WELCOME TO OUR LAST COLUMN of the year. With it, a jolly holiday to all. Many holiday shows exit after this weekend, although four hold onto a bit longe (“Christmas Carol Experience,” “Frog and Toad,” “Rudolph,” “Snow Queen”). Then set your sleigh’s GPS for some of the bigger openings of the season: “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (Aurora); “Ever After” (Alliance); and “An Octoroon” (Actor’s Express). Pictured: The Dolls and Officer Dolls of Atlanta Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo by Kim Kenney. 

Holiday shows: Last chance 

Cecil Washington Jr., Briana Young. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Christmas Canteen. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended. Aurora Theatre wraps its 23rd original holiday revue with a singing, dancing cast of eight that channels the golden days of TV Christmas specials (think Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) and mixes in a few contemporary moves to create a show that will have you glowing with the magic of the season. Ricardo Aponte and Anthony P. Rodriguez co-direct. Aponte choreographs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence, who also performs. The merrymakers are Galen Crawley, Jimi Kocina, Christian Magby, Kristin Markiton, Chani Maisonet, Kenny Tran, Cecil Washington Jr. and Briana Young. Check the Aurora website for sold-out dates before you go. $30 and up. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 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.

Courtney Patterson, David de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. CLOSES CHRISTMAS EVE. The biggest “bah humbug” of them all winds down. The Alliance Theatre has taken its musical, multicultural telling (by one-time associate artistic director David H. Bell) to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season of family-friendly revelry. David de Vries returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s joined by such familiar faces as Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past). Rosemary Newcott again directs. The caroling is gorgeous. Note: Metal detectors are in place for every performance, so allow extra time to enter the venue. $14-$115. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 2:30 p.m. Monday. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.



Libby Whittemore

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended. Singer and funny lady Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express with her 10th edition of this happy holiday songfest. It dates back even further, though, to her entrepreneurial days as the headliner at Buckhead’s late, great Libby’s, A Cabaret. She’s joined, as always, by Connie Sue Day, the 31st Lady of Country Music. Expect holiday classics old and new (“Hard Candy Christmas,” “River”), novelty tunes (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”) and perhaps a verse or two penned by Connie Sue herself. You’ll hear plenty at the two-hour show and go home merry and bright. Just beware of Connie Sue’s Dynel wig. $40. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Actor’s Express is in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

Jonathan Horne, Amelia Fischer. Photo: David Woolf

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. CLOSES DEC. 23. Recommended. Theatrical Outfit reprises its 2017 holiday hit with a script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson and colleague Margot Melcon. This witty sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on socially awkward sister Mary and a potential romantic entanglement. Miss Bennet is the fourth-most-popular play in America this season, with productions at 13 theaters nationwide. Notable Atlanta theater artist Carolyn Cook directs the Outfit staging. Amelia Fischer and Jonathan Horne return as Mary Bennet and Arthur De Bourgh. Also returning are Devon Hales and Juan Carlos Unzueta. New to the cast are Stephanie Friedman, Jeanette Illidge, Jasmine Thomas and Justin Walker. $18-$51 plus fees. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Outfit performs downtown at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500.

The Nutcracker. CLOSES CHRISTMAS EVE. Recommended. Atlanta Ballet‘s first new Nutcracker in 23 seasons is a $3.7 million staging choreographed by Russian-born Yuri Possokhov, an old friend and colleague of artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin. It returns to the original source material: German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 fantasy story “Nutcracker and Mouse King,” and sets the opening Christmas Eve party in a small German village. Look for new scenic, costume and lighting designs as well as projections to tell the story of a little girl named Marie and her come-to-life Nutcracker Prince. $35-$140. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday; 1 p.m. Christmas Eve. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303.

Jacob Bush and Jackie Nash (standing) with their chicks. Photo: Gene Schiavone



Jeremy Aggers. Photo: Chris Bartelski

This Wonderful Life. CLOSES DEC. 23. New this season. This one-man version of the Jimmy Stewart film classic joins Aurora Theatre’s holiday lineup. Jeremy Aggers (Singles in Architecture, Hands on a Hardbody) plays everybody — George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Mary, Mr. Gower, Zuzu, etc. The script is by playwright Steve Murray (whom you might know from his days as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic). In repertory with the company’s one-man Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (featuring producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez). Associate artistic director Justin Anderson directs. $20. Three performances remain: 8 p.m. Dec. 20 + 22; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. 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.

Holiday shows: Still running

Daniel Burns (left), Jordan Patrick, Lilliangina Quiñones. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Christmas Carol Experience. THROUGH DEC. 30. New this season. Charles Dickens’ Scrooge story is spun on its head in this immersive event from Brian Clowdus Experiences. Follow Ebenezer and his otherworldly goings-on through the rooms of the historic Wren’s Nest, where you’ll find holiday merriment, carols and lessons to remember. Atlanta-based actor Daniel Burns is Ebenezer Scrooge. Also in the cast of five: Rosie Gyselinck, Jordan Patrick as Jacob Marley, Lilliangina Quiñones and Julie Trammel. Clowdus, known for his environmental, site-specific work at Serenbe Playhouse, directs. The Wren’s Nest, once the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit creator Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), is now a cultural center that preserves Harris’ legacy and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing. $50; $45 under age 18, senior citizens and military. 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Also at 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. Tickets HERE.

