With most Chicago theater productions postponed, audiences should start thinking of all the great entertainment that has been moved to later in the 2020-21 and over to the 21-22 season.
Here are just a few of the productions that audiences can put on their reminder calendar.
Lyric Opera of Chicago
According to Lyric General Director Anthony Freud, the rest of this spring’s offering have been canceled so “42nd Street,” a new-to-Chicago, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, production conducted by Stephen Mear, will be on stage next spring.
The Midwest premiere of composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson’s “Blue” has been moved to January 2021 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater from this coming May-June’s dates at that venue. A coproduction of Washington National Opera, The Gimmerglass Festival and the Lyric, it will be conducted by Lyric music director designate Enrique Mazzola.
The Lyric Opera House is downtown at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For more information visit Lyric Opera of Chicago. To see and hear what’s on the Lyric’s blog including clips from operas, go to Lyric Lately.
“King James” by Steppenworlf ensemble member Rajiv Joseph, a coproduction with the Center theatre Group, has been moved to the 2021-22 season from May 7 2020 and will be directed by Artistic director Anna d. Shapiro. The first episode of the “Half Hour Ensemble Podcast begins on April 7 with co-founder Jeff Perry.
Steppenwolf Theatre is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood at.1650 No. Halsted St. Chicago. For more information, to also see an interesting, historic video and hear a podcast, and to see free virtual sessions, visit Steppenwolf.
Broken Nose Theatre
A pay-what-you-can production group, Broken Nose Theatre has moved its world premiere of “This is Only a Test” to the 2020-21 season from May 2020. Broken Nose theatre is a resident group of The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.in chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. For more information visit Broken Nose Theatre.
Relive the shows or get to know the artists better in a video the company made for its 40th birthday. (So glad friends dragged us to their shows in a Highland Park church basement and then to their other venues when they moved to Chicago.)
The following is current show information as of March 25, 2020.
“Keane- Cause and Effect Tour, Cadillac Palace Theatre, cancelled.
“My Fair Lady,” Cadillac Palace Theatre, moved to May 12-23, 2021
“What the Constitution Means to Me,” Broadway Playhouse, cancelled.
“Once Upon a One More Time,” James M. Nederlander Theatre, cancelled.
“The Choi of Man,” Broadway Playhouse, moved to Feb. 2-7, 2021.
“The Crown-Live,” Broadway Playhouse, moved to Feb. 23-28, 2021.
“The Office! A Musical Parody,” Broadway Playhouse, moved to Feb. 9-21, 2021.
“The Simon & Garfunkel Story,” CIBC Theatre, moved to Dec. 1-6, 2020.
“Waitress,” CIBC Theatre, moved to Feb. 16-21, 2021.
“Goshen,” Broadway Playhouse, cancelled.
Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards, Broadway Playhouse, cancelled but will take 2020 student submissions and will recognize students virtually and highlight their talent on a virtual stage in “Around Broadway in 80 Days.”
Julia may or may not be the perfect Mexican daughter but Karen Rodriguez may be the perfect person to play her. Rodriguez commanded the Steppenwolf stage from the moment the lights came up and did not let go for the next 90 minutes.
Paulina finds herself barely able to speak after three months in a coma, being cared for by her good friend and co-worker, Rodrigo.
Over time she begins to recover her memory, revealing her former life and the events that have brought her to this point.
She and Rodrigo are journalists in Venezuela where her search for truth and her advocacy for justice have resulted in tragedy and a total upheaval of her life.
The action centers around Paulina’s recuperation but through her recollections we are slowly and systematically exposed to political and social realities that provide a deeper context.
Inspired by true events “The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon” onstage at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theater is written by playwright/actress Rebeca Aleman (Paulina) which partially explains the extremely high caliber of her performance.
She obviously has internalized this material, understands it deeply and brilliantly interprets the character’s physical limitations.
Likewise as the play’s translator Ramon Camin (Rodrigo) provides a sensitive portrayal, no doubt informed by this intimate relationship to the material which is presented by the Water People Theater as part of the 3rd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.
The play was originally written in Spanish and performed here in English, expertly directed by Iraida Tapias who guided the delicate unraveling of the mystery surrounding Paulina’s condition.
The simple set design by Manuel Jose Diaz effectively incorporates a large window as a projection screen providing flashbacks and access to more intimate musings.
I learned in the post production discussion that the cast began their rehearsals in their native language in order to establish their emotional connection then switched to English to prepare for the festival performance.
For Spanish speaking theater-goers the stage is equipped with two monitors displaying the translation.
DETAILS: “The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon”is at the Steppenwolf 1700 Theater, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago, through Oct. 13, 2019. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and information call (312) 335-1650. or visit Steppenwolf/Lookout.
In the first act of playwright Lauren Lee’s “The Great Leap,” James Seol as Wen Chang, interpreter for an American college basketball coach who is visiting China, somewhat humorously observes Charles Dicken’s “It was the best of times” and goes on to say how it was the worst of times.
