WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: Liam Redford as Billy Elliot in City Springs Theatre Company’s Billy Elliot the Musical.

Opening this weekend

Ride the Cyclone. Runs May 1 – 26. Alliance Theatre. Shortly after boarding the Cyclone ride at a traveling fair, a broken front axle sends the teenagers to their tragic demise. While stuck in a sort of purgatory, a mechanical fortune teller invites each student to compete in a macabre contest with the prize of a return to the world of the living. Bewildered, the teens take turns sharing their stories, making a case for themselves. Ride the Cyclone is a wildly original new musical—part comedy, part tragedy, and wholly unexpected. Info on the Alliance Theatre website. Discounted tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Native Gardens. Runs May 2 – June 2. Aurora Theatre. Based in a historic Washington D.C. neighborhood, two couples who are next-door neighbors battle for their backyards. Each wants a completely different landscape than the other. Native Gardens is on American Theatre’s Top 10 Most Produced Plays of the 2018-19 season list. In addition, playwright Karen Zacaría is fifth on American Theatre’s Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of 2018-19. Full of thoroughly-researched horticulture references, on-stage partially-real gardens, and realistic neighborly conflict, Native Gardens is sure to challenge, delight, and humor audiences! Tickets and info on the Aurora Theatre website.

Billy Elliot. Runs May 3 – 12. City Springs Theatre Company @ Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Based on the hit film and featuring a score by legend Elton John, Billy Elliot the Musical is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Billy journeys from the boxing ring to ballet class where his passion for dance is ignited, inspiring both his family and community and changing their lives forever. Set in a northern English mining town against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical uplifts with its powerful storyline, rousing score, and sensational choreography. Info on the City Springs Theatre Company website. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Closing this weekend

William S. Murphey as James Beard. Photo by Greg Mooney.

I Love to Eat. Through May 5. Theatrical Outfit. Longtime Atlanta actor William S. Murphey (The Book of Will, Two Drink Minimum, The Fabulous Lipitones) plays chef James Beard (1903-1985) in this solo show at Theatrical Outfit. “In the beginning there was Beard,” American food personality Julia Child said of the chef, cookbook author, teacher and TV personality. Beard’s charisma turned him from aspiring actor to culinary expert. He weathered shifts in foodie culture for half a century and had an award named in his honor — the James Beard Foundation Award is still craved today by chefs working around the world. Drop into the Beard’s Greenwich Village kitchen for bean-spilling anecdotes, on-air flashbacks and a salty voyage around the world of love, life and comfort food. Delicious! Info on the Theatrical Outfit website.

Joe Sykes and Rebeca Robles in The Hero’s Wife. Photo by Jerry Siegel.

The Hero’s Wife. Through May 5. Synchronicity Theatre. Karyssa desperately tries to connect with her Navy SEAL husband, Cameron.  Most of his life has been classified. What’s left, he won’t talk about.  While he works to rebuild his world, secret night terrors whisper to a violent past. As Karyssa gets closer, the more dangerous Cameron becomes, but she won’t stop until she unearths the secrets of the man she loves and lights his way home. This production of The Heros Wife is a joint world premiere with 16th Street Theater in Chicago. Mature content warning: This production contains physical and sexual violence, strong language, and gun shot sound effects. Tickets and info on the Synchronicity Theatre website.

Lee Osorio in Hamlet. Photo by Daniel Parvis.

Hamlet. Through May 5. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has returned home to mourn the death of his father, the king. Hamlet disapproves of the marriage of his newly widowed mother, Queen Gertrude, to his Uncle, King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius, who now has the throne. A ghost with a likeness to the former King Hamlet visits the castle and reveals to Hamlet the circumstances around the king’s death. Hamlet plots revenge as his sanity comes into question with the fate of Denmark hanging in the balance.

Coming soon

Ragtime.  Runs May 8 – June 9. Serenbe Playhouse. Join Serenbe Playhouse for this Tony Award-winning musical based on E.L. Doctorow’s acclaimed novel of the same name. The show portrays the nation’s hopes and pains at the turn of the 20th century, telling diverse stories of African Americans, immigrants, and the elite upper-class. The cast features real-life historical figures including Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, and J. P. Morgan. See the county on the cusp of a new era on stage like you’ve never seen before — in the style of Vaudeville under a giant Atlantic City tent!

A Public Education. Runs May 10 – 19. Out of Box Theatre. A new high school math teacher, Luke Paxton, arrives at school ready for the classroom but completely unprepared for the other teachers. To make matters worse, somebody’s been posting nasty things on the web. A Public Education takes audiences to the teaching trenches with five complicated and deeply human teachers — and one troubled student.  The play is based on interviews with dozens of teachers working today, and understands that education can come in a million different ways.