The third Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival wraps this week, and the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center gets its first dates. Show titles to check out: “Dot” (closing at True Colors); the independent “Blackbird” and “On the Third Day“; and the Essential New Play Fest. Pictured: Jazz master Branford Marsalis, who brings his quartet to Sandy Springs on Saturday.

Recommended

Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival. MONDAY-TUESDAY. And then there were two. This year’s fest is half over, but you can still catch Sundays at Four by Brittani Minnieweather, Jamie Walker and Jonathan Peacock, and The Fairy Hoax by Tom Diggs and Jay D’AmicoSundays at Four is when the Washington family gathers for fellowship. The musical looks at what happens when family dynamics are challenged, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. See it at 8 p.m. Monday. The Fairy Hoax is about a 13-year-old British girl who fakes photos of fairies to get her mother’s attention. It’s based on the real-life Cottingley Fairy Hoax in 1917. See it at 8 p.m. Tuesday. $17 per show. Out Front Theatre, at 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown, plays host. Details, tickets HERE

Dash Clowdus-Howe. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Titanic. THROUGH AUG. 19. Tough ticket, but seats have been added to sold-out performances. The outdoors-only Serenbe Playhouse arguably tops its Carousel (performed with a real carnival) and Miss Saigon (featuring a Huey helicopter that took flight) with artistic director Brian Clowdus’ ambitious staging of this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. The time: 1912. The place: aboard the RMS Titanic. Clowdus employs a cast of 40 (including regulars Niki Badua, Blake Burgess, Jessica De Maria, Chase Davidson and Robert Wayne) and a four-story Titanic replica that sinks nightly in the Inn Lake at Serenbe. “It’s not about the boat sinking,” Clowdus says. “It’s about people on a voyage or quest for joy, hope and change.” All Serenbe shows require a walk along a sometimes muddy path. Appropriate footwear suggested. This show does include seating. 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.

Opening this week

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

The Tortoise, the Hare & Other Aesop’s Fables. BEGINS AUG. 14. Part of the Center for Puppetry Arts’ Theatre for the Very Young (age 2 and up). The musical performance tells five tales in a circus-style show adapted by Atlanta theater artist Michael Haverty and featuring glove, rod and shadow puppets. Previews Aug. 14-15 ($11.25). Regularly $19.50. Opens Aug. 16. Through Sept. 23. 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.

This weekend only

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Branford Marsalis Quartet. SATURDAY ONLY. The NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and friends help inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Marsalis is one of the most respected instrumentalists of his time. The Branford Marsalis Quartet is widely considered one of the most innovative and forward-thinking jazz ensembles working today. The quartet’s usual lineup includes pianist Joey Calderazzo, drummer Justin Faulkner and bass guitarist Eric Revis. $40-$65. 8 p.m. Byers Theatre. 1 Galambos Way (bordered by Sandy Springs Circle and Allen, Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads), Sandy Springs. Underground parking on-site. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.206.2022.

Closing this week

Denise Burse, Benedetto Robinson. Photo: Brenda Nicole Photography

Dot. CLOSES SUNDAY. 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, says Variety.com, “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. 7:30 tonight-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 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).

Still running

Blackbird. THROUGH AUG. 19. Fifteen years ago, Ray was convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl named Una. He’s served his prison sentence, changed his name, moved and started a new life. When Una stumbles upon a recent photo of Ray, she decides to confront him. Scottish playwright David Harrower’s 2005 drama is staged here by Right On Productions and Frat Pack Productions. Jayson Warner Smith (TV’s “The Walking Dead” and “Rectify”) is Ray; Heather Rule is Una. Marc Gowan directs. Blackbird won London’s Olivier Award for best new play in 2007 and had a critically acclaimed Broadway run in 2016 with Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams. It earned three Tony Award nominations. $20 plus fees. Robert Mello Studio Blackbox, 4048 Flowers Road, Suite 210, Doraville. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets HERE.

