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‘Bull Durham’ musical, world premieres by Trethewey, Cleage, DePoy highlight Alliance 2014-15 season

By Howard Pousner / hpousner@ajc.com

The Alliance Theatre’s just-announced 2014-15 season will feature seven world premieres, two of them musicals.

The world premiere of a musical adaptation of “Bull Durham,” based on the hit 1988 film, was announced earlier as the Alliance’s season kickoff, opening Sept. 3. The movie’s director-screenwriter, Ron Shelton, contributed the book, with music and lyrics by folk musician Susan Werner.

The other musical being readied for an Alliance Stage (main stage) world premiere is “Tuck Everlasting,” based on Natalie Babbitt’s best-selling novel.

Also coming to the main stage of Atlanta’s largest theater: a fresh mounting of Robert Harling’s play-turned-hit-movie “Steel Magnolias”; and “Tell Me My Dream,” a world premiere from Atlantan Pearl Cleage that spins a time-traveling family story.

The Alliance will open the season of its more intimate Hertz Stage on Sept. 26 with a bang: a world premiere adaptation of “Native Guard,” U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection.

While “Bull Durham,” “Tuck Everlasting” and “Steel Magnolias” should be pitches down the middle of the plate of potential subscribers, the Alliance’s 46th season also is notable for the substantial Atlanta talent it taps.

In addition to the Trethewey and Cleage collaborations, the theater also will mount world premieres by Decatur novelist-playwright Phillip DePoy and Atlanta playwright Scott Warren as well as import the Atlanta comedy improv troupe Dad’s Garage for holiday tomfoolery.

“What we sought was great stories and great artistry, and what we found — so happily — was that so much of it was grown right here,” Alliance Artistic Director Susan V. Booth told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re fortunate that so many remarkable artists choose to call this city home.”

The season:

Alliance Stage series

“Bull Durham” (Sept. 3-Oct. 5): Kip Fagan (off-Broadway’s “The Revisionist” and “Asuncion”) will direct what Booth has called “a love letter to baseball, free spirits and to finding your soul mate in unexpected places.”

“Steel Magnolias” (Oct. 22-Nov. 9): This tale of Southern sisterhood will be directed by Tony-winning actress Judith Ivey (TV’s “Designing Women”).

“Tuck Everlasting” (Jan. 21-Feb. 22, 2015): The 1975 children’s fantasy novel suggested that immortality wasn’t all that. But the book begot a 2002 film and is being transformed into an Alliance musical, so maybe living long and prospering is a good idea.

“Tell Me My Dream” (April 15-May 10, 2015): Booth directs Cleage’s music-kissed story in which 1910 characters and current day ones share life lessons.

Hertz Stage series

“Native Guard” (Sept. 26-Oct. 19): Trethewey’s collection juxtaposed her experiences as a child of a mixed-race marriage with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, an African-American Union troop guarding white Confederate captives. The production is part of the National Civil War Project, commemorating the conflict’s 150th anniversary.

“It’s a Wonderful Laugh” (Nov. 28-Dec. 20): Dad’s Garage invades Bedford Falls.

“The C.A. Lyon’s Project” (Feb. 13-March 8, 2015): Dance and theater mingle in this world premiere by Tsehaye Geralyn Hebert, winner of the 2015 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition.

“Edward Foote” (March 27-April 19, 2015): Former Atlantan Chris Coleman directs DePoy’s Southern Gothic mystery in which a stranger, who looks oddly familiar, drifts into a rugged 1930s Appalachian community.

Alliance Theatre for Youth and Families series

(all on the Alliance Stage)

“Courage” (public performances Nov. 3 only): Contemporary challenges of Atlanta middle schoolers collide with Stephen Crane’s “Red Badge of Courage” in Warren’s world premiere.

“A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 21-Dec. 24): Twenty-fifth anniversary of Dickens’ crowd-pleaser.

“James and the Giant Peach” (March 14-29, 2015): Musical based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel.

Season tickets are on sale: 404-733-4600, www.alliancetheatre.org/seasontickets. Individual show tickets available in July.

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