At its founding in 1976, Theatrical Outfit (T.O.) Atlanta’s second oldest professional theater company was an ensemble of young theater artists, housed in a one room, 99 seat performance studio in Atlanta’s Virginia Highlands. In 1981, the success of the theater inspired a group of Atlanta professionals to form a board of directors who helped the Outfit renovate the historic Kress Five and Dime Store at 1012 Peachtree Street, creating a 200 seat, black box theater. Notably, David Head was one of the first visionary Artistic Directors of Theatrical Outfit.
Throughout the 1980s, Sharon Levy, Producing Artistic Director, spearheaded more than forty plays and musicals, helping cement the theatre’s placehold in the Atlanta arts landscape. Levy was instrumental in bringing Lee Breuer’s productions of Mabou Mines’ Lear and Cold Harbor to The Outfit. Beginning in 1989, under the artistic leadership of Eddie Levi Lee and Philip De Poy, the Outfit’s outstanding productions included Beowulf; The Edgar Allen Poe Festival; a new translation of No Exit; Angels; Tent Meeting and I Dream of Peace, in collaboration with The Carter Center and The Atlanta Committee for UNICEF that told the stories of Bosnian war children.
Luckie St. in 1956, featuring Herren’s Restaurant, home of famed sweet rolls
In the fall of 1995, Tom Key became the Executive Artistic Director and led the organization to the creation of its new award winning downtown home, the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, the first theater in the United States to achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Balzer Theater is also the historical site of Herren’s, the first restaurant in Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate in 1962; its first African American patrons, Dr. Lee and Delores Shelton, remain annual season subscribers to Theatrical Outfit. Key’s programming of classics, regional and world premieres tell soul-stirring stories, with themes that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and religion; and often feature the best writers of the American South, including Ernest Gaines, Lauren Gunderson, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Janece Shaffer, Sherry Shephard Massat, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and Tennessee Williams.
After ten years of capital investment, T.O. is in new territory. Having retired the mortgage, and years of debilitating debt service, we are in the midst of a 2014-17 Strategic Plan designed to expand mission driven, artistic offerings that include more large scale productions including Broadway style musicals, more actors on stage, and outlines audience development marketing efforts directed at many demographic and psychographic targets.
Luckie St. in 2011, featuring the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, home of lovely T.O.:
Herren’s Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 60-80 sweet rolls.
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 packages yeast
¼ cup warm water
4 cups flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon
Let milk come to a boil in heavy saucepan. Add butter, sugar and salt. Cool. Soften yeast in ¼ cup warm water and stir into first mixture. Add flour, about half at a time, and beat well. Turn out on a floured board, allow to sit for 15 minutes, then knead until smooth. Place dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise until double in size.
Roll out dough about ¼ inch thick on a floured board and cut into roughly 8-inch squares. Working one square at a time, brush with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture generously over entire surface. Starting at one side of the square, roll up into a tube. Continue rolling tube back and forth, stretching it sideways until it is 12 to 16 inches long. Cut tube into wheels approximately ½ inch wide. (Note: as this recipe will make 60 to 80 sweet rolls, use three or four small [6-inch to 8-inch] aluminum pans. This will allow you to stagger cooking during your dinner or refrigerate to bake for breakfast.) Place sweet rolls in pan that has been thoroughly buttered and coated with sugar/cinnamon mixture, so they touch, but don’t over-pack. Brush top with melted butter sprinkle generously with sugar/cinnamon mixture over entire surface. Let stand at room temperature for one hour to rise. Please note that you have ended up with a confection of butter, sugar, and cinnamon, separated by a thin bit of dough.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You may substitute your favorite yeast dough recipe or buy frozen dough from your supermarket. Minus the sugar, cinnamon and butter, the dough can be used for Parker House or other dinner rolls.