This week we say goodbye to the Outfit’s great “Lady Day,” the Alliance’s “Native Guard” and Atlanta Symphony cellist Christopher Rex. New choices feature gods (7 Stages’ audacious “Bacchae” retelling) and a rabbit (Synchronicity’s “Edward Tulane”). Pictured above: Cara Mantella and Joe Sykes in “Angels in America.” Photo by Casey Gardner.
** INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER SEASON TOP PICK.
** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. THROUGH FEB. 17, IN REPERTORY. See both, on different days or the same one, at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling saga set at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1 is titled Millennium Approaches; Part 2 is Perestroika. Kushner’s achievement, a 20th-century theatrical landmark, 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 Greggory, Cara Mantella, Parris Sarter and Joe Sykes, several of whom play multiple roles. Your time investment will be mostly rewarded. $22-$40. 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.
[MORE: THE STAGES OF WINTER — ENCORE NAMES THE BEST OF THE SEASON]
** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. THROUGH FEB. 18. American premiere. Horizon Theatre begins its 2018 season with a contemporary love story that has a soulful jazz score. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting; Vinette is on the run but doesn’t know why. Together, they take a stab at love. Amari Cheatom (the film Django Unchained and a Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta alum) is Klook. Brittany Inge (Horizon’s Blackberry Daze) is Vinette. The script is by London-based playwright Ché Walker, who directs. $23 and up, plus fees. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. No show this Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday). 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.
** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. CLOSES SUNDAY. Highly recommended. At Theatrical Outfit. If any show should run longer, this one is it. Singer/actor Terry Burrell shimmers in this bruising bio of jazz singer Billie Holiday, performing months before her death at age 44. It’s Philadelphia, 1959. The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about Lady Day’s down-and-out life and a song list that includes “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen more. Burrell’s considerable credits include Broadway (Dreamgirls, Thoroughly Modern Millie); Lady Day off-Broadway; and Ethel, among others, at the Alliance Theatre. Look for her next in the Alliance’s Hospice + Pointing at the Moon, opening March 23. $18-$51. 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
** Maytag Virgin. THROUGH FEB. 11. Regional premiere at Aurora Theatre. Audrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows an Alabama schoolteacher (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor (Brad Brinkley) in the year following her husband’s unexpected death. DC Theatre Scene called it “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. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 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.
Native Guard. CLOSES SUNDAY. 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. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-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
** The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae. OPENS SATURDAY. At 7 Stages. The 38-year-old Little Five Points company looks to ancient Greece for its first production of 2018. Euripides’ The Bacchae delves into opposite sides of human nature: the rational, civilized side represented by the king of Thebes (Lowrey Brown) and the instinctive side represented by Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy (Israel’s Ofir Nahari). This world premiere telling comes from Margaret Baldwin, an Atlanta playwright of note, and uses opera, dance, puppetry and physical theater to tell its story of blind faith, abuse of power and vengeance. Michael Haverty directs. Klimchak, who builds and plays unusual instruments, provides original music, with musical direction by Bryan Mercer, and Nahari choreographing. In the Back Stage Black Box. $15-$25 (Feb. 1 preview is $15). Through Feb. 25. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 5. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. OPENS FRIDAY. At Synchronicity Theatre. Edward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china. He’s loved by a little girl but has no interest in anyone but himself. When he’s accidentally thrown overboard while at sea, his miraculous journey begins. This family-friendly adaptation is based on Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 novel. The cast: Josh Brook, Jimmica Collins, Caitlin Hargraves and Justin Walker. Mira Hirsch directs. Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids in pajamas get complimentary milk and cookies. $15-$22. Through Feb. 25. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. One Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.
The Mystery of Love & Sex. OPENS TONIGHT. At Out Front Theatre Company. London-born playwright Bathsheba “Bash” Doran’s four-character drama is an unexpected love story about where souls meet and the consequences of growing up. Charlotte and Jonny have been best friends since age 9. She’s Jewish, he’s Christian; he’s black, she’s white. Their differences intensify their connection until sexual desire complicates everything. The play premiered in 2014 at NYC’s Lincoln Center (“written with compassion and wry wisdom,” said The New York Times) and has played Chicago and Los Angeles. Doran also has written for TV (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Masters of Sex,” “Smash”). Working Title Playwrights‘ Amber Bradshaw directs a cast comprising Donald McNamus, Tiffany Morgan, Terrance Smith and Rachel Wansker. The piece contains nudity. $20 + $25. Through Feb. 18. 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755.
This weekend only
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. Join music director Robert Spano and guest pianist Jorge Federico Osorio for an all-Beethoven concert, featuring the German master’s Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 3. Includes a Christopher Rex Farewell Recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, free for anyone with a ticket for either night. Rex retires this weekend, after spending the past 39 years as the ASO’s leading cellist. He’ll play Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 5 in D Major and Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat (2nd movement). $22-$102. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Picnic. THROUGH FEB. 18. At Stage Door Players. William Inge’s 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama argues that youth is a gift to be savored, not squandered. When Labor Day weekend arrives in the Kansas backyards of two middle-aged widows, so does a vital young man who upsets the social order. The cast: Blake Burgess, Kara Cantrell, Larry Davis and Shelby Folks. Tess Malis Kincaid directs. $33. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 15. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.
Rainforest Adventures. THROUGH MARCH 4. Return to the Amazonian jungle with the Center for Puppetry Arts. Brazilian music accompanies this communion with 30-plus exotic plants and animals, including howler monkeys, harpy eagles and pink river dolphins. Performed in Czech Black style by puppeteers Brian Harrison, Jake Krakovsky, Emily Marsh, Tim Sweeney and Anna Claire Walker. For ages 4 and up. $19.50 non-members; $9.75 members. 10 + 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.
Mozart’s “Requiem.” FEB. 8 + 10-11. Italian-born guest conductor Roberto Abbado leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Mozart’s 1791 masterpiece, written as he was dying. The orchestra and chorus are joined by soloists Jessica Rivera (soprano), Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano), William Burden (tenor) and Tom McNichols (bass). Also scheduled: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with guest artist Jorge Federico Osorio, who has been spending a lot of time in Atlanta lately. $32-$108. 8 p.m. Thursday + Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday (largely sold out but tickets remain). Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. FEB. 14-18. This brilliant, one-of-a-kind 32-member company makes its annual Atlanta visit with a program that looks to the past — specifically 1960, the 1980s and 2004 — to entertain, provoke and inform the future. The lineup includes six performances and 13 pieces (not all seen at every performance). Among them, artistic director Robert Battle’s Mass; Shelter by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar;Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section; Talley Beatty’s Stack-Up; and the Alvin Ailey creation Revelations (at all performances). $22-$86. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.
[‘THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IS NOT A ONE-NOTE SAMBA,’ SAYS AILEY’S ROBERT BATTLE]