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September Theater Preview

Between Jay Z-produced musicals and the US premiere of Alan Bennett’s “The Habit of Art,” your DVR might be busy while you’re out at the theater this month

Sahr Ngaujah as Fela Kuti and the Broadway cast of Fela! Photo by Monique Carboni

We’re fully committed to the fact that our DVRs are going to be getting a lot of action this month. The theater season kicks off in resounding style this September, offering everything from Jay Z-produced musicals to the US premiere of Alan Bennett’s newest play. So, thank your lucky stars that Entourage is almost over, and head out to see one of these exciting new productions.

At the Lansburgh Theatre, Michael Kahn directs Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Heir Apparent, Jean-Francois Regnard’s 18th-century comedy about a man attempting to secure an inheritance so he can marry. It’s adapted by David Ives, who also adapted Pierre Corneille’s The Liar last season. September 6 through October 23; tickets ($39 to $95) available at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Web site.

David Muse starts his second season as artistic director of Studio Theatre with the US premiere of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art. The show, a play-within-a-play about the friendship between writer W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, received glowing reviews when it debuted in London in 2009, but never made it to New York, despite the previous success of Bennett’s The History Boys. September 7 through October 16; tickets ($35 to $69) available at Studio Theatre’s Web site.

Round House Theatre’s new season opens September 7 with Fahrenheit 451, adapted by Ray Bradbury from his 1953 dystopian novel about a world where books are banned. The play is directed by Sharon Ott, whose last local directing stint in Washington was Edward Bond’s Restoration at Arena Stage in 1985. Through October 9; tickets ($25 to $60) available at Round House’s Web site.

Alice Childress’s 1955 play, Trouble in Mind, runs at Arena Stage September 9 through October 23. Childress’s Obie Award for the show, about black and white actors rehearsing a Broadway play, was the first awarded to an African-American woman. E. Faye Butler stars. Tickets ($55 and up) available at Arena Stage’s Web site.

Scholar and performer E. Patrick Johnson presents the one-man show Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South at Signature Theatre September 13 through October 9. The show, an oral history based on a book by Johnson, was described by the Chicago Tribune as “a rich picture of how gay, black Southerners negotiated their lives.” Tickets ($40) available at Signature’s Web site.

The Broadway hit Fela! comes to Sidney Harman Hall September 13 through October 9. The musical, based on the life of Nigerian musician/activist Fela Kuti, features choreography by Bill T. Jones, and was produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith. Tickets ($25 to $115) available at Shakespeare Theatre’s Web site.

September 23 through October 30, Ford’s Theatre and Theater J present Parade, a Tony-winning musical about the 1913 trial of businessman Leo Frank for the murder and rape of Mary Phagan. Euan Morton, who starred in Signature Theatre’s 2010 production of Chess, plays Frank. Tickets ($20 to $60) available at Ford’s Theatre’s Web site.

Happy birthday, Les Mis! Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th-anniversary production of his musical, Les Misérables, comes to the Kennedy Center September 28 through October 30, with a new staging inspired by Victor Hugo’s paintings. The show has been produced in 42 countries and 21 different languages, playing to an estimated 55 million people. Tickets ($39 to $135) available at the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

And in brief:

The Kennedy Center’s tenth annual Page to Stage festival is this weekend, with free readings, rehearsals, and other showcases by members of 40 local theaters. It runs through Monday: Find more details at the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

Theater J’s Imagining Madoff, a world premiere production by Deb Margolin, runs through September 25. The ever-impressive Rick Foucheux stars as Bernie.

Catch Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days through September 25 at WSC Avant Bard.

Holly Twyford directs No Rules Theatre Company’s production of Stop Kiss, September 7 through October 2.

MetroStage has Doubt playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo, September 8 through October 16.

The American Century Theater launches its new season with Clifford Odet’s The Country Girl, September 9 through October 8.

Taffety Punk Theatre Company stages Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, September 9 through September 24.

Synetic Theater revives its Helen Hayes-sweeping wordless production of Macbeth, September 14 through October 2.

Faction of Fools’s new production of Machiavelli’s The Mandrake runs September 15 through October 8.

September 15 through October 9, catch ¡Ay Carmela! at Gala Hispanic Theatre.

The touring gospel musical Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boyz stops at the Warner Theatre September 21 through 25.

The Forum Theatre stages Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest, September 22 through October 15.

The Heritage O’Neill Theatre Company presents Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten, September 22 through October 22.

September 28 through October 16, Studio Theatre’s Studio Lab hosts its inaugural show: The world premiere of Lungs by Duncan Macmillan, directed by Aaron Posner.

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