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Critic's picks

By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / September 11, 2011

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THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS This vibrant and stirring musical-theater adaptation makes some revisions to the masterpiece, but director Diane Paulus and collaborators Suzan-Lori Parks and Dierdre L. Murray are largely faithful to the original’s spirit. In Audra McDonald, this production boasts a Bess for the ages. Through Oct. 2. American Repertory Theater, Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300,

CANDIDE Director Mary Zimmerman takes a crack at Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 musical adaptation of Voltaire’s novella, with a book reworked by Zimmerman and a cast that includes Geoff Packard as Candide, Lauren Molina as Cunegonde, McCaela Donovan as Paquette, and Timothy John Smith as Governor. Through Oct. 16. Huntington Theatre Company, Boston University Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800,

NEXT FALL Arlington native Geoffrey Nauffts earned a Tony nomination for best play in 2010 for this work about the spiritual conflicts that complicate the relationship of a gay couple: one an evangelical Christian, the other a nonbeliever. Scott Edmiston directs. Sept. 16-Oct. 15. Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston. 617-933-8600,

THREE SISTERS A new version of Anton Chekhov’s drama by playwright Sarah Ruhl (“Dead Man’s Cell Phone’’), directed by Les Waters, who helmed the Broadway production of Ruhl’s “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play).’’ Sept. 16-Oct. 8. Coproduced by Yale Repertory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. University Theatre, New Haven. 203-432-1234,

RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S SOUTH PACIFIC The national touring production of the classic musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the 2008 Tony-winning revival at Lincoln Center and featuring such tunes as “Some Enchanted Evening,’’ “This Nearly Was Mine,’’ and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.’’ Sept. 27-Oct. 2. Presented by Broadway in Boston. Boston Opera House, Boston. 800-982-2787,

DELUSION With her trademark imagery and music, celebrated performance artist Laurie Anderson offers a blend of stories, memories, and dreams as she meditates on everything from her mother’s final days to a lawsuit about the ownership of the moon. Sept. 27-Oct. 2. Presented by ArtsEmerson. Paramount Center Mainstage, Boston. 617-824-8400,

THE INFERNAL COMEDY: CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER In a blend of drama and opera, with two sopranos and a live orchestra playing period instruments, John Malkovich stars as Jack Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer and writer who hanged himself in prison in 1994 but has somehow returned from the grave for a book tour. Sept. 29-30. Presented by ArtEmerson. Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston. 617-824-8400,

THE FARM In this new drama by Walt McGough, a graduate of the MFA playwriting program at Boston University, a CIA operative decides to retire - a decision that raises questions about what went wrong and leads to a battle of wits with another operative. Directed by David R. Gammons. Sept. 29-Oct. 23. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston. 866-811-4111,

COLLECTED STORIES Bobbie Steinbach and Liz Hayes star in Donald Margulies’s play about a veteran author who takes a fledgling writer under her wing, then discovers that the younger woman has used parts of her life in a novel. Oct. 9-30. New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Charles Mosesian Theater, Watertown. 617-923-8487,

OR, Stacy Fischer portrays Aphra Behn, the Restoration-era dramatist, in a comedy by Liz Duffy Adams that imagines Behn trying to finish a new play while entangled with both the actress Nell Gwynne and King Charles II. Oct. 14-Nov. 6. Lyric Stage Company, Boston. 617-585-5678,

CLYBOURNE PARK Playwright Bruce Norris, drawing inspiration from Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,’’ won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his satirical look at race, class, and real estate. Oct. 14-Nov. 13. Trinity Repertory Company, Providence. 401-351-4242,

THE DIVINE SISTER Under the direction of Larry Coen, a topnotch cast - including Jeffery Roberson (a.k.a. Varla Jean Merman), Paula Plum, and Kathy St. George - tackles Charles Busch’s satirical homage to nun-centered movies, from “The Bells of St. Mary’s’’ to “The Sound of Music.’’ Oct. 21-Nov. 19. Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston. 617-933-8600,

THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS A trilogy by the acclaimed young playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, consisting of “In the Red and Brown Water,’’ “The Brothers Size,’’ and “Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet.’’ “Red and Brown Water’’ will run Oct. 28-Dec. 3, “Brothers Size’’ and “Marcus’’ Nov. 10-Dec. 3. Marathons of all three plays on Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 12-Dec. 3. Presented by Company One. Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston. 617-933-8600,

MABOU MINES DOLLHOUSE A reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,’’ adapted by Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell and directed by Breuer, in which Nora and the other women are over 6 feet tall while Torvald and the other male characters are under 4 feet 6 inches tall. Nov. 1-6. Production by Mabou Mines, presented by ArtsEmerson. Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston. 617-824-8400,

CAPTORS A world premiere, directed by Peter DuBois, of Evan M. Wiener’s play about the 1960 capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina by Israeli agents. Nov. 11-Dec. 11. Huntington Theatre Company, Boston University Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800,