The Manhattan Project, the government-run program that birthed the A-bomb, is the unlikely subject of this bombastic rock musical about nuclear scientists struggling with crises of conscience. All strobe lights and spinning tables, the theatrical experiment fizzles, but Taboo's Euan Morton and Footloose's Jeremy Kushnier lead a explosive cast of power balladeers, including out Queer as Folk alum Randy Harrison as eager physicist Edward Teller and Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets.
Acorn Theatre, through August 16.
Drop Dead Perfect
Ridiculous Theatrical Company alum Everett Quinton devours scenery as Idris Seabright, an eccentric Key West spinster, in Erasmus Fenn's delicious genre parody, which wickedly rips from old Hollywood melodramas, pulp novels, and I Love Lucy. Pitch-perfectly staged by Joe Brancato, the trifle gets a jolt from Jason Cruz as a monstrously hung Cuban stranger who flirts with Idris's beloved ward (Jason Edward Cook, also in drag) and pill-pushing lawyer (Michael Keyloun).
Theatre at St. Clement's, through August 10.
The Long Shrift
Honorary gay auteur James Franco makes his stage directorial debut with Robert Boswell's discomfiting drama about an accused rapist sprung from jail, sodomized and swastika-branded, after the girl recants and tries to reconcile. Scott Haze oozes sex and danger as the prison-hardened prick, a volatile speaker at his 10-year high school reunion, but the ripe premise is ruined by amateurish pretension -- a flashback within a ghost-dream? -- and Franco's instinct to go for laughs.
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, through August 23.
Who will be crowned Miss Glamouresse? Audiences vote for the winner in this lightly updated revival, directed by Matt Lenz, of the campy 1991 musical featuring dudes dolled up as beauty pageant contestants. It's rather tame by today's shady RuPaul's Drag Race standards, but Nic Cory, Alex Ringler, Marty Thomas, Seth Tucker, Curtis Wiley, and Skivvies star Nick Cearley each bring "something extra" to their broad-stroked broads, hilariously costumed by Stephen Yearick.
Davenport Theatre, through September 21.
Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story
Now that you know what Carole King wrote -- thanks, Beautiful! -- this jukebox tuner schools audiences on '60s songwriter Bert Berns, seen through the eyes of the daughter who didn't know him either. Zak Resnick is engaging as the soulful but weak-hearted oat-sower who penned pop hits like "Twist and Shout" and "I Want Candy" before his premature death. Weaker still are the book scenes, but out director-choreographer Denis Jones stages numbers to twist and shout about.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, through August 31.
Read last month's theater picks here.