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The JA 10 (too big for 5 this time!): Can't-Miss Shows in the NJ Theater Season.

The JA 10 (too big for 5 this time!): Can't-Miss Shows in the NJ Theater Season.

intimate

intimate

While some are programming their DVRs this time of year around the new fall TV season, we New Jersey theater fans are marking up our calendars with all the enticing theatrical events about to hit the Garden State. While it can be exciting to learn of all the great shows about to hit the stage, it can also be overwhelming reading through a theater company’s season. You’re in luck--we've compiled this list of the 10 can’t-miss theater events to keep you busy from now until sun block time. Hot Playwright: Fresh off her Pulitzer Prize for Ruined, the Two River Theater Co. is staging Lynn Nottage’s 2003 play Intimate Apparel. Set in New York in the early 1900s, Esther, an African-American woman, creates undergarments for the poor and wealthy and gains independence in her career. Become familiar with Nottage, whose Ruined is being developed as a film for HBO.  (Two River Theater Co.;  runs through October 10)

Rising Actor: Chances are, you’ve already seen Hairspray between the six-year Broadway run and the blockbuster film. Why see it again? Because in this production at the Papermill Playhouse, Edna Turnblad is played by the hilarious, two-time Tony nominee Christopher Sieber. Famous for his turns in Spamalot and Shrek the Musical, catch this cartoonish performer now before his ABC series It Takes A Village takes off. (Paper Mill Playhouse; runs through October 24)

(Poe)fect Halloween: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is mixing some of literature’s creepiest writings with the classic staples of Halloween (jack-o-lanterns!) and autumn (cider)! Something Wicked This Way Comes will feature its company actors reading from Shakespeare, Poe, and Lovecraft, in addition to fall refreshments beforehand. (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; October 25)

Heart(felt) Performance: Puppets have produced some incredible theater in recent years, from Avenue Q to off-Broadway’s current Imaginocean. Now the beloved French children’s tale The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery gets the felt treatment at Cape May Stage. Emmy Award winner Michael Schupbach designs the puppets in this tale of a pilot who meets a boy from another planet. (Cape May Stage; runs November 26 through December 30)

Biography of St. Nick: Christmas-themed theatricals are usually over-the-top spectacles with no fruitcake or reindeer spared. Enjoy a minimalist holiday event this year with superb storytelling from Gayle Stahlhuth, as she tells The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus at the East Lynne Theater Company. Based on L. Frank Baum’s book, Stahlhuth takes on over 30 characters herself as she tells how the Big Man got his start and came to don the red suit. (East Lynne Theater Co.; runs November 26 through December 11)

Second Chance: If you missed it on Broadway a few years ago when it only ran for 112 performances, now is your chance to catch The Little Dog Laughed at the Bickford Theatre. This comedy, which was a Tony nominee for Best Play, centers on a Hollywood actor on the brink of superstardom who is adamant about coming out of the closet, but his unscrupulous agent will do anything to keep him in. (Bickford Theatre; runs January 20 through February 13)

Behind the Music: For those that enjoy musicals about famous musicians, such as Dreamgirls or the upcoming Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical on Broadway, Crossroads Theatre Company offers the backstory of Billie Holiday. Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday is a fictional story that takes place during the jazz singer’s final performance, where she tells stories of her career and sings her classic numbers. (Crossroads Theatre Co.; runs February 17 through 27)

Most Changed: Opening in late October, the 18-year-old Luna Stage company moves from Montclair to its largest site yet in West Orange. Luna’s new digs features a 99-seat black box theater and a 40-seat studio theater. Check out the new venue by seeing Mercy and the Firefly, a world premiere play by Amy Hartman about a woman who returns back home to Pittsburgh from Los Angeles, after fleeing years ago. She’s got baggage and a secret that could harm her family. (Luna Stage; runs February 10 through March 13)

Most Daring: In a modern retelling/twist on the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty Wakes finds a father who brings his beautiful daughter to a present-day sleep disorder clinic and claims she’s been in a centuries-long slumber. Sure it sounds kooky, but this production at the McCarter Theatre features a rock score by the band GrooveLily and book by Rachel Sheinkin, Tony winner for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. (McCarter Theatre Center; runs April 29-June 5)

Most Likely to Succeed: If you were unable to snag tickets to the completely sold-out first run on Broadway, now is your chance to catch a new production of The God of Carnage at the George Street Playhouse. This comedy, which won Tonys for Best Play, Actress, and Direction, centers on the chaos that ensues when two sets of parents meet to discuss their sons’ schoolyard tussle. These parents, who end up acting more like children, give the Real Housewives of New Jersey a run for their money. (George Street Playhouse; runs May 10 through June 5)

Festival of Fine Craft at Wheaton: Preview and Pumpkins (Oh, my).

Festival of Fine Craft at Wheaton: Preview and Pumpkins (Oh, my).

Civil War Weekend: Time Travel, No DeLorean Required.

Civil War Weekend: Time Travel, No DeLorean Required.