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posted: 7/19/2013 6:00 AM

Local theater: New cabaret show

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Cabaret at IP

Improv Playhouse examines the dreams of young Broadway hopefuls in a new cabaret show titled "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" running this weekend at the Libertyville theater. IP music director and pianist Matt Piet, Fox Valley Repertory veteran Rachel Page and their colleague Christina Laur-Nuernbreger created the show about two women who never got to see their names in lights. The show features music by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lippa ("Big Fish," "The Addams Family") among others.

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7:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. $20, $15 students and seniors. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.

'Smokey Joe's' closes

Theo Ubique's long-running, multi-Jeff Award-winning production of "Smokey Joe's Cafe -- The Songs of Lieber and Stoller" which transferred to the Royal George Theatre earlier this year, will close this weekend. Lincolnshire native Brenda Didier directs the revue, which features such 1950s tunes as "Hound Dog," "Yakety Yak" and "Jailhouse Rock."

7:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, 8 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. $25-$46.50. (312) 988-9000 or smokeyjoescafechicago.com.

'Dark' premiere

Redtwist theatre presents the world premiere of "The Beautiful Dark," by Erik Gernand. Skokie resident and Jeff Award winner Jacqueline Grandt stars as a mother who worries fiction resembles reality too closely when she discovers her son Jacob wrote a graphic play about a college student who goes on a killing spree, whose lead character sounds a lot like her son. Josh Altman directs.

Previews begin 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Chicago. The show opens Saturday, July 27. $25, $30. (773) 728-7529 or redtwist.org.

• LiveWire Chicago Theatre's fifth annual short play festival VisionFest 5: Johnny 5 is Alive opens Friday, July 19, with a marathon of all 10 playlettes at Intuit -- The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Writers including Philip Dawkins, Ike Holter, Hilary Williams and Joe Zarrow have penned short plays centered on technology, all of which will be staged in a different area of the multiroom gallery space. Program 1, consisting of five plays, runs on Wednesdays and program 2, also consisting of five plays, runs on Thursdays. All 10 plays run in a marathon session on Fridays. The fest continues through Friday, Aug. 2. See livewirechicago.com or visionfest5.brownpapertickets.com for more information.

• Redmoon continues its free summer performance summer series from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 19, in Calumet Park, 9801 S. Ave. G, Chicago. The event features emcee Lamar Jordan and performers DJ Such and Such, Jose Olivarez, Noname, Fatimah and the Bucket Boys along with Redmoon's latest invention, a 16-foot tall mobile soapbox and speaker system complete with DJ booth, drum kit, slide and other elements. For more information, see redmoon.org. Also at Redmoon, Sophia Wong Boccio has been named the company's new managing director. The former executive director of Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Boccio also led the Chicago International Film Festival. Joining Boccio is director of finance Wil Roberson from the Urban League of Aurora and Jennifer Talbot, the new director of marketing and communication.

• Previews begin Friday, July 19, for The Factory Theater's latest, "'Namosaur!" at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. Set in 1968 Vietnam, Scott Oken's play centers on Fox company, whose soldiers are being picked off by an enemy that isn't human. The show opens Friday, July 26. (866) 811-4111 or thefactorytheater.com.

• Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, presents free staged readings of works in progress by members of the theater's Playwrights Unit. First up is Greg Allen's "Sleeping with the Prince of Darkness: The Imagined Pillow Talk of FBI Agent John O'Neill" about the counterterrorism expert whose warnings about al-Qaida went unheeded largely because of politics and his own prickly personality, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20. A reading of Christopher Oscar Pena's "F (law) less," about a chance encounter that changes the lives of two women, takes place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22. It's followed at 7:30 p.m. by Ike Holter's "Prowess," about a Chicago activist who discovers working for an alderman isn't all it's cracked up to be. The series concludes at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, with a reading of Chicago Dramatists resident playwright Alice Austen's "Ninth Man Out" about the true story of Elmer Gedeon, a multisport star from the University of Michigan who played professional baseball before being drafted into World War II. Reservations required. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org/playwrightsunit.

• Also at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, Albany Park Theater Project remounts its production of its original, collaborative piece "Home/Land" examining how immigration laws impact the lives of ensemble members. The play concludes Goodman's 2013 Latino Theatre Festival, which runs through Sunday, July 28. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• The Actors Gymnasium hosts its summer benefit Shipwrecked beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston. Proceeds from the benefit will help fund scholarships for young circus artists who attend the Evanston school. Individual tickets are $50 in advance, $150 for a family (three or more people living at the same address; $65 at the door or $165 for a family. The event includes live circus acts, food, kids activity area, auction and a raffle. (847) 328-2795 or actorsgymnasium.com.

