Bello Nock in Bello is Back!
(© Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus)
Bello Nock in Bello is Back!
(© Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus)
In Boston, there's no mistaking when the circus comes to town: during its annual visit, the Big Apple Circus alights right on City Hall Plaza. This season's show, Bello Is Back! (April 3 - May 16), features the yclept clown, platinum pompadour high-flying as ever -- as will be the Russian trapeze artists and aerialist Regina Dobrovitskaya, who swoops on silk streamers.

Writer/director Jason Slavick is the mastermind behind the Performance Lab's edgy variety show Le Cabaret Grimm at the Boston Center for the Arts (April 8-24). This punk parade of fairy-tale-related specialty acts is emceed by gender-bending Johnny Blazes, with promised guests including Walter Sickert & the ARmy of BRoken Toys, Boston Typewriter Orchestra, and the fire-breathing burlesque artiste Dominique Immora.

Also occupying the BCA's cluster of theaters will be The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Speakeasy Stage, featuring Leigh Barrett, Mary Callanan, and Kerry A. Dowling (April 30 - May 20); an Irish import, Mark Doherty's tall-tale comedy Trad, starring Nancy Carroll (April 8-24); the world premiere of Lois Roach's The Emancipation of Mandy and Miz Ellie, courtesy of Company One (April 30 - May 22); the Zeitgeist Stage Company production of Beau Willimon's political drama Farragut North (April 30 - May 22); and the Boston Children's Theatre presenting The Diary of Anne Frank, in a new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman (April 10-18).

Further family fare can be found at the Wheelock Family Theatre, where Andrew Lloyd Webber protégée Andrea Ross stars in The Little Mermaid (April 16 - May 16). Sir Webber's own Cats pops in at the Colonial (April 13-18). Other touring shows include Young Frankenstein at the Opera House (April 20 - May 2) and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Citi Wang Theatre (April 15-18).

Bridget Beirne pays tribute to a country great with A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at John Hancock Hall (April 7-17). The tiny Factory Theatre incubates three fringe ventures: Bad Habit Productions assays Diana Son's lesbian drama Stop Kiss (April 8-18), Flat Earth Theatre presents Kevin Mullins's sci-fi fantasy On This Moon (April 16-24), and 11:11 Theatre Company premieres Jen DuBois's From Places Unknown (April 30 - May 8), about a foreign exchange student visit gone tragically awry.

At the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, Exquisite Corps Theatre presents Charles Mee's Parisian romance Limonade Tous les Jours (April 1-11), while the F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company in conjunction with The NextDoor Theater resurrects James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire's Glory Days (April 30 - May 8), which lasted all of a night on Broadway in '08. Perhaps this post-high school musical will prove better suited to a suburban venue.

Stoneham Theatre plays it relatively safe and traditional with My Fair Lady (April 8 - May 2) -- though director Caitlin Lowans promises a deconstructionist approach laying bare the battle of the sexes. Charlestown's Theatre on Fire further stirs up the foment with Act a Lady (April 16 - May 1), Jordan Harrison's 2006 farce about a group of 1920s Midwesterners who decide to put on a drag show and never quite recover. Chelsea's Apollinaire Theatre Company takes on Amelia Bullmore's Mammals (April 16 - May 16), about a British housewife (Becca A. Lewis) whose already chaotic home life is rendered all the crazier by a husbandly revelation. Lowell's Merrimack Repertory Theatre offers Robert Hewett's The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead (April 22 - May 16), a solo tour-de-force in which one suspicious wife -- local luminary Karen MacDonald -- has a very, very bad day and assumes seven different roles to convey its horrors.

Provincetown's Cabaret Fest (April 16-18) offers plenty of enticement to head Capeward. The 14-performer roster includes Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch, Krisanthi Pappas, Dane Vannatter, and Billy Hough (the musical genius behind Ryan Landry's Gold Dust Orphans). While in town, you could check out the opening weekend of Provincetown Theater Company's production of Edward II (April 16 - May 2).

In Rhode Island, the small but ambitious -- and accomplished -- Gamm Theatre tackles Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll (April 29 - May 30), about the decades-long build-up to Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. Trinity Rep goes retro as well, though less radically, with Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (April 9 - May 9), starring longtime company members Brian McEleney (fussy Felix) and Fred Sullivan, Jr. (slobby Oscar). During that same span, Anne Scurria stars in The Syringa Tree (April 30 - May 30), Pamela Gien's moving memoir about growing up in South Africa under Apartheid.