Leslie Lyles and Bruce McKenzie
in The Hopper Collection
(Photo © Derek Kouyoumjian)
Leslie Lyles and Bruce McKenzie
in The Hopper Collection
(Photo © Derek Kouyoumjian)
The winter finally begins to give way in New England this month, which is good news for all the theatergoers sure to venture out for a jam-packed month.

Boston's Colonial Theatre resounds to the faux-clopping of Monty Python's Spamalot which kicks off its national tour here with Michael Siberry as King Arthur (March 7-April 15). Meanwhile, the Huntington Theatre offers the East Coast premiere of Mat Smart's The Hopper Collection (March 3-April 12). Already a proven hit in San Diego and San Francisco, the drama -- directed by Soho Rep's Daniel Aukin -- examines the collectomania that divides an estranged older couple, even as their most prized object draws a young couple together. Later in the month, the Huntington will use its Wimberly Theatre to mount a world premiere co-production (with Rochester's Geva Theatre) of Marc Wolf's one-man show, The Road Home: Re-Membering America, based on interviews he conducted cross-country post-9/11 (March 24-April 30).

A.R.T. serves up its own world premiere, Orpheus X, a new music-theatre piece conceived and performed by Rinde Eckert (backed by two opera singers) and helmed by ART artistic director Robert Woodruff. (March 25-April 23). Like their 2003 collaboration, Highway Ulysses, this exercise in modernized mythology will be staged in ART's black-box space at Zero Arrow Street.

Company One, in concert with the Boston Arts Academy, premieres A More Perfect Union, local playwright Kirsten Greenidge's multi-layered look at the ongoing struggle for civil rights (March 9 -April 1).Sugan Theatre artistic director Carmel O'Reilly interprets Robin Soan's play, Talking to Terrorists (March 17-April 8), while the ever-inventive Animus Ensemble explores the odder aspects of Alice's Wonderland in a workshop version of a new musical, Curiouser and Curiouser ( March 25-26). In a related vein, Boston Baroque presents Purcell's The Fairy Queen, a series of 1692 musical "masques" inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream, narrated by former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky (March 4-5).

Some plays with great pedigrees are in town this month. Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? continues its Boston debut at Lyric, with Stephen Schnetzer playing the hapless inamorato (through March 19); it will be followed by Lanford Wilson's quirky romance, Talley's Folly. (March 24-April 12). The Lyric also hosts a lovely little interactive children's theatre troupe, Once Upon a Time. This month's plays, geared to the 2-to-8 crowd, are Dr. Doolittle (March 4) and The Story of Purim (March 11-12).

Speakeasy Stage mounts the Boston premiere of Donald Margulies' drama Brooklyn Boy, with two strong local actresses, Ellen Colton and Debra Wise, in the cast (March 3-April 1). The revue Broad Comedy comprises leftist/feminist contemporary skits as conceived by self-described "broads"; the group won best-of-show at last year's Vancouver Fringe Fest. (Stuart Street Playhouse, March 4-25). Downtown, the Cutler Majestic Theater gets a visit from Eve Ensler's tour of her solo show The Good Body (March 21-26), while over the Opera House, kids will enjoy a romp with Clifford the Big Red Dog Live! (March 24-26).

A quick zip around northern New England yields I Am My Own Wife at the Portland Stage Company in Maine (through March 6); Kenny Finkle's feline fantasy Indoor/Outdoor at Trinity Rep in Providence (through March 26); and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls at Pawtucket Gamm's Theatre (March 23 - April 23).

Heading down to Connecticut, Yale Rep serves up the world premiere of Marcus Gardley' dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory, starring Tony winner Chuck Cooper (The Life) as an irascible elder whose grandson, long estranged, shows up with an alternate-reality version of what the old man considered to be the facts of his life. The Yale Cabaret -- a project of the Yale School of Drama -- has managed to snag American-premiere rights to Caryl Churchill's jazz opera, Hotel: Eight Rooms (March 2-4), and will also present an adaptation of Sandra Boynton's family-friendly book Philadelphia Chickens (March 23-25).

Finally, the Westport Playhouse -- in conjunction with Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage -- embarks on its 2006 season with Eric Overmeyer's On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning, directed by new artistic director Tazewell Thompson. Playing the intrepid 19th-century female explorers in this acclaimed play are Susan Bennett (fresh from Orson's Shadow) and Laiona Michelle (a Helen Hayes Award nominee for Arena Stage's Yellowman.