This weekend’s Atlanta Fringe Festival, Theatrical Outfit’s “110 in the Shade,” Synchronicity’s “The Taming,” “Hamilton’s” last hurrah and the final concert of the Atlanta Symphony’s 2017/18 classical season top this week’s curated BEST BETS column. Pictured: Those hot and shady folks at Theatrical Outfit. Photo by Chris Bartelski.
** INDICATES AN ENCORE ATLANTA SPRING/SUMMER SEASON TOP PICK.
Atlanta Fringe Festival. THROUGH SUNDAY. It happens only once a year. Dancers, comedians, storytellers, puppeteers, actors and the offbeat put up live shows across five venues in and around the Little Five Points neighborhood. In its sixth season, Fringe attracted 70 submissions from across the country for 20 spots. Each winning act (pulled randomly from a hat) performs four times, for a total of 80 performances. Some of the more intriguing titles: Flesh Canoe to Tuna Town; The Gay Uncle Explains It All to You; Grab Me By the Lady Land! (Putting the #Me Back Into #MeToo!); PolySHAMory: Really Spicy Opera; and Unlimited Stories: Life in the Fast Lane. All patrons must have a 2018 Fringe button ($3) and a ticket or pass to see a performance. Single-show tickets are $10. Passes come in six-show ($43), 10-show ($63) and 16-show ($93) increments and can be shared. Fringe includes after-parties and networking, free Fringe Audio and a free closing-night party on Sunday at the Highland Inn Ballroom. Details, tickets, everything you need to know HERE. Go get fringy!
** 110 in the Shade. THROUGH JUNE 24. Theatrical Outfit. A promising cast makes this musical — a modest Broadway success in 1964 and 2007 — worth a look. It’s July 4th, 1936, in Three Point, Texas, where unrelenting heat has the locals praying for rain. Lizzie Curry (Ayana Reed) is daydreaming away fears of becoming a spinster when a charismatic rainmaker named Starbuck (Jeremy Wood) sweeps into town promising more than just atmospheric relief. The score is by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!). Also in the cast: Atlanta singer-actors Lowrey Brown, Galen Crawley, Devon Hales, Eugene H. Russell IV and LaParee Young. Artistic director Tom Key directs, with musical direction by S. Renee Clark. $20.50-$51. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 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.
** Hamilton. CLOSES SUNDAY. That was a quick three weeks, but maybe this ginormously popular and accomplished piece of theater will be back soon. Hamilton lives up to its pedigree — 11 Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s game-changing, genre-mixing, multicultural musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton from his impoverished island boyhood to his infamous death. American history never sounded better than it does with a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway sounds. It’s not hyperbole when producers claim that “Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.” $80-$625 (tickets are scarce but available). Producers hold 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. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Broadway in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE in Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. Good luck! For an official program, go to PoshDealz.com.
** Sweeney Todd. OPENS SATURDAY. The Atlanta Opera. Many experts consider this piece, subtitled The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, to be Stephen Sondheim’s greatest achievement, one balanced on the precipice of musical theater and American opera. The Grand Guignol revenge story follows Todd, a barber who returns to London after many years away to settle a score — or four. Mrs. Lovett, purveyor of the worst pies in town, becomes his co-conspirator. Baritone Michael Mayes sings Todd. Mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak sings Mrs. Lovett. God, that’s good! $35-$131. A fifth show has been added. Performances at 8 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. June 15-16; and 3 p.m. June 17. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.
** The Taming. THROUGH JUNE 24. At Synchronicity Theatre. A modern political farce suggested by Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. When a conservative senatorial aide, a liberal political activist and a sparkly beauty queen find themselves locked in a hotel room during the Miss America pageant, their political passions just might prove that they’re revolutionary geniuses. The script is from Decatur-born, San Francisco-based writer Lauren Gunderson, the most-frequently-produced playwright in America this season. The Taming, critics say, “spanks America’s sound-bite politics with the switch of actual history.” The cast: Caroline Arapoglou, Jimmica Collins and Kelly Criss. Atlanta theater artist Suehyla El-Attar directs. $23-$41. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Synchronicity is in Midtown’s One Peachtree Pointe building, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or 404.484.8636.
Opening this week
Mamma Mia! OPENS SATURDAY. Aurora Theatre at the Ferst Center for the Arts on the Georgia Tech campus. The Lawrenceville playhouse brings its most recent musical intown for a short run. The 2001 jukebox tuner built around the ABBA songbook will never be one of the great musicals, but it has a fervid fan base and a devoted ABBA following. The slight story unfolds on a small Greek island where a single mother reunites with old friends, and her daughter tries to discover the identity of her father before she marries. The score includes “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Take a Chance on Me,” plus 19 more. In the Aurora cast: Kristin Markiton as the mom; Terry Henry and Marcie Millard as her friends; Hannah Church as the daughter; Nick Arapoglou as the daughter’s boyfriend, and Greg Frey, Chris Kayser and Travis Smith as the possible dads. $30-$75; VIP tables $85. Through June 24. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Ferst is near the traffic light at Ferst and Regents drives (GPS address: 353 Ferst Drive NW). Tickets + all sorts of details HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. OPENS JUNE 13. Does this make anyone think of the late, great Georgia Shakespeare? Midsummer is the inaugural production of Shakespeare Kennesaw, a professional outdoor summer company created by Kennesaw State University’s theater department. The performances take place in the Legacy Gazebo Amphitheatre on campus, which becomes an outdoor Elizabethan playhouse. Much like Theater Emory, Shakespeare Kennesaw employs professional actors, KSU faculty and alumni, and the school’s undergraduate intern company. The bard’s comedy features crossed loves, fairy spells and strange transformations. KSU’s Rick Lombardo (Little Shop of Horrors at Actor’s Express) directs. Corey Bradberry, Kara Cantrell and Harrison Long are in the cast. $10-$27; $120 for reserved table seating. Through June 23. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday (play introduction at 7:30 p.m.). KSU is at 1000 Chastain Road in Kennesaw. Venue details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 404.578.6650.
