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Critic's Picks: Theater

Sam Waterston stars in 'Have You Seen Us?' at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn. Sam Waterston stars in "Have You Seen Us?" at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn. (Jude Domski)
By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / September 13, 2009

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FENCES Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and a Tony Award for best play, it’s one of the gems in the late August Wilson’s ambitious Pittsburgh cycle, which sought to capture the 20th-century African-American experience, decade by decade. Through Oct. 11. Huntington Theatre Company. BU Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

STUDS TERKEL’S THE GOOD WAR: A MUSICAL COLLAGE OF WORLD WAR II The New England premiere of an adaptation of Terkel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 book, embellished with the music of the World War II generation, including “I’ll Be Seeing You’’ and “Straighten Up and Fly Right.’’ Through Oct. 4. Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.stonehamtheatre.org

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD Maureen McGovern first entered our ears with “The Morning After,’’ from “The Poseidon Adventure.’’ Now she has fashioned a “musical memoir’’ from her interpretations of the songs of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, and Carole King, among other icons of the baby-boomer generation. Oct. 9-Nov. 15. Huntington Theatre Company. Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

THE SAVANNAH DISPUTATION Two of Boston’s finest actresses, Paula Plum and Nancy E. Carroll, team up in this comedy about two Catholic sisters whose faith is challenged by an evangelical missionary, prompting them to enlist their parish priest as an ally. Sept. 18-Oct. 17. SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

SLEEP NO MORE “Macbeth’’ meets Hitchcock in this North American premiere by Punchdrunk, the innovative British theater company. The second work in ART’s “Shakespeare Exploded!’’ festival, “Sleep No More’’ immerses audience members in the theatrical experience in a fashion that one critic described as “part art installation, part performance art, part adventure playground.’’ Oct. 8-Jan. 3. American Repertory Theater. The Old Lincoln School, Brookline. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

SPEED-THE-PLOW According to David Mamet, his 1988 satire of the movie industry revolves around this question: What is the difference between Work and Art, and how is one to draw the line? Few writers draw moral lines with more ferocity than Mamet. Oct. 18-Nov. 7. New Repertory Theatre. Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

HAVE YOU SEEN US? The world premiere of a drama by Athol Fugard, starring Sam Waterston, that revolves around an encounter in a southern California diner between a professor from South Africa, a Mexican-American waitress, and a Jewish couple from Eastern Europe. Nov. 24-Dec. 20. Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Conn. 203-787-4282, www.longwharf.org

DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE The set-up of this comedy by Sarah Ruhl is intriguing: A guy drops dead in a cafe, and when his cellphone rings, the woman at the next table answers it - a fateful move that plunges her into the dead man’s tangled life. Can you hear me now? Oct. 16-Nov. 14. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

HEROES Translated from the original French by Tom Stoppard, this three-hander by Gerald Sibleyras takes place in a convent hospital, where elderly veterans of World War I plan one final adventure. Nov. 19-Dec. 13. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678, www.merrimackrep.org

LITTLE BLACK DRESS Irish-born playwright Ronan Noone, who did his graduate work at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, returns with a new play set on the Kansas prairie and billed as “a visceral game of risk’’ that “conceals twisted dreams lurking behind the video arcade.’’ Oct. 1-Oct. 24. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. 866-811-4111, www.bostonplaywrights.org

THE ORPHANS’ HOME CYCLE The idea of home is at the center of this cycle of three plays by the late Horton Foote. With his usual attention to the details of daily life in a small town, Foote chronicles the journey of Horace Robedaux from childhood (marked by his father’s death) to adulthood, marriage, and the eventual role of family patriarch. Part 1, “The Story of a Childhood,’’ runs through Oct. 24. Part 2, “The Story of a Marriage,’’ runs Sept. 17-Oct. 24. Part 3, “The Story of a Family,’’ runs Oct. 8-24. (Saturday marathons of all three parts on Oct. 17, 24). Hartford Stage. 860-527-5151, www.hartfordstage.org

THE OVERWHELMING The stakes couldn’t be higher when a writer, his wife, and their teenage son move to Rwanda in 1994, just as the nation is about to be engulfed by genocide. From playwright J.T. Rogers (“White People’’). Oct. 30-Nov. 21. Company One. Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.bostontheatrescene.com

LADY Three longtime buddies, accompanied by a dog and divided by fierce disagreement over the Iraq war (one of them is a conservative congressman who supports the war; the son of another has just enlisted in the Army, to the dad’s dismay) go on a hunting trip in the Illinois woods. What could possibly go wrong? Oct. 30-Nov. 21. Zeitgeist Stage Company. Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.zeitgeiststage.com

A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL CELEBRATION Paula Vogel (“How I Learned to Drive’’) blends historical figures (Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, Walt Whitman) with composite or fictional characters (an African-American blacksmith for the Union Army, a Confederate rebel) in a story of entwined lives set on Christmas Eve 1864, in Washington, D.C. Nov. 13-Dec. 13. Huntington Theatre Company. BU Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Co-written and directed by ART artistic director Diane Paulus, who describes it as a story about “the power of love and the opportunity for a second chance,’’ this R&B-flavored musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale’’ will feature gospel choirs from Boston. Nov. 21-Jan. 2. American Repertory Theater. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

DON AUCOIN

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