Alliance new season includes ‘Fat Ham,’ a Southern take on ‘Hamlet’

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From left, Marcel Spears, Nikki Crawford and Billy Eugene Jones star last year in “Fat Ham” at the Public Theater in New York. A repackaging of the "Hamlet," “Fat Ham” transports the murder and sexual jealousy of the Shakespearean tale to a backyard cook-out. The Alliance Theatre will present a production of "Fat Ham" in the spring of 2024 as part of its new season. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Credit: Sara Krulwich

Credit: Sara Krulwich

From left, Marcel Spears, Nikki Crawford and Billy Eugene Jones star last year in “Fat Ham” at the Public Theater in New York. A repackaging of the "Hamlet," “Fat Ham” transports the murder and sexual jealousy of the Shakespearean tale to a backyard cook-out. The Alliance Theatre will present a production of "Fat Ham" in the spring of 2024 as part of its new season. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

The New York Times wrote that “Fat Ham” is what happens when you invite Shakespeare to the cookout.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, with Atlanta talent in the cast, opens on Broadway in April and makes its Atlanta debut next year as a highlight of the 2023-2024 season at the Alliance Theatre.

Alliance’s schedule for the new season is distinguished by three world premieres, a busy series of shows for families and young audiences (including the return of the eye-popping “A Christmas Carol” during the winter holidays) and plays created for the very young. In addition, they’ve announced projects from new playwrights that will be presented during the Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab Festival this May 11-13.

Among the world premieres is the “The Preacher’s Wife,” a churchy musical about the power of hope, with a book by Tituss Burgess and Azie Dungey, and a score by Burgess.

Also making its debut is “A Tale of Two Cities,” adapted by Brendan Pelsue, from Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the French Revolution.

In September, the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Opera will collaborate to produce a short run of Stephen King’s thriller, “The Shining,” adapted as a theatrical opera by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell.

The Alliance will also offer two limited-engagement productions as part of its Alliance Presents series. The series will feature Ballethnic Dance Company’s “Jazzing: Memoirs in Jazz, A Series of Dances” (Aug. 25-27) and “Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard” (Jan. 5-7), a new play by Pearl Cleage written for the 50th anniversary of the election of Atlanta’s first Black mayor.

Associate artistic director Tinashe Kajese-Bolden said in a statement the season features “stories that are equally harrowing, hilarious and hopeful!”

On the Coca-Cola Stage:

“The Shining,” a supernatural tale of madness and demonic spirits, this adaptation by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell “will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish”; Sept. 15-Oct. 1.

“A Tale of Two Cities”: adapted by Brendan Pelsue, this world premiere is a “radical reimagining” of Dickens’ classic account of the French Revolution and Paris and London in 1787, a world of spies, lovers, madmen and imposters; Feb. 21-March 17.

“The Preacher’s Wife” is a world premiere musical, with a gospel-infused score by actor, comedian, and writer Tituss Burgess; May 11-June 9, 2024.

On the Hertz Stage:

“English Only,” by Sanaz Toossi, visits an Iranian classroom where four adults are learning English in preparation for the TOEFL — the Test of English as a Foreign Language. It’s described as “both a comedy of miscommunication and a look at the ways speaking a new language can expand your world and limit your identity.” Aug. 16-Sept. 17.

“Furlough’s Paradise”: this world premiere is the winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. Written by A.K. Payne, it follows two cousins, one furloughed from prison, when they return home for the funeral of the woman who raised them; Jan. 31-March 3.

“Fat Ham,” by Morehouse College graduate James Ijames, is the winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and is described as “a hilarious yet profound tragedy smothered in comedy.”

The play opens on Broadway this spring, with Atlanta native Adrianna Mitchell playing Opel, a sort of anti-Ophelia. The Alliance writes of the Hamlet-like protagonist, “Juicy is a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up at their backyard barbecue, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder.” April 3-May 12, 2024.