• Midwest New Musicals in association with Light Opera Works presents North Shore B & B (Boats and Beaches) a showcase of three short musicals, as the conclusion of its 2013 Mini-Musicals Project. The semi-staged performance is at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at McGaw YMCA Children's Center Auditorium, 1420 Maple St., Evanston. Featured pieces include Francesca Peppiatt and Donald Flayton's "On the Road to Manderlay;" John David Nelson and Christopher Dunn Rankin's "The Beached Boat of a Billionaire" and Mark Adamczyk and Donald Nolan's "On The Rocks." (847) 920-5360 or lightoperaworks.org.

• Genesis Theatrical Productions' staged reading series continues at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, with "Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet," Mike Czuba's examination of the relationship between avant-garde artist Jean Cocteau and the composer Erik Satie. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The reading takes place at the National Pastime Theater, Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. See genesistheatricals.com or npt2.com.

• The 61st season of Theater on the Lake continues Wednesday, July 24, at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Michigan, in Chicago with a remount of The Den Theatre's "The Quality of Life," Jane Anderson's dramedy about conservatives whose daughter has just died, whose beliefs are tested when they visit their liberal cousins who have a different approach to confronting a family tragedy. Performances run through Sunday, July 28. (312) 742-7994 or chicagoparkdistrict.com.

• The life of self-taught American surrealist artist Joseph Cornell inspired On The Spot Theatre Company's world premiere of the drama "How to Make a Rainbow," written and directed by Michael Brayndick. The preview is Thursday, July 25, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The show opens Friday, July 26. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.

• Former WGN radio host Judy Markey is among the writer/performers participating in the latest installment of Short Story Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at the Cellar Gate Wine Bar, 524 Sheridan Road, Highwood. Also performing original stories is Ron Levitsky, Mary Lou Gilliam and Donna Lubow. (847) 748-8086 or shortstorytheatre.com.

• "Million Dollar Quarter" earlier this month became the longest-running Broadway musical production in Chicago's history with more than 2,000 performances over five years. Tickets for the jukebox musical loosely inspired by the 1956 jam session at Memphis' Sun Studios between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, are on sale through Jan. 5 at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 935-6100 or milliondollarquartetlive.com or ticketmaster.com.

• Sideshow Theatre Company opens its 2013-2014 season on Aug. 29, with the Chicago premiere of Bill Cain's "9 Circles" at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St. Chicago. Marti Lyons directs this re-examination of Dante's "Inferno" which unfolds in a prison cell, where an army private accused of a terrible war crime awaits judgment. Next up is "The Golden Dragon" Roland Schimmelpfennig's modern culture clash, which unfolds in a restaurant where the lives of the staff and patrons intertwine in some unusual ways. Performances begin Jan. 18 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The season concludes on May 24 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, with the world premiere of "Tyrant" by Sideshow artistic associate Kathleen Akerley. The action takes place in the future where Congress has solved the homeless problem by training homeless people as servants of the wealthy, who are subsequently forbidden to leave their employer's home. For ticket information see sideshowtheatre.org.

• Red Theater Company has announced its 2013-2014 season. It begins Nov. 22, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, with Sidney Michaels' "Dylan," the 1964 play about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. That's followed by "Three Soldiers (for Sisters)" by RTC artistic director Aaron Sawyer. Performances begin Feb. 22 at the Den Theatre for this modern tale of love and war told through three soldiers who fall in love with the contemporary counterparts of Chekhov's "Three Sisters." The season concludes with Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" translated into American Sign Language and set in 1950s Martha's Vineyard within a deaf/hearing community. It runs June 20-July 13, 2014. For ticket information see redtheater.org.

• AstonRep Theatre Company opens its 2013-2014 season Sept. 26, at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago, with Theresa Rebeck's "The Water's Edge," a modern take on a Greek tragedy involving a husband and father who returns home after 17 years to face a furious ex-wife who blames him for their family troubles. That's followed on May 8, 2014, by Margaret Edson's "Wit" about a renowned English professor specializing in the poetry of John Donne, who undergoes experimental treatment for her stage IV ovarian cancer. The season concludes in July, 2014, with AstonRep's 6th annual Writers' Series featuring workshop productions of in-development plays and taking place at The Den Theatre. Tickets will go on sale later this summer. For more information see astonrep.com.

• Victory Gardens Theater has appointed Christopher Mannelli as its new managing director. Mannelli, former deputy director at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, has served as the interim managing director since November 2012. "Throughout our transition, Chris has been an indispensable partner in leading our theater ... he has stabilized and strategized our finances, making a reality of several of our key artistic programs," said artistic director Chay Yew in a prepared statement.

• The Dramatists Guild of America will hold its second national conference at Chicago area theaters from Aug. 22-25. Playwrights Rebecca Gilman, David Ives, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Theresa Rebeck, Stephen Schwartz and Jeff Sweet are among those participating in the conference whose panels and workshops will address business and legal affairs; playwriting and musical theater writing among other topics. The keynote speaker will be Steppenwolf Theatre artistic director Martha Lavey. For more information and to register see dramatistsguild.com.

• A new website, BroadwayAudience.com, launched last month to provide theater lovers a forum to share reviews of shows.

-- Barbara Vitello

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