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Boston Metro Spotlight: April 2009

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Dick Latessa
(© Joseph Marzullo/ WENN)
At the Calderwood Pavilion within the Boston Center for the Arts, the Huntington Theatre premieres The Miracle at Naples (April 8-May 9), a bawdy comedy by David (Measure for Pleasure) Grimm, whom director Peter DuBois compares to the love child of Oscar Wilde, Tom Stoppard and Charles Ludlum. Tony Award winner Dick Latessa plays the leader of a Renaissance commedia troupe, and Lucy DeVito -- the actual child of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman -- his put-upon daughter.

Also at the BCA, the Publick Theatre starts its summer season with Charlotte Jones' 2001 London hit Humble Boy (April 9-May 2), about a theoretical physicist (Tom O'Keefe) beset by domestic woes, including an overbearing mother (Stephanie Clayman) and comically muddled family friend (Nancy Carroll). And Zeitgeist Stage presents the nonmusical (as in original 1891) version of Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening (April 17- May 9), in a new translation by Reinhold A. Mahler, adapted by director David Miller.

The Broadway musical version of Spring Awakening will be in residence at the Colonial (April 28-May 24), one of a pair of Broadway Across America tours touching down this month. The imperious Dame Edna -- aka Barry Humphreys -- stops by at the Colonial as part of her First Last Tour (April 16-19).

Another noteworthy visitation is the 30th anniversary national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Ain't Misbehavin' (April 10-12), directed -- as was the 1978 Broadway original -- by Richard Maltby, Jr. and starring American Idol celebs Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis. Co-presented by the Citi Performing Arts Center and the City of Boston as part of a five-month-long SpectrumBoston project to promote audience diversity, the show will be staged at the historic Strand Theatre in Dorchester.

A very special songbird will be in town to welcome spring: Bernadette Peters appears at Boston's Symphony Hall (April 4) as part of the Celebrity Series. Bookending the month is the Celebrity series' third annual Standing O! gala (Opera House, April 28), featuring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

The Big Apple Circus takes over City Hall Plaza with Play On! (April 4-May 10) -- what better, or more wholesome, way to cast off winter's gloom? On the loucher side, Big Apple will be lending its tent out for a sure-to-be-wild Theatre Offensive ClimACTS under a Big Top! fundraiser (April 28). And speaking of benefits, if you want to ensure yourself some stellar free Shakespeare in the park this summer (specifically, The Comedy of Errors), show your support at the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's gala at the Ritz-Carlton (April 25): auction items include an extra role on the USA Network series Burn Notice (star Jeffrey Donovan played Hamlet on Boston Common in 2005).

John Kuntz and Rick Park are two of Boston's most beloved and hilarious fringe performers. As playwrights, they've been collaborating with a bunch of local actresses to create the Superheroine Monologues, a parodic parade of female icons dating from the 1940s to the present, which Company One will present at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre (April 10-26); a portion of ticket sales will help support a local women's shelter. Charlotte -- of Charlotte's Web -- is one of the great mothers, not to mention friends, of all time. Merle Perkins plays the helpful arachnid in the Wheelock Family Theatre production (April 10-May 10); Robert Saoud portrays her porcine buddy Wilbur, and winning young Grace Brakeman his champion, Fern.

Brecht's The Life of Galileo seems a suitable property for a co-presentation by the Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT and Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge (April 10-May 17); area favorite Richard McElvain stars, and local legend David Wheeler directs. The New Repertory Theatre in Watertown takes a more playful approach to biography, with a revival of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile (April 19-May 10), in which the artist (Scott Sweatt) goes head to head with Einstein (Neil A. Casey), and various women (Marianna Bassham and Stacy Fischer) provide comic/romantic counterpoint.

Chelsea's edgy Apollinaire Theatre Company imports Jason Well's dark comedy Men of Tortuga (April 17-May 17), a 2005 Steppenwolf debut in which a young idealist discomfits a cabal consisting of three "power brokers" and a weapons specialist. Stoneham Theatre is going with a classic: William Inge's Picnic, featuring a trio of Boston power actresses -- Leigh Barrett, Dee Nelson, and Sarah Newhouse -- in secondary roles (April 2-19). Merrimack Rep likewise reaches back, with O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten (April 26-May 17). Worcester's Foothills Theatre tackles John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (April 18-May 10), and Waltham's Reagle Players welcome back Sally Struthers as the Mother Superior in Nunsense (April 24-26), with a bonus: creator Dan Goggin conducting Q&As after every performance.

On the sleepy tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown's Counter Productions mounts Jon Morans' Old Wicked Songs (April 24-May 3), about a piano prodigy chafing under an old-school instructor. In Rhode Island, Trinity Rep dusts off Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (April 10-May 17) -- a treat in any season.


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