Every week, our editors and guest writers give you their top six picks for the weekend’s best shows. This week, a new roller coaster of a musical opens at the Alliance, and a beloved one gets a twist at Serenbe Playhouse. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, so give mom the gift of live theater this week! Also, be sure to check out our metro Atlanta theater map to see a full list of professional theaters by county.
Alliance Theatre, Ride the Cyclone In this dark comedy, the Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir boards the Cyclone roller coaster at 6:17 p.m., dying minutes later when the front axle breaks, sending them to their tragic demise. When they awake in a strange purgatory, a mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell the story of a life interrupted, with the promise of a prize like no other — a chance for one of them to return to life. Through May 26.
Center for Puppetry Arts, Harold and the Purple Crayon Based on the beloved children’s books, this new puppet show incorporates technology for an almost 4-D experience. Through the use of projections and black lights, the puppeteers at the Center for Puppetry Arts create a visual experience that delights kids of all ages. Through May 26.
Dad’s Garage, Ad Nauseum In this alternate view of the 1960s, Mad Women run the world of advertising on Madidaughter Avenue instead of Mad Men. Phil O’Harriet, a 20-something secretary with a dream of becoming a copywriter, is struggling to climb up the ladder of success. He yearns to become part of Reine and Rankle’s creative advertising agency team, but his hot-shot boss Trudy Femster stands between him and that goal. Can they find equality in a world dictated by gender roles and mid-afternoon martinis? Through June 1.
Aurora Theatre, Native Gardens Backyard banter becomes an all-out brawl in this comedy by Karen Zacarías. Longtime D.C. residents Frank and Virginia are preparing to win their garden club’s annual prize. Meanwhile, attorney Pablo and his pregnant wife Tania have just moved in next door and are scrambling to do yard work ahead of a backyard party. Everything’s coming up roses at first, but when the couples’ ambitions clash, they struggle to find common ground. Through June 2.
Serenbe Playhouse, Ragtime In this beloved musical, three families navigate New York at the turn of the 20th century. Telling the diverse stories of African Americans, immigrants and the elite upper class, with a mix of real-life historical figures, Ragtime paints a canvas of a country on the verge of a new era. In a concept never seen before, this version will be reimagined in the style of vaudeville under a giant Atlantic City tent. Through June 9.
City Springs Theatre Company, Billy Elliot Billy Elliot the Musical is based on the hit film featuring a score by music legend and part-time Atlantan Elton John. Set in a northern English mining town against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds. Follow Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and community . . . and changes his life forever. Through May 12.