Spring theater guide: Pirates, Mormons and a teenage Charlie Brown

 They’re here, they’re “Mormon,” get used to it. Credit: Joan Marcus
They’re here, they’re “Mormon,” get used to it.
Credit: Joan Marcus

Spring is in the air and the theaters are in full bloom with colorful characters. Metro advises on which ones you simply should not miss.

March
‘Dog Sees God’
Through March 30
The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$20, 617-549-9854
www.happymediumtheatre.com
We know them as cute, quirky, ironic-beyond-their-years grade schoolers. But in this dark parody, the “Peanuts” gang has aged into a group of troubled and hormonal teenagers — good grief! Sally’s a goth, Linus is a pothead, and Schroeder is the school outcast in the Happy Medium Theatre’s
production of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.” You don’t even want to know what happens to Snoopy. Charles M. Schulz would probably not approve.

‘By The Way, Meet Vera Stark’
March 29 through April 27
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$58, 617-585-5678
www.lyricstage.com
Playwright Lynn Nottage (the Pulitzer Prize winner behind the heartbreaking “Ruined”) explores racial stereotypes in this comedy about 1930s Hollywood. When theatergoers first meet Vera Stark, she’s an aspiring African-American actor working as a maid for an aging Hollywood star. By chance, the two women land roles in the same movie — but it’s Vera who steals the show. In the second act, set 70 years later, the now-famous performer discusses her life and legacy.

Ryan Landry’s “M”
March 29 through April 27
Virginia Wimberly Theatre
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$80, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org
Fritz Lang’s 1931 thriller “M” has been transformed into a screwball stage show under the direction of Ryan Landry. The co-founder of beloved Boston fringe theater company the Gold Dust Orphans incorporates puppets, cross-dressers and cabaret glitz into the show — perhaps not the first
images that come to mind when imagining a plot about a child murderer. Needless to say, this adaptation comes with a warning

‘A New Brain’
Through April 6
BCA Plaza Theatre
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$35, 617-933-8600
www.moonboxproductions.org
Natick native and Tony Award winner William Finn wrote
this somewhat autobiographical musical shortly after undergoing a sudden brain operation. When the story opens, a composer sits at his
piano struggling with a less-than-stellar assignment for a hokey children’s TV show. When he’s hit with a life-threatening disorder, the songwriter worries he’ll die and never compose his greatest works, but the emergency surgery that ensues changes his perspective and opens up a wave of creativity.

April 
‘Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage’
April 16 though May 5
Oberon
2 Arrow St., Cambridge
$15-$25, 617-547-8300
www.amrep.org
The A.R.T. has a knack for transforming titles from your old high school reading list into rollicking parties — just ask anyone who’s spent a Saturday night
gyrating with disco pixies at “The Donkey Show.” So it’s not hard to accept “Beowulf” reimagined as a rowdy journey infused with punk, electronica and jazz music. Actually, this epic poem written a thousand years ago was meant to be enjoyed this way: out-loud by storytellers in festival halls.

‘Trojan Women’
April 17 through 21
Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$75, 617-824-8400
www.artsemerson.org
This play is even older than “Beowulf.” Greek playwright Euripides produced the tragedy in 415 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War. The piece centers on four royal women of Troy who await enslavement and exile.

‘Book of Mormon’
April 9 through 28
Boston Opera House 539 Washington St., Boston
$26-$194, 800-982-2787
boston.broadway.com
The much-discussed, critically-acclaimed and record-breaking 2011 Broadway hit “Book of Mormon” is coming to the Hub. The creators of “South Park” wrote this hilarious musical satire about two naïve Mormon missionaries sent to convert poor, AIDS-stricken Ugandans. The show pokes fun at the absurdity of organized religion. It’s offensive in the best possible way.

MAY

Distracted
May 9 though June 2
Central Square Theater
450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$15-$40, 866-811-4111
www.centralsquaretheater.org
Are you reading this newspaper while messaging your friend while listening to music? Playwright Lisa Loomer looks at our culture, technology and family relationships through the eyes of a set of parents debating what to do about their hyperactive 9-year-old. Does he have ADD? Should they medicate him? And does their son really even have a problem, or do they? Hold on —you just got a text.

‘Pippi Longstocking’
April 12 through May 12
Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway, Boston
$20-$30, 617-879-2300
www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org
The Wheelock Family Theatre continues its tradition of bringing classic children’s literary characters to life. Pippi, based on Swedish author Astrid
Lindgren’s book series, is a free-spirited redhead in pigtails
undaunted by any challenge. Better yet: She loves to make fun of grown-ups. Another
option for the kids this spring is the Boston Children’s Theatre’s production of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

‘Pirates of Penzance’
May 10 through June 2
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St., Cambridge
$25-$35, 617-547-8300
www.amrep.org
Chicago-based theater troupe Hypocrites brought their adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance’’ to the A.R.T. last year. They’re back with the same fun comic operetta this May. Think whimsical wordplay, performers in short-shorts strumming ukuleles and some not-so-menacing pirates.
Or: hipsters at a beach bash.


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