11 must-see plays of early 2011

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  December 29, 2010

Paramount Mainstage, 555 Washington St, Boston | $25-$79 | 617.824.8000 or artsemerson.org

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV | Lyric Stage Company of Boston | February 11–March 12 | The able Scott Edmiston is at the helm of Aaron Posner’s 2009 stage adaptation of the 1972 novel by Chaim Potok. Its focus is a talented Hasidic youth growing up in New York City in the 1950s, where his artistic bent puts him in conflict with his father, who is dedicated to furthering the religion.

140 Boylston St, Boston | $29-$56 | 617.585.5678 or lyricstage.com

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MARY POPPINS | Broadway Across America — Boston  | February 17–March 20 | A spoonful of sugar hits the Opera House like a missile when everyone’s favorite flying nanny touches down in this warbling extravaganza based on stories by P.L. Travers and the Disney movie musical starring Julie Andrews. The show has been running on Broadway for four years; this is Boston’s first look.

The Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston | $28-$93 | 800.982.2787 or broadwayacrossamerica.com/boston

THE HOTEL NEPENTHE | Actors’ Shakespeare Project | February 23–March 6 | At the center of a Winter Festival that also includes the Bard’s Cymbeline (February 9-20) and Jon Lipsky’s Living in Exile (March 9-20), ASP presents the world premiere of John Kuntz’s play, directed by David R. Gammons. Wielding a strong cast that includes the author, it’s set on a cold night in America, when 17 disparate characters, one of them a possible time traveler, collide at the title inn of oblivion.

The Storefront on Elm, 255 Elm St, Davis Square, Somerville | $35-$39 | 866.811.4111 or actorsshakespeareproject.org

PROMETHEUS BOUND | American Repertory Theater |  February 25–March 25 | Director Diane Paulus has had her way with Shakespeare; now she’s shaking up the Greeks. Club Oberon will house the world premiere of this rock musical wrapping Aeschylus’s “outcry against tyranny” in a Dionysian vibe. Text and lyrics are by Tony-winning Spring Awakening co-creator Steven Sater; music is by Grammy-winning lead singer for System of a Down, Serj Tankian.

Oberon, 2 Arrow St, Cambridge | $25-$65 | 617.547.8300 or americanrepertorytheater.org

REASONS TO BE PRETTY | SpeakEasy Stage Company | March 4–April 2 | Resident Neil LaBute–specialist Paul Melone helms another incendiary billet from the playwright and screenwriter. This 2008 script starts with the vicious argument that ensues when a hapless guy describes his longtime girlfriend’s looks as merely “regular” and goes on to poke a stick at the value of physical attractiveness in our shallow little lives.

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont St, Boston | $30-$55 | 617.933.8600 or bostontheatrescene.com

THE SELECT (THE SUN ALSO RISES) | ArtsEmerson | March 9-20 | New York-based Elevator Repair Service, which hatched the mesmeric Gatz from the eggs of The Great Gatsby, returns to town with its adaptation, fresh from the Edinburgh Festival (where The Scotsman called it “seriously thrilling stuff”), of Ernest Hemingway’s post–World War 1 novel.

Paramount Mainstage, 555 Washington St, Boston | $25-$69 | 617.824.8000 or artsemerson.org

A CELEBRATION OF DIRECTOR PETER BROOK | ArtsEmerson | March 23-27 | Here’s a rare opportunity to see two small-scale productions helmed by 85-year-old theater legend Peter Brook. On the Paramount Mainstage is the 2008 Fragments, which mines the oft-forgotten humor in short works by Samuel Beckett. On display in the theater’s Black Box is the Paris-based British director’s The Grand Inquisitor, a starkly minimalist staging of the famed monologue from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov that imagines Christ’s return to earth during the Spanish Inquisition.

Paramount Center, 555 Washington St, Boston | $25-$79 [Fragments]; $49 [Grand Inquisitor] | 617.824.8000 or artsemerson.org

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