‘Rodney King’

Roger Guenveur Smith is a master of the kinetic one-person show. His mesmerizing “A Huey P. Newton Story” took us into the smoky subconscious of the Black Panther Party revolutionary. His “Rodney King,” which opens Penumbra Theatre’s fall season, comes at a particularly poignant moment for a nation in the Black Lives Matter era. The one-act orbits the 1992 videotaped police beating of the troubled Los Angeles motorist, and the trial and billion-dollar riot that erupted after an all-white jury acquitted the officers. Smith’s multidirectional stream of consciousness is sharpened, and sometimes amplified, by the thudding and suggestive sound score designed by frequent collaborator Marc Anthony Thompson. (Oct. 1-11, Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul; $15-$25; 651-224-3180 or penumbratheatre.org)

‘Glensheen: The Musical’

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and composer Chan Poling team up for what might be the most curious new show of the fall. One of the most notorious murders in 20th-century Minnesota becomes fodder in this musical. To refresh your memory, heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, were slain in Duluth on the night of June 27, 1977. Roger Caldwell, husband of Congdon’s adopted daughter Marjorie, was convicted of the crime, later was released after confessing in a plea deal, and then killed himself in 1988. Dane Stauffer plays Roger with Jen Maren as Marjorie. Wendy Lehr, Gary Briggle, Ruthie Baker and Sandra Struthers are in the ensemble. Lehr plays both Congdon and the nurse. It will be a spectacle. (Oct. 3-25; History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul; $15-$45, 651-292-4323 or historytheatre.com)


Inspired by intercultural tensions in school, this is the latest one-act by noted playwright Tracey Wilson, whose “Buzzer” was twice staged at Pillsbury House Theatre by Marion McClinton. Director Noël Raymond, another formidable stage interpreter, stages this world premiere with a cast that includes Jodi Kellogg and newcomer Corey LaQuis Pullam. (Sept. 18-Oct. 18, Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Av. S., Mpls. Pick-your-price. 612-825-0459 or pillsburyhousetheatre.org.)

‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’

Mark Benninghofen plays the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s deliciously grim musical about an exiled barber who gives the closest shaves in town. Sally Wingert plays Mrs. Lovett, the pie-shop owner who becomes Sweeney’s accomplice in disposing of his customers — and who secretly moons over the slashing barber. Tyler Michaels is the ruffian orphan who figures in the grisly denouement. Peter Rothstein directs the musical, which he calls his “favorite,” and Denise Prosek is Theater Latte Da’s musical director. Given the talent and Rothstein’s keen interest in the project, this promises to be a dark highlight of the season. (Sept. 23-Oct. 25, Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls. $31-$45. 612-339-3003 or theaterlatteda.org)

‘The Jungle Book’

British director Greg Banks specializes in adapting classic texts to meet contemporary sensibilities — often using stripped-down casts to find the essence of stories. Banks’ “The Jungle Book,” drawn from the stories of Rudyard Kipling, is an ensemble effort featuring sure-handed Children’s Theatre Company member Autumn Ness, Mu Performing Arts regular Eric Sharp and H. Adam Harris, who has been a standout in “The Grinch” and other CTC shows. (Sept. 29-Dec. 6, Children’s Theatre, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. $10-$48. 612-874-0400 or childrenstheatre.org)


To Kill a Mockingbird”: The Guthrie opens with a familiar classic that has much been in the news with the publication of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman,” which proposed a radically different image of Atticus Finch, fearless advocate of the oppressed. Baylen Thomas, a New York actor who grew up in Alabama, plays the signature role. (Sept. 12-Oct. 18; Guthrie Theater, guthrietheater.org)

“An Octoroon”: Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose “Neighbors” memorably sent up disturbing stereotypes about African-Americans, takes a similar tack in a comedic riff on Dion Boucicault’s 19th-century melodrama about interracial sex. It’s a sort of meta-play, built around a group of theater professionals working on that potboiler; their interactions reveal whether those issues are history — or not. (Oct. 15-Nov. 15, Mixed Blood Theatre, mixedblood.com.)

“The Wizard of Oz”: CTC brings back a past smash, with company member Traci Allen Shannon as Dorothy, Reed Sigmund reprising his role as the Cowardly Lion, athletic performer Dean Holt again playing Scarecrow, Bradley Greenwald as the Tin Man and veteran Jerry Drake as the Wizard. (Oct. 3-Jan. 3, Children’s Theatre, childrenstheatre.org).

Henry IV”: Ten Thousand Things puts on an all-female Shakespeare, with Michelle Barber, Shá Cage, Thomasina Petrus and Anna Sundberg among others. (Oct. 8-Nov. 1, Open Book, tenthousandthings.org)

The Night Alive”: Director Joel Sass, playwright Conor McPherson and actor Stephen Yoakam were a dream team in 2009’s “The Seafarer.” This show promises more of the destitute experience and ethereal healing. (Nov. 6-Dec. 20, Jungle Theater, jungletheater.com)

Sister Act”: Regina Marie Williams makes her Chanhassen debut as Deloris Van Cartier in this goofy sendup of church manners and street violence. Norah Long is Mother Superior and Andre Shoals is bad man Curtis Shank. (Oct. 30-Feb. 27; Chanhassen Dinner Theatres; chanhassentheatres.com)

The Events”: Scottish playwright David Grieg’s play is about a community’s response to terror. This production is by Actors Touring Company, a London company headed by Ramin Gray, who directs this show. (Sept. 30-Nov. 1, Guthrie Proscenium, guthrietheater.org)

Murder for Two”: Nic Delcambre and Andrea Wollenberg play this vaudevillian musical, in which a detective searches through a pile of suspects all played by the same actor. Randy Reyes directs. (Sept. 18-Nov. 1, Park Square Boss Stage, parksquaretheatre.org)

My Children! My Africa!”: James Williams directs Athol Fugard’s classic play about a teacher (the excellent Warren Bowles) who tries to lift South African children out of misery. (Nov. 11-29, Park Square Boss Stage, parksquaretheatre.org)