. The orchestra and ASO Chorus are joined by soloists Melody Moore (soprano), Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor) and Raymond Aceto (bass). $20-$59. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

** 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 at 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 404.607.7469. Limited discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Courteny Patterson (left), Shelli Delgado, Jonathan Horne.
Courteny Patterson (left), Shelli Delgado, Jonathan Horne.

Coming up

taming_pictureThe Taming. JAN. 20 ONLY. Weird Sisters Theatre Project, Synchronicity Theatre and 7 Stages unite to present a staged reading of playwright Lauren Gunderson’s political comedy. The Decatur-born, San Francisco-based Gunderson offered to waive royalties if the readings coincide with Inauguration Day. The comedy, she says, is about “modern American political extremism, feminism and beauty queens, the gangly Democratic Republic of America, James Madison, the GOP, liberal angst, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Miss America and three slightly insane women who might just be political geniuses.” More than 40 U.S. companies have accepted her offer. The Atlanta cast: Rachel Frawley as Bianca, Caroline Arapoglou as Katherine plus Tiffany Morgan and Chelcy Cutwright. Free, but a $10 donation is suggested at the door (preferably cash). Proceeds go to the ACLU. 7 p.m. 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. N.E. Details HERE.

[READ: MORE ON GUNDERSON AND THE TAMING]

theatrical_outfit_logo-300x85The Unexpected Play Reading FestivalJAN. 21-22. Theatrical Outfit holds its first-ever festival of readings, offering four new (or newish) scripts in two days with first-rate Atlanta talent. The scripts are by Atlanta playwright-actor Suehyla El-Attar; Atlanta-born, Baltimore-based Matthew Buckley Smith (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 Randi Garza, Ann Marie Gideon, Clifton Guterman, Wendy Melkonian, Eric MendenhallDiany 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.

[READ MORE: WHO’S DIRECTING, WHO’S ACTING & MORE]

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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