There’s a pile of new shows onstage in town– and I will sort through it for you right now!

Caps-For-Sale-Logo-600CAPS FOR SALE: The Musical–Take the kids to see this world premiere production based on the classic children’s book, whimsically performed by Boston Children’s Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion. This tale of Pezzo the Peddler and his passel of caps burgled by a barrel of monkeys is sweet, simple, funny, and short! It’s all animated by a frisky cast: especially Steve Gagliastro as the sincere and clever Pezzo, Shayna Bredbeck as a warm and expressive narrator, and a lively and versatile ensemble of townspeople, stilted and tutued circus performers, and those madcap monkeys. It’s all set against charming sets by Janie E. Howland and propelled by musical tunes which, while breaking no new ground, stick in the head. Through this Sunday March 13.

ZSCCakeWalk107CAKEWALK–This cake has flopped. The latest from the usually marvelous Zeitgeist Stage Company features a half-baked script about what goes on behind the scenes among the small town participants in a cake competition, including a nun with amorous inclinations, a conniving cub scout leader, a bride to be and her wedding cake baked and commandeered by her mom — you get the picture. The actors who have elsewhere given excellent performances, are here less than the sum of their parts, performing in a smorgasbord of styles that adds up to a recipe for disaster. At the Plaza Black Box through March 19th.

c700x420FAST COMPANY— Check this out, a funny and ALMOST tricky enough caper about a family of flimflammers involved in a big con that goes awry. Playwright Carla Ching builds tension as family ties get tangled when this gang of grifters begins out-conning one another. The charismatic cast makes us believe they know a pig-in-a-poke from a pig in a blanket. But there is at least one hole in the plot (which I shan’t give away). The play stops short of its potential to be a deeper gloss on truth, fiction, and identity as this family re-defines itself around where the buck stops when it comes to your relatives. But having a few magicians in my own family, I was more than interested and learned a few things myself!  At the Lyric Stage through March 27.

photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

H.M.S. PINAFORE— They’re back! That wacky and delightful crew out of Chicago– The Hypocrites cap their Gilbert and Sullivan trilogy with a transgendered H.M.S. Pinafore, where Li’l Buttercup (Matt Kahler) happens to be a brawny baritone, still shyly in love with Captain Cat Coran (Emily Casey). That’s right–where there were sailors, now there are “sail-resses”! Hijinks on the high seas ensue with this dazzling multi-talented cast hitting the high “C’s” while playing multiple instruments (concertina, oboe, violin, toy piano, guitar, ukelele, banjo, clarinet). Their clear-toned, pitch perfect voices do G&S proud, as they cavort all over the theater space in flowered jammies and floppy puppy slippers, tossing pillows and stuffed animals,  table top romping, and sliding down the shoot-the-chute right into the audience! They tap you on the shoulder if you need to make way for a quip and a solo here, an adorable ensemble there, while instantly producing the sweetest harmonies. From the lowest of puns to the wildest array of references, “Pretty Ponies” to “Singin’ in the Rain”: “I  can’t stand it!” –except that I could, and then some. Never was a satire on social class and true love so innocently, effervescently, delightfully, but not spitefully effective. The production is brilliant fun, and I dare say Gilbert and Sullivan would be all hands on deck. At Oberon through March 20!