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Fall on the boards

From A Chorus Line to Tennessee Williams and the Grinch
By CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 11, 2008

CHAPLIN-ESQUE Aurélia Thierrée conjures a “topsy-turvy world of surreal surprises, tricks, and
transformations” in Aurélia’s Oratorio at the ART.

There are tours to the former Czechoslovakia, Romania, Italy, Iraq, the Aran Islands, and even the Underworld on area stages this fall. We’ll meet the Devil on a couple of occasions. It’s an election year, so, no surprise, we’ll get politics both real and imagined. And as befits the state of the economy, the Grinch will show up to steal Christmas before Thanksgiving. Just don’t look for Brigadoon: the village of the title may loom out of the Scottish mists once every 100 years, but it won’t be this one. The pre-Broadway tryout scheduled for the Colonial Theatre has been postponed.

Not to worry: there’s still lots of real estate on the rialto. Already up and running: the replication of Michael Bennett’s iconic pre-reality-show musical, A CHORUS LINE (at the Opera House through October 5); the Huntington Theatre Company’s world premiere of Olivier- and Tony-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, about classical players strolling through the California Gold Rush (at the BU Theatre through October 5); and the American Repertory Theatre’s presentation of writer/performer/professor Anna Deavere Smith’s consideration of the human body, LET ME DOWN EASY (at the Loeb Drama Center through October 11). Here’s some of what’s on the horizon.

With both Brigadoon and Harry Connick Jr.’s turn in the Broadway-bound “new Gershwin musical” Nice Work If You Can Get It gone up in smoke, the Broadway Across America/Boston season has become spring-loaded. There is, however, the touring production of the Broadway hit LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL; based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon flick about a pink-clad apparent airhead conquering Harvard Law, it conquers the Opera House October 28–November 9. Molière’s favorite religious hypocrite turns up a few days too early to get his lusty mitts on Elle Woods (though you know he’d like to) when California-based Dell’Arte Company brings its “daring adaptation” of the 17th-century French master’s TARTUFFE to the Cutler Majestic Theatre (October 25). Then Boston gets its first look at Broadway’s holiday-record-breaking heist of Whoville, DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Conceived and directed by three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien, the musical extravaganza about the meanie with the undersized heart comes to the Wang Theatre November 26–December 28.

Circuses both macabre and delicate turn up on American Repertory Theatre stages this fall. Zero Arrow Theatre hosts the world premiere of Anne Washburn’s THE COMMUNIST DRACULA PAGEANT, “a wild and offbeat romp through the web of Romanian myth and history” featuring vampires from Vlad the Impaler to the Ceauşescus (October 18–November 9). And at the Loeb Drama Center, Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, Aurélia Thierrée, stars in AURÉLIA’S ORATORIO (November 28–December 28), conjuring a “topsy-turvy world of surreal surprises, tricks, and transformations” inspired by the music hall and the circus. Her mother, Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, directs.

Across the river, the Huntington Theatre Company also jumps between venues. At the Boston University Theatre, Tom Stoppard’s ROCK ’N’ ROLL — which ricochets between English groves of academe and Czechoslovakia, between the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution, and between Syd Barrett and the Plastic People of the Universe — goes up November 7–December 7. (It’s a co-production with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre.) At the Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion, Chay Yew directs BOLEROS FOR THE DISENCHANTED (October 10–November 15), by Oscar-nominated playwright and screenwriter José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries). It’s a magical-realist look at a love that blooms in Puerto Rico, then flowers in the USA. But before that, the “Huntington Presents” series follows ADAM PASCAL LIVE, an evening with the Rent star and his band (September 18-20), with Carrie Fisher’s WISHFUL DRINKING (October 10-26), in which Princess Leia lets those weird earmuffs of hair down to talk candidly about Fisher’s “incredible life as a single mother battling addiction, depression, mental institutions, and that awful hyperspace hairdo.”

South of the Rhode Island border, Trinity Repertory Company’s Brian McEleney directs the world premiere of artistic director Curt Columbus’s THE DREAMS OF ANTIGONE (September 19–October 26). Not to be outdone by Jean Anouilh, who penned a French Resistance take on Sophocles’s tragedy, Columbus has mined the ancient play to “reframe questions about personal and social responsibility in our times.” And North Shore Music Theatre revives one of the landmarks of the American musical stage, the 1927 SHOW BOAT (September 23–October 12), with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; it’s based on the novel by Edna Ferber about racial and other tensions aboard a Mississippi River entertainment vessel in the 1890s.

Women who won’t be quelled, cities in Italy, and an Ireland awash in booze, blood, and beautiful talk are among what’s being batted around by the middleweights. Annette Miller plays that one-woman weapon deployed against the Nixon administration, the attorney general’s wife, in Jodi Rothe’s MARTHA MITCHELL CALLING, which is presented by Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater (October 16–November 8). And 16-year-old Elliot Norton Award winner and Andrew Lloyd Webber protégée Andrea Ross takes on the Maid of Orleans in George Bernard Shaw’s ST. JOAN for Wheelock Family Theatre (October 31–November 30).

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  •   FALL ON THE BOARDS  |  September 11, 2008
    From A Chorus Line to Tennessee Williams and the Grinch
  •   NEW BLOOD  |  September 10, 2008
    ART and the Huntington (and Boston theater) get a youth transfusion
  •   OLD WIVES’ TALES  |  September 09, 2008
    Follies at the Lyric; We Won’t Pay! by the Nora
  •   RETURN OF THE SCREW  |  September 02, 2008
    The Woman in Black haunts Gloucester Stage
  •   HOME INVASION  |  August 26, 2008
    Mishegas meets metaphor in Fabuloso

 See all articles by: CAROLYN CLAY

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