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A recent survey announced that, even in these allegedly enlightened times, playwrights still write far more roles for men than women.

Right now on local stages, women given key roles are making the most of them. We're having a run of excellence, in fact.

  1. Lea Salonga, Allegiance at Old Globe. The musical, about Japanese American "relocation" in WWII needs work, but the Tony Award-winner for Miss Saigon makes an underwritten part unforgettable when she effortlessly sings "Higher" and "The Mountain Heart." The musical runs through October 28.

  2. Catalina Maynard, Julia at Ion Theatre. Audiences are impressed when an actor explodes. Actors are impressed when an actor seems ever about to. Maynard plays the wife of Mexico's presidential candidate (and long-time philanderer). He's betrayed her one last time, so she decides - in this remake of August Strindberg's Miss Julie - to rage against her servants. Runs through October 27.

  3. Eva Kaminsky, Good People at the Old Globe. "I wonder if she's really like that," someone said after the opening night performance. Kaminsky's so convincing as Margie, a downtrodden Boston "Southie" in desperate need of a job, she leaves that impression. Surely her bitterness, her relentless assaults on others, weren't just an "act." David Lindsay-Abaire's comedy-drama runs through October 28.

  4. Amanda Osborn, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, at Moxie Theatre. She's a young new face, and she's eerie as a teenager determined to inject life into a Depression-wracked town in Tennessee. Eerie, in part, because Osborn doesn't fall for the traps lurking in the mystical role (visionary, witch, etc.). Instead of hype, she choses plain simplicity, bare, direct, and, even though Amanda advocates living in extremity, surprisingly sane. Plays through October 28.

  5. Yolanda Franklin, The Sugar Witch, at OnStage Playhouse. On the edge of a swamp in Florida, Annabelle's the last of the "sugar witches." Franklin gives her more layers than a wedding cake: a shaman, a prankster, and a tormented woman trying to end a curse even if it will take her life. Runs through November 3.

  6. Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company concluded a too brief run of Kita y Fernanda last weekend. Tanya Saracho's memory drama contrasted two Latina women who grew up in the same south Texas home: spoiled Fernanda and Kita, the maid's daughter. Gabriela Trigo (Fernanda) and Cynthia Bastidas (Kita) - the one fire, the other ice - were terrific.

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