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  WINDY CITY TIMES

PREVIEW Here comes the sun: Summer plays are blooming indoors and outside
by Mary Shen Barnidge
2022-05-22

This article shared 852 times since Sun May 22, 2022
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There were times when we thought that the sunshine would never return, but despite climate change and contagion, there's no stopping summer—and while we usually associate expanded daylight hours with outdoor activities, a number of theaters in the city are opting to revel in the sheer novelty of indoor gatherings.

MOSTLY MUSIC:

SIX, Broadway in Chicago at the CIBC Shubert, running through July 31. Is it a rock concert or a history lesson? Who cares?—It's right downtown in the Loop, it's a quick 80 minutes long and who's gonna argue with a thousand screaming teenage girls? Details: BroadwayInChicago.com

Grandma's Jukebox, Black Ensemble Theatre, May 28-June 26. A family grieving the loss of the clan matriarch finds an unexpected source of comfort in the widely eclectic songlist of the late Grandma B (ranging from Nina Simone and Tina Turner to Jazmine Sullivan and Boyz II Men). Details: BlackEnsembleTheatre.com

Skates: A New Musical, at the Studebaker Theater, June 5-Aug 28. Re-opening the long-shuttered South Loop auditorium is this world premiere musical, described as "Grease meets Hairspray with a dash of Xanadu" and starring American Idol alums Diane DeGermo and Ace Young. Details: FineArtsBuilding.com

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Mercury Theater, June 10-Aug. 7. A trio of sequined and bewigged dragsters and their proud pink RV set out across the Australian Outback in search of love and adventure in this frothy romantic musical. Details: MercuryTheaterChicago.com

Life After, Goodman Theatre, June 1-July 17. Britta Johnson's chamber opera takes us through a teenage girl's struggle to accept her beloved father's death, with the aid of three friendly Furies out of Greek mythology. Details: GoodmanTheatre.org

Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical, Kokandy Productions at the Chopin, June 17-Aug. 7. Those 18th-century "Dangerous Liaisons" aristocrats are now millennial Manhattan private-school brats, but the score of oldies tunes makes for fun. Details:

Godspell, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, June 19-July 31. It was 1971 when Stephen Schwartz's Sunday-school simple score proposed a band of youthful disciples in street-theater garb acting out the Gospel of Matthew. Details: Theo-U.com

It Came From Outer Space, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, June 22-July 24. The 1950s screenplay based on Ray Bradbury's benevolent tale of extraterrestrial immigrants provides the material for a musical adaptation going beyond a mere Rocky Horror footnote. Details: ChicagoShakes.org

MOSTLY LAUGHS:

A Fine Feathered Murder: A Miss Marbled Mystery, Hell In a Handbag Productions at the Chopin, June 4-July 10. When guests at the Fine Feathered Ball held at the Fowler Estate Poultry Farm begin to mysteriously disappear, it can only mean that David Cerda and the Handbags are spoofing Agatha Christie's murderer-in-the-house literary genre. Details: HandbagProductions.org

The Playboy of the Western World, City Lit, July 10-Aug. 14. In the topsy-turvy world of Sean O'Casey, a fugitive daddy-basher taking refuge among strangers finds himself welcomed with admiration, hospitality and the love of a good woman. Details: CityLit.org

Tommy on Top, Pride Arts, June 15-July 17. This old-fashioned bedroom farce by Chris Woodley comes to us from London's West End, where a gay film actor nominated for an Oscar must keep his closet locked in order to win. Details: PrideArts.org

MOSTLY MOVING PARTS:

Lookinglass Alice, Lookingglass Theatre at the Water Works, running through July 31. The landmark pumping station on Michigan Avenue lends a Victorian-Industrial/steampunk ambiance to the thrilling adventures of Lewis Carroll's pre-Dora explorer. Details: LookingglassTheatre.org

Teatro ZinZanni at the Cambria Hotel, open run. Featuring an international cast, the premise of the show is a restaurant staffed by former circus performers, who incorporate the skills of their previous trades for our entertainment—and serve up a pretty good dinner, too. Details: ZinZanni.com

SERIOUS STUFF:

Somewhere Over the Border, Teatro Vista at Windy City Playhouse, May 19-June 12. Brian Quijada recounts the story of his mother's coming to El Norte through the lens of Frank Baum's all-American saga about another little girl navigating a foreign land. Details: TeatroVista.org

Seven Days at Sea, Light and Sound Productions at the Edge Theatre, May 20-June 5. Five aging women on a lesbian cruise ship confront truths about themselves and each other, reflecting their journeys through age, illness and sex, in this world premiere play by Martha Hansen. Details: LightandSoundProductions.org

Richard III, Promethean Theatre at the Factory, May 19-June 25. Steve Scott directs Shakespeare's tale of ruthless ambition, starring Cameron Feagin, fresh from her cross-gender portrayal of John F. Kennedy, as the villainous "Bottled Spider" who would be king. Details: PrometheanTheatre.org

