Theater in Boston is beginning to blossom

Angie Jepson, left gets upset by a comment Andy Macdonald makes in ‘reasons 
to be pretty’ by the SpeakEasy Stage Company.

MARCH

‘reasons to be pretty’
Friday through April 2
Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$55, 617-933-8600
www.speakeasystage.com
This Neil LaBute play explores the idea of beauty. People pay for plastic surgery, people starve them-selves, but what’s it all worth, really, when everybody is going to get old and die anyway? Even then, we put makeup on corpses!

‘My Wonderful Day’
Friday through March 26
BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$20, 617-933-8600
www.zeitgeiststage.com
The action begins with a little girl writing an essay that shares the title of this play, while her pregnant housekeeper mom is cleaning up the house of a star. All of a sudden, the mom’s water breaks, and the girl has to stay behind at the star’s house. Is her day still ‘Wonderful’? See for yourself!

‘Educating Rita’
March 11 through April 10
B.U. Theatre,
264 Huntington Ave., Boston
$25-$89, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org
This play seems like a combination of “Legally?Blonde,” and “Lolita,” which is to say a sassy hairdresser enrolls in college and turns a drunken professor’s life upside down.

‘The Sun Also Rises’
March 15-20
Paramount Theatre, Mainstage
560 Washington St., Boston
$25-$69, 617-824-8000
www.artsemerson.org
New York’s Elevator Repair Service ensemble, two dramatizations of 20th century American required reading already under their belt, now tackle Papa Hemingway himself. Nothing really happens in the book, just a lot of a bruised feelings, drinking and a bullfight, but the characters are real and compelling — what more could you actually want from drama anyway?

‘9 Circles’
March 17 through April 9
BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$33-$39, 617-933-8600
www.publicktheatre.com
This play tells the story of an American solider in Iraq who’s arrested for a crime. To make sure he isn’t booted, he must work through a maze of bureaucrats, doctors, top brass and other people who give the orders but don’t do the fighting, only to discover himself at the end of it all.

‘Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera’
March 18-25
Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont St., Boston
$85-$110, 617-824-8000
www.americanrepertorytheater.org
The robots have finally taken over. This sci-fi play, created in partnership with some folks at MIT, features a robot chorus. Imagine if your high school had hired robots to be in the spring musical chorus! Only the good kids would have gotten to be in the play then! OK, it may not spell the end of theater.

‘Hair’
March 22 through April 10
Colonial Theatre
106 Boylston St., Boston
$80.80-$102, 800-982-2787
www.broadwayacrossamerica.com
This musical has gone from seeming embarrassingly dated to being a legit piece of history. That first psychedelic generation rebelled in an epic fashion and we’re left with some cool tunes.

‘Car Talk: the Musical’
March 31 through April 3
Modern Theatre
Suffolk University
525 Washington St., Boston
$25, 617-557-6537
www.moderntheatre.com
The weirdest show on NPR, after making an even weirder jump to a PBS cartoon, has now become a musical. What is the secret of Click and Clack’s success? Is it that they seem like your goofy uncles? Or is it that it’s the only show on NPR whose presenters don’t talk in bland, detached tones?

APRIL

‘Breaking the Code’
April 7 through May 8
Central Square Theatre     
450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$40, 866-811-4111
www.centralsquaretheater.org
This play is about British mathematician Alan Turing, cracker of the Nazis’ Engima code and closeted homosexual. It tells of his other accomplishments as a marathon runner and one of the progenitors of the modern computer, and speculates on the tension between his public achievements and private life.

The Who’s ‘Tommy’
April 8-10
Boston Conservatory Theater
31 Hemenway St., Boston
$25, 617-912-9222
www.bostonconservatory.edu
“Tommy” wasn’t the first rock opera, but it was one of the first high-profile rock operas, paving the way for Green Day’s Broadway debut. “Tommy” is about a pinball wizard crowned messiah, probably a veiled commentary by Pete Townshend on the false gurus/ prophets of the ’60s, presaging the disillusionment that would grip the ’70s.

‘Man of LaMancha’
April 14-16
Paramount Theatre
560 Washington St., Boston
$20, 617-824-8000
www.emerson.edu
In our time, the windmill-fighting Don Quixote would probably be diagnosed with “delusional disorder” and kept in the state hospital, which would amount to a much less interesting story.

‘The Book of Grace’
April 15 through May 7
BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$38, 617-933-8600
www.companyone.org
This is the New England premiere of this work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Vogue magazine hailed it for its “fresh insights, startling images, fiery speeches and moments of genuine passion.” That’s a lot more than Vogue has said about your play, isn’t it?

‘Eurydice’
April 22 through 30
BCA Plaza Black Box Theatre
527 Tremont St., Boston
$18-$28, 617-286-2437
sites.google.com/site/independentdrama/
The great Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, a tale of the necessity of absolute faith in love, but with the setting changed: this time, instead of taking place in the depths of the human subconscious, it takes place in, according to the synopsis, “a haunting and magical circus” — so kinda the same place!

‘Grease’
April 27 through May 1
Citi Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St., Boston
$28-$98, 866-348-9738
www.citicenter.org
“Grease” was written in 1971 about a sock-hop 1950s America that felt like another age completely, obliterated on all sides by the cultural revolutions of the ’60s. But the play’s fairly realistic depiction of teen sex suggests not so much nostalgia as much as the observation that nothing really changes.

MAY

‘Animal Crackers’
May 6 through June 4
The Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$29-$56, 617-585-5678
www.lyricstage.com
This musical is based on the Marx Brothers’ film of the same name. At a wealthy house party, a painting is stolen. Marxian hilarity ensues. We always thought Chico was the lamest of the original three Brothers. Groucho was a grinning cynic, Harpo a wise fool, but Chico was a guy doing a weak Italian accent. Someone wasn’t pulling his weight.

‘The Drowsy Chaperone’
May 6 through June 4
Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St., Boston
$30-$57, 617-933-8600
www.speakeasystage.com
Though it debuted in 1998, this musical harkens back to the musicals of the Jazz Age, in which its framed narrative is set. It’s the story of a rather chaotic wedding day, full of the goofball comedy scenarios, like mistaken identities, that people never seem to get sick of. Spoiler alert: “Drowsy” means “drunk.”

‘Spring Awakening’
May 10, 7 p.m.
The Hanover Theatre
2 Southbridge St., Worcester
$34-$64, 877-571-7469
www.thehanovertheatre.org
Written by former one-hit-wonder Duncan Sheik, this thoroughly modern musical about sexual repression shook Broadway up with its originality and directness. Based on an 1891 German play banned for its unashamed depictions of sexuality, it tells the coming-of-age story of some adolescents who are so freaked out they keep bursting out in song.

‘Farfalle’
May 10-15
Black Box Theatre
Paramount Center
560 Washington St., Boston
$25-$35, 617-482-6661
www.celebrityseries.org
Compagnia TPO presents this family-friendly piece of interactive theater. Based on the theme of butterflies and their life cycles, it features, according to the synopsis, a “Children Cheering Carpet,” which is a special sensor-covered mat which interacts with dancers and the audience in real, enchanted time. How they created a device to enchant time is beyond us.

‘Bellona, Destroyer of Cities’
May 13-15
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave., Boston
$25, 617-478-3103
www.icaboston.org
This sci-fi play is about a great metropolis in ruins from an unknown catastrophe. The ICA doesn’t say what the catastrophe was, but it promises that the play will deal with race, gender, and sexuality. From that, we’re led to guess that it was a conspiracy of racist, chauvinistic homophobes or the dark lord Cthulhu, whose power renders race, gender, and sexuality moot.


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