A scene from Peter Pansy
(© Michael Von Redlich)
A scene from Peter Pansy
(© Michael Von Redlich)
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), Huntington Theatre Company, and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston combine their considerable forces for a second annual Emerging America Festival (May 13-15) showcasing "groundbreaking performance by American artists." Highlights include works by Jay Scheib, Banana Bag and Bodice, and Ryan Landry.

Independently, Landry has acceded to popular demand by concocting a brand-new spoof/homage for his Gold Dust Orphans troupe at the gay club Machine: Peter Pansy (May 6-29). This one's definitely not for the kiddies -- "unless they're of drinking age."

To Kill a Mockingbird -- kicking off Boston Children's Theatre's 60th season, at the Wimberly Theatre within the Calderwood Pavillion at the Boston Center for the Arts (May 7-13) -- is ideal for middle-graders ready for a moral challenge. SpeakEasy Stage, in residence at the Roberts Studio Theatre within the Pavilion, is not only presenting The Drowsy Chaperone, starring Will McGarrahan and Karen MacDonald (May 6 - June 5), but hosting Seth Rudetsky's Deconstructing Broadway (May 10-11), a hilarious primer on the peculiar genesis of hit musicals. Another big draw is the 13th annual Boston Theater Marathon (May 22), comprising 50 ten-minute plays performed within ten action-packed hours; benefitting the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund, it's a who's-who of local performers and playwrights ranging from fledgling to celebrated.

Within the BCA's Plaza Black Box Theater, Zeitgeist Stage takes on Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo (May 2-28), which expands on Albee's seminal 1958 one-act The Zoo Story with a prequel titled Homelife.

The Huntington Theatre's Mainstage will host Edward Hall's all-male Propeller company performing two Shakespeare plays in repertory (May 18 - June 19): Comedy of Errors, playfully transposed to a South of the Border resort town, and a Grand Guignol-style Richard III set in a Victorian hospital.

ArtsEmerson concludes its inaugural season not with a bang, but a whisper -- more specifically, Susurrus (beginning May 20), a site-specific, actor-less event devised by Glaswegian playwright David Leddy. Described as "a sensual reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream," it consists of an MP3-guided tour around the Public Garden that's "part radio play, part recital, part lesson in bird dissection, and part stroll in the park." The Celebrity Series brings another nature-centric theatre event to town: Farfalle, to be mounted at the Paramount Center's Blackbox Theatre by the cross-genre theatre/art/technology/ Compagnia TPO (May 10-15), is an exploration of the butterfly life cycle geared to children five and up.

Elsewhere downtown, the Lyric Stage revives the 1928 musical Animal Crackers, made famous by the Marx Brothers (May 6- June 4), with Leigh Barrett as the redoubtable Mrs. Rittenhouse. The Boston Pops open their 126th season with Linda Eder Sings Judy Garland (May 11-13), to be followed by composer John Williams conducting Hooray for Hollywood (May 25-28) and a guest appearance by Michael Feinstein (May 31 - June 1).

For the Fort Point Theatre Channel's production of Charles Mee's Hotel Cassiopeia (May 6-21), Robert D. Murphy will play assemblage artist Joseph Cornell. Plucky Company One presents the New England premiere of Enrique Urueta's Learn to Be Latina -- "a post-911 race farce/lesbian romantic comedy (with dance breaks)" - at the Boston Playwrights Theatre (May 13 - June 5).

In Cambridge, American Repertory Theater is hosting a couple of big names: John Lithgow with his theatrical memoir Stories by Heart (a fundraiser on May 2), and Amy Brennermen trying out a new spiritually-themed autobiographical show, Mouth Wide Open (May 24-29). At the Central Square Theatre, the Nora Theatre Company premieres Silver Spoon (May 19 - June 19), a new '60s-era musical co-written by playwright Amy Merrill and songwriter/activist Si Kahn.

How will Stew's intensely personal rock musical Passing Strange fare without Stew himself performing himself? We'll have a chance to find out when Watertown's New Rep brings in a brave new cast (May 1-22), including Norton Award winner Maurice E. Parent. Stoneham Theatre's revival of 42nd Street (May 5-29) has a prized performer as a plus: Kathy St. George as the treacherous diva-in-decline Dorothy Brock.

On Cape Cod, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre kicks back into gear with Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes (May 25 - June 25), Yussef El Guindi's comedy about a struggling Middle Eastern actor tempted by a Hollywood offer to play an Islamic arch-villain.

If theatre is stirring in the Berkshires, can summer be far behind? The first glimmers are Zero Hour, Jim Brochu's one-man show about Zero Mostel, at Barrington Stage Company's Stage 2 (May 18 - June 5) and Tina Packer's Women of Will: The Complete Journey, Parts I-V, at Shakespeare & Company (May 27 - July 10).