ABOUT TOWN: The building blocks of who we are

What makes a human?

#0 Lead MAR Abt Town
Photo credit: COURTESY OF ALLIANCE THEATRE
AT THE ALLIANCE: THE MANY WONDROUS REALITIES OF JASMINE STARR-KIDD.

What makes a human human? That’s the question posed by producers of a new stage version of Pinocchio, in which our famed protagonist seeks to justify his raison d’etre. Similarly perplexed are the female characters in Oh, To Be Pure Again, a play that examines desire, submission, rebellion, and sexual purity. Then there is a ballet that reimagines the classic myth of Cupid and Psyche from a female perspective — and a drama that’s a searing indictment of cultural and institutional racism in the military. On a lighter note, the Monty Python classic Spamalot makes a stop in town, as does ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. The Atlanta Science Festival returns to teach us a thing or two, and so does a jazzy fundraiser in support of the boxing community.

Wed., Mar. 1 - Sun., Mar. 26

 

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RARE OPPORTUNITY FOR EMERGING PLAYWRIGHTS: DIRECTOR TINASHE KAJESE-BOLDEN. PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF ALLIANCE THEATRE

The Many Wondrous Realities of Jasmine Starr Kidd,  Alliance Theatre — The winner of the 19th Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition is written by Stephen Brown, a fellow at Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program; the initiative offers tuition-free, graduate-level fellowships to a small number of writers each year. With direction by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, the story centers on Jasmine, a 12-year-old computer whiz who can hack into mainframes and build artificially-intelligent pals but is unable to reunite her divorced parents, despite her best efforts. Her solution is to create a time-machine that she hopes will fix her woes. “We are wired to spend an inordinate amount of time pondering the ‘what if’s’ from the past, instead of the ‘what can be’s’ in the future,” says producer Amanda Watkins. “Every time Jasmine often stubbornly tries to change her past, she is shifting the molecules and stripping away what she thinks she knows to be true, creating a vessel that is ready for the lesson that we can’t control others’ free will; that sometimes regret and mistakes aren’t problems to be solved, but instead - in the words of our brilliant playwright - are the building blocks of who we are.”
$25 ($10 Teens) Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30309. 404-733-4600 allianceinfo@alliancetheatre.org  my.alliancetheatre.org

Fri., Mar. 3 - Sun., Mar. 12

 

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PINOCCHIO REIMAGINED: WHAT MAKES A HUMAN HUMAN? PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF DEVI WELLS

Pinocchio,  7 Stages — In the works for more than three years, this production by Michael Haverty and Marium Khalid is a 7 Stages collaboration with two other local entities known for adventurousness - Object Group and Sky Creature Productions. “This re-telling of the classic story is brought to life for adult audiences with puppetry, dance, video projections, and sensory experiences,” the press release reads, adding that audiences can expect a journey “through an unexpected world full of magic, treachery and desire” with Pinocchio venturing away from home, discovering the roots of his identity, and accepting his truth. The cast features Luis Hernandez as Geppetto, Rachel Wansker as Pinocchio and Alejandro Abarca as Head Mister. Sets are by Haverty and Khalid with Vii Kelly and Joey Swift, direction is by Kate Bergstrom, costumes are by Jennifer Schottstaedt, and cinematography is by Jess Silva. The genesis of the project is a 2021 short film - a prequel of sorts - that will be presented to ticket holders before each live performance.
$20 -$40. 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Avenue, Atlanta 30307 7Stages.org

Sat., Mar. 4 - Sun., Mar. 26

 

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UNEASY TENSION: DELICATE PHASE OF SELF-DISCOVERY. PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY GARDNER FORD

Oh, To Be Pure Again,  Actor’s Express — Actor’s Express is presenting in March the premiere of Kira Rockwell’s Oh, To Be Pure Again, a new play about “female desire, submission, rebellion, and growing up in a religious culture that’s obsessed with your sexual purity,” a press release explains. “During a hot summer at a fundamentalist church camp in Texas, an idealistic young counselor works to shepherd the campers in the girls’ cabin through a delicate phase of self-discovery, only to be confronted with challenges to her own faith,” the synopsis tells us. “The young women find themselves crashing into the uneasy tension between obedience and rebellion.” The ensemble cast features Ebony Jerry, Brian Kurlander, Aliya Kraar and Erin North, all AE veterans, along with Shannon Murphy, Brandy Bell, Andres Figueroa and Alejandra Ruiz making their Actor’s Express debut. Rockwell categorizes her work as “hyperrealistic, wholeheartedly character-driven, and inherently folksy. My characters passionately combat stereotypes by embracing the poetry of desire and body. The worlds I build hang in the delicate balance between the intangible otherworldly and the dirt of the Earth.”
$38.$20 Students. Discounts for seniors, groups and active or retired military. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta Street, Suite J-107, Atlanta 30318.404-607-7469 tickets@actorsexpress.com  actors-express.com

