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Boston Metro Spotlight: April 2011

Birth of a Prophet logo
Kelsey Kurz and Joanna Gleason
in Sons of the Prophet
Paul Marotta)
After a much-lauded New York run in 2007, Stephen Karam's teen drama Speech & Debate spread across the country like an especially juicy YouTube clip, inspiring a hundred-odd small-theatre productions. His latest, Sons of the Prophet, is starting off big, with a Huntington Theatre mainstage production at the Boston Center for the Arts' Calderwood Pavilion (April 1 - May 1), co-produced by NYC's Roundabout Theatre Company, where it is slated to transfer in the fall. The comedy is about a pair of ill-fated, gay Lebanese-American brothers, one of whom works for a whacko, to be played by Tony Award winner Joanna Gleason.

Also, as a salute to freedom of speech, the Huntington is supporting a student production of Karam's columbinus -- his 2002 take on the Columbine massacre -- at the adjacent Roberts Studio Theatre (April 15-17). Young director Emma Feinberg was preparing the show at her suburban high school when a parent complained and the principal pulled the plug.

At the BCA's Plaza Theatre, Imaginary Beasts assays Polish avant-gardist Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's signature 1923 play The Crazy Locomotive (April 1-16). Company One takes over the black box for Suzan Lori-Parks' The Book of Grace (April 15 - May 7). In it, Steven Barkhimer plays Vet, a violence-prone Texan border patrol officer; Jesse Tolbert his troubled, mixed-race, ex-soldier son; and Frances Idlebrook his second wife, Grace, an eternal optimist who's hard pressed to keep the peace.

The Actors' Shakespeare Project takes on those classic lover/fighters, Antony & Cleopatra, at the Modern Theatre at Suffolk University (April 27 - May 22); Paula Plum plays the Egyptian enchantress, Jim Andreassi her Roman conquest. Boston Lyric Opera brings us the Bard in musicalized form with the Benjamin Britten/Peter Pears adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre (April 29 - May 10); Tazewell Thompson directs a distinguished international cast.

Just passing through: Patti LuPone in concert mode, with The Gypsy in My Soul at Symphony Hall (April 3), as part of the Celebrity Series, and -- courtesy of Broadway Across America -- a reprise of Harry Connick, Jr. & Orchestra at the Colonial Theatre (April 26-30) and Grease at Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre (April 27 - May 1). The Institute for Contemporary Art gets a fleeting visit from the experimental-minded National Theater of the United States of America, whose ever-morphing Chautauqua! (April 1-3) will showcase local pundits and performers.

The Boston theater community is mourning the loss of playwright/director/professor Jon Lipsky, whose Walking the Volcano -- eight loosely linked playlets inspired by the '60s -- will be getting a joint production from Underground Railway Theater, Boston Center for American Performance, and Playwrights' Theatre at Boston University, at the latter's black-box theatre (April 14 - May 1). The four-person cast includes Boston notables Gabriel Kuttner and Paula Langton. In concert with Catalyst [email protected], Underground Railway is also co-producing Breaking the Code (April 7 - May 8), Hugh Whitemore's portrait of British mathematician -- and World War II intelligence hero -- Alan Turing (Allyn Burrows), whose life was destroyed by a charge of gross indecency.

The feisty Theatre on Fire, based at the Charlestown Working Theatre, has put together a promising U.S. premiere: Blackadder II: Live (April 8-23), adapted from the '80s BBC faux-historical comedy series. CWT will also be hosting the National Centre for Aesthetics Small Theatre from Yerevan, Armenia, in a dance-theatre performance, Seventh Sense (April 27 - May 4).

Merrimack Rep in Lowell offers the regional premiere of Jeffery Hatcher's A Picasso (April 21 - May 15), starring Mark Zeisler as the artist and Kate Udall as the German cultural emissary charged with authenticating -- and appropriating -- his work in occupied Paris. Trinity Rep, in Providence, Rhode Island, is plumbing a comic perennial, Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias (April 15 - May 15), featuring the redoubtable Anne Scurria as Ouiser.

There's no dearth of family fare this month. The Big Apple Circus will be taking up residency at City Hall Plaza again with their 33rd show, Dance On! (April 2 - May 15). And Wheelock Family Theatre is resurrecting James Norris's 1940 (pre-Disney) adaptation of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (April 15 - May 15), directed and designed by James P. Byrne.

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