A robust array of events — from yearly favorites and one-offs, to resurrections and debuts — come together to create a dynamic lineup of exciting offerings for the fall arts season. Selected by the AJC staff and our critics, here are 17 events we are eager to experience.
“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, the film version of “Cuckoo’s Nest” became a Hollywood sensation when it won five Academy Awards in 1975. But the play, by Dale Wasserman, is a different animal, darkly comic yet no less disturbing. To open the Alliance Theatre season, artistic director Susan V. Booth has enlisted powerhouse actors Neal A. Ghant as the anarchic psycho-ward patient Randle Patrick McMurphy and Tess Malis Kincaid as his arch-nemesis, Nurse Ratched. The material, which echoes Steinbeck and Shakespeare, should provide revealing, electric commentary on topics such as race, mental health, incarceration and power. Sept. 2-20. Alliance Theatre. www.alliancetheatre.org.
Art on the Atlanta Beltline / Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade. As darkness falls on Sept. 12, more than 20,000 people carrying glowing lanterns of whimsical shapes and colors will snake along the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail to kick off one of the largest temporary, outdoor public art exhibitions in the South. More than 100 works of visual and performing arts will be on display along the path for nine weeks. Atlanta Beltline, Eastside Trail. Sept. 12-Nov. 15. http://art.beltline.org.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra honors Robert Shaw. The ASO season celebrates the centennial birth anniversary of a towering figure in American classical music, the late Robert Shaw, who led the Atlanta group from 1967 to 1988. Throughout the fall and into the new year, Symphony Hall will resound with the music Shaw loved best: works by Brahms, Verdi, Beethoven and Mozart, with an emphasis on choral masterworks associated with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus founder. The respect-paying begins opening weekend (Sept. 17-19), with Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, a work Shaw conducted many times. The tribute programming continues well into the new year, with highlights including “A Robert Shaw Choral Celebration” (March 10-12); and the Brahms Requiem performed in Atlanta (April 14-16) and at Carnegie Hall on Shaw’s birthday (April 30). Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center. www.atlantasymphony.org.
Music Midtown. A fourth stage, a genre-hopping quartet of headliners (Elton John, Drake, Sam Smith and Van Halen) and the most robust lineup of mainstream artists you’ll see in Atlanta this year anchors Music Midtown. The rest of the musical offerings are an intriguing pastiche of heritage acts, current hitmakers and a smattering of upstarts, including Lenny Kravitz, Hozier, Billy Idol, Alice in Chains, Panic! At the Disco, Run the Jewels, Darryl Hall and John Oates, Metric, Vance Joy, Jenny Lewis and more. Sept 18-19, Piedmont Park. www.musicmidtown.com.
Out on Film. Tab Hunter had it goin’ on in the 1950s: a hot music career, hotter movie career and reports of being romantically linked to smokin’ actresses including Natalie Wood and Sophia Loren. All seemed delightful, except that Hunter was secretly gay. The star survived the celebrity roller coaster and lives to tell it in “Tab Hunter Confidential,” one of the highlights of the 28th annual Atlanta LGBT film festival. Other titles among the 90 films include the opening night feature “Fourth Man Out,” a bawdy comedy about what happens when straight guys try to help a newly out buddy find Mr. Right; and “Out to Win,” a documentary examining the experiences of gay and lesbian athletes, including Martina Navratilova and former Atlanta Hawk Jason Collins. Oct. 1-8, Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema. www.outonfilm.org.
“Flux Night 2015: Dream.” After skipping 2014, this free one-night-only extravaganza of site-specific visual and performance art shifts from Castleberry Hill, where it attracted more than 20,000 people, to Old Fourth Ward. This year’s edition is intended as an homage to Martin Luther King Jr. and the area, now the MLK Jr. National Historic Site, that nurtured him through his boyhood. Curator Nato Thompson Creative Time, the New York-based outfit known for producing temporary public art in the U.S. and internationally, has lined up an array of talent, from Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes, who has converted confiscated firearms into musical instruments that will be played, to Atlanta photographer Sheila Pree Bright, who has been documenting race-related protests across the U.S. Oct. 3, Old Fourth Ward. fluxnight2015dream.org.
Afropunk Fest. The Brooklyn-rooted music fest is noted for its multicultural appeal. Based on the lineup for the event’s inaugural showing in Atlanta, that same commitment to diversity appears to be a priority. Notables include D’Angelo and the Vanguard; Flying Lotus; Santigold; Tyler, the Creator; Death Grips; Public Enemy; Twin Shadow; Danny Brown; Benjamin Booker; Suicidal Tendencies; Trash Talk; Kaytranada; Big Freedia; and Saul Williams. Oct. 3-4, Central Park. www.afropunkfest.com.
“La Bohème.” The Atlanta Opera’s 2015-16 season slogan is “Join the Adventure,” an allusion to the different lands and cultures the five productions will explore, but the intended meaning is greater than that. It’s also a nod to the spirit of adventure that Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun is bringing to his second season as programmer, both to familiar fare and the new “Discoveries” series. As stage director of the season-opening “La Bohème,” Zvulun is taking what the company bills as a “grand cinematic approach” to Puccini’s familiar story of young lovers in 19th century bohemian Paris traversing the emotional landscapes of love, poverty and loss. Oct. 3-11, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, www.atlantaopera.org.
