Action on the stage and behind the scenes marks the fall theater season — one of the busiest ever in our region.

Mary McDonnell stars in “Gloria: A Life.”

McCarter Theater

91 University Place, Princeton. 609-258-2787.

McCarter is opening its season with the regional theater premiere of Gloria: A Life, a stage look at the life and times of contemporary American feminist activist, writer, and entrepreneur Gloria Steinem.

Written by the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theater’s artistic director and noted playwright Emily Mann, “Gloria” also introduces Mann’s final year at the theater she has helmed since 1990 and ushers in a season the company has dubbed “Signature Emily.”

It is a season that, according to McCarter materials, embodies, “the powerful themes that have cemented her personal legacy and influenced the American theater at large: giving a voice to women and people of color, embracing risk in pursuit of art that inspires social dialogue, discovering and mentoring emerging talent, and championing inventive cross-company collaborations.”

Mann says it also “celebrates the rewards of taking risks through a collection of life-affirming stories and experiences that I hope will fill audiences with energy, hope and joy.”

“Gloria: A Life” features actor Mary McDonnell — remembered for her performances in “Dances With Wolves,” “Passion Fish,” and “Independence Day.” Continues through Sunday, October 6.

Then the stage is set for a Halloween season production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein.” Developed in collaboration with Chicago-based Lookingglass Theater Company, the famed ghostly tale of a human-made man shunned by his maker and society runs Tuesday, October 15, through Sunday, November 3.

A ghostly tale of a more benevolent sort follows with McCarter’s stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. A regional tradition spanning decades, McCarter’s story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s personal transformation mixes traditional and original and professional with community — the latter represented by 35 members of the region helping to bring the classic tale to life. Shows Tuesday, December 10, through Sunday, December 29.

Passage Theater

Mill Hill Playhouse, 205 East Front Street, Trenton. 609-392-0766.

The Capital City’s only professional theater company is opening its 34th season with new works.

The first is Dauphin Island, a story where two people are brought together by circumstances and embark on a personal journey. Written by Detroit-area playwright Jeffry Chastang, the work was premiered in 2017 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and performed at the Detroit Repertory Theater in 2018. The Passage production is set for Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, October 27.

Passage’s first Solo Flight production — the company’s commitment to one person shows — is Sorta Rican, written by Miss Angelina. A mixture of her half-Puerto Rican and half-Italian background, hip and hop and Salsa, and New Jersey, New York, and Miami, her riff on Latino culture fills the stage Friday, November 15, through Sunday, November 17.

Off stage, the company is working on a Trenton-centric production called the OK Trenton Project, based on the 2017 incident where a student-created artwork was censored by city officials because it resembled a gang sign. The project got the support of a Doris Duke Foundation/Andrew W. Mellon MAP Grant.

Renee Taylor brings “My Life on a Diet” to George Street Playhouse.

George Street Playhouse

11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-246-7717.

A new theater with new plays sums up New Brunswick’s oldest professional theater.

The new season opens with Last Days of Summer. A musical by the Grammy-winning composer of Broadway’s “Little Women” and directed by Tony nominated director of Broadway’s “Newsies,” the production — being billed as a “tale of baseball, friendship, and the enduring bond between fathers and sons” — was adapted by Steve Kluger from his novel about two boys who develop a surprising and unlikely friendship with a member of the New York Giants. Shows run Tuesday, October 15, through Monday, November 11.

Emmy Award-winning writer and actress Renee Taylor’s solo-show My Life on a Diet follows. Based on her memoir of the same name and developed for the stage in collaboration with her husband, actor-writer Joseph Bologna, the 2018 off-Broadway zinger and showbiz tale runs Tuesday, November 19, through Sunday, December 15.

Crossroads Theater

11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-545-8100.

The production Paul Robeson marks the Tony Award winning company’s return to downtown New Brunswick and its place in the new Performing Arts Center. Written by the late playwright Phillip Hayes Dean’ and directed by Crossroad artistic director Marshall Jones III, the work that had a controversial 1978 Broadway premiere, traces the life and times of the noted New Jersey-born and raised actor, singer, and political activist of African ancestry. Through September 15.

A Christmas Carol follows. The revival of the 1994 musical adaptation — featuring music by Alan Menken, Disney’s “Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and lyrics by Tony winner Lynn Ahrens, “Ragtime” and “My Favorite Year” — is being billed as “a multi-cultural musical celebration. Featuring Broadway veteran Count Stovall, shows run Thursday through Sunday, December 5 through 15.

Bucks County Playhouse

70 South Main Street, New Hope, Pennsylvania. 215-862-2121.

The historic theater is once again asserting itself as a home for quality professional theater as demonstrated by the series of recent well-received productions. Working on a different schedule, BCP is actually winding down a season that started several months ago and heated up for the summer. But the remaining schedule features the return of some seasonal favorites and a relatively new work.

The Rocky Horror Show live-on-stage production returns with the critically noted book and music by Richard O’Brien, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and stage direction by Hunter Foster. An adult affair, the producers recommend audiences no younger than 17. They also say all seats contain an authorized prop bag that will be waiting for you. Friday, October 11, through Sunday, October 27.

Once: The Musical, another film turned stage show, follows. The story of a young male Dublin busker who gets some unexpected help from a young female immigrant is being directed and choreographed by Lorin Latarro and takes the stage Friday, November 8, through Saturday, November 30.

Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show returns for the holidays. A BCP original, it retells the familiar tale of nasty Scrooge’s transformation through five quick-changing actors playing fast, funny, and endearingly with the Dickens classic. Friday, December 6, through Sunday, December 29.

