A Fall of Shows: Here's What's Popping Up on Local Stages from September to Thanksgiving Day 

Since this summer can't decide if it wants to be humid and infernally hot or downright chilly at times (Not fair! We don't get enough summer to have weather be this indecisive!), it may be time to move on and start thinking about autumn.

Of course, most theaters will be gearing up their 2013-14 seasons next month. And the theatrical/meteorological outlook for local stages is partly musical with scattered dramas, peeks of comedy, and a good chance of gore and kinky sex.

To help you plan you theater-going for the next three months, upcoming shows are arranged in handy-dandy categories:

Love (In Its Many Forms)

Straight:

Musicals don't come much more charming than She Loves Me (opens Sept. 20, Beck Center).  This Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick creation tells the story of two feuding clerks in a European parfumerie who find romance with pen pals—who turn out to be each other.

The touring musical Once (opens Nov. 12, PlayhouseSquare) won eight Tony awards in 2012, including Best Musical and Best Book. It's not one of those massive musical extravaganzas, since the cast doubles as the orchestra and the music is more of the guitar-strumming variety as a guy and a girl meet cute and explore their relationship.

If you like farce, not to mention bad boffing puns in the title, then the 1960's era Boeing, Boeing (opens Sept. 20, Lakeland Civic Theatre) may be just your ticket. A lothario is neck-deep in love affairs with three stewardesses. They're all engaged to him and then they all show up at once, but that probably won't be a problem.

The dark and sweetly neurotic comedy Nerve (opens Sept. 13, None Too Fragile Theatre) follows Elliot and Susan as their first date evolves into a nightmarish sort of romance.

Gay:

In Lilies, or the Revival of a Romantic Drama (opens October 11, Convergence-Continuum Theatre), a bishop is invited into a prison supposedly to hear a dying inmate's confession. Whoops—he is taken hostage instead, as a story unfolds involving gay sex and murder.

Bi:

Winning this year's award for the most direct title, Cock (opens Oct. 25, Dobama Theatre) involves a young man who, while taking some time off from his boyfriend, meets the girl of his dreams.

S&M:

Who's to say love (or at least lust) can't evolve out of a dominant-submissive relationship? In Venus in Fur by David Ives (opens Nov. 1, Cleveland Play House), a reversal of the 50 Shades trope shows a woman holding the whip hand.

Plies, Plucking and Piano

The PlayhouseSquare Broadway Series ventures into ballet with Sleeping Beauty (opens Oct. 1, PlayhouseSquare), a lavish new production developed by Matthew Bourne and his company, New Adventures.

At the other end of the musical spectrum is Woody Sez (opens Sept. 13, Cleveland Play House), a portrait of the iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie featuring 25 of his indelible tunes.

And in 33 Variations (opens Oct. 13, Beck Center), playwright Moises Kaufman examines the compulsions behind the creation of Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations," written for the piano, while also involving a contemporary musicologist and mother.

Deep Drama

A photojournalist and her romantic partner, a foreign correspondent, come back from the Middle East damaged physically and mentally, and find a hard time adjusting in Time Stands Still (opens Sept. 6, Dobama Theatre).

The guy with the hump is back in Shakespeare's Richard III (opens Sept. 27, Great Lakes Theater), killing youngsters and causing general mayhem before his long dirt nap under a parking lot.

Gory Musicals

If you prefer lots of spilled plasma with your melodies, check out The Texas Chainsaw Musical (opens Oct. 11, Blank Canvas Theatre). This is an encore production of the popular blood-apalooza that launched the company two years ago...

Many arteries are also opened in the Stephen Sondheim classic Sweeney Todd (opens Oct. 4, Great Lakes Theater), as the demon barber of Fleet Street gives out shaves that are just a tad too close.

Voices In Our Heads

Insomnia The Waking of Herselves is a return engagement of this devised piece (opens Oct. 10, Cleveland Public Theatre). In this riveting play, a woman tries to come to grips with other iterations of herself bouncing around in her "attic."

In Prelude to a Kiss (opens Nov. 21, Ensemble Theatre, a kiss leads to a transference of souls. But this sweet and sorrowful piece isn't exactly a Freaky Friday switcheroo, as penned by playwright Craig Lucas.

Cleveland Heights High grad and now acclaimed playwright Rajiv Joseph is the author of Animals Out Of Paper (opens Sept. 27, Ensemble Theatre). An origami artist is front and center as the show finds the balm that creativity can bestow on troubled minds.

That lineup will take you to Thanksgiving Day, when you can dive into the turkey and stuffing and get ready for the holiday show onslaught.

(Note: as of this writing, Karamu has not announced its 2013-14 schedule.)

Speaking of Theater, Fall Season

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