New and/or recommended: A three-night concert staging of Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” (Actor’s Express); “Nell Gwynn” (Synchronicity); “Nina Simone: Four Women” (True Colors); “Fall-en” (Terminus Modern Dance Theatre); “Nick’s Flamingo Grill” (Alliance world premiere). Have fun! Pictured: The “Nell Gwynn” company, from left: Amanda Cucher, a mostly hidden Jeff Hathcoat, Eugene H. Russell IV, Courtney Moors, Hannah Church, Doyle Reynolds, Brandon Partrick and Jasmine Thomas. Photo by Jerry Siegel.

Sold out

  • Parade, the Wallace Buice Theatre Company staging of the Alfred Uhry-Jason Robert Brown musical drama about the Leo Frank case in 1913 Georgia.
  • Charlie Parker: YARDBIRD at The Atlanta Opera. At this writing, very limited tickets remain for Sunday’s performance at Paris on Ponce.

Recommended

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 with six actors (familiar Alliance faces Devon Hales, Joe Knezevich and Courtney Patterson, plus visiting artists Ericka Ratcliff, Adeoye Mabogunje and Travis Turner). It 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. $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 Oct. 3-4, 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.

[WHY DAVID CATLIN’S MIDSUMMER IS MAD, MAD, MAD]

Craig Waldrip (left), Jessica Miesel, Juan Carlos Unzueta.

Merrily We Roll Along. FRIDAY-SUNDAY 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 Sondheim’s greatest score, arguably, and includes songs that have become musical theater standards — “Good Thing Going,” “Not a Day Goes By,” “Old Friends” and “Our Time,” among them. Artistic director Freddie Ashley directs. All seats $40. At 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Courtney Moors (left), Eugene H. Russell IV. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Nell Gwynn. THROUGH OCT. 21. At Synchronicity Theatre. It’s 1660. Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans have run away with their drab gray tails between their legs while at Drury Lane, a young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence. Little does she know who’s watching. Playwright Jessica Swale’s 2016 Olivier Award-winning comedy with music charts the rise of an unlikely heroine from her roots in poverty to her success as Britain’s most-celebrated “actor-ess” and her place in the heart of the king. Richard Garner (longtime artistic director at Georgia Shakespeare, Synchronicity’s Anne Boleyn) directs a cast of 11. Courtney Moors is Nell, Robert Shaw-Smith is King Charles II and Eugene Russell IV is actor Charles Hart. $25-$41 plus fees. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Synchronicity is in the Peachtree Pointe building at 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or 404.484.8636.

Adrienne Reynolds (from left), Wendy Fox-Williams, Regina Marie Williams, Jordan Frazier.

Nina Simone: Four Women. THROUGH OCT. 21. 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 left four young girls dead. The drama uses the Simone song “Four Women” as a framework, and gives voices to four 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 (also Nina in the Minneapolis world premiere); Wendy Fox-Williams; Jordan Frazier; Adrienne Reynolds. $30-$40. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also 11 a.m. Oct. 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.

Waiting for Godot. THROUGH OCT. 14. How can this not be recommended? 7 Stages presents Samuel Beckett’s absurdist classic about two sad-sack drifters waiting for a stranger named Godot and the existential questions they discuss as time passes, and passes, and passes. 7 Stages co-founder Del Hamilton and longtime Atlanta actor Don Finney return from previous Godot stagings here. Also in the cast: Matt Baum, Bart Hansard, Eric Haslam and Pace Willis. Artistic director Heidi S. Howard directs. $15-$28. At 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

Last chance

Out on Film. CLOSES SUNDAY. The 31st annual Atlanta LGBT film festival screens 128 films, documentaries, shorts and Web series over its 11 days. 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 2018 drama Tucked (U.K., 80 mins) closes the fest with a 7 p.m. screening Sunday at Out Front. Details and festival passes ($175 + $200); three-packs ($30); and individual tickets ($11 per screening) available HERE.

