Sneak Peak Part Five: Theaters in West and South neighborhoods

 

Sometimes theater companies perform in more than one space and some venues host more than one resident theater company. Looking at the venues west of I 94 you find both so some of these companies have been listed elsewhere. Also, be sure to check out what’s playing at the fine theaters south of the loop such as Court Theatre and The Chicago Children’s Theatre.

One of the spaces at The Den, a popular multi-show venue. (The Den photo)
One of the spaces at The Den, a popular multi-show venue. (The Den photo)

West

Chopin Theatre

A Multi theater venue at 1543 W. Division St. has “Borealis” by The House Theatre of Chicago Aug. 30-Oct. 21 and Rough House Theatre will be doing the “Walls of Harrow House” in October.

For tickets and other information call (773) 278-1500 and visit Chopin Theatre.

 

The Den Theatre

A multi-theater venue at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave, The Den’s resident companies include Broken Nose, Firebrand, First Floor, Griffin, Haven, New Colony and WildClaw but it also hosts other companies. Here are some of the plays performing at The Den in the 2018-19 season

For thickets and other information  call (773) 697-3830 and visit The Den Broken NoseFirst Floor, The New ColonyGriffin, Firebrand,  Haven and WildClaw.

New Colony is continuing the production of “The Light” at the Theatre on the Lake through Aug. 24, then is doing  “Fun Harmless War Machine” Oct. 3-Nov. 4. It continues in 2019 with “Small World” Mar 27-May 5. New Colony is on second floor of the Den. (773) 413-0862.

Grifin is continuing “The Harvest” through Aug. 25.  The Jacobins are doing “The Book of Sebastian” Aug. 24-Sept. 1 and Broken Nose is doing “Plainclothes” Nov. 9- Dec. 15.

New American Folk Theatre has “Scraps” Sept. 1-29 and WildClaw has “Second Skin” Sept. 11-Oct. 13.

Interrobang which is listed here later at its own space will be doing “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” Mondays Sept. 24-Nov. 12 and First Floor is doing “Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies” Oct. 20-Nov. 17, “Mike Pence, Sex Dream” beginning Feb. 18 and “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard” beginning Apr. 19.

Firebrand is doing “Caroline Or Change” Sept. 22-Oct. 28 and The Haven has “Directors Haven” Oct. 13-31 that showcases plays by Charlotte Drover, Airos Sung-En Medill and Dani Wieder.

The Haven continues in 2019 with “The Total Bent” Feb. 7-Mar. 10 and “Kiss” July 18-Aug. 11 and First Floor is doing “Mike Pense, Sex Dream” beginning Feb. 18 and “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard” beginning Apr. 19.

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‘Anything Goes’ in madcap comedy at Music Theater Works

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

Erica Evans, c, and ensemble in 'Anything Goes' at Music Theater Works in Cahn Auditorium. (Photo by Brett Beiner)
Erica Evans, c, and ensemble in ‘Anything Goes’ at Music Theater Works in Cahn Auditorium. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

If you can leave the theater singing; not one, not two, but three songs from a show that’s been around for more than 80 years, that’s a grand night of theatre! That’s just what “Anything Goes” delivers, now playing at Music Theater Works.

Accompanied by a live orchestra under the fine direction of Roger Bingaman, the show will have you humming along to such Porter classics as “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-Lovely.”

 Consider the times when Cole Porter wrote the music/lyrics in 1934. The depression was still running rapid. Those who could afford theater tickets wanted something funny to make them forget their problems.

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‘Waitress’ makes a tasty Chicago pie

RECOMMENDED

L to R, Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the national tour of Waitress The Musical now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago (Photos by Joan Marcus)
L to R, Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the national tour of Waitress The Musical now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago (Photos by Joan Marcus).

It would have been a terrific add-on when “Waitress” opened at the Cadillac Palace Theatre July 3 to have had some of Jenna’s recipes along with the pocket pies now traditionally sold during the shows national tour.

Because when waitress/cum/pie expert Jennna  (Desi Oakly) encounters an obstacle or interesting situation she tailors a pie to match with ingredients ranging from luscious dark chocolate and exotic spices to strange vegetables and items likely not found in a grocery store.

