Once again 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 via the Atlanta Botanical Garden; and THE SEAGULL, lakeside at Serenbe Playhouse, top our curated list of must-sees. Note that WILL closes Sunday. Pictured: Rob Cleveland and Tess Malis Kincaid in A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2. Photo by Casey Gardner.

Recommended

Kyle Brumley (from left), Paul Hester, Ryan Vo. Photo: Greg Mooney

The Book of Will. CLOSES SUNDAY. Get thee to Theatrical Outfit. This love letter to Shakespeare, the company’s buzzworthy 2018/19 season opener, 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. 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. Thursday-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.

Tess Malis Kincaid. Photo: Kevin Harry

A Doll’s House, Part 2. THROUGH SEPT. 30. 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 (but you needn’t know that play 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. Don’t delay; this likely will sell well. $20-$30 and subject to change, based on demand. 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.

Photo: Alliance Theatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. THROUGH 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.

[A CLOSER LOOK AT DAVID CATLIN’S MAD, MAD, MAD MIDSUMMER]

 

Shannon McCarren, Lee Osorio. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Seagull. THROUGH SEPT. 30. An intriguing contemporary take on Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s action-packed 19th-century tragicomedy. Follow the romantic and artistic machinations 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. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; also at 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.

Sept. 6 only

A still from “The Ancient Law.” Photo: AJFF

The Ancient Law. 7:30 P.M. 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.

Opening this week

Jack Ha, Vivi Thai. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up. OPENS FRIDAY. 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. Through Sept. 30. 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. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Closing this weekend

Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. CLOSES SUNDAY. 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 an adaptation that reframes six Chaucer 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. 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 the Emory University Hospital Midtown deck across Peachtree Street. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.874.5299, Ext. 0. Discount gift cards at PoshDealz.com.

Still running

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 fables. Come early to hear even more stories 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. At 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.

Next week

Prince

4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince. SEPT. 15 ONLY. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Verizon Amphitheatre. The full ASO, a band and vocalists celebrate Prince’s extensive music catalog in an event featuring many of the icon’s hits and lesser-known gems. This first-and-only estate-approved Prince event includes state-of-the-art production elements, as well as photos and video from the Prince estate. Questlove (of the hip-hop band the Roots) helped curate the music and the arrangements. Note: Questlove does not perform in the show. $39-$325. At 8 p.m. The 12,000-seat amphitheater is at 2200 Encore Parkway in Alpharetta. Details, tickets HERE (ASO) and HERE (Verizon). Also at 404.733.5000.

Among the key players are (bottom, from left) Brian Kurlander and Wendy Melkonian and (top, from left) Alyssa Flowers and Jill Hames.

9 to 5: The Musical. SEPT. 13-30. Not a show we’d give a second glance — except for the cast. 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 only four months on Broadway for a reason. Shelly McCook directs, with musical direction by S. Renee Clark, two more 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, a 2002 Tony winner for an 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 tap-happy 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.

Jiří Kylián

Atlanta Ballet: Return to Fall. SEPT. 14-16. Atlanta Ballet begins a new season with a mixed repertory that celebrates and champions dancers’ limits. The four-performance weekend features 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. This is Atlanta Ballet’s third season under artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin and the 89th since its founding in 1929. $20-$130. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.330.

Pictured: Caitlin Hargraves

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 crosses paths and connects around a mysterious baby that glows like the moon. Folk tales and folklore are prominent in this story of endings, beginnings and the unlikely people who get you from one place to the next. Directed by Ibi Owolabi, a young Atlanta theater artist to watch. 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.

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