Play Picks for April

April's theater choices range from strange puppeteers and a compact re-telling of "Faust" to two world premieres that deal legacies of intolerance in America.

Providence, Rhode Island –

Here is an opinionated list of shows premiering this month that look promising at least on paper -- but, of course, I take no responsibility for eventual reality.

1) "Guys and Dolls"- presented by Broadway in Boston at the Colonial Theatre, Boston, April 2 through 14. Maurice Hines stars as Nathan Detroit in this touring production of one of the great American musicals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

2) "Yellowman" - staged by the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT, April 3 through May 5. Dael Orlandersmith performs in this world premiere of her new, two-character play, along with Howard Overshown. The piece dramatizes "the internal prejudice that exists between light and dark-skinned African Americans."

3) "Molly Maguire" - presented by the S?g?n Theatre Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, April 4 through 20. The world premiere of a new play by local playwright Jon Lipsky that deals with the timely issue of terrorism. Set in 19th century Pennsylvania, the drama revolves around Irish miners who resisted, often violently, the dictates of the mine owners.

4) "Are You Sure You Need the Bedpan?" - at the Charlestown Working Theater in Boston, April 5 through 7. An inside look at life and death in a hospital written and performed by actress and comedienne Susan McGinnis. The performer is a registered nurse and "uses her experience to explore issues of healing and compassion in the context of the complexity of our health-care system."

5) "Ben Franklin: Unplugged" - at the Somerville Theatre, April 6. Josh Kornbluth stars in this one-man homage to America's Big Ben. The play is "one part comic autobiography, one part history lecture, and one part mystery yarn." There's nothing about the patriot's kinky side?

6) "Tribute to Arthur Friedman" - at the Lyric Stage of Boston, April 8. An evening that invites those in and out of the Boston theater community to come together and share their memories of the pernickety but personable Arthur Friedman, long time theater critic for "The Real Paper" and the "Boston Herald," who died last February.

7) "The Failure Artist" - staged at the Charlestown Working Theater, Boston, April 12 through 21. Boston-based comic Tony V, who has appeared in films and television shows, stars in this self-authored piece about an "interesting, often surreal career in show business."

8) "Faust, 2002" - presented by the Pilgrim Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, April 12 through 27. This ambitious company is basing its latest production on material from Goethe's two-part epic and Marlowe's play.

9) "The Fourth Annual Boston Theatre Marathon" - staged at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, April 14. The yearly marathon is the theatrical equivalent of watching traffic wiz by. About fifty 10-minute plays are performed over a 10-hour period. The dramatists include Ed Bullins, Lesile Epstein, John Kuntz, Melinda Lopez, Jack Neary, and Laura Harrington.

10) "Relentless" - staged by the Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA, April 19 through 27. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Double Edge Theatre, one of the few experimental groups that started in Boston and continues today. I reviewed the group's first production back in 1981. It was "Rites," a wild feminist re-telling of "The Bacchae" in which a plastic boy doll was castrated by a group of crazed women. The latest show is described as "a dance, a song, a painting." Congratulations!

11) "Velvetville" - at the Somerville Theatre, April 19. The Boston premiere of surreal puppeteer Paul Zaloom's latest piece is "a bizarre one-man performance assault. Imagine mixing a tablespoon of Marcel Duchamp with a soup can of George Carlin, a dollop of Claus Oldenburg with a dash of Robin Williams, and a half-cup of Salvador Dali with a bowl of Soupy Sales."

12) "Family Stories" - staged by the Market Theatre in Cambridge, April 20 through May 19. The North American premiere of a grotesque black comedy about authoritarianism by young Bosnian playwright Biljana Srbljanovic. The drama's playful look at a family's barbarity was a critical splash in Europe.

13) "Music in You -- A Richard Rodgers Cabaret" - presented by Theatre in Process at the Blacksmith House in Cambridge, April 20 and 21. In honor of Rodger's 2002 Centennial, Benjamin Sears and Bradford Conner have whipped up a tuneful cabaret that spans the career of the master songsmith. As usual, the performers will not only cover the standards but also supply some rarities.

14) "Peter Pan" - presented by Trinity Repertory Theatre at the Chace Theater in Providence, Rhode Island, April 26 through June 9. The East Coast premiere of a new adaptation by Brits John Caird and Trevor Nunn, of the story of a boy who wouldn't grow up. Amanda Dehnert directs.