“The Color Purple” (Actor’s Express), “Titanic” (Serenbe Playhouse) and the final days of “Winnie-the-Pooh” (Alliance Theatre) top this week’s curated edition of BEST BETS. Learn why while you check out this week’s openings, closings and what’s just ahead. Pictured: The RMS Titanic at Serenbe Playhouse. Design and rendering by Adam Koch. Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus.



Kevin Harry as Mister. Photo: Casey Gardner

** The Color Purple. THROUGH JULY 29. At Actor’s Express. Alice Walker’s landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel became a musical at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2004, and on Broadway in 2005 and 2015. The Express telling hews most closely to the more intimate 2015/17 revival. The story follows the hardscrabble journey of a rural Georgia woman named Celie, who fights adversity to find strength, love and the power of her own voice over a 40-year span. Atlanta-based actor/director/educator David Koté directs. Latrice Pace is Celie, Jasmyne Hinson is Shug Avery, Kevin Harry is Mister and Kayce Grogan-Wallace is Sophia. $22-$44 and selling well. Don’t delay. 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.

Dash Clowdus-Howe. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Titanic. THROUGH AUG. 12. The credo for major musicals at Serenbe Playhouse often seems to be “go big or go home.” Carousel and Miss Saigon come to mind. Both might be outdone, however, by artistic director Brian Clowdus’ ambitious plans for this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about the 1912 maritime disaster that killed 1,503. Clowdus’ staging features a cast of 40 (including regulars Niki Badua, Blake Burgess, Jessica De Maria, Chase Peacock and Robert Wayne) and a four-story Titanic replica that sinks nightly in Serenbe’s Inn Lake. But, as Clowdus says, “It’s not about the boat sinking. It’s about people on a voyage or quest for joy, hope and change.” All Serenbe shows take place outdoors and can require a walk along a muddy path. Appropriate footwear recommended. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, etc.), contact the box office. $35 and up. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Joe Sykes (Eeyore), Mabel Tyler (Piglet). Photo: Greg Mooney

Winnie-the-Pooh. CLOSES SUNDAY. It’s nearly time to bid the Hundred Acre Wood goodbye. The Alliance Theatre opens its 50th anniversary season with this fanciful family musical based on the A.A. Milne books. Spend a life-affirming hour with Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Owl as one adventure (or misadventure) turns into another, friendship triumphs and a certain donkey’s birthday is celebrated. The cast is led by 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). $15; $10 ages 6-17; $5 ages 3-5; age 2 and under free. 10 + 11:45 a.m. through Friday; 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE. Note: The High Museum of Art exhibition, Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, runs through Sept. 2. Museum details, tickets HERE. For either the musical or the exhibit, call 404.733.5000. Discount tickets for the musical at PoshDealz.com.


Opening this week

Photo: Dad’s Garage

Black Nerd. OPENS FRIDAY. At Dad’s Garage Theatre Company. What happens when a black kid prefers listening to Weird Al over Kendrick Lamar, attending Dragon Con over seeing Jay-Z, or watching Star Wars instead of Tyler Perry? This dark comedy follows a young man as he navigates the expectations of his black family and white friends, where race and geekdom collide. The script is the first solo effort from Dad’s company member Jon Carr, who collaborated on the earlier Wrath of Con. $15.50-$29.50. Through Aug. 4. Dad’s is at 569 Ezzard St. SE. Details, tickets HERE (you’ll save money if you buy online) or at 404.523.3141.

The Book of Mormon. OPENS TUESDAY. Those shiny-faced Mormon missionaries revisit Atlanta (and Uganda) for more equal-opportunity offensiveness and a surprising amount of heart. The Broadway company is in its seventh year; Atlanta sees the national touring company. The show, by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (“South Park”) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), won nine 2011 Tony awards, including best musical. $34-$139 plus fees. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE, in person at the Fox ticket office or at 855.285.8499.


Dot. OPENS TUESDAY.  At True Colors Theatre Company. This gentle comedy by Colman Domingo uses humor to look at issues surrounding aging parents and midlife crises. The setting is Christmastime in urban West Philly. The playwright, Variety.com says, “sees the absurdity and human comedy in a messy, volatile, all-too-real family dynamic.” Atlanta-born, New York-based stage/film actor Denise Burse is Dot. Also in the cast: Gilbert Glenn Brown, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, Rhyn McLemore Saver and Lee OsorioTrue Colors co-founder and artistic director Kenny Leon directs. Contains adult language, situations. $20-$35. Through Aug. 12. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. True Colors performs at the Southwest Arts Center915 New Hope Road SW. Details, tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849 (Ticket Alternative).

