Fall came early to Boston boards this year, bringing with it "Summertime." The season opened with American Repertory Theater's star-studded retooling of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (at the Loeb Drama Center through October 2), its libretto revised by Pulitzer-winning dramatist Suzan-Lori Parks. Across the river, the Huntington Theatre Company offers a co-production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide (at the BU Theatre through October 16), newly adapted from Voltaire by Obie-winning director Mary Zimmerman. Also up already: a Lyric Stage Company revival of Big River (through September 17); New Repertory Theatre's rocking of Pulitzer winner Rent (at Arsenal Center for the Arts through September 25); and ex-ART honcho Robert Brustein's Mortal Terror, which imagines what Shakespeare was up to while writing Macbeth (presented by Boston Playwrights' Theatre and Suffolk University at the Modern Theatre through October 2). And that's just the beginning of what's happening between now and — you should pardon the expression — Turkey Day.
THE DIVINE SISTER The sister acts up in the Boston permiere of this off-Broadway hit.
PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL | September 22–25 | The sixth annual veneration of the playwright also celebrates his centennial. Among the highlights are a Creative Concepts production, in association with New York's LaMaMa, of Now the Cats with Jewelled Claws, starring John Waters muse Mink Stole and Theatre of the Ridiculous vet Everett Quinton; Glass Guignol: A Master Class with Lee Breuer, built around the avant-garde eminence's landmark Paris staging of Streetcar, and a guided tour of Williams's P-town haunts led by Jeremy Lawrence, who has written and starred in three one-man shows about Williams. | Provincetown, various venues | $25–$50; $125–$600 festival pass | 866.789.TENN or twptown.org
SOUTH PACIFIC | September 27–October 2 | At last, Boston gets a gander at director Bartlett Sher's multiple-Tony-winning 2008 Lincoln Center revival of the melodious 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that suggests we wash that racism right out of our hair. | Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston | from $33 | 800.982.2787 or broadwayinboston.com
THE INFERNAL COMEDY John Malkovich shares the stage with a string orchestra and a couple of sopranos in his portrait of Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger.
THE INFERNAL COMEDY: CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER | September 29–30 | In the US premiere of this "cross between chilling crime drama and Baroque opera," screen star John Malkovich gets inside the homicidal head of Austrian celebrity criminal Jack Unterweger, who was sent to prison for murder and then ostensibly rehabilitated and released before going on to murder 11 more women. Malkovich's seductive Unterweger shares the stage with a live orchestra and snuggles creepily up to a pair of sopranos spewing arias of desire and despair. | Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St, Boston | $25–$195 | 617.824.8400 or artsemerson.org
TINY KUSHNER | September 30–October 22 | David J. Miller is at the helm of this East Coast premiere of short works by Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner. Among the dramatis personae: Nixon's psychiatrist, the angel Metatron, a deposed queen of Albania, and Laura Bush explaining the Grand Inquisitor chapter of The Brothers Karamazov to the ghosts of Iraqi children. | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza, 539 Tremont St, Boston | $20–$25 | 617.933.8600 or bostontheatrescene.com
Freeport Factory makes solid Art, Autumn garden, Good Fela! beats Nigerian drum, More
- Freeport Factory makes solid Art
Anyone who doubts the dangerousness of art anymore need look no further than the canvas in Yasmina Reza's Art to refresh their faith.
- Autumn garden
It's freshman and sophomore year on the Boston rialto, with American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus introducing her first season and Huntington Theatre Company honcho Peter DuBois endeavoring to survive his second.
- Good Fela! beats Nigerian drum
Riddle this: what's more unlikely than the fact that the current toast of Broadway is a musical about a Nigerian agitprop pop singer, or that it owes its existence to a Caucasian commodities trader from New England?
- Alternative universe
In the 1930s and '40s, Boston painters developed a moody, mythic realism. They mixed social satire with depictions of street scenes, Biblical scenes, and mystical symbolic narratives, all of it darkened by the shadow of the Great Depression and World War II.
- Finding her voice
"There is a balm in Gilead," an old African-American spiritual has it, and sure enough, Percy Talbott (Kelly Caufield) finds that balm.
- Now playing — RISD: The Musical!
We all know RISD students like to paint and draw, but can they hoof it? Or belt out a show tune and carry a giant pencil at the same time? Well, yes, it turns out.
- Moral surgery
You know upon meeting Becky Shaw that you're in the presence of a smart, snappy writer. But you picture playwright Gina Gionfriddo as someone more akin to Theresa Rebeck than William Makepeace Thackeray.
As Billie Holiday fell apart, so did her fragile if expressive voice.
- Portraits of artists
Yikes! Is this really what it’s like behind the scenes with, say, the Emerson String Quartet?
- Power plays
Some weeks back, I got to listen to Brown University archæology professor Stephen Houston pronounce the throaty, staccato sounds of Maya hieroglyphs carved across a six-foot-wide limestone panel.
- After images
Karen Finley won’t be naked, or covered in chocolate. Candied yams will not be involved. If there are neighborhood morality-watch squads in Salem, they’ll have the night off.
, Rent, WOMEN OF WILL, Porgy and Bess, More
, Rent, WOMEN OF WILL, Porgy and Bess, modern theatre, Candide, Mary Zimmerman, Big River, Mortal Terror, fall11, South Pacific, Less