It’s a big theater weekend in South Florida with four openings and a staged reading. All five shows seem to explore a common theme: empowered women.

Actors Playhouse on the Miracle Mile in Coral Gables opens Marc Shaiman’s Broadway hit, Hairspray, with Producing Artistic Director David Arisco starring as Edna Turnblad, the gender-bending role made famous by Harvey Fierstein and later John Travolta on film.  If you’ve seen any of the local press about the show, you know that Arisco actually had to hire a trainer and lose weight to take on the full-sized role.

Runs Oct. 12-Nov. 13, tickets  $41–54 at

Meanwhile, New Theatre, 4120 Laguna Street in Coral Gables, opens Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, by A. Rey Pamatmat. This controversial and timely new play examines the lives of two practically abandoned teens who bond as a family and get through the pains of growing up together.

Runs Oct. 14 – 30, tickets $25-40 at

The Women’s Theatre Project premieres the latest play from Terry Lawrence (Speaking Elephant), Women Drivers, an irreverent comedy about women and driving. See the road through the eyes of driving instructor Erin Ford, whose mantra is, “Other students take a test. Mine go play in the road.” Genie Croft directs at Six Star Studio, 505 NW 1st Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.

Runs Oct. 13 – Nov. 6, tickets $15-25 at

Infinite Abyss Products is not afraid to take on edgy and controversial subjects and this go-around, the plucky young company led by Erynn Dalton presents, Mitzi’s Abortion, at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. The play, receiving its South Florida premiere, explores the issue that have shaped the national debate over abortion over the past 40 years, but also serve as a reminder that some decisions are neither simple or easy.

Previews, Oct. 13 and 14 and opens Oct. 15, running through Nov. 5. Tickets $30 at

Prolific local playwright Tony Finstrom concocts a classic murder mystery, Murder on Gin Lane, which will receive a ready on Monday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. as part of Jan McArt’s Theatre Arts Guild Reading Series at Lynn University’s Wold Center in Boca Raton. Described as “delicious,” the play follows three aging divas who must solve the death of a Broadway producer at a glitzy mansion at the end of secluded Southhampton street. Starring Carbonell judge Jeffrey Bruce, Becon TV host Iris Acker, Symphony of the Americas board president Beth Holland, and Jan McArt, first lady of Florda’s musical theatre.

Tickets are $10, rsvp by calling 561-237-9000.