Amanda Cucher (from left), Shelli Delgado, Holly Stevenson, Maggie Birgel. Photo: Casey Gardner

Enchanted April. OPENS FRIDAY. From the Weird Sisters Theatre Project. In 1922, two London housewives find themselves in dreary marriages in a post-World War I society. They decide to rent an Italian villa for a ladies-only escape with two reluctant recruits. Things lost are soon found as the women clash, then begin to bond and bloom under the Mediterranean sun. Matthew Barber’s romantic comedy, based on the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Armin, had a four-month summer run on Broadway in 2003. Kate Donadio MacQueen directs. The cast: Maggie Birgel, Josh Brook, Amanda Cucher, Shelli Delgado, Stephanie Earle, J.L. Reed, Topher Payne and Holly Stevenson. $10 plus fees for July 12 preview; otherwise $15 plus fees. Through July 29. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. Performed at Out of Box Theatre,  585 Cobb Parkway South in Marietta. Tickets HERE.

Still running

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. THROUGH JULY 29. At the Center for Puppetry Arts. Cows that type? Chickens on strike? Check out Farmer Brown’s topsy-turvy barnyard in this adaptation by the Center’s Jon Ludwig and Jason Hines. It’s based on the Caldecott Honor-winning children’s book published in 2000. The comedy uses marionette, rod and shadow puppets and is appropriate for age 4 and up. The cast/puppeteers: Dolph Amick, Brian Harrison, Mandy Mitchell, head puppeteer Amy Sweeney and Tim Sweeney. $19.50. 10 a.m. + noon Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. THROUGH JULY 29. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. ‘Tis the Midsummer season. Shakespeare Kennesaw, new this summer, recently finished its run, and September brings an outdoor version from the Alliance Theatre. At the Tavern, Kenneth Wigley (Theseus, Oberon) and Dani Herd (Hippolyta, Titania) lead a large band of storytellers in a comic tale about two pairs of lovers (one requited, one not so much) and a ragtag bunch of thespians who stumble upon a chaotic fairy kingdom. J. Tony Brown directs. 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.

Alexandria Joy as Tinker Bell. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Peter Pan. THROUGH AUG. 26. Serenbe Playhouse calls this a “world premiere musical pirate adventure.” If you’re so inclined, sail to the second star on the right and straight on till morning to revisit J.M. Barrie’s 1904 tale about Peter, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and 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 its Mado Hideaway. All shows take place in the woods and require a walk along a sometimes muddy path. Appropriate footwear recommended. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, etc.), contact the box office. $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.

Scott DePoy (from left), Chris Damiano, Christopher Kent, Mark W. Schroeder (at piano). Photo: Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. OPENS THURSDAY. Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises last season’s jukebox musical about the Man in Black. Ring of Fire tells Cash’s story through his songs — from vintage country to rockabilly and ballads — including “Daddy Sang Bass,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Going to Memphis,” “Jackson,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “I Walk the Line” and 32 more. The run continues GET’s partnership with the Chattahoochee Nature Center for a fourth consecutive summer and features the same cast as last season: Chris Damiano, Scott DePoy, Christopher Kent, Laura Lindahl and Mark W. Schroeder. $16.50 general admission lawn seating; $36.50 reserved table seating under the pavilion; $365 for a 10-person table. Cash bar (no outside alcohol or glass allowed). Through July 28. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (grounds open at 6:30 p.m.). 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.

Coming up

Rachel Van Buskirk, Christian Clark. Photo: Kyle Sager / TMBT

Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. JULY 27-28. Two pop-up performances at the High Museum of Art feature Heath Gill’s Confronting Genius, described as “a whimsical duet that looks at unshackling the artist that lives inside us all.” Dancers from the company’s Advanced Summer Intensive program also perform. Terminus, founded in fall 2017, is dedicated to expanding ballet’s boundaries through contemporary movement and nontraditional approaches. Gill, along with co-founders Christian Clark, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and John Welker, were longtime Atlanta Ballet dancers. Free for High Museum members; $14.50 non-members. Seating limited. 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The High Museum is at the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich 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.

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