• Steel Beam Theatre presents a limited run of "Born British, Died American,"a play examining the life and contributions of Benjamin Franklin. It runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $20. (630) 587-8521.
• The Hypocrites opened their 16th season this week with Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," adapted and directed by Sean Graney. Performed by three actresses over 80 minutes, the story centers on a young woman in failing health, whose sibling inters her prematurely. "Usher" runs through Sept. 23, at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. (773) 989-7352 or the-hypocrites.com.
• Ten years after the events of Sept. 11, a family struggles to come to grips with the tragedy in Richard Nelson's "Sweet and Sad." Profiles Theatre inaugurates its 24th season with the play's Midwest premiere, directed by Joe Jahraus and featuring company members and co-artistic director Darrell W. Cox. Previews begin Friday, Aug. 17, at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. The show opens Friday, Aug. 24. (773) 549-1815 or profilestheatre.org.
• Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company wraps up its season with its 24th annual short theater festival, Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins, beginning Friday, Aug. 17, and running through Sunday, Aug. 19, at Angel Island, 735 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Inspired by the 20th anniversary celebration of Woodstock in 1989, the Abbie Hoffman fest attempts to re-create that spirit of that festival by showcasing as many as 50 theater groups over a three-day period. The fest begins at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, when performers and participants converge at the Daley Center and parade to Mary-Arrchie's home at Angel Island for the 7 p.m. festival opening with Richard Cotovsky's portrayal of Abbie Hoffman. Participating theater companies include: Mary-Arrchie, A Red Orchid, The Factory Theater, The Inconvenience, Curious Theatre Branch, Hobo Junction, The Riff Collective and others. Tickets are $25 for a three-day pass and $10 for a day pass. Call (773) 871-0442 or see maryarrchie.com for information.
• Morris Gearring celebrates his mentor — singer, songwriter and civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr. — in his show "Something About Oscar." Goodman Theatre's Chuck Smith directs the show featuring Koko Brunson and his quartet and Maggie Brown, which runs at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago. (773) 752-3955 or somethingaboutoscar.com or etacreativearts.org.
• Sideshow Theatre Company begins its 2012-2013 season with the U.S. premiere of Rolan Schimmelpfennig's Greek tragedy mashup, "Idomeneus," about the king of Crete who may or may not have killed his son, who may or may not be an impostor after his real son turned into a talking sea creature eager for a heart-to-heart with dear old dad. Artistic director Jonathan L. Green directs Sideshow's largest cast featuring ensemble members Matt Fletcher and Nate Whelden. Previews begin Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St., Chicago. The show opens Thursday, Aug. 23. Additionally, Sideshow has announced the rest of its 2012-2013 season. Next up is the Chicago premiere of Jason Grote's dark comedy "Maria Stuart" (March 30-May 5, 2013) about an outrageous birthday party three sisters host for their grandmother, during which the guests are forced to confront some unsettling family secrets. The season concludes with Carrie Barrett's comedy "The Burden of Not Having a Tail" (June 29-Aug. 4, 2013), one woman's primer on coping with the apocalypse. (800) 838-3006 or sideshowtheatre.org.
• Theatre-Hikes presents its walkabout version "Streeterville," G. Riley Mills and Ralph Covert's historical drama with music about Cap Streeter's attempt to keep the elites away from a prime piece of land in Chicago. Free performances take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 19, at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Ave. (312) 744-5472; 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, in the city of Blue Island, (708) 388-5735. The Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, performances at the Pullman State Historic Site, 11057 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, are $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, (872) 202-4963. See theatre-hikes.org for more information.
• The 2012-2013 flex pass for the Rogers Park theaters Lifeline, Raven, the side project and Theo Ubique is now available. The $50, four-show pass is good for anytime during the season and is available at the participating theater box offices: Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (773) 761-4477; Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. (773) 338-2177; the side project, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave. (773) 973-2150; and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre's space at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. (773) 347-1109. The pass is also available online at rogersparkflexpass.com. Theater goers can purchase the pass for $45 during Rogers Park's 11th annual Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival running from Saturday to Sunday, Aug. 18-19, at the Lifeline box office. For festival details call (773) 761-4477, ext. 701, or glenwoodave.org.
