A family affair
A con man promises to change the lives of a family in a drought-stricken town, including spinster Lizzy, in the 1954 drama "The Rainmaker." First Folio Theatre's outdoor revival of N. Richard Nash's play is a family affair directed by co-founder Alison C. Vesely, and co-starring husband and executive director David Rice and the couple's daughter Hayley L. Rice. Joseph Wycoff plays self-professed rainmaker, Starbuck.
Previews begin at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. The show opens Aug. 3. $22-$37. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.
Jedlicka Performing Arts Center presents Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down the Wind," about a young girl in a small Southern town who believes the mysterious man hiding out in her family's barn is Jesus Christ. Jane Schafer and Michael Vaughn star in the production featuring Buffalo Grove native and Elmhurst College graduate Andrew Sickel (Amos) and Des Plaines resident Brennan Roach (Preacher).
Opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 26, at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. $18. (708) 656-1800 or jpactheatre.com.
What's in a name?
Swedish-Tunisian writer Jonas Hassen Khemiri's "Invasion!" gets its Midwest premiere courtesy of Silk Road Rising. An examination of racial and cultural differences, the dark comedy centers on a made-up name "Abulkasem" that means different things -- fairy tale character, spy, terrorist -- to different people.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago. The show opens Aug. 3. $25, $35. (312) 857-1234, ext. 201, or silkroadrising.org.
Other theater events:
• The competition among real estate salesman gets brutal when they're faced with an ultimatum: close the sale or you're fired in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross." Gorilla Tango Theatre's revival begins Friday, July 26, at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. Standup comedian Ricky March plays aging salesman Shelly Levene in director Ron Ben-Joseph's revival. (847) 677-7761 or gorillatango.com.
• Chicago Shakespeare Theater brings its production of "The Comedy of Errors" to 18 Chicago parks as part of its free Shakespeare in the Parks series beginning Friday, July 26, at Gateway Park at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. This marks the second year CST will roll into a park in a specially equipped truck, unfold a stage and present a professional production of Shakespeare's comedy about a man and his servant searching for their long lost twin brothers in a foreign land. Performances continue through Aug. 25 at various parks. See Chicagoshakes.com.
• Writer/directors Seth Bockley and Devon de Mayo team up with the Mexico City-based theater company La Piara for a revival of "Guerra: A Clown Play" performed last year in Chicago's Millennium Park. Performed in three languages, this dark comedy uses clowning, slapstick, farce and dance to tell the story of a remote military outpost and the hapless soldiers who are used as cannon fodder. Performances run Friday, July 26, to Aug. 4, at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago. (773) 281-0824 or linkshall.org.
• Performances begin Friday, July 26, for Genesis Ensemble's latest original work, "Uptown Opera," a bluegrass/rock 'n' roll work inspired by the migration of Appalachians' migration to Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. Phil Maniaci composed the music for the show, which runs through Aug. 19 at the Preston Bradley Auditorium, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. See genesisensemble.org for more information.
• Jazz musician and performer Denise La Grassa brings "The Blues Ain't a Color," her original jazz musical about African-Americans' response to persistent racism, to Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and to Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, at 8 p.m. Aug. 11. Accompanying the performance are paintings by Swiss artist Maria Kern and video inserts by Andrew Stengele. Call (773) 348-7592 or see katerinas.com for information on the Katerina's performance. Call (773) 465-9801 or see uncommonground.com for information on the Uncommon Ground performance. For a preview see deniselagrassa.com.
• Redmoon continues its free summer performance summer series from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 27, in Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Ave, 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.
• iO Chicago regulars Patrick Rowland (Barack All Night) and Connor Tillman (pants dot com) debut their new sketch comedy show, "Tee Hee Hee With Jay-Z and J.T.," beginning Saturday, July 27, at 3541 N. Clark St., Chicago. The adults-only show runs at 10:30 p.m. (773) 880-0199 or ioimprov.com.