Kim Wayans appears in “An Act of God.”

Bristol Riverside

120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pennsylvania. 215-785-0100.

An Act of God, “Daily Show” writer David Javerbaum’s popular irreverent comedy, makes a stop at Bristol for God herself to set the audience straight. The production features TV’s “In Living Color” and “In the House” performer Kim Wayans in the title role. Tuesday, September 17, through Sunday, October 13.

Next to Normal follows. Directed by BRT music director Keith Backer, the play’s producers call the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning musical a “heartbreaking, humorous, and unflinchingly authentic look at a seemingly normal modern family struggling with the effects of bipolar disorder.” Tuesday, October 29, through Sunday, November 24.

Hopewell Theater

5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. 609-466-1964.

Remembrance Day, a one person play written and performed by former Passage Theater artistic director June Ballinger is one of Hopewell’s fall live theater weekend offerings. The stage story focuses on Ballinger’s mother’s hidden life working at London’s top-secret Bletchley Park code breaker division during World War II. Friday, November 15.

Tobias Turkey, produced and performed by the 50-year-old New York-based Shadowbox Theater, follows with a Thanksgiving themed book-turned-puppet show about a determined baby turkey. Saturday, November 16.

Kelsey Theater

1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, 609-570-3333.

Celebrating its 46th season on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College, the community theater is offering productions by 10 area companies and several college productions.

The Sound of Music, by Pierrot Productions. Thursday, September 12, to Sunday, September 22.

Leading Ladies, hit Broadway playwright’s Ken Ludwig’s farce performed by Maurer Productions, Friday, September 27, to Sunday, October 6.

Tartuffe is PinnWorth Productions new translation presentation of Moliere’s 1664 satirical classic. Friday, October 11 to Sunday, October 20.

Catch Me If You Can is the Pennington Players stage retelling of a film and book of the same name that deal with the life of a con-artist. Friday, October 25, to Sunday, November 3.

Joseph and the The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical presented by the Yardley Players. Friday, November 8, to Sunday, November 17.

Scrooge, the Musical, M&M’s production of a stage work adapted from the Leslie Bricusse 1970 film musical “Scrooge.” Friday, November 22, to Sunday, December 1.

Actors’ NET

635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, Pennsylvania. 215-295-3694.

An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde’s 1985 British comedy of manners exploration of political corruption has been adapted and transported to 1960s Washington. Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 29.

The Big Bad Wolf: An Adult Fairy Tale About Fear, Forgiveness, and Sexual Identify by Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer Christopher Canaan. Friday, October 25, through Sunday, November 10.

The Christmas Carol Conspiracy: Scrooge’s Revenge, Actors’ Net producer Joe Doyle’s sequel following Scrooge’s realization that he was duped. Friday, December 6, through Sunday, December 22.

Music Mountain Theater

1483 Route 179, Lambertville, 609-397-3337.

Mamma Mia! — the hit musical using a score of songs by the popular musical group ABBA. Friday, September 13, through Wednesday, October 9.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a musical dark comedy of a low-born man’s discovery that he could be an earl if others were eliminated. Friday, October 11, through Sunday, October 27.

The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien’s popular stage production of the cult classic movie musical, makes a one-night appearance on Saturday, October 26.

Annie, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s hit Broadway musical about the comic strip orphan and her dreams. Friday, November 1, through Sunday, November 24.

A Christmas Carol, Alan Menken and Lynn Ahren’s musical version, arrives to open the holiday season. Friday, November 29, through Sunday, December 15.

Paper Mill Playhouse

22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, 973-376-4343.

Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz. The new musical chronicles Judy Garland’s early career from vaudeville baby to MGM teen star in the making. $34 and up. Thursday, September 26, through Sunday, October 27.

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Tony-nominated Broadway of the timeless fairy tale. Wednesday, November 20, through Sunday, December 29.

Playhouse 22

721 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, 732-254-3939.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, play based on Ken Kesey’s novel. Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 29.

Bye Bye Birdie. Musical about a rock star drafted into the Army in 1958. $22. Friday, November 8, through Sunday, November 24.

A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens’ classic. $22. Friday, December 13, through Sunday, December 22.

Rider University

Rider University, Lawrenceville, 609-896-7775,

Bright Star. Bart Luedeke Center. Preview performance of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s play about love and redemption set in the American South during the 1920s and 1940s. $9, $5 seniors. Wednesday, October 16, through Saturday, October 19

Hair. Yvonne Theater. Rider University Musical Theatre presents the Broadway musical. $9, $5 seniors. Wednesday, November 20, through Sunday, November 24.

Somerset Valley Players

689 Amwell Road, Hillsborough, 908-369-7469.

Urinetown the Musical. Comedy about a city that has enacted a ban on private toilets due to a 20-year drought. Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 22.

Death of a Salesman. Arthur Miller’s classic about the last days of failing salesman Willy Loman. Friday, October 18, through Sunday, November 3.

A Charlie Brown Christmas & Frosty the Snowman. Holiday classics. Friday, December 6, through Sunday, December 22.

State Theater

15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-247-7200,

Beautiful — The Carole King Musical. True story of the teenage songwriter turned Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. Friday through Sunday, November 8 through 10.

The SpongeBob Musical. Musical brings characters from the Nickelodeon series to life. $40-$98. Friday, November 29, through Sunday, December 1.

Villagers Theater

475 Demott Lane, Somerset, 732-873-2710,

Hand to God. Meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry. $20. Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 22.

Mamma Mia! Musical comedy about a mother, a daughter, and three possible dads. $20. Friday, November 8, through Sunday, November 24.

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