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posted: 9/19/2013 6:00 AM

Local theater: 'Route 66' in the driver's seat

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Road trip
Four service station attendants in 1950s Chicago hit the open road in "Route 66," a jukebox revue featuring tunes like "King of the Road," "Beep Beep" and the titular number. Zachary Gray directs the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre production, which features Daniel Ermel, Chase McCurdy, Preston Smith and Timothy Sullivan.
Previews continue at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. The show opens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $28-$44. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

Borscht Circuit humor
The Royal George Theatre presents "Old Jews Telling Jokes," the off-Broadway revue created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent featuring five actors performing classic jokes and tunes as well as contemporary shtick. Performances run through January.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. The show opens Oct. 2. $49, $59. (312) 423-6612 or theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.

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Heavy metal
Wheaton native and Fox Valley Repertory artistic director John Gawlik is among the Gift Theatre ensemble members appearing in the company's Chicago premiere of "Broadsword: A Heavy Metal Play" by Marco Ramirez ("Orange is the New Black," "Sons of Anarchy"). The play centers on the former members of a heavy metal band who reunite after one of them goes missing. Keira Fromm directs a cast that includes Gift members John Kelly Connolly, James D. Farruggio and Gabriel Franken along with Chuck Spencer and Cyd Blakewell.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show opens Monday, Sept. 30. $20-$30. (773) 283-7071 or thegifttheatre.org.

Other theater events:

• 16th Street Theater artistic director Ann Filmer collaborates with Pegasus Players' artistic director Ilesa Duncan and Congo Square artistic director Daniel Bryant for Steven Simoncic's "Broken Fences." The play centers on neighboring couples -- one black and one white -- living in the gentrifying East Garfield Park. Filmer and Duncan co-direct the play, in previews through Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 16th Street Theater, 6420 166th St., Berwyn. Bryant stars as Hoody, a longtime resident struggling to pay his property taxes in this play examining race and economics in contemporary America. The show opens Thursday, Sept. 26. See 16thstreettheater.org.

• Performances begin Friday, Sept. 20, for New Millennium Theatre Company's "Crazy for Swayze: A Swayzical," a tribute to the 1980s film heartthrob Patrick Swayze by company member Laura Coleman. Performances of the adults-only show continue through Oct. 26 at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago. See nmtchicago.org.

• Chicago theater company Artemisia hosts its third annual Fall Festival of Staged Readings beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, 925 W. Diversey, Chicago. First up is Tammy Ryan's "Soldier's Heart" about the impact of rape in the military as experienced by a young female marine. It's followed at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, with Allison Brown's "Tyler Family Portrait" about the dark secrets hidden by a seemingly happy suburban family. The festival's first weekend concludes at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, with Ed Proudfoot's "Chewing on Beckett" in which five women confront obstacles created by a lost letter and dementia. See artemisiatheatre.org for more information.

• Cock and Bull Theatre hosts another of its free "bull sessions" showcasing works by artists in various mediums from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at The Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave., Chicago. See cockandbulltheatre.org.

• The Midnight Circus continues its Night Out in the Parks in partnership with the Chicago Park District. The Circus performs at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21; and 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley Ave., Chicago. Tickets range from $5 to $20. Proceeds go to improve Chicago parks. See circusintheparks.org for tickets.

• Citadel Theatre Company opens its season with "How We Got On," Idris Goodwin's coming-of-age tale about teens who express themselves through urban pop. Performances begin Saturday, Sept. 21, at 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. Josh Sobel directs. (847) 735-8554 or citadeltheatre.org.

• Oracle Productions and Odradek Theatre Company team up for the Chicago-area premiere of Ferdinand Bruckner's "Pains of Youth" about six restless, questioning, discontented young adults in pre-World War I Vienna. Joshua Altman directs the Martin Crimp adaptation. Performances begin Saturday, Sept. 21, at 3809 N. Broadway, Chicago. Admission is free, but reservations are required and donations are accepted. See publicaccesstheatre.org.