• Steppenwolf Theatre Company kicks off its eighth annual First Look Repertory featuring in-development plays by Aaron Carter, Edith Freni and Janine Nabers on Monday, July 29, at the Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Since its inception, 12 of 21 First Look Repertory plays have had world premieres. Among the works running in repertory this summer is Nabers' "Annie Bosh is Missing" about a 22-year-old, recently out of rehab and eager to move on with her life who strolls out of the gates of her mother's tony subdivision and into post Hurricane Katrina Houston. Shade Murray directs. Tim Hopper directs Freni's "Buena Vista" about a young man whose weekend getaway in his family's Colorado cabin turns into a disaster of family dysfunction. The last of the featured works is Carter's "The Gospel of Franklin." Directed by Robert O'Hara, it's about a working-class black man who mentors white colleagues at the factory where he works, who also needs help himself. The festival also includes readings of the following: "Barbecue" about four afflicted people who stage an intervention for their addict sister; Mike Batistick's "Tempo" about a pharmaceutical salesman who begins sampling his own product and Carlos Murillo's "Your Name Will Follow You Home" about two friends who set out to tell the story of a reclusive Chicano writer. Tickets are $20, $45 for a three-play pass. Information and performance schedule is available at steppenwolf.org/firstlook or at (312) 335-1650.
• Academy Award nominee and A Red Orchid Theatre member Michael Shannon hosts the company's 20th anniversary celebration beginning at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 29, at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago. The event includes music by Ben Nichols of Lucero, Shannon's band Corporal, The Blind Staggers and Steely Danish. Admission is $15. VIP tickets are $100 and include admission for two, reserved seating and four drink tickets. Proceeds benefit the theater. See metrochicago.com for more information.
• The 61st season of Theater on the Lake continues Wednesday, July 31, at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Michigan in Chicago with a remount of Jackalope Theatre's "Long Way Go Down," Zayd Dohrn's drama about a couple of truck drivers smuggling Mexican immigrants into Arizona. Performances run through Sunday, Aug. 4. (312) 742-7994 or chicagoparkdistrict.com.
• The Senior Radio Players, a group of professional performs age 55 and older, bring their re-creations of old-time radio shows to the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago. They next perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1. Admission is free. The titles are "Nobody Loves Me" from the Suspense series originally broadcast on Aug. 20, 1945, on CBS radio; and "The Incredible Annalee," from Four Star Playhouse originally broadcast on Aug. 21, 1951, on NBC radio.
• Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company has announced the final extension for its hit production of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie." Performances continue through Aug. 25 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or maryarrchie.com or theaterwit.org.
• Lookingglass Theatre Company has extended its world premiere of "Big Lake Big City" by Arlington Heights native Keith Huff ("A Steady Rain," "House of Cards"). Performances of the black comedy/murder mystery about a pair of Chicago detectives investigating a pair of murders that hit close to home continue through Aug. 25 at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.
• Aaron Carter, Steppenwolf Theatre's literary manager since 2011, has been named the company's director of new play development. In his new role, Carter will head up the theater's new play commissions. His play "Start Fair" was originally developed at Evanston's Next Theatre Company and had a workshop production at Steppenwolf under director Anna D. Shapiro.
• A Red Orchid Theatre announced its 21st. season -- dubbed "Coming of Age" -- will begin Oct. 11 with the Midwest premiere of Nick Jones' "Trevor," a comedy about fame, success and the delusions we spin. It centers on the love affair between 200-pound chimpanzee Trevor who performed in TV commercials and his owner Sandra. In January 2014, AROT presents the U.S. premiere of "Solstice," Zinnie Harris' examination of terrorism, through the eyes of a man, his ailing wife and their son, who are all struggling to survive. The season concludes in April 2014 with the Chicago-area premiere of Marisa Wegrzyn's "Mud Blue Sky," about a teenage pot dealer who skips his high school prom to hang out with three flight attendants old enough to be his mother. Season subscriptions are available beginning at $60 for three plays. They're available for purchase at the box office at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago, aredorchidtheatre.org or (312) 943-8722.