THE UNDERPANTS | Salem Theatre Company undertakes writer and film star Steve Martin's adaptation of German playwright Carl Sternheim's 1910 farce about an attractive hausfrau who becomes an instant celebrity, much to the consternation of her blockheaded bourgeois spouse, after suffering a wardrobe malfunction. When her bloomers fall to her ankles while she's straining to watch a parade, Louise Maske acquires not only accidental notoriety but a couple of suitors who, captivated by the dropped drawers, show up to rent the room she and husband Theo, a conservative civil servant, have for rent. As these interlopers vie for her attentions under his nose, Theo displays a blind, pontificating obtuseness that is the comedy's primary source of laughs. Martin, in his airier take on Sternheim's didactic farce, also throws in plenty of double entendre and plain bawdiness, and he tacks on a surprise ending reminiscent of Elvis's appearance at the end of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. | First Church in Salem, 316 Essex St, Salem | 978.790.8546 | July 16–August 2 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $20; $15 students, seniors

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING | Gloucester Stage brings back this one-woman show that the Lyric Stage put on last January, with Eric C. Engel again directing Nancy E. Carroll in Joan Didion's stage adaptation of her National Book Award–winning 2005 memoir of the disconnected year she spent grappling with husband John Gregory Dunne's sudden death and their daughter's tragic illness (in part by engaging in the "if" thinking of the title). The play is less discursive and more linear than the book, but it balances a scalpel-worthy dissection of grief with a cautionary tale about the illusoriness of control. And under Engel's near-still baton, Carroll, armed with little more than a scarf and a chair, elegantly stirs Didion's mixture of anguished disorientation and wry, journalistic concision. This is not an easy theater piece, but it is both steely and profound. | Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main St, Gloucester | 978.281.4433 | July 12-13 | Curtain 8 pm Sun-Mon | $30-$35


NOW PLAYING

THE BALD SOPRANO | Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater's 25th-anniversary season continues with Eugène Ionesco's first play, a story of the Smiths and the Martins and the Smiths' maid, Mary, and Mary's lover, who's the local fire chief, and the fun evening they spend shouting non-sequiturs to each other. It all culminates in a chorus of "It's not here! It's over there!" Brendan Hughes directs and plays the fire chief; Brenda Withers, Jonathan Fielding, Amanda Collins, Lewis D. Wheeler, and Dakota Shepard round out the "over there" cast. | Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Harbor Stage, 1 Kendrick Ave [next to town pier], Wellfleet | 508.349.WHAT | Through July 12 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Sun | $29; $16 student rush

BROADWAY BY REQUEST | Tony winner (for Grizabella, in Cats) Betty Buckley joins Hartford Stage's SummerStage line-up with her cabaret show, which will doubtless include a performance of "Memories." | Hartford Stage, 50 Church St, Hartford | 860.527.5151 | Through July 11 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | $30-$75

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