For a snapshot of the breadth and depth of the Atlanta theater community, one could hardly do better than a pair of upcoming season announcements by two very different theater companies over the past month.
Actor’s Express, known for its dedication to boundary-pushing works, announced a 25th anniversary lineup of big-name controversial dramas and other productions, signaling that the company, which was forced to reach out to the local community for financial support last year, isn’t dialing back its ambition.
The roster is a far cry from its current production of the movie musical Xanadu. Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning Kiss of the Spider Woman kicks off the season (Aug. 22-Oct. 7), followed by the world premiere of Wolves, billed as a “fairy tale for grown-ups.” Written by Atlanta’s own Steve Yockey (who wrote the well-received Octopus), it concerns a young man who’s moved to action when his roommate brings home an unusual one-night stand: a big bad wolf ( Nov. 7-Dec. 2).
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a musical by Michael Friedman, recasts the seventh president as a “rock god badass maverick who fights for the common man, wrestles the country away from Native Americans—and looks HOT in a pair of skinny jeans” (Jan. 9-Feb. 17). The company follows that up with Peter Shaffer’s Equus (March 20-April 21), and closes out the season with a “hit Broadway comedy” still to be announced (May 15-June 16). For tickets, call 404-607-7469 or visit www.actors-express.com.
Meanwhile, Next Stage Theatre Company, a “community/semi-professional” troupe founded a couple of years ago, is moving into the Alley Stage—the smaller space in the building that formerly housed Theatre in the Square—for its upcoming season. In stark contrast to Actor’s Express, Next Stage is offering a wildly diverse roster that seems to promise something for everyone.
The season begins with the raucous puppet showcase Avenue Q (Aug. 10-25) and includes the romantic comedy Venus Rotates Clockwise (Sept. 13-22), The Rocky Horror Show (Oct. 19-Nov. 3), Cabaret (Dec. 14-31), Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Feb. 8-23), You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (April 5-20), A Streetcar Named Desire (May 3-18) and Jesus Christ Superstar (June14-29). For tickets, call 678-744-6398 or visit www.nextstagetheatre.net.
Next Stage will also host a number of shows by “company in residence” Out of Box Theatre, which will stage The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged in July, The Santaland Diaries in December and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in March. In addition, it will stage a pair of originals by Atlanta playwright Raymond Fast, Scorched and Touched, in September. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/GotNoBoxTheatre.