Greg Maurice Hunter (left), Matt Baum. Photo: Jerry Siegel

A Year With Frog and Toad. THROUGH DEC. 30. Recommended. A rare family show that speaks to adults as well as the kiddos. This musical tale about a year in the lives of two best friends returns to Synchronicity Theatre. The Tony-nominated show follows the cheerful, popular Frog (Matt Baum) and the rather grumpy Toad (Greg Maurice Hunter) through four, fun-filled seasons. It’s part vaudeville and part make-believe as well as funny and moving. Also in the cast: Taryn Carmona, Elliott Folds and Lyndsay Ricketson. Jenna Tamisea, artistic director of GLOW Lyric Theatre in Greenville, S.C., directs. Synchronicity’s 2006 staging won Suzi Bass awards for outstanding musical, direction and costume design. The show is based on the Newbery and Caldecott Medal-winning books by Arnold Lobel. $16-$31 (under age 2 free). 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5:30 p.m. Sunday. School matinees available. Every Friday is PJs and Play (kids in PJs get free milk and cookies). Synchronicity is in the Peachtree Pointe Complex, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Still running (non-holiday)

Million Dollar Quartet. THROUGH JAN. 12. Georgia Ensemble Theatre reprises its popular staging and takes it to the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. Return to Dec. 4, 1956, the magical day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made music together — for the first and only time ever — at Sun Records in Memphis. The score includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and 15 more. Chris Damiano directs, music directs and plays Cash, with Alex Canty as Elvis, Christopher Kent as Perkins and Sean McGibbon as Lewis. $35-$40. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 4 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Conant is at 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260 (do not call the Conant box office).


Returning for the holidays


Yukon Cornelius in “Rudolph.”

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Closes Dec. 22. The one-man telling with actor/artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez. At Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab. 678.226.6222. 

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Closes Dec. 23. As they have for 20-plus years, a handful of actors brings the story alive at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Through Dec. 30. Based on the timeless Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. At the Center for Puppetry Arts404.873.3391.

THE SNOW QUEEN. Through Jan. 6. A traveling, site-specific show done outdoors and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. At Serenbe Playhouse770.463.1110.

Coming up

A Doll’s House, Part 2. JAN. 10-FEB. 10. Recommended. Aurora Theatre gets its turn with this stunning Actor’s Express co-production, 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). Well-known contemporary playwright Lucas Hnath’s Part 2 takes place 15 years after wife and mother Nora Helmer (Tess Malis Kincaid) leaves her husband and family to seek out independence unheard of in that day. Now she’s knocking on that door, wanting 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 Broadway’s 2017 season. It’s smart, funny and modern. Joining Kincaid onstage are Rob Cleveland, Shelli Delgado and Deadra Moore. AE artistic director Freddie Ashley directed. $20 and up. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Jan. 22. 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.

Ever After. Jan. 15-Feb. 17. Recommended. This musical update on the Cinderella story christens the Alliance Theatre’s new mainstage, aka the Coca-Cola Stage. It’s based on the 1998 Drew Barrymore movie (and the original 1729 fairy tale). Follow a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac, who risks everything to save a friend. With the help of Leonardo da Vinci (yes, da Vinci), she must decide who she is, what she’ll fight for and how far she’ll go for love. The musical comes from the award-winning songwriting team of Zina Goldrich (music) and Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics). Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth directs. Her 30-person cast is led by Broadway regulars Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, School of Rock) as Danielle, Tony Award nominee David Garrison (A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine) as da Vinci, Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown, Side Show) and Rachel York (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Head Over Heels), along with Atlanta-based artists Terry Burrell (Ethel, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), Chris Kayser (Alliance, Georgia Shakespeare) and Rhyn McLemore Saver. This one has the scent of Broadway-bound all about it. $25 and up. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 + 29. No shows Feb. 3. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Moonlight & Magnolias. JAN. 10-27. Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Playwright Ron Hutchinson’s 2004 inside-Hollywood farce peeks behind the camera as producer-screenwriter David O. Selznick, director Victor Fleming and screenwriter Ben Hecht lock themselves in an office with a five-day supply of peanuts and bananas trying to rescue a near-disaster 1939 movie. Its title: Gone With the Wind. Great cast: William S. Murphey is Selznick, Bart Hansard is Fleming and Googie Uterhardt is Hecht. All are Atlanta actors. Note: Contains mature language and content. $26-$40. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 + 26. GET performs in the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 959 Forrest St. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.641.1260. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

An Octoroon. JAN. 26-FEB. 24. Recommended. Actor’s Express. An imaginative new work from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (2016’s Appropriate) turns 19th-century melodrama on its ear in a riotous romp. The script puts the antebellum South, says the Express, on a collision course with 21st-century cultural politics. The piece won off-Broadway’s 2014 Obie Award for best new play. The plot: Trouble has been brewing at the Terrebonne Plantation ever since Judge Peyton died. Money is low, an evil overseer is up to no good, and the heir to the estate is in love with the wrong person. Jacobs-Jenkins, 33, is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grantee and has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Donya K. Washington, an Alliance Theatre producer, directs. Her cast of 11 includes Isake Akanke (Cardboard Piano), Neal A. Ghant (The Motherf**ker With the Hat) and Parris Sarter (Angels in America). $20-$50 and subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

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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