BLITHE SPIRIT | It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that Noël Coward’s 1941 cocktail shaker full of dry martini and ectoplasmic mayhem will amuse. Coward diagnosed his own gift as a talent to do just that. And the local-star-studded revival by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston is both dry and chaotic enough to please. It boasts the debonair-even-when-consternated Richard Snee as upper-crust scribbler Charles Condomine, the skeptical novelist hosting a séance for reasons of research who inadvertently conjures the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, and a deliciously snarky Paula Plum as the ghost who comes to dinner and won’t go away. Anne Gottlieb, sangfroid intact but nostrils flared, gives good umbrage as current wife Ruth, who keeps thinking the harsh badinage Charles aims at Elvira (whom Charles can see and hear but Ruth cannot) is meant for her. We also get impish Kathy St. George as an unusual Madame Arcati: less bangle-laden, trance-hopping Miss Marple than harem-clad leprechaun on uppers. Brynna Bloomfield’s parlor-and-garden set demonstrates, as it should, a life of its own, and director Spiro Veloudos keeps the supernatural shenanigans moving toward their home-wrecking conclusion. | Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon St, Boston | 617.585.5678 | Through June 5 | Curtain 2 + 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | 3 pm [June 6] Sun | $25-$54

FAMILY STORIES | Whistler in the Dark closes its fifth season with Serbian playwright Biljana Srbljanovic’s 1998 work, which uses a quartet of adult actors playing children playing house to paint a grotesque Punch & Judy portrait of trickle-down, war-numbed life under corrupt, nationalist dictator Slobodan Milosevic. The play, which got its North American premiere from Cambridge’s short-lived Market Theatre back in 2002, is episodic and somewhat repetitive, and the attempt to override cruel comedy with tragedy at the end feels forced. But like its harsh, adult-mocking pubescents playing Donna Reed on a dung heap, Family Stories packs a punch. Meg Taintor directs; Melissa Barker, Danny Bryck, Nate Gundy, and Jen O’Connor are in the cast. | Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont St, Boston | Through May 30 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 3 pm Sun | $20; $10 students

THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL | First brought to light at the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival, Armadillo Acres is a cartoon assemblage of aluminum domiciles overseen by a gossipy Greek chorus of park manager Betty, who buried her pan-whacked husband in the back yard “by hand,” Lin (short for linoleum, since she was born on the kitchen floor), whose spouse is on Death Row, and Pickles, an adorably slow-on-the-uptake 17-year-old given to hysterical pregnancy. What this trio have to gossip about, often in three-part harmony, is a domestic drama involving agoraphobic Jeannie, who hasn’t left her trailer since her baby was kidnapped 20 years ago, her frustrated toll-collector husband, Norbert, and recently arrived exotic dancer Pippi, who’s on the lam from a psychotic boyfriend. Okay, the plot is torn from the National Enquirer, and the music by David Nehls is a pastiche of rock salted with country twang, peppered with gospel and blues, and complicated by its division into duets, trios, and quartets. But the LOL book by Betsy Kelso and Nehls’s equally funny lyrics conspire to turn lowest common denominator into pretty high entertainment — an amalgam of Killer Joe and The Beverly Hillbillies that a tremendous SpeakEasy Stage cast (Leigh Barrett, David Benoit, Kerry A. Dowling, Mary Callanan, Santina Umbach, Grant MacDermott, Caitlin Crosbie Doonan), its plastic-flamingo-overseen doings humanely orchestrated by artistic director Paul Daigneault, puts across loud and clear. Forget the dumpster — this trailer trash is worthy of the endless regional recycling it seems destined to get. | Boston Center for the Arts, Roberts Studio Theatre, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through June 5 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 3 pm Sun | $30-$54

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Related: Play by Play: March 19, 2010, Play by play: March 26, 2010, Play by play: May 7, 2010, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Entertainment, Steven Barkhimer, Boston Center for the Arts Plaza,  More more >
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