ROCK OF AGES: The jukebox will be set to 1987 in this Tony-nominated musical at the Colonial.
Artistic directors have suddenly morphed into event planners. Both the American Repertory Theater’s Diane Paulus and the Huntington Theatre Company’s Peter DuBois speak of programming not plays but “events.” One such project — erstwhile Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer’s star turn as the androgynous MC of the ART’s Cabaret (at Oberon through October 29) — is already upon us. And it’s clear that it’ll be hard to promenade on the local Rialto this fall without bumping into one or another multi-faceted, multi-headed, or festival-style event.
FIFTH ANNUAL PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL | September 23-26 | “Under the Influence” is this year’s theme, but it’s not what you think. There are plays making reference to Williams inspirations Eugene O’Neill and Hart Crane and the world premiere (by Beau Jest Moving Theatre) of Williams’s never-produced American Gothic, a riff on Grant Wood’s iconic painting of fun farmers. | Provincetown, various venues | $15–$47.50; $125–$500 festival pass | 866.789.TENN or twptown.org
THE LARAMIE RESIDENCY | September 24–October 2 | The birth of ArtsEmerson is an event in itself, and this residency by Tectonic Theater Project is among its first offerings. Moisés Kaufman’s troupe brings to town both The Laramie Project, which was culled from interviews conducted in the wake of the brutal 1998 murder of gay man Matthew Shepard near the Wyoming city of the title, and the world premiere of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, which was born of a return visit to learn how the hate crime had impacted the community in the long term. | Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St, Boston | $15–$79 | 617.824.8000 or artsemerson.org
THE SHIPMENT | September 24-26 | Audacious young Korean-American playwright/director Young Jean Lee addresses “Black identity politics” in an irreverent amalgam that draws on minstrelsy and Richard Pryor to twist cultural images, says the New York Times, “like silly putty.” | Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave, Boston | $25; $22 members, students | 617.478.3138 or icaboston.org
ENRON | September 24–October 16 | Zeitgeist Stage Company takes on Brit writer Lucy Prebble’s “financial vaudeville” chronicling the crash of the energy giant — with music. | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | $30; $20 seniors, students, previews | 617.933.8600 or bostontheatrescene.com
THE COVETED CROWN: HENRY IV, PARTS 1 & 2 | September 29–November 21 | Bard-centric Actors’ Shakespeare Project presents, in rep, Prince Hal’s epic journey from risky business to breaking Falstaff’s sodden heart. | Midway Studios, 15 Channel Center St, South Boston | $25-$48; $15 student rush | 866.811.4111 or actorsshakespeareproject.org
ROCK OF AGES | October 6-17 | The jukebox is tuned to 1987 in this 2009 Tony-nominated musical set on the Sunset Strip and channeling big hair and heavy metal. Promised are mini-flashlights for the audience, an “arena-rock love story” complete with deafening sound, and a score culled from the hits of Journey, Styx, and Twisted Sister, among others. | Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St, Boston | $33-$92 | 800.982.2787 or broadwayacrossamerica.com