By R. J. Donovan
Special to Boston Irish
Boston theaters were plunged into darkness and lay dormant during the pandemic. Happily, the joy of live performances has returned and the upcoming weeks and months – right up to the “Riverdance, 25th Anniversary Show” (May 10–15) at the Wang Theatre – promise compelling offerings that deserve both your attention and support. (Covid safety precautions may vary by venue.)
“Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help” – March 3–20, Greater Boston Stage Company.
It’s 1973 and the middle class, Irish Catholic O’Shea family faces a comedic crisis when a seemingly innocent birds-and-bees conversation between two sisters is accientally overheard by the overbearing Father Lovett. As he spits fire and brimstone, and with the family’s reputation on the line, 19-year-old Linda anxiously tries to explain to the audience what happened. However, the rest of her family keeps butting in to tell their own side of things. This is “Catholic guilt — also known as Jewish guilt, Methodist guilt, Baptist guilt, Lutheran guilt, and atheist guilt.” (greaterbostonstage.org)
The Irish Comedy Tour – March 16, Wilbur Theatre.
Combine the party atmosphere of a Dublin pub with a boisterous band of hooligans. The comedians on the bill, all with ancestors on the Emerald Isle, include Detroit native Derek Richards; Boston-born Mike McCarthy; Nova Scotia’s Damon Leibert; and from Inchicore, outside of Dublin, Derrick Keane. (thewilbur.com)
The High Kings – March 18, Shubert Theatre.
These Irish folk superstars – Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy, and Paul O’Brien – are heading to Boston for a celebration of traditional Irish music. Keep the St. Patrick’s Day celebration going with this rare North American engagement. (bochcenter.org)
“Freestyle Love Supreme” – March 18–April 2, Emerson Colonial
Before “Hamilton,” there was “Freestyle Love Supreme,” the original hip-hop musical phenomenon from Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Anthony Veneziale. Every night the performers take suggestions from the audience and spin them into instantaneous riffs and full-length musical numbers. No two shows are alike. They won't know what to rap about until you tell them. (emersoncolonialtheatre.com)
Foil Arms & Hog – March 19, Shubert Theatre
Foil Arms & Hog – the Irish sketch comedy group featuring Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna, and Sean Flanagan – are best known for their online sketches, including the viral hits “Getting Past US Immigration” and “When Irish People Can’t Speak Irish.” However, it’s their live stage shows about which they’re most proud. Two hundred million online views can’t be wrong. Experience this one in person. (bochcenter.org)
“What the Constitution Means to Me” – Through March 20, Emerson Cutler Majestic.
The Huntington Theater presents this witty and highly personal Pulitzer Prize finalist that “reflects on just how radical the constitution was in its origins, and how abysmally it fails migrants, people of color, Native Americans, and women, now. Gliding between comedy and tragedy, it dazzles with intelligence.” (huntingtontheatre.org)
Revels Spring Sing – March 20, Somerville Center for the Arts.
Say goodbye to winter with Revels’ annual musical celebration of spring. This family-friendly event features: Boston jazz legend Stan Strickland; Dr. Kathy Bullock; Claire Dickson; Revels’ own resident (and resonant) baritone, song leader and all-around musician, David Coffin; with The Revels Singers and the Spring Revels Children’s Chorus. You can almost see the forsythias blooming. (revels.org/springsing)
“To Kill A Mockingbird” – April 5 – 17, Boston Opera House.
Set in Alabama in 1934, Harper Lee’s enduring story of racial injustice and the destruction of innocence centers on small-town lawyer Atticus Finch, one of the most venerated characters in American literature. Emmy Award-winning Richard Thomas stars as Finch in this adaptation written for Broadway by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin. (broadwayinboston.com)
“Into The Woods” - Apr 14 – 16, Emerson Cutler Majestic
What happens after Happily Ever After? A Baker and his wife wish to have a child. Cinderella wishes to attend the King’s Festival. Jack wishes his cow would give milk. After curses and reverses, everyone’s wish is granted. However, the consequences of their “once-upon-a-time” actions come to haunt them with staggering results. From Emerson Stage. (emersontheatres.org)
“Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” - Apr.15 – May 22, Lyric Stage
In this clever musical, low-born and seemingly innocent Monty Navarro sets out to knock off the eight unsuspecting members of the lofty family who stand between him and his ascension to becoming the ninth Earl of Highhurst. But then love enters the picture and murder isn’t the only thing on Monty’s diligent little mind. (lyricstage.com)
“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” – April 19-May 1, Boston Opera House.
Follow The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This moving story of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal is set to the beat of the group’s greatest hits, including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready,” and more. (broadwayinboston.com)
“The Inheritance” – April 22–June 11, SpeakEasy Stage.
Award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez transposes E.M. Forster’s novel “Howards End” to 21st century New York. A generation after the peak of the AIDS crisis, what’s it like to be a young gay man in the city? What’s the legacy left by previous generations? What does the current generation owe to those who came before? Profound, witty, and turbulent, “The Inheritance” won the 2020 Tony Award for Best Play. (speakeasystage.com)
“Celtic Illusion: A Night of Dance and Magic” – May 7, Shubert Theatre.
Experience a breathtaking fusion of modern Irish dance and spell-binding magic. With glittering Broadway imagery, the production is created and choreographed by star Anthony Street (the Australian lead in “Lord of the Dance”). (bochcenter.org)
“Riverdance, 25th Anniversary Show” – May 10–15, Wang Theatre.
“Riverdance” was set to open at the Wang in March of 2020. Just days before its premiere, Covid-19 changed everything. Now, with spectacular new sets, lighting and dazzling high-tech visuals, the energetic Irish dance phenomenon triumphantly returns. Be there for this Boston favorite! (bochcenter.org)
Blue Man Group – Ongoing, Charles Playhouse.
They’re bald, they’re blue, and they serve up a rocking night of music, comedy, and audience interaction – all without ever saying a word. Each performance is a sensory flight. (blueman.com)