Stage Reading: Brush up on these books before heading to the theater



Read it before you see it: Movie buffs know to keep an eye on trailers so they can finish classic novels and the latest bestsellers before they hit cinemas. A batch of books are coming to local stages this season, too. Here are a few tomes to consider for your final summer reads before the curtains rise.

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

Man of La Mancha, Theatre Latté Da, Sept. 13-Oct. 22

Read one of the world’s greatest books, and you’ll have valuable context for the 1964 musical that’s being given a provocative staging at the Ritz Theater. Director Peter Rothstein plans to set his production in an immigration holding center, giving new resonance to the play-within-a-play that originally imagined the author awaiting a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Park Square Theatre, Nov. 9–Dec. 16

Annie Enneking directs a new production of this Park Square staple, the story of displaced migrant workers during the Great Depression. Steinbeck’s 1937 novella has proved readily adaptable to film and stage. You’ll probably want to pack some Kleenex.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

Mixed Blood Theatre, Nov. 10–Dec. 3

This 2003 novel was turned into a 2012 play that uses elaborate effects to take viewers inside the mind of Christopher, a boy with autism who sets out to solve the mystery of a murdered dog. A high-tech touring production came to the Orpheum last year; a more intimate local staging might help correct that show’s intentionally overstimulating excesses.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Jungle Theater, Nov. 18–Dec. 30

This 2016 comic play by Lauren Gunderson and Margaret Melcon is an unusual sort of literary adaptation: Its events take place two years after those described in the beloved 1813 novel. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy (um, sorry if that’s a spoiler) are hosting the extended Bennet family for a holiday gathering, and you’ll be best positioned to catch all the references if the book is fresh in your mind.

Candide, Voltaire

Artistry, March 1-3

Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 musical adaptation of Voltaire’s 1759 satire is getting a concert staging in Bloomington—although, disappointingly, not in the form of a site-specific production at the Mall of America. Find an annotated text if you want to fully appreciate the allusions to events like the 1755 Lisbon earthquake; regardless, your theatrical book club will have plenty of philosophy to puzzle over on your drive down I-35W to the “best of all possible worlds.”

Kids’ classics

The Children’s Theatre Company likes to stage plays that began as books, and this season that means How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Nov. 7-Jan 7); The Wiz (Jan. 23-March 18, with Penumbra Theatre); Corduroy (March 6-May 13); and another Dr. Seuss joint, The Lorax (April 17-June 10).