Built to Float. THROUGH AUG. 25. World premiere. Atlanta-based playwright Rachel Graf Evans’ surrealistic family drama, part of the 2018 Essential New Play Festival, asks: “Is Tess fine?” Tess tells her sister she is, but strange things keep happening in her home, and the two women try to keep from drowning in the legacy of their troubled past. Essential founder Peter Hardy directs. Note: Performed in repertory with Woke, a world premiere by Avery Sharpe. The Essential fest, in its 20th season, is dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. It includes a third world premiere Aug. 16-17 and Bare Essentials staged readings. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary. $25. Usually 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday but check dates and times before you go. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

On the Third Day. THROUGH AUG. 19. A world premiere by Atlanta playwright Amina S. McIntyre. Meet the Lansings. Three years ago their eldest son and oldest brother was killed. Now family members must come together to decide the fate of the two men who shot him. The drama, an examination of grief, ritual and family, is set in Atlanta and inspired by events in McIntyre’s life. Presented by Los Angeles/Atlanta-based VanguardRep. Matthew Kellen Burgos directs a five-person cast. $20. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Windmill Arts Center, 2823 Church St., East Point. Details, tickets HERE.

Adrianna Trachell. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Newsies. THROUGH SEPT. 2. 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. The newsboys’ response: Strike! Aurora Theatre uses a cast of 31 to tell the story, which 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. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 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.

Aaron Schilling. 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 suggested. 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.

Avery Sharpe

Woke. THROUGH AUG. 26. World premiere. This prize-winning dramatic comedy by Atlanta actor/playwright Avery Sharpe is part of the Essential New Play Festival (it runs in repertory with Built to Float). The script follows two close friends from different backgrounds trying to navigate the high school-to-college transition when a calamitous event captures national attention. They’re forced to face their conflicting understandings of social awareness as they search for what it truly means to be “woke.” Ellen McQueen directs. The 20-year-old Essential fest is dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. It includes a third world premiere Aug. 16-17 and Bare Essentials staged readings. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary. $25. Usually 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 + 7 p.m. Saturday but check dates and times before you go. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Next week

The Book of Will. BEGINS AUG. 15. At Theatrical Outfit. This love letter to Shakespeare features the trademark smarts and humor of oft-produced playwright Lauren Gunderson. It opens the company’s 2018/19 season. 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. A fast and loose version of Hamlet sends them into high drive — with plenty of challenges to overcome. 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 Elisa Carlson, Suehyla El-Attar, artistic director/actor Tom Key, William S. Murphey and Doyle Reynolds. David Crowe (Silent Sky) directs. Previews Aug. 15-17 ($18-$36). Opens Aug. 18 ($23.50-$51). Regularly $22.50-$49. Through Sept. 9. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday (no matinee Aug. 18); and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

A Bunch of Different Ways I’d Like to Die. AUG. 16-17 ONLY. Part of the 2018 Essential New Play Festival. Described as a dark, comic meditation on life and mortality by one of Atlanta’s more distinguished actors. Written and performed by Tim McDonough, a longtime member of Georgia Shakespeare (King Lear, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman). He won a Suzi Bass Award for his work as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and has acted at the Alliance Theatre, Marietta’s Theatre in the Square, Horizon Theatre and the late Theater Gael. He also acts at Emory University (Theater Emory), where he teaches theater studies. $25. 8 nightly. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com

Coming up

Joe Gransden (left), Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Joe Gransden Big Band featuring Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. AUG. 16 ONLY. Gransden and friends help inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center by swinging in the intimate Studio Theatre. The 16-piece big band, formed in 2009, performs around the country and has a standing gig at Atlanta’s Cafe 290 (the first and third Monday every month). This cabaret event offers dinner, drinks and music, featuring guest vocalist Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., a Sinatra-style vocalist and the Season 6 winner of the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent.” Reserved table seating gives patrons the option to dine during the show. $30-$50. 8:30 p.m. 1 Galambos Way (bordered by Sandy Springs Circle and Allen, Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads), Sandy Springs. Underground parking on-site. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.206.2022.

Sutton Foster

Sutton Foster. AUG. 18 ONLY. Highly recommended. The two-time Tony Award winner (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes) helps inaugurate the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center with a concert based on her latest CD, Take Me to the World. You may also know Foster, who has done 11 Broadway shows (including The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women and Violet), from the TV Land series “Younger.” Take Me to the World dropped June 1 and includes songs by theater composers Jason Robert Brown, Kander & Ebb, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim; pop songwriters Paul Simon and James Taylor; and the Broadway shows Guys and Dolls, Purlie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Singin’ in the Rain and Violet. Expect a new set list, not the one Foster did in April at Atlanta Symphony Hall. $35-$90. 8 p.m. Byers Theatre. 1 Galambos Way (bordered by Sandy Springs Circle and Allen, Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads), Sandy Springs. Underground parking on-site. Details HERE. Tickets HERE or at 770.206.2022.

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