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posted: 8/10/2012 5:00 AM

What's new in theater

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• Theatre Wars! a competition pitting Chicago theater companies such as The House, Signal Ensemble, The Factory, Strange Tree and The Hypocrites against each other in a "Family Feud" style contest, kicks off at 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, and runs Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 25. (773) 528-9696 or

• Pride Films & Plays presents the Chicago premiere of "The All-American Gender (expletive) Cabaret," Mariah MacCarthy's adults-only sendup of gender stereotypes. The show previews Friday, Aug. 10, and opens Saturday, Aug. 11. It runs through Sept. 7, at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago. Also Pride Films & Plays announced playwright Kari Morris and screenwriter Jenny Hagel as the winners of its 2012 Women's Work Contest showcasing plays by females centered around lesbian characters. (773) 250-3117 or

• The Neo-Futurists offer students enrolled at Chicago-area colleges a $5 discount to their long-running "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes" on their school's dedicated weekend. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students receive the discount from Friday to Sunday, Aug. 10-12. College of DuPage students get the discount Friday to Sunday, Aug. 17-19, and Moraine Valley Community College students receive the discount Aug. 24-26. 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

• In late 19th century London, the members of the Society of Lady Detectives indulge in swordplay and sleuthing until a string of murders in the Whitechapel district come a little too close to home in Reina Hardy's "Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride." Babes With Blades presents the world premiere production of the play selected in 2009 for the company's new play development program. Don Foss directs the show, which begins previews on Saturday, Aug. 11, inside the Berry Memorial UMC lower level at Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt, Chicago. The show opens Saturday, Aug. 18. (773) 904-0391 or

• Beginning Saturday, Aug. 11, The Cupid Players' production of the sketch comedy musical "Cupid Has a Heart On: A Musical Guide to Relationships" moves from the iO Theater where it has run for the last 10 years, to Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, where it will continue in an open run at 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. (773) 327-5252 or

• "Tonight It's Live with Tom Bambara," is Oracle Productions' weekly "Tonight Show" inspired event hosted by comedian Tom Bambara and actress Natalie DiCristofano. It runs at 11 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 25, at 3809 N. Broadway, Chicago. Admission is free. See

• Signal Ensemble Theatre begins its 10th anniversary season with the Chicago premiere of Robert Askins' "Princes of Waco," about how a young man orphaned after the death of his father falls in with a cowboy-criminal Fritz and how their lives change with the arrival of a woman. Previews begin Thursday, Aug. 16, at 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago. The show, directed by ensemble member Bries Vannon, opens Saturday, Aug. 18. (773) 698-7389 or

• The preview is Thursday, Aug. 16, for Coriolis Theater Company's new musical, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," by founding members Lydia Gordon and Christopher Dunn-Rankin. Based partly on a Norse fairy tale, the show centers on the love affair between a young man fleeing an arranged marriage and a young woman escaping an abusive home. The show runs through Sept. 9 at BoHo Theater at the Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. See or

• TUTA Theatre Chicago has extended its production of Harold Pinter's "The Dumb Waiter," about a couple of paid assassins waiting in a decrepit building for their next assignment. Performances continue through Sept. 1, at 2010 W. Fulton Ave., Chicago. (800) 838-3006 or brownpapertickets or

• "Finally Alone ... Together" a double bill comprised of solo shows by Conner O'Malley and Rebecca Sohn continues through Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago. Also, the Annoyance celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. Current Annoyance performers as well as alumni will reunite for the 8:30 p.m. show. (773) 561-4665 or

• The Dirty Thatch Theatre Company, which originated in Iowa, concludes its first season in Chicago with "Almost Maine," John Cariani's play comprised of nine vignettes all of which unfold about 9 p.m. on the coldest night of the year. Performances continue through Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 935-6100 or

• The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago, announces the extension of "The Holy (expletive) Comedy Hour" and "Steamwerkz The Musical," both of which run on Fridays through Oct. 5. (773) 561-4665 or

• Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, has extended its "Sweeney Todd" inspired production "Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical," through Sept. 25. (773) 598-4549 or

• Proceeds from Arlington Park's Million Gala on Friday, Aug. 17, at Medieval Times, will benefit the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Tickets for the gala are $75 and can be purchased at the box office at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, online at or by phone (847) 577-2121.

• Fox Valley Repertory has named St. Charles native Sandy Shelby as its new development manager in charge of fundraising. Shelby served as executive director and development director for several animal charities in California where she lived until 2009. "While I'm new to working for theater, I'm certainly not new to the world of development and fundraising, said Shelby in a prepared statement, in which she expressed her passion for the arts.

• Kaela Altman has taken over as executive director of the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. Altman replaces Peter Blair, who produced such BoHo hits as "Floyd Collins," "Big River," and "Pippin," and will remain a company member. A board member since 2010, Altman has experience in nonprofit administration. She plans to strengthen BoHo's ties to the community that includes partnering with local schools to introduce students to the arts, she said in a prepared statement.

• The Hypocrites welcomed nine new company members. They are Ryan Bourque, Walter Briggs, Tien Doman, Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, Lindsey Gavel, Matt Kahler, Justine Palmisano, Michael Smallwood and Zeke Sulkes.

• Emerald City Theatre has begun work on its Lakeview theater located at 2933 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. The space will be gutted and transformed to better accommodate young children. It will include a flexible, 50-seat performance space, interactive exhibitions in the lobby and will be entirely ADA accessible.

• The American Players Theatre, located in Spring Green, Wis., continues its 33 season with productions of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" (through Oct. 2) and "Richard III" (through Sept. 28) running in repertory with "The Royal Family" (through Sept. 29), "Heroes" (through Sept. 27) and "Skylight" (through Oct. 20). Opening Saturday, Aug. 11, is "The Admirable Crichton" by J.M. Barrie, followed by "Shakespeare's Will" on Friday, Aug. 17; "Troilus and Cressida" on Saturday, Aug. 18, and "In Acting Shakespeare" on Friday, Aug. 24. For more information, see

-- Barbara Vitello

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