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15 shows to captivate theater audiences this fall

The musical “Come From Away” will arrive at the Citizens Bank Opera House in November.Matthew Murphy

DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA Before he brings his stage show to Broadway, the ever-enigmatic, ever-intriguing Byrne will deliver 18 performances in Boston. A theatrical concert that grew out of his tour in support of his album “American Utopia,’’ the production will feature Byrne and a dozen musicians who will play his solo works as well as tracks from Talking Heads, where Byrne had a storied run as lead singer. With staging and choreography by Annie-B Parson and contributions from consultant Alex Timbers, Byrne’s collaborators on the acclaimed off-Broadway production of “Here Lies Love.’’ Sept. 11-28. Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston. 888-616-0272,

THE CRUCIBLE The innovative, New York-based theater company known as Bedlam has developed such a strong relationship with Cambridge’s Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater over the past few years that Bedlam has chosen to collaborate with the Nora for the premiere of its production of Arthur Miller’s drama about the Salem witch trials, which of course doubles as a parable of McCarthyism. If “The Crucible’’ is anything like previous Bedlam productions in Cambridge like “Saint Joan,’’ “Pygmalion,’’ and “Twelfth Night,’’ it’ll be well worth seeing. Directed by Eric Tucker. Sept. 12-Oct. 13. Nora Theatre Company in association with Bedlam. Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 617-576-9278, ext. 1,


CHOIR BOY A Tony Award nominee this year for best play, “Choir Boy’’ is the latest from the gifted Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight,’’ “Wig Out!,’’ “The Brother/Sister Plays’’ trilogy). Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent, it’s about a gay youth named Pharus Jonathan Young, played by Isaiah Reynolds, who must navigate the challenges of a prestigious African-American prep school where he is seeking to become the leader of the gospel choir. With music direction by David Freeman Coleman and choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo and Ruka White. Sept. 13-Oct. 12. Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,

BLACK LIGHT Jomama Jones, the sequined-gown-wearing alter ego of playwright-performer Daniel Alexander Jones, performs what one New York reviewer described as “half cabaret, half revival meeting.’’ It is filled with original R&B songs that are influenced by Prince, Diana Ross, and Tina Turner, along with stories, some of which pack a political punch. Sept. 19-29. American Repertory Theater. At Oberon, Cambridge. 617-547-8300,


SUNSET BOULEVARD Back in 1994, Alice Ripley portrayed script reader Betty Schaefer in the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the classic Billy Wilder film. Now Ripley, a Tony Award winner for “Next to Normal,’’ will portray Norma Desmond, the tragically faded, lost-in-fantasy silent-screen star, ready for her close-up. Also featuring Nicholas Rodriguez as screenwriter Joe Gillis, Lizzie Klemperer as Betty Schaefer, and William Michals as Max von Mayerling. Directed by Kevin P. Hill, with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. Sept. 24-Oct. 6. North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. 978-232-7200,

NATIVE GARDENS A socially pointed comedy by Karen Zacarias about a dispute between a progressive young couple (he’s a lawyer from Chile, she’s a New Mexico-raised doctoral student) and their older, Republican neighbors. Battle lines are drawn over boundary lines, the location of a fence, and a carefully manicured bed of flowers. Directed by Kelly Galvin. Sept. 27-Oct. 20. Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester. 978-281-4433,

KING LEAR It’s the Mount Everest of stage roles. The title figure of Shakespeare’s monumental tragedy has been portrayed by everyone from Laurence Olivier to Anthony Hopkins to Glenda Jackson (on Broadway earlier this year) to Boston’s Will Lyman (on Boston Common in 2015). Now Robert Walsh dons the robes of the British monarch who spurns his devoted daughter Cordelia and rashly yields his kingdom to her treacherous sisters, Regan and Goneril. Directed by Doug Lockwood. Oct. 3-27. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. At Chelsea Theatre Works, Chelsea. 866-811-4111,


