By Howard Pousner
“Driving Miss Daisy” playwright Alfred Uhry and Pearl Cleage will return to the Alliance Theatre with world premieres in the 2012-13 season announced Wednesday by Atlanta’s largest stage.
Uhry’s “Apples & Oranges,” based on Marie Brenner’s memoir of mending fences with her dying brother, opens the intimate Hertz Stage’s season on Oct. 5. It’s the first adaption by Atlanta native Uhry, whose “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” also had its world premiere at the Alliance before going on to win the 1997 Tony Award for best play.
The Alliance Stage (or mainstage) season opens Sept. 5 with Cleage’s “What I Learned in Paris,” a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of changing Atlanta in 1973 as its first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, assumes office. The first Alliance Artist in Dialogue, a two-year residency at the theater where she acts as a community engagement advocate, Cleage continues a fruitful association with the Alliance, which most recently premiered her “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence … ” in 2010.
Susan V. Booth’s 11th season as Alliance artistic director comprises 11 plays, including four world premieres, four musicals (including “Next to Normal” and a new adaption of “Zorro” featuring music by the Gipsy Kings) and the two-title Youth and Family Series.
“What I Learned in Paris” (Sept. 5-30): Cleage’s romantic comedy, directed by Booth, concerns a politically ambitious lawyer and his second wife who’ve led Jackson’s election team and whose lives are thrown into upheaval when his first wife returns from a Bohemian stay in Paris.
“Next to Normal” (Oct. 17-Nov. 11): Brian Yorkey’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical tells, with humor and pathos, of a suburban family grappling with a mom’s mental illness.
“A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 23-Dec 23): The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future make their expected return.
“Good People” (Jan. 16-Feb. 10, 2013): Lindsay Abaire’s Tony-nominated play is about a mom trying to make it out of an Irish-American Boston neighborhood and the slippery nature of the American dream.
“Zorro” (April 3-May 5, 2013): The masked fighter and lover had his way with European and West End audiences in this Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson musical set to Gipsy Kings and John Cameron music.
“Apples & Oranges” (Oct. 5-28): The Manhattan Theatre Club commissioned Uhry to adapt Brenner’s memoir of a yin-and-yang sister (Vanity Fair reporter) and brother (Washington apple farmer) who grow close in crisis even as they fight.
“Holidays with the Chalks” (Nov. 30-Dec. 23): A honky-tonkin’ Christmas musical (book, music and lyrics by Mary Brienza, Kathryn Markey and Leenya Rideout) about a country and western band touring with cheatin’ hearts, tall tales and taller hair.
“Bike America” (Feb. 1 -24, 2013): World premiere of the 2013 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition winner. Mike Lew’s script uses a cross-country bike trip to capture millennial generation restlessness.
“The Whipping Man” (March 8-April 7, 2013): Mathew Lopez’s drama is about what happens when a wounded Jewish Confederate soldier limps home, greeted by two former slaves who share Passover with him.
“Real Tweenagers of Atlanta: Final Assembly” (Oct. 27-Nov. 3): World premiere of a musical conceived and directed by Rosemary Newcott, based on writings by Atlanta middle schoolers.
“Charlotte’s Web” (Feb. 20-March 10): E.B. White’s children’s classic gains an acrobatic jolt.
Season tickets are on sale via 404-733-4600, www.alliancetheatre.org/season. Single tickets go on sale in mid-July.