12 arts events you don’t want to miss in the new year

The National Portrait Gallery’s official portraits of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald will be on exhibit at the High Museum of Art. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2018 Kehinde Wiley © 2018 Amy Sherald

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The National Portrait Gallery’s official portraits of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald will be on exhibit at the High Museum of Art. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2018 Kehinde Wiley © 2018 Amy Sherald

Highlights include ‘Obama Portraits Tour,’ ‘Firebird’ and Temptations musical.

There was a time when some arts institutions just ticked the box for Black History Month every February: Diversity obligation fulfilled, moving on. But not anymore. Today, especially in a city with as rich a Black arts scene as Atlanta, there is abundance year-round. In looking ahead to the offerings for this winter arts preview, what is striking is the vast range of offerings from Black artists, playwrights, actors and musicians in the coming months.

There’s also something for every artistic inclination. So fill up that vax card if you haven’t already, grab your mask and check online for the COVID precautions in effect at the venue you want to attend, because protocols are subject to change.

“The Obama Portraits Tour”

The National Portrait Gallery’s striking official portraits of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald raised a cultural ruckus — nearly all of it positive — when they were unveiled in 2018. Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is the fourth stop on a five-city tour of the paintings, and demand for tickets is expected to be high. (Jan. 14-March 20, $16.50. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400, high.org)

“Feeding Beatrice, a Gothic Tale”

Jordan Peele’s 2017 movie “Get Out” showed how neatly classic horror movie tropes and America’s troubled racial dynamic could be mashed up together. Aurora Theatre’s creepy “Feeding Beatrice” offers a different take on that combo. A Black couple moves into a fixer-upper home in an all-white Boston suburb and finds it is haunted by Beatrice, the ghost of a white teenaged girl, who is very, very hungry. (Jan. 20-Feb. 6, $20 and up. Lawrenceville Arts Center, 125 N Clayton St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-6222, www.auroratheatre.com)

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Curt Olds plays Major-General Stanley in The Atlanta Opera’s production of “Pirates of Penzance.” Courtesy of Cobb Energy/Jeff Roffman

Credit: Jeff Roffman

Curt Olds plays Major-General Stanley in The Atlanta Opera’s production of “Pirates of Penzance.” 
Courtesy of Cobb Energy/Jeff Roffman

Credit: Jeff Roffman

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Curt Olds plays Major-General Stanley in The Atlanta Opera’s production of “Pirates of Penzance.” Courtesy of Cobb Energy/Jeff Roffman

Credit: Jeff Roffman

Credit: Jeff Roffman

“The Pirates of Penzance”

It’s still not clear how good a military strategist Major General Stanley was, but at tongue-twisting patter in a complex rhyme scheme, he has no peer. Atlanta Opera brings back the always popular escapism of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” last staged in 2016. Tenor Santiago Ballerini is Frederic, the apprentice to a gang of soft-hearted pirates, and Curt Olds returns as Stanley. (Jan. 22-30, $45-$150. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org)

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Fabrice Monteiro’s Prophecy #8 is among the works to be displayed in the upcoming exhibit “And I Must Scream. Courtesy of MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris. © Fabrice Monteiro

Credit: Handout

Since 1998, the use of monofilament or multi-mono-filament nylon nets has been prohibited by Article 30 of the Fisheries Code, yet their import is authorized by the Commercial Code. Decomposing only after 500 years, these nets allow nothing to pass through its netting. Abandoned or lost upon the reefs and wrecks of the sea floor they produce an ecological disaster. Thousands of tons of lost nets choke marine life causing our fish to disappear.

Credit: Handout

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Fabrice Monteiro’s Prophecy #8 is among the works to be displayed in the upcoming exhibit “And I Must Scream. Courtesy of MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris. © Fabrice Monteiro

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“And I Must Scream”

Emory University’s Carlos Museum presents 10 international contemporary artists reflecting on five themes: corruption and human rights violations, displacement, environmental destruction, pandemics and renewal. Featuring site-specific installations, photographs, sculptures, paintings and drawings, the exhibition “acts as a call-to-action and shows these crises to be both urgent and interconnected,” according to curator Amanda D. Hellman, who drew inspiration from a 1967 apocalyptic science fiction short story by Harlan Ellison titled “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.” (Jan. 29-May 15, $8. Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, 571 S. Kilgo Circle, Atlanta. 404-727-4282, www.carlos.emory.edu)

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Park Krausen (left) and Candy McLellan star in “Bright Half Life,” coming to Theatrical Outfit. Courtesy of Casey Ford Photography.

Credit: Casey Ford Photography.

Park Krausen (left) and Candy McLellan star in “Bright Half Life,” coming to Theatrical Outfit.
Courtesy of Casey Ford Photography.

Credit: Casey Ford Photography.

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Park Krausen (left) and Candy McLellan star in “Bright Half Life,” coming to Theatrical Outfit. Courtesy of Casey Ford Photography.

Credit: Casey Ford Photography.

Credit: Casey Ford Photography.

