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Niagara Falls, By Our Hands and More on Area Stages

Niagara Falls: Impulsively rushing headlong into a serious relationship with a near-stranger can be as exciting and as reckless as tumbling head-first over a waterfall. The eclectic characters in this kitschiest of romantic tourist traps are standing on the edge of their individual precipices or exploring their various roads not taken, especially new bride Avery (Brooke McCarthy), hastily married to Jack (Sean Birkett). Comedy takes a turn towards chaos as the audience meets other oddballs of the boardwalk: carnies, troubled couples, arsonists, fortune tellers, a neurotic concierge, and an amnesiac (Eva Ramirez) who has survived accidentally going over Niagara Falls and bears an unnerving resemblance to Avery.

This is a great opportunity to see the innovative work of UGA and NYU alumnus Steve Yockey, who is also a writer and producer for the series “Supernatural.” Manning Harris of Atlanta INtown is a great admirer of Yockey’s work, in which “boredom is not an option… Sometimes consternation is, or terror, or possibly titillation—but not boredom.” This cast of MFA actors and undergraduate theater majors, directed by George Contini, brings this absurd story to life onstage.

Niagara Falls, by Steve Yockey, is presented by UGA Theatre in the Cellar Theatre Tuesday, Oct. 22 through Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $12, $7 for students and available at ugatheatre.com/niagarafalls and 706-542-4400.

#HerStories: Four of Town and Gown’s longtime actors—Bryn Adamson, Gay Griggs McCommons, Ginny Simmons and Terrell Austin (who returns from Alexandria, VA for the occasion)—perform readings from Alan Bennett’s award-winning BBC Television series and play Talking Heads. Directed by Steve Elliot-Gower, the monologues featured in #HerStories “reveal the secrets behind ordinary suburban lives. These stories of despair, confusion and isolation are told with the deftness, compassion and humor that have made Alan Bennett one of the UK’s most beloved writers.” 

#HerStories is presented as a Second Stage production  by Town and Gown Players at the Athens Community Theatre Friday-Saturday, Oct. 25-26 at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $5, free for season flex pass holders, and available at townandgownplayers.org.      

 It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The possibly haunted Ye Olde Wayside Inn is the perfect—or only—refuge for a varied group of individuals seeking to escape foul weather. They find it hard to be at ease among the oddball Saltmarsh family that owns and runs the inn, especially with Cousin Ebenezer (Tom Manley), who is particularly disturbing, a little nutty and frequently drunk. But is he also a murderer?

Prolific playwright Tim Kelly, who specialized in comedies, melodramas and mysteries for amateur and educational theater, was a master of the formula that favored theater for everyone. Kenneth Jones’ obituary in Playbill quotes publisher Steven Fendrich, who says Kelly was uninterested in Broadway, instead favoring simpler plays for groups that needed to accommodate large casts and sufficient roles for women. 

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, by Tim Kelly, is presented by Winder-Barrow Community Theatre at the Colleen O. Williams Theater Oct. 25–26 and Nov. 1–2 at 7:30 p.m., with 3 p.m. matinees Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Tickets are $15, $13 for students, seniors and teachers and available at 770-867-3106 or winderbarrowtheatre.org.
 
By Our Hands: To call this production “singular” or “unique” is to grossly understate this unprecedented, first-of-its-kind work of research-centered performance produced by UGA Theatre, Spelman College Social Justice Program, Common Good Atlanta and archivists at Spelman, the Robert W. Woodruff Library and UGA’s Special Collections Libraries under the name of the Georgia Incarceration Performance Project. Three semesters of research, writing and creative devising workshops have brought forth a production that interrogates the history of incarceration in the state of Georgia using dance, interpretive performance, historical and original music and projections. Co-directors Keith Arthur Bolden, Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Julie B. Johnson and Emily Sahakian, and their long list of collaborators, use performance to answer the question, “What does incarcerated labor do to us?” 

Thanks to a large list of funders and sponsors that include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, among many others, this once-in-a-lifetime production is free, though the real stories portrayed may not be for all ages. 

By Our Hands, by The Georgia Incarceration Project, is presented by UGA Theatre in the Fine Arts Theatre in collaboration with Spelman College Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees Sunday, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17. Performances are free to the public. For more information, visit ugatheatre.com/gaproject.

Steel Magnolias: The play is about Southern women, family and friendship, featuring characters that “speak in the kinds of sentences that wind up embroidered on decorative pillows,” according to Ben Brantley of The New York Times. The ladies of Truvie’s beauty salon range from quippy to cranky to tearful in this play based on playwright Robert Harling’s own family experience of loss and coping through laughter. On Stage Walton presents the show at the On Stage Playhouse in Monroe Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 1–2 at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Tickets are $15 and available at Carmichael’s in Monroe and at onstagewalton.org.
 
Crimes of the Heart: The MaGrath sisters laugh a lot and talk through their troubles in this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Beth Henley, about whom Frank Rich of The New York Times writes, “[S]uch is Miss Henley’s prodigious talent that she can serve us pain as though it were a piece of cake.” Featuring the advanced drama students of Cedar Shoals High School, it’s presented by Cedar Theatre at the school’s Fine Arts Theater Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5, $3 for students and available in the Jag Exchange or at the door. For more information, contact milsapr@clarke.k12.ga.us or 706-546-5375, ext 21321.
 
Speaking of History: An Evening Visiting Jefferson’s Notable Citizens: Dr. Crawford Long himself (Andy Garrison) takes the audience on a journey through time to meet eight of Jefferson’s “influential and interesting residents” from the 1840s to the 1960s. It’s presented by Jefferson Community Theatre at the Jefferson Civic Center Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at 706-367-5714.

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