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On Stage This Week 

A little theater never hurt anyone

The Color Purple, Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the black female experience in the early 1900s, is as potent a work today as it was upon publication in 1982. You may have seen the Steven Spielberg movie it inspired; better still, this weekend you'll have the opportunity to see the triumphant story of Celie brought to life as a musical at the Palace Theatre. Debuting on Broadway in 2005, where it remained for three years, the musical version scooped up 11 Tony Awards along with a Grammy nomination for its gospel, jazz, and blues-filled score. The show is now in the middle of its second U.S. tour, featuring Dayna Jarae Dantzler as Celie and original music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. Three shows run this weekend: One on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m., and two on Saturday, March 26, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$65. To order and for more information, visit playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000. — Bill Delaney

The Colorado Catechism: A funny and touching portrayal of a couple of damaged souls who meet up in rehab, this play by Vicent J. Cardinal marks Ensemble Theatre's move to its new home inside Coventry School, at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights. Through March 27. Tickets are $10; learn more at 216-321-2930 or ensemble-theatre.org.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged): For the past quarter-century, numerous acting companies have taken a swipe at this maniacal compression of the Bard's canon — including Great Lakes Theater Festival itself, back in 2004. It's an enticing production because it's outrageous, often very funny, and loaded with contemporary references. However, two hours of broad farce without any intellectual leavening can eventually fall flat. This happens despite the best efforts and intentions of the strong three-man cast. (Christine Howey) Through March 27 at the Hanna Theatre, 2067 East 14th St. Tickets are $15 and up; call 216-241-6000 or online at greatlakestheater.org.

God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse: Karamu House brings James Weldon Johnson's poetic classic to the stage by way of the fire-and-brimstone teachings of seven galvanizing preachers, accompanied by soul-stirring singing, thunderous dancing, and biblical verses ­— all woven together into a hand-clapping, foot-stomping spiritual celebration. Through April 10 at Karamu, 2355 East 89th St. Tickets are $25 to $30 at 216-795-7077. Go to karamuhouse.org for more information.

Flanagan's Wake: A zany blend of dialogue and improvised laughs, this interactive show transforms the audience into guests at Flanagan's wake in the fictional Irish village of Grapplin. Through April 30 at Playhouse Square's Kennedy's Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $20 to $23; call 216-241-6000 or visit playhousesquare.org.

Jerry Springer: The Opera: Strippers, whore mongers, and tap-dancing knights of the Ku Klux Klan populate this provocative satire now making its regional debut at the Beck Center. Through March 27. Tix are $28. Call 216-521-2540 or go to beckcenter.org. The Beck Center is at 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.

My Name Is Asher Lev: Where does a young artist draw the line between his family's expectations and the need to fulfill his inner genius? When does self-expression trump religious tradition? That's the territory explored in this story of an Hasidic Jew struggling to actualize his creative mojo. Through April 3 at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Ave. Tickets start at $46; call 216-795-7000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com.

Valparaiso: The troupe at Convergence-Continuum begins its tenth season with the darkly comic story of an "average Joe" who tries to make sense of his life by throwing himself beneath the spotlight of celebrity. In the process, the play becomes a look at how our needs and desires are shaped by the forces of broadcast technology. Nothing is allowed to be unseen. Nothing remains unsaid. And everything melts repeatedly into something else, as if driven by the finger on the TV remote. Through April 16 at the Liminus, 2438 Scranton Rd. Tickets are $12 to $15 at 216-687-0074 or online at convergence-continuum.org.

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