When Alice Walker wrote THE COLOR PURPLE, she called it a universal story with music in its soul. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman and Grammy winners Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell and Allee Willis took Walker at her word, creating a Broadway-bound musical based on both her novel and Steven Spielberg's film. Blues, gospel, jazz and swing are just some of the tools used to tell the tale of an African-American woman who triumphs over her abusive husband. $20-$50. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Through Oct. 17. 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org.
Theatre Gael offers a smaller-scale production that also promises to be classy and literate: A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, Terrence McNally's musical version of the 1994 movie about a Dublin bus conductor fascinated by Oscar Wilde. $16-$22. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Through Oct. 17. 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. 404-876-9762. www.theatregael.com.
Dad's Garage Theatre takes on a film made famous as a different kind of "art cinema" -- DEBBIE DOES DALLAS. Opening SEPT. 17, the comedy recounts Debbie's desperate quest to become a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader through any means necessary, which in this rendition means song and dance. $15-$20. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Oct. 3, 5 p.m. Through Oct. 23. 280 Elizabeth St. 404-523-3141. www.dadsgarage.com.
MATT AND BEN: THE PLAY tells the legend of two struggling young actors who receive the Good Will Hunting script from the heavens. Playwrights Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers not only penned the critically acclaimed, off-Broadway spoof, but they played Damon and Affleck in its New York run. Likewise, two women will portray the stars when the Atlanta run opens SEPT. 21. $20-$35. Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 7 and 9:30 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. Through Oct. 2. Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, 80 Forsyth St. 404-651-4727. www.nederlanderworld.com/mattandben.-- Curt Holman
Death becomes her
It would be easy to become paralyzed by success, but photographer Sally Mann seems to fill her bucket from a bottomless well of inspiration. Her most famous -- or infamous -- works are sensual portraits of her young children in Immediate Family, but Mann has been examining life's quicksilver properties her whole career. Her latest project, WHAT REMAINS, is about death and examines the inevitable end road of the gorgeous blossoming she captured in her children. The artist will be at the opening reception SEPT. 16 at Jackson Fine Art in Buckhead. Free. Sept. 16-Oct. 30. 3115 E. Shadowlawn Ave. 404-233-3739. www.jacksonfineart.com.-- Felicia Feaster
Food and drink
Eat, drink and be merry
It's a weekend of Bacchanalian proportions, with two tasting events for your oral satisfaction. For oenophiles, WINE SOUTH offers more than 500 wines as well as wine and food pairings SEPT. 18-19. Additionally, seminars with wine experts will help novices become more expert over the course of the weekend. For the foodie set, TASTE OF ATLANTA offers samplings from more than 60 restaurants as well as cocktails galore SEPT. 17-19. Not just a food festival, the extravaganza also features music and celebrity chef demos from Emeril Lagasse, Roy Yamaguchi and Turner South's Marvin Woods. Wine South: $50-$110. 12:30-5:30 p.m. Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway. 770-813-7500. www.winesouth.com. Taste of Atlanta: $25-$100. Fri., 7-11 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., noon-6 p.m. Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road. 404-577-8686. www.tasteofatlanta.org.-- Layla Bellows
September 16 - Thursday
OKTOBERFEST in Germany has always seemed like a good time, but what's a girl to do when she doesn't have a spare grand to spend on flights and hotels? Helen, Georgia's own appropriately quirky semblance of an Alpine mountain town, kicks off its 44-day version of the event, making it the longest Oktoberfest in the world. Free-$7. Times and locations vary. 800-858-8027. www.helenga.org.
September 17 - Friday
VAN HALEN hits Philips Arena with a greatest hits tour fronted by Sammy Hagar. Whether his gravelly crooning represents the "best of both worlds" is better left to those passionate enough to choose sides on the David Lee Roth issue. $90. 7:30 p.m. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 404-878-3000. www.philipsarena.com. (Chad Radford)
September 18 - Saturday
Philip Huber, best known as the puppeteer behind the Bartok puppet insanity in Being John Malkovich, will perform his own flashy, cabaret-style puppetry as part of the Center for Puppetry Arts-hosted STRING FLING GALA 2004. The benefit also features food and drink, as well as live and silent auctions. $150. 6:30 p.m. 1404 Spring St. 404-881-5118. www.puppet.org. (Steve Yockey)
September 19 - Sunday
It's the last day of the weekend-long HARVESTFEST, the seventh annual Blue Ridge music festival, so get yer tail to Cherokee Farms in LaFayette to hear Ralph Roddenberry, the Larry Keel Experience, the Derek Trucks Band, Railroad Earth and Donna the Buffalo. Single day ticket, $30; multi-day passes, $105-$115. Music starts at 10 a.m. Sunday. Other times vary. 2035 Old Mineral Springs Road, LaFayette. www.harvestfest.com. (LH)
September 20 - Monday
Three hurricanes in a month would be enough to exhaust anyone, but for the Red Cross, it has also severely exhausted life-saving supplies, including blood. To help our Floridian friends, DONATE BLOOD at one of the Red Cross' friendly donation centers. 800-GIVELIFE. www.givelife.org. (LB)
September 21 - Tuesday
Underground rock alert! MELISSA AUF DER MAUR brings her damaged-siren solo act to Atlanta. After surviving a stint in Hole as a late-addition replacement guitarist, she's ready to break out on her own. $13. 8 p.m. Cotton Club, 152 Luckie St. 404-688-1193. www.atlantaconcerts.com/cottonclub.html. (SY)
September 22 - Wednesday
Golf has become a major fundraising event, benefiting everyone from puppies to grandparents. Today, swing your club at the Hi Life/Special Olympics SIXTH ANNUAL CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT. Proceeds benefit the Special Olympics' year-round sports training for children and adults with mental disabilities. $165-$2,500. Registration, 10 a.m. St. Marlo Country Club, 7755 St. Marlo Country Club Parkway, Duluth. 770-409-0101. www.hilifeatlanta.com. (LB)