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updated: 1/2/2014 8:12 AM

Theater events: Start 2014 laughing with Steve Cochran

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'Funny: 2014'
Full-time WGN radio personality and part-time standup comedian Steve Cochran headlines the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's first comedy show of 2014. Opening for Cochran is comedian John DaCrosse.
8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $30. (847) 577-2121 or metropolis arts.com.

Going 'Solo'
Chicago's Lifeline Theatre celebrates storytelling in all its incarnations during its 17th annual Fillet of Solo Festival. Among the 10 solo and 13 ensembles performing during the two-week festival are Marsha Estell, Kim Morris, Amanda Roundtree and Eric Warner, plus the Asian sketch-comedy troupe Stir-Friday Night, Chicago veterans The Sweat Girls, and The Kates, among others.
Performances begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, and at 8 p.m. at the Heartland Studio Theatre, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, and continue weekends through Jan. 19. $10, $30 for an all-festival pass. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.

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Josh Wolf at Zanies
Start the year laughing with standup comedian Josh Wolf this weekend at Zanies Rosemont. A Seattle native, Wolf relocated to Los Angeles to perform and ended up writing for the sitcoms "Yes, Dear" and The CW's "All of Us" before landing regular gigs on "My Name is Earl" and "Chelsea Lately."
7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Zanies Rosemont, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont. $25 plus a two-item food or drink minimum. (847) 813-0484 or zanies.com.

Other theater events

• Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre begins the new year with its weekend cabaret series featuring different songwriters. Titled "Come to the Cabaret Ol' Chum," it begins Friday, Jan. 3, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 5, with Christopher Logan saluting the music of Carole King. That's followed on Jan. 10-12 with Scott Gryder performing music by Broadway greats Kander and Ebb ("Cabaret"). On Jan. 17-19, Amanda Batcher examines the process of "finding beauty." The series concludes Jan. 24-26 with MidTangent Productions' "Dirty Little Secrets," centered around six characters struggling with lascivious cravings. Performances take place at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (800) 595-4849 or theo-u.org.

• Previews begin Friday, Jan. 3, for "Through the Leaves," the first production in The Side Project Theatre Company's two-play repertory series of plays by contemporary German playwright F.X. Kroetz. The 1972 play examines the relationship between a tough, emotionally abusive laborer and a lonely, middle-aged woman. Andy Hager directs co-stars H.B. Ward and Laurie Larson. The show opens Sunday, Jan. 5, at 1439 W. Jarvis Ave., Chicago. The second play, a one-woman show performed by Meg Elliott and directed by Mary Ellen O'Hara titled "Request Concert," begins performances Jan. 22. (773) 340-0140 or thesideproject.net.

• Gorilla Tango Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, presents the sequel to last year's "Tapman" show. In "Tapman 2: Ascension," Tapman squares off against his nemesis the MADD tapper using the unique fighting style, Tap-Fu, and featuring original music and a short film. See gorillatango.com.

• Kate Fry plays the title role in Writers Theatre's revival of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler." Kimberly Senior directs Nicholas Rudall's translation of Ibsen's drama about an unhappily married woman who "sows the seeds of calculated destruction" among her friends and lovers. Previews begin Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. The show opens Jan. 16. (847) 242-6000 or writerstheatre.org.

• Broadway in Chicago presents the first national tour of "Ghost The Musical" based on the 1990 movie about a man killed during a mugging who becomes trapped in between worlds when he is unable to leave his girlfriend, who he learns is in danger. Performances begin Tuesday, Jan. 7, at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• Shattered Globe Theatre begins 2014 with a revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker's "Our Country's Good," at its new artistic home Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Adapted from Thomas Keneally's "The Playmaker," "Our Country's Good" is an examination of the violence that underscores colonization and is set in 1788, during Britain's penal colonization of Australia and British officers' efforts to tame the unruly thieves, pickpockets and prostitutes by staging a restoration comedy, which the officers believe will civilize the prisoners. Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 9. The show opens Jan. 12. (773) 975-8150 or theaterwit.org or shatteredglobe.org.

• Joel Drake Johnson examines race relations and office politics in his dark comedy "Rasheeda Speaking," about a white physician who tries to oust his black receptionist by enlisting her white female co-worker as a spy. Rivendell Theatre Company presents the play as its first main stage production of their 2013-2014 season, titled "Stirring the Pot." Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 9, at 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 18. (773) 334-7728 or rivendelltheatre.org.

• The 13th annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival begins Thursday, Jan. 9, and runs through Jan. 19 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Scheduled performers include Danny Pudi ("Community"), along with Los Angeles' Siblings of Doctors and Chicago-area ensembles Stir Friday Night, The Cupid Players and Virgin Daquiri. Tickets cost $14 for Thursday, Friday and Sunday performances and $15 for Saturday performances. (773) 327-5252 or stage773.com.

• A touring production of "The Phantom of the Opera" returns to Chicago for eight weeks beginning Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Cameron Mackintosh's new production marks "Phantom's" 25 years on Broadway. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• Court Theatre resident artist Ron OJ Parson directs the company's revival of August Wilson's "Seven Guitars," beginning previews Thursday, Jan. 9, at 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago. Set in 1948, the Century Cycle play is about bluesman Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, who gets a record deal months after one of his recordings becomes an unexpected hit. Kevin Roston Jr. plays Floyd in the production, which also features Tony Award nominee Felicia P. Fields, Ronald Connor and Jerod Haynes. The show opens Jan. 18. (773) 753-4472 or courttheatre.org.

• Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 9, for Pride Films and Plays revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour," about a disgruntled student who makes statements about two successful female teachers that threatens their friendship and their reputations. Derek Bertelsen directs the production, which opens Saturday, Jan. 11, at Collaboraction Theater, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (800) 838-3006 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• The House Theatre of Chicago announced winter performances of its long-running "The Magic Parlour" starring magician and House ensemble member Dennis Watkins. Performances for this "intimate evening of magic" are at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 and 24 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago. (773) 769-3832 or themagicparlourchicago.com.

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