About Face Theatre
About Face Theatre (AFT) opened its doors in 1995 with a mission to become the city’s center of LGBTQA art and theatre. The group has since gone on to produce over 60 productions in the city, including 46 world premieres, and worked closely in pre-production with Moises Kaufman and Doug Wright on their Tony-winning “I Am My Own Wife.”
“A Kid like Jake” is Daniel Pearle’s dramedy about 4-year old Jake and his parents Alexandra and Greg. Jake’s enrollment at a prestigious Manhattan school comes into question until he shows a passion for Cinderella and dressup.The show will run February 6 to March 15 at the Greenhouse Theater Center (2257 N. Lincoln Ave.).
“Abraham Lincoln Was A F*gg*t” follows Cal as he attempts to prove to his family that Lincoln was indeed homosexual. Bixby Elliot’s yarn features scenes from Lincoln’s past and a road-trip to D.C. Directed by Andrew Volkoff, “Abraham Lincoln Was A F*gg*t” will run from May to June on dates TBA.
More information at www.aboutfacetheatre.com and 773.784.8565.
The Arc Theatre
Founded by students of The Theatre School of DePaul, The Arc Theatre reimagines work from various times and genres to explore themes common to all, plays produced creatively and on-budget.
“Top Girls” runs January 15 to February 8 at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Marlene is already a successful businesswoman when we meet her, but her real challenge is balancing work goals with family life. Directed by Mark Boergers, More information at www.arctheatrechicago.org
Bailiwick Chicago is a non-profit theatre company that produces original works, as well as reinvented classics and overlooked gems. The theatre company hosts workshops to develop the work of young Chicago artists and playwrights.
“Princess Mary Demands Your Attention” is a semi-autobiographical play inspired in parts by Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and written by resident playwright Aaron Holland. After reading the book, Holland drew parallels between Princess Mary and his own life. He tells the story of Amari Bolkonski, a gay black man “stuck” in life. Amari meets a drag queen named Princess Mary and their relationship leads him to a place of understanding, acceptance and freedom. The play runs from January 15 to February 21 at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Ave.
Website and Phone: www.bailiwickchicago.com and 773.871.3000
Barrel of Monkeys
Barrel of Monkeys is a non-profit theater ensemble that creates productions from writing workshops with Chicago students.
“That’s Weird, Grandma” is a fast-paced sketch show in its 14th year, although yet no two shows have ever been the same. Each week the audience votes on what two stories from the show will be replaced with new, original stories. The shows take place on Mondays at The Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Website and Phone: www.barrelofmonkeys.org and 773.506.7140
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Chicago Shakespeare Theater (800 E. Grand Ave.) has received numerous awards from national and regional organizations for the quality, creativity and accessibility of their productions. They’ve been recognized with the Regional Theatre Tony Award, three Laurence Olivier Awards and 78 Joseph Jefferson Awards. CST is notable for their education programs that bring plays to life for over 40,000 students a year.
“The Table” and “Freeze” are two performances that will be unlike any in Chicago theater this year. Both will runn January 14 – January 25 in conjunction with the inaugural Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.
“The Table” takes place entirely on a tabletop and features multiple puppeteers controlling Moses, a grumpy puppet struggling with his existence. The show sold out last fall and earned rave reviews.
“Freeze” is Nick Steur’s theatrical performance of balancing stones using no glues or adhesives. Steur’s performances have been praised for their creativity and difficulty.
January 17-February 14: Short Shakespeare Macbeth, a 75-minute abridged version of the tragedy about unbridled ambition.
February 26-March 22: Dunsinane, the play from the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre of Scotland picks up where Macbeth ends.
April 18-June 7: Sense and Sensibility, a world premiere musical of the Jane Austen novel with Artistic Director Barbara Gaines at the helm.
Website and Phone: www.chicagoshakes.com and 312.595.5600
Founded in 1955, the Court Theatre (5535 S. Ellis Ave.) has recreated classic productions for generations of audiences. The Court teamed up with the U of C in 2010 to create the Center for Classic Theatre, dedicated to providing “large-scale, interdisciplinary theatrical experiences.”
“Waiting for Godot” is set to run at the U of C’s Abelson Auditorium for one month, January 15 to February 15. Samuel Beckett’s absurdist classic, directed here by Ron OJ Parson, tells the story of two travelers waiting on a barren, country road for the mysterious Mr. Godot. As the two wait earnestly for Mr. Godot, the circumstances of the night reveal a greater truth about the universe and humanity.
“The Good Book” is making its world premiere from March 19 to April 19. Director Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare wrote this highly imaginative historical-fiction, weaving the lives of their protagonists around the significance of the Bible. The play takes its audience from ancient Judea to the American suburbs and shares the stories of two people struggling with their faith.
