Exploring Atlanta's Cultural Hot Spots
Atlanta's Arts & Entertainment Scene
by Cynthia Turner
Metro Atlanta boasts a thriving arts and entertainment scene. Exciting exhibitions and state-of-the-art performance facilities attract both national and international attention. Here is a look at where you can find some of the best and brightest shows, exhibits, museums and culture—those that make the city’s arts and entertainment scene a show-stopping success.
CONCERT AND THEATER VENUES
Located at Woodruff Arts Center, the Alliance Theatre continues to bring new works, celebrated directors and shows that range from musical comedies to classic dramas. The 2011-12 season boasts favorites, like The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol, as well as the world premier of a new musical written by John Mellencamp and Stephen King.
The Center for Puppetry Arts
A unique cultural treasure, the Center for Puppetry Arts offers year-round performances for all ages including original adaptations of classic stories, new works and innovative shows. The Center also is known for its creative workshops and hands-on museum where visitors can experience the wonder of puppetry through permanent and special exhibits. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will return this holiday season after last year’s wildly successful debut.
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
The first major performing arts facility to be built in Metro Atlanta in four decades, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre includes a 2,750-seat theater and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, making it an ideal venue for ballet performances and corporate meetings alike. The centre features performances by the Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Ballet, the Gas South Broadway Series, and popular concerts.
Ferst Center for the Arts
At the Ferst Center for the Arts, located in Georgia Tech’s downtown campus, audiences have been dazzled by national and international performers for 19 years. The 2011-2012 season includes Bill Cosby, Herb Alpert and the Imperial Acrobats among the Center’s music, dance and comedy performances.
The Fox Theatre
The Fabulous Fox Theatre was originally built as an outlandish, opulent, grandiose monument in the Roaring 20s, and since continues to run a series of movies, plays, musicals, dance performances and concerts. Both Theater of the Stars and Broadway Across America bring world-class shows to the Fox, as well as a number of concerts and performances each year.
Jennie T. Anderson Theatre
Cobb County’s Jennie T. Anderson Theatre is a 606-seat performing arts theatre at the Cobb County Civic Center that hosts concerts, plays, recitals and other events. Its Encore Series each year brings in some of the top performing acts in the nation.
Rialto Center for the Arts
The world is at your fingertips at Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts, where international performers introduce Atlantans to art in all of its cultural manifestations. The venue is home to the Rialto Series presenting the best of national and international jazz, world music, and dance; School of Music performances; the Atlanta Film Festival and many others.
Located at Clayton State University, Spivey Hall presents jazz and classical music in one of the best acoustical settings in Atlanta. The hall’s chandeliers, balcony and luxuriously appointed setting have a European feel and lends to the concert settings’ beauty. And the stunning 4,412-pipe organ is well worth the visit. Look for performances by the likes of pianist Paul Lewis, Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo Duo, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Atlanta is home to the oldest professional dance company in America, the Atlanta Ballet, which has been applauded for classics such as Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet. This will be Atlanta Ballet’s 82nd season, highlighted by a world premiere full-length fairytale ballet by dance legend Twyla Tharp. Anchoring the season will be Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker, the treasured holiday tradition that has continued to thrill Atlanta audiences for more than 50 years. A holiday event to enjoy with the entire family.
Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Opera is one of the finest regional opera companies in the nation, drawing audiences from metropolitan Atlanta as well as from the Southeast. The 2011-2012 season treats audiences to performances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor; The Golden Ticket, based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”; and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
The 2011-2012 season of the award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will be the Orchestra’s 67th. Highlights include “A King Celebration” concert with world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Bach’s "St. Matthew Passion" and "John Adams’ "A Flowering Tree."
Broadway Across America
The national production company known as Broadway Across America offers the hottest tickets in town. For more than 25 years, Broadway Across America has brought blockbuster shows direct from the Great White Way to Atlanta. This year’s lineup includes Wicked, Mama Mia and more.
Oglethorpe University’s permanent 509-seat theater is home to Georgia Shakespeare, the professional theater company of Atlanta’s finest artists who have been showcasing the works of the master dramatist since its founding in 1985.
Theater of the Stars
Founded more than 50 years ago to produce and present the Broadway musicals to regional theaters, the best of Broadway calls the Fox home with Theater of the Stars. Productions of Guys and Dolls and Annie highlight the year ahead.
For 35 years, the Theatrical Outfit has been producing classic and contemporary theater with an emphasis on work indigenous to the culture of the American South. This season includes Freud’s Last Session, Red, and A Wrinkle in Time.
Atlanta History Center
With its permanent and temporary exhibitions; hands-on activities, lectures and workshops; and 33 acres of gardens, the opulent Swan House and the Tullie Smith Farm, the Atlanta History Center offers more than enough to keep visitors engaged and happy. The Center also oversees the Margaret Mitchell House (404-249-7015, www.margaretmitchellhouse.com), where celebrated author Margaret Mitchell penned the classic Southern tale Gone With the Wind.
