Theatre-Hikes brings Shakespeare's "The Tempest" to the Morton Arboretum weekends in September. The play centers on Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan and a powerful sorcerer, who has been exiled on a remote island. There he works his magic, with the help of the sprite Ariel and the slave Caliban, to find a prince for his daughter and to regain his throne. Thrisa Hodits directs the show, which features music by David Kornfeld of Underscore Theater Company.
'Grease' is the word
Paramount Theatre opens its season with "Grease," the Jim Jacobs/Warren Casey musical set in the 1950s and inspired by Jacobs' experiences at Chicago's William Taft High School. An exploration of teenage angst and the pursuit of cool, "Grease" centers on a group of teenagers: good girl Sandy in love with T-Birds leader Danny, bad girl Rizzo, Danny's second-in-command Kenickie and Frenchy, an aspiring hairdresser. Chicago native Michael Unger directs.
Previews begin Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. The show opens Friday, Sept. 14. $34.90-$46.90. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.org.
Next Theatre opens its 32nd season with Charles Mee's modernized Greek tragedy "Iphigenia 2.0," in which Greek leader Agamemnon makes a terrible sacrifice to convince his troops to follow him into a dubious war. Making his Next directorial debut is Lookingglass Theatre's David Kersnar.
Previews continue through Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. The show opens Tuesday, Sept. 11. $25-$40. (847) 475-1875, ext. 2, or nexttheatre.org.
• Previews begin Friday, Sept. 7, for the first production of Lifeline Theatre's 30th season, the world premiere adaptation of Wilkie Collins' 19th century mystery, "The Woman in White." Robert Kauzlaric adapts the novel about an heiress trapped in a loveless marriage, who is really in love with a poor artist. Elise Kauzlaric directs the production, which opens Sunday, Sept. 16, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.
• Writer Michael K. Feinstein imagines a day in the life of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, before his conviction on corruption charges, when he's forced to make a difficult decision with help from Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley in "Blagojevich, Blagojevich!" The world premiere show runs Friday, Sept. 7, to Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Darren Stephens stars as Rod with Eric Roach as Elvis and Nixon. (773) 935-6875 or blagojevichtheplay.com or athenaeumthatre.org.
• Previews begin Friday, Sept. 7, for Quest Theatre Ensemble's production of Billy St. John's melodrama "Males Order Brides or Big Harry Deals Scandalous Scheme," about a shifty lawyer who enlists an actress to marry four men who he hopes to lure to their death leaving her the beneficiary and himself a profit. The show opens Friday, Sept. 14, at the Blue Theater, at St. Gregory the Great Church, 1609 W. Gregory St., Chicago. Adults-only shows take place at 11 p.m. Fridays, Sept. 21, 28 and Oct. 5. (312) 458-0895 or questensemble.org.
• Hell in a Handbag Productions remounts its adults-only satire of child beauty pageants "Sexy Baby, Sexy Baby," beginning Friday, Sept. 7, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Cabaret singer and female impersonator Honey West stars as a former child beauty queen and pageant director in the play by artistic director David Cerda. (773) 975-8150 or handbagproductions.org.
• That's Murdertainment and the BBQ Pit Restaurant team up for "Quiet on the Set!," a murder-mystery dinner event at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at 589 Elm Place, Highland Park. The show revolves around a director anxious to make a big-budget musical in Chicago, whose collaborators include at least one person with a serious grudge. (847) 432-6393 or quietontheset.wix.com/show.
• Provision Theater Company opens its season with founding artistic director Timothy Gregory's "Shaw vs. Chesterton: The Debate," adapted from actual debates and exchanges between "friendly enemies" playwright George Bernard Shaw and literary and social critic G.K. Chesterton ("The Man Who Was Thursday"). "Through their debates they showed us that our real opponent is not made of flesh and blood. Our real opponent is ignorance," Gregory said. Performances begin Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago. (312) 455-0066 or provisiontheater.org.
