Our top picks: “The Book of Will” (continuing at Theatrical Outfit); “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (beginning at Actor’s Express); and the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse’s riff on Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” Last call: the 2018 Essential New Play Fest and 3 other titles. Read on. Pictured: The estimable Tess Malis Kincaid in “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” Photo by Kevin Harry.


Tom Key, Eliana Marianes. Photo: Greg Mooney

The Book of Will. THROUGH SEPT. 9. Get thee to Theatrical Outfit. Positive buzz surrounds this love letter to Shakespeare, which opens the Outfit’s 2018/19 season and features the trademark smarts and humor of oft-produced playwright Lauren Gunderson. 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 Elisa Carlson, Suehyla El-Attar, artistic director/actor Tom Key, William S. Murphey and Doyle Reynolds. 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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

A Doll’s House, Part 2. AUG. 29-SEPT. 30. Regional premiere. Nora’s back! This Actor’s Express / Aurora Theatre co-production is a sequel of sorts to master dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic, A Doll’s House. Playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) made the shocking decision to leave her husband and family and seek out unheard-of independence. Now she’s knocking on the same door, seeking an impossible favor. Long-simmering resentments boil over in an intellectual and comedic slugfest about ideas, love and the rights of women in the modern world. Hnath (silent “h”) wrote last season’s The Christians at AE. Joining Kincaid onstage are Rob Cleveland, Shelli Delgado and Deadra Moore. AE artistic director Freddie Ashley directs. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, W Magazine and Time Out New York all called Part 2 “the best play of the 2017 Broadway season.” If this isn’t a hot ticket, there’s something wrong with Atlanta. $20 (Aug. 29-31 previews). $20-$40 (Sept. 1 opening). Regularly $20-$30. All prices subject to change, based on demand. Part 2 runs Jan. 10-Feb. 10, 2019, at Aurora Theatre. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Opening this week

The cast of “Canterbury Tales.” Photo: Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. IN PREVIEWS. OPENS SATURDAY. 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 of the tales in a variety of styles, including spaghetti western. The stories: “Miller’s Tale,” “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” “Pardoner’s Tale,” “Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” “Merchant’s Tale” and “Reeve’s Tale.” The actors: Kirstin Calvert, Kirsten Chervenak, Laura Cole, Nicholas Faircloth, Adam King, Enoch King, Rivka Levin and Drew Reeves. $15 Thursday preview; $20 Friday preview. Regularly $22-$45. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 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.

Closing this week

Blackbird. CLOSES SUNDAY. Meet Ray and Una. Fifteen years ago, he was convicted of sexually assaulting her, then a young girl. He served his prison sentence, changed his name, moved and started a new life. When Una stumbles upon a recent photo, she decides to confront him. Scottish playwright David Harrower’s 2005 drama is staged 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, earning 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. CLOSES SATURDAY. World premiere. Atlanta-based playwright Rachel Graf Evans’ surrealistic family drama is part of the 2018 Essential New Play Festival. Tess tells her sister she’s fine, but strange things keep happening in her home, and the two women try to keep from drowning in memories of their troubled past. Essential founder Peter Hardy directs. The Essential fest, in its 20th season, is dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary. $25. 8 p.m. Saturday. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Peter Pan. CLOSES SUNDAY. The outdoors-only Serenbe Playhouse calls this a “world premiere musical pirate adventure.” 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 looks for 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.

See Rock City. CLOSES SUNDAY. Theatre Buford, a professional company producing its second-ever show, describes this sequel to playwright Arlene Hutton’s Last Train to Nibroc (2000) as a “tender portrayal of married life, set against the backdrop of World War II,” and says it shows the human spirit’s ability to overcome obstacles. The story picks up with young marrieds Raleigh and May after his return from battle. They face quarrelsome mothers and judgmental townspeople as they try to make a life together. The noteworthy cast includes Lala Cochran (credits too numerous to list), Amelia Fischer (Theatrical Outfit’s Christmas at Pemberley), Gay Hammond and Chris Harding. Atlanta actor/director and Theatre Buford co-founder Justin Walker directs. $30-$35. Buford Community Center, 2200 Buford Highway, Buford, 770.945.6762. Details, tickets HERE.

Woke. CLOSES SUNDAY. World premiere. This prize-winning dramatic comedy by Atlanta actor/playwright Avery Sharpe is part of the Essential New Play Festival. It follows two close friends from different backgrounds as they try to navigate the high school-to-college transition when a calamitous event captures national attention. They must then face their conflicting understandings of social awareness and 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. As can happen with new work and smallish budgets, quality can vary. $25. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Sunday. West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Details, tickets HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Still running

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. 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. Tuesday-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.

Photo: Center for Puppetry Arts

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 famous tales. Come early to hear even more fables and color a puppet that you can 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. Amy Sweeney, the  Center’s head puppeteer, directs. $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.

Coming up

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. SEPT. 5-OCT. 21. 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). 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.


Park Krausen as Irina Arkadina. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Seagull. SEPT. 5-30. A contemporary take on Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s action-packed 19th-century tragicomedy. 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 son, playwright Konstantin Tréplev. Also in the cast: Allan Edwards, Brooke Owens, Skye Passmore and Maythinee Washington. 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. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; also 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.

Jack Ha, Vivi Thai. Photo: Chris Bartelski

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 so you end up hating them. 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.

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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