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Fall Arts Guide: The play's the thing

Get out your comedy/tragedy mask and see our picks for the best plays of the fall.

Credit: Michael Meseke See the acrobatics of "Traces."
Credit: Michael Meseke

Get out your comedy/tragedy mask and see our picks for the best plays of the fall. Well, maybe don't wear the mask while you're watching the play.

'Bent'
Friday through Oct. 11
Plaza Theater
527 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$35, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheaterscene.com

The full death toll in the Nazi concentration camps was 11 million—6 million Jews and 5 million other “undesired” people, including the mentally ill, Romani and homosexuals. This play tells the story of one gay man, Max, who’s sent to Dachau, where he finds himself ostracized even by his fellow prisoners. One, at least, seems willing to accept him, though.

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'Reconsidering Hanna(h)'
Sept. 25 through Oct. 19
Boston Playwrights’ Theater
949 Comm. Ave., Boston
$10-$30, 866-811-4111
www.bu.edu/bpt

The reason for the parenthetical “h” in the title of this play is that it’s about two women: Hanna, a fictional contemporary journalist, and Hannah Duston, a real-life woman who was kidnapped by Native Americans in Massachusetts in the 1690’s, and whose life the first Hanna is researching, discovering in it surprising symbolic parallels to her own existence.

'Traces'
Oct. 1 through 12
Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$69, 617-824-8400
www.artsemerson.org

Quebecois circus wizards les 7 doigts de la main return with their latest show, a unique mix of storytelling, music and, of course, mind-blowing circus stunts. For “Traces”, the group draws on their own lives to create a show about the footprints we make in our lives — once we’ve stuck the landing, what remains, if anything, of the jump?

'Dear Elizabeth'
Oct. 17 through Nov. 9
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$63, 617-585-5676
www.lyricstage.com

Using both real and imagined correspondence, this play reveals the friendship between two of the 20th century’s most celebrated poets, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. They both inspired and, when necessary, checked one another—Bishop, for instance, famously chided Lowell for getting too personal in a 1970’s poem cycle about his ex-wife, which led him to significantly tone down the final draft.

'Ether Dome'
Oct. 17 through Nov. 21
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$61, 617-266-0800
www.huntingtontheatre.org

One of the greatest medical revolutions in history happened right here in Boston in 1846: the discovery of the anesthetic properties of ether, before which surgery was unimaginably painful. A few men claimed to have been the true discoverer, but who was right remains unclear. This play shows the personal and economic complications caused by the revelation of this real-life magic potion.

'Aida'
Oct. 17 through 26
Strand Theater
543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester
$25-$45, 617-229-6494
www.fiddleheadtheatre.com

Fiddlehead Theater Company presents this smash-hit Disney-helmed Broadway musical from 2000, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice—the same team who’d done the songs for “The Lion King”. “Aida” made up for the mysterious lack of humans in that film’s African setting, detailing a tragic romance in antiquity between a Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier.

'Bad Jews'
Oct. 24 through Nov. 29
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25-$61, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheaterscene.com

This comedy centers on a conflict between two Jewish cousins: Daphna, who’s all about her Jewish identity, and Liam, who’d just as soon forget it. They’re fighting over a golden rendering of the Hebrew word “chai,” meaning “living”, which belonged to their deceased, holocaust survivor grandfather—but what’s really at stake is the meaning of their heritage itself.

'The Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy'
Oct. 24 through Nov. 22
Plaza Theater
527 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$25, 617-933-8600
www.bostontheaterscene.com

This series of three plays imagines the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as characters in contemporary life. See Vishnu’s avatar Kalki as a high school student in “The Chronicles of Kalki”, Brahma as a stand-up comedian in “Brahmin/i: A One-Hindra Stand Up Comedy Show, and Shiva re-imagined as “Shiv”, navigating a post-colonial landscape.

'Mamma Mia!'
Oct. 28 through Nov. 2
Colonial Theater
106 Boylston St., Boston
$29-$144, 866-523-7469
boston.broadway.com

If Catherine Johnston hadn’t managed to create a musical using ABBA’s songs that had the same frothy, campy, not-so-guilty pleasure quality of the tunes themselves, it’s hard to imagine “Mamma Mia!” would’ve been such a massive success. But she did, and it started a “jukebox musical” trend on Broadway that still hasn’t run out of steam.

'The Lion King'
Through Oct. 12
Autism-friendly performance Oct. 11
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St.
$43-$143, 617-259-3400
www.boston.broadway.com
Sure, you probably saw "The Lion King" as a kid. But if you haven't made it out to the Broadway musical yet, you're missing out. Julie Taymor's adaptation of the cartoon involves moving masks, giant puppets and performers on stilts and swinging through the air. Besides, you know you want to test out whether or not you've still got all the songs memorized, right?

 
 
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