Theatrical Outfit’s season kicks off with ‘In the Heights’

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for last year’s momentous rap-theatrical hit, “Hamilton,” wrote “In the Heights” first.

Called a “West Side Story” for a new generation, “In the Heights” tells the tale of three generations in New York City’s Washington Heights, set to the beat of Grammy-winning salsa, soul and hip-hop.

Two Atlanta companies had the presence of mind to plan a collaboration on Miranda’s earlier show for their 2016-2017 seasons.

Theatrical Outfit and the Aurora Theatre Company will join forces to stage “In the Heights” this summer and fall, first at Aurora’s home in Lawrenceville, then downtown at the Rialto Center for the Arts, next door to Theatrical Outfit’s headquarters at the Balzer Theater.

It’s the first show in the Theatrical Outfit’s new season, announced Tuesday, most of which will take place at the Balzer Theater, which is located downtown, inside a building on Luckie Street that was once a notable restaurant called Herren’s.

The season will include six productions, a cornucopia of music and a seventh evening of staged readings of new “or newish” plays. They are, as follows:

•”In the Heights,” Sept, 8-18, at the Rialto Center for the Arts, with book by Quiara Alegria Hudes. A co-production with Aurora Theatre Company, this musical drama shows the promise of Miranda, who, with “Hamilton,” would be credited with “reinventing” musical theater.

•”Thurgood,” Sept. 29 – Oct. 16, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, a play that follows the first African-American Supreme Court Justice from his victory in “Brown Vs. The Board of Education” to a seat on the highest court in the country.

•”Big Fish,” Nov. 17-Dec. 18, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. “Big Fish” is inspired by Tim Burton’s surreal movie, and recreates the self-mythologizing lead character, Edward Bloom, and the tall tale that is his life.

•”Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Seminar,” Feb. 9-26, 2017, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. Written by that saint of Southern literature, Walker Percy, and adapted for the stage by the Theatrical Outfit’s artistic director, Tom Key, the play helps a worried generation learn to live.

•”Simply Simone: The Music of Nina Simone,” March 23 – April 15, 2017, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. Nina Simone, the unmatched diva of jazz, whose music reached out to the rock and roll generation, is brought to life by four different actresses in this musical production.

•”The Dancing Handkerchief,” June 1 – June 18, 2017, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. Described as “part magic act, part musical, part puppet show,” “The Dancing Handkerchief” is a unique hybrid.

•”The Unexpected Play-Reading Festival,” Jan. 21-22, 2017, at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, will bring four moderately new plays to the fore in staged readings. The plays will be announced this summer.

Subscription packages vary from $68-$246. Single tickets – $20-$50 – go on sale July 12. For information call: 678-528-1500, or go here. Tickets for the New Play Festival are $10 per reading or $35 for a four play package. Titles to be announced in the summer of 2016.

The Balzer Theater at Herren’s is at 84 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta.

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