Fall Theater: Ten hot prospects

Ten hot prospects for the coming fall theater season.

My Children! My Africa! Two South African students, one white and one black, become friends under the guidance of an idealistic teacher. Athol Fugard's apartheid-era drama is still stunningly relevant. Stageworks, Sept. 4-20, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-251-8984, www.stageworkstheatre.org.

Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop. Talented local actor Curtis Belz takes on the challenge of Danny Hoch's one-man "fresco of modern life" (Variety). The buzz on a recent preview run at Jobsite was excellent. HCC Ybor Mainstage Theater, Performing Arts Building, 2112 N. 15th St., Tampa, Thurs.-Sat. Sept. 17-19, 7:30 p.m.

And Baby Makes Seven. As Ruth and Anna await the birth of their child — fathered with friend Peter — the time comes to do away with all their imaginary children. It's no easy task. Jobsite Theater, Sept. 24-Oct. 11, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-229-STAR, www.jobsitetheater.org.

Fences August Wilson's best play is about Troy Maxson, an African-American rubbish collector whose bitterness and sense of lost opportunities make him a problematic husband and father. Set in Pittsburgh in 1957, it's also about a time when new opportunities for black citizens were slowly becoming real, but the indignities of the past were too raw to be forgotten. As in all Wilson's plays, the language is poetic, the characters are indelible and the metaphors — including, in this case, the trumpet carried by Troy's brain-damaged brother Gabriel — are brilliant. What happens to a dream deferred? Wilson's answer is riveting. American Stage, Sept. 25-Oct. 11, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-823-PLAY, www.americanstage.org.

The Woman In Black. A Halloween shocker. A scary old house, a ghoulish graveyard, inclement weather and a woman in black. Terror, as we know, is all a state of mind. Boo! Gorilla Theatre, Oct. 15-Nov. 8, 4419 N. Hubert Ave., Tampa, 813-879-2914, www.gorillatheatre.com.

Just As I Am: The Life, The Times of Mahalia Jackson. Bay area favorite Sharon Scott wrote and performs this tribute to the greatest of all gospel singers, who first became famous in the late 1940s. The Studio@620, Oct. 16-25, 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-895-6620, www.studio620.org.

Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure. Can Tampa's Performing Arts Center start a new musical on its way to Broadway? Can a modern Alice defeat the Queen of Hearts to Frank Wildhorn's music? TBPAC, Nov. 24-Jan. 3, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-229-STAR.

Christmas Trio. The late Susan Hussey's look at an American family is her most intense, accomplished work, addressing divorce, memory and the inevitable holidays. Gorilla Theatre, Dec. 3-20, 4419 N. Hubert Ave., Tampa, 813-879-2914, www.gorillatheatre.com.

What the Butler Saw. A randy psychiatrist sets off a series of absurd and farcical events in this classic madhouse of a play by the brilliant Joe Orton. Jobsite Theater, Jan. 7-24, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-229-STAR, www.jobsitetheater.org.

Blithe Spirit. Charles Condomine's second marriage is moving along rather smoothly — until the ghost of his first wife shows up with ideas of her own. Vintage Noel Coward. American Stage, Jan. 22-Feb. 7, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-823-PLAY, www.americanstage.org.

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