It helps to have three-day weekends when the three shows already playing metro stages are joined by three more on Sept. 14 and another trifecta on Sept.27.

Thank goodness for an opening-free weekend in between. By that time dramaholics should be able to catch up with the rush of theater startups that began with the brilliant August: Osage County at the Omaha Community Playhouse, a saucy Avenue Q at SNAP! Productions and a Guinness-tasting Big Maggie at Brigit St. Brigit.

Then at mid-month two musicals are added, Legally Blonde on the Playhouse main stage and 1776 at the Bellevue Little Theater, plus the play Lips Together, Teeth Apart at Chanticleer in Council Bluffs. The BLT’s musical about the founding fathers has often been performed here, but the Playhouse show starring Leanne Hill Carlson as the title blonde marks a first for a local cast.

And the fact that Chanticleer is starting its 60th season in Council Bluffs is arguably the biggest news of all, given its shaky status last year. The Iowans not only promise two musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat in November and Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in May, but the award-winning drama Proof and a four-show cabaret series from October through April.

Back to those September threesomes: the University of Nebraska at Omaha gets the next bunch going with William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus on Sept. 26. The Bard’s early tragedy is billed as “a sophisticated blend of heart-stopping drama and pitch black humor.”

On Sept. 27, the Blue Barn opens its 24th season with Red, John Logan’s look at the ambition and vulnerability of artist Mark Rothko coping with a huge commission for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant. And that’s the same day Creighton University presents Funny Girl, the musical famed for Barbra Streisand’s portrayal of performer Fanny Brice.

In October, three more venues join the seven whose seasons first got underway. The Shelterbelt’s Shelterskelter 17, Oct. 4 through Oct. 28, features horror as inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, and Doug and Laura Marr’s Circle Theatre offers Rob Urbanati’s adaptation of The Bad Seed starting Oct. 19.

And Omaha Performing Arts begins its season of six Broadway shows with Shrek the Musical, Oct. 23 for a Tuesday through Sunday run. The same runs bring the dancing boy, Billy Elliott the Musical in November, Memphis the Musical with 1950s rock in January, and the spooky Addams Family in May.

That would make an impressive season, but there’s more: a three-day visit for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in December and nearly a month of Disney’s The Lion King starting in mid-March. All six play the Orpheum, and another sort of theater, Potted Potter—the Unauthorized Harry Experience hits the Holland Center’s Scott Recital Hall in February.

October also sees the Playhouse add boom, a romantic comedy where a grad student copes with the end of the world, to its Howard Drew schedule on Oct. 19, and Creighton University opens Almost, Maine, a quirkly little collection of playlets, on Oct. 31.

Then November brings, in addition to the Memphis musical at the Orpheum and Chanticleer’s Joseph, another eight openings, including both familiar and original holiday productions. Exceptions include the Iowa Western Community College revival of Fame, the original high school musical, on Nov. 8, and UNO’s treatment of Mary Zimmerman’s Mirror of the Invisible World opening Nov. 14.

The original play is the latest in Doug Marr’s long list of credits. His Witch Way to the North Pole starts the family fun on Nov. 30. The Blue Barn sticks to its tradition of irreverent parodies with Who Killed Santa? Nov. 23, as Frosty, Tiny Tim, Rudolph and others become suspects. It’s their antidote to the much kinder, gentler Christmas Carol’s return to the Playhouse on Nov. 16-Dec. 23.

Brigit takes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to the Joslyn Castle and starts celebrating the 12 days of Christmas on Nov. 19, Bellevue stages the radio play version of It’s A Wonderful Life Nov. 2-18, and Creighton presents Vive Paris! starting Nov. 28.

The John Beasley Theatre hasn’t reported its schedule. That leaves only one December opening to close out the 2012 half of the season.

It’s the return of Billy McGuigan, his brothers, and a handful of outstanding instrumentalists in Yesterday and Today, an interactive Beatles experience.

The second half? You’ve already seen what Omaha Performing Arts plans for its Broadway series, and the Reader has covered the schedule for Brigit and will do more later this month on the Blue Barn.

The best of the rest could come in May when the BLT does Sugar, the musical based on “Some Like it Hot,” while the Playhouse does The Wizard of Oz and debuts Omahan Ellen Struve’s magical Recommended Reading for Girls.

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