At Trinity Repertory Company, an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel about Depression-era Dust Bowl migration, The Grapes of Wrath , will be directed by Brian McEleney (through October 6). To make up for any resulting lowercase depression, that will be followed by the New England premiere of Christopher Durang’s celebrated Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (November 21-December 22), a comedic variation on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. And don’t forget Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (November 8-December 28).
The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre is presenting a double bill of one-act plays by Caryl Churchill (through October 13). A Number is set in the near future, where genetic engineering creates identical copies of a man’s mourned-for dead son. Far Away hopefully isn’t predicting the future as it presents a dystopian fable of environmental disaster. In the dramedy Good People , by David Lindsay-Abaire (November 7-December 8), an economically desperate single mother looks up a successful former high school sweetheart, with surprising results.
The Providence Performing Arts Center is hosting a batch of popular Broadway musicals. Evita (through September 14) presents the Argentinian folk heroine, followed by Once (October 1-6), which reprises the 2006 film of the same name, as a Dublin busker and a woman he meets get acquainted through his songs. Ghost: The Musical (October 22-27) is another film adaptation, this one the sentimental tale of a young woman and her dead lover. Transitions continue with The Phantom of the Opera (November 27-December 7), as a beautiful soprano is pursued by an enamored presence in a Paris opera house.
Another theater capable of mounting a big-scale musical is Ocean State Theatre Company, which is staging Les Misérables (October 2-27), the adaptation of Victor Hugo’s tale of relentless pursuit and goodness challenged in revolutionary Paris. That will be followed by Lombardi (November 6-24), about the life of the relentless Hall of Fame football coach.
Mixed Magic Theatre is staging Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train , by Stephen Adly Guirgis (September 20-October 13), about a Puerto Rican bike messenger in Harlem who resorts to violence to rescue a childhood friend from a cult.
The Wilbury Group is presenting the New England premiere of Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit (September 19-October 5), concerning two newly acquainted suburban couples whose relationship develops unexpectedly. Their seasonal offering is the Rhode Island premiere of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant , by Kyle Jarrow and Alex Timbers (December 5-21).
Contemporary Theater is offering the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins (October 4-November 2), a collective portrait of the men and women who have attempted to assassinate American presidents. They are also staging The Nutcracker , with GEAR Productions (November 14-15), and The Gift of the Magi (November 29-December 22).
The Artists’ Exchange in Cranston will be busy this fall, now that it has two theater spaces occupied by Epic Theatre Company as their official resident troupe. The season opens with A Behanding In Spokane (September 13-28), a black comedy by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, followed by Larry Kramer harkening back to the beginning of the AIDS crisis in The Normal Heart (October 11-26), and a medical crisis that devastates a life in Sharr White’s The Other Place (November 8-23). Artists’ Exchange will also host the Marley Bridges Theatre Company’s zombie musical Menace of the Morgue (October 4-26) and Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (November 15-23).