Alliance Theatre announces return to indoor performances

Fewer seats — 650 rather than 770 — in the newly renovated Alliance Theatre Coca-Cola Stage will improve sight lines and leg room. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Fewer seats — 650 rather than 770 — in the newly renovated Alliance Theatre Coca-Cola Stage will improve sight lines and leg room. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

The company reveals 2021-22 lineup for the theater’s two stages.

Throughout the pandemic, the Alliance Theatre tried every format it could to keep audiences engaged: drive-in shows, outdoor under-the-tent performances, even virtual plays and conversations.

But its 2021-22 season will return to live in-person, indoor performances in September, a sign that the theater, which was hit especially hard by the shutdowns and restrictions of the last year, is eager to turn the page. Stories of Appalachia, racial justice, sports pioneers and a revamp of the Alliance’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” are among the eight shows slated for the Coca-Cola main stage and Hertz black box stage.

“As a theater, we’ve been able to do a lot in this past upside-down year,” said Susan V. Booth, Alliance artistic director in a statement. “The same commitment which helped us continue inspiring thousands of Atlantans (and beyond) while our stages were dark will enable us to do more innovative, equitable and uplifting work as we come together in-person for our 2021/22 season.”

The main stage season begins and ends with world-premiere musicals. The first, “Darlin’ Cory,” is a tale of a small Appalachian town and the secrets it harbors. Grammy Award winner and Sugarland member Kristian Bush composed the original folk-country score, while playwright and novelist Phillip DePoy wrote the book. Alliance artistic director Booth will direct the show, which opens Sept. 8. The season closes with a yet-to-be-announced musical directed by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon. Though the show opens May 25, 2022, the Alliance is waiting until later this summer to release details.

"Toni Stone," a drama based on the true story of the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues,  is among the offerings in the Alliance Theatre's 2020-2021 season.
"Toni Stone," a drama based on the true story of the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, is among the offerings in the Alliance Theatre's 2020-2021 season.

Credit: Alliance Theatre

Credit: Alliance Theatre

Another world premiere, “Bina’s Six Apples,” speaks to the Alliance’s decision to broaden its storytelling to include an increasing number of diverse casts and directors of color. Lloyd Suh’s play, directed by Eric Ting, artistic director of California Bay Area company Cal Shakes, tells the story of a Korean girl whose family is forced off their land during the Korean War and the girl’s quest, and that of her family, to find a new sense of meaning when their legacy is devastated. The play is based on Suh’s own family story. It opens March 11, 2022.

Spelman professor Keith Arthur Bolden  is co-director of "Hands Up," an Alliance production for the 2020-2021 season that examines black life  in the era of Michael Brown and George Floyd.
Spelman professor Keith Arthur Bolden is co-director of "Hands Up," an Alliance production for the 2020-2021 season that examines black life in the era of Michael Brown and George Floyd.

The long-awaited “The New Black Fest’s Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments” will open the season on the Hertz stage on Oct. 8. The show looks at the often fraught, sometimes deadly relationship young Black people have with the police. It had been scheduled to open last year, and would have been a timely production given the death of George Floyd and the international protests his killing ignited. But the pandemic forced the Alliance to postpone the show and instead host a series of virtual conversations around artists’ responses to the moment of racial reckoning. The play was originally commissioned in 2015 by the New Black Fest in response to the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Now the play has expanded to look at multiple aspects of what it means to be Black in America today.

Recent Spelman graduate Alexis Woodard is co-director of "Hands Up," an Alliance production for the 2020-2021 season that examines Black life in the era of Michael Brown and George Floyd.
Recent Spelman graduate Alexis Woodard is co-director of "Hands Up," an Alliance production for the 2020-2021 season that examines Black life in the era of Michael Brown and George Floyd.

While the theater turned its perennial holiday favorite, “A Christmas Carol,” into a drive-in production last year, this year it will again attempt to breathe new energy into the show with new costuming and reimagined staging.

The Alliance Theatre brings its 29th annual production of "A Christmas Carol" to the stage.
The Alliance Theatre brings its 29th annual production of "A Christmas Carol" to the stage.

Credit: From cobbenergycentre.com

Credit: From cobbenergycentre.com

“After the past year of pivoting with speed, agility, and yes, humor that we might never have imagined, it is thrilling to be announcing today our plans for the productions of our 53rd season,” Booth said.

Here’s part of the 2021-22 line up. For more visit alliance.org.

Coca-Cola Stage

“Darlin’ Cory”

Book by Phillip DePoy, music by Kristian Bush, lyrics by Phillip DePoy and Kristian Bush, directed by Susan V. Booth

Sept. 8-Oct. 3

‘A Christmas Carol”

By Charles Dickens, adapted by David H. Bell, directed by Leora Morris

Nov. 12-Dec. 24

“Toni Stone”

By Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden

Considered a pioneer, Toni Stone is the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, also making her the first woman to play professionally in a men’s league. The show was the Wall Street Journal’s pick for Best New Play of 2019.

Feb. 10-27, 2022

“Bina’s Six Apples”

By Lloyd Suh, directed by Eric Ting

March 11-27, 2022

A world-premiere musical, to be announced Summer 2021

Directed by Kenny Leon

May 25-June 26, 2022

Hertz Stage

“The New Black Fest’s Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments”

By Nathan James, Nathan Yungerberg, Idris Goodwin, Nambi E. Kelley, Nsangou Njikam, Eric Holmes, and Dennis Allen II, co-directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard

Oct. 8-31, 2021

“Dream Hou$e”

World premiere of the winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition by Eliana Pipes

The play follows two Latinx sisters on an HGTV-style reality show who are selling their family home, hoping to capitalize on the gentrification in their “changing neighborhood.”

Jan. 22-Feb. 13, 2022

In Other News