• Previews begin Saturday, Sept. 8, for Rare Terra Theatre's Chicago area premiere of David Hirson's black comedy "Wrong Mountain," at the Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago. To win a bet, Henry Dennett enters a playwriting contest. After his play becomes successful, he becomes everything he hates in this darkly comic examination of the creative process. The show opens Thursday, Sept. 13. See rareterratheatre.com for more information.
• Hubris Productions remounts its post-apocalyptic, right-wing run, zombie-filled, camp comedy "Annee Pocalypse!" The adults-only show previews Saturday, Sept. 8, and opens Sunday, Sept. 9, at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago. See hubrisproductions.com for tickets and information.
• Ever Marinard and Alicia Queen salute the bard's female characters in the irreverent romp "Shakespeare's Female Women," running Saturday, Sept. 8-29, at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. (773) 598-4549 or gorillatango.com.
• The Pavement Group hosts its third annual Black & Blue Ball fundraiser beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Elegant Mr. Gallery, 1355 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and include music and dancing. Proceeds will help fund the company's next show, "breaks & bikes" opening in November. See pavementgroup.org.
• ETA Creative Arts Foundation hosts its 2012 fundraising gala Resurrecting Spirit, Reclaiming Community from 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago. The event includes a buffet, music, entertainment, dancing and a silent auction. See etacreativearts.org for ticket information.
• Raven Theatre marks the beginning of its 30th anniversary with Clifford Odets' "The Big Knife." Inspired by the playwright's own Hollywood experiences, the play is about a popular movie star whose moral compromises eat away at his soul, and the studio executives who play hardball when he balks at a new contract. Michael Menendian directs the show which begins previews Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. "The Big Knife" opens Monday, Sept. 17. (773) 338-2177 or raventheatre.com.
• "I Love Lucy Live On Stage," a new musical adapted from the long-running television series, makes its Midwest premiere at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. Previews begin Wednesday, Sept. 12. The show opens Wednesday, Sept. 19. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com or ilovelucylive.com.
• Remy Bumppo Theatre's Nick Sandys picks up where founding artistic director James Bohnen left off in staging Edward Albee's "Seascape" to open his first full season as the company's new artistic director. Bohnen wanted to stage the play -- about a newly retired couple relaxing on the beach who are confronted by a giant lizard couple -- more than 16 years ago but was unable to secure the rights. Annabel Armour and Patrick Clear play the retired couple and Sean Parris and Emjoy Gavino play their lizard counterparts. Previews begin Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The show opens Monday, Sept. 17. (773) 404-7336 or remybumppo.org.
• The all-Latina theater company Teatro Luna welcomes new ensemble members Kristiana Rae Colon, Gabriela Ortiz Flores and Alexandra Meda who also serves as the new executive director.
• Oracle Productions announced its third season of free, public access theater beginning with Dario Fo's 1970 satire "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" (Jan. 19-Feb. 23) about a man arrested on charges of terrorism who subsequently falls to his death, which prompts a character to question whether his death was accidental or planned. Next up is Oracle's first musical, an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's "The Mother" (April 20-May 25). Jonathan Guillen composes the original music for the play about a woman's transformation from "illiterate peasant to revolutionary leader." The season concludes with "Waiting for Lefty" (June 29-Aug. 3), Clifford Odets' examination of greed and corruption, in which union cabdrivers battle their corporate bosses for better wages. Oracle performances take place at 3809 N. Broadway, Chicago. They're free, but the company accepts donations. See publicaccesstheatre.org for more information.
• Having completed its nine-week remount at Chicago Dramatists, the production of Keith Huff's "A Steady Rain," directed by Russ Tutterow and starring Peter DeFaria and Randy Steinmeyer, will embark upon a tour of Wisconsin and Michigan this fall. Performances will run Oct. 25-28, at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. Milwaukee, Wis. See nextact.org. The show runs Nov 1-2, at Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive, Three Oaks, Michigan. See acorntheater.com.
-- Barbara Vitello