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posted: 1/3/2013 5:00 AM

Local theater: On guard, swashbucklers

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Combat comedy
Those jesting swashbucklers Dirk Perfect (Douglas Mumaw) and Guido Crescendo (David B. Woolley) -- collectively known as The Swordsmen -- return to Fox Valley Repertory for an evening of humor and swordplay. In addition to performing, these stage combat experts will be conducting professional workshops at the theater. 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. $32. (630) 584-6342 or foxvalleyrep.org.

'Pygmalion' centennial
BoHo Theatre and Stage Left Theatre begin 2013 by collaborating on a joint production of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" in celebration of the play's centennial. Stage Left artistic director Vance Smith uses the script produced in 1913, before Shaw adapted it for the 1938 film and long before it inspired Alan Jay Lerner's book and lyrics for "My Fair Lady." Mouzam Makkar stars as Eliza Dolittle opposite Steve O'Connell's Henry Higgins. Previews begin Saturday, Jan. 5, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show opens Thursday, Jan. 10. $20, $25. (773) 975-8150 or bohotheatre.com or stagelefttheatre.com.

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Rivendell premiere
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, a company dedicated to showcasing female theater artists, presents the world premiere of "American Wee-Pie," Lisa Dillman's play about a book editor who returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral and has a chance encounter with an old high school friend that transforms his life. Literally. The production reunites Dillman with director and fellow RTE ensemble member Megan Carney. The cast also includes ensemble members Keith Kupferer (Steppenwolf Theatre's "Good People"), Mark Ulrich and Jane Baxter Miller. Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 10, at 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. The show opens Monday, Jan. 14. $15, $30. (773) 334-7728 or rivendelltheatre.org.

What's new
• Previews begin Friday, Jan. 4, for the Chicago premiere of "Side Effects May Include ..." a one-man dramedy by Marc Jaffe ("Seinfeld") and Eric Coble about a man whose wife's struggles with the early onset of Parkinson's disease lead to some unexpected results, suggesting that treatment's side effects have a far greater impact on the couple than the disease itself. The show opens Friday, Jan. 11, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.

• A scientist ingests a secret formula in order to impress a fellow dance student and finds himself turning into TapMan, a crime-fighting, tap-dancing superhero in a new show, "TapMan: Origin" starring Chicago tap dancer Tristan Bruns who also directs and choreographs. The show opens Friday, Jan. 4, at Skokie's Gorilla Tango Theater, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., (847) 677-7761 or tapmanproductions.com.

• The Side Project Theatre Company presents the world premiere of "Sugarward," writer/director Sean Graney's new play partly inspired by the experiences of Colonel Daniel Parke, who from 1706 to 1710 served as governor of the Leeward Islands -- a British colony in the West Indies -- whose administration ended abruptly and tragically. Live wire Theatre's Joel Ewing and Strawdog Theatre's John Henry Roberts star in the production directed by Geoff Button, of The Hypocrites. The show opens Saturday, Jan. 5, at 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago. (773) 340-0140 or thesideproject.net.

• The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, a Chicago, presents "The Final Balloon," an updated remount of its dark comedy "The Tragedy of Balloon Boy" or "Your Butt," which originated during the early 1990s. The play unfolds at Maggie's Bar, where every year, a group of regulars reunites with a strange visitor known as Balloon Boy. Performances begin Saturday, Jan. 5. (773) 561-4665 or annoyanceproductions.com.

• Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, presents The Warriors for Newtown, a benefit reading of Evan Linder's "The Warriors," inspired by the experience of Chicago actress Mary Hollis Inboden, who at age 12, survived the 1998 mass shooting at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., that claimed the lives of five people. Inboden will be among the actors performing a staged reading of the play (which premiered in 2011 at The New Colony) under director Kimberly Senior. It takes place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6. Tickets are $15, with all proceeds going to the Sandy Hook Elementary Victims Relief Fund. (773) 871-3000 or victorygardens.org/thewarriors.

• Director William Brown makes his Court Theatre directorial debut with David Hare's drama "Skylight," about a London schoolteacher who received an unexpected visit from her former lover, a recently widowed restaurant owner. Laura Rook and Philip Earl Johnson star as the former couple who spend the reunion dissecting and rekindling their relationships. Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 10, at 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago. The show opens Saturday, Jan. 19. (773) 753-4472 or courttheatre.org.

• Jenny Seidelman imagines the story behind the 2005 theft by Irish gypsies of a metal sculpture from a British museum in her new play, "Henry Moore is Melting." Newcomer theater company Cold Basement Dramatics' production opens Thursday, Jan. 10, at The Athenaeum Theater, 2963 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Mickey Laird directs. See athenaeumtheatre.org for times and ticket prices.

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