TRAYF Zalmy and Shmuel, two young Hasidic men who conduct outreach on the streets of New York from a rolling “mitzvah tank,’’ find fissures opening in their longtime friendship after they meet a record producer who has recently learned his father was Jewish and now wants to convert. Lindsay Joelle’s play is directed by Celine Rosenthal. Oct. 12-Nov. 3. New Repertory Theatre, MainStage Theater, Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487,

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Back in 2012, when Lauren Yee was only her mid-20s, Boston played host to her weirdly compelling “Hookman,’’ a freewheeling hybrid of slasher-flick satire and coming-of-age psychodrama. Since then, the playwright’s star has kept rising. Now comes the East Coast premiere of Yee’s “Cambodian Rock Band,’’ about a young Cambodian-American woman who becomes involved in the trial of a Khmer Rouge official for his role in the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. Her inquiry into the nation’s past, and that of her family, brings about resistance from her father, who was a refugee from the Khmer Rouge three decades earlier. Directed by Marti Lyons. Oct. 16-Nov. 10. Co-production by Merrimack Repertory Theatre of Lowell, City Theatre of Pittsburgh, and Victory Gardens of Chicago. At Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678,


MARIE & ROSETTA A biodrama-with-music by George Brant (“Grounded,’’ “Dark Room’’) that focuses on the legendary gospel and R&B singer and guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe (played by Lovely Hoffman) and her young protégé, Marie Knight (Pier Lamia Porter), as they prepare for their first performance together in 1940s Mississippi. Directed by Pascale Florestal. Oct. 17-Nov. 10. Co-production by Greater Boston Stage Company and The Front Porch Arts Collective at Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200,

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY Playwright Larissa FastHorse, a member of the Sicangu Lakota nation of South Dakota, takes satiric aim at well-meaning liberals in this comedy about oh-so-woke “teaching artists’’ who try to devise a culturally sensitive Thanksgiving pageant for an audience of elementary school students that also celebrates Native American Heritage Month. Directed by Scott Edmiston, with a cast that includes Barlow Adamson, Amanda Collins, Grace Experience, and Jesse Hinson. Oct. 18-Nov. 10. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678,

COME FROM AWAY From a remarkable true story, Irene Sankoff and David Hein created an uplifting musical. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 40 planes and roughly 7,000 passengers were forced to land in tiny Gander, Newfoundland. Townspeople in Gander opened their homes to the stranded travelers, leading to bonds of comradeship. “Come From Away’’ is helmed by Christopher Ashley, who won a Tony Award in 2017 for his direction of the Broadway production. Nov. 5-17. Broadway In Boston. At Citizens Bank Opera House. 800-982-2787,


THE MAGIC FLUTE Boston audiences have previously been treated to exuberantly reimagined adaptations of Bizet’s “Carmen’’ and Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’’ by the Isango Ensemble, whose members are drawn chiefly from the townships around Cape Town, South Africa. The ensemble’s approach is to weave traditional South African music, played on marimbas and oil drums, into classic opera scores. Now it’s Mozart’s turn, and there is every reason to anticipate another memorable evening. Nov. 6-10. ArtsEmerson. At Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston. 617-824-8400,

THE SMUGGLER Billy Meleady stars as Irish immigrant Tim Finnegan in a solo play by Ronan Noone (“The Atheist,’’ “Little Black Dress’’). Working on the island of Amity as a bartender while aspiring to be a writer, Finnegan’s life is turned upside down when he encounters a stranger who suggests a plan to make people “disappear and reappear.’’ The dark comedy is directed by Judy Braha. Nov. 7-24. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston. 866-811-4111,

QUIXOTE NUEVO Emilio Delgado, who for many years played the beloved Luis the handyman on “Sesame Street,’’ stars in a reimagining of Cervantes’s “Don Quixote’’ by Octavio Solis (“Lydia’’). In this version, relocated to a border town in Texas, the knight-errant journeys across the desert, intent on a reunion with a long-lost love, while pursued by Death in the form of bands of guitar-playing, bike-riding skeletons. Directed by KJ Sanchez. Nov. 15-Dec. 8. Huntington Theatre Company in association with Hartford Stage and Alley Theatre. At Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800,

Don Aucoin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@GlobeAucoin.