Two shows opening this week at Barrington Stage Company illustrate the poles theater can occupy: On the Town, a big, kick-up-your-heels musical originally created to raise wartime spirits in the 1940s, and Muckrakers, a terse, tense two-character drama sprung from today’s headlines. On the Town, conceived by choreographer Jerome Robbins with an exuberant score by Leonard Bernstein, finds three sailors footloose and fancy free on a 24-hour shore leave in the Big Apple. The dance-happy show is lively family fare (but not quite as clean-cut as the 1949 movie version starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, which cleansed the signature number’s lyric to “New York, New York, it’s a heckuva town”) while Muckrakers is R-rated for adult content, strong language and nudity. Zayd Dohrn’s psycho-political thriller, a world premiere inspired by the WikiLeaks controversy, digs into the personal secrets of a political activist and a journalist/hacker, testing their own boundaries and “the limits of privacy in the modern world.”
On the Town: through July 13; Muckrakers: through July 6, Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, (413) 236-8888, www.barringtonstageco.org.