When advertising O Beautiful, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre went out of their way to include a warning that many people might get offended by the play's social, political and religious topical themes. If that's not reason to see a play, I don't know what else is. Whether it's shy and awkward Lennie Ryan (Coles Prince, pictured right) messing up the national anthem at the school talent show or Alice Fletcher finding solace in Jesus after getting pregnant, O Beautiful presents and wrestles with various extremist views in American culture through each character's struggle with hard-hitting issues. To complicate things further, historical characters are actually bothered to share their views from an alternate reality in the form of interviews throughout the play, including Jesus, Benjamin Franklin, Saint Paul, Joan of Arc, John Adams and Patrick Henry. Written by Theresa Rebeck, O Beautiful may also act as a chilling reminder for Christina Aguilera about her own national anthem Super Bowl slip-up ("o'er the ramparts," not "what so proudly"). — Steven Wyman-Blackburn
Oct. 4-14, $6-$30, Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, 802 Bolton Road, Unit 1127, Storrs, (860) 486-2113, crt.uconn.edu.