Website and Phone: www.courttheatre.org and 773.753.4472
The Gift Theatre Company
Michael Patrick Thornton and William Nedved decided they would form a theater company in an underserved neighborhood of Chicago while they were students at the University of Iowa. Their idea, the Gift Theatre (4802 N Milwaukee Ave.), has since grown into one of the most successful theatre ensembles in Chicago. It’s become known as one of Chicago’s premier actor’s theaters and has hosted numerous world premieres.
“The Royal Society of Antarctica” was written by Mat Smart who says he “went to the bottom of the world to find this play – working as a janitor for three months at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.” The play follows Dee as she returns to her birthplace of McMurdo Station as she looks for clues in her mother’s disappearance. Directed by ensemble member John Gawlik, the show is running from March 2 to April 26.
Website and Phone: www.thegifttheatre.org and 773.283.7071
As the oldest active non-profit theater organization in Chicago, the Goodman (170 N Dearborn St.) has been a key production company in Chicago’s theater district. In 1992, the Goodman was awarded the prestigious Regional Theatre Tony Award, the second in Chicago’s history.
“Rapture, Blister, Burn” is written by Gina Gionfriddo and debuts in Chicago on January 17, running through February 22. Praised by The New York Times as “intensely smart, immensely funny,” the play centers on old college friends Gwen and Catherine as they try to reconcile their friendship. Soon the women find themselves engaged in a struggle for Gwen’s husband Don as their feminist ideals are tested in director Kimberly Senior’s adaptation.
“Two Trains Running,” is playwright August Wilson’s Tony-winning masterpiece on the Civil Rights Movement in late ‘60s Pittsburgh. With the movement in full swing across Pittsburgh’s Hill District, residents gather in Memphis’ diner to take in the implications. While this is happening Memphis faces his own moral conscience as he weighs selling his building to a greedy businessman against allowing it to be seized by the government. Directed by Chuck Smith, “Two Trains Running” explores a time of extraordinary change in relation to ordinary people.
The Goodman’s August Wilson Celebration March 7 through April 18 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s birth and the 10th anniversary of his death. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to have produced every play in Wilson’s 10-play cycle, which explores 20th century African-American culture.
Besides the revival of Two Trains Running, special events include one-night only FREE readings of the other nine plays in the 20th century cycle at off-Loop and community theaters; a series of lectures that shine a spotlight on cities where Wilson did his work, including Chicago. St. Paul and New York; a first-time presentation of Wilson’s poetry with the Poetry Foundation of Chicago and seminars for high school teachers to encourage inclusion of his work in curricula.
For tickets, show times or general information, visit www.goodmantheatre.org or call 312.443.3800.
Website and Phone: www.goodmantheatre.org and 312.443.3800
Performance Venues Vary
Since 1988 the Griffin Theatre Company aims to instill an appreciation for the performance arts in audiences of varying age groups. The Griffin Theatre’s productions range from literary adaptations, original works and classic plays. In December the theatre finished its run of the Tony winning musical “Titanic.”
Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead, will preview March 14-21, with a regular run March 22 to April 19 at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Frank’s Café is an all-night coffee shop on Manhattan’s Upper West Side frequented by a makeshift community of dealers, junkies, hustlers, prostitutes, dreamers and runaways. The play loosely centers on Joe, a cynical drug dealer and Darlene, a naïve new arrival to the big city, as their lives intersect over three days.
Website and Phone: www.griffintheatre.com and 773.769.2228
Interrobang Theatre Project
Established in 2010, Interrobang has strived to excite and inspire its audience through engaging and challenging plays and performances. The company has hosted the world premiere for Calamity West’s “Ibsen Is Dead” and garnered rave reviews for its production of “Hot ‘n’ Throbbing.”
“Really, Really” is Paul Downs Colaizzo’s debut play, which sold out a twice extended run Off-Broadway and was called “unexpected and thrilling,” by the New York Observer and “Lord of the Flies with smartphones,” by The New York Times. Davis and Leigh find themselves the subjects of morning-after gossip after an out-of-control campus party. Relationships are broken and a class struggle ensues in director James Yost’s adaptation of Colaizzo’s play. “Really, Really,” will run at the Athenaeum Theatre’s Studio Two at 2936 N. Southport Ave. on the second floor from February 13 to March 15.
Website and Phone: www.interrobangtheatre.org and 773.888.2264
Irish Theatre of Chicago
Formerly the Seanachai Theatre Company, the Irish Theatre of Chicago aims to preserve the rich, story-telling history of ancient Irish culture. The people of Ireland and Irish culture are frequently at the core of the productions, but each is relatable to a larger, diverse audience. The ensemble has won over 10 Jeff and After Dark wards for their productions.