Opening this week

Heath Gill

Fall-en. OPENS FRIDAY. In honor of its second season, Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre presents a double bill choreographed by co-founder Heath GillFall-en uses humor to explore perceptions of, and responses to, the unknown. This piece is promising a special guest dancer. TMBT is a collective of five classically trained principal dancers — Gill, Christian Clark, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and John Welker — who have 85 years of professional experience performing locally, nationally and internationally. All five formerly danced with Atlanta Ballet. $35-$50 ($15 students). Through Oct. 14. At 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Deer Hollow at Serenbe, 8455 Atlanta Newnan Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE

Nick’s Flamingo Grill.THROUGH OCT. 28. An Alliance Theatre world premiere musical. Atlanta playwright Phillip DePoy (Edward Foote) tells the story of two friends, ex-WWII GIs turned jazz musicians, who’ve had great success performing in Paris nightclubs. Convinced that their mixed-race act will be a hit back home, they return — to 1950s Georgia. Inspired by the true story of Atlanta’s first integrated nightclub. It features 10 original songs by DePoy and musical director Tyrone Jackson. Tinashe Kajese-Bolden directs. Recommended for age 14 and up. $20-$55; $10 teens. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Hertz Stage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[MEET THE MULTITALENTED MR. DePOY]

Paige in Full. SATURDAY + OCT. 13 ONLY. Alliance Theatre. Performance artist Paige Hernandez found her voice through hip-hop. In this piece, a one-woman show, she wants to inspire young people to chase their own passions. The high-energy piece for middle-school audiences is a fusion of poetry, theater, dance, multimedia projections and turntable action that churns out hip-hop, rock and punk beats. In it, Hernandez tells the story of how hip-hop helped her figure out where she fits in the world. $32; $18 children. Four public performances only, at 1 + 3:30 p.m. both days. Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[ONE WOMAN. ONE TEACHER. ONE STORY.]

Still running

Cynthia Barrett, Travis Smith. Photo: Chris Bartelski

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 shipping 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” 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. At 8 p.m. Tuesday-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.

Jonathan Horne, Maurice Ralston.

Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. THROUGH OCT. 21. Part 2 joins the  Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse repertory this weekend. The history plays follow 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.

Marcellis Cutler, Ashley (Ash) Anderson.

Nomad Motel. THROUGH OCT. 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 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.

A Red Plaid Shirt. THROUGH OCT. 14. At Stage Door Players. Meet Marty and Fred. These old friends fill the retirement void in vastly different ways: Marty wants to explore the open road on a Harley; Fred decides to pay more attention to his health. Both require a little “subtle redirection” from their wives. The cast: Steve Hudson, Michael Strauss, Eileen Koteles and Suzanne Jordan Roush. $22-$33. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726. Tickets available online from Tix.com HERE.

The Sleepy Hollow Experience. THROUGH NOV. 4. The Headless Horseman rides again as Serenbe Playhouse presents a sixth season of its Halloween fright fest. It all goes back to Washington Irving’s 1820 horror story about schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and his efforts to win the heart and hand of Katrina Van Tassel. This season’s show is a new adaptation by artistic director Brian Clowdus. The cast: Erik Poger Abrahamsen, Erin Burnett, Jeremy Gee, Anna Lanier, Jordan Patrick and Madison Welch. $30-$45 (rain insurance available). 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 + 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Family-friendly stagings at 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday include fall festival events before the show and at intermission. In the Horseman’s Meadow at Serenbe. Most Serenbe shows require a walk along a (sometimes muddy) path. Appropriate footwear suggested. Sleepy Hollow is a traveling show, without seating. For mobility assistance (parking, accessibility cart, chairs, etc.), contact the box office. Serenbe is at 9110 Selborne Lane in Chattahoochee Hills. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Next week

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. OCT. 11 + 13. Atlanta favorite Jun Märkl returns as guest conductor for an evening of French music. Philadelphia native Giora Schmidt makes his ASO debut in Concerto No. 5 by French violin firebrand Henri Vieuxtemps. Also planned: Benvenuto Cellini Overture by Berlioz and Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé ballet. A pre-concert chamber music recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday is free to ticket holders for both concerts. $22-$98. At 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE  or at 404.733.5000.

Garrett Turner. Photo: Casey Gardner

The Royale. PREVIEWS OCT. 10-12. OPENS OCT. 13. At Theatrical Outfit. Playwright Marco Ramirez takes a stylized, blazingly theatrical look at the segregated world of boxing at the turn of the 20th century. The 2013 drama is loosely based on the life of Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight champion (earlier fictionalized in the 1968 drama The Great White Hope, done on Broadway with James Earl Jones). Patdro Harris (Fly, Nina Simone) directs. His cast: Garrett Turner as Jay “The Sport” Jackson, Cynthia D. Barker, Marlon Burnley, Rob Cleveland and Brian Kurlander. $18-$51 plus fees. Through Nov. 4. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW (two blocks from the Peachtree Center MARTA station). Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

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