Last week we went on about all the theatre festivals that have found their way to stages lately; this week it seems like there’s a citywide Hamlet-fest or some sort of Shakespeare bug in the air. There are three productions of Hamlet going, so you can choose your poison. Still in previews is what looks like it will be a thoroughly, wonderfully traditional production of the play, at Classic Stage starring Michael Cumpsty, most recently of The Constant Wife and Democracy on Broadway. The other two versions are rather less “classic” in their approach: at La MaMa, Kanako Hiyama not only has pared the play down to an hour and a half, shuffled scenes and told the story from different perspectives, she literally puts you in the action, with the Ghost narrator in the audience and spectators cast as courtiers. Then, at Harlem’s Morris-Jumiel Mansion, Gorilla Repertory is doing the play in full, but *free* and outdoors in a roving, environmental manner. It would be pretty interesting (though pretty exhausting) to see all these adaptations in quick succession – just think how you might be talking after such an experiment.

2005_11_arts_shrew.jpg That’s hardly the extent of the Shakespeare you could get this week, either. Another interesting take is the Queen’s Company’s Taming of the Shrew, which puts the misogynistic-seeming play in the hands of an all-female cast. The company has a great mission to put ethnically diverse women into the limelight, but their dedication to acting by no means comes second, and it should be interesting to see how they approach this Elizabethan challenge.

A show that itself has a definite mission is Estrella, a new play by Kate Bell that addresses the glaring differences between the experience of middle-class America and that of third world immigrants here. The Estrella of the title is a refugee from El Salvador’s dirty, devastating civil war of the ’80s; the show deals with her relationship with an American woman who must come to terms with Estrella’s experience as well as the demands Estrella places on her. Maybe it’s just us, but it seems there’s altogether too little theater about struggle between the privileged and the perennially bereft, and even less about immigration, so this production is all the more welcome.

Taking on a similarly underexamined (in drama) subject is Cheeks, by Guillermo Gentile, which is about a disabled child who grows up isolated from everyone except his father; then he leaves the basement where he’s been confined and meets an inmate from an escaped insane asylum inmate and things take off from there; the producing company is called Latino Experimental Fantastic Theatre, which may give you an idea of what the approach is like.

Finally, for some sublime silliness after all that cerebral, earnest stuff, we can’t resist the idea of Sodom: The Musical, which is about the last days of the original Sin City and stars Jonathan Kaplan and Randy Jones (the Village People cowboy). Adam David Cohen wrote the music and Kevin Laub the book and lyrics for this goof on Abraham’s quest to find good Sodomites in order to save the city from God’s wrath. With Jones as God, it doesn’t get much more deliciously irreverent than that.

Details after the jump...

2005_11_arts_sodom.gifDetails: Classic Stage’s Hamlet is at its theatre at 136 E. 13th St. through Dec. 11. Performances are Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Sat. 2pm, Sun. 3pm. Tickets at Ticket Central.

Hamlet at La MaMa (74A E. 4th St.) shows through Nov. 20. Performances are Thurs.-Sun. 8pm and Sun. also 2:30pm. Tickets via Theatermania.

Gorilla Repertory’s Hamlet is at the Morris-Jumiel Mansion, 160th St./Amsterdam, through Nov. 20. Performances are Thurs.-Sun. 8pm.

The Taming of the Shrew is at Walkerspace, 46 Walker St., through Nov. 20. Performances are Mon. & Wed.-Sat. at 7:30pm, Sun. 3pm. Tickets at Smarttix.

Cheeks is at the CSV Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk St., through Dec. 11 with performances Wed.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 4pm & 7pm. Tickets at Smarttix.

Sodom: The Musical is at the Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St., through Dec. 3, showing Tues. 8pm, Fri. & Sat. 10:30pm. Tickets at Smarttix.