We’ve got comings and goings in this week’s curated BEST BETS column. Openings include Xperimental Puppetry Theater (Center for Puppetry Arts); “Candide” (Alliance/ASO); “Bach to Broadway” (Atlanta Ballet); and “Ripcord” (Aurora). Closings include “Flower Room” (Actor’s Express) and “Revolt” (7 Stages). Pictured, from left: Jordan Ford and Wendy Melkonian in “Sordid Lives” at Out Front Theatre.

**  INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA WINTER/SPRING SEASON TOP PICK.

Special event

Xperimental Puppetry Theater. THURSDAY-SUNDAY. Center for Puppetry Arts. See what happens when dozens of multidisciplinary artists come together for an annual event that offers professional and emerging artists a place to explore, experiment and create bold and original puppet theater. The lineup includes five films, five live performances and an installation. Talkbacks follow each performance. Age 18 and up only. Usually a hot ticket. $10 members; $15 non-members. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW in Midtown.  Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Films

  • The Monkey and the Popcorn by Eric Castaneda, a simple sing-along performance about a caged monkey and a forgotten popcorn kernel who find each other and become friends.
  • Body My House by Steve Morrison and Colin Wheeler, in which a lake house appears empty inside but hides secrets in its walls.
  • The Opal by Donna Sammander, an Afghan story of how the opal came to be and how it holds the secret to much more than light and rainbow colors.
  • The Custer Wolf  by Chris Heady, in which the nine-year reign of the animal outlaw known to South Dakotans as the Custer Wolf is put to the ultimate test when the USDA’s best hunter takes up its trail. A true story. 
  • The Boat of Bones by Clelia Scala, a stop-motion film about a puppet in search of life in the midst of death.

Live performances 

  • Mean Spirited  by Frances Chang, in which Grandma Bertie — after passing to the next realm — comes to terms with the choices her family makes in her absence and looks hard look at herself and the estrangement with her late son.  
  • Moving World  by Jessica Mendel, a combination of stop-motion animation and live puppetry that explores the world of fireflies.
  • Sagittarius A by Brandi Smart, a comedy about the complicated relationship of one stellar traveler and his ship, Rosie.
  • But I Digress by Vivian Alford and Lee Bryan, in which a former beauty queen and her daughter serve up slices of life and tell it like it is — and was.
  • Filthy/Gorgeous by Cynthia Brower, a  burlesque strip-tease featuring a body puppet.

Installation

  • In Stall  by Jamie Donmoyer,  an interactive piece that uses the sights and sounds of a public restroom experience to tell short vignettes. 

***

Recommended

Candide. THROUGH MAY 20. On paper, this looks great. The Alliance Theatre and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra co-produce a staged concert version of Leonard Bernstein’s notoriously difficult 1956 musical opera, based on Voltaire’s satirical 1759 novel about a naïve young man who searches the world for his lost beloved while fiercely believing — as he’s been taught — that his is the best of all possible worlds. Candide features a cast of 17 (including Broadway’s Christopher Sieber and Broadway/Atlanta’s Terry Burrell), plus the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with Robert Spano conducting. Expect puppetry and projections, too. Recommended for age 12+ (violence and mild sexual situations). $10-$75. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[THE ALLIANCE’S SUSAN V. BOOTH ON CANDIDE, PUPPETS + PARTNERSHIPS]

Stacy Melich (left), Eliana Marianes, Joshua Quinn. Photo: Casey Gardner

** The Flower Room. CLOSES SUNDAY. Actor’s Express. World premiere. Atlanta playwright Daryl Lisa Fazio’s comedy follows an uptight academic named Ingrid (Stacy Melich), who researches sexual behavior in primitive cultures while remaining closed off from her own sexual side. When she loses her university job, she turns to writing erotica to pay the bills — unleashing her own journey of, well, discovery. Express regular Melissa Foulger directs a cast that includes Matthew Busch (The Thrush and the Woodpecker), Eliana Marianes and Joshua Quinn. $31-$44. 8 nightly through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Playwright Alice Birch

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. CLOSES SUNDAY.  7 Stages. British playwright Alice Birch’s 2014 script will likely make you question everything you say when it comes to discussing women and their relationships with men, one another and the world. 7 Stages decided to produce Revolt to address the urgent mood in our community and nation surrounding issues of women’s rights and systemic prejudice.” Atlanta-based theater artist Rachel Parish directs. Her cast: Dorothy Victoria Bell-Polk, Christopher Hampton, Renita JamesBrooke Owens, two-time Suzi Bass Award winner Mary Lynn Owen and Patrick Wade. On the mainstage. $22.50-$28. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

[WHY ‘REVOLT’ + WHY NOW AT 7 STAGES]

This weekend only

Bach to Broadway. FRIDAY-SUNDAY. Atlanta Ballet closes its 2017/18 season with three works, including a world premiere, all accompanied by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra. Who Cares?, a company premiere with choreography by George Balanchine, is set to nine classic George Gershwin tunes. The New York Times calls it “a carefree ballet that will send people out humming and even smiling.” In 7 for Eight, San Francisco Ballet’s Helgi Tomasson evokes Balanchine with choreography that intertwines eight dancers with the music of seven Bach movements. The world premiere, Concerto Armonico by Mariinsky Theatre’s Maxim Petrov, is driven by a powerful musical score, a concerto composed by Russian-born Alexander Tcherepnin for harmonica and orchestra. Petrov makes his North American choreographic debut with this piece. $20-$129. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Opening this week

Donna Biscoe, Jill Jane Clements. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Ripcord. THROUGH JUNE 3. Aurora Theatre describes this 2016 comic-drama from Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Good People, Rabbit Hole, Kimberly Akimbo) as “The Odd Couple” meets “The Golden Girls.” Crabby Abby (Donna Biscoe) and her new roommate (the too-rarely-seen Jill Jane Clements) vie for prime real estate at the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility until their contest becomes a pitched battle with no end in sight. Jaclyn Hofmann directs. Also in the cast: Megan Rose, Seun Soyemi and Jacob York. $20-$55. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m 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. 

