by Lenise Willis

This week, many theaters are already getting a head start on their 2011 seasons, providing thought-evoking plays that are certain to spark discussion.

Thursday thru Jan. 22, Stuart Williams Productions, in association with Theatre650, presents Pageant: The Musical at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E. Stonewall St., in Charlotte. Watch as six beauty queens (who turn out to really be men) sing, dance and fight for the title of Miss Glamouresse in this musical comedy. Some audience members are picked as guest judges and choose whom to crown as Miss Glamouresse. Play is recommended for ages 16 and older.

On Friday, Winston-Salem’s Theatre Alliance presents Jane Anderson’s Looking for Normal, a play about a family dealing with change. Roy and Irma were an ordinary couple and respected members of the church and community until Roy admits in marriage counseling that he wants a sex change. Now the two must reexamine their 25-year marriage in a play that explores the complexities of love, family and marriage. Play runs until Jan. 16 and is recommended for mature audiences only. (See review.)

If your New Year’s resolution was to spend more time with your family, then take the kids to Arts Council Theatre where the Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem is presenting If You Take a Mouse to School. Performed by Charlotte’s Tarradiddle Players and based on the bestselling book by Laura Numeroff, the play follows an adventure-seeking mouse as he stows away in a backpack. Play runs Friday- Saturday and is recommended for ages Pre-K to three.

Also on Friday, see No Rules Theatre Co. perform Toni Press-Coffman’s Touch at Winston-Salem’s Hanesbrands Theatre. The drama explores the life of lead character Kyle as he learns to deal with the loss of his wife, Zoe. Filled with humor, this play “does everything but wallow in its story’s sadness” as it reveals what it takes to rebuild one’s life after tragedy. Play runs until Jan. 23.

Don’t forget to check out the theater listing for box office numbers and websites.