Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater arrives, Aurora’s “Maytag Virgin” departs, and attention is paid to two of America’s greatest playwrights — Tony Kushner (“Angels” at Actor’s Express) and August Wilson (“King Hedley II” at True Colors Theatre). Pictured: Jimmica Collins and Caitlin Hargraves in “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” at Synchronicity Theatre. Photo by Jerry Siegel.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER SEASON TOP PICK.

Recommended

A scene from the Robert Battle-choreographed “Mass.” Photo: Paul Kolnik

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 MassShelter by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section; Talley Beatty’s Stack-Up; and the Alvin Ailey creation Revelations (which concludes every performance).  $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.

[AILEY’S ROBERT BATTLE: ‘THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IS NOT A ONE-NOTE SAMBA’]

Parris Sarter, Grant Chapman. Photo: Ashley Earles-Bennett

** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. THROUGH FEB. 17, IN ROTATING REPERTORY. At Actor‘s Express. See both. Your time investment will be mostly rewarded. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s 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 GreggoryCara Mantella, Parris Sarter and Joe Sykes, several of whom play multiple roles. $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. 

[SEE: THE STAGES OF WINTER —  ENCORE NAMES THE BEST OF THE SEASON]

Amari Cheatum, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. THROUGH FEB. 18. American premiere. Horizon Theatre tells a contemporary love story with 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. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Courtney Patterson.

** Maytag Virgin. CLOSES SUNDAY. Regional premiere at Aurora TheatreAudrey 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 this comic-drama “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. Cefaly is a playwright to keep your eyes on. $20-$55. 8 tonight-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.

Josh Brook, with Edward. Photo: Jerry Siegel

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. THROUGH FEB. 25. At Synchronicity TheatreEdward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china who’s loved by a little girl but must go on a miraculous journey before he can love anyone back. This family-friendly adaptation — which includes toy piano, harmonica, guitar and banjo music — is told simply and elegantly by a versatile cast of four: Josh Brook, Jimmica Collins, Caitlin Hargraves and Justin Walker. Mira Hirsch directs. The piece is based on Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 novel. Note: Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids in pajamas get complimentary milk and cookies. Runs two hours with one intermission. $15-$22. 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. 

Opening this week

Seun Soyemi, Brittany L. Smith. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Ontario Was Here. OPENS SATURDAY. At Aurora Theatre. Kansas-based playwright Darren Canady, the 2007 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, returns to metro Atlanta with this drama. It  follows two social workers  (Brittany L. Smith, Seun Soyemi) on the front lines of Kansas City’s Department of Children and Families. Tempers flash when the co-workers (and ex-lovers) clash over what’s best for a 9-year-old boy named Ontario. The stakes are life and death.  Cynthia D. Barker, better known for her work onstage, directs. This show is part of Aurora’s Harvel Lab Series, done in its smaller black-box space. $20-$30. Through March 4. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday.  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.

This weekend only

Mozart’s “Requiem.”  THURSDAY + SATURDAY-SUNDAY.  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 (Saturday nearly sold out); 3 p.m. Sunday (call the ASO for tickets). Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Still running

Abagail Dawkins (from left), Diany Rodriguez, Anna Haworth. Photo: StunGun Photography

** The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae. THROUGH FEB. 25. At 7 Stages. The 38-year-old L5P company looks to ancient Greece for its first production of 2018. Euripides’ The Bacchae delves into opposite sides of human nature and is surprisingly topical with its warning about blindly following political leaders.  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 Ofir Nahari choreographing. In the Back Stage Black Box. Runs 80 minutes with no intermission. $15-$25). 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

Terrance Smith, Rachel Wansker.

The Mystery of Love & Sex. THROUGH FEB. 18.  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 the complications of sexual desire tiptoe in. The drama premiered in 2014 at 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 PlaywrightsAmber Bradshaw directs a cast comprising Donald McNamus, Tiffany Morgan, Terrance Smith and Rachel Wansker. Note: Contains nudity. $20 + $25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755.

Shannon McCarren, Blake Burgess.

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. Inge (Bus Stop; Come Back, Little Sheba) was known for bringing small-town life in the American Midwest to Broadway. $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.

Photo: David Zeiger

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, sloths, big cats 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.

Next week

Jorge Federico Osorio

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. FEB. 15 + 17. Italian maestro Roberto Abbado returns For Franz Schubert’s haunting Unfinished symphony. And guest pianist Jorge Federico Osorio (“a serious and cultivated Beethoven player,” says the Chicago Tribune) leads Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, completing the ASO’s performances of all five Beethoven piano concertos this season.  Also scheduled: Rossini’s overture to Semiramide. $17-$97. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

August Wilson, in 2003.

** King Hedley II. PREVIEWS FEB. 13, OPENS FEB. 14.  At True Colors Theatre CompanyAugust Wilson (1945-2005) is one of the great American playwrights of any century, and a personal favorite. King Hedley II is part of his 10-play Century, or Pittsburgh, Cycle, all reflecting the black experience in 20th-century America. King (Neal A. Ghant, fresh from the Alliance Theatre’s Native Guard) is an ex-con peddling stolen refrigerators in inner-city Pittsburgh in the 1980s. His goal: Buy a new business and thus, a new life. Surrounding him for better or worse in his quest are his wife, his mother, his mother’s ex-lover, his best friend and a neighbor named Stool Pigeon (Eddie Bradley), a mystical sort of truthsayer. Also in the cast: Tiffany Denise HobbsTonia Jackson, E. Roger Mitchell and Eugene H. Russell IV). Jamil Jude directs. Some consider King Hedley II a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It seemed so in a mesmerizing production at the Alliance in 2003/04. Recommended for age 16 and up (language, content). $20-$35 ($25 preview Tuesday). 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m.  Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details HERE, tickets at Ticket Alternative HERE or at 877.725.8849.

 

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