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posted: 12/6/2012 5:19 AM

What's new in theater

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• Silk Road Rising presents a staged reading of "The Night Jesus Joined the Revolution," Fouad Teymour's drama set during last year's Arab Spring, during which a band of insurgents respond to a rumor that Jesus has been sighted in Tahrir Square. The reading is at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago. (312) 857-1234, ext. 201, or silkroadrising.org.

• Three clown/musicians become unexpectedly and unavoidably ensnared in the family-friendly "500 Clown Trapped," the latest from the inventive, physical theater ensemble 500 Clown. Performances run Friday, Dec., 7 to Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Storefront Theater, 72 E. Randolph St., Chicago. See cityofchicago.org/dcase for more information.

• Justine Turner and Michaela Petro bring their show, "The J & M Comedy Hour: Christpocalypse!" to Strawdog Theatre Company's Hugen Hall, 3829 N. Broadway, Chicago. The show finds J trying to get a reluctant M into the holiday spirit. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8. Admission is $15, $10 with a nonperishable food donation. (866) 811-4111 or strawdog.org.

• Goodman Theatre's New Stages Amplified series showcasing five new plays -- including two fully staged productions and three staged readings -- begins Saturday, Dec. 8, at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. The lineup includes "Song for the Disappeared," the latest in Tanya Saracho's ongoing examination of life on the U.S./Mexico border, which centers on the successful patriarch and his young trophy wife, who reunite with his disgruntled daughters from a former marriage after their younger brother is kidnapped. Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig examines the rabidly evolving China in "The World of Extreme Happiness," about a young girl who leaves home at age 14 hoping to transform her and her parents' lives by pulling all of them out of poverty. In Martin Zimmerman's "The Solid Sand Below," an Iraq War veteran's close call with an improvised explosive device transforms him into an adrenaline junkie who craves the high the battlefield provides. Also scheduled is Philip Dawkins' "Stutter," about a small-town piano teacher asked to join a class-action lawsuit related to an injustice she suffered as a child. After a successful African American attorney returns to his childhood neighborhood with his white girlfriend and best friend, tensions -- both racial and sexual -- begin to surface in "Buzzer" by Tracey Scott Wilson. Last but not least is the five-hour staged reading of Roberto Bolano's "2666," which spans 100 years and centers on a group of academics whose search for an elusive author leads them to a Mexican border city where hundreds of murders of women have gone unsolved. The plays run in repertory through Sunday, Dec. 23. Admission is free, but reservations are required. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• The Side Project previews its 2013 season at 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1439 W. Jarvis. Chicago. The preview features excerpts of Sean Graney's "Sugarward" about British sugar barons in 1706; "lady M," Laley Libbard's re-imagining of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" with an emphasis on Lady Macbeth; "Elsewhere," Robert Tenges' exploration of a mother-son relationship against the backdrop of the Vietnam War; and "Lives of the Pigeons," poet Sherod Santos examination of two men who spend every day in the park. (773) 340-0140 or thesideproject.net.

• Filament Theatre Ensemble hosts a combination holiday party/fundraiser beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at its new home at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The evening includes a live radio show/screening of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" featuring a jazz trio, refreshments, open bar and raffle prizes. Tickets are $30. See filamenttheatre.org

• Lifeline Theatre invites families to a sneak peek of its KidSeries production "The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost," at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. Admission to the event, which also includes drama games with Lifeline artists, is free but reservations are required. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.

• Chicago Stage Standard's Elayne LeTraunik leads a workshop on "How to Start Your Own Theatre Company" from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Pride Films and Plays rehearsal space, 1411 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago. For information, email chicagostagestandard@gmail.com.

• Previews begin Tuesday, Dec. 11, for the touring version of the multi-Tony Award winning musical "The Book of Morman," by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and "Avenue X" co-creator Robert Lopez, about a pair of Mormon missionaries who try to convert Ugandans to Christianity. Performances run through mid-2013, at the Bank of America Theatre 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com or bookofmormonthemusical.com.

• Collaboration presents the world premiere of "Our Last Night on Earth: A Countdown to the Mayan Apocalypse" beginning Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Conceived by ensemble member Nathan Green, this "party to end all parties" consists of open mic storytelling, music and dance. The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and runs through Saturday, Dec. 22. (312) 226-9633 or collaboraction.org.

• The sketch comedy group Think Tank hosts a holiday fundraiser from 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Fizz Bar & Grill, 3220 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The evening features performances by local comedians Chad Briggs, The Puterbaugh Sisters and Drew Frees along with drink specials and giveaways. All proceeds go to the MaeBell Ward Foundation, an Alzheimer's support group. See thinktankcomedy.com.

• The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of Jane Anderson's "The Quality of Life," about two couples: one dealing with the recent loss of their daughter and the other dealing with the husband's terminal cancer. Performances continue through Sunday, Dec. 9. See thedentheatre.com.

• Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company has announced the final extension of its hit revival of Tracy Letts "Superior Donuts." Performances continue through Monday, Dec. 31, at the Royal George Cabaret Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 988-9000 or maryarrchie.com.

• Teatro Luna hosts its family-friendly "A Very Luna Christmas" presented mostly in English, with a "sprinkle of Spanish" through Sunday, Jan. 6, at Luna Central 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show examines relationships between a Latino family "trying to survive the holidays" and features associates Amanda de la Guardia and Alyssa Vera Ramos among others. See teatroluna.org.

• GayCo presents the best of its holiday sketch comedy shows as part of the revue "re: Gifted" running through Thursday, Dec. 27, at the Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 561-4665 or gayco.com or theannoyance.com.

-- Barbara Vitello

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