“The White Road” is making its world-premiere on April 30 at the Den Theatre (1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.). Written by founding ensemble member Karen Tarjan, “The White Road” follows Ernest Shackleton’s journey crossing Antarctica from sea to sea via the South Pole. When their ship is destroyed by pack ice the crew is forced to reroute and take the only path left available, “The White Road.” The play is directed by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric and concludes on June 15.
Website and Phone: www.irishtheatreofchicago.org and 773.878.3727
Kokandy Productions opened its doors in 2010 with an aim at further developing and enhancing Chicago’s music theater community. Kokandy is unique in that it often tells complex and challenging stories that are usually avoided by other musical theater companies. Aspiring thespians are also welcome to audition for many of their plays.
“The Full Monty” is based on the hit 1997 movie of the same name. It centers on a group of unemployed men who take to stripping to provide for their families. While stripping, the men learn something about themselves and learn to let go of their prejudices, insecurities and self-definitions. Directed by ensemble member John Glover, the play runs March 10 to April 12 Theater 1 of Theater Wit, 1221 W. Belmont Ave.
Website and Phone: www.kokandyproductions.com and 773.975.8150
The Music Theatre Company
The Music Theatre Company works to expand the canon of musical theatre by experimenting with music and sponsoring new works. Annually, the Music Theatre Company showcases its 48-hour musical project: of four, 15-minute musicals written, rehearsed and performed within 48 hours.
“Oscar and Richard and Joe” is a one-night-only event in partnership with the Ravinia Festival. The performance will be 8:30 p.m. January 31 at the Ravinia Festival’s Bennett Gordon Hall (200 Ravinia Park Road). The performance features an ensemble cast further exploring the underappreciated classic “Allegro” by providing footnotes and context and performing some of the musical’s best numbers and scenes. After the immense popularity of Oklahoma! and Carousel, the lyricist/composer team of Rodgers & Hammerstein created a new musical about Joseph Taylor Jr., a young doctor who takes a lucrative hospital job in Chicago but who longs for the simpler, more personal practice he left back home.
Website and Phone: www.ravinia.org and 847.266.5100
The New Colony
The New Colony ensemble relies on the actors as “experts” on their character, the writers as experts on the story and directors as experts on the audience experience. Many of their productions began as simply a brief outline.
The world premiere “Plastic Revolution” introduces Dolores Clarke, a recently widowed Floridian who meets Tupperware magnate Brownie Wise. Clarke soon leads a group of neighborhood women on a revolutionary plastic craze, forever changing the way society consumes, saves and reheats their meals. The musical is directed by Evan Linder with musical direction from Charlotte Rivard-Hoster. The play opens on January 16 at the Den Theatre (1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and runs until February 22.
Website and Phone:
www.thenewcolony.org and 773.413.0862
9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
The Northlight Theatre Company began in 1974 and found a permanent home in Skokie at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in 1994. In its nearly 40-year history the production company has helmed over 40 world premieres and has become one of the largest nonprofit theaters in the Chicago area. Northlight also operates a comprehensive arts education program for underserved public school students.
“White Guy on the Bus” written by Bruce Graham and directed by BJ Jones, is making its world premiere at the Northlight January 23 to February 28. Ray is a successful white business executive who rides the bus every Saturday. He meets and befriends a young woman named Shatique struggling to balance raising a son on her own and continuing her education. Their relationship begins to unravel as the two find themselves in conflict with revenge, social mores and racial biases.
Website and Phone: www.northlight.org and 847.673.6300
Pride Films and Plays
Performance Venues Vary
With a vision of improving LGBT theater and film, Pride Films and Plays was founded in 2010. The production company is unique in that it often conducts play-writing contests as a way to find new writers and develop their work.
“The Book of Merman” is the new musical comedy from Jeff Award-winning playwright Leo Schwartz.
Set to premiere at Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark) the musical will run from January 17 to February 15. When two Mormons stop to knock on a door marked E.M. they meet Ethel and find themselves in places they never dreamed of going. David Zak is directing this parody of the smash hit “The Book of Mormon.”
Website and Phone: www.pridefilmsandplays.com and 773.250.3112
Shattered Globe Theatre
Since 1991, the Shattered Globe Theatre has produced over 60 plays and garnered nearly 100 Jeff Awards. The company has tackled such high-profile productions as “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”
“The Rose Tattoo” is playwright Tennessee Williams’ highly-awarded dramedy about grief, love and morality. The play won four Tony Awards for its Broadway premiere after opening in Chicago in 1950. “The Rose Tattoo” chronicles Seraphina Delle Rose as she struggles to come to grips with her husband’s death and raise her daughter Rosa. Seraphina’s life begins to take new meaning when a mysterious truck driver rolls through her small Louisiana community. Directed by Greg Vinkler, “The Rose Tattoo” opens on January 15 at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont Ave.) and concludes on February 28.
