LGBT-friendly theatrical productions in Atlanta are almost always prominent, but this spring and summer there is quite an abundance indeed, from shows about Judy Garland to Evita Peron.

The promising “Secret History of Love” is coming to 7 Stages via a 20-city national tour. Created by transgender artist Sean Dorsey as part of a two year National LGBT Elders Oral History Project, it looks at covert love throughout the decades, beginning in the 1920s. Featuring dance and stories of defying obstacles to be with the partner of one’s choice, it’s one of the season’s can’t-miss productions.

As expected, Actor’s Express always seem to be at or near the forefront for LGBT-centric product. The spring’s “End of the Rainbow,” directed by Freddie Ashley, looks at the legend of Judy Garland, as she attempts a comeback. Later this summer, the company will offer “The Rocky Horror Show,” directed by gay artistic director Freddie Ashley and starring gay actor Craig Waldrip.

With a trio of shows, Onstage Atlanta looks to have a robust season, starting with Process Theatre’s annual “Designing Women Live.” The eighth edition will return Topher Payne, DeWayne Morgan and the rest of the quotable Sugarbakers.

Speaking of Payne, he collects the Elizabeth Osborne New Play Award from the American Theatre Critics Association on April 5 for his play “Perfect Arrangement” which premiered in Washington, D.C., in June. His play  “Lakebottom Proper” makes its local debut at Onstage Atlanta and  combines a wedding, a sinister mother of the bride and a secret at the bottom of the lake.

Although it has no gay characters, many LGBT folks can quote entire lines of dialogue from the Southern comedy “Steel Magnolias,” also bowing at the Decatur company this summer. We want to know―badly―who will be playing Ouiser and Clairee.

Musicals make splash at local stages
Making a return to Atlanta is Chris Coleman, the gay former artistic director of Actor’s Express, who will direct True Colors’ “Same Time, Next Year” with a stellar cast―Phylicia Rashad and Kenny Leon take on the roles of Doris and George, who continue a once-a-year affair for decades despite being married to other people.

“I’ve only had a chance to be in the city proper a few times since moving to Portland, as my folks retired to Highlands, N.C.―and my trips back East focus on time with them,” says Coleman. “So I’m thrilled to have an excuse to explore who the city has become over the past 14 years. And what a kick that my first excuse to return as a director is a chance to be in the room with Kenny and Phylicia.”

Fans of splashy musicals should be happy―the Atlanta wing of Broadway Across America has a packed calendar. Following the local debut of Green Day’s “American Idiot” will be two more high-profile shows―“Evita,” fresh off a Broadway run with Ricky Martin, and then “The Little Mermaid.” “Mermaid,” based on the Disney movie, was scheduled for last year courtesy of Theater of the Stars but when that company went bankrupt it landed in the hands of the Broadway series.

Last year’s Serenbe Playhouse summer season included “Hair” by gay artistic director and company founder Brian Clowdus. His 2014 summer looks to keep audiences coming, with a new adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Oklahoma!,” directed by Clowdus himself.

One of the buzzed-about new troupes in town is The Weird Sisters Theatre Project, which staged “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” last year. The group has two new comedies―Jane Martin’s “Criminal Hearts” and Sarah Ruhl’s “Late, A Cowboy Song,” in which a married couple’s livelihood is threatened when the wife takes a liking to a cowgirl.

And speaking of cowgirls―director Heidi Cline McKerley is returning to Horizon Theatre for a 30th anniversary production of the crowd-pleasing musical “Cowgirls.” The honky tonk fave finds classical musicians accidentally booked at a country music roadhouse with just 24 hours to adapt their act.

Among other shows opening this spring/early summer are the dance friendly “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life,” Stage Door Players “Miracle on South Division Street,” Fabrefaction’s new take on “Willy Wonka,” Aurora Theatre’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” and Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s “Camelot.” And although it’s for kids, look for Tony and Oscar winner (“Avenue Q” and “Frozen”) Robert Lopez’s “100 Nights: A Love Story About Loving Stories” at the Center for Puppetry Arts. It’s about a princess, blessed here with a Broadway-caliber voice, who saves her kingdom from evil.

“1001 Nights: A Love Story About Loving Stories”
Center for Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St. at 18th , Atlanta, GA 30309-2820
Through April 6
www.puppet.org

“Miracle on South Division Street”
Stage Door Players
5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338
Through April 13
www.stagedoorplayers.net

“Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life”
Alliance Theater
1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309
April 2 – May 4
www.alliancetheatre.org

“Designing Women Live 8”
Onstage Atlanta
2969 E. Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030
April 3 – 13
www.onstageatlanta.com

“Camelot”
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Roswell Cultural Arts Center
950 Forrest Street, Roswell, GA 30075
April 10 – 27
www.get.org

“Road Dahl’s Willy Wonka the Musical”
Fabrefaction Theatre
999 Brady Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
April 24 – May 11
www.fabrefaction.org

“Lakebottom Prime”
Onstage Atlanta
2969 E. Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030
April 25 – May 17
www.theprocesstheatre.org

“American Idiot”
Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
May 1 – 4
www.broadwayacrossamerica.com

“Don’t Dress for Dinner”
Aurora Theatre
128 East Pike Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046
May 1 – May 25
www.auroratheatre.com

“End of the Rainbow”
Actors Express
887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30318 30318
May 14 – June 15
www.actorsexpress.com

“Cowgirls”
Horizon Theatre
1083 Austin Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30307
May 16 – June 29
www.horizontheatre.com

“Secret History of Love”
7 Stages
1105 Euclid Avenue N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307
May 29 – June 1
www.7stages.org

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
Serenbe Playhouse
9110 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30268
May 30 – August 2
www.serenbeplayhouse.com

“Evita”
Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
June 3 – 8
www.broadwayacrossamerica.com

“Steel Magnolias”
Onstage Atlanta
2969 E. Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030
June
www.onstageatlanta.com

“Criminal Hearts”
Weird Sisters Project at Shakespeare Tavern
499 Peachtree St, Atlanta, GA 30308
June
www.shakespearetavern.com

“The Little Mermaid”
Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
July 8 – 13
www.broadwayacrossamerica.com

“Same Time, Next Year”
True Colors Theatre Company at Southwest Arts Center
915 New Hope Road, Atlanta, GA 30331
July 8 – August 3
www.truecolorstheatre.org

“The Rocky Horror Show”
Actors Express
887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30318 30318
July 9 – August 9
www.actorsexpress.com

“Oklahoma!”
Serenbe Playhouse
9110 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30268
July 24 – August 10
www.serenbeplayhouse.com

“Late, A Cowboy Song”
Weird Sisters Project at Shakespeare Tavern
499 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
July
www.shakespearetavern.com

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