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Opening Friday & highly recommended: Tara Ochs’ “White Woman in Progress,” a world premiere at 7 Stages. Closing: “Exit Strategy” at True Colors. Plus. Much. More. Pictured: Tara Ochs (center) in “White Woman.” Photo by 7 Stages.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta winter season recommendation.

Recommended

William S. Murphey (from left), Matthew Busch and Lau’rie Roach. Photo: Greg Mooney
William S. Murphey (from left), Matthew Busch and Lau’rie Roach. Photo: Greg Mooney

** Exit Strategy. CLOSES SUNDAY. At True Colors Theatre Company. The Chicago Tribune called playwright Ike Holter, the man behind this script, one of the “most exciting young writers in the city” and named him 2014’s Chicagoan of the Year in Theater. His drama, about a public school facing closure, seems simple but is not. “A lot of people expect things from me when it comes to race, but I don’t just write black characters,” says Holter, who’s in his early 30s. The cast includes Matthew Busch, Tess Malis Kincaid, William S. Murphey and Diany Rodriguez. $20-$50. 8 tonight-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. True Colors performs at the Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849.

Tara Ochs in “Selma” (left), and the real Viola Liuzzo.
Tara Ochs in “Selma” (left), and the real Viola Liuzzo.

** White Woman in Progress. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS FRIDAY. A world premiere at 7 Stages. Highly recommended. Tara Ochs’ one-woman crackerjack of a play comes from her work as civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo in the 2014 Oscar-nominated feature film Selma. Although she didn’t have a great deal of screen time, the story of Liuzzo — a Detroit housewife who drove to Selma to take part in the famous march and was murdered — wouldn’t let go. Ochs’ drama champions individual power and conversations surrounding privilege, race and social justice. Don’t miss it. $15 preview; regularly $22.50 and up. Through April 9. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. No show March 19. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

Rescue pup Macy plays Sandy; Tori Bates as Annie. Photo: Joan Marcus
Tori Bates as Annie, with Macy as Sandy.

This weekend only

Annie. FRIDAY-SUNDAY. The 1977 musical about a redheaded orphan, her scruffy dog and the millionaire who adopts them returns to the Fox Theatre for the 15th time. The family musical isn’t all child’s play though, standing the test of time surprisingly well and employing enough political satire to keep grown-ups free of sunny sugar overload. $30-$75 plus fees. Five performances only: 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[READ MORE: BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF ‘ANNIE’]

Joseph Young
Joseph Young

Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. SUNDAY ONLY. The 120 artists of the ASYO perform their annual Crescendo concert, featuring Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, Opus 84; Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Opus 34; and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, arranged by Maurice Ravel. Assistant conductor Joseph Young, the ASYO’s music director, is on the podium. 3 p.m. $10. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Caitlin Thomas White (left), Ashley Anderson. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Caitlin Thomas White (left), Ashley Anderson. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Fancy Nancy. FRIDAY-SUNDAY. This family musical based on the Jane O’Connor book returns to Synchronicity Theatre for one weekend only. It’s all about best friends and who gets what role in their ballet school’s production of Deep Sea Dances. $16-$21. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Friday is PJs and Play. Kids wearing PJs get free milk and cookies during the show. Synchronicity Theatre at One Peachtree Pointe, 1542 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

gennadi2Gennadi’s Choice. FRIDAY-SUNDAY. Atlanta Ballet audiences will see new artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin’s vision onstage for the first time. The Nedvigin-curated program features selections from Paquita, choreographed by Marius Petipa and staged by Nedvigin; the North American premiere of Vespertine by Liam Scarlett; and the world premiere of Denouement by American Ballet Theatre’s Gemma Bond. $25 and up. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Opening this week

Cinder bug cropCinderella and Fella. OPENS SUNDAY. At the Alliance Theatre. World premiere. This fanciful and contemporary retelling of the Cinderella story is more high-tops than glass slippers and is fueled by the magic of lightning bugs, singing cicadas and oozing mud. The script is by Janece Shaffer, the score by S. Renee Clark (who also plays Cinderella’s mother) and the direction by Rosemary Newcott. $18-$32. Through April 9. 1 + 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7 p.m. March 21 and April 7. Alliance mainstage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[READ MORE: A ‘CINDERELLA’ FOR TODAY]

Nick Arapoglou. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett
Nick Arapoglou. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett

The Legend of Georgia McBride. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS SATURDAY. At Actor’s Express. What do you do when your Elvis act gets the ax? With a pregnant wife, an empty bank account and an eviction notice en route, Casey (the terrific Nick Arapoglou) has no choice but to trade his jumpsuit for sequins and become the Florida Panhandle’s newest drag queen. This music-filled comedy comes from Matthew Lopez (who wrote the much darker Whipping Man, seen at the Alliance Theatre in 2013). $21-$45. Through April 16. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Brad Raymond, Wendy Melkonian. Photo: Horizon Theatre
Brad Raymond, Wendy Melkonian. Photo: Horizon Theatre

Nobody Loves You. OPENS MARCH 17. At Horizon Theatre. The game of love is on in this musical about cluelessly self-obsessed contestants who compete for love and adoring fans on a reality-TV show called “Nobody Loves You.” Heidi Cline McKerley directs a cast that includes Leslie Bellair, Jeanette Illidge, Wendy Melkonian and Brad Raymond. $25-$40. Through April 30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 5 p.m. Sunday (except March 19). 1083 Euclid Ave. NE (at Austin Avenue). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Still running

** The Bridges of Madison County. THROUGH APRIL 16. Southeastern premiere. Aurora Theatre stages the Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years) musical based on Robert Waller’s 1992 best-selling novel and the 1995 movie. Onstage, the story opens up to include more characters and more scenes but, at its heart, is still about a lonely Iowa farm wife (Kristin Markiton) and her unexpected love affair with a traveling photographer (Travis Smith). Justin Anderson directs. The show had a three-month run on Broadway in 2014. $30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. March 29 (tickets start at $20). 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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Kristin Markiton, Travis Smith. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Kristin Markiton, Travis Smith. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Next week

Christopher Theofanidis
Christopher Theofanidis

ASO: Creation/Creator. MARCH 23 + 25. Music director Robert Spano conducts Christopher Theofanidis’ multimedia oratorio, which is based on ancient and modern sources of science, literature and philosophy. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiered and recorded Creation/Creator in 2015. The ASO and ASO Chorus are joined by soprano Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Thomas Cooley, baritone Nmon Ford and bass Evan Boyer as soloists. $20-$49. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

donpasqualebugDon Pasquale. MARCH 25, 28 + 31, AND APRIL 2. The Atlanta Opera presents a modern production of Donizetti’s bel canto classic, set in the golden era of Hollywood. There, Don Pasquale is an aging silent film star who sets off to find a wife and heir to his fortune but weds a widowed gold digger who’s conspiring with his nephew instead. The tale includes a chorus of servants dressed as Hollywood film stars. This is Atlanta Opera’s first Don Pasquale. Bass-baritone Burak Bilgili (2013’s The Italian Girl in Algiers) sings the title role. In Italian with English supertitles. $25-$140. 8 p.m. March 25 + 31; 7:30 p.m. March 28; and 3 p.m. April 2. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Randi Garza, Michael Stiggers. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Randi Garza, Michael Stiggers. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Grease. MARCH 23-APRIL 16. Will it rain on prom night? Will Danny and Sandy ever find true love? Find out in this outdoor staging by the always inventive Serenbe Playhouse. Return to an era of gum-chewing, hubcap-stealing, hot-rod-loving boys in leather jackets and their wisecracking girls in poodle skirts. The Serenbe setting, which evokes a drive-in movie, includes VIP vintage car seating (seating for four, special drink menu, dedicated wait staff and car-side bottle service, and unlimited food and drinks). Randi Garza (Evita) plays Sandy; Michael Stiggers is Danny. $30-$35; VIP seats are $500 per foursome). The Wildflower Meadow at Serenbe. 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110.

simoneSimply Simone: The Music of Nina Simone. MARCH 23-APRIL 15. Prodigy. Superstar. Activist. Exile. Vocal powerhouse. Nina Simone, one of the true divas of the 20th century, defied classification and defined a generation. Simply Simone, a musical revue at Theatrical Outfit, lays bare the rich legacy of an American icon whose work encompassed jazz, gospel, blues, Broadway and rock ‘n’ roll. Four performers play Simone in a show that includes such classics as “I Loves You, Porgy,” “The Look of Love,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” and “Here Comes the Sun.” $20-$48. Patdro Harris directs. Theatrical Outfit at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

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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.

View all posts by Kathy Janich