The first shows of fall offer tantalizing choices, including THE BOOK OF WILL at Theatrical Outfit; A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 at Actor’s Express; an acrobatic MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at the Alliance Theatre; and THE SEAGULL, lakeside at Serenbe Playhouse. Pictured: Lee Osorio in “The Seagull.” Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus.
The Book of Will. THROUGH SEPT. 9. Get thee to Theatrical Outfit. Positive buzz surrounds this love letter to Shakespeare, the company’s 2018/19 season opener. It features the trademark smarts and humor of oft-produced playwright Lauren Gunderson and a first-rate cast of actors. The place: London and Stratford-upon-Avon. The time: Three years after Will’s death. The bard’s legacy depends on a circle of devoted writers, actors and friends determined to preserve his work and print a definitive collection of his plays. But there are challenges … and challengers. Gunderson, a Decatur-born, San Francisco-based writer, won the 2018 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for this script. The Outfit’s 10-person cast includes, among others, Elisa Carlson, Suehyla El-Attar, artistic director/actor Tom Key, William S. Murphey and Doyle Reynolds. Cast bios HERE. David Crowe (Silent Sky) directs. $22.50-$49. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.
A Doll’s House, Part 2. IN PREVIEWS. OPENS SATURDAY. An exciting regional premiere of a certifiable Broadway hit. The Actor’s Express / Aurora Theatre co-production is a sequel of sorts to master dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic, A Doll’s House. You needn’t have seen it to enjoy this one. Playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) shockingly decided to leave her husband and family and seek out unheard-of independence. Now she’s knocking on the same door … and wants a favor. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, W Magazine and Time Out New York all described Part 2 as the best play of the 2017 Broadway season. You might remember Hnath (silent “h”) from last season’s The Christians. Joining Kincaid onstage are Rob Cleveland, Shelli Delgado and Deadra Moore. AE artistic director Freddie Ashley directs. If this isn’t a hot ticket, there’s something wrong with Atlanta. $20 for Aug. 30-31 previews; $20-$40 for Sept. 1 opening. Regularly $20-$30 and subject to change, based on demand. Through Sept. 30. Part 2 returns after the first of the year, running Jan. 10-Feb. 10, 2019, at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Actor’s Express is at the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Opening this week
Midsummer Night’s Dream. OPENS SEPT. 5. World premiere. Alliance Theatre at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. In this adaptation by Chicago-based director David Catlin (Moby Dick, Lookingglass Alice), Shakespeare’s five-act romantic farce becomes a brisk 90 minutes. He uses six actors (familiar Alliance faces Devon Hales, Joe Knezevich and Courtney Patterson, plus visiting artists Ericka Ratcliff, Adeoye Mabogunje and Travis Turner) instead of the usual 25-plus, and blends dance, music, circus arts and familiar bits from other Shakespeare plays to tell a tale that celebrates the madness and irrationality of love. See it in the Skyline Garden area. $20-$55. Your show ticket includes entrance to the Garden anytime that day (but there’s no leaving and re-entering). Through Oct. 21. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Saturday except there are no shows Sept. 10, 14-19, 24-26 or Oct. 1-4, 8-11, 15 + 17. The Garden is at 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.
The Seagull. OPENS SEPT. 5. A contemporary take on Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s action-packed 19th-century tragicomedy that looks plenty intriguing. It follows the romantic and artistic conflicts of four characters: the famous middlebrow writer Boris Trigorin (Lee Osorio); the ingenue Nina (Shannon McCarren); the fading actress Irina Arkadina (Park Krausen); and her adult child, playwright Konstantin Tréplev (Maythinee Washington). Also in the cast: Allan Edwards, Brooke Owens and Skye Passmore. The Serenbe Playhouse staging, done lakeside, features reimagined Balkan music, dark humor and director Elizabeth Dinkova’s Eastern European brand of mayhem. Most Serenbe shows require a walk along a sometimes muddy path. Appropriate footwear suggested. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, etc.), contact the box office. $30-$50. Through Sept. 30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday plus 2 p.m. Saturday. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Closing this week
Newsies. CLOSES SUNDAY. The 2012 Disney musical tells the real-life story of New York City’s Newsboy Strike of 1899, when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst tried to take advantage of the newsboys to increase profits. Aurora Theatre uses a cast of 31 to tell the story. It features a Tony Award-winning score by Jack Feldman and Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid). Justin Anderson directs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence and choreography by Ricardo Aponte. $30-$65. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Note: The show, a co-production with Atlanta Lyric Theatre, plays the Lyric’s Marietta space Oct. 19-Nov. 4). Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. THROUGH SEPT. 9. Join the players of the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse for a medieval romp through bawdy olde England. Director Kati Grace Brown leads a cast of eight in this adaptation that reframes six tales in a variety of styles, including spaghetti western. The actors: Kirstin Calvert, Kirsten Chervenak, Laura Cole, Nicholas Faircloth, Adam King, Enoch King, Rivka Levin and Drew Reeves. $22-$45. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Pub menu and spirited beverages available. 499 Peachtree St. NE. Parking recommended in Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across Peachtree Street. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0. Discount Tavern gift cards at PoshDealz.com.
