Invisible Man

Stretching from Beethoven to Brustein and from Palm Springs to North Korea, the new theater season is all over the map. And with a new festival called TNT, it's bound to be explosive.

1. Invisible Man:: Christopher McElroen directs Oren Jacoby's new stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison's iconic 1952 novel, whose African-American narrator mixes jazz and symbolism into his tale of bigotry and politics in the first half of the 20th century. :: January 4–February 3 :: Huntington Theatre Company at BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston :: 617.266.0800 or

2. 33 Variations:: Paula Plum shoulders the role played on Broadway by Jane Fonda in Moisés Kaufman's drama about an ailing music scholar navigating stormy relations with her daughter and Beethoven. Spiro Veloudos directs. :: January 4–February 2 :: Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon St, Boston :: 617.585.5678 or

3. The Mountaintop:: Underground Railway Theater presents the area premiere of Katori Hall's 2010 Olivier Award–winning play set in a Memphis motel on the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. Having delivered the spine-tingling "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, he kicks back with the maid who brings him coffee. :: January 10–February 3 :: Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge :: 617.576.9278 or

4. Other Desert Cities:: Scott Edmiston directs the area premiere of Jon Robin Baitz's 2012 Pulitzer finalist, a home-for-the-holidays debacle in which a once-promising novelist spends Christmas with her Palm Springs–dwelling Republican parents and puts the kibosh on the fun by announcing her plan to pen a memoir dredging up a "pivotal and tragic event" in the history of the clan. The cast includes Anne Gottlieb, Nancy Carroll, and Karen MacDonald. :: January 11–February 9 :: SpeakEasy Stage Company, 539 Tremont St, Boston :: 617.933.8600 or

5. You for Me for You:: Fresh from its world premiere at Washington DC's Woolly Mammoth Theatre comes Mia Chung's imaginative recreation of one North Korean sister's arrival on the noisy, neon shores of New York City while her sibling remains trapped at home. :: January 18–February 16 :: Company One, Plaza Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston :: 617.933.8600 or

6. Sister Act:: Boston gets a stop on the first national tour of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film about a disco diva getting witness protection at a Philadelphia convent. :: January 22–February 3 :: The Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston :: 617.259.3400 or

7. The Glass Menagerie:: Tony winner Cherry Jones returns to her onetime artistic home, American Repertory Theater, to take on the formidable old belle trolling for a "gentleman caller" in Tennessee Williams's famed memory play. British director John Tiffany, who won a Tony for the musical Once, is at the helm. :: February 2–March 3 :: Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge :: 617.547.8300 or

8. Middletown:: Amp up the anxiety of Our Town and you get Will Eno's more contemporary examination of the mysteries of ordinary small-town life. Doug Lockwood directs Actors' Shakespeare Project's area premiere, with a cast that includes Steven Barkhimer and Marianna Bassham. :: February 13–March 10 :: Theater at the Cambridge YMCA, 820 Mass Ave, Cambridge :: 866.811.4111 or

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 See all articles by: CAROLYN CLAY