Play by play: February 5, 2010

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  February 3, 2010

DREAMGIRLS | The 1981 six-Tony glitzmobile about the crossover dreams of a vocal trio reminiscent of the Supremes makes yet another Boston visit, with Moya Angela as Effie White, Syesha Mercado as Deena Jones, Adrienne Warren as Lorrell Robinson, Margaret Hoffman as Michelle Morris, Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Curtis Taylor Jr., Chester Gregory as James "Thunder" Early, Trevon Davis as C.C. White, and Milton Craig Nealy as Marty Madison. Robert Longbottom directs. | Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St, Boston | 800.982.ARTS| Through February 14 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $42.50-$91.50

GATZ | At the beginning of New York–based Elevator Repair Service's six-and-a-half-hour theater piece, which is performed in two parts, a mid-level employee enters with dossier and coffee, tries unsuccessfully to resuscitate his aged computer, and discovers a dog-eared copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic 1925 novel The Great Gatsby stuffed into his Rolodex. He starts to read aloud from the found text, tentatively at first, as the low-rent workplace's somewhat Sisyphean business continues its desultory course. Suddenly, a female co-worker is reading over our Nick Carraway stand-in's shoulder, lip-synching the gruff dialogue of Tom Buchanan. And gradually the sparkling, aching business of the novel intrudes on, and then takes over, the mundane business of the office in a spellbinding narrative marathon that is about both the power of prose and the quixotic, ephemeral, even alienating nature of performance. We may not get jazz orchestras playing on the sloping lawns of lit-up Long Island mansions or languid lovelies in floating white dresses. But we do get, read aloud, every rueful, gorgeous phrase Fitzgerald wrote, as well as a deliberately lackluster mirror of some of his themes. And in the tenacious commitment of Scott Shepherd's Nick to the text, even amid the raucous chaos of a Manhattan-afternoon debauch (here enacted amid flung folders and liquor bottles unearthed from metal file cabinets), there is a hint of Fitzgerald's somehow getting the artistic job done at the center of his own personal storm of spendthrift decadence, alcoholic excess, and "careless people." | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300 | Through February 7 | Curtain 3 pm [part one] + 7:30 pm [part two] Fri-Sun | $25-$75; $15-$65 seniors; $20 student rush

THE GOOD NEGRO | Tracey Scott Wilson dares to render Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil-rights movement warts, womanizing, infighting, and all, and her fiction about the particular brutality of the Birmingham Ku Klux Klan, the geeky chicanery of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, and the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls for the most part rings true. Its veracity is, moreover, underlined by an urgent, earnest area premiere from Company One in which, as MLK stand-in James Lawrence, 23-year-old Jonathan L. Dent offers the charismatic determination if not the rhetorical fervor of the decade-older King. The play is well and probingly written, and Summer L. Williams's production makes atmospheric use of historical footage projected onto the wooden slats of Cristina Todesco's set. And given the human face Wilson puts on history, the climax is as shocking as if we shouldn't have seen it coming. | Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through February 6 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | $30-$38; $30 seniors; $15 students; $18 Wed

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  Topics: Theater , Mauro Hantman, Stephen Berenson, Arsenal Center for the Arts,  More more >
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