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10 best LI theater shows to see this fall

Anthony Rapp, left, and Adam Pascal starred in

Anthony Rapp, left, and Adam Pascal starred in the original "Rent" on Broadway. A 20th anniversary national touring production comes to Tilles Center in Brookville on Nov. 6, 2016, and a Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts production runs through Oct. 2. Credit: Joan Marcus

RENT (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. 2 E. Main St., through Oct. 2; also Tilles Center, LIU Post campus, Brookville, Nov. 6) Observe the 20th anniversary of the Broadway debut of “Rent” with a new production at Smithtown and/or a national tour coming to Tilles for the occasion. Inspired by Puccini’s opera “La Bohème,” the 1996 Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner set in the East Village was created by Adelphi University graduate Jonathan Larson, who died of an undiagnosed cardiac condition on the day his musical debuted Off-Broadway. In “Seasons of Love,” the show answers the question: How do you measure a year? “Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.” But “Rent” is about way more than arithmetic. 631-724-3700, smithtownpac.org; 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org

1776 (John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St., Sept. 22-Nov. 6) In a presidential election year, it may not be much of an endorsement to mention that this Declaration of Independence musical was Richard Nixon’s favorite. It also topped “Hair” for the 1969 Tony for best musical. But the Founding Fathers and their wives — Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson play prominent roles — were neither Democrats nor Republicans, except in the lowercase sense. It’s a refreshing concept in this hyperpartisan season. 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

GEORGE AND GRACIE: A LOVE STORY (BroadHollow Theatre Company’s BayWay Arts Center, 265 E. Main St., East Islip, Oct. 8-23; also BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, 700 Hempstead Tpke., Oct. 29-Nov. 13) Herricks High School alum Tommie Gibbons authored this play in the voice of George Burns, sharing stories about his life with Gracie Allen. The comedienne’s “illogic logic” charmed American TV viewers in the 1950s when she and Burns aired in proximity to their close friend Jack Benny. 631-581-2700, 516-775-4420, broadhollow.org

MURDER ON THE NILE (Staller Center, Stony Brook University, Oct. 15) Aquila Theatre, the Manhattan-based touring company specializing in classic theater, brings the Agatha Christie whodunit set on a paddle steamer in 1940s Egypt to Stony Brook for one night only. Don’t cheat by reading her novel “Death on the Nile” beforehand. Wait until after the reveal. 631-632-2787, stallercenter.com

TED SPERLING’S A BROADWAY ROMANCE (Tilles Center, LIU Post campus, Brookville, Oct. 15) The Tony-winning music director-conductor-pianist, whose credits include “Light in the Piazza” and revivals of “The King and I” and “South Pacific,” accompanies Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana — who played nice together in “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” — in an evening of Broadway love songs, some of which they shared on the Great White Way. 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org

URINETOWN (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Oct. 15-Nov. 6) Whatever worries you most in terms of election-year public policy — taxes, climate change, government overreach — is nothing compared with what’s happening in a fictional municipality where a 20-year drought led authorities to impose a “pay-to-pee” tax. This uproarious anti-establishment musical, which had the misfortune to open on Broadway just before 9/11, makes a return visit to Smithtown, where you’ll not be charged for restroom usage. 631-724-3700, smithtownpac.org

NOVEMBER (Hampton Theatre Company at Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Ave., Oct. 20-Nov. 6) Yes, it’s a presidential election year, and a particularly impolite one at that. But can it top David Mamet’s politically incorrect satire that carries an advisory regarding “very strong language”? The play premiered on Broadway in another election year, 2008. But it can’t be said that it anticipated the election of a man called Obama. 631-653-8955, hamptontheatre.org

THE SCARLET LETTER (Bay Street Theater, Long Wharf, Sag Harbor, Nov. 7-26). Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic A-for-adultery novel comes to life — from the page to the stage — as part of Bay Street’s Literature Live! program. Students in several Long Island school districts study the novel in class and then see its live theatrical adaptation for free. There are also weekend and evening shows open to the public. You pay for your tickets, but you don’t have to study. 631-725-9500, baystreet.org

