Coming next theater season on the North Side

 

Find excellent musicals at Black Ensemble Theater on Chicago's north side. (Photo courtesy of black Ensemble Theater)
Find excellent musicals at Black Ensemble Theater on Chicago’s north side. (Photo courtesy of black Ensemble Theater)

The good news for theater-goers is that Chicagoland has an amazing number of production companies so that a Jeff award worthy show is likely to be on stage at any time during the season. The annual Jeff awards are Chicago’s answer to New York’s Tony’s. The “bad” news is that because there are about 250 companies,including more than 20 in just the Edgewater neighborhood on Chicago’s northeast side, it’s hard to keep track of what will be where and when.

Chicago Theater and Arts puts out a yearly preseason sneak-peek series of already decided shows, divided by area. Categories such as themes and holiday fare will shortly follow.

After looking at “ Coming next theater season on the North Side,” which is Part 5 in the series, be sure to go back to see what theaters listed earlier are doing. It looks like a great 2019-20 Chicago theater season.

Part One was Looking ahead to the next theater season starting with Broadway in Chicago. Part Two was Theaters Downtown and on the Mag Mile).  Part three  was what will be on stage in the Lincoln Park and Near North areas.  Part 4 is a Sneak Peek at next season in Mid-North from Athenaeum to Wit. Part five lists many of the companies from Ravenswood north to the Evanston border.

For more details, tickets and subscriptions click on each theater’s link. Theater is not a typo. Some production companies use theatre others theater.

 

AstonRep

AstonRep has moved to The Edge Theare, 5451 N. Broadway. It opens with “Equua” Sept. 27 through Oct. 27, 2019. It’s spring show is the Chicago premiere of “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” April 9 through May 10, 2020.  For tickets and information visit AstonRep.

 

Black Ensemble Theater

Located at 4450 N Clark St., Black Ensemble is doing “You Can’t Fake the Funk,” July 26 through Sept 22. Rest of the season TBA. For tickers and other information call (773) 769-4451  and visit Black Ensemble Theater.

 

The Factory Theater

The venue, located at 1623 W. Howard. St., starts the 2019-20 season with “Oh Sh#t! It’s Haunted!” Sept 17 through Nov. 9 2019. It continues in 2020 with “Last Night in Karaoke Town,” Feb. 14 through Mar. 28. the summer show is “The HOA” June 12 through July 25.

The Aleatoric Theatre is also in the venue. Please visit The Factory Theatre and Aleatoric Theatre.

 

Griffin Theatre

The theatre is at  5405 N. Clark St. TBA: 2019-20 season. For information call (773) 769-2228 and visit Griffin  Theatre.

 

Interrobang Theatre

Performances are at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue. The companywill be doing the world premiere of “Out of Love” Aug. 16-Sept. 14. The season also includes “Here Lies Henry” and “Sexbot.”  For tickets and other information visit Interrobang Theatre Project.

 

Lifeline Theatre

The theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. is currently doing “Emma,”  extended through July 28, 2019. Whose Body?, Sept. 6 through Oct. 27, 2019. In 2020 “Middle Passage” will be on stage from Feb. 14 through April 5, followed by the world premiere rock musical “LOKI, The End of the World Tour.”

For tickets and other information call (773) 761-4477 and visit Lifeline/2019-20 season.

 

Pride Arts Center

The venue is at 4139 N. Broadway . Currently at the Center are “Afterglow” extended through Aug. 28. “All That He Was” Aug. 10 through Aug. 31. “Casa Valentina’ Aug 31 through Sept. 29. “A Man of No Importance’” (TBA October + dates).
For tickets and more information visit Pride Films and Plays.

 

Raven Theatre

Located at 6157 N. Clark St.,  Raven Theatre is doing the Chicago premiere of  “Sundown Yellow Moon”, Oct. 3  through Nov. r 17, followed by “Hoodo Love,” Oct. 31 – Dec. 15, 2019. The season continues in 2020 with Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House “ Feb. 6 through Mar. 22 and ends with the world Premiere of “Eden Prarie 1971,”  May 7 through June 21.

For tickets and other information call (773) 338-2177  and visit Raven Theatre

 

Redtwist Theatre

The theatre, located at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., is currently doing “King Lear” through Aug. 4.  Then, “Keely and Du” are Oct, 9 through Nov. 10 followed by “Death Tax,”  Dec 11, 2019 through Jan. 19, 2020.  “Rabbit Summer” is Feb. 19 through Mar. 22 and “The Country Girl” is May 13 through June 21. “The Pride” ends the season May 28 through June 28.

For tickets and other information call (773) 728-7529  and visit Redtwist.

 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Located at 5779 N. Ridge Ave., the ensemble’s 2018-19 season concludes July 21 with “something Clean” performed at Voctory Gardens (see is Sneak Peek Part Three. For tickets and other information call (773) 334-7728 and visit Rivendell Theatre.

 

Steep Theatre

The theatre, 1115 W. Berwny Ave., is currently doing “Pomona” ” through Aug. 24, 2019.. For tickets and other information call (773) 649-3186 and visit Steep Theatre.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Sneak Peek at theater season: Part Four Ravenswood and North

Black Ensemble Theater has an excellent venue at 4450 N. Clark St. (Black EnsembleTtheater photo)
Black Ensemble Theater has an excellent venue at 4450 N. Clark St. (Black Ensemble Ttheater photo)

The old “It’s hard to keep track without a scorecard” certainly applies to Chicago’s huge theater offerings each year. So consider the “Sneak Peak”series your personal scorecard where you can put a check next to those shows you think you would like to see.

