NOW PLAYING
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY | Tracy Letts’s 2008 Pulitzer and Tony winner pulls into town, with Estelle Parsons re-creating her Broadway role as Violet Weston, the pill-popping matriarch of the Weston clan of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. When patriarch Beverly Weston goes missing, the family members assemble, and the skeletons that emerge include (this is just a starter list) adultery, alcoholism, drug addiction, and incest. Oh yes and there’s a suicide. Anna D. Shapiro directs. | Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St, Boston | 800.972.ARTS | Through May 9 | Curtain 7:30 Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $35-$81

THE BLONDE, THE BRUNETTE AND THE VENGEFUL REDHEAD | The trick in this caustically amusing if ultimately saccharine comedy by Australian dramatist Robert Hewett is that all seven characters (among them the title women and a couple of folks who are not women at all) are played by a single performer. And in this Merrimack Repertory Theatre production directed by the Obie-winning Melia Bensussen, that would be chameleonic American Repertory Theater stalwart Karen MacDonald, who is both everything and better than Hewett has any right to ask for. What the 2004 work has going for it (apart from the versatile MacDonald) are its unexpected twists and turns — each of which expands on both the randomness and the somewhat slippery veracity of what has gone before. So it is not for a reviewer to ruin the surprises by supplying a road map to events or even characters. But MacDonald certainly has the measure of the vengeful redhead (a mousy sort whose non-communicative spouse has recently left her), the brunette (the redhead’s expansive, tackily clad sexpot neighbor), and the high-haired blonde (an authoritative Russian who calls herself “the minx from Minsk” and is the sexual obsession of the decamped husband). | Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 East Merrimack St, Lowell | 978.654.4MRT or merrimackrep.org | Through May 16 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm [no evening May 16] Sun | $26-$56

THE EMANCIPATION OF MANDY & MIZ ELLIE | Local playwright and director and Company One member Lois Roach created this drama about two women who’re brought together by the Emancipation Proclamation. The story is told “through live percussion, rhythmic movement, and the songs of freedom”; the production will feature Roxbury’s OrigiNation Dance Troupe. Victoria Marsh directs. | Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through May 22 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $30-$38; $30 seniors; $15 students | $18 Wednesdays

FARRAGUT NORTH | Zeitgeist Stage closes out its season with this play by Beau Willimon that promises “dirty campaign tricks, questionable journalistic practices, sex with interns — all the things that make American politics great.” Set “during a close presidential race on the eve of the Iowa caucuses,” it involves a young press secretary who “falls prey to backroom politics, manipulation from campaign veterans, and the wiles of a seductive young intern.” David J. Miller directs. | Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Black Box Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through May 22 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 4 pm Sun | $30; $20 students, seniors

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ARTICLES BY JEFFREY GANTZ
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