Wicked is the first of a half-dozen Broadway Across America shows to sweep through town this season; it'll touch down at the Opera House (September 1 - October 17). ArtsEmerson welcomes Doug Elkins's Sound of Music-meets-hiphop mashup Fraulein Maria to the Paramount Theatre (September 23 - October 3), with native son David Parker -- sans Bang Group -- playing Leisel the first week. Meanwhile, Emerson's Cutler Majestic hosts the world premiere of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project (September 24 - October 2).
Making its Boston premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts' Roberts Studio Theatre is a play that surely would have been banned in Boston had it debuted during its own designated era, the 1880s: Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) (September 17 - October 16). The stellar SpeakEasy stage cast includes Derry Woodhouse as Dr. Givings and Anne Gottlieb as his curiouser and curiouser wife. Also within the BCA complex: the Publick Theatre Boston production of Tom Stoppard's reliably hilarious The Real Inspector Hound at the Plaza Theater (September 2-25), featuring local faves Barlow Adamson, Gabriel Kuttner, and Georgia Lyman; and Zeitgeist Stage Company's small-scale version of Lucy Prebble's Enron (September 24 - October 16), which fizzled far too fast on Broadway last season.
Lyric Stage presents the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (September 3 - October 2), featuring the dry wit of Will McGarrahan as the unhelpful vice-principal. Elsewhere around town, the Actors' Shakespeare Project takes on The Coveted Crown: Henry IV Parts I & II at Midway Studios (September 29 - November 21), with Bill Barclay as Hal, Allyn Burrows as Hotspur, and Robert Walsh as Falstaff. The Boston Playwrights Theatre introduces Michael Towers' "coming-out-of-the-closet comedy" Five Down, One Across (September 30 - October 24), starring Alice Duffy and Chloe Leamon.
In Cambridge, the American Repertory Theatre presents the American premiere of Alice vs. Wonderland (September 18-October 9), adapted by Brendan Shea and directed by János Szász, and also hosts New York's acclaimed Banana Bag & Bodice performing BEOWULF - A Thousand Years of Baggage at Club Oberon (September 5-6). Catalyst Collaborative@MIT brings back Gioia De Cari's one-woman show Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through MIT's Male Math Maze (September 8-26), which was well received at the '09 New York International Fringe Festival. Stoneham Theatre offers a preview of a show born of the '06 Fringe fest and imminently Off-Broadway-bound: Perfect Harmony (September 9 - October 3), a spoof by Andrew Grosso and The Essentials (a cadre of high-powered NYC performer/creators), the work is set in the cut-throat world of high-school a cappella competition.
The happily resuscitated North Shore Music Theatre has lined up a terrific cast for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (September 21 - October 10): Brent Barrett as the smoothie senior con man, self-styled "prance" of the Riviera, and Jennifer Cody as the Midwestern minx who could prove his comeuppance.
Merrimack Rep offers the East Coast premiere of The Complete World of Sports (abridged), co-authored by -- and starring -- Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company (September 9 - October 3), while Watertown's New Rep reprises David Mamet's piquant period piece, Boston Marriage (September 12 - October 3), with Jennie Israel and Debra Wise as the bickering "spinsters."
The big draw on the fast-shuttering Cape is the fifth annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival (September 23-26), on the theme of "Under the Influence." The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre bucks the tourist tide by staying open year-round. Good reason to travel out: the world premiere of Danny Casolaro Died For You (September 16 - October 17), Dominic Orlando's fact-based play about his investigative-reporter cousin (played by Lewis D. Wheeler), who was found dead soon after embarking on a probe of malfeasance in the Reagan/Bush Justice Department. Plus, it would practically be worth swimming to Martha's Vineyard to catch Norton Award-winner Sandra Shipley in Brian Friel's Faith Healer at the Vineyard Playhouse, directed by Joann Green Breuer (September 2-16).
The Berkshire Theatre Festival closes out its season with the premiere of William Donnelly's drama No Wake (September 1 - October 24), about a divorced couple faced with every parent's worst nightmare. Providing comic relief: Shakespeare & Company's take on Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound (September 18 - November 7), with seasoned clowns Jonathan Croy, Josh Aaron McCabe, and Ryan Winkles on hand to guarantee some good laughs.
In Rhode Island, the Gamm Theatre opens its 26th season with Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (September 2 - October 3), featuring artistic director Tony Estrella as super-salesman Ricky Roma. Trinity Rep opts for romantic with Camelot (September 10 - October 10); odds are on that Joe Wilson, Jr. will make for an especially hot Lancelot.