Highlights on stage this month include the world premiere of a drama about evolution by a respected local playwright and an intriguing collection of plays and musicals that bring an unusual perspective to topics ranging from love and music to extinction and dehumanization. And the wait is over: a show featuring singing dinosaurs has arrived.
By Bill Marx
1: Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company (HTC) at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA, March 5 through April 4. Another comic update in the perennial battle between the sexes, this one a Pulitzer Prize finalist whose plot revolves around a blind date gone awry. HTC Artistic Director Peter DuBois directs the off-Broadway hit.
2: The Dinosaur Musical Music by Robert Reale. Book and Lyrics by Willie Reale. Directed by Caitlin Lowans. At the Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham, MA, March 5–21. The New England premiere of a tunefest from some of the creators of the musical Johnny Baseball, which is receiving its world premiere via the American Repertory Theatre this May. This show deals with the education of a 14-year-old Tyrannosaurus, who finds out that the only way to ward off extinction is to team up with a Parasaurolophus. Why can’t a Brontosaurus sing a torch song? Note: The Dinosaur Musical is appropriate for all ages, though it is pitched toward children in the 3rd through 6th grade. (Comparable content to “Finding Nemo” or “The Lion King.”)
3: Othello by William Shakespeare. Presented by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton Street, Boston, MA, March 10 through April 4. Another battle of the sexes, though this tale of the “green-eyed monster” is not played for laughs. Veteran Boston director Judy Braha directs a cast of sturdy local performers, including Bobbie Steinbach, Paula Langton, and Ken Cheesesman.
4: Entertaining Mr. Sloane by Joe Orton. Staged by the Publick Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, March 11 through April 3. It will be interesting to see if this once oft-produced play about sexual manipulation still contains any risque zip. Certainly the seamy plotting and counter-plotting is in talented hands, from director Eric Engel to an impressive cast that includes Sandra Shipley and Nigel Gore.
5: The Adding Machine: A Musical Original music by Joshua Schmidt. Libretto by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, March 12 through April 10. Based on the play The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice. Directed by Paul Melone. The New England premiere of a musical version of Elmer Rice’s expressionistic 1923 allegory about how the business of American business is homogenization. The play isn’t revived often—this song-filled version won a 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Brendan McNab stars as Mr. Zero.
6: Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by Holland Productions at the Factory Theater, Boston, MA, March 12–21. Ruhl is a very fashionable playwright at the moment—here is another of her whimsical scripts, this one about “a melancholy young stranger who makes her sorrow so sexy that everyone in her life falls maddeningly in love with her.”
7: Apple by Vern Thiessen. Directed by Greg Maraio. Presented by Phoenix Theatre Artists and Company One at Boston Playwrights’ Theater, Boston, MA, March 12 through April 3. The New England premiere of a script by an award-winning Canadian playwright: according to The Globe and Mail stage critic, this play is “a fascinating tale of alienation, fear and the need for love.”
8: Opus by Michael Hollinger. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by the New Repertory Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Mosesian Theater, Watertown, MA, March 28 through April 17. The New England premiere of a drama that revolves around “a celebrated and world-renowned string quartet that is struggling to prepare for their highest-profile performance when their gifted but volatile violist mysteriously disappears.” The cast features stalwart local performers Benjamin Evett and Bates Wilder.
9: From Orchids to Octopi by Melinda Lopez. Directed by Diego Arciniegas. Presented by the Underground Railway Theater and the Catalyst Collaborative@MIT at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, March 31 through May 2. Charles Darwin has his say in this world premiere production of Melinda Lopez’s playful meditation—commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to celebrate the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species—on how we understand evolution.