Theater & art

The ticket: Theater

Laurence Labat

SMART PEOPLE Lydia R. Diamond’s splendid new Cambridge-based play sifts through the implications of research that suggests racism might be hard-wired into the human brain while showcasing a quartet of complex, flawed, intriguing, and, yes, smart people who register as much more than delivery systems for polemical freight. Directed by Peter DuBois. Through July 6. Huntington Theatre Company, at Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800,

INTO THE WOODS A captivating production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, adroitly directed by Spiro Veloudos, in which the disenchanted forest of the title is thick with pathos, dread, and disillusion, but also shot through with humor, life, and wayward romance. With eye-catching costumes by Elisabetta Polito and top-notch performances. Through June 29. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678,

JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS Artistic director Eric C. Engel opted to open the 35th season of Gloucester Stage with a production, helmed by him, of the beloved revue by the Belgian-born balladeer, which was a hit at Gloucester Stage back in 2003. Starring Jennifer Ellis, Daniel Robert Sullivan, Shana Dirik, and Douglas Jabara, with David McGrory as music director. Through July 6. Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester. 978-281-4433,


UNCLE VANYA Last summer Robert Kropf directed his pared-down adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,’’ resulting in a memorably dark production at Harbor Stage Company. Now he has turned his hand to Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,’’ with a cast that includes Kropf himself, the always-compelling Stacy Fischer, Amie Lytle, Jeff Zinn, and Justin Campbell in the title role. Through July 12. Harbor Stage Company, Wellfleet. 508-349-6800,

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THE TEMPEST Directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, of the Penn & Teller team, this dandy production dresses up Shakespeare with stage magic, a gymnastic two-man Caliban, and an onstage band playing songs from the Tom Waits catalog. Through June 15. American Repertory Theater. Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300,


AMALUNA Cirque du Soleil is back with its big top, this time performing a female-centered spectacle that combines razzle-dazzle with refined art. Directed by Diane Paulus of the American Repertory Theater, the production is based loosely on “The Tempest,” with a female Prospera who manipulates the natural world. This is more plot-based than previous Cirque shows, which gives it an intimacy and ties the circus acts (including clowns, pictured) together. Through July 6. Boston Marine Industrial Park. 800-450-1480,



Don Aucoin can be reached at