Local stages undergo changing of the guard, explore identity

Kate Donadio MacQueen and Joe Sykes star as Maggie and Brick in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” at Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Sept. 12-29. Contributed by Greg Mooney

Kate Donadio MacQueen and Joe Sykes star as Maggie and Brick in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” at Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Sept. 12-29. Contributed by Greg Mooney

Open your theater program this fall, you may notice some new faces have replaced iconic ones: The old guard of Atlanta theater is stepping aside, making space for new leaders. At True Colors Theatre, Jamil Jude takes over for founding artistic director Kenny Leon. At Theatrical Outfit, Tom Key is serving out his final season. On these and other stages, you’ll witness stories about individuals and communities seeking to make sense of their place in a changing world.

"Our Town"/ "The Laramie Project." When "The Laramie Project" appeared in 2000, New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley described the play — about the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard and the effect of the hate crime on the town of Laramie, Wyoming — as a modern-day "Our Town." Said Brantley: "'The Laramie Project' is 'Our Town' with a question mark, as in, 'Could this be our town? It can't happen here,' followed immediately by 'And yet it has.'" For Key's final season, Theatrical Outfit stages both plays in rotating repertory — with a single acting company for Grover's Corners and Laramie, and some surprising casting choices. The estimable Atlanta actress Mary Lynn Owen, for instance, will portray "Laramie" playwright Moises Kaufman and the stage manager of "Our Town," traditionally a male role. Theatrical Outfit.Aug. 27-Sept. 29. $15-$51. 84 Luckie St. NW, Atlanta. 678-528-1500, theatricaloutfit.org

"Becoming Nancy." The Alliance Theatre stages the world premiere of yet another musical with an eye on Broadway. This time, it's 1979 and David Starr, a South London 12th-grader who loves Blondie and Kate Bush, is cast as Nancy in his school musical, "Oliver!" The Alliance spectacle, directed and choreographed by Broadway's Jerry Mitchell ("Kinky Boots," "La Cage Aux Folles"), is a coming-of-age, coming-out tale that looks at how David's family, friends and community react to the shocker. Alliance Theatre. Sept. 6-Oct. 6. $25-$85. 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, alliancetheatre.org

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." In the sultry Tennessee Williams barn burner, the sexual tension between an aging football hero and his tempestuous wife spills over into a birthday celebration for a Mississippi patriarch. Georgia Ensemble's production stars Joe Sykes and Kate Donadio MacQueen as the warring Brick and Maggie, and Atlanta playwright Topher Payne makes a rare stage appearance as Brick's older brother, who is too preoccupied with his inheritance to control his "no-neck monsters." Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Sept. 12-29. $29-$55. 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-641-1260, get.org

"Skintight." The bristling new comedy by Joshua Harmon ("Bad Jews," "Significant Other") feels custom-tailored for a culture preoccupied with youth, beauty and sex. A tightly wound L.A. lawyer (Wendy Melkonian) arrives in Manhattan for the 70th birthday of her fashion-mogul father (shades of Calvin Klein). But will her heart still belong to daddy when she discovers him living with a 20-year-old gay porn star? Actor's Express. Sept. 18-Oct. 13. $20-$50. 887 W. Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. 404-607-7469. actors-express.com

"Paradise Blue." Life after Leon begins with Jude directing the 1949 episode of Dominque Morriseau's Detroit trilogy. True Colors previously produced the 2018 MacArthur Foundation genius-grant recipient's "Detroit '67" and "Skeleton Crew." In "Paradise Blue," the mayor of Motor City is trying to move African-Americans out of Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood. What does this mean for trumpet player Blue and his family's thriving jazz club? True Colors Theatre. Sept. 24-Oct. 20. $20-$50.  Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta. 888-479-6300, truecolorstheatre.org

Read more about the fall arts and entertainment offerings here:

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