Booth Western Art Museum
The state’s second-largest art museum, Cartersville’s Booth Western Art Museum is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Permanent galleries American West Gallery, Cowboy Gallery, Faces of the West, Heading West, The Modern West, Sagebrush Ranch, James and Carolyn Millar Presidential Gallery, War is Hell, and a Sculpture Court are joined by special exhibits and an annual Festival & Symposium.
The city’s two renowned science museums, Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Fernbank Science Center (678-874-7102, fsc.fernbank.edu), make children of all ages “ooh” and “aah” through the museums’ corridors. From large-scale dinosaur fossils to the five-story-high, 72-footwide IMAX movie screen to the planetarium and observatory, science reigns supreme at Fernbank.
Gone With the Wind Museum
Visit “Scarlett on the Square” in a Marietta museum dedicated to the beloved Southern classic. The Gone With the Wind Museum features an honeymoon gown worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in the movie,promotional pieces and collectibles, foreign copies of the novel, as well as Margaret Mitchell’s personal volumes.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art has long attracted attention as the leading Southeastern art museum. Patrons can look forward to exhibits such as The Sculpture of Grainger McKoy, Embracing Elegance, 1885-1920: American Art from the Huber Family Collection; and Picasso to Warhol: Twelve Modern Masters.
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum is one of the Southeast’s premier ancient art museums with major collections of art objects from ancient Egypt, Nubia, Near East, Greece, Rome, ancient Americas, Africa, and Asia, as well as a collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present.
Tellus Science Museum
One of the newest museums to Georgia is the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, which brings the past, present and future to life in unique galleries. Kids will cower beneath the Tyrannosaurus Rex, become mad scientists in The Collins Family My Big Backyard, get up close and personal with sparkling gems and minerals, and explore 100 years of transportation technology.
CULTURE FOR KIDS
Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education
Since its founding in 1996, the Centre has become one of the top ten dance education facilities in the country. Classes for two-year-olds up to pre-professionals and adults are offered. A relationship with Kennesaw State University provides a venue for collaborative dance education between the two institutions.
Imagine It! Children’s Museum
A place for toddlers and young children to discover through play, Imagine It! has consistently been ranked by national parenting magazines as one of the best children’s museums in the country. All hands will be engaged in the museum’s art centers, crawl spaces, water discovery, dress up areas, a play grocery store and other exhibits aimed at letting children discover and explore.
Sophie Hirsh Srochi Jewish Discovery Museum
An interactive museum for children, the Sophie Hirsh Srochi Discovery Museum is part museum, part theatre, and all hands-on. Children will explore Jewish values, traditions, holidays and heritage.
The Wren’s Nest
By preserving the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris—19th century associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution and author of the Uncle Remus stories—and the heritage of African American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing, the Wren’s Nest serves as an educational resource. Adults will enjoy the storytelling as much as children do!
ATLANTA’S SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
You won’t want to miss these shows and events!
ATLANTA BALLET: Twyla Tharp’s “The Princess and The Goblin”
Twyla Tharp sets her sights on a full-length, world premiere at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
February 10-19, 2012
THE ATLANTA OPERA: Lucia di Lammermoor
Donizetti’s masterpiece features the most spectacular mad scene in opera. Sung in Italian withEnglish supertitles.
November 12, 15, 18, 20
ATLANTA BALLET CENTRE FOR DANCE EDUCATION: Open House
Visit the Cobb and Buckhead studios to register for the new year.
August 13, 2011
BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA: Memphis
A hot new Broadway musical at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.
January 31-February 5, 2012
FERST CENTER FOR THE ARTS: Bill Cosby
Don’t miss one of America’s most beloved comedians.
October 23, 2011
Paul Lewis, piano Spivey Hall’s season opening celebration features works by Franz Schubert.
October 9, 2011
TELLUS SCIENCE MUSEUM: Night at the Museum 3
Tellus comes to life with the biggest names in science and science fiction!
August 6, 2011
OUTDOOR CONCERT VENUES
- Chastain Park Amphitheatre is not only a place to enjoy music under the stars in-town, but allows guests to bring in picnics for shows by both the Delta Classic Chastain Concert series (404-733-5012, www.classicchastain.com) and Live Nation productions (800-745-3000, www.livenation.com).
- The new summer home to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (404-733-4900, www.atlantasymphony.org), Alpharetta’s 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless at Encore Park (404-733-5010, www.vzwamp.com) has become one of the premiere concert facilities outside Atlanta.
- The Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheatre, “The Fred,” (770-631-0630, www.amphitheater.org) brings acts like Kool & The Gang, Bryan Adams and comedians Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops to Peachtree City.
- Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood (404-443-5090, www.livenation.com) holds nearly 20,000 people to watch big names like Motley Crue, Journey, Kid Rock, and Toby Keith.