Playwright Carla Ching double-dips with plays on two Atlanta stages; Stephen Sondheim’s on his way to Actor’s Express; the Nora show continues in AE’s “Doll’s House”; the ASO returns; and Aurora opens the intriguing “Be Here Now.” Pictured: Cynthia Barrett in “Be Here Now.” Photo by Chris Bartelski.

Recommended

Tess Malis Kincaid (left), Shelli Delgado. Photo: Casey Gardner

A Doll’s House, Part 2. THROUGH SEPT. 30. An exciting regional premiere of a certifiable Broadway hit. 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 (but you needn’t know that piece to enjoy this one). Playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) decided to leave her husband and family and seek out independence unheard of in that day. Now she’s outside the same door to ask 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, it’s selling well. $20-$30 and subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. (Part 2 returns after the first of the year, running Jan. 10-Feb. 10, 2019, at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville.) Actor’s Express is in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Courtney Patterson (left), Joe Knezevich. Photo: Greg Mooney

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 only six actors (familiar Alliance faces Devon Hales, Joe Knezevich and Courtney Patterson, plus visiting artists Ericka Ratcliff, Adeoye Mabogunje and Travis Turner), and blends dance, music, circus arts and familiar bits from other Shakespeare plays to celebrate the madness and irrationality of love. Set 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. Sunday. Note: No shows Sept. 14-19, 24-26 or Oct. 1-4, 8-11, 15 + 17. If you’re worried about weather, look for updates on the Alliance website. 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]

 

Brooke Owens (from left), Lee Spencer Osorio, Shannon McCarren. 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 Spencer Osorio); the ingenue Nina (Shannon McCarren); the fading actress Irina Arkadina (Park Krausen); and her adult child, a playwright (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. Contains adult language and themes. 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. At 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.

This weekend only

Robert Spano

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY-SUNDAY. Join the players, music director Robert Spano and guest artist Kirill Gerstein on piano for the beginning of the ASO’s 74th season. The program: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. The ASO will celebrate Rachmaninov throughout the season. The Cleveland Classical  website calls the playing of Gerstein, an American musician based in Berlin, “flat-out fabulous.” $33-$119. At 8 p.m. Thursday + Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Season opener details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Last chance

42nd Street. CLOSES SUNDAY. 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 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.

Aladdin. CLOSES SUNDAY. Broadway in Atlanta brings the magical, mystical Disney musical about a poor young man, a princess, a lamp, a Genie, three wishes, bad guys and true love to the Fox Theatre. The score (music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin) is pumped up from the film, and features “Arabian Nights,” “Friend Like Me,” “A Whole New World” and nine more. In addition to this national tour, Broadway’s Aladdin is more than 1,900 performances into a run that began in February 2014. It won a featured actor Tony Award for its genie, James Monroe Iglehart, and nominations for best book of a musical, original score and choreography. $34-$111 plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The Fox is at 660 Peachtree St. NE in Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

Matt Baum, Jimmica Collins.

The Tortoise, the Hare & Other Aesop’s Fables. CLOSES SUNDAY. 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 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. Thursday-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.

Opening this week

Be Here Now. THROUGH OCT. 21. Two lost souls come together in this 2018 tragicomedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer (End Days, Informed Consent) at Aurora Theatre. What are you willing to do for love and happiness, it asks, and to create meaning in your life? Bari (Cynthia Barrett) is deeply cynical and woefully underemployed in a mind-numbing job (she ships Tibetan-themed tchotchkes from a warehouse). She’s buoyed — maybe — by a couple of cheerful co-workers and a guy who makes art out of garbage. You might know Barrett from her TV work in “Stranger Things” and “Halt and Catch Fire,” among others, and Silent Sky at Theatrical Outfit. Also in the cast: Falashay Pearson, Joselin Reyes and Aurora regular Travis Smith (The Bridges of Madison County, Split in Three, Memphis). $31-$50. Through Oct. 21. At 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Oct. 2. 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.

Marcellis Cutler (left), Ashley “Ash” Anderson, Kevin Qian. Photo: Horizon Theatre

Nomad Motel. OPENS SEPT. 21. A National New Play Network rolling world premiere at Horizon Theatre. Alix lives in a tiny motel room with her brother and a newly single mom. Mason lives mostly alone in a grand, empty house, composing music while his father works. The two become unlikely friends as they learn how to scrape by and try to outrun their parents’ mistakes. Ashley (Ash) Anderson is Alix, Kevin Qian is Mason. This piece by Carla Ching (her The Kids Who Blow Sh*t Up is running at Aurora Theatre) is about kids raising themselves without a safety net in a land of plenty. Melissa Foulger directs. Note: Contains mature language and situations. $25-$35. At 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE at Euclid Avenue in Inman Park/Little Five Points. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Still running

Jill Hames (left), Wendy Melkonian. Photo: Dan Carmody

9 to 5: The Musical. THROUGH SEPT. 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 1980 movie. Hames and Melkonian, who’ve had success 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, had a Broadway run of only four months for a reason. Shelly McCook directs, with musical direction by S. Renee Clark, two more good reasons to take a look. $33-$46. At 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.

Anthony Goolsby. Photo: Casey Gardner

The Electric Baby. THROUGH SEPT. 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. 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. $20 plus fees. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. 7 Stages is at 1105 Euclid Ave. NE in Little Five Points. Details HERE. Tickets (via Brown Paper Tickets) HERE.