Funny or Die Oddball Comedy Festival. If you have a pulse and an Internet connection, chances are you haven’t been able to escape hearing about Amy Schumer this summer. The comedian, who stars in the popular Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer,” became a household name with the July release of the movie “Trainwreck,” which she co-wrote and stars in. You’ll have the opportunity to catch her bawdy brand of humor this fall when she co-headlines this festival, along with Aziz Ansari. Also on the bill are Anthony Jeselnik, Jeff Ross and Nikki Glaser. Oct. 4, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood. http://www.oddballfest.com.
‘Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art.’ Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum hosts its first major exhibition of native North American art, a trove of some 122 works, including basketry, pottery, sculpture, ivories, regalia and pictographic arts. Selections from the holdings of Manhattanites Charles and Valerie Diker have been presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1998-2000) and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (2004-06), but this is the first traveling exhibition from their collection and features several recent and unseen acquisitions. Oct. 10-Jan. 3, 2016, Michael C. Carlos Museum. www.carlos.emory.edu.
Mark Morris Dance Group. The celebrated Brooklyn-based company will make its first Atlanta appearance since 2001. A standard-bearer of modern dance and master of his craft, Morris is known for wit, forthright humanism and illuminating musicality. The company will present “Pacific” to music by Lou Harrison and “Festival Dance” to music by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, both accompanied by a live piano trio, alongside “A Wooden Tree” to tunes by Scottish songwriter Ivor Cutler. Oct. 17, Rialto Center for the Arts. http://rialto.gsu.edu.
‘Hapsburg Splendor: Masterpieces From Vienna’s Imperial Collections.’ The High Museum of Art continues importing international treasures with this exhibition of nearly 100 artworks and artifacts from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. The principal sovereign dynasty across Europe dating to the late Middle Ages, the Habsburgs also commanded a remarkable art collection. Much of it was commissioned by members of the extended royal family from the finest artists of their day. Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Velazquez, Giorgione, Correggio and Tintoretto are among those who will be represented. Artifacts that also will detail the imperial story include arms and armor, sculpture, Greek and Roman antiquities, court costumes, carriages and decorative art objects. Oct. 18-Jan. 17, 2016, High Museum of Art. www. high.org.
Taylor Swift. Swift owns the pop market and is undeniably its most luminescent star. The hardest working girl in showbiz last played Atlanta in 2013 at a sold-out Philips Arena as part of her “Red” tour. This spectacle includes a few sonic reminders of her old life as a country princess but is primarily focused on the taut, glossy pop that colors her dazzling “1989” album. With Vance Joy and Shawn Mendes. Oct. 24. Georgia Dome, www.gadome.com.
Atlanta Celebrates Photography. A highlight of the October-long festival of exhibits, lectures, commissions, collaborations and more at various venues throughout the metro area is “ACP Lecture Series Presents: Lynsey Addario.” Winner of a MacArthur “genius grant” and the Pulitzer Prize, photojournalist Addario is known for her unflinching photography from conflict zones in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. She is also the author of a moving memoir about being a female photographer often documenting the special devastation for women of war and poverty, “It’s What I Do.” Oct. 26, Fernbank Museum of Natural History. http://acpinfo.org.
Book Festival of the MJCCA. More than 10,000 people will attend 18-days of book events at this 24th annual festival featuring readings, signings, panel discussions and special events for teens and children. This year’s headliners include Arlene Alda, author of “Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling It the Way It Was: An Oral History,” in conversation with her husband, actor and author Alan Alda. Other participants include Alan Dershowitz, David Gregory, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Ted Koppel. Nov. 5-22. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. www.atlantajcc.org/bookfestival.
Patti Smith. A National Book Award Winner for her 2010 memoir “Just Kids,” the high priestess of punk rock and poetry marks the release of her second memoir, “M Train,” with a reading and conversation with former Creative Loafing editor Tony Paris at a popular Little Five Points music venue. Tickets include a copy of the book. Nov. 12. Variety Playhouse. www.variety-playhouse.com.
Center for Puppetry Arts’ museum wing. Kermit helped Jim Henson cut the ribbon for the center’s opening celebration in 1978, and Muppet power has helped drive fund-raising for the “Worlds of Puppetry” wing scheduled to open Nov. 14 in front of the long-time headquarters, along Spring Street in Midtown. With its exterior painted what center staff has dubbed “Kermit green,” the wing will house side-by-side Jim Henson Collection and Global Collection galleries. Los Angeles-based Thinkwell Group is designing the the encounter with the more than 75 Henson puppets and artifacts and 175 international works (with pieces from both shows regularly rotated out for conservation reasons) highly interactive. puppet.org.
— Contributed by Wendell Brock, Felicia Feaster, Cynthia Bond Perry, Howard Pousner, Melissa Ruggieri, Suzanne Van Atten, Yvonne Zusel
OTHER FALL EVENTS AROUND ATLANTA:
Classical music: Mahler, Schubert and virtuoso pairings on tap