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Theatrical Outfit

Theatrical Outfit

When people talk about the “magic of the theatre,” they rarely mean the kind that involves pulling rabbits from hats and pulling doves from thin air.

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But “The Dancing Handkerchief,” which runs June 1–18 at the Theatrical Outfit, injects that old-fashioned magic back onto the stage.

Rene Perez / Associated Press

Nina Simone, one of the most extraordinary musical artists of the twentieth century, is having her story told now at Theatrical Outfit.

“Simply Simone,” which opens on March 23 and runs through April 15, is part biography, part music revue, and it takes a unique approach to telling the story of both her public and inner life.

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Courtesy of Theatrical Outfit

Reading liner notes, talking to aficionados and library research guided Birmingham-based Leanna Leithauser-Lesley's portraits of jazz musicians.

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Her collection is now on display at Theatrical Outfit in conjunction with their production of "Simply Simone," a revue of Nina Simone’s music, which opens next week.

These are not paintings: Leithauser-Lesley does her portraiture in needle point.

Jerry Leiber, right, and Mike Stoller have written hits like "Jailhouse Rock."
Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Even if you don't know the names Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, you surely know their body of work. 

The songwriting duo is behind hits by Elvis Presley, Ben E. King, Johnny Cash, and other giants of R&B, country, and early rock and roll. The Bremen Museum and Theatrical Outfit are honoring their legacy in a show called "Baby That is Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Leiber/Stoller Era."

BreeAnne Clowdus Photography

A self-help book provided the framework for Theatrical Outfit’s current production. Walker Percy’s “Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book” came out in 1983 and was a quirky and futuristic look at the humanity’s identity crisis.

Theatrical Outfit’s Artistic Director Tom Key adapted the book for the stage in the 1990s, creating the character of the volunteer who participates in a seminar that delves into ideas of existence.

BreeAnne Clowdus Photography

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Iman Woods

In the musical “Big Fish,” the main character, Edward Bloom, sings “I’ve never been a man who lived an office life … I always been a man that said staying still is playing dead.” For Bloom, he can’t live an ordinary life, and indeed, the way he tells it, his life has been quite extraordinary – from befriending a giant to conjuring a full field of daffodils for his future wife.

But as Edward Bloom ages, his son wants to know the truth behind the tall tales.

mjpatter via Pixabay

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Associated Press

Thurgood Marshall’s career took him from back-alley Baltimore to Howard University law school to his fight for equality in the South, and all the way to a seat on the highest court in the land. His story now is taking the stage at Theatrical Outfit in a one-man show called “Thurgood.”

Zane Cochran

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Kevin Harry

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of Theatrical Outfit

How does a theater fit into the fabric of a neighborhood? In the the fabric of a city? For Theatrical Outfit, the location certainly helps.

The Outfit, which is the second-oldest theater company is Atlanta, calls the Balzer Theatre at Herren's its home. Herren's, explains Clifton Guterman, the recently-named associate artistic director of the company, was the first restaurant in the city to voluntarily desegregate. 

Naoko Takano (cropped) /

Anyone who has attempted to get brunch in Atlanta on a Sunday morning knows what an endurance test it can be — and that feat is maybe twice as difficult on Mother's Day.

Although that time spent fending off your growing hunger may bring you and your mother closer together, the "City Lights" staff and Atlanta PlanIt's Kimberly Harbrecht have compiled a list of alternative events for Mother's Day.

BreeAnne Clowdus / Theatrical Outfit

A little bit of Florence, Italy is coming to downtown Atlanta.

Theatrical Outfit's production of "The Light in the Piazza" opens this weekend. Set in 1953, the musical centers around a wealthy Southern woman and her daughter, Clara, vacationing for a summer together in Italy, when a dashing Florentine man begins courting the young girl.

Lois Reitzes spoke with director Richard Garner about the production, which is neither a comedy nor a tragedy, though it has elements of both. Garner called it "poignancy."

BreeAnne Clowdus / Theatrical Outfit

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Songwriter Harold Arlen, composer of standards such as "Over The Rainbow" and "The Man That Got Away" is pictured, Jan. 1968.
Associated Press

“Over The Rainbow” is one of the most beloved songs of the 20th century, but its composer, Harold Arlen, hasn’t received the same acclaim as his contemporaries like George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer.

