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THEATER Old Wine in New Bottles:
Classics & Revivals for Fall Season

This article shared 2784 times since Wed Sep 17, 2003
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The craze for Early American Theatre so prevalent last season is on the wane—we won't be seeing Life With Father or The Count of Monte Cristo this year. But playgoers who prefer the familiar to the untried may choose from several classic dramas and comedies, many updated to reflect modern sensibilities, in 2003 autumn season.

Leading off is—what else?—the Bard of Avon, himself:

The Taming of The Shrew, currently running through Nov. 23, and Rose Rage: Henry VI, opening Sept. 18, Chicago Shakespeare: Director David Bell's approach to standard repertoire is always a breath of fresh air. Expect Edward Hall's consolidation of the three-part Henry VI into a two-parter (with intermissions and dinner break still shorter than The Cider House Rules) to get the attention, however. For information, phone (312) 595-5600.

Cain, Tinfish Theatre, opening Sept. 19: We don't think of Lord Byron—one of the three superstars in English literature's romantic period—as a playwright. But what he did with the myth of the world's first murder caught the notice of director Charley Sherman (best known for what HE did with Clive Barker's In The Flesh a few seasons ago). For information, phone (773) 549-1888

Major Barbara, Remy Bumppo, opening Dec. 7: Knee-jerk philanthropy vs. enlightened capitalism refereed—with instant game analysis—by George Bernard Shaw. Susan Bennett plays the gutsy Salvation Army officer. For information, phone (773) 871-3000 On The Rocks, ShawChicago, opening Nov. 2. Political satire by one of the English language's greatest thinkers in a chamber staging by some of the most vocally agile readers in Chicago. Phone (312) 744-6630

The Marriage of Figaro, Wing & Groove Theatre Company, opening Oct. 18: Not Mozart's opera, but the play that inspired it. Beaumarchais' criticism of the nobility in this 1784 sequel to The Barber Of Seville was heartily applauded by the very people whose downfall it heralded. How's that for hindsight irony? Phone (773) 782-9416

The Underpants, Noble Fool Theater, currently running through Oct, 18: In olden days, a glimpse of stocking—you know the rest. Steve Martin imposes a cheerful Yankee optimism on Carl Sternheim's misanthropic 1911 diatribe, much as Neil Simon did on Chekhov in 1973. For information, phone (312) 726-1156

The Misanthrope, Next Theatre, opening Nov. 13: Moliere's classic Grumpy Old Man-Loves-Hot Young Chick gambit, newly relocated to the world of swinging London show business for this adaptation by Martin Crimp. For information, phone (847) 475-1875

The Shadow, Lifeline Theatre, opening Sept. 29. Back before films and TV, hard-boiled detectives solved crimes on radio. But John Hildreth—who adapted last season's runaway hit Around The World In Eighty Days—is certain to add plenty of action to these two authentic episodes from the legendary series. Phone (773) 761-4477

The Mousetrap, Drury Lane Oakbrook, currently running through Oct. 5. Nearly three generations of murder-mystery fans have had time to forget the killer's identity in Agatha Christie's seminal whodunit. For information, phone (630) 530-0111

The Play's The Thing, Borealis Theatre, currently running through Sept, 28, and City Lit, opening Nov. 17: Theatrical collaborators come to the aid of a lovers' misunderstanding and rescue a romance and their opening night in Ferenc Molnar's 1926 farce, adapted by P.G. Wodehouse. For Borealis information, phone (773) 327-5252, For City Lit information, phone (773) 293-3682

The Lion In Winter, Timeline Theatre, opening Oct. 4, and Rising Moon Theatre Company, opening Oct. 5. James Goldman's cozy peek at Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their sullen offspring. Three lions in Chicago—will the ones at the Art Institute be soon hiring an agent? For Timeline information, phone (312) 409-8463. For Rising Moon information, phone (773) 784-9173

A Streetcar Named Desire, New World Repertory Theater, opening Oct. 16. Former Footsteps director Jean Adamak (now Gottlieb) resurfaces in Downers Grove to direct Tennessee Williams' timeless tale of a gentle-born lady who's come to the end of her line. Phone (630) 663-1489

Our Town, Writers Theatre, opening Sept. 30. Thornton Wilder's lament for mundane pleasures and eternal regrets inaugurates Michael Halberstam and company's upgrade from matchbox-sized to shoebox-sized quarters. For information, phone (847) 242-6000

Picnic, Griffin Theatre, opening Sept. 21. This family-oriented company takes on adult themes with William Inge's sudser of small-town girls and a hunky stud. For information, phone (773) 769-2228

Balm In Gilead, The Hypocrites, currently running through Nov. 2. SoHo in 1964, as recounted by Lanford Wilson in this ensemble story of urban derelicts from the archives of the legendary Caffé Cino. For information, phone (312) 409-5578

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, Raven Theatre, currently running through Oct. 5. Five stories by Ernest Hemingway consolidated into an intriguing little schmooze among the expatriate transients in a railroad-station café. For information, phone (773) 338-2177

And what about those plays not yet old enough to be called true classical, but which proved so popular that their creators now offer playgoers who missed them the first time another chance to see what all the brouhaha was about:

Death and Harry Houdini, House Productions, currently running through Oct. 4. The show that marked House's almost-unnoticed debut a year ago, before their deconstruction of Peter Pan catapulted them to fame, now reconfigured to the Big Top-sized room at the Viaduct. For information, phone (773) 251-2195

The State Of Mississippi And The Face of Emmett Till. Pegasus Players, currently running through Oct. 19. A revised edition of David Barr's docudrama depicting the spark that ignited the fight against racism in America. Phone (773) 878-9761 Judgment At Nuremberg, Shattered Globe Theatre Company, currently running through Oct. 15: Tourists looking for an evening on the town can take their pick of high-stepping musicals and hee-haw improv, but the transfer of this runaway hit to the Loop Theatre offers them the opportunity for some serious entertainment as well. For information, phone (312) 744-5667

With Or Without Wings, Mookie Jam Productions, opening Nov. 6. There's really nothing funny about Multiple Sclerosis, but Mierka Girten laughs in the face of her illness until we laugh, too, in this one-woman transfer to the Storefront downtown. For information, phone (312) 742-8497

Trap Door, Strawdog and European Repertory have not yet announced their season schedules, but can usually be relied on to include at least one selection good for extra credit on the academic front. And speaking of the academe, don't forget the inevitable experiments with classroom repertoire (No Exit, The Dumbwaiter, The Sea Gull). The long-haulers (Late Nite Catechism, Blue Man Group et al.) also continue to attract repeat audiences. Chicago's fame might rest on its reputation as an incubator for new plays, but its worldwide status as a theatre town is also founded on a healthy reverence for the champions of the past.

[Trap Door reports: 'Currently, we are fundraising towards the renovation of our space, which is scheduled to be back in operation by January, 2004. We are then planning to open the new space with our premiere production of Stanislaw Witkiewicz's, The Madman and the Nun. The rest of the season has not been confirmed due to these circumstances.']

This article shared 2784 times since Wed Sep 17, 2003
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