James Sugg in Assassins
(© John Flak)
James Sugg in Assassins
(© John Flak)
The nights are cool, the kids are back in school, and a new season is underway with several of Philadelphia area companies offering works from some of the world's top composers and playwrights.

The Arden Theatre Company kicks off its 20th anniversary season with a production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins (September 13-October 21). A winner of five Tony Awards, the musical focuses on nine individuals who attempted to assassinate a President of the United States. The cast includes Barrymore Award winners Ben Dibble, Scott Greer, and James Sugg.

The Prince Music Theater starts off with A Night in the Old Marketplace (September 28-October 21), about people who dare to rouse the spirits of the dead in order to heal past wrongs. Conceived and directed by Alexandra Aron and adapted from the Yiddish masterwork by I.L. Peretz, the show features a book and lyrics by Emmy-Award winner Glen Berger, and a Klezmer-accented score by Grammy Award winner Frank London.

Meanwhile, the Wilma Theater presents a revival of Peter Shaffer's award-winning drama Amadeus (September 19-October 27), starring Dean Nolen as Salieri and Drew Hirshfield as Mozart. Crossing the globe, Gas & Electric Arts gets its season underway with prize-winning playwright Kira Obolensky's Quick Silver (through September 15), an urban fairy tale that uses Danbury, Connecticut's history as the one-time hat making capital of the world to comment on issues ranging from environmental ruin to corporate corruption.

The Walnut Street Theatre begins its season with Paul Schoefller starring in the Tony Award-winning musical Man of La Mancha (September 4-October 21). Adapted by Dale Wasserman with a score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion, the legendary show is based on the works of Miguel de Cervantes.

The People's Light & Theatre Company serves up Mathew Burnett's adaptation of Thornton Wilder's autobiographical novel Theophilus North (September 12-October 7), which focuses on the eponymous North, a charismatic ex-schoolteacher who sets off to "see the world." The Lantern Theater Company opens its new season with Martin McDonagh's black comedy The Lonesome West (starting September 14), which focuses on a pair of contentious brothers who spend their days bickering over petty grievances.

Last but not least, 1812 Productions artistic director Jennifer Childs portrays 19 characters in Jane Wagner's one-woman comedy The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (September 21-October 28). Alternately poignant and amusing, the play is narrated by Trudy, an eccentric woman who spends her days anxiously waiting to hear from her extra-terrestrial friends.