Sun., Mar. 5

 

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BAD JABS: FUNDRAISER SUPPORTS BOXERS YOUNG AND OLD. PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF XAVIER BIGGS

Jazz in the Ring with The Grant Green Jr. Quartet,  Decatur Boxing Club — This fundraiser for the nonprofit Tyrell Biggs Gold Medal Project supports former boxers who suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Proceeds provide housing, medical and living expenses, and will also help young boxers starting out in the sport with scholarships. As an amateur, “Bad Jab” Biggs won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in the super heavyweight division, but after turning pro his promising career declined due to addiction issues. Biggs will appear at the afternoon event for a meet-and-greet alongside Ebo “The X-Treme Machine” Elder and “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon. Jazz guitarist Grant Green Jr. and his three-piece band will perform as well. The Decatur Boxing Club is run by Biggs’ older brother Xavier, a former boxer himself who came to Atlanta in 1988 from Philadelphia and has been coaching aficionados and championing underdogs ever since.
$50 includes a drink ticket. ($1,500 -$2,000 VIP packages are available). 3 p.m. Decatur Boxing Club, 137 New Street, Suite C, Decatur 30030 biggsboxing.com  checkout.square.site

Thu., Mar. 10 - Sat., Mar. 25

 

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BRAGGING RIGHTS: COME AND LEARN SOMETHING. PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF JON WATERHOUSE / LENZ INC.

Atlanta Science Festival,  multiple Atlanta venues — The city’s ultimate celebration of all things scientific returns in March with 150 interactive and educational events happening all over town. Exploration Expo, a giant bash in Piedmont Park, wraps things up as the grand finale. “As we approach the 10th edition of the Atlanta Science Festival, I recall our original inspiration,” says Meisa Salaita, executive co-director of Science ATL. “We wanted to expand science learning access to all in metro Atlanta. It continues to be a privilege to watch the local science community grow alongside the Atlanta Science Festival, and we anticipate another amazing year.” The two-week event allows children and adults to explore coding, astronomy, nature walks, science/art mashups, and the intricacies of meditation. Not to mention an introduction to curling. Additionally, AI and brain imaging, the world’s fastest aircraft, amphibians and snakes, newts and nature trails, a science fashion show and secret parks, chemistry and coffee, as well as “time traveling teens on stage” are on the calendar, organizers say. Make of that what you will. “With the many advances in technology, science has taken on an even more vital role in today’s world,” Salaita adds, “and we are proud to have the chance to brag that Atlanta really is a science city.”
Events take place at venues throughout the city. Many are free, and some require registration and/or a nominal fee. atlantasciencefestival.org

Thu., Mar. 10 - Sun., Mar. 26

 

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SILLINESS RULES: THE KNIGHTS WHO SAY NI. PHOTO CREDIT: MASON WOODS

Monty Python’s Spamalot, Byers Theatre at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center — Eric Idle’s spoof on the legend of King Arthur was hailed as “gorgeously silly” by the New York Post when it first catapulted onto Broadway under Mike Nichols’ direction nearly 20 years ago. It won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and has been making audiences giggle ever since. “I suppose there are a few people who won’t enjoy Spamalot,” The Telegraph lamented at the time. “The chronically depressed, the criminally insane and the snootier drama critics may find it hard to raise a smile. The loss is all theirs, however, and I suspect everyone else will have an absolute ball.” It’s like Camelot, but with rabbits and rabbis, and is said to be ”lovingly ripped off” from the classic 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. During its initial run of 1,575 performances, it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million. Tim Curry starred as King Arthur in the original Broadway and West End productions, and it was one of only eight British musicals commemorated on Royal Mail stamps, issued in 2011. “I think Spamalot turned out splendidly,” says John Cleese, who plays the pre-recorded voice of God in the show. “It’s had a tremendous run. I defy anyone to go and not have a really fun evening. It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen and I think Eric did a great job.”
$37 -$100. Byers Theatre at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs 30328. 404-477-4365 info@cityspringstheatre.com  cityspringstheatre.com

Sun, Mar. 19

 

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JEFF DUNHAM: VENTRILOQUIST CORNERS THE MARKET. PHOTO CREDIT: RICHARD MCLAREN

