INVINCIBLE SUMMER: Mike Daisy moves to NYC.
As we recover from turning the clocks ahead and making our day’s journey into night a bit longer, area stages are taking a cue from Mother Nature and bursting into bloom. The next few months offer a garden variety of musicals, new plays, and stalwarts.
Even the preening and singing of the birds returning North will be eclipsed when Chita Rivera shimmies into the Colonial Theatre to tell her life’s story — in song and dance. The sassy septuagenarian hoofer appears courtesy of Broadway Across America/Boston in CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE (May 1-13). Written by four-time Tony winner Terrence McNally, the musical chronicles Rivera’s rise from aspiring dancer to Broadway legend.
Less razzle-dazzle but no less compelling is Steven Fales’s life story, which Boston Theatre Works brings to the Boston Center for the Arts in CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY (April 26–May 19). Fales wrote and performs the show, a comic account of how a Midwestern boy and exemplary Mormon came out, was excommunicated, and landed in New York as a high-end call boy.
American Repertory Theatre brings Mike Daisey to Zero Arrow Theatre to tell a very different story of relocating to New York. In INVINCIBLE SUMMER (April 4-29), the Off Broadway darling recounts the culture shock of moving from Seattle to Gotham. Everything only intensifies after 9/11.
SpeakEasy Stage Company draws your attention to a more Southern locale in crisis in the Boston professional premiere of Alfred Uhry & Jason Robert Brown’s PARADE (May 12–June 16). It’s a grand-scale musical based on the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew who moved to Atlanta and in 1913 found himself accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl. But if you think lynching sounds bad, wait till Actors’ Shakespeare Project breaks out the plasma for the Bard’s early bloodbath TITUS ANDRONICUS (March 29-April 22).
Tensions run high in SouthCity Theatre Company’s production of Naomi Wallace’s ONE FLEA SPARE (March 16-25) at Devanaughn Theatre. Set during the Great Plague of 1665, the play examines the class differences and desires that emerge when a British couple are quarantined with a sailor and an orphan girl. Housing circumstances also trigger interactions in Devanaughn’s own production of Melissa James Gibson’s [sic] (April 19–May 6), in which a frustrated editor, a misemployed composer, and an aspiring auctioneer living in the same building navigate urban life. Think Friends reimagined with sharp but underemployed downtown-artist types.
Artists are frequently fodder for drama; less common are plays in which an actual work of art is the star. Such is the case in Noah Haidle’s PERSEPHONE, whose world premiere Nicholas Martin directs for the Huntington Theatre Company (at the Calderwood Pavilion March 30–May 6). We meet Demeter, a classical statue of the goddess, as she’s being created in the Renaissance and then zoom forward to the present, when she has become a cultural observer perched in an American park.
But back to plays about artistic temperament. The Huntington continues its season with Noël Coward’s PRESENT LAUGHTER (May 18–June 17); it’s directed by Martin and features Broadway and Alias vet Victor Garber as the narcissistic actor who’s surrounded by fawning women and a brigade of loyal but cynical servants and friends. The written word is the vehicle for an unlikely relationship in I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA (April 5-22). Stoneham Theatre offers Sonja Linden’s play about a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who seeks out a fading British author to guide her in writing her memoir. ART is likewise putting writers in the spotlight: two aging scribes spend a boozy evening loaded with wit and manipulation in Nobel laureate Harold Pinter’s NO MAN’S LAND (May 12–June 10), with David Wheeler directing.
No man’s land is also one name for where the title character of Christopher Durang’s MISS WITHERSPOON finds herself after she commits suicide and must scramble about awaiting reincarnation. Scott Edmiston directs Paula Plum as Lyric Stage Company gives the comedy its Boston premiere by (March 23–April 21).