Website and Phone: www.shatteredglobe.org and 773.975.8150
Sideshow Theatre Company
The Sideshow Theatre Company prides itself on its slogan, “Familiar Stories. Unorthodox Methods. Perpetually Curious.” The company produces plays and shows that most theater groups wouldn’t touch and guide the audience to explore new ideas, themes and conversation.
“Antigonick” was written by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Anne Carson and is based on the classic Greek tragedy “Antigone.” “Antigonick” is freely translated and offers the audience direct parallels between ancient Greece and the present. “Antigonick” will run from March 1 to April 5 and is directed by Jonathon L. Green.
Website and Phone: www.sideshowtheatre.org and 773.871.3000
Signal Ensemble Theatre
1802 W. Berenice Ave.
Since its founding in 2003, the Signal Ensemble Theatre focus has been collaboration between actors, designers, directors and writers to bring projects to Chicago for the first time. The ensemble insists what makes their performances so strong is the balance between ensemble and audience.
“Red Bud” will make its U.S. premiere from January 22 – February 28. Written by Brett Neveu, “Red Bud” follows a group of old friends as they take their annual trip to a motocross race. As their friendships deteriorate, the group uses the trip to revisit the past and reflect on their lives. Soon the relationship between an 18-year-old girl and one of the campers comes to light, testing the bond of the group.
“The Drowning Girls” was written by Beth Graham, Daniela Vlaskalic and Charlie Tomlinson and will run at the Signal from April 30 – June 6. Three women emerge from the dead and begin retracing how their lives came to end at the hands of their killer, their husband George Joseph Smith.
Website and Phone: www.signalensemble.com and 773.698.7389
1650 N. Halsted
In 1974 Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump), Terry Kinney (HBO’s Oz) and Jeff Perry (ABC’s Scandal) founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in a church basement. Actors who have honed their craft at Steppenwolf include John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Martha Plimpton and Gary Cole.
“Marie Antoinette” is author David Adjmi’s contemporary take on the former French Queen’s social life. Marie Antoinette was the quintessential pop culture icon of her time and was a divisive figure in late 18th century French society. Adjmi’s play is a retelling of the Queen’s public life and shows a young woman at conflict with the society that first idolized her, then executed her. This iteration, running from February 5 – May 10, is directed by Robert O’Hara.
“The Herd” is the debut play of Olivier award-winning English actor and dramatist Rory Kinnear and is running from April 2 – June 7. Kinnear draws on his own life experiences to tell the story of an English family struggling to care for their son Andy. On Andy’s 21st birthday a family gathering leaves a mother and daughter struggling with their feelings on the return of Andy’s dad Ian, who left the family when Andy was just 5. Ensemble member Frank Galati directs the play that The Telegraph says, “warrants nothing less than a box-office stampede.”
Website and Phone: www.steppenwolf.org and 312.335.1650
Step Up Productions is a non-profit theater company whose mission is to communicate stories authentically, inspiring audiences to identify and embrace their personal truths.
Handicap This! Is a two-man show that is part comedy, part storytelling and part insight on living with disabilities. Written and performed by Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach, the play is inspired by an original script by Molly Mulcrone and directed by Denis Berkson. The play runs January 21 to 25 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Website and phone: www.stepupproductions.org, www.stage773.com or 773.327.5252.
Victory Gardens Theatre
2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Begun in 1974, Victory Gardens in 1996 formed the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble, a collection of playwrights under a single producing organization. In June 2001, the theatre was presented the prestigious Tony award for Outstanding Regional Theatre for “displaying a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally.”
“Samsara” is running at Victory Gardens Theatre from February 6 – March 8 and was written by Lauren Yee. “Samsara” follows a young couple, Craig and Katie, as they prepare for the birth of their baby through a surrogate mother, Suraiya. As the due date inches closer, Katie and Suraiya fall victims to their imagination and are faced with a crisis of conscience. The comedy is directed by Seth Bockley and is a fresh look on parenthood in the digital age.
“A Wonder in My Soul” is ensemble playwright Marcus Gardley’s musical journey through Chicago as seen through the eyes of five generations of women. Chay Yew directs the play throughout the running from April 3 – May 3. The story begins during the Great Migration, as thousands flock to Chicago in hopes of a better life and follows the women as they see the events that have shaped the city.
Website and Phone:
www.victorygardens.org and 773.871.3000