“Bright Half Life”

In a little more than an hour, playwright Tanya Barfield’s “Bright Half Life” explores the four decades-plus of Vicky and Erica’s love and marriage. The nonlinear narrative jumps back and forth in time so the audience can see what the characters cannot. “Most relationships develop in one of two ways — they endure or they don’t,” wrote the New York Times. “Ms. Barfield’s variegated structure complicates this simple either/or, showing the volatility in a long-term partnership, the joy and desolation, the hurt and help — all intermingled, all at once.” Park Krausen and Candy McLellan costar. (Feb. 2-27, $15-$45. Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St. NW, Atlanta. 678-528-1500, www.theatricaloutfit.org)

“Magnificent Bird”

Multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Kahane is a composer and storyteller who works and plays in the gray areas between classical, theatrical and popular music, as well as storytelling. His new performance piece explores fatherhood, the pandemic and life without the internet. (Feb. 5, $10-$25. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-894-9600, arts.gatech.edu)

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Kedren Spencer stars as Negro League pro baseball player Toni Stone in a new Alliance Theatre production. Courtesy of Alliance Theatre.

Credit: BROSILOW

Kedren Spencer stars as Negro League pro baseball player Toni Stone in a new Alliance Theatre production.  
Courtesy of Alliance Theatre.

Credit: BROSILOW

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Kedren Spencer stars as Negro League pro baseball player Toni Stone in a new Alliance Theatre production. Courtesy of Alliance Theatre.

Credit: BROSILOW

Credit: BROSILOW

“Toni Stone”

In 1953, Toni Stone became the first woman to play as a regular on an American big-league professional baseball team, the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League. (Her chance came when the Clowns’ previous second baseman moved on to the Milwaukee Braves; a fellow named Hank Aaron.) Lydia R. Diamond’s award-winning play about this mostly unheralded star, which debuted off-Broadway in 2019, makes its Southeast debut at the Alliance Theatre. Kedren Spencer stars. (Feb. 10-27, $25-$78. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733- 4601, www.alliancetheatre.org/tonistone)

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Airi Igarashi dances the title role in the Atlanta Ballet Company’s “Firebird,” coming in February. Courtesy of Rachel Neville.

Credit: RACHEL NEVILLE

Airi Igarashi dances the title role in the Atlanta Ballet Company’s “Firebird,” coming in February. 
Courtesy of Rachel Neville.

Credit: RACHEL NEVILLE

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Airi Igarashi dances the title role in the Atlanta Ballet Company’s “Firebird,” coming in February. Courtesy of Rachel Neville.

Credit: RACHEL NEVILLE

Credit: RACHEL NEVILLE

“Firebird”

Audiences will finally have the opportunity to enjoy Yuri Possokhov’s version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” performed by the Atlanta Ballet, after it was postponed due to the pandemic. It will be accompanied by full orchestra. Several other works are on the program, including a world premiere from Atlanta Ballet choreographer-in-residence Claudia Schreier. (Feb. 11-13, $25-$139. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800, www.atlantaballet.com)

“An American Hippie in Israel”

The 1972 cult classic “An American Hippie in Israel,” which the Jewish Daily Forward called “the worst Israeli movie ever made, and a serious candidate for the worst movie of all time,” will get a screening by the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF), which is venturing outside its usual comfort zone. According to distributor Grindhouse Releasing, the movie includes “machine gun wielding mimes, robots, bloodthirsty sharks, free-loving debauchery and poignant anti-war monologues by raving mad hippies.” There will be a costume contest, and AJFF is branding the whole shebang as AJFF Late Night: Plazadrome Takeover. (Feb. 24, $16. Plaza Theater, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-410-1939, www.ajff.org)

“Everything is Waiting”

Choreographer Tara Lee’s “Everything is Waiting” is a modern dance adventure that finds moments of joy in our hectic, sometimes neurotic life. The work premiered in 2019 at the Off the Edge dance festival at Kennesaw State University, and Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre brings it to the stage in Atlanta. (March 4-5, $10-$25. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive Atlanta. 404-894-2787, arts.gatech.edu)

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Derrick Baskin (from left), Jelani Remy, Jawan M. Jackson, Ephraim Sykes and James Harkness are (some of) the Temptations in “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” opening at the Fox Theatre in March. Courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

Credit: Matthew Murphy

Derrick Baskin (from left), Jelani Remy, Jawan M. Jackson, Ephraim Sykes and James Harkness are (some of) the Temptations in “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” opening at the Fox Theatre in March. 
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

Credit: Matthew Murphy

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Derrick Baskin (from left), Jelani Remy, Jawan M. Jackson, Ephraim Sykes and James Harkness are (some of) the Temptations in “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” opening at the Fox Theatre in March. Courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

Credit: Matthew Murphy

Credit: Matthew Murphy

“Ain’t Too Proud”

Not all jukebox musicals succeed. For every “Mamma Mia” or “Jersey Boys,” there’s a “Viva Forever,” the short-lived 2012 Spice Girls musical, which you haven’t heard of with good reason. But it wouldn’t be just your imagination that the music and story of the Temptations would yield a hit Broadway musical full of razzle dazzle. As group members enter and exit (sometimes “Temps” stood for “temporary”), the hits and personnel drama just keep on coming in this Broadway Over Atlanta production. (March 8-13, $40-$129. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Atlanta. 855-285-8499, www.foxtheatre.org/events/detail/aint-too-proud)

Mozart’s “Requiem”

Nathalie Stutzman, music director-designate for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and ASO Chorus, tackles a couple of heavy hitters on the ultimate theme of death. Mozart died at age 35 before finishing “Requiem,” his last work. His widow’s belief that he was writing the requiem for his own funeral was depicted in the film “Amadeus.” The program also includes Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration.” This will be the first classical performance featuring the ASO Chorus since 2019. (March 17-20, $23-$99. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4900, www.aso.org)