OTHELLO | Actors' Shakespeare Project takes on the Moor of Venice who loved "not wisely but too well," with Jason Bowen as Othello, Ken Chesseman as Iago, and Brooke Hardman as Desdemona. Judy Braha directs. | Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton St, Boston | 866.811.4111 | Through April 4 | Curtain 10 am Tues [March 30] | 10 am [March 18, 26] + 7:30 pm Thurs-Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $25-$47 | Carolyn Clay's review on page TK

PARADISE LOST | It doesn't take genius (or the AIG T-shirt that appears in the third act of this American Repertory production) to see the keen contemporary relevance of Clifford Odets's 75-year-old play. Daniel Fish's period-hopping, video-augmented approach to the Depression-era drama ameliorates without upstaging Odets's somewhat speechifying, quaintly slang-ridden vision of a humbling yet humanizing revolution in which a once-prosperous middle-class family, the shards of its dismantled (or perhaps never mantled) life thrust out on the street, lose everything except the possible dawning of a new day when "no man fights alone." With its eerie amplification, its spillover onto looming video, and a setting more warehouse than our house, Fish's production is both striking and distancing. The acting, however, is by and large urgent and natural, with David Chandler a sincere but far from spineless Leo, Michael Rudko exuding fiery agitation as the furnace man, T. Ryder Smith effective as both a dying son and a ghoulish arsonist, and Sally Wingert earthiness itself as the mom who thinks repeated offers of "a piece of fruit" will hie us all back to Eden. | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300 or americanrepertorytheater.org | Through March 20 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | $25-$75

PHANTOM OF THE OPRAH | That title has Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans written all over it, so you won't be surprised to learn that the mighty Afrodite stars as "The Phantom" and the "internationally known singing sensation Miss Varla Jean Merman" plays Christine — unless you were expecting it to be the other way around. Elements of "burlesque, vaudeville, silent movies, Broadway musicals, rock operas, and television" are promised, along with original music, long-lost rock anthems and some very popular standards." Book and lyrics are by, yes, Ryan Landry; Larry Coen directs. | Machine, 1254-1256 Boylston St, Boston | golddustorphans.com | Through March 28 | Curtain 8 pm Fri-Sat | 5 pm Sun | $35-$45

STICK FLY | "Sparks fly and long-hidden secrets tumble into the open when the LeVay brothers bring their new girlfriends home to Martha's Vineyard's world of privilege." This 2006 portrait of a complex African-American family from Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond (Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye) makes marvelous entertainment of poking old wounds and pressing hot buttons — not just in the social order but in a sextet of characters so smart and smartly drawn that you'd like to take them home. In the Huntington Theatre Company's production, both Kenny Leon's direction and David Gallo's set contribute to the tight-quartered, in-your-face element of the LeVays' Edgartown get-together, no matter how airy and cushy its setting. Leon nicely calibrates the Fences echoes without hitting them like a gong. And the cast, led by Salter as the feisty if wounded Taylor and Iman as the equally prickly, equally hurting Cheryl, proves that Diamond wasn't far off when she looked into her glass and decided you could create a cocktail that was equal parts Cosby and cultural anthropology, with a splash of O'Neill. | Boston Center for the Arts, Calderwood Pavilion, Virginia Wimberly Theatre, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 617.266.0800 | Through March 28 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues | 2 + 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm [evening March 21] Sun | $50-$60; $45-$55 seniors; $15 student rush; $20 last row orchestra

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Related: Play by play: March 26, 2010, Play by play: May 7, 2010, Play by play: May 28, 2010, More more >
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