• Wheaton College theology professor Dr. Jeffrey W. Barbeau, Dominican University psychology professor Dr. Tracy L. Caldwell and Northern Illinois University political science professor Dr. Larry Arnhart will participate in a post-show talkback discussion following the 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, performance of "Freud's Last Session," at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. The trio will discuss the existence of God and the meaning of life, themes Mark St. Germain's play addresses. (312) 423-6612, mercurytheaterchicago.com or freudslastsession.com.
• Raven Theatre presents the next installment of its workshop series. Steven Peterson's family drama "Mother's House" centers on the Lindstrom family, Swedish immigrants living in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood in 1918, who experience World War I in a personal, gripping way. Performances run Monday, Aug. 20, through Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 338-2177 or raventheatre.com.
• Four struggling artists who've gathered for the gala opening of an exhibition by their successful friend witness a horrible accident that tests their sense of morality in Mark Ravenhill's "pool (no water)." Vitalist Theatre presents the Midwest premiere at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Previews begin Wednesday, Aug. 22. The show opens Friday, Aug. 24. Artistic director Liz Carlin Metz directs. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.
• The Organic Theater Company remounts its June 2012 production of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist drama "Rhinoceros" — about the inhabitants of a small, rural town who gradually turn into rhinoceroses — from Thursday, Aug. 23, through Sunday, Aug. 26, at Meiley-Swallow Hall, North Central College, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. (630) 637-7469 or organictheater.org.
• Emerald City Theatre's oft-extended "Pinkalicious: The Musical" — adapted from the best-selling children's books — will close Sunday, Sept. 2, at the Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.
• Hail and farewell. BackStage Theatre company announced that its 12-year tenure in Chicago has come to an end after more than 30 productions, including eight world premieres. The company announced it will cease producing with the conclusion of its current production "A Scent of Flowers," running through Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter St., Chicago. The production features ensemble artists, treasured guests and an emerging young lead actress, said artistic director Matthew Reeder in a prepared statement. "It is one of our most ambitious productions ... As a final production for BackStage Theatre Company, 'A Scent of Flowers' is a deeply felt and enlivening statement of who we are ... who we tried to be," Reeder said.
• Ricardo Gutierrez (Alderman Mata in the Starz series "Boss") has been named Teatro Vista's new artistic director. Ensemble member Gutierrez, who directed the company's production of "Momma's Boyz" last season, takes over for founder and current artistic director Edward Torres, who is stepping aside to concentrate on directing. Gutierrez expressed appreciation for Torres' "keen leadership and creative vision." "I look forward to advancing our unique brand of innovative Latino stories, expanding our programming, establishing a permanent home and forging Teatro Vista into a nationally recognized theater," said Gutierrez in a prepared statement.
• Citadel Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary season by offering subscribers a $10 discount on single-ticket additions. Subscribers who bring a friend to Citadel's upcoming production of "Other People's Money" (Sept. 29-Oct. 28) receive $10 off the additional ticket as part of the Bring a Friend Deal. (847) 735-8554 or citadeltheatre.org.
• Rivendell Theatre Ensemble announced the plays for its 17th season dubbed the season of reinvention. It begins Thursday, Sept. 6, with "Wrens," playwright Anne McGravie's semiautobiographical drama about a group of World War II servicewoman packed together in a tiny barracks on the eve of VE day. That's followed by the world premiere of Lisa Dillman's "American Wee-Pie" (Jan. 10-Feb. 16, 2013). Commissioned by the Goodman Theatre and developed there, Dillman's comedy centers on a textbook editor who returns home for his mother's funeral and uncovers himself along the way. The season concludes with the Midwest premiere of Stefanie Zadravec's "The Electric Baby" (May 16-June 22) about a group of people unite to care for a magical glowing baby. (773) 334-7728 or rivendelltheatre.org.
• A Red Orchid Theatre brings Craig Wright's drama "Grace," to Broadway beginning Thursday, Sept. 13. The play, which played in 2006 at Skokie's Northlight Theatre, centers on a fresh-faced couple — played by Paul Rudd and Kate Arrington — eager to open a chain of Christian-themed motels, and their enigmatic rocket scientist neighbor played by Michael Shannon, who starred in Northlight's version. Ed Asner plays a prickly exterminator hired by the condo association to eliminate pests.
— Barbara Vitello
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