The Magnolia Ballet, About Face Theatre, May 20-June 11. No tutus or toe-shoes—the "dance" in Terry Guest's premiere play is the legacy of race, gender and toxic masculinity in the American South that continues to haunt future generations. Details: AboutFaceTheatre.com

Two Trains Running, Court Theatre, May 22-June 12. It's the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement is stirring hostile upheaval for Pittsburgh, but in August Wilson's neighborhood, urban renewal is what threatens the soon-to-be displaced residents. Details: CourtTheatre.org

Choir Boy, Steppenwolf Theatre, June 16-July 24. The pressures of parents, professors and peers on the imminent graduates of the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys are compounded by adolescent racial and sexual tensions in Tarell Alvin McCraney's portrait of Black male dynamics. Details: Steppenwolf.org

Paris, Steep Theatre, June 17-July 23. It's 1995 and we're in Paris (Vermont, that is) working in a rural Big-Box discount store and if you don't know what that's like by now, Eboni Booth is here to inaugurate Steep Theatre's new playhouse by telling you. Details: SteepTheatre.com

Cullud Wattah, Victory Gardens, June 17-July 17. We've all heard about Flint, Michigan's polluted water, but what worries the family more in Ericka Dickerson-Despenza's play is the closing of the automobile assembly plant that supports the town's economy. Details: VictoryGardens.org

The Billboard, 16th Street Theater in Abbott Hall at Northwestern University, June 23-July 17. When an anti-abortion group resorts to editorializing by means of roadside mega-signage, the pro-choice opposition decides to fight fire with fire. Details: 16thStreetTheater.org

Fences, American Blues Theater at Theater Wit, July 7-Aug. 6. It's 1957 in August Wilson's neighborhood, where racial integration in pro sports has ended the Negro Baseball Leagues, along with the careers of its star athletes, in a production starring Kamal Bolden, Manny Buckley, Shanesia Davis, Ajax Dontavius and William Anthony Sebastian Rose. Details: AmericanBluesTheater.com

My Brother Langston, Black Ensemble Theatre, Aug 21-Sept 18. Rueben Echoles' biodrama of Langston Hughes will strive to answer some of the still unresolved questions about the star poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Details: BlackEnsembleTheater.com

OUT OF DOORS or OUT OF TOWN:

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is keeping its show docked at Navy Pier and Oak Brook's First Folio Theatre is taking the summer off before re-commencing in the fall, but theatergoers eager for wide-open greenery can still find opportunities for scenic road trip/Metra excursions, fresh-air picnics and entertainment under starry skies.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Midsommer Flight, July 15-Aug. 21. Shakespeare's lovers and pixies and clowns romp the Athenian forests in Chicago parks on the north, south and west sides this summer. Details: MidsommerFlight.com

The Winter's Tale, Oak Park Festival Theatre at Austin Gardens in Oak Park, July 16-Aug. 20. A tale told in winter needs a happy ending in a summery setting, so Shakespeare provides us both (and a BEAR CHASE, too). Details: OakParkFestival.com

Midsummer Mayhem: Mad World, Shakespeare's Motley Crew, July 30-Aug. 28. The merry rag-tag rascals of Ravenswood's Independence and Winnemac parks present their annual showcase, this year featuring favorite looney-tune scenes from Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Details: SMCplays.com

Home, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre at the Noyes Arts Center in Evanston, June 5-19. Samm-Art Williams' 1978 play (presented by Tim Rhoze as an old-fashioned "tent show") recounts the struggles of a Black draft-evader to re-assimilate in a society still reeling from the recent wars at home and abroad. Details: FJtheatre.com

Pearl's Rollin With the Blues, Writers Theatre in Glencoe, June 23-July 24. Whenever you see the names of diva Felicia P. Fields and director Ron OJ Parsons on the same playbill, good times and sweet soul music are guaranteed. Details: WritersTheatre.org

Dear Jack, Dear Louise, Northlight Theatre in Skokie, July 7-Aug 7. What could be more romantic than a pair of lonely "pen-pals"—one, a doctor in the army, and the other, an aspiring actress in New York City—conducting pre-Facebook trysts during World War II? Details: Northlight.org

Hand to God, Paramount Theatre Productions at the Copley Theatre in Aurora, June 1-July 10. Robert Askins' searing criticism of religious dogma and teenage hormones carried to extremes does for fuzzy sock-puppets what Stephen King did for clowns. Details: ParamountAurora.com

Zorro: The Musical, Music Theater Works, Aug 11-Aug. 21. Spiderman, Superman and the Scarlet Pimpernel all have their own musicals, so why has it taken so long for someone to write some swashbuckling songs for this Latino-American masked crusader? Details: MusicTheaterWorks.com


This article shared 852 times since Sun May 22, 2022
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