• First Floor Theater celebrates its first year on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a birthday fundraiser beginning at 7:30 p.m. at 1133 W. Fulton Market, Chicago. Admission includes food, an open bar, silent auction and entertainment. Additionally, First Floor announced its second season, which begins Nov. 21, at Red Tape Theater, 621 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, with Naomi Iizuka's "Polaroid Stories," a re-imagining of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" set in the underbelly of a city where society's fringe-dwellers have taken refuge. That's followed by the Chicago-area premiere of Nat Cassidy's "The Reckoning of Kit and Little Boots" (Feb. 7-March 2, 2014), about famed Elizabethan playwrights Kit Marlowe who -- as he lays dying -- has a vision of the ghost of Caligula who leads Marlowe in examining power, writing and the human spirit. Performances are at The Den Theater, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The season concludes in May 2014 with "Tollbooth: A Clown Show," created and directed by Will Bishop and Scott Ray Merchant. For information and tickets, see firstfloortheater.com.

• Joseph Jefferson Award winner Harry Groener ("The Madness of George III") returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater and reunites with director Penny Metropulos for "Cyrano de Bergerac," Edmond Rostand's novel of the famed soldier, scholar and romantic adapted by Anthony Burgess. Groener plays the titular swashbuckler in the production, which begins previews on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. The show opens Oct. 2. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.

• The affair French writer Marguerite Duras had as a teenager with an older native man in 1930s Indochina inspired Lookingglass Theatre's latest world premiere, "The North China Lover," adapted from Duras' novel by ensemble member Heidi Stillman. Stillman directs the production, which begins previews Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The show opens Oct. 5. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

• AstonRep Theatre Company presents the Chicago-area premiere of Theresa Rebeck's "The Water's Edge," a modern version of a Greek tragedy in which a husband and father returns home after 17 years to face his angry ex-wife. Artistic director Robert Tobin directs the production, which begins previews on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show opens Sept. 28. (773) 828-9129 or astonrep.com.

• A woman suffering from a rare genetic condition that causes hair to grow over her entire body joins her abusive husband's freak show as "The Ape Woman" in Tympanic Theatre Company's production of Shaun Prendergast's "The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, The Ugliest Woman in the World." The show, which is performed in darkness, opens Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Berger Park Coach House, 6205 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. See tympanictheatre.org.

• Performances continue through Oct. 12 for Trap Door Theatre's production of Jean Genet's "The Balcony," about a brothel where clients paying to impersonate government officials are interrupted by a real revolution. Performances take place at 1655 W. Cortland St., Chicago. (773) 384-0494 or trapdoortheatre.com.

• American Blues Theater has extended its production of "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," starring Matthew Brumlow as the legendary singer/songwriter. Performances continue through Oct. 12 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or americanbluestheater.com.

• Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning "The Mountaintop." Set on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, the play centers on the fictionalized meeting between the civil rights leader and a hotel maid. Performances run through Oct. 13. (773) 753-4472 or courttheatre.org.

• Bailiwick Chicago Theater announces replacement shows for its previously announced 2013-2014 season. The season opens March 6, 2014, with "Dessa Rose," the musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ("Ragtime") inspired by the unlikely friendship between real a white woman living on an isolated farm in 1847 Alabama and the escaped slave, Dessa Rose. That's followed by "Carrie" (May 29-July 12, 2014), a musical by Lawrence D. Cohen, Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore based on the Stephen King novel about an outcast high schoolgirl who uses her special powers against bullying classmates. Performances take place at the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. For more information, see bailiwickchicago.com.

• About Face Theatre opens its 2013-2014 season Nov. 27 with a remount of its hit holiday musical "We Three Lizas" featuring a revamped book and expanded score. Next up is the Chicago-area premiere of "Brahman/i" (March/April 2014), Aditi Brennan Kapil's solo comedy show examining gender and culture through the eyes of an Indian intersex person. The new season also includes the ongoing Out Front Series showcasing in-development works. Season subscriptions available at aboutfacetheatre.com.

• Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ind., announced its 2014 season, which begins February 20, 2014, with "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash." That's followed by Tom Dudzick's domestic comedy "Miracle on South Division Street" (May 1-June 1. The theater presents the world premiere of "The Beverly Hillbillies, The Musical" on July 10 followed on Sept. 11 by "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," a musical based on the Pedro Almodóvar film. The season concludes with the Chicago-area premiere of "A Christmas Memory" (Nov. 13-Dec. 14), a musical based on the Truman Capote short story. Season subscriptions and individual tickets are available at (219) 836-3255 or theatreatthecenter.com.

• Pride Films & Plays has named 10 semifinalists for its Great Gay Screenplay Contest featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters and themes. Five finalists will be announced in October and presented in enhanced staged readings November 15-17 at the Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theatre. For more information, see pridefilmsandplays.com.

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