Wow, what a weekend for openings! “Angels in America,” Billie Holiday, a “Maytag Virgin,” a Native Guardsman, and Rosemary Clooney. Your dance card this weekend, and beyond, should be very full. Pictured: Images from Theatrical Outfit’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Illustration by Daryl Fazio.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER SEASON TOP PICK.

Recommended

Parris Sarter, as the Angel.

** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. OPENS FRIDAY. In repertory, at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling, two-part saga set at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1,  Millennium Approaches opens Friday; Part 2, Perestroika, begins Jan. 19. Kushner’s achievement, one of the landmark theatrical events of the 20th century, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1993 Tony awards. The Express cast: Robert Bryan Davis as Roy Cohn and Grant Chapman as Prior Walter, with Carolyn Cook, Thandiwe DeShazor, Louis GreggoryCara Mantella, Parris Sarter and Joe Sykes. $22-$40. In repertory through Feb. 17. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Millennium Approaches details, tickets HERE; Perestroika details, tickets HERE. Or call 404.607.7469. 

[READ: THE STAGES OF WINTER, ENCORE’S PICKS OF THE SEASON]

Terry Burrell

** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. IN PREVIEWS. OPENS SATURDAY. At Theatrical Outfit. Philadelphia, 1959. An audience gathers at Emerson’s on the city’s south side to witness, unknowingly, one of the last performances of legendary singer Billie Holiday. The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about her down-and-out life and a songlist that includes “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen others. Terry Burrell (Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dreamgirls, Into the Woods; the Alliance Theatre’s Ethel) plays Holiday, a role she’s done off-Broadway. $18-$51. Through Feb. 4. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 14, 18, 20-21, 25, 27-28 and Feb. 1, 3, 4. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Courtney Patterson, Brad Brinkley. Photo: Chris Bartelski

** Maytag Virgin. OPENS THURSDAY. A regional premiere at Aurora Theatre. Audrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows Alabama schoolteacher Lizzy Nash (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor, Jack Key (Brad Brinkley), in the year following the unexpected death of Lizzy’s husband. DC Theatre Scene called the play “a witty and earnest meditation on how people connect even when they feel they’re not ready.” Melissa Foulger, an Actor’s Express regular and a name you should know, directs. $20-$55. Through Feb. 11. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 16 show sold out. 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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Neal A. Ghant as the Native Guard. Photo: Greg Mooney

Native Guard. OPENS SATURDAY. Alliance Theatre at the Atlanta History Center. A reprise of the 2014 staging based on poet Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, which juxtaposes her life as a mixed-race child with the lives of the Native Guard — black soldiers fighting for the Union in the Civil War. The twist this time: It’s performed near the History Center’s Civil War exhibition. The entire cast returns: Neal A. Ghant as the Native Guard, January LaVoy as the Poet, vocalist Nicole Banks Long and composer/music director Tyrone Jackson. Recommended for age 12 and up. $20-$47; $10 teens. Through Feb. 4. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: REVISITING ‘NATIVE GUARD’]

Opening this week

Mark Cabus, Rachel Sorsa. Photo: Dan Carmody / Studio 7

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. OPENS THURSDAY. At Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Described as a “fresh, personal and poignant” picture of the singer/actor who became a Hollywood legend. Tenderly follows Clooney (1928-2002) from her Kentucky childhood, through her girl-singer days and on to Tinseltown and beyond, showing the bumps, bruises and successes along the way. The score includes “Come On-a My House,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Hey There,” “Mambo Italiano” and more. The cast: Rachel Sorsa as Clooney and Mark Cabus as the Doctor (and 11 other roles). James Donadio directs. $30-$46 (previews cheaper). Through Jan. 28. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 4 p.m. Jan. 20 +27. Performed at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

This weekend only

Leonard Bernstein and the Beethoven Seventh. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. Ludwig van Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein were lifelong champions of music and liberty. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra celebrates them throughout the 2017/18 season. Join guest conductor Peter Oundjian for the toe-tapping ballet Fancy Free (the basis for the movie On the Town and written when Bernstein was 25) and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the last piece Bernstein conducted before dying in 1990 at age 72. Also on the program: ASO concertmaster David Coucheron performing the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3. $22-$107 (some sections, especially on Saturday, are already sold out). 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

The Magic Flute. SATURDAY-SUNDAY. The Atlanta Opera Studio performs an hourlong version of the Mozart piece about Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue the beautiful Pamina, a story of good and evil and love, told with singing actors and puppets. The Studio artists, part of the opera company’s artist-in-residence program, will sing in English. $20. 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday (a 3 p.m. performance is sold out). Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.

Still running

The Lion King. THROUGH JAN. 28. Broadway in Atlanta brings Disney’s circle of life back to the Fox Theatre. A cast of 40-plus breathes life into a lion cub named Simba, strutting giraffes, lumbering elephants, swooping birds and leaping gazelles. The original production, which won six Tony awards, is in its 21st season on Broadway. This is a new North American tour. $39-$169 plus fees. Be warned, seats for the first week of the run and weekends are selling briskly. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1 p.m. Jan 11. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 1.855.285.8499.

Nia Holloway and company. Photo: Joan Marcus

[READ: THIS TOUR’S GROWN-UP NALA GREW UP IN NORCROSS]

Next week

Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. OPENS JAN. 19. Put this on your radar. Horizon Theatre opens its 2018 season with a contemporary love story that comes with a soulful jazz score. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting; Vinette is on the run but doesn’t know what’s chasing her. Together, they make a tentative stab at love. Amari Cheatom (the film Django Unchained) is Klook. Brittany Inge (Horizon’s Blackberry Daze) is Vinette. The script is by Lond0n-based playwright Ché Walker, who directs. Music and lyrics by Anoushka Lucas and Omar Lye-Fook, with musical direction by Atlanta’s Christian Magby. $23 plus fees and up. Through Feb. 18. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. No matinee on Jan. 20; no show Feb. 4 (Super Bowl Sunday). 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

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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