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posted: 2/22/2013 5:00 AM

Local theater: Take a test drive

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A millionaire stumbles into the car dealership where Becky Foster works and offers her a ride that may change her life in "Becky's New Car," Steven Dietz's comedy about a middle-aged woman who considers abandoning her marriage and job to start a new life. Marge Uhlarik-Boller of Elgin directs Steel Beam Theatre's production of the comedy about "the road not taken."
Opens 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22. at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $25, $23. (630) 587-8521 or

Bros in the 'burbs
Suburban newcomer Three Brothers Theatre revives Reduced Shakespeare Company's satirical "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," in which three actors perform the Bard's entire 37-play canon in about 90 minutes. Taking on what he calls "an actor's dream challenge" is Rick Adams along with Nick Ostrem and Matt Johnston.
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and March 1-2; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, and March 3, at Clockwise Theatre, 221 N. Genesee St., Waukegan. $15, $10. See for ticket information.

Letting go, or not
Erica Weiss, who directed Route 66's acclaimed "A Twist of Water" here and in New York, helms Gift Theatre's production of "Vigils." A surreal comedy by Noah Haidle ("Stand Up Guys") that deftly balances humor and pathos, "Vigils" is about a young widow who keeps the soul of her late firefighter husband locked in a box at the foot of her bed, which causes problems for the new man in her life. Ensemble members Hillary Clemens, Jim Farruggio, Jay Worthington and Kyle Zornes star.
Opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. $25-$30. (773) 283-7071 or

What's new
• Quest Theatre Ensemble premieres an original musical by Andrew Park (book) and Scott Lamps (music). "The People's Passion Play" chronicles biblical events from the creation to the crucifixion and the resurrection. Performances begin Friday, Feb. 22, at Blue Theater, 1609 W. Gregory St., Chicago. Admission to the family-friendly production is free, but donations are accepted. (312) 458-0895 or

• Chicago's Portage Park inspired the latest world premiere from Filament Theatre Ensemble, "Crossing Six Corners: A Neighborhood Heritage Project," a series of monologues, scenes and songs developed through interviews with residents and research into the neighborhood's history. "The project has turned out to be a true collaboration between our company and the community,' said artistic director Julie Ritchey in a prepared statement. Performances run Friday, Feb. 22, though Sunday, Feb. 24, at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Admission is free but donations are accepted. (773) 270-1660 or

• Performances begin Friday, Feb. 22, for Jedlicka Performing Arts Center's Chicago area premiere of "A Night in Provence," Robin Hawdon's comedy about a ritzy French Riviera resort that triple books a room, leaving three couples to sort out the accommodations. Performances are at Morton Community College, 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. (708) 656-1800 or

• Jeff Award-winner Rachel Rockwell directs Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 75-minute "Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet" starring CST newcomers Christopher Allen and Laura Rook in the title roles. Performances begin Saturday, Feb. 23, at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or

• The cast and crew of Lifeline Theatre's KidSeries musical, "The Emperor's Groovy New Clothes," invite families to a free preview of the show from 1 to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. Admission is free but reservations are required. (773) 761-4477 or

• Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, welcomes Spencers Theatre of Illusion for one show at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The show combining magic and humor is part of the theater's Family Series. (847) 577-2121 or

• A British code breaker is sent on a secret mission to Dublin in 1941 where he unwittingly becomes involved in various plots while trying to impress a lovely colleague in Arthur Riordan's spy musical comedy "Improbable Frequency," in its Midwest premiere at Strawdog Theatre. Previews begin Friday, Feb. 22, at 3829 N. Broadway St., Chicago. The show, directed by Kyle Hamman with music direction by Mike Przygoda, opens Sunday, Feb. 24. (866) 811-4111 or

• Previews begin Tuesday, Feb. 26, for Polarity Ensemble Theatre's world premiere of Bill Jepsen's new comedy, "Never the Bridesmaid." It's about thrice-married Maria and jilted-at-the-altar Anthony, twin siblings who've been "damaged by love," who come together to plan a 40th anniversary party for their perfect-couple parents. The show opens Feb. 28 at the Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. Bell St., Chicago. (800) 838-3006 or

• Steppenwolf Theatre's young adults series continues with the world premiere of "How Long Will I Cry? Voices of Youth Violence," playwright/professor Miles Harvey's examination of youth violence from the youngsters who experience it. Performances begin Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or

