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posted: 7/6/2012 6:00 AM

What's new in theaters

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• Seventeen Illinois State University undergraduates will appear in Mary-Arrchie Theatre's "Electra," adapted and directed by Sonja Moser. Moser sets Euripides' tragedy about a sister and brother seeking to avenge their father's death in "John Deere Country" and accompanies it with live rock music. Performances begin Friday, July 6, at Angel Island, 735 W. Sheridan Road. (773) 871-0442 or maryarrchie.com.

• The weekly burlesque and comedy performance Kiss Kiss Cabaret debts a new summer show titled "Hot Cha Cha" featuring a carnival atmosphere, including fortune tellers and balloon artists along with midway games during the intermission. It runs at 11 p.m. Fridays, July 6 to Aug. 24, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.

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• The Neo-Futurists offer students enrolled at Chicago-area colleges a $5 admission discount to their long-running "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes" on their school's dedicated weekend. Northeastern Illinois University students receive the discount Friday to Sunday, July 6-8. Shows are at 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. (773) 275-5255 or neofuturists.org.

• The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, presents Marc Robin's re-imagined "Sleeping Beauty," beginning Saturday, July 7. Matt Raftery directs and choreographs the young audiences production, which stars Summer Naomi Smart as Princes Amber and Alex Goodrich as Prince Hunter. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.

• The Chicago Commercial Collective remounts Keith Huff's acclaimed two-hander "A Steady Rain" at Chicago Dramatists, the theater where the play about two police officers whose lives spiral out of control after they botch an arrest, premiered in 2007. The production reunites original director Russ Tutterow and stars Randy Steinmeyer and Peter DeFaria. Previews begin Saturday, July 7. The show opens Tuesday, July 10, at 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago. See asteadyrainchicago.com for tickets.

• A university professor confronts his floundering marriage and the breakup of a longtime affair with a fellow male faculty member in Simon Gray's "Butley." Hubris Productions revives the play at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. It opens Saturday, July 7. See hubrisproductions.com.

• Rasaka Theatre Company presents the Chicago area premiere of Rajiv Joseph's "Gruesome Playground Injuries," about the lifelong love story between two people who meet as children in a school nurse's office and sustain myriad physical and emotional wounds over the years. Artistic director Lavinia Jadhwani directs Mouzam Makkar and Tim Martin in the play, which opens Saturday, July 7, at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. (312) 777-1070 or rasakatheatre.com.

• Previews continue through Sunday, July 8, for Goodman Theatre's 10th anniversary revival of Regina Taylor re-imagined gospel musical "Crowns" at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Adapted from Craig Marberry's book, "Crowns" is a coming-of-age tale about a young African-American woman who finds strength from older women known for their Sunday chapeaus. The production starring Felicia Fields and E. Faye Butler and directed by Taylor, opens Monday, July 9. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• Performances continue through Sunday, July 8, of The State Theatre's production of "After the Quake," adapted by Frank Galati from the stories of Haruki Murakami, in which a writer invents stories to calm a little girl in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. Performances are at the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 871-3000 or victorygardens.org or statetheatrechicago.com.

• Theater on the Lake continues its 60th season on Wednesday, July 11, at the theater at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, with a performance by noted long-form Chicago improvisers TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi. The duo perform a completely improvised play through Sunday, July 15. The 2012 season marks the debut of co-artistic directors Michael Patrick Thornton (ABC's "Private Practice"), co-founder of The Gift Theatre, and Meghan Beals McCarthy, associate artistic director of Chicago Dramatists. (312) 742-7994 or chicagoparkdistrict.com.

• Noel Coward's 1924 play "The Vortex," about a wealthy young man who returns to New York after a year in Paris to find his middle-aged mother involved with a man not much older than himself, marks the inaugural production from newcomer Dead Writers Theatre Collective. The show begins previews Thursday, July 12, at the Greenhouse Theater complex, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. It opens on July 20. (773) 404-7336 or deadwriters.net, greenhousetheater.org.

• Previews begin Thursday, July 12, for Akvavit Theatre's U.S. premiere of Finnish playwright Leea Klemola's "Kokkola," translated by Nina Sallinen and directed by Chad Eric Bergman. Set in Finland, "Kokkola" is an "alcohol-infused mash of "Northern Exposure," and "Fargo" with a hint of Chekhov's "The Seagull." The show opens Saturday, July 14, at Rivendell Theatre, 5775 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. (800) 838-3006 or akavitttheatre.org.

• "Little Shop of Horrors," the musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, begins previews at the Theatre at the Center on Thursday, July 12. Jon Cunningham stars as the nebbishy Seymour who becomes a media sensation when he discovers an exotic plant that turns out to be a man-eater. Tiffany Trainer plays his love interest Audrey and Stan White plays the plant, Audrey II. Stacey Flaster directs and choreographs the show, which opens on Sunday, July 15, at the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Ind. (219) 836-3255 or (800) 511-1552 or theatreatthecenter.com.