But as with “Tale of Two Cities” the famed quote was appropriate for the play’s setting, primarily Beijing 1971 and 18 years later Beijing 1989.
Because in 1971 the play’s action starts during China’s Cultural Revolution, basically 1966 to 1976. Chang notes that nothing is done without Party approval.
In Beijing, 18 years later, the American college coach is bringing his team to China. Chang is now coach of an impressive Chinese basketball team and both Chang and China have changed.
But the play isn’t just about China, even though Chang says basketball has forever changed the culture.
“The Great Leap” is a fast-paced, energy-charged, witty play performed by an exceptional cast under the direction of Jesca Prudencio, known internationally for handling shows that incorporate a high-level of physicality.
Based on Lee’s actual family experience with her father, Larry Lee, a legendary San Francisco street basketball player, the play centers on how talented point guard, Manford Lum, played with extraordinary agility and know-how by Glenn Obrero, talked himself onto the 1989 San Francisco college team that was gong to China. , Obrero, a Chicago and TV actor is a former street basketball player.
Connecting all the parts from China in 1971 to San Francisco in May 1989 then China in June 1989 with heart and bravado is veteran film, TV and Chicago (Steppenwolf, Goodman, Rivendellactor Keith Kupfere, actor Keith Kupfere, playing Saul, a San Francisco university basketball coach.
The fourth actor in the well-chosen cast is Deanne Myers, Manford’s “cousin” Connie, who keeps abreast of what is going on in China and worries about Manford. Also a veteran of Chicago stage, Myers is the voice of reason and could arguably be a stand-in for the playwright.
The show is more than a chance to pick up some world-of-basketball knowledge. It is an opportunity to enjoy really fine performances and directing.
DETAILS: “The Great Leap” is at Steppenwolf, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago through Oct. 20. Running time: 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 335-1650 or visit Steppenwolf.
When looking up 2019-20 show listings don’t forget the theaters in the Chicago’s neighborhoods. You don’t want to miss excellent productions that are likely to be Jeff Award Winners. The next peek in a what will be on stage series takes in the Near North and the Lincoln Park area. (Don’t worry that some places spell theater.
The theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., starts the fall with the world premiere of “Grey House” Oct. 10 – Dec. 1, 2019. Winter’s production is the Chicago Premiere of “Do You Feel Anger?” Jan.16 – Mar. 8, 2020. Spring brings the Chicago Premiere of “The Moors” April 23- June 14, 2020.
The Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., hosts a variety of theater companies with a packed line-up in 2019-20. This list is for summer, early fall 2019.
Currently, BOHO Theatre is doing the Chicago Premiere of “The River” through July 28. The Comrades do “The Roast” July 18- Aug. 19. Then, MPAACT Summer Jams holds a theater festival of 17 acts in 7 days Aug. 5-11.
The venue, 1641 N. Halsted St., currently has the world premiere of “Miracle: 108 years in the making” (about the Chicago Cubs) extended through Labor Day. Also “Late Nite Catechism” as an open run is at 5 p.m. Saturdays and “Bible Bingo” is an open run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
For tickets and more information visit Royal George and call (312) 988-9000.
The theatre company, 1650 N. Halsted St., currently has “Ms. Blakk for President” (upstairs) through July 21 and Sam Shepard’s “True West” through Aug. 25 (main stage).
The new season begins with “The Great Leap” (upstairs) Sept. 5- Oct. 20 followed by “Lindiwe” based on music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo (downstairs) Nov. 7-Dec. 29 and the Chicago premiere of “Dance Nation” Dec. 12, 2019-Jan. 26, 2020.
Then comes Tracy Letts’ “Bug” Jan. 23-Mar. 8 (downstairs) followed by “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” downstairs) April 2-May 17.Then, “King James on LeBron James’s reign (upstairs) May 7-June 21, ending with “Catch as Catch Can (downstairs) June 4-July 26.
A Chicago Park District property at 2401 N Lake Shore Dr. presents Manual Cinema’s “End of TV” July 16-19, “Stories from 2nd Story” 7 p.m. and “The Grelley DuVall Show” 9 p.m. July 23-26. The Neo Futurists are doing “Tangles and Plaques” Aug. 13-16 and Peasus Theater has “Eclipsed” Aug. 20-23. The 2019 summer season ends with Steep theatre’s Red Rex” Aug. 27=30. Tickets are free. Reserve tickets at the Chicago Park District box office (312) 742-7994 or find more ticket and time information at theater on the lake/theater.
The theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., currently has a co-production on stage. Sideshow Theatre Company and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble are doing “Something Clean” through July 21.
For its 45th season, Victory Gardens starts with the Chicago premiere of “Tiny Beautiful Things” Sept. 6-Oct. 13 followed by the world premiere of “The First Deep Breath” Nov. 15-Dec. 22, 2019.
Into the new year is the co-world premiere with Actors Theatre of Louisville’s “How to Defend Yourself” Jan. 24-Feb. 23. Then, “Dhaba on Devon Avenue” is Mar. 27-Apr. 26. The season ends with the Chicago premiere of “Right to be Forgotten” May 29-June 28, 2020.
