Players and painted stage

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 13, 2006

Large regional theaters
American Repertory Theatre moves from art to the cinema with a stage adaptation of the 1987 Wim Wenders film WINGS OF DESIRE (Loeb Drama Center, November 25–December 17), in which a guardian angel turns in his wings to taste human life. A co-production of ART and the Netherlands’ Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the piece was adapted by ART associate artistic director Gideon Lester, Ko van den Bosch, and Ola Mafaalani and is directed by Mafaalani. The Cambridge troupe follows that with an eagerly awaited Dresden Dolls collaboration, as Amanda Palmer supplies the songs for the Cambridge-underground-club-set THE ONION CELLAR (Zero Arrow Theatre, December 9–January 13). Marcus Stern will direct.

Across the river, the Huntington Theatre Company, now operating on two stages, moves to the Calderwood Pavilion for the world premiere of stage (Bad Dates) and television (Law & Order) writer Theresa Rebeck’s MAURITIUS (Wimberly Theatre, October 6–November 12). It’s about two sisters who discover that the world of high-stakes stamp collecting is more dangerous than they thought. In the BU Theatre, the troupe presents Southie-bred High Fidelity librettist David Lindsay-Abaire’s RABBIT HOLE (November 3–December 3), a 2006 Tony nominee for Best Play. John Tillinger directs the piece, which is billed as both heartbreaking and hilarious and has to do with a happy couple whose world view is turned upside down by a tragic accident.

Trinity Repertory Company introduces the work of its new artistic director, Steppenwolf vet Curt Columbus, who directs his own adaptation of Chekhov’s masterpiece of displaced gentry and real-estate development, THE CHERRY ORCHARD (September 15–October 22). That’s to be followed by Irish writer Conor McPherson’s A DUBLIN CAROL (December 1–January 7), whose alcoholic misanthrope of a protagonist will be played by William Petersen, a star of TV’s CSI series. And the North Shore Music Theatre moves from religious to bubblegum rock with JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (September 19–October 8) and HAIRSPRAY (October 24–November 19).

Midsize regional theaters
There’s everything from melancholy Danes to cat-fighting ladies on the local rialto this fall. Actors’ Shakespeare Project, having conquered King Lear, takes on the waffling prince of Elsinore with HAMLET (Strand Theatre, October 12–November 5). New Rep’s Rick Lombardo directs; artistic director Benjamin Evett gets to talk to Yorick. SpeakEasy Stage Company, figuring that the area’s male actors would be busy warbling in the Lyric Stage Company revival of  1776 (through October 14), the 1969 musical about the Founding Fathers, sets out to employ the area’s actresses in Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 drama THE WOMEN (Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, September 22–October 21). Director Scott Edmiston supervises the play’s meow mix of Manhattan socialites sharpening their claws. Women continue as the preferred gender at SpeakEasy with the New England premiere of THE BUBBLY BLACK GIRL SHEDS HER CHAMELEON SKIN (Roberts, November 17–December 9), the 2001 Obie-winning Kirsten Childs musical that follows an African-American woman through three decades as she seeks to become “the greatest dancing star in the world.”

Stoneham Theatre follows Cole Porter’s YOU NEVER KNOW (through October 1) with AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (October 19–November 5), Mark Brown’s small-cast adaptation of the 1872 Jules Verne romp in which stodgy Londoner Phileas Fogg tries to put a girdle round about the earth in less than three months. The Lyric Stage Company hops to exotic points as well, offering the New England premiere of Iraqi-American journalist Heather Raffo’s one-woman play NINE PARTS OF DESIRE (October 20–November 18), which is based on 11 years’ worth of interviews conducted with Iraqi women hovering under the veil in an age-old war zone.

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