Critic's picks

By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / September 12, 2010

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BUS STOP Former Huntington Theatre Company artistic director Nicholas Martin returns to direct William Inge’s 1955 comedy about a smitten, bull-headed cowboy and the nightclub singer he has just met but is determined to marry. The cast includes Karen MacDonald, whose performance in “All My Sons’’ was a Huntington highlight last season, and Will LeBow. Sept. 17-Oct. 17. Huntington Theatre Company, BU Theatre. 617-266-0800,

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS There are only so many gullible heiresses to go around, and that means the French Riviera isn’t big enough for two rival con men, one of whom is debonair, the other decidedly not. So the gauntlet is thrown down: The first one who can swindle a seemingly rich and seemingly innocent young woman for $50,000 gets to stay, while the other has to leave. A musical version of the 1988 comedy with Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Sept. 21-Oct. 10. North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. 978-232-7200,

AMERICAN GOTHIC In keeping with its tradition of excavating from obscurity and then presenting Williams’s less-known work, the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival will offer the Beau Jest Moving Theatre company’s production of a never-performed play in which Williams imagined Grant Wood’s farm couple as Midwestern parents who make a dismaying discovery about their son: He is a gun-wielding bank robber. No wonder they’re not smiling! It will be presented on a double bill with Williams’s “27 Wagons Full of Cotton,’’ by Big Finish Productions. Sept. 23-Sept. 26. Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, Provincetown. 866-789-TENN,

THE LARAMIE RESIDENCY The Tectonic Theater Project, which created “The Laramie Project’’ from interviews with residents of Laramie, Wyo., after the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, returned to the town a decade later to see what changes had taken place. “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later’’ was the result. Both the original “Laramie Project’’ and “Ten Years Later,’’ in a world premiere, will be performed. Sept. 24-Oct. 2. ArtsEmerson, Cutler Majestic Theatre. 617-824-8000,

ENRON David J. Miller directs Lucy Prebble’s dramatization of the shenanigans at the energy behemoth that became a byword for greed and corruption. Sept. 24-Oct. 16. Zeitgeist Stage Company, Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,

THE COVETED CROWN: HENRY IV, PARTS 1 AND 2 Patrick Swanson directs a promising Actors’ Shakespeare Project cast, including Robert Walsh (who gave an inspired performance as Bottom in ASP’s production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream’’ last season), Bobbie Steinbach, Bill Barclay, Steven Barkhimer, and ASP artistic director Allyn Burrows, in Shakespeare’s two-part tale of a king bedeviled by rebellion, and also by a headstrong son, Prince Hal, and his immortally mischievous crony, Falstaff. Sept. 29-Nov. 21. Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Midway Studios, South Boston. 866-811-4111,

ROCK OF AGES “American Idol’’ finalist Constantine Maroulis (a graduate of the Boston Conservatory) stars in this scruffy, good-natured jukebox musical about a would-be rocker and a young woman from Kansas who fall in love in Hollywood in 1987, with a lot of help from songs by the hair bands of the 1980s: Journey, Poison, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Extreme, Whitesnake, REO Speedwagon. Oct. 6-Oct. 17. Colonial Theatre. 800-982-2787,

CHERRY DOCS David R. Gammons directs the New England premiere of a drama by Canada’s David Gow about the moral dilemma that confronts a Jewish lawyer when he is assigned to defend a neo-Nazi skinhead accused of murdering an immigrant. Oct. 17-Nov. 7. New Repertory Theatre, Watertown. 617-923-8487,

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY In what the Lyric Stage Company bills as the largest production in its 37-year history, artistic director Spiro Veloudos leads a cast of 25 — including Leigh Barrett, Nigel Gore, Kerry Dowling, Will Lyman, and Larry Coen — playing more than 150 characters in David Edgar’s two-part adaptation of Dickens’s sprawling novel. Oct. 21-Dec. 19. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678,

AFTERMATH In 2008, five years after the US invasion of Iraq, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen of New York Theatre Workshop went to Jordan and interviewed dozens of Iraqi civilians who had fled their country, then wrote a play inspired by what they heard. Oct. 27-Oct. 31. ArtsEmerson, Paramount Theatre. 617-824-8000,

THE FEVER CHART: THREE VISIONS OF THE MIDDLE EAST This could be a timely offering, what with the recent rekindling of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Naomi Wallace’s “Fever Chart’’ offers three tales: an encounter between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian woman in a zoo, a revelation by a Palestinian father to a young Israeli woman about their shared history, and an Iraqi birder who describes his conscription into the army of Saddam Hussein. Nov. 18-Dec. 19. Underground Railway Theater, Central Square Theater. 866-811-4111,

BOSSA NOVA The world premiere of Boston playwright Kirsten Greenidge’s play about a young, middle-class African-American woman who attends a predominantly white women’s college, has an affair with a white professor, and feels her identity start to crumble. Nov. 26-Dec. 18. Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven. 203-432-1234,

PETRUSHKA This ballet was originally created for Nijinsky at the Ballets Russes, but since it’s about a puppet who comes to life, it only makes sense that the renowned puppeteer Basil Twist would try his hand(s) at transforming it. Stravinksy’s music is performed by identical twin pianists from Russia, Julia and Irina Elkina. Nov. 11-Nov. 21. ArtsEmerson and Celebrity Series of Boston, Paramount Theatre. 617-824-8000,

THE BLUE FLOWER The husband and wife team of Jim and Ruth Bauer (he’s a musician, she’s a visual artist) created this musical play about four friends and lovers “trying to make their way through a world in pieces’’ from the late 19th century to World War I. Dec. 1-Jan. 8. American Repertory Theater, Loeb Drama Center. 617-547-8300,

STRIKING 12 With a creative team that includes Rachel Sheinkin, who wrote the book for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’’ this story of an irascible New Yorker whose New Year’s Eve solitude is interrupted by a surprise visitor is billed as “a holiday musical for people who don’t like holiday musicals.’’ Dec. 8-Jan. 2. SpeakEasy Stage Company, Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,

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