Cambridge's American Repertory Theatre, currently between artistic directors, has been bringing in some interesting guest performers, such as, this month, Nilaja Sun in No Child . . . (November 23-December 23), her Obie Award-winning solo memoir about teaching drama in an inner-city high school in the Bronx.
Speakeasy Stage, always a whiz with musicals, is giving Boston its first professional production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (November 16-December 15). Rupert Holmes's 1985 dramatization of Dickens' unfinished last novel started out playing in Central Park and went on to collect five Tonys. Speakeasy's cast includes celebrated local diva Leigh Barrett cross-dressing in the title role and Will McGarrahan as the ingratiating emcee of the seedy Music Hall Royale.
Meanwhile, in the first of an onslaught of seasonally themed works, the Lyric Stage presents the reliably hilarious Neil E. Casey in Steve Murray's one-man adaptation of the Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life entitled This Wonderful Life (November 23-December 22), conceived by Mark Setlock, who made such a splash in 1999's Fully Committed. Incidentally, Fully Committed gets a revival at Barrington Stage Company (November 7-18) in the otherwise somnolent Berkshires, with Vince Gatton as the beset reservationist.
Boston's Wang -- which now goes by the rather elaborate name of the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre -- hosts a return engagement by the lavish revue Irving Berlin's White Christmas (November 23-December 23), even as the Colonial Theatre rocks to a touring Mamma Mia! (November 27-December 16).
The Theatre Offensive's 16th annual "Out on the Edge Festival" plays out with John Kelly channeling Joni Mitchell in Paved Paradise (November 1-4); a world premiere of Out of the Box: Twisted Tales, as envisioned by the drag-king club act All the Kings Men (November 2-3); and our all-time favorite holiday show to date, Nut/Cracked, performed by choreographer David Parker and his Bang Group (November 7-11).
Other fringe endeavors include Comp, a new comedy by John Shea at the Boston Playwrights Theatre (November 1-18), in which local fave Michael Forden Walker plays a sidelined -- and ticked-off -- Somerville construction worker; Chelsea's Apollinaire Theatre presenting Dead City, Sheila Callaghan's contemporary gloss on Joyce's Ulysses (November 2- December 2); and the Whistler in the Dark Company essaying Snoo Wilson's comic/scary Vampire at the Black Box Theatre at Watertown's Arsenal Center for the Arts (November 3-17).
Out in the suburbs, Lowell's Merrimack Repertory Theatre is offering a world premiere of David E. Lane's one-man bio-drama Tunney/Shakespeare in Six Rounds (November 15-December 9), with Jack Wetherall as the legendary prizefighter, who not only read the Bard pre-bout for inspiration but ended up conducting a course in his poetry at Yale. Stoneham Theatre contributes to the seasonal vibe with a stage adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street (November 29-December 3), and North Shore Theatre mounts the Christmas Carol to beat (November 30-December 30) -- loaded with special effects and extra-lively in the round.
Trinity Rep's version of A Christmas Carol (November 16-December 30) -- now in its 31st year -- is also a pip. The show is so popular, it requires two casts (25 members strong) in constant rotation. Luckily, artistic director Curt Columbus managed to wedge in some time to helm Kathleen Tolan's delightful mother-daughter drama Memory House (November 30-January 6), with the redoubtable Anne Scurria making and baking a real-time pie as she bugs her adopted daughter to complete a college application.
Finally, the Cape Rep Theatre on Cape Cod is tackling Ketti Frigs' ambitious condensation of Thomas Wolfe's notoriously sprawling autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel (November 8-December 2).