• The performers wear bikinis and speedos in Gorilla Tango Theatre's "Bikini Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing," in which Beatrice and Benedick have their battle of wits clad in swimwear. The show runs Thursdays, beginning July 12, and running through Aug. 30, at 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 598-4549 or gorillatango.com.

• Soul Theatre's production of Harold Pinter's one-act comedy "The Lover" opened recently at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. Paul Wagar directs the play about a couple who tries to "spice up" their relationship by engaging in an imaginary affair. Several post-show discussion accompany the production, including an examination of communication in relationships on Sunday, July 14, with therapist Bridget Gregory. See facebook.com/soultheatre for information and brownpapertickets.com/events for tickets.

• The National Pastime Theater hosts its fourth annual summer festival Naked July: Art Stripped Down, continuing through Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. Among the featured events is a revival of Jose Rivera's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot," about the reunion of a soldier and his wife and their struggle to reconnect after a separation. It runs at 8 p.m., Fridays through Aug. 10. See nakedjuly.com. The festival also includes the adults-only "Eureka!" a Living Canvas performance piece in which the performers' bodies become a canvas for projections revealing the love-hate affair we have with the human body. It also runs at 10 p.m., Fridays, through Aug. 10. See thlivingcanvas.com. Also part of the festival is Pride Films and Play's production of Cal Yeomans' adults-only "Richmond Jim" about a young gay man transformed by an older lover. It runs at midnight Fridays and Saturdays through July 7, Aug. 3, Aug. 4 and various other weekdays. See pridefilmsandplays.com. Also, the Beast Women bring their show combining comedy, burlesque and music to National Pastime for a brief run from Thursday to Sunday, July 26-29. See beastwomenproductions.com. Lastly, National Pastime Theatre teams up with Chicago Filmmakers for a retrospective of filmmaker James Herbert, known for the R.E.M. music video "It's the End of the World As We Know It." His films run Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, at Chicago Filmmakers, See chicagofilmmakers.org. For more information call the NPT box office at (773) 327-7077 or see nakedjuly.com.

• Raven Theatre has extended its production of Eric Simonson's adaptation of the Mark Harris novel "Bang the Drum Slowly," about the unlikely friendship between a superstar pitcher and his third-string catcher. Performances continue through Sunday, July 15, at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 338-2177 or raventheatre.com.

• Lookingglass Theatre has extended its production of "Eastland: A New Musical" with book and lyrics by Andrew White and music by Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman. Performances continue through Sunday, Aug. 19, at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

• Filament Theatre Ensemble has extended its production of "Hank Williams: Lost Highway." Performances run through Sunday, July 15, at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago. (773) 935-6875 or filamenttheatre.org.

• Spectralia Theatre teams up with the Chicago Park District and Friends of the Parks to present free performances of a condensed version of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" in various Chicago parks continuing Saturdays through Aug. 4. See spectralia.org for locations. (773) 654-3097.

• "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story," the original play by First Folio Theatre executive director David Rice about the famed author and his beloved wife, gets a remount as part of the Oak Brook theater's 2012-2013 season announced recently. Jeff Award-winner Larry Neumann Jr. returns in the role he created five years ago for the run, which begins previews Sept. 26. Jim McCance and Christian Gray reprise their roles as the very capable gentleman's gentleman Jeeves and his ill-starred master Bertie in Margaret Raether's adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves Takes a Bow" (Jan. 30-March 3, 2013) in which Bertie falls in with gangsters. Next up is "Underneath the Lintel," Glen Berger's 2001 play in which a librarian's discovery of a book 113 years overdue leads to an adventure around the world. It runs March 27-April 28, 2013. The season concludes with "Shakespeare's Cymbeline: A Folk Tale with Music," reset in Appalachia during the Civil War and adapted by Rice. It runs June 29-July 21, 2013. Performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. Season subscriptions and individual tickets are available by phone at (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.

• Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company has announced its 27th season, which begins Sept 20 with Sam Shepard's "Geography of a Horse Dreamer," about a cowboy who can predict the winners in horse races, who's abducted by gangsters for their own gain. It's followed by a re-imagined revival of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (Dec. 9-Jan. 20, 2013) with an original score by Daniel Knox. Next up is Austin Pendleton's "Uncle Bob" (Feb. 14-March 24, 2013), about a young, adrift man visiting his hyper articulate, hermit uncle. "The Brig," by Kenneth H. Brown runs from April 18-May 26-2013. First staged in 1963 by New York's The Living Theatre, it's an experimental piece based on the author's experience in a military prison. The season concludes with Mary-Arrchie's annual theater showcase, "Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival." It runs Aug. 16-18, 2013. All performances held at Angel Island, 735 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Tickets are available online at maryarrchie.com or by phone at (773) 871-0442.

-- Barbara Vitello

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