Arts & CultureTheater Notes

Fall Into Local Theater: New Plays to See Around Athens

The Tall Girls Decades before Title IX could have been imagined, the idea of a bunch of girls wanting to be basketball players must have seemed like a joke—especially in a remote, depression-ravaged place like Poor Prairie. These girls (Caroline Wilson, Emma Mathews, Caroline Caden, Hannah Martin, Kiana Washington), however, are dead serious about the game and their hope that it will offer an escape to a better life. There’s a new ball and a mysterious, somewhat sketchy new coach (Carter Iddings) in town, bringing together a ragtag group of players who are passionate about the sport and about getting off the prairie. 

This promising cast of young theater majors brings athleticism and teamwork to this vibrant play directed by Anna Pieri, who knows her way around the prairie and the court. It’s got dialogue written to accompany the dribbling of a basketball, the immediacy of live sports onstage and the risks to go with it, featuring a strong cast that knows how to catch a rebound. For those who love sports, drama or both, they can expect a winning night of theater from this group.

The Tall Girls, by Meg Miroshnik, is presented by UGA Theatre in the Cellar Theatre Friday, Sept. 21, Saturday, Sept. 22 and Tuesday, Sept. 25–Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays, Sept. 23 and 30. Tickets are $15, $12 for UGA students and available at 706-542-4400 and 

Arsenic and Old Lace Everyone is totally nuts in this black comedy that slayed Broadway audiences with laughter in 1941, when it was new. The farce features the Brewster family and their lovable, homicidal madness: the relatively sane drama critic (Andrew Rabanal); his aunts (Allyson Brannon and Stephanie Hancock) who have a poisoning-old-men hobby; his delusional, grave-digging brother (Jason Dyer); and his other brother (Justin Carter), who is a murderer with a drunken sidekick (Tommy Murray). It can be tough to pull off recurring jokes about Boris Karloff and Teddy Roosevelt 77 years later, but a lively cast and a game audience can make it a fun night of insanity—especially in dinner theater format, where the spectator is another guest at the table.

Arsenic and Old Lace, by Joseph Kesselring, is presented by Brightstone Theatre Sept. 21–22 at 6 p.m. and as a dessert matinee Sept. 22–23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 for the dinner show, $20 for dessert matinees and available at 706-705-2599 or 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Four mismatched lovers, a troupe of bumbling actors and some mischievous fairies spend one crazy, confusing night in the forest in this oft-performed Shakespearean comedy. Hermia (Julia Rossing Wilson) loves Lysander (Fields Mallory), and Helena (Chelsea Cogan) loves Demetrius (Carmine Arca), but Demetrius loves Hermia, who is expected to marry him but refuses. The fairy Puck (Kendall Lively) mismanages some love potion that makes everything worse, especially for would-be player Bottom (Eric Mojica) and fairy queen Titania (Joelle Re Arp-Dunham). 

The ensemble-led show, according to artistic director Arp-Dunham, “is filled with music and beauty [and] is physical and easy to understand so people who have never quite [gotten] the appeal of Shakespeare, are new to it or have loved it for years will enjoy it.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare, is presented by Circle Ensemble Theatre Company at the Winterville Auditorium Sept. 21–22 and 28–29 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees Sept. 23 and 30. School performances are Sept. 21 and 27 at 10 a.m. Tickets are available at 706-362-2175 and

Fences This Pulitzer-winning classic of American theater follows a family in the 1950s as they wrestle with the anguish of youthful dreams past and present, along with the damage caused by institutional racism and individual choices. It’s about stubborn patriarch Troy (Nic Starr), a former Negro League baseball star and present-day sanitation worker, and his relationship with his sons, his wife, his friends and his circumstances. 

Fences was revived on Broadway in 2010 with Denzel Washington as Troy, described by Ben Brantley of The New York Times as a character “whose name aptly evokes a legendary, ruined splendor… a first-class mythmaker, which means that he’s also a first-class storyteller and a first-class self-deceiver, and that we’re going to hang on his words.” 

This production comes to Athens from metro Atlanta and features the Etheridge Arts Ensemble of Marietta, an acting troupe that supports the efforts of Young Voices United, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide underprivileged youth with opportunities to nurture life skills through the performing arts. Proceeds from this production will benefit Athens Area Paine College Club’s annual scholarship drive and its United Negro College Fund campaign.   

Fences, by August Wilson, is presented by the Etheridge Arts Ensemble of Marietta at the Morton Theatre Sept. 22 at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available at 706-247-6777, 770-363-0400, or 

Showtime at First Baptist First Baptist of Ivy Gap has caught fire after getting struck by lightning. The plucky wife of the pastor (Nancy Powell) gets together with her fellow church ladies to plan a fundraising showcase, in hopes of cheering folks up and rebuilding the sanctuary. With a conservative, all-male board of deacons sitting in judgement on some questionable song-and-dance choices, what could possibly go wrong?

Showtime at First Baptist, by Ron Osborne, is presented by Winder-Barrow Community Theatre at the Colleen O. Williams Theater Sept. 21–22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, $13 for students, seniors and teachers and available at 770-867-3106 or

Nunsense The spirit of vaudeville is alive and well in the second-longest running off-Broadway show in history. Begun as a line of cheeky, nun-themed greeting cards, success led creator Dan Goggin to turn it into a cabaret and then into a full-length musical in 1985. It’s been produced thousands of times around the world in dozens of languages, with many thousands of women playing the singing, dancing nuns. 

It’s a show-within-a-show: A group of nuns (Andrea Barra, Megan Powell, Vivan Vaeth, Jordan Richey, Abbey Hulsey) desperate to raise funds to bury the remains of their accidentally poisoned sisters, put on a talent show inside a school gym. (Their previous fundraiser, selling greeting cards, only made enough to inter 48 out of the 52 corpses, so the rest are in the freezer.) They sing, they dance, they tell jokes, and make an unholy number of puns about nuns. You don’t have to be Roman Catholic to get all the jokes, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Nunsense, by Dan Goggin, is presented by Town & Gown Players at the Athens Community Theatre Friday, Oct. 5, Saturday, Oct. 6 and Thursday, Oct. 11–Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays, Oct. 7 and 14. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, seniors and members on Thursdays and available at 706-208-8696 and

Improv Athens UGA’s champion improv troupe has free performances every Friday at UGA’s Miller Learning Center room 171 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. And yes, you can play improv games along with them at their open rehearsals on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. in room 501 of the journalism building. Follow them on social media @ImprovAthens.

The Masks We Wear A Fringe Experience The UGA students in playwright John Patrick Bray’s First Year Odyssey class present a short fringe piece about identity using comedy, spoken word, rap and drama. The free performance is in the Balcony Theatre of the Fine Arts Building Monday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Email for more information.