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Among this week’s openings are “Between Riverside and Crazy” (True Colors), “Little Shop of Horrors” (Actor’s Express) and “Blackberry Daze” (Horizon). Pictured (from left) Juan Carlos Unzueta, Bill Murphey and Kylie Brown in “Little Shop.” Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta spring/summer season recommendation.

Recommended

Earl Billings (right) is Pops.
Earl Billings (right) is Pops.

** Between Riverside and Crazy. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS FRIDAY. The New York Times called this 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner “a dizzying and exciting place to be” and said playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis “has a splendid ear in blurring lines between the sacred and profane.” The story: Ex-cop “Pops” Washington (Earl Billings) is trying to hold onto his dignity and one of the last great rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan, but he’s had enough. His wife has died, the liquor store can’t keep pace with his thirst, and his last living relative moves in with a girlfriend and a newly sober buddy. Eric J. Little directs. Note: Contains adult language/situations recommended for ages 16 and up. $20-$60. Through Aug. 6. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 a.m. July 19 + 26. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road. Details HERE. Tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or at 877.725.8849.

** The Dancing Granny. CLOSES SUNDAY. World premiere. The Alliance Theatre ends its six-week, three-venue run of this family show based on the children’s book by 2017 Newbery honoree Ashley Bryan. The play with music features Ananse, the clever spider from African folklore, who tries to trick Granny into dancing away from her garden so he can take her vegetables. The script is by Alliance/Kendeda Competition alumnus Jiréh Breon Holder (Too Heavy for Your Pocket). $15; $8 ages 6-17; age 5 and under free. 10 + 11:45 a.m. today-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3:30 p.m. Sunday. At Spelman College in southwest Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[DIG INTO THE STORY BEHIND GRANNY AND HER GARDEN]

littleshop-eflyer-girls (2)** Little Shop of Horrors. IN PREVIEWS | OPENS SATURDAY. Actor’s Express goes to Skid Row with this twisty cult favorite about a nebbish flower shop worker, his unrequited love, his cranky boss, a demented dentist and an insatiable blood-devouring plant. The horror-comedy musical ran off-Broadway for five years in the 1980s, became a 1986 movie and was revived on Broadway in 2003. You may know the tunes “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green.” Here, Juan Carlos Unzueta (the Piragua Guy from Aurora/Theatrical Outfit’s In the Heights) is Seymour, Kylie Brown is Audrey and Bill Murphey is Mr. Mushnik. Kennesaw State University’s Rick Lombardo directs. Previews at 8 tonight-Friday ($20); opening night is $40. Regularly $28 and up plus taxes (and subject to change). Through Aug. 29. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. At the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

This weekend only

podplayscover-01 (1)The Atlanta PodPlays. SATURDAY ONLY. Found Stages Theatre Company presents three short pieces in a new way — as downloadable immersive audio plays designed for on-demand listening. To participate at any time, download the SoundCloud app on your smartphone and follow Found Stages Theatre. Hit play to stream the PodPlay of your choice, and follow the story from there. For an immersive experience, listen while walking through Little Five Points. The plays — Building Little Five by Annie Harrison ElliottSit Anywhere by Amina S. McIntyre and Ravenwood by Pamela Turner — reveal L5P facts and little-known Atlanta history from the 1970s and ’80s. The casts feature actors Jeremy Aggers, Jeannette Blackwell, Barrett Doyle, Stephanie Friedman, Christopher Hampton, Theo Harness, Mira Hirsch, Doyle Reynolds, Austin Taylor and Markelle Williams. PodPlays are popular in New York and Washington, D.C.; Found Stages is the first company to do them in Atlanta, in partnership with Little Five Arts Alive. 5-8 p.m. (multiple performances). Free, but tickets must be reserved HERE. Details HERE. On Saturday, look for the tent at Findley and Davis Plaza near the corner of Moreland and Euclid avenues.

Opening this week

Annie-SQ cropAnnie Get Your Gun. OPENS TONIGHT. At Stage Door Players. Irving Berlin’s valentine to show biz tells the tale of sharpshooting rivals Annie Oakley (Paige Mattox) and Frank Butler (Bryant Smith) with a million-dollar score. It includes such musical theater gems as “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Lost in His Arms,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “Anything You Can Do” and, of course, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The 1946 Broadway original, starring Ethel Merman as Annie, ran for three years. $15-$30. Through Aug. 6 (opening night sold out). 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

Ayana Reed, Christian Magby. Photo: Greg Mooney
Ayana Reed, Christian Magby. Photo: Greg Mooney