At small-town Joe’s Diner where she bakes and waits tables, there are plenty of pie-inspiring people and situations from what to enter in a pie contest and what to make for her ob-gyn appointments with Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkhart) to what will de-stress her when dealing with her abusive husband Earl (Nick Bailey).

The Diner’s trio of waitresses, Jenna, gospel-singer-style Becky (Charity Angél Dawson) and shy, nervous Dawn (Lenne Klingaman)  carry the show with their personalities, the unexpected ways they each tie up with a lover and the songs and ways they support each other. Read More

‘Aladdin’ has it all

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If looking for a spectacular family show with fantastic music and dance numbers, eye-popping staging and costumes and an exotic fairy-tale style rags to riches, princess and palace story, then ‘Aladdin’ fulfills all those wishes.

'Aladdin' at the Cadillac Theatre. Deen vanMeer Photo
‘Aladdin’ at the Cadillac Theatre. Deen van Meer Photo

The Broadway musical, now at the Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre on its 2017 national tour,  is everything a show-goer would expect from Disney.

Although based on Disney’s 1992 movie, ‘Aladdin,’ the stage musical, has the type of fabulous dance numbers and costumes loved by Broadway impresario Flo Ziegfield.

Of course Tony Award winners are involved.  Casey Nicholaw from ‘The Book of Mormon’ is the director and choreographer and Gregg Barnes (‘The Drowsy Chaperone’) is the costume designer.

But families who loved the film will still have the score by Grammy and Academy Award winners Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice plus new numbers by Menken and Chad Beguelin who did the book

And there are the wonderfully familiar characters of the Genie, exquisitely interpreted by Anthony Murphy, Aladdin, delightfully portrayed by Adam Jacobs who played the title character on Broadway, and Princess Jasmine, the contemporary female role nailed by Isabelle McCalla.

Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine). Photo by Deen van Meer
Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine). Photo by Deen van Meer

Naturally, there is the diabolical Jafar played by Jonathan Weir with old-fashioned foiled-again style characterization and evil laughter who is joined in his quest for the sultan’s throne by the comic Iago (Reggie De Leon) who is human, not a parrot this time.

Aladdin’s three street pals are fun to watch in a skillfully done fight scene with palace guards. The trio are Zach Bencal as Babkak, Philippe Arroyo as Omar and Mike Longo as Kassim.

The whole story: an Arabian tale of poor boy meets titled girl, they fall in love, girl doesn’t want to have to marry a prince who will rule her or her kingdom, boy locates magic lamp whose genie turns him into a prince, girl and boy re-connect, are separated by an evil person and finally, wed, takes about 2 hours and 25 minutes including intermission.

Details: ‘Aladdin’ is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph St., now through Sept. 10, 2017. For tickets and more information call (800) 775-2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago.

Unique concert salutes the musical culture of Chicago

UPCOMING

You won’t have to ask what opera star Renée Fleming, Broadway star Jessie Mueller, folk singer/writer John Prine, R&B/gospel artist Michelle Williams, New Queen of Blues Shemekia Copeland, tenor Matthew Polenzani and The Handsome Family husband-wife duo have in common.

Chicago Voices concert features several stars and music genres.
Chicago Voices concert features several stars and music genres.

Merely, snag a ticket to their concert, Feb. 4, 2017 at the Civic Opera House, to see them perform.

You will experience a blend of styles and hear the program is a tribute to Chicago’s musical influence.

Mixing genres might sound unusual but think  ‘Hamilton,’ a blockbuster musical that uses several styles (it’s not just rap or hip hop).

Led by Music Director Doug Peck, a five-time Jeff Award recipient, the eclectic program  features and mixes  musical styles.

Fleming, a creative consultant for the Lyric Opera, has been working with Lyric Unlimited, an outreach branch, to encourage Chicago residents to tell their stories through a variety of musical and rhythmic genres.

The legendary opera singer and Lyric Unlimited call the program Chicago Voices. Click on it to find out more.

“When violence in Chicago and a divided America are the headlines, Chicago Voices offers an example of unity, ” said Fleming. “On Feb. 4, we raise our voices to honor the musical heritage and rich diversity of the city we love,” she said.

For ticket information visit Lyric Opera/Concert or by call (312) 827­-5600. The Civic Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606.