Play by Play: October 2, 2009

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  September 30, 2009

CABARET | Willkommen! Trinity Repertory Company opens its 46th season with the Kander & Ebb musical based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin stories and made famous by Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. They won’t be coming to the Cabaret in Providence but Trinity is hoping that at least one of your tomorrows will belong to Rachael Warren as Sally Bowles, Mauro Hartman as Cliff Bradshaw, Joe Wilson Jr. as the MC, Phyllis Kay as Fräulein Schneider, and Stephen Berenson as Herr Schultz. Trinity artistic director Curt Columbus is at the helm. | Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St, Providence, Rhode Island | 401.351.4242 | Through October 11 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues | 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 pm [October 3] + 7:30 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $20-$65; $10 12th-row bench

THE DONKEY SHOW | C-dust pinch-hits for fairy dust in The Donkey Show, Diane Paulus & Randy Weiner’s disco-set riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an hour-long work set in the Studio 54–inspired environs of Club Oberon (formerly Zero Arrow Theatre) and framed by episodes of Saturday Night Fever in which you may or may not choose to star. The dramatis personae include Dr. Wheelgood, a gold-lamé-clad Puck on roller skates; club owner Mr. Oberon, who’s out to humiliate his haughty diva girlfriend, Tytania; desperately yearning or cockily dismissive lovers Helen, Dimitri, Mia, and Sander; and a twin couple of ruffle-shirted, Afro-coiffed dudes both named Vinnie. Ingeniously double-cast, sexily supple, and screeching into headsets, they join the paying crowd (a small minority of whom occupy tables in a cabaret area that also sees action) for an immersive night of hedonism and hustle driven by the pounding beat and melodramatic passions of disco hits from the 1970s. | Oberon, Mass Ave + Arrow St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300 | Through January 3 | 8 pm Thurs [through October 30] | 8 pm Fri | 8 + 10:30 pm Sat | $25-$49

FENCES | Set on a scruffy patch of yard off a Pittsburgh alley in 1957, August Wilson’s first Pulitzer winner centers on an embittered titan of a garbage collector who claims to have wrestled down the Devil and also includes a mentally damaged character whose perceived connections to Heaven turn out to be quite genuine. As in Wilson’s other finest works, it’s this combination of the mundane and the miraculous — interwoven in a rich tapestry of black speech that draws on the church, the street, and the blues — that makes the play not only hard-hitting but transcendent. And slammed here by the bat of the Huntington Theatre Company, the baseball-centric drama soars. Frequent Wilson collaborator Kenny Leon is at the helm, with Wilson vet John Beasley filling James Earl Jones’s shoes if not quite supplying his thunder as Herculean hauler of refuse Troy Maxson, and Crystal Fox turning in a subtly devastating performance as wife Rose. The supporting players, uniformly fine, include Bill Nunn’s big, shuffling baby of a Gabriel, Troy’s brother, whose World War II brain injury financed the Maxson home. | Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston | 617.266.0800 | Through October 11 | Curtain 7:30 Tues | 2 + 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm [evening October 4] Sun | $20-$82.50

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