Blackberry Daze. OPENS FRIDAY. At Horizon Theatre. Secrets and seduction stun a small Virginia town at the end of World War I, when a provocative gambler (TC Carson) works his magic on three unsuspecting women. Adapted by Ruth P. Watson and Thomas W. Jones II from Watson’s novel Blackberry Days of Summer. The blues score is by William Knowles; Jones directs. Also in the cast: Christy Clark, Brittany Inge, Naomi Lavette, Christian Magby and Ayana Reed. $25 and up. Through Aug. 27. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE (at Euclid Avenue). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Chris Damiano in a scene from GET's “Million Dollar Quartet.” Photo: Cayce Calloway
Chris Damiano (in GET’s “Million Dollar Quartet”). Photo: Cayce Calloway

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. OPENS TONIGHT. Georgia Ensemble Theatre and the Chattahoochee Nature Center partner for this concert version of the 2006 Broadway tuner, which tells the story of the Man in Black through more than 20 of his hits, including “A Boy Named Sue,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and “I Walk the Line.” The concert reunites Chris Damiano and Christopher Kent (GET’s Million Dollar Quartet) and includes Scott DePoy, Laura Lindahl and Mark Schroeder. Picnicking allowed; cash bar on-site. $15 general admission lawn seats; $30 reserved table beneath the Ben Brady Pavilion. Through July 29. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Nature Center opens at 6:30 p.m. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Last chance

Justin Walker
Justin Walker

Macbeth. CLOSES SUNDAY. Versatile Atlanta actor Justin Walker (Horizon’s City of Conversation, Catalyst Arts’ Gruesome Playground Injuries) steps in as Macbeth for the final week of Serenbe Playhouse‘s outdoor staging. After receiving a prophecy that he’ll become king of Scotland, Macbeth commits a heinous act fueled by his lust for power and his wife’s wicked influence. Guilt and paranoia follow. As with the company’s ongoing Robin Hood, Grammy nominee John Burke provides original music. Note: Contains adult themes and violence. $25-$30. 8 tonight-Sunday. 11213 Serenbe Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Directions HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Still running

Cinderella Della Circus. THROUGH JULY 23. The Center for Puppetry Arts reprises its fairy tale/circus mash-up. The adaptation, by artistic director Jon Ludwig, is told with marionette, rod and shadow puppets, and recommended for ages 4 and up. $11.25-$19.50. 10 a.m. + noon Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Acworth_-_Shakespeare-300x300A Midsummer Night’s Dream. THROUGH JULY 30. At the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Two pairs of lovers (one requited, one not so much) and a ragtag group of thespians find themselves lost in the woods as quarreling leaders turn a fairy kingdom on its head. What fools these mortals be! Pub menu and beverages available. Previews tonight ($15) and Friday ($20). Regularly $15-$39. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 499 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299.

Robin Hood. THROUGH AUG. 13. Serenbe Playhouse takes to the skies (via zip lines) to tell the family-friendly story of the outlaw (Jordan Patrick) devoted to Maid Marian (Casey Shuler) and doing good deeds with his Merry Men. The adaptation by frequent Serenbe collaborator Rachel Teagle includes original music by Grammy nominee John Burke. $10-$20. 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Performed at the Farmers Market Hideaway in Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Next week

Haden Rider as Quasimodo. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Haden Rider as Quasimodo. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. OPENS JULY 20. Disney, novelist Victor Hugo, and songwriters Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz tell the story of a deformed bell ringer named Quasimodo and his travails in 1482 Paris. This Aurora Theatre season opener is co-produced by Theatrical Outfit, the musical partnership behind In the Heights last season and Memphis the season before. Director Justin Anderson’s cast is led by Halen Rider as Quasimodo and Julissa Sabino as Esmeralda, along with Lowrey Brown, David de Vries and Kevin Harry. $30-$65. Through Aug. 27. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Aug. 1 and 15 ($20). The Aug. 24 show is sold out. 128 E. Pike St. in Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. (The Theatrical Outfit staging runs Sept. 7-17 at the Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta.)

Coming up

essential ada logoAda and the Memory Engine. PREVIEWS JULY 27 | OPENS JULY 28. Essential Theatre opens its 2017 festival with this script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson — the most-produced living playwright in the country this past season. Her subject this go-round is Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the British mathematician who became the world’s first computer programmer. In calling this 2015 bio-play a “rare and special artistic achievement,” The Huffington Post deemed it an “intelligent play about intelligent historical people that has been crafted by intelligent theater artists for an intelligent audience.” Ashley Anderson is Ada, with Mark Cosby as the supportive, influential Charles Babbage. $15 preview; regularly $20-$25. In repertory through Aug. 27. Details HERE, tickets HERE. At the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.

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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