As part of The Baltimore Sun's Fall Arts Guide, we're picking the best arts activities coming to the area this fall. Here's the best of what the theater scene has to offer.
To open his final season as Baltimore Center Stage artistic director, Kwame Kwei-Armah has chosen "The Christians" by buzz-generating Lucas Hnath, author of the Broadway hit "A Doll's House, Part 2." In "The Christians," a megachurch pastor rocks his congregation by professing a radical notion of hell. Hana S. Sharif directs. Sept. 7 to Oct. 8 at Baltimore Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. $20-$74. 410-332-0033, centerstage.org.
Cohesion Theatre Company presents the world premiere of "Sally McCoy," written by company co-founder Alice Stanley, directed by the other co-founder, Brad Norris. Set in 1882 during the famous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, the play examines a McCoy matriarch who refused to stay home when her sons were endangered. Sept. 14 to Oct.1 at United Evangelical Church, 923 S. East Ave. $15 to $20. cohesiontheatre.org.
‘The Cradle Will Rock’
In 1937, Marc Blitzstein wrote an opera that skewers unbridled capitalism and political power. Although the government shut down their theater just before the premiere, the cast famously walked uptown and performed it in street clothes at another venue. Iron Crow Theatre offers a welcome revival of this ever-timely American classic. Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. $15-$30. 443-637-2769, ironcrowtheatre.org.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’
In a few short years, Annapolis Shakespeare Company has established itself as a professional troupe with a flair for stimulating stagings. Last season's kinetic treatment of "Twelfth Night," for example, was a wild romp set in 1920s Hollywood. This fall, the company brings a 1950s sensibility and lots of music to "Much Ado About Nothing." Sept. 29 to Oct. 29 (with a preview performance Sept. 28) at Annapolis Shakespeare Company, 1804 West St. $25-$45 ($55 -$60 opening night). 410-415-3513, annapolisshakespeare.org.
Set in a tense time when, as one of the characters says, "security gives way to conspiracy," Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" always seems relevant. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's production, directed by Michael Tolaydo, will give the drama a contemporary spin, with actors in business attire and Marc Antony reinterpreted as a woman named Mar Antonia.Sept. 29 to Oct. 29 at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St. $16-$50. 410-244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com.
Shakespeare's uber-tragedy "King Lear" is the jumping off point for a wild linguistic ride in Young Jean Lee's "Lear," which opens Single Carrot Theatre's season. The focus here is on the young generation — the king's three daughters and the children of his friend Gloucester — and the specter of mortality hanging over them. Oct. 6 to Oct. 29 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard St. $10-$29. 443-844-9253, singlecarrot.com.
‘The Woman in Black’
Fells Point Corner Theatre's 30th season is all about ghosts. "The Woman in Black" — Stephen Mallatratt's play-within-a-play adaptation of the Susan Hill novel — concerns a gloomy figure haunting the English countryside. This two-actor work, the second-longest-running play in London's West End, has been known to spook even seasoned skeptics. Oct. 13 to Nov. 5 at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St. $19-$24. fpct.org.
‘The Color Purple’
The 2005 musical version of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Color Purple" earned even greater admiration when it was revived on Broadway a decade later. That revival, which focuses more tightly on the story of Celie, an African-American woman who overcomes abuse and ill fortune, stops in Baltimore on its national tour. Oct. 17 to 22 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St. is $38.25 – $183.25. 800-982-2787, france-merrickpac.com.
Everyman Theatre presents a welcome revival of "Intimate Apparel," the Lynn Nottage play that premiered at Baltimore Center Stage in 2003. Nottage, the first female playwright to receive two Pulitzer Prizes for drama, fashions a rich story about a gifted, early-20th -century African-American seamstress who dreams of love and a better future. Oct. 18 to Nov. 19 at Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette St. $10-$65. 410-752-2208, everymantheatre.org.
‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’
Baltimore's own Billie Holiday, the ineffable jazz artist, is conjured up in Lanie Robertson's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill," singing and reminiscing in a Philadelphia club four months before her death at age 44. Rep Stage presents this fascinating work cabaret-style, with seating for the audience at small tables. Nov. 2-19 at Horowitz Center, Howard Community College,10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $15-$40. 443-518-1500, repstage.org.