The Tortoise, the Hare & Other Aesop’s Fables. THROUGH SEPT. 23. Part of the Center for Puppetry Arts’ Theatre for the Very Young (age 2 and up). Aesop’s circus is in town and the animals are ready to take the stage in this cheerful, interactive production that tells five of the Greek storyteller’s famous tales. Come early to hear even more fables and color a puppet for use during the show. Adapted by Atlanta theater artist Michael Haverty, with original music by Dolph Amick. The piece uses glove, rod and shadow puppets and features actor/puppeteers Matt Baum and Jimmica Collins. Directed by Amy Sweeney, the Center’s head puppeteer. $19.50. Performances: 10 + 11:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. + 3 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. Free parking. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.
The Ancient Law. SEPT. 6 ONLY. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screens its final Selects Series movie of 2018. The AJFF describes this 1923 film, considered a German-Jewish masterpiece, as an “intimate, visually stunning depiction of 19th-century shetl life” that contrasts “the closed world of an Eastern European shtetl with the liberal mores of 1860s Vienna.” It’s considered a precursor to Hollywood’s The Jazz Singer (1927). This screening features live musical accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals plus a Q&A with Emory Film Studies chairman Matthew Bernstein. $18. 7:30 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.228.8872.
The Two Kids Who Blow Sh*t Up. SEPT. 7-30. At Aurora Theatre. Max (Jack Ha) and Diana (Vivi Thai) meet as kids, the day their parents begin an affair. For the next 18 years they see each other through highs and lows, trying not to make the same mistakes their parents did. Two Kids, by playwright Carla Ching, is a drama with humor about trying not to fall in love with your best friend (and end up hating them). Atlanta theater artist Pam Joyce directs. Created at the prestigious Lark Play Development Center in New York. $15-$20. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.
9 to 5 the Musical. SEPT. 13-30. This isn’t a show we’d give a second glance — except for the casting. Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s season opener features Jill Hames, Wendy Melkonian and newcomer Alyssa Flowers in the roles made famous by Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the crowd-pleasing 1980 movie. Hames and Melkonian, who have succeeded on most metro stages, are joined by other familiar faces — Brian Kurlander (as the chauvinist boss), Josh Brook, Daniel Burns (the recent Titanic), Kayce Grogan-Wallace (the recent Color Purple) and Gina Rickicki. The sobering news: The 2009 stage musical, with songs and lyrics by Parton, ran a mere four months on Broadway, probably for a reason. Shelly McCook directs, with musical direction by S. Renee Clark, both good reasons to take a look. $33-$46. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. most Saturdays (check ahead); and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, GET performs at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260.
42nd Street. SEPT. 14-23. The musicals-only City Springs Theatre Company opens its inaugural season with this Tony Award-winning song-and-dance show set during the Great Depression. Broadway director Julian Marsh (Shuler Hensley, who won a Tony for 2002’s Oklahoma! revival) is trying to stage a successful musical despite tall odds. The score — by the great Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren — includes “You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” The cast of 30 includes Deb Bowman, Benjamin Davis (founder of the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival), Fenner Eaddy, Marcie Millard and Googie Uterhardt. $30-$62. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. City Springs Theatre performs in the 1,100-seat Byers Theatre at the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs (bordered by Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry Road and Sandy Springs Circle). Allow extra time for parking and to get through security. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.477.4365. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.
Atlanta Ballet: Return to Fall. SEPT. 14-16. Atlanta Ballet begins a new season with a mixed repertory featuring a selection of pas de deux; Return to a Strange Land by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, considered one of the best working today; the Czech National Ballet performing Vertigo by Mauro Bigonzetti; and a world premiere — titled The Premiere — by top-tier choreographer Ricardo Amarante of Brazil. $20-$130. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.330.
The Electric Baby. SEPT. 14-30. Weird Sisters Theatre Project at 7 Stages. When a woman named Helen causes a car accident that kills a young man, a group of fractured souls cross paths and connect around a mysterious baby that glows like the moon. Folk tales and folklore are woven throughout this story of endings, beginnings and the unlikely people that get you from one place to the next. Ibi Owolabi, a young Atlanta theater artist to watch, directs. Her cast: Alexandra Ficken, Anthony Goolsby, Charles Green, Caitlin Hargraves, Greg Hernandez and Ann Wilson. The script is from playwright Stefanie Zadravec. $15 preview (plus fees) Sept. 13. Regularly $20 plus fees. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17. 7 Stages is at 1105 Euclid Av. NE in Little Five Points. Details HERE. Tickets (via Brown Paper Tickets) HERE.