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Critic’s picks

Fall theater picks

Issie Swickle stars in “Annie” playing at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre.
Issie Swickle stars in “Annie” playing at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre. Joan Marcus

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER Malcolm Jamal-Warner (“The Cosby Show’’), Julia Duffy (“Newhart’’), and Will Lyman star in this stage adaptation of the 1967 film (starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy) about the reactions of an ostensibly liberal white couple when their daughter brings home her African-American fiancé. Written by Todd Kreidler and directed by David Esbjornson. Sept. 5-Oct. 5. Huntington Theatre Company. BU Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800, www.hunting tontheatre.org

DISNEY’S THE LION KING Talk about your circle of life: A decade ago, “The Lion King’’ was the first show to be performed at the restored Boston Opera House. Now that venerable venue will once again play host to the colorfully costumed, puppet-heavy musical about the young lion Simba’s turbulent coming-of-age. Sept. 9-Oct. 12. Broadway in Boston. Boston Opera House. 866-870-2717, www.LionKing.com

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DOUBT, A PARABLE Set in a Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by John Patrick Shanley stars the estimable Karen MacDonald as Sister Aloysius, a nun who suspects that a priest named Father Flynn (portrayed by Gabriel Kuttner) is molesting a boy in her school. Directed by Caitlin Lowans. Sept. 11-28. Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.stone hamtheatre.org

ASSASSINS Perhaps only Stephen Sondheim could so artfully handle such a touchy topic. Teaming up with book writer John Weidman for this 1990 musical about presidential assassins and would-be assassins, from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald to John Hinckley, Sondheim crafted what amounts to an incisive commentary on the American Dream at its most upside-down. Directed by Jim Petosa, with a cast that includes Benjamin Evett, McCaela Donovan, and Paula Langton. Oct. 4-Oct. 26. New Repertory Theatre. Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.new rep.org

KING LEAR Joseph Marcell tackles the immensely challenging role of the monarch who repudiates the daughter who loves him, then rashly gives away his kingdom to the two daughters who don’t, resulting in epic torment for him and those loyal to him. It’s directed by Bill Buckhurst, who codirected the lively production of “Hamlet’’ that Shakespeare’s Globe brought to Boston two years ago. Oct. 15-23. Production by Shakespeare’s Globe, presented by ArtsEmerson. Emerson/Paramount Mainstage, Boston. 617-824-8400, www.artsemerson.org

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DEAR ELIZABETH Sarah Ruhl’s intimate and quietly moving two-hander, based on the decades-long correspondence and deep friendship between two giants of modern poetry: Elizabeth Bishop and Boston’s own Robert Lowell. Directed by A. Nora Long, the production will star Laura Latreille (“Time Stands Still’’) as Bishop and Ed Hoopman (“Animal Crackers’’) as Lowell. Oct. 17-Nov. 9. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

ETHER DOME Set at Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1840s, Elizabeth Egloff’s drama tells the story of a major breakthrough in medical history: the development of ether as a form of surgical anesthesia. Directed by Michael Wilson, the play also examines the personal rivalries that swirled around that breakthrough and the commercialization of medicine that began to take root. Oct. 17-Nov. 23. Huntington Theatre Company, in association with La Jolla Playhouse and Hartford Stage. Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre .org

THE DISPLACED HINDU GODS TRILOGY The playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil — who is of Indian and Bulgarian descent, grew up in Sweden and now lives in Minneapolis — has said that her work revolves around themes of “displacement, language, communication, identity.’’ In the New England premiere of her trilogy, the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are given contemporary form. “Brahman/i: A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show,’’ directed by M. Bevin O’Gara, is described as “a standup-act-meets-play about radical acts of self-creation,’’ while “The Chronicles of Kalki,’’ also directed by O’Gara, is about surviving the mean-girl environment of high school. “Shiv,’’ directed by Summer L. Williams, is described as a post-colonial fantasy that explores “the destruction that leads to rebirth.’’ Oct. 24-Nov 22. Company One Theatre. Plaza Theatres, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.companyone.org

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WOT? NO FISH!! A solo show by playwright-performer Danny Braverman that is built on 56 years’ worth of drawings Braverman inherited from his great-uncle, Ab Solomans, a shoemaker. The drawings, which Solomans sketched for his wife, Celie, on the back of his weekly wage packets, capture the trajectory of their long marriage and of the changing world around them. Directed by Nick Philippou. Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater, Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3103, www.icaboston.org

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL Cicely Tyson won a richly deserved Tony Award as best actress for her performance on Broadway in Horton Foote’s wistful drama about elderly Carrie Watts, who is determined to pay a return visit to the Texas town of her youth. Blair Underwood portrays her son, and Vanessa Williams, who was also in the Broadway cast, reprises her role as the sharp-elbowed daughter-in-law. Nov. 20-Dec. 7. ArtsEmerson in association with Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles. Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre. 617-824-8400, www.artsemerson.org

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BENT The always-compelling Victor L. Shopov stars as Max, a gay Berliner forced into a struggle for survival in the 1930s when he is transported to a concentration camp. Martin Sherman’s 1979 drama about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany also features Mikey DiLoreto, Brooks Reeves, and Diego Buscaglia. It will be directed by David J. Miller, who helmed last season’s superb production of “The Normal Heart,’’ with a cast that included Shopov and DiLoreto. Sept. 19-Oct. 11. Zeitgeist Stage Company. Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.zeitgeiststage.com

ANNIE That indomitable Depression-era orphan wins the heart of gruff Oliver “Daddy’’ Warbucks and offers uplifting assurances to one and all — including President Franklin D. Roosevelt — that the sun will indeed come out tomorrow. Nine-year-old Issie Swickle stars in this new touring production, with Gilgamesh Taggett as Daddy Warbucks and Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan, the dyspeptic and lovelorn orphanage proprietor. Directed by Martin Charnin, who wrote the lyrics for the Tony-winning 1977 musical and helmed the original Broadway production. The set is by the gifted Beowulf Boritt. Nov. 5-16. Citi Wang Theatre. 800-982-2787, www.citicenter.org

BAD JEWS The New England premiere of Josh Harmon’s dark comedy about two cousins whose fierce competition over an heirloom left by their recently deceased grandfather lays bare a deeper battle over matters of faith, tradition, and Jewish identity. Oct. 24-Nov. 29. SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

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HAPPY DAYS Real-life married couple Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams star as husband and wife in Andrei Belgrader’s production of Samuel Beckett’s 1961 drama. Adams portrays Winnie, buried waist-high (and eventually neck-high) in a mound of earth, talking nonstop as she busies herself with the contents of her black bag. Shalhoub plays her monosyllabic husband, Willie. This production is originating at Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, Calif. Nov. 18-23. BabsonARTS. Carling-Sorenson Theater, Sorenson Center for the Arts, Babson College, Wellesley. Tickets to go on sale in early October. 617-239-5622, www.babsonarts.org
DON AUCOIN

O.P.C. Playwright Eve Ensler (“The Vagina Monologues”) is known to wade boldly into uncharted dramatic territory with humor and honesty. The American Repertory Theater’s world premiere of her “O.P.C.” (“Obsessive Political Correctness”) follows a candidate for the US Senate whose daughter is a “Dumpster-diving-freegan” concerned about her carbon footprint. It stars Oscar winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) and Olivia Thirlby (“Juno”). Nov. 28-Jan. 4. American Repertory Theater. Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org TERRY BYRNE


Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.