What To Watch For: Theater 

The Book of Mormon is but one of the great shows gracing Bay area stages this fall.

Don’t miss…
Fiddler On The Roof Depend on freeFall artistic director Eric Davis to turn this familiar crowd-pleaser into something daring, dazzling, and artistically satisfying. Davis will put the show in the round, and fill the stage with actors who are also musicians (playing Klezmer music). As the townspeople of Anatevka, there will be specially created Bunraku-style puppets — one of them larger than life for a nightmare scene — and Tevye’s milk cart will do double duty as a drum. The brilliant David Mann (the Emcee in Cabaret) will play Tevye, and local favorite Matt McGee will appear in various comic roles. Oy! Sept. 21-Nov. 3 at freeFall Theatre, St. Petersburg. $29-$44, 727-498-5205, freefalltheatre.com.
The Book of Mormon This famously shocking 2011 musical, the much-acclaimed work of the irreverent creators of South Park, is either the funniest, most intrepid attack on all things sacred ever to conquer Broadway, or proof that American culture has entered an abyss so deep it looks like the mountaintop. Ostensibly about two clueless Mormon missionaries sent to AIDS-stricken Uganda, it’s really a relentless send-up of genocidal warlords, female genital mutilation, The Sound of Music, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hitler, Bono, child molestation and The King and I. It won nine Tony awards (including best musical), and prompted the New York Times to declare it the best musical of the new century. Buy your seats early (like, um, now). Nov. 12-24 at Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. $69-$153.50, 813-229-STAR.
A Raisin in the Sun If any play belongs on the list of top 20th-century dramas along with the works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, this is the one. Lorraine Hansberry depicts the African-American Younger family as torn by internal dissension, but trying nonetheless to find a good home in white racist Chicago. Lena is the wise matriarch, Walter her desperate son, Beneatha the progressive thinker, and Ruth the tired peacemaker contemplating an abortion. When Lena receives a $10,000 life insurance check, hopes and worries multiply. Can the money buy the family a way out of the ghetto? Oct. 3-20 at Stageworks, Tampa, $26, 813-727-2708.

Also on the radar…
Hedwig and the Angry Inch A botched sex-change operation, an unaccommodating soulmate, really loud, angry rock music, and even a theory of Creation: Come to Hedwig and get your catharsis. Sept. 4-29, Jobsite Theater, Tampa. 813-229-STAR.
Macbeth From the first appearance of the Weird Sisters to the “Out out brief candle” speech, this is one mind-blowing tale of ambition, murder, and madness. Welcome back, Shakespeare. Oct. 30-Nov. 24, Jobsite Theater, Tampa. 813-229-STAR.
Venus in Fur David Ives’ best play is about a mysterious actress who’s not what she claims, and a not-so-clever theater director who gives her the audition of no return. Will outguess even the canniest spectator. Nov. 7-24, Stageworks, Tampa, 813-727-2708.
Heroes Adapted by word-intoxicated playwright Tom Stoppard from a text by Gérald Sibleyras, this Olivier Award-winning comedy follows three World War I veterans as they plot their escape from a retired soldiers’ home. Jan. 9-26, Tampa Repertory Theatre, Tampa, tamparep.org.
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess Poor Bess: another man has done her wrong, and life on Catfish Row has never been so bleak. But then comes Porgy — and he bears a love that is deeper and truer than Crown or Sporting Life can even imagine. Jan. 14-19, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. 813-229-STAR.
Two Trains Running American Stage brings us another play in the stirring August Wilson cycle. This one’s set in 1969 and features the denizens of a diner slated for destruction as part of an urban renewal project. Just a wisp of a plot, but the dialogue is sensational. Jan. 24-Feb. 23, American Stage, St. Petersburg. 727-823-PLAY.
The Normal Heart When Larry Kramer wrote this 1985 scorcher about the AIDS crisis, he was furious with just about everyone who was failing to pay sufficient attention to this new and heartless killer. Twenty-eight years later, the play is still burning with indignation — and remarkably moving. Eric Davis leads a cast that left an indelible impression in a staged reading of the play last November. Jan. 25-Feb. 16, freeFall Theatre, St. Petersburg, 727-498-5205.

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