This week’s best: Week 1 of 7 Stages’ Home Brew Festival of new plays and the must-see drama “Cardboard Piano,” opening at Actor’s Express. Pictured: The “Cardboard Piano” cast (from left) Isake Akanke, Rob Demery (in the shadows), Stephen Ruffin and Ashley Anderson. Photo by Ashley Earles-Bennett.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall/winter season top pick. 

Special event

This week’s artists: Daryl Fazio (left), Mark Kendall, Rachel Parish, Theroun Patterson.

Home Brew Festival. BEGINS TONIGHT. 7 Stages calls this the “coolest theater event of the year” — hyperbole, perhaps, but it is  promising. The company has retooled its new-play reading series from an occasional event to seven readings and talkbacks (with free beer) over 10 days. The lineup: Mark Kendall’s Black History Hour (tonight); Theroun Patterson’s Red Summer (Friday); Daryl Fazio’s Deer Play (Saturday); Rachel Parish presents Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again by British playwright Alice Birch (Nov. 16); and Pam Joyce presents Art of Gaman by Dipika Guha (Nov. 17). Those readings begin at 8 p.m. On Nov. 18, the day begins with an 11:30 a.m. brunch discussion on “The Art of Activism.” The readings: Topher Payne’s Angry Fags (2 p.m.) and Theresa Davis’ Then They Tell You It’s All in Your Head (8 p.m.). All events are free. Reservations required HERE. 7 Stages is at 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. 404.523.7647.

Recommended

** Cardboard Piano. OPENS SATURDAY. New Year’s Eve, 1999, in a remote Ugandan village. Two girls — one a local villager (Isake Akanke), the other the daughter of American missionaries (Ashley Anderson) — sneak into a church to hold a makeshift wedding for themselves. A boy soldier (Stephen Ruffin) interrupts them, sparking a chain of events that changes their lives forever. The script is by South Korea-born Hansol Jung. Kennesaw State’s Karen Robinson directs. Also in the cast: Rob Demery. The drama debuted at last year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Ky.), which Express artistic director Freddie Ashley has found to be fertile ground. Through Dec. 3. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. At the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Adam Fristoe

Dogs of Rwanda. THROUGH NOV. 18. A National New Play Network rolling world premiere from Out of Hand Theater. Sean Christopher Lewis’ drama begins in 1994 and ends in 2014. Its only character is a 16-year-old boy on a mission trip who stumbles into the nation’s ongoing genocide. Twenty years later, a letter arrives from a boy he tried to save. Performed by Out of Hand’s Adam Fristoe in living rooms and other intimate spaces in metro Atlanta and beyond. Note: The venue address for the performance you choose will be emailed 24 hours before the show. $30. Most performances are on Friday-Saturday nights. Details, tickets HERE. Want to host a performance? Details at PoshDealz.com.

Patrick Wade, Wendy Melkonian. Photo: Greg Mooney

** Hand to God. CLOSES SUNDAY. Hand to God details a puppet ministry that goes very, very wrong, and explores the fragile nature of faith, morality and the ties that bind us. The New York Times called it “darkly delightful.” The Alliance Theatre stages Robert Askins’ irreverent Tony-nominated comedy, last season’s favorite play among American regional theaters, at Dad’s Garage (the Alliance’s home is under renovations). Recommended for age 16+ (strong language, sexual situations). $20-$42. 7:30 tonight-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Dad’s is at 569 Ezzard St. SE. Parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

 

[ALLIANCE, DAD’S SAY TIME IS RIGHT FOR CHEEKY PUPPET COMEDY]

Opening this week

Alice Between. THROUGH NOV. 19. The Alliance Theatre’s Family Series updates Alice in Wonderland, making Alice a middle-schooler on her first day in seventh grade at Landwunder Middle School. Like Wonderland, it’s a world full of strange and wondrous incongruities. The original script was developed by director Rosemary Newcott, playwright Neeley Gossett and playwright/actor Steve Coulter. The cast: Ashley Anderson as Alice; Lauren Boyd as Tory; Anthony Campbell as Hatter; Joseph Pendergrast as Cheshire; and Michelle Pokopac as Caty. Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Sunday (sold out, call box office for standing room); 5 p.m. Sunday; 1:30 + 4 p.m. Nov. 18; and 5 p.m. Nov. 19. The show also will tour metro middle schools. $18-$32. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 733.5000.

