Spring Arts Preview 2014: Theater

Mark Evans plays Elder Price in the national tour of "The Book of Mormon." (Credit Joan Marcus)
Mark Evans plays Elder Price in the national tour of “The Book of Mormon.” (Credit Joan Marcus)

Writer Matthew Dinaro gives readers a rundown of the best theater Boston’s got to offer this spring season.

MARCH

‘Flashdance: The Musical’
Through March 23
Citi Emerson Colonial Theater
106 Boylston St., Boston
$34-$124, 866-348-9738
www.citicenter.org

Here’s the hit British musical adaptation of the 1983 film that like, totally made leg warmers a thing. Featuring the famous songs from the film, like “Maniac,” it stays mostly true to its source material and its promise that pluck and persistence can turn a hopeful amateur into a star remains just as charming as it was more than 30 years ago.

‘Hello Again’
Through March 29
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$36-$45, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheatrescene.com

This musical by Michael John LaChiusa follows 10 archetypical characters with names like The Whore, The Soldier, The Writer, etc., each representing a different decade of the 20th century, as they search for love, with varying results, and time inevitably marches on. The play is presented cabaret-style, affording an uncommon intimacy between audience and actor—perhaps even mirroring the character’s aspirations.

‘Tongue of a Bird’
Through March 30
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St., Watertown
$20-$36, 617-923-8487
www.newrep.org

This play centers on Maxine, a search and rescue pilot whose latest mission takes her back to her childhood home in the Adirondack region of New York State and forces her to confront her own traumatic past. We get the sense that she is not only looking for a missing stranger but her own child self, who may prove even harder to find.

‘The Whale’
Through April 5
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$60, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheatrescene.com

Charlie has become the “Whale” of this play’s title because, in the wake of a traumatic past, all he can manage is to sit on the couch vegetating and getting fatter. But now, with his health declining, he’s about to make one last attempt to reach out to his teenage daughter—as you might guess, their relationship is not great.

‘The Seagull’
Through April 6
Boston University Theater
264 Huntington Ave., Boston
$15-$75, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org

This celebrated play by Russian author Anton Chekhov involves a set of relationships too complex to sum up here, but the main one is a “Hamlet”-esque triangle between has-been actress Irina and her lover, the broadly popular novelist Boris, along with her son Konstantine, an avant-garde playwright. The tensions between them are as artistic as they are personal.

‘Brundibar and But the Giraffe’
Through April 6
Center Square Theater
450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$20-$61, 866-811-4111
www.centralsquaretheater.org

Playwright Tony Kushner adapted “Brundibar” from an opera of the same name written for kids to perform at the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, adding to it his own work, “But the Giraffe,” to recreate this show. Despite the dark context of the genesis of “Brundibar,” its message is hopeful, and the show is appropriate for the whole family.

APRIL

‘Rich Girl’
March 28 through April 26
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$29-$61, 617-585-5678
www.lyricstage.com

In this comedy by Victoria Stewart, Claudine falls in love with Henry, a classic “starving artist,” but her hard-nosed mother Eve, a popular financial guru who may or may not be inspired by Suze Orman, is convinced he’s only into her daughter for her money—that is, Eve’s money. Is she right, or just paranoid in the wake of her relapsing breast cancer?

‘Becoming Cuba’
March 28 through April 26
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$60, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org

The Huntington Theater’s playwright-in-residence, Melinda Lopez, provides this brand new play taking place in 1898 Cuba, not long before the Spanish-American War. Pharmacist Adele has no interest in taking sides in the political upheaval sweeping her society, but eventually the circumstances force her to ultimately choose between family and country. The question is, how much sacrifice is political freedom really worth?

‘Not By Bread Alone’
April 1 through April 6
Paramount Center
559 Washington St., Boston
$25-$89, 617-824-8400
www.artsemerson.org

This piece of theater from Israel’s Nalaga’at Theater Ensemble features a cast of entirely blind and deaf actors who tell stories through sign, motion and words as they wait for a loaf of bread to bake in the oven—an actual loaf of bread you can smell baking. What does it all mean? This one will undoubtedly be a unique experience.

‘The Book of Mormon’
April 1 through April 27
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
$50-$225, 800-745-3000
www.ticketmaster.com

This Broadway monster hit is back again. For those of you who live under a rock, it’s about two enthusiastic but naive Mormon missionaries in Uganda who find their simplistic faith challenged by the dire social problems they witness. Put that way it may sound grim, but this is by the “South Park” guys, so it’s full of humor both smart and juvenile.

‘The Shape She Makes’
April 5 through April 27
Oberon
2 Arrow St., Cambridge
$25-$35, 617-547-8300
www.americanrepertorytheater.org

As much a work of dance as theater, this world premiere work by choreographer Susan Mishner and playwright Jonathan Bernstein focuses on an 11-year-old girl struggling to understand the legacies of her neglectful parents in her own life. That’s pretty heavy stuff for a pre-teen, but hey, at least she’s not prematurely twerking or something.

‘Of Mice and Men’
April 25 through May 4
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheatrescene.com

Boston Children’s Theater presents a dramatic adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Depression-era tale. Amidst the radical uncertainty of the economy in the ‘30s, two migrant workers, one of whom is mentally handicapped, find solace in their friendship, but it ends in a violent and troubling act of love. It’s serious stuff for such young actors, but that also makes it an exciting opportunity.

MAY

‘Sontag: Reborn’
May 6 through May 18
Paramount Center
559 Washington St., Boston
$25-$89, 617-824-8400
www.artsemerson.org

Actress Moe Angelos is the writer and performer of this biographical play on famed public intellectual Susan Sontag, adapted directly from Sontag’s own journals, which, by her own admission, were crucially connected to her published writings. Covering a wide swath of her life from her teenage to peak years, it captures the mix of insecurity and ambition that drove her work.

‘Into the Woods’
May 9 through June 7
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$65, 617-585-5676
www.lyricstage.com

Stephen Sondheim’s 1986 musical “Into the Woods” was both a deconstruction of and a loving tribute to the fairy tale as a story form. All the stock characters are here, but they’re not quite how you remember, and we begin to wonder if biggest lie in any of those stories wasn’t the myth and magic, but the bit about the “happily ever after.”

‘Carrie: The Musical’
May 9 through June 7
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$55, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheatrescene.com

Kudos to SpeakEasy Stage Company for doing “Carrie” in the spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, love is in the air—it’s the perfect time for blood, hysteria and supernatural terror! Based on the Stephen King book, “Carrie” tells the tale of a teenage social pariah who discovers she has serious psychic powers, after which things basically get pretty bonkers.

‘The Tempest’
May 10 through June 15
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St., Cambridge
Prices TBA, 617-547-8300
www.americanrepertorytheater.org

Teller, the taciturn member of comedy magic duo Penn and Teller, designed the magical effects for this production of Shakespeare’s last finished play. The island setting is changed to a spooky Dust Bowl circus, and songs by Tom Waits are also featured. We’re pretty sure you’ve never seen this already eccentric, mysterious play presented quite like this—it’ll be an aesthetic treat.

‘Smart People’
May 23 through June 21
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$60, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org

This play by Lydia R. Diamond follows the lives of four people at Harvard as they wrestle with the big problems of life, including love, success and self-actualization. How much does being a “smart person” really matter? Diamond toys with the idea that all the supposedly self-determining choices we appear to make might already be hard-wired in us, already beyond our control.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.

Local

Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."

Movies

Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.

Movies

'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.

Music

Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…