• A young woman uses extreme measures to reach a middle-aged couple who wake up one day not knowing who they are or where they are in Lee Blessing's "A Body of Water." Mary Reynard directs redtwist theatre's Chicago area premiere of the drama about love and identity. Previews begin Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago. The show opens March 2. (773) 728-7529 or

• Akvavit Theatre presents three short plays by acclaimed Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose work has been compared to Beckett and Pinter and is rarely seen in the United States. The ensemble performs the plays in repertory beginning Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St., Chicago. The plays, which are for adults, include: "Autumn Dream" about former lovers who meet in a cemetery where the man is burying his grandmother and "Winter," about the often brutal affair between two strangers -- a businessman and a woman whose background is sketchy. Also featured is "A Summer's Day," about a woman unable to get over the loss of her lover years earlier. (800) 595-4849 or or

• Previews begin Thursday, Feb. 28, for The New Colony's world premiere of "The Bear Suit of Happiness," a drama set on a remote Pacific island during World War II, by associate artistic director Evan Linder, in which theater and war converge. The action centers on Woody, a gay American soldier, ordered to put on a show to entertain the troops. Company member Patriac Coakley stars in the show which opens March 1 at Dank Haus, German American Cultural Center, second floor, 4740 N. Western Ave., Chicago. (773) 413-0862 or

• The TV drama "My So-Called Life" inspired Annoyance Theatre's original musical "My So-Called Afterlife," in which a teenager who has spent two decades in hell is transferred to heaven where he discovers that everyone under age 18 must attend high school. Forever. The show by director Tim Paul (book, lyrics) and Alex Kliner (music) previews Thursday, Feb. 28, at 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago, and opens March 7. (773) 561-4665 or

• American Blues Theater hosts its annual fundraiser Blue Bash from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the office of Seyfarth Shaw, 131 S. Dearborn St., Chicago. The event honors Brian and Jan Hieggelke, Newcity publishers, and includes the presentation of ABT's Blue Ink Award to a playwright, who receives a $500 cash prize and whose play receives a staged reading by the ensemble. The evening also includes an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, desserts, live and silent auctions and a preview of ABT's 28th season. (312) 725-4228 or

• "Mo(u) rnin'. After," Brigham Mosley's solo performance about the return home of a gay prodigal son, continues through Saturday, Feb. 23, at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago. See

• Juan Francisco Villa, returns to Teatro Vista to perform his solo show, "Empanada for a Dream," about growing up amid drugs and addicts on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Performances run through March 16 at 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. (708) 795-6704, ext. 107 or or

• Newcomer First Floor Theater revives an early David Mamet play, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Audrey Francis and Will Bishop, of Black Box Acting Studio, direct the play about twenty-something Chicagoans dealing with relationships, sex and love. Performances are at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through March 23, with live music in between shows at 9 p.m. See for more information.

• The Moscow Art Theatre awarded Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls the Morozov Award, for his work as a theatrical entrepreneur and patron, during its international Stanislavsky and the World Theatre Conference. The conference marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the director and Moscow Art Theatre founder, who originated the method approach of acting. In a prepared statement, Falls expressed his gratitude at the honor and at being invited to speak on Stanislavsky's impact on American theater at the conference, saying "Stanislavsky has long been a source of inspiration to me and my work. To be among some of the world's most celebrated theater thinkers was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

• The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Marcus Gardley (a Victory Gardens Ensemble playwright since 2012), a three-year residence at the theater as part of the foundation's $3.7 million initiative. Gardley, and 13 other playwrights, will receive a salary and benefits for three years while in residence at 11 different theaters across the nation. Victory Gardens Theater will receive A $260,000 grant for the residency. The award-winning Gardley's musical "On the Levee" premiered last year at Lincoln Center. His "dance of the holy ghosts" has been optioned for Broadway.

• Redmoon Theatre recently moved from its West Loop home to 2120 S. Jefferson, in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The move comes as part of the city's plan to develop the area into a cultural district. The company's relocation will help Chicago "attract and retain artists and creative professionals and maximize the opportunity for residents and visitors to participate in the arts and culture," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a prepared statement. The company will christen its new Spectacle Hall performance space in Pilsen on March 9.

• Heather Bodie and Gwen Tulin take over ownership of Chicago's Gorilla Tango Theatre as of March 1 as part of a licensing agreement with Gorilla Tango Inc, which plans to expand the Gorilla Tango network and business model to other cities. Bodie and Tulin will be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, marketing and box office of the Chicago venue at 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

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