The Youth and Family Series:

“The Incredible Book-Eating Boy,” a musical, returns, in a new production at Kennesaw State University. “A story about literally biting off more than you can chew,” the musical is based on the children’s book by Oliver Jeffers. July 1-23, Howard Logan Stillwell Theatre at Kennesaw State University, 471 Bartow Ave. NW, Kennesaw.

"The Incredible Book Eating Boy," a popular book from children's author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, is also a musical production at the Alliance Theatre. Photo: Steve Butman

Credit: Steve Butman

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Credit: Steve Butman

“Into the Burrow: A Peter Rabbit Tale”: this world premiere musical by Mark Valdez is “inspired” by the stories of Beatrix Potter, and is presented in conjunction with the High Museum of Art’s exhibit of Potter’s artwork, “Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature.” On the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre, Oct. 14-Dec. 23.

“A Christmas Carol” returns to the Coca-Cola Stage at the Alliance in a production of the Charles Dickens classic featuring wonderful costumes and a striking set design. Nov. 11-Dec. 24.

“Roob & Noob,” originally created by Andy Gaukel, drops in on two curious scientists as they build fantastical machines from simple objects. Feb. 8-18, at the Rich Theatre at the Alliance Theatre.

Theater for the Very Young:

“Oodles of Doodles,” a world premiere, created by Ricardo Aponte, uses music, movement, drawings, and storytelling in the tale of Young Doodle, who loves to draw. Oct. 4-29, in the Selig Family Black Box at the Alliance Theatre.

“Knock Knock,” created by Olivia Aston Bosworth and Samantha Provenzano, is a floor-to-floor tour through an apartment building where the residents are preparing for the holidays and trying to stay warm. Nov. 10-Dec. 23, Selig Family Black Box, at the Alliance Theatre.

“The Curious Cardinal,” visits with a particular avian resident of a Georgia forest, who greets, befriends and tangles with the creatures who come and go during the changing seasons. March 8-April 28, at the Selig Family Black Box at the Alliance Theatre.

Alliance Theatre Presents:

“Jazzing: Memoirs in Jazz” is based on the portraits of jazz artists by photographer Herb Snitzer, on display at the Breman Museum. “Jazzing” was commissioned by the Breman in conjunction with the Ballethnic Dance Company: Aug. 25-27, on the Coca-Cola Stage at the Alliance Theatre.

In a photo from 1960, Herb Snitzer captures a private moment with Louis Armstrong on the bus to the Tanglewood music venue. Photo: Herb Snitzer

Credit: Herb Snitzer

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Credit: Herb Snitzer

“Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard,” is by author and playwright Pearl Cleage, who served as press secretary for Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor, elected in 1973. Jan. 5-7, on the Coca-Cola Stage at the Alliance Theatre.

The Reiser 2023 Atlanta Artist’s Lab Festival:

“Daughter House 5,” by Reiser Lab artists Jeff Mather, Marquetta Johnson, and John Edward Doyle, Jr., follows one Black man’s journey, utilizing video mapping projections and percussion-based story-telling; 6 p.m. May 11, at the Selig Family Black Box at the Alliance Theatre.

“Man of Wood, Man of Fire,” by Reiser Lab artists Dwight Andrews, Louis Massiah and Ben Politeis (with support from Ria T. DiLullo) is a musical based on the life of W.E.B. DuBois, a Harvard-educated African American leader, author of “The Souls of Black Folk” and founding member of the NAACP; 2 p.m. May 13 at the Al Hamacher Movement Studio at the Alliance Theatre.

“Malicious Compliance,” by Reiser Lab artists Frankie Mulinix, Humalo Evans and Jordyn King, is described as a call to action that asks “if and how in this world of economic uncertainty, institutional collapse, and increasing violence, the most vulnerable can write their own story”; 6 p.m. May 13, at the Selig Family Black Box, at the Alliance Theatre.

The Alliance Theatre is located at 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta. For times and ticket information go to alliancetheatre.org.

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