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It's cold out there ... it's warm in the theater

Winter's the perfect time for some theater.

November

'Anne of Green Gables'

Through Sunday

Wheelock Family Theatre

200 The Riverway, Boston

$20-$30, 617-879-2300

www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org

Fans of the classic children's book will be curious to see how the story translates to a musical format.

'Transformations'

Through Saturday

Boston Conservatory Theatre

31 Hemenway St., Boston

$24-$30, 617-912-9222

www.bostonconservatory.edu

This opera by Conrad Susa is based on a series of Anne Sexton poems that incorporate the fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers into Sexton's famously unvarnished meditations on sex and death, highlighting the preoccupation with those twin subjects that had always consumed the Grimm tales -- and, for that matter, much of literature.

'Cabaret'

Through Saturday

Loeb Experimental Theater

64 Brattle St., Cambridge, Free CabaretTickets2012@gmail.com

www.hrdctheater.com

The Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club presents this musical, set in Weimar, Germany, a decadent era when hopelessness had a certain charm. While Americans were all praying to Shirley Temple's dimples to escape their woes, these folks were performing slinky burlesques to laugh in their woes' faces. Is life really just a cabaret? We hope not, but at least it would be entertaining.

'These Seven Sicknesses'

Friday through Sunday

Modern Theatre

525 Washington St., Boston

$15-$20, 800-440-7654

www.moderntheatre.com

This is a four-hour marathon production of Sean Graney's new adaptations of seven Sophocles plays -- "Oedipus," "In Trachis," "Philoktetes," "In Colonus," "Ajax," "Elektra" and "Antigone." Taken together, these primal and cathartic works practically form the bedrock of Western theater. There will be a vegetarian dinner during intermission, which is merciful considering all the blood that gets spilled in these tales.



'Betrayal'


Through Dec. 9

Boston University Theatre

262 Huntington Ave., Boston

$15-$95, 617-266-0800

www.huntingtontheatre.org

The Huntington savors savage love stories by influential English playwrights. Last season's Noel Coward high comedy "Private Lives," about badly behaving lovers, is followed up this fall with Harold Pinter's "Betrayal." In the latter, characters Emma and Jerry engage in a seven-year affair that involves every kind of deceit. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have just been cast in the movie version. (KIDDING!)



'Arabian Nights'


Nov. 23 through Dec. 30

Central Square Theater

450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

$15-$45, 617-576-9278

www.centralsquaretheater.org

"Arabian Nights" has become a seasonal tradition at the Central Square Theater. In the storytelling event derived from ancient Persian folk tales "One Thousand and One Nights," Queen Shahrayar tells tales of bravado, humor and romance to win the love of her distrustful husband.

December



'Chinglish'


Nov. 30 through Dec. 23

Lyric Stage Company

140 Clarendon St., Boston

$27-$62, 617-585-5678

www.lyricstage.com

In David Henry Hwang's comedy of global economics and cultural confusion, the American owner of a sign-making firm arrives in a Chinese province with the aim of cashing in on the area's growth potential. He soon learns, much to his chagrin, that while everyone smiles in the same language, more complicated ideas aren't quite so easy to convey.

‘Memphis’

Dec. 11 through 23

Colonial Theatre

106 Boylston St., Boston

$34-$129, 866-523-7469

boston.broadway.com

This Broadway hit, winner of the 2010 Tony for Best Musical, is inspired by the story of a white DJ who helps break the color barrier on Memphis rock ‘n’ roll radio in the 1950s. It centers on the main character’s relationship with a black singer, Felicia, and the drama it causes as she becomes a bigger star.



‘La Belle et la Bête’


Dec. 5 through 9

Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont St., Boston

$25-$79, 617-824-8400

www.artsemerson.org

This sure ain’t Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” —the press release actually contains a disclaimer about “brief nudity!” Hopefully it’s not the Beast. In all seriousness, though, this unique, multidisciplinary production by Montreal’s Lemieux Pilon 4D Art is packed with mind-bending visual effects that blur the line between fantasy and reality — think of it as a theatrical early Christmas present.

