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Hot and Herakles
From Tony Curtis to Golda Meir on stage

Scrooge has learned his lesson and Clara has taken her final curtsy and marched off with her Nutcracker, but that’s no cue to don a kerchief and settle in for a long winter nap. What dreams may come will pale in comparison to the assorted scenes and spectacles on the city’s stages this winter.

The long nights will seem a little brighter this weekend when the Huntington Theatre Company fans the flames of fantasy with The Blue Demon (January 3–February 2). Written and directed by Darko Tresnjak, who helmed last year’s Heartbreak House, the musical uses puppets, masks, dance, and drums to tell an ancient fable of a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian who are all accused of killing the Sultan’s storyteller. Then the company leaps ahead to the present with Kia Corthron’s Breath, Boom (March 7–April 6), a " searing glimpse " of young women in a girl gang.

A roster of theatrical luminaries is slated for the director’s chair at the American Repertory Theatre as the triumvirate of new artistic leaders continues its inaugural season. After Peter Sellars’s production of Euripides’s The Children of Herakles (January 425; see Carolyn Clay’s preview on page 10), Anne Bogart, the impresario of Saratoga International Theater Institute, steps in to direct La dispute (February 1–22), which will melt some of the chilly frost as it explores " the danger and intrigue of seduction. " Around the bend, Robert Woodruff, the new artistic director, takes the directorial wheel on Highway Ulysses (March 122). This world premiere with music and text by Obie Award winner Rinde Eckert reimagines Homer’s Odyssey as a road story told to strains of jazz, rock, and blues.

The Lyric Stage also extends an invitation to notable directors. The Huntington’s Nicholas Martin drops in to direct the world premiere of 2 Lives (March 14–April 12). The latest work from Arthur Laurents (of Gypsy fame) is the tale of an aging playwright whose newfound inspiration is clouded by his lover’s death. That comes on the heels of Jason Sherman’s It’s All True (February 7–March 8). Set in 1937, the comedy has Orson Welles leading a protest against the ban on Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (January 8–February 9), the New Repertory Theatre rounds up a cast of comic specialists including John Kuntz and Austin Pendleton to perform the absurdist magnum opus. New Rep’s Rick Lombardo directs. (See our " Theater " coumn, in " 8 Days a Week. " )

Winter holds some chills at the Wilbur, where Gosford Park producer Bob Balaban directs Brian Dennehy and Marlo Thomas in The Exonerated (January 21–February 2), a docudrama based on Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s interviews with former death-row inmates. But before that, a brief heat wave will roll through next door at the Wang Theatre when Some Like It Hot (January 14–19) shimmies into town. Tony Curtis takes the stage in a different role from that of the cross-dressing musician he played in the 1959 film version with Marilyn Monroe: this time he’s the multi-millionaire. And dancing queens can rejoice when the Colonial Theatre’s floors burn up as Mamma Mia! (January 25–April 26) shakes its Swedish bootie.

More serious musings occur down the street at the Tremont Theatre when Shakespeare & Company stages Golda’s Balcony (January 3–February 22), which premiered last summer at the company’s Lenox home. Daniel Gidron directs Annette Miller in William Gibson’s one-woman play about Golda Meir. After that, Boston Theatre Works constructs a prison set for Bruce Graham’s Coyote on a Fence (February 28–March 23).

Stages at the Boston Center for the Arts are set for shows ranging from campy to avant-garde. SpeakEasy does some hard-edged talking with The Shape of Things (January 31–February 21), a reversed-gender Pygmalion by film director/playwright Neil LaBute (Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty). But SpeakEasy’s darkness theme sets in before that when Bat Boy: The Musical (January 3–25) stirs in its cave. The company reprises its sci-fi farce based on Weekly World News stories. Súgán Theatre Company has Bill Meleady in Howie the Rookie (January 24–February 15), Mark O’Rowe’s Dublin-set story of gangsters in " a bizarre feud of honor involving a scabies-infested mattress. " And Company One has Truth and Beauty (January 9–February 1), a multimedia meditation by experimental guru Ping Chong.

The landscape is lush where dancing feet tread. World Music’s Flamenco Festival (January 23–26) brings Juana Amaya y Farruquito and Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras to the Shubert. Boston Ballet twirls back to the Wang Theatre to spin the pastoral yarn of La fille mal gardée (February 20–March 2). When the ballet arabesques off, the Mark Morris Dance Group leaps into the Shubert (March 13–16).

Issue Date: January 2 - 9, 2003
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