Critic’s picks: Theater

SMART PEOPLE Lydia R. Diamond (“Stick Fly,’’ “Voyeurs de Venus’’) examines the question of whether prejudice and racism are “hard-wired’’ into human beings. Thrashing out that issue are four characters: an African-American doctor, a white neurobiologist, a Chinese-Japanese-American psychologist, and an African-American actress. Directed by Peter DuBois. May 23-June 29. Huntington Theatre Company. At Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800, www.huntington

GIDION’S KNOT The acclaimed actress Karen MacDonald puts on her director hat for this two-hander by Johnna Adams about an encounter between a woman in mourning for her son, and the boy’s teacher. Featuring Deb Martin and Olivia D’Ambrosio. June 5-22. Bridge Repertory Theater of Boston. At Deane Hall, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,


THE ODD COUPLE This production of Neil Simon’s 1965 comedy about a mismatched duo getting on each other’s nerves when they inhabit the same New York apartment features Noah Racey as persnickety Felix Ungar and Michael McGrath as messy Oscar Madison. McGrath won a Tony Award for his nice work in “Nice Work If You Can Get It,’’ and he was also terrific as Patsy in the Broadway production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.’’ Directed by John Miller-Stephany. June 9-21. Cape Playhouse, Dennis. 508-385-3911,

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA It’s makeover time for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical about a gifted soprano and her mysterious masked mentor. This Cameron Mackintosh production, kicking off a North American tour in Boston, will feature new staging and design. June 26-July 20. Broadway in Boston. At Boston Opera House. 800-982-2787,

FOOL FOR LOVE Sam Shepard’s 1983 drama about two lovers who tear into each other, verbally and otherwise, in a motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Featuring Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under’’) and Chris Pine (Kirk in the “Star Trek’’ films). It will be Pine’s return to the stage where he began his career. July 24-Aug. 3. Directed by Daniel Aukin. Williamstown Theatre Festival. 413-597-3400,


SISTER PLAY A world premiere of a play by John Kolvenbach (“Love Song,’’ “Mrs. Whitney,’’ “On an Average Day”), directed by the author. In a faded cabin on Cape Cod, a pair of sisters who are haunted by the memory of their father find grounds for hope in the face of a mysterious stranger. Aug. 14-Sept. 6. Harbor Stage Company, Wellfleet. 508-514-1763,

PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT Tennessee Williams made a rare venture into comedy, albeit with substantial shades of darkness, for this seldom-seen 1960 play, which was later made into a film starring a young Jane Fonda. Set on Christmas Eve, it’s about two couples coping with choppy waters in their marriages. Aug. 28-Sept. 21. Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Wellfleet. 508-349-9428,

CEDARS Keira Naughton will direct her dad, James Naughton, in a world premiere of Erik Tarloff’s play about a fiftysomething attorney who tries to make sense of his struggles with family, career, and relationships during a one-way conversation with his comatose father. July 23-Aug. 9. Berkshire Theatre Group. At Fitzpatrick Main Stage, Stockbridge. 413-997-4444,

MEGAN HILTY She was the best — sometimes the only — reason to watch the late, unlamented “Smash,’’ where she vied with Katharine McPhee for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a fictional Broadway musical. But Hilty has plenty of experience with the real thing, having starred in “Wicked’’ and “9 to 5: The Musical’’ on Broadway as well as in the Encores production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.’’ Aug. 13-18. The Art House, Provincetown. 800-838-3006,



AMALUNA Cirque du Soleil is back with its Big Top, this time performing a female-centered spectacle. Directed by Diane Paulus, who is also artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, the production is based loosely on “The Tempest,” with a female Prospera who manipulates the natural world and is said to sing and play the cello, too. But while this outing is more plot-based than previous Cirque shows, it also features the usual Cirque derring-do, with Spandex-clad performers swinging perilously through the air, fearless acrobats, back-bending contortionists, as well as the familiar pageantry and specialty stunts. May 29 through July 6. Boston Marine Industrial Park. 800-450-1480,


Don Aucoin can be reached at