fb-pixel Skip to main content

Theater picks: Hating ‘Hamlet,’ cemetery stagings, and ‘Three Musketeers’

Anthony Mullin and (background, from left) David J. Hansen, Megan Ward, and Matt Arnold star in “I Hate Hamlet.”
Anthony Mullin and (background, from left) David J. Hansen, Megan Ward, and Matt Arnold star in “I Hate Hamlet.”Becca Lewis

I HATE HAMLET A sitcom actor (David Hansen), his show having been canceled, is offered a chance to play the title role in “Hamlet’’ onstage in Central Park, but he despises the classic Shakespeare tragedy. So who should show up in his apartment but the ghost of John Barrymore (Anthony Mullin), one of the greatest stage Hamlets of all time, exhorting him to do the play and offering him acting tips. Fran Weinberg directs Paul Rudnick’s 1991 comedy, with a cast that also includes Matt Arnold, Shelley Brown, Shalyn Grow, and Megan Ward. May 31-June 15. Titanic Theatre Company. At Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.titanictheatre

THE VIEW UPSTAIRS A musical by Max Vernon that transports a young fashion designer back to the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in 1973. He immerses himself in the vibrancy of the scene at the club, which abounds in vivid characters and big personalities. The musical is set shortly before an arson attack that killed 32 people in the UpStairs, the deadliest attack on a gay club in US history before the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Featuring Johanna Carlisle-Zepeda, Russell Garrett, J’royce Jata, Michael Levesque, Will McGarrahan, Davon Monroe, Yewande Odetoyinbo, Eddie Shields, Jared Troilo, and Shawn Verrier. Directed by Paul Daigneault. May 31-June 22. SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speak


THE NATURE PLAYS Local playwright Patrick Gabridge, the author of such historical dramas as “Blood on the Snow’’ and “Cato & Dolly’’ and the artist-in-residence at Mount Auburn Cemetery, has written five short, site-specific plays inspired by the landscape and history of the storied cemetery. One play envisions debates among naturalists who are buried at the cemetery, while others focus on the “secret world’’ of mushroom hunting and the spotted salamanders in a corner of the cemetery known as Consecration Dell. Directed by Courtney O’Connor, with a cast that includes Jacob Athyal, Lisa Tucker, Ed Hoopman, and Theresa Nguyen. June 1-9. At Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. 617-607-1980, www.mountauburn.org/the-nature-plays

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE The conventions of costume drama are cast aside in Kate Hamill’s fast-paced, screwball adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel about the Bennet sisters, navigating the complications of courtship and marriage in early 19th-century England. Cast includes Lydia Barnett-Mulligan as Lizzy, Omar Robinson as Mr. Darcy, Zoe Laiz as Jane, Louis Reyes McWilliams as Mr. Bingley (and Mary), Mara Sidmore as Mrs. Bennet, Gabriel Kuttner as Mr. Bennet (and Charlotte), Doug Lockwood as Wickham (and Collins), and Anna Bortnick as Lydia. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. June 5-29. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. At Balch Arena Theater, Medford. 866-811-4111, www.actorsshakespeare


THE THREE MUSKETEERS Actors of color make up most of the cast in this production, directed by Dawn M. Simmons, of Catherine Bush’s stage adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s adventure novel about those all-for-one, one-for-all swashbuckling French swordsmen. Featuring Marc Pierre as D’Artagnan, Lyndsay Allyn Cox as Athos, James Milord as Porthos, Paige Clark as Aramis, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent as Richelieu. June 6-30. Co-production by Greater Boston Stage Company and The Front Porch Arts Collective. At Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.greaterbostonstage.org

CLOUD 9 Untangling the complexities of Caryl Churchill’s work was a challenge met pretty successfully last year by Huntington Theatre Company (“Top Girls’’) and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (“Universe Rushing Apart: Blue Kettle and Here We Go.’’) Now Nora Theatre Company artistic director Lee Mikeska Gardner prepares to tackle the British playwright’s “Cloud 9.’’ A gender-bending study of sexual identity and sexual politics, “Cloud 9’’ is divided into two parts: the first involves a British family in colonial Africa in 1880, and the second focuses on the same family a century later, in London, when the characters have somehow aged only 25 years. Featuring Ailinn Brophy, Joshua Wolf Coleman, Stephanie Clayman, Marge Dunn, Kody Grassett, and Alexander Platt. June 6-30. Nora Theatre Company. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 617-576-9278, ext. 1, www.centralsquaretheater.org


DISNEY’S FREAKY FRIDAY It’s fitting that a musical was fashioned from this tale of a mother and daughter who switch bodies and come to a deeper understanding of each other, given that the story originated with a 1972 children’s novel by Mary Rodgers before forming the basis of several Disney movies. Rodgers was the daughter of the legendary composer Richard Rodgers. The collaborators on “Disney’s Freaky Friday’’ were Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (lyrics), best-known for “Next to Normal,’’ along with book writer Bridget Carpenter. Directed by Gabriel Barre and choreographed by Jennifer Paulson Lee, the North Shore Music Theatre production will star Laurie Wells as the mom and Lindsay Joan as the daughter. July 9-21. North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. 978-232-7200, www.nsmt.org


HELLO, DOLLY! Betty Buckley stars as Dolly Gallagher Levi, the widowed matchmaker and indomitable free spirit who sets out to marry Horace Vandergelder, the curmudgeonly “half-a-millionaire’’ from Yonkers. The signature role of Carol Channing, who died earlier this year, Dolly has also been played on Broadway by Pearl Bailey, Bette Midler, and Bernadette Peters. So Buckley is following in some very big footsteps. But her own formidable track record suggests she is more than up to the challenge. Directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Aug. 13-25. Presented by Broadway In Boston. At Citizens Bank Opera House, Boston. 800-982-2787, www.broadwayinboston

CYMBELINE Fred Sullivan Jr., whose bravura portrayals have enlivened numerous free Shakespeare on the Common productions, turns director to tackle one of the Bard’s less frequently performed plays. After Imogen, daughter of British monarch Cymbeline, marries the commoner Posthumus, a furious Cymbeline banishes him. Then the exiled Posthumus is bamboozled into believing Imogen has been unfaithful to him — just part of the welter of schemes, counterschemes, deceptions, disguises, and palace intrigue in the play. Cast includes Kelby Akin, Remo Airaldi,
Daniel Duque-Estrada, Nora Eschenheimer, Tony Estrella, and Gunnar Manchester. July 17-Aug. 4. Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. At Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common. 617-426-0863, www.comm

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Lindsay Crouse and Mickey Solis star in this comic drama about a doggedly determined fact-checker (played by Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway) who is given his first big assignment by a magazine editor: to see if there are any inaccuracies in an essay by an egotistical writer who is prone to taking liberties with the truth. There turn out to be quite a few. Conflict ensues. The play by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell is helmed by Sam Weisman, who directed Crouse and Solis in Gloucester Stage’s fine 2017 production of Lucy Prebble’s “The Effect.’’ Aug. 30-Sept. 22. Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester. 978-281-4433, www.gloucesterstage.com


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