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Boston Spotlight: June 2006

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Steven Maler, director of Angels in America
Straw Hat theatre and summer go together like butter and corn on the cob. But before you head off to points pastoral, make sure you check out the theatrical offerings in town. At the BCA, local playwright George Sauer's Heading for Eureka -- about a nuclear-family road trip gone horribly awry -- camps out through June 17. After a seven-year hiatus, the critically acclaimed Beau Jest Moving Theatre returns to present Samurai 7.0 -- a multimedia extrapolation of the Kurosawa film (June 7-24). The Animus Ensemble promises a not-your-ordinary Once Upon a Mattress (June 9-24), while Opera Unlimited presents the North American premiere of the opera version of Angels in America, scored by Peter Eötvös and directed by Steven Maler (June 16-24).

At ART -- which is currently housing an excellent production of Marivaux's Island of Slaves -- its thrilling tilting-platform No Exit touches down again briefly at Zero Arrow (June 22-July 9), while the Loeb mainstage will host Monsieur Chopin in the person of Hershey Felder, introducing the East Coast to the second installment in his trilogy about composers (June 15-30).

Touring shows due to pass through Beantown include the ever-popular Rent at the Shubert (June 6-25) and Annie at the Opera House (June 13-25).

Already a hit at Trinity Rep and Hartford Stage, the Fats Waller revue Ain't Misbehavin' -- featuring the sizzling Joe Wilson, Jr. -- heats up the North Shore Music Theatre through June 18, while NSMT's children's theatre series kicks in with Charlotte's Web (June 23-24). Non-musical lovers can head to The Wellesley Summer Theatre, which serves up Oscar Wilde's frothy An Ideal Husband (through June 24), or to Gloucester Stage Company on Cape Ann, which renders tribute to the late Wendy Wasserstein with a production of her Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles (June 15-July 2).

Out on Cape Cod, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre follows up The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow (closing June 17) with two alternating plays from June 22 to July 15. Candy and Dorothy pits Warhol superstar Candy Darling against Catholic crusader Dorothy Day in the great beyond; and Johnny Got His Gun, adapted from the 1939 Dalton Trumbo novel, may prove timelier than ever with its anti-war sentiments.

The Cape Playhouse in Dennis kicks off its 80th season with Ron Hutchinson's comedy Moonlight and Magnolias, about the making of Gone With the Wind, starring the brilliant Brad Oscar as the legendary producer David O. Selznick (June 19-July 1). If you missed Cleopatra in Boston last month (which wouldn't be surprising since it kept selling out), there's still a chance to witness Ryan Landry and his ragtag Gold Dust Orphans -- including the mightly Aphrodite -- floridly rewrite history at the Crown & Anchor in Provincetown (Wednesdays, June 21-August 30).

The Berkshires are starting to stir, kicking off with Amadeus, starring Jonathan Epstein and Randy Harrison, at the Berkshire Theatre Festival (June 20-July 8), and Debby Boone heading the cast of The Human Comedy -- the 1984 musical version of the William Saroyan novel scored by Galt MacDermot -- at Barrington Stage Company (June 24-July 15). Debuting three days earlier is the initial offering in the inaugural season of the BSC Musical Theater Lab: The Burnt Part Boys, which is set in Virginian coal-mining country (through July 9).

Down in Connecticut, New Haven is poised to succumb to the vapors, with Menopause the Musical taking over the Long Wharf Theatre for the entire summer. Stamford's Rich Forum hosts the world premiere of Saint Heaven, a country/gospel/R&B-inflected musical about an emotional Kentucky homecoming starring Chuck Cooper and Deborah Gibson (through June 11). Meanwhile, the, Westport Country Playhouse births another world-premiere musical: Jam & Spice, Tazewell Thompson and Dianne Adams McDowell's celebration of the work of Kurt Weill, with the estimable Mary Testa leading the cast (June 3-18).

The national tour of Brooklyn, The Musical -- starring Tony winners Melba Moore and Cleavant Derricks alongside American Idol finalist Diana DeGarmo -- chose Hartford's Bushnell Center as its jumping-off point (June 20-25). For something a little different, consider a workshop performance of Varla Jean Merman's Anatomically Incorrect at Hartford Stage (June 22-23); it's something of a shakedown tour preparatory to the diva's residency at Provincetown's Post Office Cabaret (June 30 -September 5).

At the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire, the legendary James Whitmore stars in Tuesdays with Morrie (June 21-July 9). And let's not overlook Maine, where the Ogunquit Playhouse summons the great songstresses of the '60s -- from Connie Francis to Janis Joplin -- with the musical confection Beehive (June 19-July 8).

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