By Jared Bowen
BOSTON — Boston may not be Broadway, but its theate r scene is offering some stunning regional performances and a few big visits from national tours.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Huntington Theatre Company
Now through April 8th at Boston University Theatre
The play — the first by Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson — features a quartets of blues musicians in a run-down 1920s Chicago studio. They're waiting for legendary blues singer Ma Rainey to arrive and record an album. Young, hotheaded trumpeter Levee aspires to a better life for himself and sees the emerging form of the blues as his ticket to fame and fortune. When he clashes with veteran musicians Toledo and Cutler and Ma Rainey spars with her white music producers, generational and racial tensions explode in the powerful and moving drama.
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Now through April 15th at the Calderwood Pavilion
Featuring a compelling and surging pop rock score, Next to Normal shatters through the façade of a suburban family dealing with the direct and indirect effects of mental illness. Winner of three Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this intense, emotional and ultimately hopeful musical makes a direct grab for the heart with its story of a family coming to terms with its past and bravely facing its future.
Boston Opera House
Now through April 1st
Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, Les Misérables, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. This new production has been acclaimed by critics, fans and new audiences and is breaking box office records wherever it goes. The New York Times calls thi sLes Misérables “an unquestionably spectacular production from start to finish.”