After opening their 30th anniversary season with the Tim Rice-Benny Ulvaeus Benny Andersson musical, Chess, on the mainstage Aug. 26 Sept. 26, Atlanta's Alliance Theatre will open their Studio Theatre season with the world premiere of Janece Shaffer's He Looks Great in a Hat, Sept. 16-Oct. 24.
He Looks Great in a Hat is the story of Rachel Solomon, who has always dreamed of having the kind of life-long romance that her grandparents had. But Rachel's dreams seem very distant now that her first marriage has ended in divorce. Her family and friends are anxious for her to start dating again, and they dispense lots of tips and good advice. Hat will be directed by Lawrence Keller.
Other highlights of Alliance's season include August Wilson's Jitney, a new, 10th anniversary production of A Christmas Carol and the Tony nominated musical revue, Blues in the Night.
Chess, will be directed by David H. Bell, a veteran of three other Chess productions, and will feature Kim Huber (Floyd Collins), Sean McDermott (Miss Saigon), Brian d'Arcy James (Titanic), Charles Pistone (The Most Happy Fella) and Rebekah Baty (Alliance's Grapes of Wrath).
Jitney, Wilson's earliest play, takes place in 1977 Pittsburgh around a gypsy (or jitney) cab station. Alliance Artistic Director Kenny Leon directs the play, running Oct. 7-31. Nov. 19-Dec. 26, Alliance will premiere the 10th anniversary production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. 1999 brings all new sets, costumes and script to the Christmas classic.
William Nicholson's Shadowlands, the dramatized true story of C.S. Lewis' relationship with a younger American poet, is revived Jan. 13-Feb. 6, 2000. Susan V. Booth directs. Shadowlands premiered on Broadway in 1991 and became a 1993 feature film with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger in the lead roles.
Heartbreak House, the comic George Bernard Shaw take on male female relationships, runs March 2-26, 2000. Chris Coleman directs.
The final production on the mainstage will be the musical revue, Blues in the Night. Conceived by Sheldon Epps (Play On!), Blues tells the story of three women's relationship with one man and uses the music of Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, Alberta Hunter and Bessie Smith. Leon directs.
Other shows in Alliance's 200-seater Studio Theatre will be:
€ The story of two sisters imprisoned for their beliefs in modern day Cuba, Nilo Cruz's Two Sisters and a Piano runs Feb. 5-March 5, 2000.
€ Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit finishes off the Studio season, March 25-April 30, 2000. Jessica Phelps directs.
For season tickets and packages, call the Alliance Theatre at (404) 733 4600. The Alliance Theatre is located on the web at http://www.alliancetheatre.org.
-- By Sean McGrath