As the first successful African-American actor to perform internationally, Ira Aldridge is described by his biographer Bernth Lindfors as “the most visible black man in a white world in the middle of the nineteenth century.” And still relatively little is known about his life—and still, even after Aldridge’s groundbreaking performance as Othello in London in 1833, Shakespeare’s black tragic hero continued to be played by white men in blackface well into the next century. In her biodrama “Red Velvet,” opening this week at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, playwright Lolita Chakrabarti imagines scenes from Aldridge’s private life as he prepares for the role, all while London riots over the abolition of slavery. Through Feb. 25, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St., (410) 244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com, $16-$43. (Maura Callahan)
BIG Mainstage. Baltimore Improv Group hosts two troupe performances every Friday and Saturday night. Jan. 2 and 3, 9 p.m., The BIG Theater, 1727 N. Charles St., (888) 745-8393, bigimprov.org.
Born This Way. Dani Ciscell hosts a night of all-women improv, stand-up, and sketch from Ladies All Stars, Blood Pact, Synched, Lesbiguous, and Liz Curtis. Followed by an all-comedy open mic. Feb. 3, 8 p.m., Charm City Comedy Project at Zissimos Bar, 1023 W. 36th St., charmcitycomedyproject.com, $5.
“The Death of Walt Disney.” The regional premiere of Lucas Hnath’s biographical play about the megalomaniacal mind of Walt Disney. Feb. 2-25, Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard St., (443) 844-9253, singlecarrot.com, $25-$29.
“Inherit the Wind.” Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s courtroom drama chronicles the Scopes “monkey” trial. Through Feb. 4, Vagabond Players, 806 S. Broadway, (410) 563-9135, vagabondplayers.org, $10-$20.
Prim and Proper. Eva Mozena Brandon, Tiffany Cain, Nicki Fuchs, Marlenas McMahon-Purk, Kasha Patel, Lisan Wood, and host Cecily Alexandria perform in Charm City Comedy Project’s all-women stand-up showcase. Followed by an all-comedy open mic. Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Charm City Comedy Project at Zissimos Bar, 1023 W. 36th St., charmcitycomedyproject.com, $5.
“Red Velvet.” The biographical play from Lolita Chakrabarti tells the story of the 19th century African-American Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge. Feb. 2-25, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St., (410) 244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com, $16-$43.
“Skeleton Crew.” In the third play in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy, four workers at the city’s last exporting auto plant face down an uncertain future. Through March 4, Baltimore Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., (410) 332-0033, centerstage.org, $20-$79.
“The Tempest.” The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory presents the bard’s shipwreck drama featuring an original score. Through Feb. 4, St. Mary’s Outreach Center, 3900 Roland Ave., baltimoreshakespearefactory.org, $19-$24.
TK Kirkland. The comedian and actor has appeared in a number of films as well as HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comicview. Feb. 1-3, Baltimore Comedy Factory, 5625 O’Donnell St., (410) 547-7798, baltimorecomedy.com, $20-$23.
“Waitress.” Featuring original music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, the musical based on the film by Adrienne Shelly tells the story of a waitress and expert pie maker who sets out to rebuild her life. Through Feb. 4, Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St., (410) 837-7400, baltimorehippodrome.com, $42-$214.