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“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” opens at Aurora Theatre, and our top picks remain “Between Riverside and Crazy” (True Colors) and “Little Shop of Horrors” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: The cast of “Riverside” (from left) Cristian Gonzalez, Andrew Benator, Jerri Tubbs, Diany Rodriguez, Keith Arthur Bolden, Annamaria Dvorak and Earl Billings.

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

Recommended

TC_-_Riverside** Between Riverside and Crazy. THROUGH AUG. 6. The New York Times called this 2015 Pulitzer winner “a dizzying and exciting place to be,” saying that playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis “has a splendid ear in blurring lines between the sacred and profane.” The story: Ex-cop “Pops” Washington (Earl Billings, the AFLAC commercial guy) 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 is complicating everything. Eric J. Little directs. Adult content: Recommended for ages 16 and up. $20-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 a.m. July 26. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road. Details HERE. Tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or 877.725.8849.

William S. Murphey, Juan Carlos Unzueta. Photo: Casey Gardner
Bill Murphey, Juan Carlos Unzueta. Photo: Casey Gardner

** Little Shop of Horrors. THROUGH AUG. 29. Actor’s Express goes to Skid Row with this twisty cult musical about a nebbish flower shop worker, his unrequited love, his cranky boss, a demented dentist and an insatiable blood-sucking plant. The horror-comedy ran off-Broadway for five years in the 1980s, became a 1986 movie and was revived on Broadway in 2003. You might 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. $28 and up, plus taxes. 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

RialtoLogoCMYK-300x120Be Downtown Film Festival. SATURDAY ONLY. This second annual film fest features Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast at 3 p.m. (1991, 84 mins); Star Wars: The Force Awakens at 5 p.m. (2015, 136 mins); and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at 7:30 p.m. (2016, 133 mins). The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University presents the event in partnership with the Atlanta Film Society and Central Atlanta Progress . $5 per film (a portion benefits the education outreach program Rialto2Go. Rialto Center, 80 Forsyth St. NW. Tickets HERE or at 404.413.9849.

Opening this week

Julissa Sabino, Kevin Harry. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Julissa Sabino, Kevin Harry. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. OPENS TONIGHT. Disney, novelist Victor Hugo, and songwriters Alan Menken & 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 two previously teamed on In the Heights and Memphis. Justin Anderson directs a cast 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). Tonight’s and Aug. 24 shows are sold out; other performances selling well, so please check ticket availability before you go. 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. (The Theatrical Outfit staging runs Sept. 7-17 at the Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta.)

Last chance

CPA-CinderellaDella32Cinderella Della Circus. CLOSES SUNDAY. The Center for Puppetry Arts reprises its fairy tale/circus mash-up, adapted by artistic director Jon Ludwig and told with marionette, rod and shadow puppets. Recommended for ages 4 and up. $11.25-$19.50. 10 a.m. + noon today-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.

Still running

Annie-SQ cropAnnie Get Your Gun. THROUGH AUG. 6. 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 — “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, ran three years. $15-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

Naomi Lavette. Photo: Greg Mooney
Naomi Lavette. Photo: Greg Mooney

Blackberry Daze. THROUGH AUG. 27. 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. 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.

Kenneth Wigley, Dani Herd.
Kenneth Wigley, Dani Herd.

A 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. With Kenneth Wigley as Theseus and Oberon, Dani Herd as Hippolyta and Titania, and Charlie T. Thomas as Bottom. What fools these mortals be! Pub menu and beverages available. $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.

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. THROUGH JULY 29. 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 pavilion table. 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.

Casey Shuler. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Casey Shuler. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

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. This 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

Lauren Gunderson. Photo: Matthew Mammola
Lauren Gunderson. Photo: Matthew Mammola

Ada 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 2016/17 season’s most-produced living American playwright. 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.

Coming up

AMTF Collage @ 500

Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival. JULY 30-AUG. 1. The second annual event will introduce three shows, one that eyeballs corrupt politicians (titled Cakewalk), another that flips an Ovid myth (In the Middle of the Ocean) and a third that digs into the biblical stories of Mary of Nazareth (Mother of God). These are works-in-progress, with some more finished than others; you’ll be among the first theatergoers to see them. See In the Middle of the Ocean at 8 p.m. July 30; Cakewalk at 8 p.m. July 31; and Mother of God at 8 p.m. Aug. 1. $15 per show. The fest’s 2017 home base is Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

arisOutlying Islands. AUG. 1 ONLY. A staged reading by Atlanta’s Celtic-themed Arís TheatreScottish playwright David Greig’s script is inspired by events that took place on Gruinard Island off the west coast of Scotland in August 1939, on the eve of World War II. What happened — the testing of biological weapons — wasn’t declassified until 1997. $10; $7.50 students. 7:30 p.m. Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University.  1700 N. Decatur Road. Details, tickets HERE.

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