For his world premiere of “La Ruta” at the Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago based playwright Isaac Gomez has commandeered a bus transporting “maquila” workers to and from their jobs in Juarez, pointing its headlights into the vast darkness. It exposes the despair and anguish of the mothers and sisters of an estimated 1,400 women kidnapped, used as sex slaves, murdered and disposed of like trash in the Mexican desert.
According to Gomez this is a story that has been systematically silenced through intimidation and adherence to a Latin American culture of toxic masculinity, or “machista.”
Based on a true story and directed by Sandra Marquez, “La Ruta” is performed by an all Latinx cast of eight that centers around the few days leading up to and the nearly three years following the disappearance of Brenda (Cher Alvarez).
Gomez is careful to point out in the program notes that this is not a docu-drama but rather a “creative re-imagining.”
With everything you have to do, places to go, people to visit there might not have been time to fit in everything you hoped to see by Dec. 31. No worries. Some of the fun shows, exhibits and festivals will still be around in January, 2019.
Lyric Opera’s delightful “Cendrillon” (Cinderella ) runs through Jan. 20 and its exceptional “La boheme” continues at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through Jan. 31. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera.
“Steadfast tin Soldier at Lookinggglass Theatre in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N. Michicagn Ave. runs through Jan. 13. For tickets and other information visit Lookingglass.
“Wonderland Express” is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe (just east of Edens Expressway) through Jan. 6. (This is a time and date ticketed show) For tickets and other information visit . For parking check Chicago Botanic.
“Zoo Lights” at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.,, Chicago, is open New Year’s Day and continues through Jan. 6.
Chicago’s theater productions are not only numerous and doing well, they are often extended to accommodate demand. Here are four show extensions with widely-different styles and themes that you might want to see.
Caroline, Or Change
A moving story with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) the show has been extended to Nov. 11, 2018. It is a Firebrand Theatre/ TimeLine Theatre production at The Den Theatre, 1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 697-3830 and visit Firebrandtheatre. For more about the show visit Change can be difficult.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company extends its world premiere production of a difficult subject by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris through Nov. 18, 2018. For reviews of the show visit TheatreInChicago. For tickets call (312) 335-1650 and visit Steppenwolf.
WaistWatchers The Musical
The Chicago premiere of this funny salute to friendship, fitness and food at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N Halsted St.,has been extended through Dec. 31, 2018. For tickets and more information visit WaistWatcher the Musical. For a review of the show visit WaistWatchers.
Once again, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s mega hit about Alexander Hamilton co-starring his wife and her family and his fellow founding fathers, has been extended. Tickets are available through May 26, 2019. The show is at the Private Bank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. For tickets and other information visit Broadway In Chicago. For more about the show and to see a review visit Hamilton is worth the hype.
If watching the 2018Tony Awards this past Sunday, June 10, you wouldn’t have heard much about the winners’ backgrounds or that of the people listed in the Tony Memorial to playwrights, directors, actors, choreographers and producers who recently died.
But when Chicago audiences heard the name Laurie Metcalf, John Mahoney, David Cromer, Rachel Rockwell or Jessie Mueller they were likely to nod, particularly if they have been longtime theater patrons.
Metcalf likely received cheers from colleagues back at Steppenwolf when she won Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Edward Albee’s “Three tall Women.”
When Mahoney’s death (Chicago, Feb. 4, 2018) scrolled down the Memorial screen, his long time Steppenwolf and Chicago theater fans likely nodded or sighed.
Both members of Steppenwolf’s Ensemble, Metcalf and Mahoney had performed together in such productions as “You Can’t take It With You.” Even with her demanding film and New York/London stage schedule Metcalf has returned to do shows at Steppenwolf as she did summer of 2016 for “Voice Lessons.”
I last saw Mahoney when he gave a terrific performance with Francis Guinan in Steppenwolf’s “The Rembrandt.”
When Cromer stepped up to receive the Tony Award for Best Direction Of A Musical, he did so to loud applause for his insightful handling of “The Band’s Visit.” A remarkable musical by David Yazbek about Egyptian musicians who were lost in an Israeli desert town where their visit changed them and the town. The musical walked off with 10 Tony Awards, as it should have.
However, Chicago audiences may remember that Cromer an Illinois native, had won Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards for “Angels in America Parts I and II” in 1998, “The Price” in 2002 and “The Cider House Rules” in 2003. Will Chicago see him again?
With Rachel Rockwell’s recent death (May 28, 2018) still fresh in the minds of the Chicago theater community as an outstanding director and choreographer, it was an “oh, thank you” moment for some of us watching back home when it made the Tony Memorial.
Evanston native Jessie Mueller was also on the Tony program, nominated for her starring role as Julie Jordan in “Carousel” revival on Broadway, The Tony winner in 2014 for her performance as Carol King in “Beautiful,” Mueller had won the Joseph Jeffereson award as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel in 2008.
With all the theater talent we have here in the Chicago area it really isn’t a surprise to see some of it recognized during the Tony Awards. Let’s see what next year brings.