Winnie-the-Pooh. OPENS THURSDAY. The Alliance Theatre opens its 50th anniversary season with a family musical based on A.A. Milne’s books. Journey through the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Owl as one adventure turns into another. The lesson: Friendship is the greatest gift and simplicity a virtue beyond measure. The cast includes Atlanta actors Isake Akanke (Synchronicity’s Eclipsed), Grant Chapman (Actor’s Express’ Angels in America), Maria Rodriguez-Sager (Theatrical Outfit’s Christmas at Pemberley) and Joe Sykes (Angels in America), plus child actors Caleb Baumann, CJ Cooper and Mabel Tyler. $15; $10 ages 6-17; $5 ages 3-5; age 2 and under free. Through July 8. 10 + 11:45 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. No shows: 10 a.m. June 7-8; 10:30 a.m. June 9; or on July 4. Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE. Note: The High Museum of Art runs the exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic at the same time (through Sept. 2). High details, tickets HERE. For either the musical or the exhibit, call 404.733.5000.
This weekend only
ASO Season Finale. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. Music director Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra close their 2017/18 classical season with a program featuring Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun (Debussy) and Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov). Israeli-born, New York-based soloist Inon Barnatan joins them for Fletcher’s Piano Concerto. Ticket holders to either performance are invited to a free chamber music recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday. $22-$97. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
As You Like It. CLOSES SUNDAY. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse once again enters the bard’s enchanted woods, where Rosalind (Sarah Newby Halicks) disguises herself as a man and Orlando (Chris Hecke) fills the trees with love notes praising her beauty and virtue. Can the course of love ever run true when all the world’s a stage? Also in the cast: Tavern regulars J. Tony Brown, O’Neil Delapenha, Nicholas Faircloth, Vinnie Mascola, Matt Nitchie and Mary Ruth Ralston. Pub menu and libations available. $21-$42. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 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.
Citizens Market. THROUGH JUNE 24. A Southeastern premiere at Horizon Theatre. This dramatic rom-com from New York-based playwright/actor Cori Thomas follows a hopeful group of immigrants who form an unlikely family and work to master the ups and downs of language, love and staying afloat in their new world. The cast is noteworthy, especially Atlanta-based actors Cynthia D. Barker, Carolyn Cook and Allan Edwards. Horizon co-artistic director Jeff Adler directs. Suggested for older teens and up (mature language and situations). $25-$45 and up. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue NE. Parking is free, with limitations. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.
Peter Pan. THROUGH AUG. 26. Serenbe Playhouse bills this as a “world premiere musical pirate adventure.” Sail to the second star on the right and straight on till morning in this telling of J.M. Barrie’s 1904 tale. There you’ll join Peter, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys in the forests of Neverland. Complications arise when the Lost Boys get homesick and Captain Hook returns seeking revenge. The story is by Roger Q. Mason, the score by London-trained, New York regular Ella Grace. Michael Alvarez, who works largely in Britain, directs. Serenbe, which does outdoor, site-specific shows, sets Peter Pan at the Mado Hideaway at Serenbe. $13-$30. 11 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
ASO in Piedmont Park. JUNE 14. Join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and assistant conductor Stephen Mulligan for a free concert under the stars. The program: Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, plus his Variations on a Rococo Theme, Opus 33 (featuring ASO Talent Development Program alumnus Khari Joyner on cello) and the 1812 Overture, Opus 49. The concert is free and no tickets are needed. Admission is first-come, first-served. 7:30 p.m. Piedmont Park is at Monroe Drive and Piedmont Drive — the best GPS address is 1320 Monroe Drive — but parking is limited and the ASO recommends alternative transportation. The concert is at Oak Hill, in the park’s southwest corner. For park and concert details, do’s and don’ts, go HERE.
The Color Purple. OPENS JUNE 16. At Actor’s Express. Alice Walker’s landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel first became a musical at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2004, and then on Broadway in 2005 and 2015. The Express telling hews most closely to the 2015/17 revival. You likely know the story: It’s nothing less than the hardscrabble life journey of a Georgia woman named Celie, who fights adversity and finds strength, love and the power of her own voice over a 40-year span. Atlanta-based actor-director-educator David Koté directs. His cast is led by Latrice Pace as Celie, Jasmyne Hinson as Shug Avery, Kevin Harry as Mister and Kayce Grogan-Wallace as Sophia. $22-$44. Through July 29. Previews at 8 p.m. June 13-15. Regularly 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. In the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469 (opening-night tickets only available by calling). Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Freaky Friday. JUNE 20-23. Horizon Theatre at Piedmont Park. When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have one day to put things right before Mom’s big wedding. The musical is based on the Mary Rodgers novel and the Disney movies. The score comes from Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then). Director Heidi Cline McKerley’s cast includes Jennifer Alice Acker, Randi Garza, Jill Hames, Abby Holland, Christian Magby and Juan Carlos Unzueta. Free general admission; $15 reserved seating; $35 table seats; private tables for six available. 7:30 nightly. Piedmont Park is at Monroe Drive and Piedmont Drive (best GPS address is 1320 Monroe Drive). Performed in the Promenade area near the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Sage parking garage. Park details and rules HERE. Tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450. Note: If Horizon cancels the show because of rain, you can exchange your ticket for another performance.