Jonathan Horne, Chris Hecke. Photo: Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. THROUGH OCT. 21. The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse runs Part 1 (beginning this weekend) and Part 2 (beginning Oct. 4) of this history play in repertory. It follows the newly crowned King Henry IV who must deal with rebellion and an ill-behaving son (and heir) who’d rather frequent the Boar’s Head Tavern with the roguish Sir John Falstaff than take care of business. Maurice Ralston is Henry; Jonathan Horne is his son, Prince Hal; Chris Hecke is Hal’s rival, Hotspur; and J. Tony Brown is Falstaff.  They’re supported by a cast of Tavern regulars. $30-$38. 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.

Jack Ha, Vivi Thai. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up. THROUGH SEPT. 30. At Aurora Theatre. Max (Jack Ha) and Diana (Vivi Thai) meet as kids on 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, thus, end up hating them). Ching has an Atlanta two-fer going, with her Nomad Hotel  running at Horizon Theatre. Atlanta theater artist Pam Joyce directs. Created at the prestigious Lark Play Development Center in New York. A special shoutout to Aurora for continuing to feature diverse ethnicities on its stages. $15-$20. At 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.

Next week

Nina Simone, undated photo.

Nina Simone: Four Women. IN PREVIEWS. OPENS SEPT. 28. Nina Simone was known as the “high priestess of soul.” This play with music by Christina Ham, at True Colors Theatre Company, follows Simone’s shift from singer to activist, a transformation prompted in part by the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls. The drama uses the Simone song “Four Women” as a framework, and gives voices to four stereotypical characters. It includes the civil rights anthems “Mississippi Goddam,” “Go Limp” and “Young, Gifted and Black.” For age 15 and up (adult language). Michele Shay directs. Her cast: Regina Marie Williams, who played Nina Simone in this piece’s Minneapolis world premiere; Wendy Fox-Williams; Jordan Frazier; and Adrienne Reynolds. $25 for Sept. 25-27 previews and some matinees. $40 opening night. Regularly $30-$40. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 11 a.m. shows Oct. 3 + 17. True Colors performs at the Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW. Details HERE. Tickets (via Ticket Alternative) HERE. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Coming up

Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD. SEPT. 27-OCT. 7. Atlanta Opera audiences are going wild for this ghost story (already selling out) about the life, death and demons of the great jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker (1920-1955) loved music, drugs, drink and women. He lived fast and died young, leaving an incredible legacy of music. This 90-minute jazz opera — composed by Daniel Schnyder with a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly — is performed at Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce, which transforms into New York’s Birdland, Parker’s namesake nightclub. Done in English with English supertitles. $75. Sept. 27 + 30 performances already sold out. Best availability is Sept. 29 + Oct. 2, 3 + 7. Limited seats remain for Sept. 28 + Oct. 5. 3 p.m. curtain Sunday; all others at 7:30 p.m. Paris at Ponce is at 716 Ponce de Leon Place NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.881.8885.

[CHARLIE PARKER: ADDICT. ALCOHOLIC. JAZZ GENIUS.]

 

Stephen Sondheim

Merrily We Roll Along. OCT. 5-7 ONLY.  One of Stephen Sondheim’s most fascinating shows gets a three-night concert staging at Actor’s Express. Merrily tells the story of three friends (Craig Waldrip, Juan Carlos Unzueta, Jessica Miesel) from the day they meet until late in their grown-up careers, through triumphs and ambitions and clashes — and does so backward. The show, a flop in its 1981 Broadway debut, has never gone away, being revised and restaged countless times through the years. It features, arguably, Sondheim’s greatest score, and includes songs that are now musical theater standards — “Good Thing Going,” “Not a Day Goes By,” “Old Friends” and “Our Time.” Artistic director Freddie Ashley directs. All seats $40. At 8 p.m. Oct. 5-6; 2 p.m. Oct. 7. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Out on Film. SEPT. 27-OCT. 7. The 31st annual Atlanta LGBT film festival screens 128 films, documentaries, short films and Web series over 11 days and, this year, includes a starry staged reading of the drama The Laramie Project about the 1998 gay-bashing death of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard. The festival takes place at three venues — Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe St. NE in Midtown; Out Front Theatre Company, 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown; and the Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE in Poncey-Highland. The opening film is the 2018 Atlanta-set documentary When the Beat Drops (USA, 80 mins) at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Landmark. The 2018 drama Tucked (UK, 80 mins) closes the fest with a 7 p.m. screening Oct. 7 at Out Front. The Laramie Project gets its staged reading at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, 569 Ezzard St SE. $25 (separate from other fest events). The cast: Atlanta-based TV, stage and film actors Amy Acker, Steve Coulter, Randy Havens, Jessica Meisel, Rosemary Newcott and Tara Ochs. All proceeds benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of his murder. Laramie details, tickets HERE. Details and festival passes ($175 + $200); three-packs ($30); and individual tickets ($11 per  and screening) available HERE.

Parade: The Musical. OPENS SEPT. 27. The newish Wallace Buice Theatre Company brings this landmark Tony Award-winning musical drama to Marietta, not far from where the historic crime at its center was committed. It’s about a murder in Atlanta, an abduction in Milledgeville and a lynching in Marietta in 1913. Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew, is on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker in his employ. He is the last person to see her alive and immediately the No. 1 suspect. Parade, written by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown and done on Broadway in 1998/99, is daring, innovative and bold. Every Georgian should see it at least once. Georgia native Jared Bradshaw (Broadway’s Jersey Boys and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) plays Frank (except Oct. 4). $35-$45 plus fees. Through Oct. 7. Note: Opening weekend is sold out. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Performed at the Lyric Studio in the Square, 12 Powder Springs St., Marietta. Details, 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