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Critic's picks

The Elevator Repair Service adapts Hemingway in 'The Select (The Sun Also Rises).' ArtsEmerson presents the production at the Paramount Theatre next month. The Elevator Repair Service adapts Hemingway in "The Select (The Sun Also Rises)." ArtsEmerson presents the production at the Paramount Theatre next month. (Mark Barton)
By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / February 6, 2011

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MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Anne Gottlieb, Joel Colodner, and Jason Schuchman star in Aaron Posner’s adaptation of Chaim Potok’s novel about an artistically talented Jewish youth whose painting leads to conflict with his deeply religious father. Feb. 11-March 12. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

AJAX Brent Harris, who played Scar in the national tour of “The Lion King,’’ will portray the title character in the tragedy by Sophocles, newly translated by Charles Connaghan and directed by Sarah Benson. The cast will also include Thomas Derrah, fresh from his stint in a one-man show where he played R. Buckminster Fuller, as Agamemnon. Feb. 12-March 13. American Repertory Theater. Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

PROMETHEUS BOUND Diane Paulus directs the world premiere of a rock musical based on the tragedy by Aeschylus, with a script and lyrics by Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening’’) and music by Serj Tankian, a songwriter and lead singer for System of a Down. Gavin Creel, who played Claude in Paulus’s Broadway revival of “Hair,’’ will star as Prometheus. Feb. 25-April 2. American Repertory Theater. Oberon, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

DOLLHOUSE Playwright Theresa Rebeck’s reworking of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,’’ set in contemporary Connecticut, features a promising cast that includes Jennie Israel, Will Lyman, Gabriel Kuttner, Diego Arciniegas, and Sarah Newhouse as Nora. Feb. 27-March 20. New Repertory Theatre. Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

REASONS TO BE PRETTY In exploring the friction within the relationships of two couples, playwright Neil LaBute demonstrates his keen ear for the loaded nuances of everyday speech and his keen eye for our culture’s preoccupation with surface appearances. March 4-April 2. SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

EDUCATING RITA Willy Russell’s play, which was made into a film in 1983 starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters, focuses on the relationship between a jaundiced literature professor and a young British hairdresser who is eager to expand her horizons. This production will be directed by Maria Aitken, who helmed “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,’’ which made its US premiere at the Huntington Theatre Company in 2007 before going on to a lengthy Broadway run. March 11-April 10. Huntington Theatre Company. BU Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

THE SELECT (THE SUN ALSO RISES) Elevator Repair Service, the troupe whose American Repertory Theater production of “Gatz,’’ an adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,’’ was a theatrical high point of 2010 in the Boston area, tackles another 1920s classic, this one by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s frenemy, Ernest Hemingway. Directed by John Collins, who also directed “Gatz.’’ March 15-March 20. Presented by ArtsEmerson at Paramount Theatre. 617-824-8000, www.artsemerson.org

THE HOTEL NEPENTHE Playwright-actor John Kuntz and director David R. Gammons, who memorably teamed up for “The Salt Girl’’ at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, join forces again for Kuntz’s new play. It’s about 17 characters — including “the scheming wife of a senator,’’ a “sociopathic cab driver,’’ and “a woman dressed in purple who may or may not travel through time’’ — whose lives intersect in what is described in “a dark, indifferent city.’’ In addition to Kuntz, the cast includes Marianna Bassham, Georgia Lyman, and Daniel Berger-Jones. Feb. 25-March 6. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. The Storefront, Davis Square, Somerville. 866-811-4111, www.actorsshakespeareproject.org

FRAGMENTS and THE GRAND INQUISITOR Directed by the renowned Peter Brook, “Fragments’’ consists of five works by Samuel Beckett, including “Rockaby,’’ while “The Grand Inquisitor,’’ also directed by Brook, dramatizes a passage from “The Brothers Karamazov’’ that imagines Jesus Christ returning during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. “Fragments,’’ March 23-April 3, Paramount Theatre. “The Grand Inquisitor,’’ March 23-April 3, Paramount Black Box. Presented by ArtsEmerson. 617-824-8000, www.artsemerson.org

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE F. Murray Abraham, best known for his Oscar-winning turn as Salieri in the film version of “Amadeus,’’ tackles the role of Shylock, one of Shakespeare’s most controversial characters. March 29-April 10. Presented by ArtsEmerson at Cutler Majestic Theatre. 617-824-8000, www.artsemerson.org

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