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Critic’s picks: Theater

Cory Weaver


Four plays for women by Samuel Beckett, helmed by Poets’ Theatre president and artistic director Bob Scanlan: “Not I,’’ “Footfalls,’’ “Rockabye,’’ and “Come and Go.’’ Amanda Gann will perform “Not I’’ in English and then in French, back to back. Sarah Newhouse will perform “Footfalls,’’ and Carmel O’Reilly will perform “Rockabye.’’ All three will team up for “Come and Go.’’ With visual design by David R. Gammons. Sept. 17-20. Poets’ Theatre, at Farkas Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge. 617-496-2222,

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE After her memorable portrayal last year of the title character in Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler,’’ Marianna Bassham returns to the Gamm Theatre to tackle a more vulnerable but equally classic character: Blanche DuBois, the tragic center of Tennessee Williams’s 1947 masterpiece. Helmed by Gamm artistic director Tony Estrella, with Anthony Goes as Stanley Kowalski and Karen Carpenter as Stella. Or, as Stanley would bellow: Steh-llaaaahhh! Sept. 17-Oct. 18. Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, Pawtucket, R.I. 401-723-4266,

Hilty’s portrayal of the ambitious Broadway performer Ivy Lynn was the best (almost the only) reason to watch the late, unlamented “Smash,’’ the NBC backstage drama. She and host/pianist Seth Rudetsky will perform Broadway songs in this benefit for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Sept. 18. Presented by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and Mark Cortale. Citi Shubert Theatre, Boston. 866-348-9738,


OTHELLOJohnnie McQuarley portrays the mighty general who becomes unhinged by jealousy, with Josephine Elwood as his doomed wife, Desdemona; Jennie Israel as Emilia; and John Kuntz as Iago, that lethal schemer and embodiment of what Coleridge called “a motiveless malignity.’’ Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Sept. 23-Oct. 25. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, Boston. 866-811-4111,

The festival celebrates a decade of shining a light on the playwright’s work, including his seldom-performed experimental dramas. Among the 10 productions in this year’s festival is “The Parade,’’ inspired by Williams’s love affair with a young dancer in Provincetown in the summer of 1940, which will be performed on a small beach. Sept. 24-27. Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, Provincetown. 866-789-8366,


Two plays about physicists, running in repertory, with the same trio of actors (Steven Barkhimer, Robert Najarian, and Debra Wise) for each. Wesley Savick directs his adaptation of “Einstein’s Dreams,’’ Alan Lightman’s novel about a young Einstein, trying to stay afloat financially in Switzerland in 1905 while developing his theory of relativity. Eric Tucker (“Bedlam’s Saint Joan’’) directs Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen,’’ which revolves around confrontations between Werner Heisenberg and his mentor, Niels Bohr. “Einstein’s Dreams’’ will run Sept. 24-Nov. 14. “Copenhagen’’ will run Oct. 1-Nov. 15. Both are productions of Underground Railway Theater, at Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 617-576-9278,

KANSAS CITY CHOIR BOYIn what is described as “a mystery told through flashbacks,’’ Courtney Love and Todd Almond costar as a pair of lovers who split up when one heads out “in search of destiny,’’ and then disappears. With music and lyrics by Almond, direction by Kevin Newbury, and choreography by Sam Pinkleton. Oct. 1-10. American Repertory Theater, at Oberon, Cambridge. 617-547-8300,

DRY LANDThe Boston premiere of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s drama about the friendship between two teenage girls in Florida as they grapple with the issue of do-it-yourself abortion. The play premiered to critical acclaim in New York last year, when Spiegel was only 21 and still a student at Yale. Steven Bogart (“Shockheaded Peter’’) directs. Oct. 2-30. Company One Theatre, Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,


I AND YOUWith bracingly original works like “Exit, Pursued by a Bear’’ and “Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight,’’ playwright Lauren Gunderson has proven herself to be a voice worth listening to. Winner of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, which recognizes plays that premiered outside of New York, “I and You’’ is a two-character drama about two teenagers, one of them a hater of poetry, who are drawn together while working on a school project about Walt Whitman. Directed by Sean Daniels. Oct. 7-Nov. 1. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Nancy L. Donahue Stage, Lowell. 978-654-4678,

AN AUDIENCE WITH MEOW MEOWA new musical created by and starring the Australian-born actress, cabaret performer, and comedienne who specializes in unpredictable, hard-to-categorize performances. (One critic described her as a “diva of disaster who is always in complete control.’’) Directed by Leigh Silverman (“Violet’’). Oct. 8-24. Copresented by ArtsEmerson and TrueFriend Productions, at Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston. 617-824-8400,

WEST SIDE STORYLeonard Bernstein outdid himself when he composed the score for this retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,’’ immersed in the gang feuds of New York in the 1950s. With lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. Directed by Stacey Stephens, with choreography by Wendy Hall, and starring Kim Corbett as Maria and Jeffrey Zicker as Tony. Oct. 16-25. Fiddlehead Theatre Company, at Strand Theatre, Dorchester. 617-514-6497,


SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNINGPlaywright Katori Hall is best-known for “The Mountaintop,’’ a drama about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that is set on the eve of his assassination. In “Saturday Night/Sunday Morning,’’ which premiered in Chicago last year, Hall focuses on the interplay among seven African-American women in a Memphis beauty parlor/boarding house, wondering what the future holds as the end of World War II draws near, heralding the return home of their husbands and boyfriends. Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Oct. 23-Nov. 21. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678,

CASA VALENTINAScott Edmiston directs the New England premiere of Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play, inspired by real events, about a group of heterosexual married men who meet on weekends at a Catskills bungalow colony in 1962 to dress and act like women. Eventually, they face the choice of whether or not to go public. The cast includes Thomas Derrah, Kerry A. Dowling, Will McGarrahan, Robert Saoud, Timothy Crowe, and Greg Maraio. Oct. 24-Nov. 28. SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,

Abby Mueller stars as Carole King in this charming bio-musical about King’s remarkable career, including her early marriage to songwriting partner Gerry Goffin and their friendship with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Mueller’s sister, Jessie, portrayed King so well on Broadway that she won the 2014 Tony Award as best lead actress in a musical. Nov. 3-15. Broadway in Boston, at Boston Opera House. 800-982-2787,


A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCESNick Offerman, who played the gruffly endearing Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation,’’ has a chance to put his stamp on another outsized eccentric with very emphatic opinions: Ignatius J. Reilly, the entertainingly misanthropic protagonist of the Pulitzer-winning novel by the late John Kennedy Toole. Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher (“Three Viewings”) and directed by David Esbjornson (“All My Sons,’’ “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”). Nov. 11-Dec. 13. Huntington Theatre Company, at BU Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800,

Don Aucoin can be reached at