For its 35th season, Lowell's Merrimack Repertory Theatre is pulling out all the stops.

"Our focus remains on the artistic side: How do we make our art form as emotionally gripping going forward as we can?" said MRT artistic director Charles Towers.

MRT has a full seven-play slate for its 2013-14 season, featuring everything from raucous moral comedy to musical memoir.

"There's still something about live performance that has more resonance," said MRT's new executive director Elizabeth Kegley. "This season is more of a celebration of what we have to offer as an alternative to everything else out there."

Here's a quick look at this season's shows:

  • God of Carnage

Sept. 19 to Oct. 13

God of CarnageSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
God of Carnage

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

MRT kicks off the season tonight with God of Carnage, Yasmina Reza's claustrophobic comedy that won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2009.

The action of God of Carnage takes place in an apartment, where two sets of parents try to resolve a playground dispute between their 11-year-old sons. The roles of the parents were originated on Broadway by Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden.

"It's a deceptively simple play that starts out as a civil conversation and deteriorates rapidly," said Towers. "It's not called God of Carnage for nothing."

  • Mrs. Mannerly

Oct. 24 to Nov. 17


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Mrs. Mannerly, which Towers calls a "comedy of manners," occurs in 1967 in a manners class taught by a woman known as Mrs. Mannerly. The main character, Jeffrey, wants to be the first student to achieve a perfect score on Mrs. Mannerly's manners exam.

Aside from all that, this tart comedy has nothing to do with manners.

  • Stella and Lou

Nov. 29 to Dec. 22

The Devil’s Music: The Life  and Blues of Bessie SmithSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

Stella and Lou is the first of two plays Towers will direct himself this season, the other one being Equally Divided. The romantic comedy follows a burgeoning relationship between a widower and a nurse.

"It doesn't have an edge -- it has heart," said Towers. "It's about an upper-middle age love affair, or really a friendship that might be one."

  • Equally Divided

Jan. 9 to Feb. 2

Equally Divided is a moral comedy written by Ronald Harwood concerning the estate of an irascible dying woman, being reluctantly cared for by her virtuous daughter.

"I picked it for the actress Jill Tanner, who we've had here before in A Delicate Balance," said Towers. "She plays a woman who's taken care of her awful mother for years, and then when the mother dies, her wealthy, glamorous sister comes back for her piece."

  • The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith

Feb. 13 to March 9

In a more musical show, The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith features the story of the iconic blues singer (played by Miche Braden), who appears with her band to sing the story of her tumultuous life.

"It's a comedy but it does have some of that dark edge to it," said Towers. "It's the blues."

The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
  • Talley's Folly

March 20 to April 14

Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning romance takes place in 1944, where Matt Friedman hopes to rekindle his romance with Sally Talley at her home on the Fourth of July.

  • The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

April 14 to May 18

The Reduced Shakespeare Company, the mad geniuses behind previous plays like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and The Complete World of Sports (abridged) return to MRT with a new take on the history of comedy itself.

"They're basically America's Monty Python," said Towers.

Tickets for individual shows are still available at the MRT Box Office starting at $20; full season subscriptions and three-play samplers are also available. Call 978-654-4678 or visit mrt.org.