Alliance Theatre Taste of the Season

Written by Emily Anne Jackson

1 - HarmonyThis year, the Alliance Theatre’s “Taste of the Season” event allowed us to sample the flavors of all the theatrical goodies that will be on stage at the Woodruff Arts Center between September 2013 and May 2014. The seasonal smorgasbord they’ve slated up includes a hearty mix of dramas, comedies and musicals. With nearly a dozen shows to choose from throughout the 2013-2014 run, you’re sure find something to please any palate.

The 2013 season opens on Sept. 6 with “Harmony,” a new musical composed by Barry Manilow making its first emergence on stage after a longtime hiatus. Manilow and “Harmony” lyricist Bruce Sussman chose the Alliance specifically as the site of the revival of their Broadway-worthy brainchild. The heartrending musical based on true historical events follows the story of the Comedian Harmonists, a singing sextet in pre-WWII Germany. The wildly popular but long forgotten harmony ensemble consisted of men from all different creeds and social classes. Their diverse religious composition, however, began to strike a dissonant chord with the German regime as the Nazis gained political influence.

After “Harmony” closes, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” another moving story about an African-American actress in the 1930s trying to overcome cinematic stereotypes, will take the Alliance stage. The remaining plays in the 2013-2014 Alliance stage series include “The Geller Girls” by local playwright Janece Shaffer and “Tappin’ thru Life” by tap dance prodigy Maurice Hines.

Transecting these main performances are the joys of the family series, which opens in October with “The Grimm Lives of the Inbetweens,” celebrates the holiday season with “A Christmas Carol” and ends with “Shrek the Musical.” Children will delight in the Arnold Schwarzenegger-impersonating Brothers Grimm, the holly, jolly ghost of Christmas Present and the talking, dancing, sometimes maddening donkey of Dreamworks’ creation.

Last but not least in the upcoming Alliance Theatre season is the Hertz stage series. This year the series will consist entirely of Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition submissions. The competition is a special opportunity for young playwrights as well as a special opportunity for Atlanta to establish lasting connections with artists just starting out in their creative careers. “Choir Boy,” “The Warrior Class,” “In Love and Warcraft,” and “The Tall Girls” comprise the plays to be presented on Hertz stage this season. The digital age romantic comedy “In Love and Warcraft” by Madhuri Shekar, running from Jan. 31 to Feb. 23, has been named the 2014 Kendeda winner. Its story centers on a video gaming gal who struggles with offline relationships, especially romantic ones.

The Alliance offers season pass packages aplenty. With the impromptu pass, you can watch all of these great plays as many times as you want. If you aren’t a hardcore theatre enthusiast, however, you’d probably prefer the direction of one of the series passes or the flexibility of the “discover you own” pass, which allows you to make a package deal out of any three plays from any of the three series. These passes let you save at the theatre, of course, but they also provide discounts for other Woodruff Arts Center attractions such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art. Visit alliancetheatre.org or call 404-733-4650 for more information.