To amend that, the Breman Museum in collaboration with Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit is dedicating a special concert to Arlen, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The Music of Harold Arlen.” It is part of the Molly Blank Jewish Concert series and will include storytelling, dance and plenty of song.

Jonathan Beilin /

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

BreeAnne Clowdus, Courtesy of Theatrical Outfit

"Whatever affects one destiny affects us all."

That is the big idea behind Theatrical Outfit's current production, "Moxie."

Traveling from war-torn Afghanistan to an inner-city classroom in Detroit -- and many places in between -- the show follows the journey of a handmade book as it passes from one reader to another.

Mark & Tracy Photography / Theatrical Outfit

Tom Key is an Atlanta theater luminary. He's filled a variety of roles, including actor, director, and notably, artistic director of Theatrical Outfit, where he is celebrating his 20th year. 

Key joined host Lois Reitzes on "City Lights" to talk about his time in Atlanta and how the arts landscape of the city has shifted and changed in that time.

"A healthy city," Tom says, "a great, world-class city is not just a consumer of art, but a producer and creator of art."

Courtesy of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

BreeAnne Clowdus / Theatrical Outlet

Theatrical Outfit has brought a Broadway star home to Atlanta in their production of "A Little Princess."

Atlanta-based actor Emerson Steele has performed in major roles in New York – including Young Violet in the award-winning Broadway play "Violet – and is now leading this hometown production as Sara Crewe, the plucky daughter of a Victorian explorer.

Atlanta actors Travis Smith and Naima Carter Russell on stage for a scene from the musical, Memphis, now at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville and coming downtown to the Rialto Center September 10-20.
Chris Bartelski


The universal pleasures of music are often taken for granted in contemporary American society.

But it wasn’t long ago that singular acts of courage were required to step across deep racial lines in America – including in popular music.

In 1950s Memphis, a white male disc jockey and a black female singer made those leaps in a story that’s been fashioned for the stage in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Memphis.”

BreeAnne Clowdus/Don Chambers

Generally, we think about a separation of church and state, but John Patrick Shanley’s “Church and State” trilogy interweaves the church with more secular institutions like the military and commerce. One of the plays in the series is Shanley’s most well-known work, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Doubt."

Theatrical Outfit is currently performing the last play in the trilogy, "Storefront Church." Instead of a harrowing tale of suspicion and accusation, "Storefront Church" has some laughs but also delves into conversations at the crossroads of spiritual experience and social action.

C. M. Stieglitz / Library of Congress

You may not have heard of Georgian author Lillian Smith.  She was one of the first prominent white Southerners to speak out publicly against racial segregation in the 1930s and 40s.

courtesy of Theatrical Outfit

Lauren Gunderson is an award-winning Atlanta-born playwright. Her work has been produced nationwide, and here at home by Synchronicity Theater and the Weird Sisters Theater Project. And now, Theatrical Outfit is staging a production of her show "Silent Sky," the true story of 19th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt.

Gunderson joined us at member station KALW in San Francisco, and WABE's Lois Reitzes spoke to her about the real story behind the play.

Brad Barket / Invison/AP

  There are a lot of performances going on this weekend, including visits from stand-up comedians and a classic play. To figure it all out, WABE’s Lois Reitzes recently spoke with our very own Kate Sweeney. Here's Lois with more.

Tom Key in "C.S. Lewis On Stage" at Theatrical Outfit
Theatrical Outfit

This week, actor Tom Key takes the stage in a role that has long deeply absorbed him—even before he first performed it in 1977, at the age of 26.

The part is that of writer C.S. Lewis. Lewis is most widely known as the author of the classic children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia. But he also penned serious theological essays, poetry, and novels like The Screwtape Letters

Jasmine Guy Talks 'The Guys'

Sep 30, 2013
Theatrical Outfit

Imagine this; a fire captain struggles to write the eulogies for the 8 men he lost in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. He’s being assisted by a lone reporter. That intimate story is the basis of Theatrical Outfit’s current production, ‘The Guys.’ The show, which is based on a true story, stars Jasmine Guy playing the role of the reporter opposite Brian Kurlander, who plays the fire captain. Jasmine and director Elisa Carlson recently stopped by to share some of their thoughts on the play.

On Tuesday, June 25th, the Balzer Theater at Herren's and others will commemorate the voluntary  desegregation fifty years ago of Herren's restaurant--the first in Atlanta to do so.