This weekend only

Chelsea Sharpe

ASO Talent Development Program. SUNDAY ONLY. The 25 musicians of this special program perform works by Beethoven, Haydn, Stravinsky and John Williams, among others. Violinist Chelsea Sharpe, a TDP alumna and a fellow with the New World Symphony, also performs. The TDP fellows, as the musicians are called, are African-American and Latinx students in grades 5-12 committed to orchestral music careers. They travel from all over metro Atlanta for weekly private lessons with an ASO musician. Alumni have gone on to study at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music (New York City), the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia) and the Peabody Institute (Baltimore). $10. 3 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Steven Isserlis

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. TONIGHT + SATURDAY. Fifty years ago, Austrian composer Gustav Mahler had been all but forgotten. Today, he has one of the largest and most enthusiastic followings in classical music. Music director Robert Spano is on the podium for Mahler’s heart-pounding Symphony No. 7. Also planned: Schumann’s Cello Concerto with guest artist Steven Isserlis. $22-$107. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Monday-Tuesday only

Stripped Bare. MONDAY-TUESDAY. Synchronicity Theatre’s newish arts incubator project presents Inch by Inch by Atlanta artist Rachel Graf Evans. It tells the story of Bridget and Wyn, a couple who returns to Bridget’s hometown for her mother’s funeral. When Bridget learns that she has inherited the house and vegetable garden, she must reconcile her fears about family and identity before the garden will let her go. Stripped Bare projects emphasize words and ideas with minimal technical elements, thus, “stripped bare.” Free, reservations requested. 7:30 nightly. Synchronicity is in the Peachtree Pointe building, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE. Info at 404.484.8636.

Last chance

The Flying Dutchman. CLOSES SUNDAY. The Atlanta Opera continues its season with Wagner, who recounts the storied love affair between a maiden and the cursed captain of a phantom ship. Directed by Tomer Zvulun, the opera’s general & artistic director, with Arthur Fagen conducting. Bass-baritone Wayne Tigges sings the title role, soprano Melody Moore sings Senta, and tenor Jay Hunter Morris sings Erik, a role he recently performed with the Metropolitan and Washington National operas. $35-$131 in advance. 8 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.

[READ MORE: THINK OF WAGNER FANS AS THE ORIGINAL BINGE-WATCHERS]

Stacy Melich. Photo: Dan Carmody / Studio 7

** Morningside. CLOSES SUNDAY. A world premiere at Georgia Ensemble Theatre from Atlanta playwright Topher Payne (Greetings Friend Your Kind Assistance Is Required, The Only Light in RenoPerfect ArrangementAngry Fags). The comedy takes place on a sunny spring afternoon in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood when nine women with secrets are thrown together — at a baby shower — with a case of champagne. The cast: Lala Cochran, Kelly CrissKate DonadioKeena Redding HuntShelly McCook, Ellen McQueen, Stacy MelichGina Rickicki and Ann Wilson. $29-$53 plus fees. 8 tonight-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details HERE, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. 

Ongoing

Andrew Benator, Mary Lynn Owen. Photo: Greg Mooney

Crossing Delancey. THROUGH NOV. 25. The Alliance Theatre stages the romantic comedy that inspired the 1988 movie of the same name. Bubbie (Mary Lynn Owen) is an 80-year-old Jewish grandmother determined to see granddaughter Izzy (Sochi Fried) marry the right man. Izzy has her eyes on an author (Daniel Thomas May); Bubbie zeroes in on Sam the pickle man (Andrew Benator). Who will prevail? $10-$70. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Performed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road (the Alliance’s home is under renovations). Tickets, details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[READ MORE: EVERYBODY OUGHT TO HAVE A BUBBIE]

Sarah Newby Halicks (from left), O’Neil Delapenha, Brooke Owns.

Twelfth Night. THROUGH NOV. 26. A shipwreck, separated identical twins, mistaken identities, romance, revenge and one pair of yellow stockings. Welcome to Orsino’s court and the zany world of Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Chris Hecke is Orsino. Pub menu and spirited beverages available. $22-$45. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 99 Peachtree St. NE (across from Emory University Hospital Midtown). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299. Discount gift cards at PoshDealz.com.

For the holidays

Hermey and Rudolph. Photo: Clay Walker

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. THROUGH DEC. 31. We’ve barely had frost on the pumpkins, and Thanksgiving is still days away, but the most famous reindeer of all returns to the Center for Puppetry Arts. The piece, adapted by artistic director Jon Ludwig, remains faithful to the classic 1964 Rankin-Bass TV special, known for its  stop-motion animation. All our favorite characters return: Rudolph, Clarice, Sam the Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the Elf, the Misfit Toys, the Bumble and, of course, Santa. Several special events are planned, including a photo op with chef Kevin Gillespie, channeling Yukon Cornelius, this Saturday. For age 4 and up. $11.25-$19.50. No shows Thanksgiving or Christmas days. Curtain is generally at 10 + 11:45 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday, but times vary through the holidays, so check ahead. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Next week

The ASO Chorus

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. NOV. 16 + 18. Verdi’s Requiem is a bucket-list experience, the ASO says. It performs the 1874 piece with the full orchestra, the ASO Chorus and four soloists from the opera world — Erin Wall, a “soprano of radiance, pristine beauty and tingling top notes,” says the Financial Times; mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton; tenor Dimitri Pittas; and bass Peter Rose. Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles is on the podium. $22-$97. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733-5000.

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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