Boston's reigning divas are out in force this month. Paula Plum and Jacqui Parker star in Christopher Durang's comedy about reincarnation, Miss Witherspoon at the Lyric (through April 21), Nancy E. Carroll appears in Sam Shepard's Buried Child, presented by the Nora Theatre Company at the Boston Playwrights Theatre (April 19-May 6), and Leigh Barrett heads the cast of the musical The Wild Party, Andrew Lippa's 2000 take on John Moncure March's poem about a 1920s Manhattan bacchanal, at Watertown's New Rep (April 25 -May 20).
Boston's Shakespeare Now! Theatre Company mounts its fifth annual Sonnet-thon at the Boston Public Library (April 4). Actor/director Jonathan Epstein, known for his sonority, again leads a volunteer pack of pros and civilians in this four-hour, 154-poem extravaganza.
"Numbers queen" Stephanie St. Claire ruled Renaissance Harlem in the 1930s, hobnobbing with the black elite while fending off the incursions of racketeer Dutch Shultz. Boston playwright Katherine Butler Jones tells her story in 409 Edgecombe Avenue: The House on Sugar Hill at the Boston Center for the Arts (April 5-21).
Also at the BCA this month: Zeitgeist Stage Company's rendition of Paul Rudnick's Valhalla (April 13-May 5), which pits a 1940s gay Texan bad boy against mad King Ludwig of Bavaria; Theatre Offensive's Surviving the Nian (April 14 - May 5), a world-premiere musical co-created by singer-songwriter Melissa Li and company founder Abe Rybeck, about a Hong Kong-born lesbian returning to the bosom of her family with spousal equivalent in tow, and Steven Fales' solo show, Confessions of a Mormon Boy (April 25-May 19), about the writer/performer's trajectory from Utah paragon to New York City callboy.
Just to insure a steady stream of intriguing material, the Huntington Theatre hosts its fourth annual Breaking Ground Festival at the BCA April 19-22, featuring a half-dozen works-in-progress. This year's lineup includes Alexandros, an intimate look at Cuban/Miamian culture by Melinda Lopez; Sinan Unel's The Sweet Call of Grief, set in 2004 Iraq; and Kate Snodgrass' Parallelogram, about two scientists who find themselves personally embroiled in the uncertainties of quantum mechanics.
Elsewhere on the science front: Catalyst Collaborative at MIT (a joint venture of the university and the Underground Railroad Theatre) presents an adaptation of professor Alan Lightman's 1993 novel Einstein's Dreams (April 19-29), directed by Wes Savick and starring Debra Wise, Steven Barkhimer, and Robert Najarian.
As co-creators of Dreamgirls and Sideshow, Bill Russell and Henry Krieger usually frequent larger houses, but they're premiering their latest, Lucky Duck, at the Boston Conservatory Theatre (April 20-22): it's an adult-oriented musical comedy about an ugly duckling who aspires to superstardom.
Downtown fringe productions include Devanaughn Theatre tackling Melissa James Gibson's [SIC] (April 20-May 6), about a web of ambitious young urbanites, and the Gold Dust Orphan's avidly awaited The Milkman Always Comes Twice, playwright Ryan Landry's sure-to-be-hilarious sendup of film noir (April 26 - May 26).
Out on the periphery, we have I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda by Sonja Linden at Stoneham Theatre (April 5-22); Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution at Worcester's Foothills Theatre (April 12-May 6); Lowell's Image Theatre presenting Distant Music, a new play by James McLindon set and performed in an Irish tavern (April 13-21); and North Shore Musical Theatre's season-kickoff production, Crazy for You (April 24 - May 13), a 1992 Tony Award-winner that mixes Gershwin tunes and the shenanigans of a citified Lothario (played by Broadway's Jeffry Denman) kicking up his heels in a Nevada mining camp.
If you've been pining to see Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House but couldn't make it down to Lincoln Center, it has relocated a little closer: at Trinity Rep in Providence (April 27-June 3), where repertory regulars will portray a household seemingly hellbent on messing up.
Finally, Wheelock Family Theater's Winnie-the-Pooh (April 13-May 13), about an "expotition" to the 100 Acre Wood, is definitely geared to kids, but WFT's highly professional productions invariably reel in their chaperones as well.
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