Play by Play: October 2, 2009

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  September 30, 2009

FLINGS & EROS | Dodging the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the Flying Karamazov Brothers juggle their way through, no, not Hamlet, but Romeo and Juliet, in this world-premiere show that Merrimack Repertory Theatre is bringing to Lowell. “Original music, combat juggling, and antic dancing” are promised, along with ruminations on love, star-crossed or otherwise. | 50 East Merrimack St, Lowell | 978.654.4MRT | Through October 4 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm Sun | $26-$51

THE GOOD WAR: A MUSICAL COLLAGE OF WORLD WAR II | Stoneham Theatre opens its 2009–2010 season with this adaptation, by David H. Bell and Craig Carnelia, of Studs Terkel’s 1984 Pulitzer-winning oral history. Jerry Bisantz, Jason Bowen, Laura DeGiacomo, Steve Gagliastro, Peter Haydu, Mark Linehan, Brendan McNab, Paul Shafer, and Brad Simanski make up the cast; the songs include “I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Uncle Sam Blues,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “Moonlight Serenade.” | Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St, Stoneham | 781.279.2200 | Through October 4 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $44-$48; $40-$42 seniors; $20 students

GREAT EXPECTATIONS | 11:11 Theatre Company opens its season with something we don’t recall seeing often, if at all: a stage version of Charles Dickens’s classic about Pip, Magwitch, Estella, and the eternally disappointed Miss Havisham. The company collaborated on the adaptation. | Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont St, Boston | | Through October 3 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Sat | $15; $12 students, seniors

KISS ME, KATE | With its supreme Cole Porter score, this 1948 adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is surely one of the half-dozen best Broadway musicals. The setting is the Baltimore tryout of a new musical of Shakespeare’s comedy, and its stars are a one-time married couple whose combative relationship emulates that of Petruchio and Katharine. This Lyric Stage production isn’t the best: the choreography seems hampered by the constricted space, the movement from scene to scene isn’t organic, and the sets and costumes are unattractive. The cast members — led by Peter Davenport as Fred Graham/Petruchio, Amelia Broome as Lilli Vanessi/Katharine, Michele DeLuca as Lois Lane/Bianca, and R. Patrick Ryan as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio — appear to have been chosen more for their pipes than for their acting chops; the singing is efficient but the dialogue scenes lack verve and rhythm. Yet from beyond the grave Cole Porter keeps bailing the production out — there isn’t a second-rate tune in the entire show. | 140 Clarendon St, Boston | 617.585.5678 | Through October 10 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | 3 pm Sun | $25-$54

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