by Lenise Willis

If you don’t mind crying in between a few hearty laughs, then check out Robert Harling’s heart-rendering Steel Magnolias, which is still playing at Triad Stage’s Pyrle Theatre until May 8. The Southern classic is based in Truvy’s hair salon where the women are pampered among a familiar trade of gossip and witty Southern banter. The audience will fall in love with the characters — especially Ouiser — all over again. Just make sure to bring along a few tissues as well.

Wednesday through Saturday, UNC School of the Arts presents Arlene Hutton’s As it is in Heaven, a powerful and compelling play about the Shaker community, a religious sect, in Kentucky. Infused with heightened emotions and beautiful Shaker song and dance, the play is compared to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a classic play about the Salem witch trials. Performances are on UNCSA campus at Catawba Theatre.

For another unforgettable evening of song and dance, visit Hanesbrands Theatre Thursday through Saturday for No Rules Theatre Company’s The Stephen Schwartz Project. A winner of three Oscars and four Grammys, Schwartz is a brilliant composer. The Schwartz project is an honorary celebration featuring the legend’s hits from such productions as Godspell and Wicked.

For an entertaining night filled with laughter and politics, and laughing at politics, visit War Memorial Auditorium Saturday to see comedian Bill Maher’s act. With 21 Emmy nominations, Maher fuses honesty with comedy and pushes the boundaries of where funny, political talk can go on American television. He has starred on such shows as “Politically Incorrect” on Comedy Central and HBO’s “Real Time.”

Get a piece of big city life on Saturday when Hanes Opera presents Richard Strauss’ Capriccio via live simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Live in HD production is at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center. Run time is three hours.

This week would be a good time to prep for May and buy tickets ahead of time for Monty Python’s Spamalot, the last of the Triad Best of Broadway season. Play runs May 13 at War Memorial Auditorium.