With more than 200 theater companies in Metropolitan Chicago there’s no lack of choices in all price ranges, genres and locations. Here is a small sampling of a half-dozen shows that will be in area theaters this fall. Of course you know that ‘Hamilton,’ the mega Tony-Award winning rap musical, opens Sept. 27. But it’s an open run so you might want to check availability later in the year or 2017.
To appreciate ‘How to Succeed in Business,’ now at Marriott Theatre, you have to go back in time to the 1950s when shirtwaist and little jacket dresses were in and large companies had a typing pool of secretaries who dreamed of marrying their boss.
Based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 satirical book but adapted in 1961 into a Frank Loesser musical with book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, the show is dated. The boss is just as likely to be female.
The second part of Mead’s title is ‘The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune.” If you haven’t seen the 1967 movie starring Robert Morse, the book’s full title is a clue that the show reveals how some businesses hire and promote employees, back then and, horrors, even now.
‘Kinky Boots,’ a high-kicking, Tony Award winning musical by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, is back in Chicago for only a week. And it’s back better than ever.
As Charlie Price of Price and Son, a failing Northhampton, England men’s shoe company, Adam Kaplan is very convincing as a son who does not want to work in the family business. He moves to London with fiancé Nicola, beautifully sung and interpreted by Broadway and film actress Ellen Marlow. There, Charlie tries to help drag-queen/cabaret star Lola who was being bothered by thugs.
Light Opera Works’ “Mame” moves from one terrific scene to the next with never a let-up of charm, clever dialogue or fun.
The musical opens in New York with a terrific Roaring 20s party that begs the question of how can it hold on to such a high note. Well, it is beautifully choreographed by Clayton Cross and insightfully directed by Rudy Hogenmiller.
On Sept. 9, “Stars of Lyric Opera at Milllennium Park” showcases arias from Carmen, Eugene Onegin, The Magic Flute and Lucia di Lammermoor for a taste of the Lyric Opera’s 2016-17 season plus other operatic numbers by Mozart, Verdi, Gounod, Tchaikovsky and Wagner.
Five days later, on Sept. 14, the “Third Annual Fifth Star Awards” honors blues musician Buddy Guy, The Second City improv theater, actress/Black Ensemble Theater founder Jackie Taylor, photographer Victor Skrebneski and National Museum of Mexican Art founder Carlos Tortolero.
For a feel-good night about community-centered groups see Stories and Songs of Chicago at the Harris Theater Sept. 24, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
A free program arranged by Lyric Unlimited, Lyric Opera’s education and community outreach arm, the event showcases musical theater productions by “Harmony, Hope & Healing,” “The Kirin-Gornick Band” and “Tellin’ Tales Theatre.”
Assuming you are one of thousands of theater goers who plan to see Hamilton – the hit musical by multi-award-winning lyricist, composer, performer Lin-Manuel Miranda – when it is in Chicago because tickets are easier to come by and cheaper than in New York, think about why you want to see the show.
“Newsies” fight publishing tycoons with sling-shot headlines
The touring company of “Newsies” is as exciting as the headlines that sell papers. The lead actors who battle Joseph Pulitzer on his unfair practices are terrific, but it is the high energy of the company’s talented dancers and singers who will likely have you recommending this Tony Award winning musical.
“War Paint,” a period piece, reminds that makeup is still big business
A musical about the intense rivalry between Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, the world’s makeup/skin care queens during the first half of the 20th century, “War Paint” can be appreciated on several levels.
Waiting tables becomes a comedy source in “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy”
Brad Zimmerman, a stand-up comedian who has opened for Joan Rivers and George Carlin, regales audiences with tales of waiter-customer encounters (“Lady, is anything all right?”) in his one-man show, “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy.” He also throws in a lot of Jewish-mother imposed guilt and his own lack of ambition.