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Winter Arts Guide

10 shows that will bring drama, music, and even ducklings to theater stages this season

Clare Perkins in "The Wife of Willesden," to be presented by the American Repertory Theater.Kiln Theatre

SEVEN GUITARS August Wilson’s drama, set in 1948, tells the story of the life and death of blues guitarist Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton (Anthony T Goss). Floyd returns to Pittsburgh with a hit record to his credit and tries to persuade his former lover, Vera (Maya Carter), to come with him to Chicago, where he hopes to achieve greater stardom by recording an album. Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Feb. 8-March 5. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. At Hibernian Hall. 617-241-2200, www.ActorsShakespeareProject.org

FAIRVIEW From its sitcom-like beginning, with a middle-class Black family getting ready for a birthday party, “Fairview” goes in surprising directions as playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury explores race, class, cultural appropriation, and the white gaze. Drury, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2019 for “Fairview,” told the Guardian that the play “puts together all of these stereotypes that are so ingrained into our consciousness that we like barely register them as that anymore.” Cast includes Dom Carter, Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Yewande Odetoyinbo, and Victoria Omoregie. Directed by Pascale Florestal. Feb. 17-March 11. SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.SpeakEasyStage.com


MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, THE MUSICAL Becky Bass plays Mrs. Mallard and Jared Troilo portrays Mr. Mallard in this musical adaptation of Robert McCloskey’s beloved children’s story about a family of ducklings who make their home at the Boston Public Garden. Adaptation by Sandra B. Eskin and Michael J. Bobbitt, who wrote the book for the musical, with music and lyrics by William Yanesh. Directed by Emily Ranii. Feb. 17-March 12. Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University. 617-353-3001, www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org

Sarah Fornace (left) and Sara Sawicki in Manual Cinema's "Frankenstein."Meta Antolin

FRANKENSTEIN This take on the classic horror novel blends the tale of Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster with the biography of their creator, Mary Shelley. Manual Cinema, the Chicago-based performance collective behind such innovative works as “Ada/Ava” and “The End of TV,” employs more than 500 puppets, along with live actors, projectors, and cinematic elements. Feb. 22-26. Production by Manual Cinema. Presented by ArtsEmerson. At Robert J. Orchard Stage, Emerson Paramount Center. 617-824-8400, www.ArtsEmerson.org


ALMA This two-hander by Benjamin Benne, which won the National Latinx Playwriting Award, is set in 2016, and anti-immigrant sentiment has single mother Alma (Karina Beleno Carney) fearful of being deported. It’s the eve of the SAT test for her 17-year-old daughter, Angel (Luz Lopez). To Alma, the family’s future is riding on Angel acing the test and getting into a good college. Angel has a different conception of that future. Directed by Elena Velasco. Feb. 23-March 26. Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 617-576-9278 (ext. 1), www.CentralSquareTheater.org

THE GREAT LEAP Manford, a Chinese-American high school basketball star played by Tyler Simahk, goes to Beijing in 1989 with a curmudgeonly coach, Saul (Barlow Adamson), for an exhibition game just as the Tiananmen Square student protests are occurring. The opposing team is coached by Wen Chang (Gary Thomas Ng), a former protégé of Saul’s who has what press materials described as “unfinished business” with him and Manford alike. Written by Lauren Yee (”Cambodian Rock Band”), the production of “The Great Leap” will be directed by Michael Hisamoto. Feb. 24-March 19. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

THE WIFE OF WILLESDEN In this adaptation by Zadie Smith (”White Teeth”) of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” from Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” Clare Perkins plays Alvita, a Jamaican-born British woman in her 50s. The free-spirited, nonconformist Alvita tells a band of regulars in a London pub the story of her five marriages, her view of sexuality and misogyny, and her general philosophy of life. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham. Feb. 25-March 17. American Repertory Theater, Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.AmericanRepertoryTheater.org


BOULEVARD OF BOLD DREAMS A fictional retelling by playwright LaDarrion Williams of the historic night in 1940 when Hattie McDaniel (Samantha Jane Williams) won an Academy Award for her portrayal of an enslaved maid in “Gone With the Wind,” making her the first Black actor honored with Hollywood’s biggest prize. In “Boulevard of Bold Dreams,” McDaniel refuses to attend the Oscar ceremony, but a Black bartender (Stewart Evan Smith) and a hotel maid (Michelle Fenelon) try to persuade her to change her mind while reckoning with their own secrets and dreams. Directed by Taavon Gamble. March 3-19. Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.greaterbostonstage.org or boxoffice@greaterbostonstage.org

K-I-S-S-I-N-G In this premiere of a play by Cambridge native Lenelle Moïse, an artist named Lala (Regan Sims) who uses pizza boxes as her canvas finds herself attracted to both Dani (Sharmarke Yusuf) and his twin, Albert (Ivan Cecil Walks). Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Co-production by The Front Porch Arts Collective and The Huntington. March 3-April 2. Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

INTO THE WOODS Several cast members from last year’s Broadway revival of this beloved Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical will reprise their roles in this touring production. They include Montego Glover as The Witch, Stephanie J. Block as The Baker’s Wife, Sebastian Arcelus as The Baker, and Gavin Creel as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. Directed by Lear deBessonet. March 21-26. Emerson Colonial Theatre. 888-616-0272, www.EmersonColonialTheatre.com


Don Aucoin can be reached at donald.aucoin@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeAucoin.