On Stage

Rebels with a Cause

In a contentious election year, local theaters stage politically charged dramas

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A TALE OF TWO CITIES

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Few novels in history have opened as memorably as the Charles Dickens masterwork. Trinity Repertory Company presents this brand-new adaptation by Brian McEleney, a story of 18th-century greed, poverty, and the anarchic revolution that resulted. The story documents the Reign of Terror, but it also shows the selfless redemption of Sydney Carton, one of the most memorable characters in Dickensian lore. Reflecting the real-life class struggles that make daily headlines, A Tale of Two Cities dramatizes the conflict between rebel and establishment. Performs through March 22 • 201 Washington Street

 

ASSASSINS

In his own mind, John Wilkes Booth was a daring crusader who had the will and courage to terminate the president who had ruthlessly torn his country apart. In this transgressive musical from 1990, playwright John Weidman attempted to humanize some of the most infamous killers in American history – including Lee Harvey Oswald, whose fateful decision in the Dallas book depository is (literally) inspired by all the assassins who preceded him. The Gamm Theatre performs this funny, weird, unsettling musical, with songs and lyrics by the inimitable Stephen Sondheim. Performs March 5-29 • 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick 

 

IN THE NEXT ROOM

One of the most bizarre developments of the Victorian era was the electrical treatment of “female hysteria” – what we now recognize as an over-the-counter sex toy. In 2009, visionary playwright Sarah Ruhl illustrated this peculiar medical history with tension and humor, which led to three Tony Award nominations. Burbage Theatre Company revives In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), the story of an obsessive doctor, his sexually frustrated wife, an artist with a rare case of “male hysteria,” and an African-American wet nurse. The Burbage Theatre presents this modern classic, culminating in a jaw-dropping tableau. Performs through April 5 • 59 Blackstone Avenue, Pawtucket 

 

MISS YOU LIKE HELL

You will never see another musical like Miss You Like Hell. In it, teenage Olivia embarks on a road trip with her mother Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Timely topics aside, the musical was written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and composed by folk-rock performer Erin McKeown – a former artist-in-residence at AS220. The Wilbury Theatre Group stages this Rhode Island premiere, which follows the acclaimed 2016 run in San Diego. Performs March 5-29 • 40 Sonoma Court 

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