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Fall Theater Guide: Here's What's Popping Up on Local Stages from September to Thanksgiving Day 

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.

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, Piano and the Apollo

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.

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 beset with ALS.

Three singing hopefuls travel to NYC to make it big at the talent contest held at Harlem's Apollo Theater. This musical, stuffed with 37 R&B songs, is titled From My Hometown: A Rags to Riches Celebration of the American Classics in R&B (opens Sept. 20, Karamu).

Deep Drama

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.

If you like your drama with some laughs, try Last of the Boys (opens Nov. 15, None Too Fragile Theater). Two ex-soldiers look back at the Vietnam war in a provocative and thought provoking script.

There are also some chuckles woven through the challenging lives of six black men working in a white-owned florist shop in Cut Flowers (opens Oct. 25, Karamu).

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.

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