Because there are more than 200 theater production companies in the Chicago area the series is divided into regions. Not all companies are listed because some still have to finalize their season and not all theater venues are included because some are multi-purpose and host several events other than plays.  However, the series still is a way to find out what a company you like has planned and what shows will be coming in the 2018-19 season.

As mentioned before, some companies and venues use theater and others use  theatre. Part Four lists many of the companies in the Ravenswood and north to Evanston region.

 

Black Ensemble Theater

Located at 4450 N Clark St., Black Ensemble is currently doing “Rick Stone: the Blues Man,” extended through Sept 9, followed by “Women of Soul” Oct. 20 –Dec.2, 2018.

For tickers and other information call (773) 769-4451  and visit Black Ensemble Theater.

 

The Factory Theater,

The venue is at 1623 W. Howard. St. The Factory Theater plans “The Darkness After Dawn” for Fall, “.38 and Baile” for Spring and “Prophet$” for Summer. Also in the venue, the Aleatoric Theatre is doing “Come ‘n Go” Sept. 7-30.

For tickets and other information visit The Factory Theatre and Aleatoric Theatre.

 

Griffin Theatre

The theatre is at  5405 N. Clark St. Griffin is currently doing  “The Harvest” through Aug. 25.  For tickets and other information call (773) 769-2228 and visit Griffin  Theatre.

 

Lifeline Theatre

The theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. is doing “Frankenstein” Sep.t 7-Oct. 28, 2018  then in 2019, “The Man Who Was Thursday”  Feb. 15-Apr. 7 and “Emma” May 24-July 14.

For tickets and other information call (773) 761-4477 and visit Lifeline Theatre. Read More

‘Our Town’ our life

RECOMMENDED

Thornton Wilder’s classic ‘Our Town,’ now at Redtwist Theatre, is a slice-of-life drama that asks us to ponder our place in the universe while pausing to appreciate the seemingly mundane interactions and events that comprise the bulk of our days and which ultimately define our existence.

Jaq Seifert (George Gibbs) and Elena Victoria Fetz (Emily Webb) in 'Our Town' is at Redtwist Theatre through Oct. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jan Ellen Graves)
Jaq Seifert (George Gibbs) and Elena Victoria Feliz (Emily Webb) in ‘Our Town’ is at Redtwist Theatre through Oct. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jan Ellen Graves)

Divided into three acts with two ten minute intermissions, act one presents the town and the characters with an emphasis on birth and youth. Act two deals with love and marriage. The last act addresses the inevitable experience of death.

The story line is facilitated by a character known as the “Stage Manager” (Richard Costes) who introduces each of the other players. He fills us in on the physical attributes of the fictional Grover’s Corners, NH that is supposed to remind us of our own town.

Written in 1938. The time frame is identified as roughly 1901 to 1913 but it can really be anyplace anywhere in America at any time.

The pre-WWI period harkens back to a simpler pre-industrial agrarian era that serves to remind us of the essence of living when days were marked by the rising and setting of the sun and the meals in between.

Mr. Costes is the first of the play’s trifecta of winning performers. The other two are Emily Webb (Elena Victoria Feliz) and George Gibbs (Jaq Seifert) who each turned in remarkable performances.

On some level the success of “Our Town” traditionally hinges on the actors in these three major roles. But in the Redtwist production the entire cast offered tight performances. A few honorable mentions to Rebecca Gibbs (Ada Grey), Professor Willard (Rebecca Flores), Mrs. Soames (Jared Michael David Grant) and Mrs. Webb (played by understudy Jeanne Scurek)  who each stood out in some way.

This is the directorial debut of the company’s Associate Artistic Director, James Fleming, who with Scenic Designer Lizzie Bracken managed an innovative visual presentation in a somewhat awkward space.

The Redtwist is a storefront theatre meaning that the dimensions are long and narrow leaving little room for a traditional proscenium stage other than a small roughly ten foot by ten foot riser at one end of the room.  The company overcomes this by creating three or four loosely defined minimalist scenic areas throughout the room.

The roughly 35 seat audience is then snuggled along the perimeter, in between, and around these spaces. This leaves the center open for the main action. So it’s like a performance in-the-round with the audience on stage. The important thing is that it works.

“Color blind” casting is no longer unusual but Fleming has elevated the concept in this production by extending it to include gender neutral roles and actors with limited physical abilities.

For instance the part of milkman Howie Newsome is played by Joel Rodriguez who happens to be confined to a motorized wheelchair. Joel uses his chair brilliantly to infer the presence of his horse and milk wagon. It’s not necessary nor is it overt but it works because he is simply incorporating who he is as a person into his role as an actor.

“Stage Manager” (Richard Costes) happens to be hearing impaired. But this is incidental to his performance which would be excellent under any circumstances.

He periodically uses his skill at sign language to provide us with a visual enhancement of the point he is making or a town attribute he is describing. (Note: he is not signing his entire performance but occasionally enhances the depth of his communication.)

The character of Mrs. Soames (Jared Michael David Grant) is perhaps the most gender bending role. Mr. Grant plays the part of a female character but not in drag. He wears a simple man’s suit and looks perfectly male.

Though admittedly a bit confusing at first, I came to believe that Fleming wants us to put aside our role bias and expectations and simply enjoy the performance. In other words, be color blind, be gender blind, be ability blind and simply accept what each actor has to offer and accept that they are the characters they say they are.

As was pointed out by someone after the performance, “This cast represents our town.”

DETAILS: ‘Our Town’ runs through October 29, 2017 at the Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL 60660. For tickets call (773) 728-7529.

Guest Reviewer Reno Lovison (RenoWeb.net)