Jeff Dunham, Still Not Canceled,  State Farm Arena — The popular ventriloquist returns to Atlanta and will bring with him a new millennial, text-loving puppet named Url along with longtime acolytes Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba J, José Jalapeño, Walter and Peanut. After working at comedy clubs for a couple of decades, Jeff Dunham graduated to theaters and ultimately arenas, performing live to at least 7,250,000 people with 1,390 performances from June 2007 through May 2022, earning the title of Billboard’s Top Comedy Tour for three years in a row. He’s racked up an estimated $15 million in earnings while becoming a Comedy Central and YouTube star who belittles terrorists, ridicules our obsession with mobile devices and the silly things we spend money on. Dunham has a thing or two to say about cancel culture as well. As a way of spreading the wealth, Dunham and his wife Audrey created the Jeff Dunham Family Fund which provides some proceeds from every ticket sold to charitable organizations. $50.50. 3 p.m. State Farm Arena, 1 State Farm Drive, Atlanta 30303.404-878-3106 jeffdunham.com statefarmarena.com

Fri, Mar. 24

 

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JULIANNA RUBIO SLAGER: EXPECT TO BE GRIPPED. PHOTO CREDIT: JEREMY COWART

Ballet 5:8 Presents BareFace,  KSU Dance Theater — With Mexican-American Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager at the helm, Chicago-based Ballet 5:8 creates dances drawing from life, faith, literature and current events “to tell relevant and relatable stories of the 21st century,” the dance company says. BareFace is based on C.S. Lewis’ final novel, Till We Have Faces, reimagining the classic myth of Cupid and Psyche from a female perspective in  honor of Women’s History Month. As one of the only extant ballets set in a post-apocalyptic world, BareFace features a set design made of 95 percent recycled materials, handmade Grecian and futuristic costumes, and a dress spanning the entire stage. Rubio Slager is grandly described as “a groundbreaking figure empowering minority women to command space in the professional ballet scene” who in BareFace will “examine love’s motivations, pitfalls and blind spots.” Taking place in the Grecian fairytale world of Glome, audiences “can expect to be gripped by the dynamic storytelling through the impressive athletic prowess of Ballet 5:8’s dance artists.”
$17.50 -$42.50. 7:30 p.m. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, Marietta Campus, 860 Rossbacher Way, Marietta 30060. 312-725-4752 info@balle58.org  ballet58.org

Tue., Mar. 28 - Sun., Apr. 2

 

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A SOLDIER’S PLAY: EUGENE LEE PORTRAYS SERGEANT VERNON WATERS. PHOTO CREDIT: JOAN MARCUS

A Soldier’s Play,  Fox Theatre — Charles Fuller’s 1982 play, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is back in this revival from Roundabout Theatre Company. The director is Kenny Leon, known well to Atlanta audiences for his notable run at the Alliance Theatre. “The recent passing of the giant that is Charles Fuller has only magnified his brilliance… an amazing writer who left us so much with his masterful A Soldier’s Play,” Leon says. “We honor him with this American tour of the Broadway production of this great American classic. Come - laugh, think and reflect.” The drama, set in 1944, concerns the slaying of a Black sergeant on a Louisiana Army base and its aftermath. “This is a play that deserves to be staged regularly all over America - though it’s hard to imagine that it will ever be done better than this,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. “It keeps you guessing all the way to the final curtain.” The Daily Beast called it “a brilliant, fiercely written, searing indictment of cultural and institutional racism.” It’s recommended for audiences aged 13 and up.
$31.00 -$89.00. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30308. 404-881-2100 foxtheatre.evenue.net

 

Tue., Mar. 28

 

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KIDS GET VOCAL: NOTHING BUT THE HITS. PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF TOM ROWLAND / CEPAC

Hits! The Musical,  Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre — The premise is simple: get 29 talented young performers to tour the country singing a bunch of songs that everybody knows - “Satisfaction,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “I Will Always Love You” and “Singing in The Rain” among them. Throw in lots of dancing and costume changes. What’s not to like? The executive producer is Dionne Warwick, who will unfortunately not be performing herself. “The talent of these budding young superstars was so impressive that I just had to be a part of this extraordinary musical,” she says. “I’m thrilled that this amazing cast will have the opportunity to perform on a national stage and showcase their singing and dancing talents while bringing everyone’s favorite songs to life.” The show was created by Bob Gries, a wealthy investor who happens to like music. He and his team auditioned more than 7,000 kids for the show, and one of them, 10-year-old Nella Hilden, clocked up 1.7 million TikTok views during rehearsals with the cast.
$29 -$99. 7:30 p.m. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta 30339. 770-916-2852 thehitstour.com  ticketmaster.com