ArtsATL > Theater > Preview: From “Bull Durham” to “The Whale,” Atlanta theater offers diverse upcoming season

Preview: From “Bull Durham” to “The Whale,” Atlanta theater offers diverse upcoming season

Suzi Bass award winner Carolyn Cook stars in Horizon Theatre's "Detroit."
Suzi Bass award winner Carolyn Cook stars in Horizon Theatre's "Detroit."
Suzi Bass award winner Carolyn Cook stars in Horizon Theatre’s Detroit.

Technically, it’s already begun. Aurora Theatre kicked off the new theater season in July with its crackling version of Mary Poppins, but most 2014–2015 productions will be opening over the next month. A lot has us excited and here are 14 productions we simply can’t miss. And trust us, there could be dozens more on the list. 

Bull Durham (Alliance Theatre) September 3–October 5

Arguably the most beloved baseball movie ever, Bull Durham has a dandy romantic triangle at its core that includes baseball groupie Annie Savoy, minor league great “Crash” Davis and rookie “Nook” LaLoosh (played in the film by Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins, respectively). This has wonderful source material — Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed the movie, has adapted this for the stage — and actress Melissa Errico (a Tony Award nominee for Amour) gets to sink her teeth into Annie. World premiere musicals are always fun to watch and track their development, and the Alliance has a long history with them. Fingers crossed. 

Detroit (Horizon Theatre) September 19–October 19

When a married couple strikes up a friendship with new residents next door, it changes their lives in this black comedy Pulitzer Prize finalist. Two words tell us everything we need to know to make plans — Carolyn Cook. 

Natasha Trethewey
Natasha Trethewey

Philadelphia, Here I Come (Arís Theatre) September 25–October 5

Arís Theatre, dedicated to Irish fare, debuted this spring with the odd comedy-drama The New Electric Ballroom. With a number of talented folks behind the scenes — including actress and artistic director Joanna Daniel — this 50th anniversary take on the Brian Friel classic should be the play that elevates the new company, with a smart cast that includes Theo Harness and Kyle Brumley. 

Native Guard (Alliance Theatre) September 26–October 19

The poetry of U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey comes to the Hertz Stage via this world premiere, intertwining African American involvement in the Civil War and an illegal interracial relationship in the 1960s. The second act will feature a discussion between cast members, community leaders and the audience. How on earth will this come across? We’ll soon see — but we applaud the Alliance for tackling something this unconventional.

Lasso of Truth (Synchronicity Theatre) September 26–October 19

Postponed from last season, Carson Kreitzer’s Lasso of Truth is described as a romp through the history of sexual politics, emphasizing the early years of Wonder Woman and her impact. A rolling world premiere with California’s Marin Theatre Company, it’s directed by Synchronicity’s Rachel May, whose company made news earlier this summer with their permanent new home in Midtown. Bottom line — we were so there last season awaiting this, and we’ll be back.

Clybourne Park (Aurora Theatre) October 2–26

A Georgia premiere as well as a recent Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner, this acclaimed play by Bruce Norris — inspired by A Raisin in the Sun — explores race and real estate and spans 50 years, starting in 1959 where community leaders try to stop the sale of a house to an African American family. Five decades later the community — almost entirely African American — tries to stop gentrification. Aurora is on a roll, and with Melissa Foulger directing, this could be another hit. 

The Doctor, the Devil, & My Dad (7 Stages) October 2–26

From talented actress and playwright Suehyla El-Attar comes this world premiere about a woman who is dealing with grief — and gets visits by a sci-fi TV icon and a Bible villain. It’s directed by 7 Stages’ Heidi S. Howard with Stacey Melich in the lead role. We’ve followed El-Attar awhile and eagerly await this. 

Will Swenson (left), Melissa Errico and John Behlmann star in the Alliance Theatre's "Bull Durham."
Will Swenson (left), Melissa Errico and John Behlmann star in Bull Durham.

How I Learned What I Learned (True Colors Theatre Company) October 7–November 2

This solo show by the late August Wilson and Todd Kreidler — featuring Eugene Lee — navigates personal stories and Wilson’s take on what it means to be a black artist in America. True Colors always does Wilson proud.

The Elephant Man (Georgia Ensemble Theatre) October 30 – November 16

David Crowe will stage the story of John Merrick, a deformed young man who is admitted into a hospital under the care of physician Frederick Treves. It’s a beautiful work that won a Tony Award for Best Play back in 1979. Merrick is played by Jonathan Horne, and the cast also includes the busy Theo Harness and Holly Stevenson. It’s dark, bold programming for GET.

Man of La Mancha (Serenbe Playhouse) March 26–April 12, 2015

With Hair and Oklahoma! under his belt, Serenbe Playhouse artistic director Brian Clowdus knows how to give a fresh spin to musicals and maximize his outdoors setting. This will be the company’s first spring musical and it sounds promising. Bryant Smith — these days rather peerless in musical theater — will star as Don Quixote, with Bubba Carr choreographing. 

Pippin (Fox Theatre via Atlanta Broadway Series) May 5–10, 2015

The most exciting production of the new Atlanta Broadway might be the remount of this beloved Tony winner, popping with great songs and acrobatic derring-do. Lucie Arnaz is in the touring cast beginning this fall; let’s hope she is still around in the spring. 

Freddie Ashley
Freddie Ashley

The Whale (Actor’s Express) May 14–June 14, 2015

In New York a few seasons ago, Tony winner and Atlantan Shuler Hensley performed this one-man show to sizable acclaim. A 600-pound man hides in his apartment and — sensing he has precious little time left — makes an attempt to reconcile with his teenage daughter. The Whale offers its lead a potential tour-de-force and the Express’ Freddie Ashley will star while dependable Heidi Cline McKerley will direct.

The White Chip (Theatrical Outfit) June 11–28, 2015

Sean Daniels, the former artistic director of Dad’s Garage, has moved on to direct across the country, yet he returns to Theatrical Outfit next summer for a very personal, laced-with-laughs story that follows its main character from baptism as a Mormon lad to heavy drinking as a man to “finding the right Jew when you need them.” Daniels’ distinctive touch will be nice to reexperience after all these years away. 

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