Looking back, going forward

A diverse display for 2010
By MADDY MYERS  |  January 13, 2010

NOT WEST SIDE STORY: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights comes to the Opera House.

Economic recession and post-racial themes abound in Boston’s early 2010 theater repertoire. Several companies’ line-ups include classics that will resonate for modern audiences — the ART highlights the relevance of Clifford Odets’s 1935 Depression play Paradise Lost. Meanwhile, Actors’ Shakespeare Project revisits Othello (March 10–April 11) in a post-racial America, and the Lyric Stage does Groundswell (January 1-30), a show about racial tensions in South Africa. Herewith, other meditations on multicultural and societal battles, both past and present, as well as celebrations of how far we have come.

LYDIA R. DIAMOND  | Underground Railway Theater/Providence Black Repertory Company; Huntington Theatre Company | January 7-31; February 19-March 27 | Playwright Lydia R. Diamond showcases two recent plays in Boston. The first, Harriet Jacobs, adapts for the stage the story told in Jacobs’s diary, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The play premiered in 2008 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre; Megan Sandberg-Zakian steps on to direct the first East Coast production as a collaboration between Underground Railway Theater and the Providence Black Repertory Company. Diamond’s 2009 play Stick Fly — which uses rough-edged comedy to tackle modern-day discomforts vis-à-vis class and race — rests in the capable hands of director Kenny Leon and the Huntington Theatre Company.
Central Square Theater [Harriet Jacobs], 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge | $35, $25 seniors, $20 students | 617.576.9278 or centralsquaretheater.org | Virginia Wimberly Theatre [Stick Fly], Calderwood Pavilion, BCA, 527 Tremont St | Cambridge + Boston | + $25-$60 | 617.266.0800 orwww.huntingtontheatre.org

GATZ | American Repertory Theater | January 7–February 7 | In 2004, NYC theatre troupe Elevator Repair Service arranged this six-hour stage interpretation (in two parts, with a dinner break) of the full text of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In the ART version, Scott Shepherd plays Nick, a white-collar worker who starts reading the book aloud in the office lunch room and notices the plot surrealistically taking over his fellow employees’ behavior. Victoria Vasquez is Daisy, Gary Wilmes is Tom, and Jim Fletcher has the title role; John Collins directs.
64 Brattle St, Cambridge | $25-$75 | 617.547.8300 or www.americanrepertorytheater.org

ALL MY SONS | Huntington Theatre Company | January 8–February 7 | David Esbjornson directed the premieres of Arthur Miller’s final two plays; now he takes on this 1947 Miller work based on a true story. Will Lyman stars as Joe Keller, a husband and father haunted by a guilty secret and his own inability to take responsibility; Karen MacDonald is his wife, Kate.
BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston | $25-$82.50 | 617.266.0800 orwww.huntingtontheatre.org

IN THE HEIGHTS | Opera House | January 12-24 | Lin-Manuel Miranda says he likes to bring Broadway’s Latino talents something besides West Side Story, and that’s what he does with this score that blends merengue, salsa, hip-hop, and soul. The story, written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, describes three days in the Dominican-American neighborhood of New York’s Washington Heights. In the Heights won the 2008 Tony for Best Musical; in this touring production,  Kyle Beltran plays Usnavi, Arielle Jacobs is Nina, and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer plays Vanessa. 539 Washington St, Boston | $27.50-$83.50 | 866.633.0194 orwww.intheheightsthemusical.com

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