Last chance

 Lazybed. CLOSES SUNDAY. Arís!, Atlanta’s stage for Celtic culture, takes on Scottish playwright Iain Crichton Smith’s dark philosophical comedy about a man in the midst of a metaphysical crisis, essentially a meditation on life, death, love and the meaning of all we hold dear. Murdo, the man in question, is a Scottish crofter (farmer) who has taken to his bed. While he malingers, he’s visited by his brother, his gossipy neighbor, his girlfriend, an insurance salesman, a minister, a medical specialist, Immanuel Kant and Death — who keeps stopping by to chat. $23-$28. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE

Chris Hecke (from left), Lee Osorio, Sean Kelley.

The Life and Death of Richard the Second. CLOSES SUNDAY. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. In this history play, King Richard (Lee Osorio) lies and steals his way to riches in order to finance his invasion of Irish land but is taken down by Henry Bolingbroke (Maurice Ralston) and the Earl of Northumberland (Al Stilo) and imprisoned, leading to the crowning of King Henry IV. Also in the cast: J. Tony Brown, Chris Hecke, Heidi Cline McKerley and Tamil Periasamy. $21-$42. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Pub menu and full bar available. 499 Peachtree St. NE (parking suggested in the Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across the street). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

Still running

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 20. Center for Puppetry Arts. It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how, says the sassy cat in the red-and-white hat. He’s feline full of mischief (and magic) in this stage telling, done with rod puppets and based on the 1957 children’s book by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. This version was first produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain. The center’s Jon Ludwig directs here. For age 4 and up. $11.25-$19.50. Showtimes: 10 + 11 a.m. Thursday-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.

Virginia Kirby (left), Ellen McQueen.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City. THROUGH MAY 20. Southeastern premiere by the new Atlanta Theatre Club, which calls itself an itinerant, women-centric company that produces contemporary plays. The New York Times called Halley Feiffer’s 2016 comedy “as deeply felt as its name is long” and said it “explores that tender spot where uncontrollable laughter and uncontainable tears meet.” Jennifer Silver directs. Her cast: Douglas Dickerman, Ellen McQueen, Rebeca Robles and Virginia Kirby. $27. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday. Performed at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre, 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE.

Sordid Lives. THROUGH MAY 20. Out Front Theatre. Chaos erupts in Winters, Texas, when a good Christian woman hits her head on the sink and bleeds to death in a motel room after tripping over her lover’s wooden legs. The 1996 comedy is by the somewhat-infamous Del Shores, a Texas-born, Los Angeles-based director, writer, producer, stand-up comic, gay and human rights activist and, in his own words, all-around sh*t-stirrer. The Los Angeles Times calls him “a master of Texas comedy;” Daily Variety the “grand master of Southern lowlife sensibilities.” In a twist, Out Front’s staging is being done with a largely African-American cast. The company’s Jacob Demlow directs. The actors: Lisa Boyd, Fracena Byrd, Jordan Ford, Darrell Grant, T.K. Haile, Abby Holland, Britny HortonJason Jamal Ligon, Bert Lyons, Jessica Maguire, Wendy Melkonian and Brittani Minnieweather. Two special events coincide with the run: At 3 p.m. May 19, Out Front partners with Out on Film to screen Shores’ A Very Sordid Wedding, a sequel to the stage comedy. Shores will attend ($10 + $35); at 7 p.m. May 20, Out Front presents Shores in his one-man Pirandello riff-off, Six Characters in Search of a Play ($35 + $70). Sordid Lives tix are $15-$25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. 999 Brady Ave. NW in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755.

Next week

Libby Whittemore

Libby’s at the Express: Musical Cavalcade. MAY 17-20. Atlanta cabaret legend Libby Whittemore sings a mix of tunes, from Rosemary Clooney to Lady Antebellum, from Motown to Carolina shag, and everything in between. In case you haven’t heard, she’s really good. And funny, too. You might want to take a spare $20 or $40 with you to pick up one of her CDs at intermission or post-show. $40. 7:30 nightly. At Actor’s Express in West Midtown’s King Plow Arts Center, 8887 West Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Coming up

Hamilton. MAY 22-JUNE 10. Broadway in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s game-changing, genre-mixing, award-winning masterpiece finally comes to Atlanta for a three-week run, telling the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton — and the young nation he adopts — from his impoverished boyhood to his infamous death. American history never sounded as good as it does with Miranda’s score, which blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway sounds. It’s no hyperbole when producers claim that Hamilton is the story of America then as told by America now, with a multicultural cast no less. $80-$625 (if you can find a ticket). Limited seats remain and producers have announced a #Ham4Ham digital lottery for 40 orchestra seats ($10) for each performance. Download the phone app HERE or register online HERE. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE in Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. Good luck! Get the official program at PoshDealz.com.

[MORE: WHO KNEW OUR FOUNDING FATHERS COULD BE THIS COOL?]

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