LEGENDS IN CONCERT (Gateway Playhouse, 215 South Country Rd., Bellport, Nov. 17-27) In this latest touring production, a cast of look-alikes and sound-alikes pays tribute to more living artists than in past shows at The Gateway, among them Adele, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Swedish disco group ABBA. Also on the dance card are David Bowie and Whitney Houston impersonators. 631-286-1133, thegateway.org

MARY POPPINS (Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St., Nov. 17-Jan. 1) Family-friendly musicals are the Engeman’s option-of-choice for the holiday season. This particular choice points forward to a movie premiere slated for Christmas 2018 when Emily Blunt in the title role and Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” superstardom co-star in “Mary Poppins Returns.” In the meantime, get your “Spoonful of Sugar” primer in flying-by-umbrella lore. 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

And keep in mind . . .

CAROUSEL (BroadHollow Theatre Company’s BayWay Arts Center, 265 E. Main St., East Islip, through Sept. 28; also BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, 700 Hempstead Tpke., Oct. 1-16) June will be bustin’ out all over again in this teary Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece about a carnival barker who lets his golden chances pass him by. 631-581-2700, 516-775-4420, broadhollow.org

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (Cultural Arts Playhouse, 170 Michael Dr., Syosset, Sept. 16-Oct. 9) Time to boogie like its 1977, when John Travolta was young enough to disco like there’s no tomorrow in the movie of the same name. 516-694-3330, broadhollow.org

LEGALLY BLONDE, THE MUSICAL (Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, Sept. 17-Oct. 29) You’ll be tickled pink over this singing romcom about a girl who gets into Harvard Law just to win back, or get even, with the boyfriend who dumped her. 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com

LITTLE WOMEN (Merrick Theatre and Center for the Arts, 2222 Hewlett Ave., Oct. 8-Nov. 6) The March sisters sing their hearts out in this musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about girls growing up while their father’s off fighting with the Union Army in the Civil War. 516-868-6400, merrick-theatre.org

MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT (Noel Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center, 931 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale, Oct. 15-Nov. 5) As “Spamilton,” the parody by Forbidden Broadway’s creator attests, the Python musical paved the way for “Book of Mormon,” “Something Rotten” and more. See the King Arthur silliness that inspired it all. 631-218-2810, cmpac.org

THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Nov. 19-Dec. 18) The holiday sequel to the warm-hearts/cold-beer original, set in Armadillo Acres, centers on a freak bout of amnesia that strikes the trailer park’s Scrooge. 631-724-3700, smithtownpac.org

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Nov. 19-Dec. 30, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, Nov. 19-Dec. 30; also Tilles Center, LIU Post campus, Brookville, Dec. 11-12) Speaking of Scrooge, he’s reincarnated in the person of Theatre Three’s Jeffrey Sanzel in one of Long Island’s greatest holiday theatrical traditions. At Tilles, the Dickens tale gets a fresh musical treatment, infused with favorite carols, in an adaptation by New Hampshire’s North County Center for the Arts. 631-928-9100, theatrethree; 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org

SISTER ACT (BroadHollow Theatre Company’s BayWay Arts Center, East Islip, Nov. 26-Dec. 11; also BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, 700 Hempstead Tpke., opening Jan. 7) Say a Hail Mary or two (maybe more as priest-prescribed) for the habit-forming musical comedy based on 1992 hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. 631-581-2700, 516-775-4420, broadhollow.org

THE WIZ (Cultural Arts Playhouse, 170 Michael Dr., Syosset, Dec. 2-Jan. 8) The soul musical based on the “Oz” classic, revived last year in a live NBC telecast, eases on down the Yellow Brick Road again at CAP’s new location. 516-694-3330, culturalartsplayhouse.com

HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR ON ICE (Patchogue Theatre, 71 E. Main St., Dec. 16-Jan. 1) Skate into the seasonal swing of things with the Gateway-produced ice show combining stories and songs from winter holiday traditions and featuring Olympic skaters. 631-286-1133, thegateway.org

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