Mummenschanz

Dec. 5 through 9

Citi Shubert Theatre

265 Tremont St., Boston

$30-$75, 617-482-6661

www.celebrityseries.org

This Swiss performance art troupe is celebrating its 40th year of bizarre, avant-garde whimsy. Utilizing a variety of eccentric puppet-costumes such as giant hands, fleshy blobs that turn into faces, a plug and electrical outlet and several more basically indescribable creatures, they create a truly mesmerizing theatrical experience, somehow both absurdly oblique and, by virtue of its gentle humor, totally accessible.

January

'Our Town'

Dec. 7 through Jan. 13

Calderwood Pavilion

Boston Center for the Arts

527 Tremont St., Boston

$15-$85, 617-266-0800

www.huntingtontheatre.org

Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" is a tribute to the painfully normal people who salt the earth, living unremarkable lives and dying unremarkable deaths, ignoring the beauty of everyday life out of some misbegotten desire for something extraordinary to happen. Depressing? Heck yeah, but if you take its warning to heart, this play might just change your life.

'The Mountaintop'

Jan. 10 through Feb. 3

Central Square Theater

450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

$15-$40, 866-811-4111

www.centralsquaretheater.org

This play by Katori Hall explores the fallible man behind the hagiographic image of Martin Luther King, Jr. Set the night before his assassination, it takes place entirely in a hotel room, the balcony of which would be the last place he'd ever stand. An unlikely conservation with his maid lays bares both the bright and dark corners of his colossal soul.



‘Pippin’


Dec. 5 through Jan. 20

Loeb Drama Center

64 Brattle St., Cambridge

$25-$50, 617-547-8300

www.americanrepertorytheater.org

Stephen Schwartz’s existentialist, fourth-wall-flauting musical ostensibly takes place in the Middle Ages, but it’s really about the self-actualizing quest of modern life — that point in early adulthood when the thrill of determining your own destiny gives way to the realization that you have absolutely no clue how to do it. Don’t despair, Pippin — at least your quarter-life crisis has a soundtrack!

‘Sister Act’

Jan. 22 through Feb. 3

Boston Opera House

539 Tremont St., Boston

$15-$110, 866-523-7469

boston.broadway.com

In this hit musical, based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg vehicle of the same name, Deloris Van Cartier, a black nightclub singer, finds herself placed by the witness protection program in a nunnery. The expected cross-cultural amusement ensues, and her musical chops land her the role of choir director, injecting the well-meaning but stiff sisters with some much-needed soul.

February

'The Irish... and How They Got that Way'

Jan. 24 through March 17

Davis Square Theater

255 Elm St., Somerville

$39-$42, 215-297-8540

www.frankmccourtstheirish.com

This play by Frank "Angela's Ashes" McCourt tells the story of the Irish people both at home and in America in an irreverently affectionate, and thus appropriately Irish, manner, through a series of tales of variable tallness and songs ranging from "Danny Boy" to George M. Cohan to U2, striking just the right balance of entertainment and history lesson.



'Oliver!'


Jan. 25 through Feb. 24

Wheelock Family Theatre

200 The Riverway, Boston

$20-$30, 617-879-2300

www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org

Lionel Bart's adaptation of Charles Dickens' rags-to-riches story premiered in London in 1960, and it's been a favorite ever since, as well as the biggest inspiration for bad Cockney accents this side of Dick Van Dyke. Jokes aside, Bart's interpretation, while less grim than the original novel, retains many of its most important observations of society's hypocrisy regarding the poor.



'Middletown'


Feb. 13 through March 10

Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre

820 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

$28-$50, 866-811-4111

www.actorsshakespeareproject.org

In a relatively rare move, The Actors' Shakespeare Company presents a non-Bard work. This play by Will Eno explores the consciousness of average, everyday America, in a town whose relative comfort and pleasantness only serve to highlight the strangely all-pervading emptiness of existence -- perhaps because those who fear death the most are the ones with the most to lose. Billy Shakespeare would surely approve!

‘Metamorphosis’

Feb. 27 through March 3

Paramount Theatre

559 Washington St., Boston

$25-$59, 617-824-8400

www.artsemerson.org

It’s one of the creepiest, most bizarre opening sentences in literature: “One morning, Gregor Samsa woke from strange dreams to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin.” This theatrical adaptation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” stays true to that deadpan weirdness, with a surreal split-level set design and a musical score by Nick Cave and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis.

 
 
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