Play by Play: September 25, 2009

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  September 22, 2009

FLINGS & EROS | Dodging the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the Flying Karamazov Brothers juggle their way through, no, not Hamlet, but Romeo and Juliet, in this world-premiere show that Merrimack Repertory Theatre is bringing to Lowell. "Original music, combat juggling, and antic dancing" are promised, along with ruminations on love, star-crossed or otherwise. | 50 East Merrimack St, Lowell | 978.654.4MRT | Through October 4 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm [evening Oct 4] Sun | $26-$51

THE GOOD WAR: A MUSICAL COLLAGE OF WORLD WAR II | Stoneham Theatre opens its 2009?2010 season with this adaptation, by David H. Bell and Craig Carnelia, of Studs Terkel's 1984 Pulitzer-winning oral history. Jerry Bisantz, Jason Bowen, Laura DeGiacomo, Steve Gagliastro, Peter Haydu, Mark Linehan, Brendan McNab, Paul Shafer, and Brad Simanski make up the cast; the songs include "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Uncle Sam Blues," "I'll Be Seeing You," and "Moonlight Serenade." | Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St, Stoneham | 781.279.2200 | Through October 4 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $44-$48; $40-$42 seniors; $20 students

JERSEY BOYS | Those would be the Four Seasons, four boys from Newark who in the early '60s gave us "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk like a Man," "Candy Girl," "Dawn," and "Rag Doll." And with its tale of internecine loyalty and resentment among a hardscrabble quartet from the industrial badlands near Newark and its irresistibly tight white-boy harmonies, the 2006 Tony-winning musical chronicling the rise, fall, and resurrection of the prolific pop group is a well-put-together and well-executed if schematic affair that is head, shoulders, and string ties above most jukebox musicals. What's more, the lavish touring edition serves up a knock-your-socks-off quartet who really do sound like the Four Seasons, from Joseph Leo Bwarie's channeling of Frankie Valli's unearthly falsetto to Steve Gouveia's gargling of the goofy bass interpolations of "silly girl" into "Big Girls Don't Cry." Tony winner (for Big River and The Who's Tommy) Des McAnuff directs. | Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St, Boston | 866.348.9738 | Through September 26 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | $49-$99

KISS ME, KATE | With its supreme Cole Porter score, this 1948 adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is surely one of the half-dozen best Broadway musicals. The setting is the Baltimore tryout of a new musical of Shakespeare's comedy, and its stars are a one-time married couple whose combative relationship emulates that of Petruchio and Katharine. This Lyric Stage production isn't the best: the choreography seems hampered by the constricted space, the movement from scene to scene isn't organic, and the sets and costumes are unattractive. The cast members ? led by Peter Davenport as Fred Graham/Petruchio, Amelia Broome as Lilli Vanessi/Katharine, Michele DeLuca as Lois Lane/Bianca, and R. Patrick Ryan as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio ? appear to have been chosen more for their pipes than for their acting chops; the singing is efficient but the dialogue scenes lack verve and rhythm. Yet from beyond the grave Cole Porter keeps bailing the production out ? there isn't a second-rate tune in the entire show. | 140 Clarendon St, Boston | 617.585.5678 | Through October 10 | Curtain 2 pm [September 30] + 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | 3 pm Sun | $25-$54

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