The world premiere of The Soul Collector has the makings to be an offbeat delight.
The surreal comedy is not only written by David Emerson Toney, who has been a fixture for years in Washington as an actor, playwright and screenwriter, but it also marks a bold step forward for Everyman Theatre, which until now has specialized in previously produced plays with a track record of success.
Vincent Lancisi, Everyman's artistic director, has described Toney as "a new and vibrant voice in American theater" and says he's eager to introduce Baltimore audiences to his work.
In the play, two garbagemen assigned to a wealthy Cleveland neighborhood bring home high-quality, discarded items in the hopes of reselling them to finance their dreams. One day, they find a trunk containing a woman who is very much alive and possessed by two spirits: a 77-year-old Jewish man from New York and a young Japanese girl who died in the atom bomb attack on Nagasaki during World War II.
The two men must help release the spirits from their earthly constraints or face dire consequences.
The Soul Collector features Erika Rose in the title role, and Jefferson A. Russell and DeMargio House as the garbage collectors.
The comedy runs May 20-June 21 at 1727 N. Charles St. Tickets cost $20-$38. Call 410-752-2208 or go to everymantheatre.org.
Here are more theater highlights coming this spring:
April 1-26: : In the inventive God's Ear, the Tooth Fairy, a G.I. Joe doll and a transvestite airline stewardess, among other characters, help two parents come to terms with their grief. At Rep Stage, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $12-$30. 410-772-4900 or www.repstage.org.
April 2: : Broadway star Bebe Neuwirth, best known as Velma in Chicago, performs her cabaret act Stories With Music, at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. It features standards by Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill and others. $32-$78. 301-581-5100 or strathmore.org.
April 8-May 3: : Call of the Wild gets the full song-and-dance treatment: It's a musical that features the works of Jack London. The story about dogs, their owners and the Gold Rush is appropriate for older kids. At Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney. $26-$44. 301-924-3400 or olneytheatre.org.
April 14-26: : Actor Chazz Palminteri brings A Bronx Tale, his touching, autobiographical, one-actor play, to the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St. A young boy's loyalties are torn between his bus-driver father and a charismatic gangster. $20-$60. 410-547-7328 or france-merrickpac.com.
April 18-May 17: : A revival of the award-winning Ragtime returns to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. N.W., Washington. The musical, based on E.L. Doctorow's novel, traces the fates of a WASP family, an immigrant Jewish family and a black family in turn-of-the-century New York. $25-$90. 800-444-1324 or kennedy-center.org.
April 24-May 24: : Souvenir was an unexpected Broadway smash in 2005. Both members of the original cast will re-create the real-life story of Florence Foster Jenkins, who performed a series of concerts in early-20th-century New York despite her lack of musical ability. At Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. $10-$60. 410-332-0033 or centerstage.org.
April 28-May 31: : The world premiere of Giant is generating lots of buzz. This musical, which is based on Edna Ferber's epic novel of the same name, uses the marriage of a cattle baron and his Virginia-bred wife to explore Texas' history. At Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. $49-$74. 703-820-9771 or sig-online.org.
May 22-June 14: : Wittenberg is a fanciful examination of reason versus faith, featuring two university "colleagues," Dr. Faustus and Martin Luther, and their prize student, Hamlet, prince of Denmark. At Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, 3900 Roland Ave. $20-$25. 410-366-8596 or baltimoreshakespeare.org.
'The Mechanical,' March 26-April 5:
Frankenstein morphs into the true story of a chess-playing robot in The Mechanical. The machine, which had a concealed human inside, duped the public in Europe and America in the late 18th century. At Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. $10-$20. 410-752-8558 or theatreproject.org.