060415-JARED.mp3

Every week, WGBH Arts Editor Jared Bowen sums up the exhibitions, theater, movies and music you should check out in and around Boston. Back from a New York theater tour, he's also presenting some of the most-nominated Broadway musicals going into this weekend's Tony Awards.

Crossing, presented by the American Repertory Theatre, at the Shubert Theater in the Citi Performing Arts Center, through June 6

Jared says: "This is a piece that bleeds humanity…Matthew Aucoin is such a poet...What is key and fundamental here is how focused Aucoin was able to be in understanding—really, truly understanding—Whitman’s words and allowing them to manifest themselves on the stage."

Synopsis: Matthew Aucoin, just 25, immersed himself in Walt Whitman’s poetry and prose to craft this opera, commissioned by the A.R.T. as part of Harvard's multiyear Civil War Project. To cope with the atrocity around him, Whitman dropped his work and ventured to southern hospitals, spending time with soldiers "too weak to bear souls," as Aucoin writes in the libretto, putting their stories in his diaries and writing their letters. “I wanted to treat that decision, that life experience, almost as if he’s entering Dante’s purgatory,” Aucoin recently said on Boston Public Radio. "It’s this weird, limbo space where no one’s sure if they’re alive or dead or going to get out, but it’s really urgent; they all have something to say."

An American in Paris, in an open run at New York City’s Palace Theatre

Jared says: “This is one of the most glorious productions I have ever seen…From the ashes of war, we find friends finding and making new love for themselves.”

Synopsis: Based on the 1951 movie, Broadway’s “An American in Paris” presents post-World War II optimism through ballet stars who can act, sing—and of course dance. Jerry Mulligan (Robert Fairchild) is the GI-turned-painter searching for his place in Paris, Adam Hochberg (Brandon Uranowitz) is the aspiring composer, and Henri Baurel (Max Von Essen) is the textile-fortune heir who dreams of being a song-and-dance man. They’re all circling the gorgeous ballerina Lise Dassin (Leanne Cope) against magnificent, chalky outlines of the city and in moments that evoke the original’s Technicolor fantasias. And all with a light airiness that anticipates a renewed hope that came to redefine the 20th century. (Local connection: Boston's Citi Performing Arts Center is a member Five Cent, one of the production companies presenting the show.)

On the Twentieth Century, presented by the Roundabout Theater Company at New York City’s American Airlines Theater

Jared says: “Kristin Chenoweth is a force of nature…one of the best performances I’ve seen from an actress…It builds to this delicious mania, just over-the-top theatrics that all work so wonderfully well.”

Synopsis: The revival of the 1978 musical is based on the 1934 Howard Hawks film “Twentieth Century,” about a locomotive steaming across the country carrying a failed theater producer with a time-sensitive business scheme. Oscar Jaffee (Peter Gallagher) has only 16 hours to persuade his former love, turned Hollywood superstar Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth), to take a role in his new show.

Something Rotten!, at New York City’s St. James Theater

Jared says: "This is a very fun piece, a very tongue-in-cheek piece which takes on all the tropes of theater."

Synopsis: This musical comedy premiere takes place in 1590s England, where “Romeo & Juliet” has just premiered and public sewage is all the rage, making life a little less rancid. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom aim to create an iconic piece of theater, but it's not so easy when the competition is with rock star William Shakespeare. They rely on the counsel of soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, who advises them to write, not “Hamlet,” but “Omelet." The result is a motley musical mash-up from the Renaissance to today's Great White Way.

Which shows do you want to win a Tony on Sunday? » Tell Jared about it on  Facebook or  Twitter.