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Boston Metro Spotlight: October 2010

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Annie Baker
October is officially Annie Baker month in Boston. In an unprecedented collaboration, three companies will present a trio of the Amherst-raised wunderkind's plays, all set in the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont. The Huntington gets the ball rolling with Circle Mirror Transformation (October 15 - November 14), about a community-center acting class that spurs personal growth in unexpected directions. SpeakEasy Stage adds Body Awareness (October 22 - November 20), about a lesbian couple whose placid academic life is roiled by a visiting male artist who specializes in female nude photographs. Company One presents Baker's latest, The Aliens (October 22 - November 20), about a young diner worker whose perspective is permanently changed by a pair of stoner loiterers. For an immersion experience, six one-day marathons are planned for the weekends.

Thirty years ago, the Royal Shakespeare Company scored a megahit with its ten-hour rendering of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Lyric Stage will replicate this feat (October 21 - December 19), employing the cream of Boston actors: Jack Cutmore-Scott as Nicholas Nickleby, Will Lyman as his harsh uncle Ralph, Maureen Keiller as Nicholas' clueless mother, Larry Coen as actor/impresario Vincent Crummles, Nigel Gore as nasty schoolmaster Wackford Squeers, and Leigh Barrett as soft-hearted landlady Miss LaCreevy. Parts one and two will be played in repertory, with five days set aside for back-to-back marathons.

Touring shows include Broadway Across America's Rock of Ages -- starring Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis -- at the Colonial (October 6-17); Mike Birbiglia's launch of his Painfully True Stories tour at the Wilbur (October 13); and Pandemonium: The Lost and Found Orchestra at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre (October 21-24), a new work conceived by the creators of Stomp. Leslie Uggams will put in an all too brief but no doubt stellar appearance with her new show Uptown/Downtown at Waltham's Reagle Music Theatre (October 16-17). Boston's beloved parody troupe the Gold Dust Orphans hosts a visit by Alison Arngrim -- who played Nellie Oleson on TV's Little House on the Prairie -- in Confessions of a Prairie Bitch at the gay club Machine (October 22-31), while ringleader Ryan Landry plays the master of the house -- and a number of other roles -- opposite Molly Schreiber in Jeffrey Hatcher's two-hander adaptation of The Turn of the Screw at Stoneham Theatre (October 21 - November 7).

The newly restored Paramount, under Emerson's aegis, hosts the New York Theatre Workshop in a mainstage production of Aftermath (October 27-31), Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's docudrama about Iraq. Playing in the Black Box are Austin's Rude Mechs in Kirk Lynn's The Method Gun (October 13-17), about an envelope-pushing theater-training pioneer, and the U.S. premiere of David Hasting's moon-landing exploration One Small Step (October 20-24), an '08 Edinburgh Fringe hit for England's Oxford Playhouse.

Boston continues to foment fringe activity of its own. The 11:11 Theatre Company debuts Poe: a fever dream at the Factory Theatre (October 1-16); the brand-new Heart & Dagger Productions revives Jean-Claude van Itallie's Interview at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre (October 7-16); and the Boston Playwrights Theatre debuts Leslie Harrell Dillen's Two Wives in India starring Karen MacDonald and Amelia Broome (October 28 - November 21).

Smart new productions of classics are always welcome. Cambridge's Nora Theatre Company offers a multiracial A Moon for the Misbegotten (October 7 - November 7), with Ramona Lisa Alexander as Josie Hogan, Bill Meleady as her gruff father, and Will McGarrahan as troubled Jim Tyrone. In its 30-year history, this is the first time Wheelock Family Theatre is mounting Annie; maybe they were waiting for just the right tyke in the title role, and Grace Brakeman is sure to shine (October 22 - November 21).

On the mainstage at Watertown's Arsenal Center for the Arts, New Rep offers the New England premiere of David Gow's Cherry Docs (October 17 - November 7), about a Jewish lawyer (Ben Evett) assigned to defend an anti-Semitic skinhead (Tim Eliot); meanwhile, in the Black Box, Blue Spruce Theatre offers the incantatory Ahrens/Flaherty musical Once on This Island (October 7-24). Charleston's feisty Theatre on Fire mounts the Boston premiere of the Ethan Coen sampler, Almost an Evening (October 7-23). Lowell's Merrimack Rep has rounded up an strong cast -- Carole Monferdini, Kate Udall, John Wojda and Laura Latreille -- for the East Coast premiere of Joel Drake Johnson's family drama Four Places (October 14 - November 7).

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