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On Stage This Week 

Lizzie Borden at Playhouse Square:

A Real Whack Job

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks ... We've all heard the rhyme. Now, thanks to the annual collaboration between Baldwin-Wallace College and Playhouse Square, we can bop along to the rock musical about that infamous small-town girl who presumably killed her parents in 1892 in the most ghastly of ways. (Fun historical note for the bar: She was acquitted.) First produced off Broadway in 1990, Lizzie's grim tale was eventually expanded into a musical that was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards in 2009. This weekend marks Lizzie Borden's Midwest premiere, featuring a powerhouse ensemble of B-W musical theater majors. Victoria Bussert directs. It all goes down in the 14th Street Theatre on March 30, 31, and April 1. Tickets are $10 to $20 by phone, online, or at the box office. And leave the kids at home, okay? You wouldn't want them getting ideas. — Elaine T. Cicora

At 2037 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

The Colombi New Plays Festival: Ensemble Theatre presents three new works by local playwrights, running in repertory through April 1. Dancing With N.E.D., written and directed by Tyler Whidden; March 29 and April 1. Destroying the Light by Sasha Thackaberry, directed by Peter Voinovich; March 30 and April 1. Grounds for Dismissal by Cindy Dettelbach, directed by Celeste Cosentino; March 31 and April 1. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Or snag a three-show pass for $30. Get them at 216-321-2930 or online at ensemble-theatre.org, where you will also find showtimes. Ensemble Theatre is at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.

The Hyacinth Macaw: Convergence-Continuum launches its 2012 season with the Cleveland premiere of Mac Wellman's 1994 surreal/absurdist comedy. Says house critic Christine Howey: "In this weirdly entertaining and sometimes frustrating piece, Wellman unleashes a fire-hydrant torrent of unusual words, invented phrases, and complex syntactical constructions. The ultimate effect is both dazzling and self-defeating." At 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through April 7 at the Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd. Tickets are $10, $12, and $15 at 216-687-0074 or convergence-continuum.org.

God's Trombones: Karamu's seasonal fave features seven stirring "negro sermons" set to music, dance, and verse. Critic Christine Howey has called previous productions "riveting and inspirational." Through April 5 at 2355 East 89th St. Tickets are $25 to $30 at 216-795-7077 or karamuhouse.org.

Red: Art, artists, and the act of creation get their due in this 2010 Tony Award-winner by playwright John Logan. The provocative drama takes its cue from an episode in the life of temperamental mid-century artist Mark Rothko. Examinations of aesthetics, philosophy, and the entire history of Western art ensue. Through April 8 at the Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave. Tickets range from $15 to $69; call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com.

Velocity of Autumn: Beck Center's season continues with the regional premiere of this dark comedy by Cleveland playwright Eric Coble. See Christine Howey's review in this issue. Performances are set for March 23 through April 29 in the Studio Theater; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10 through $28 at 216-521-2540 or beckcenter.org. Beck Center is at 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.

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