A mystery tale
Steel Beam Theatre heats up winter with Ken Ludwig's whodunit "Postmortem." Set in 1922, the thriller centers around famed actor William Gillette, known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, who invites the cast of his latest Broadway revival to his manor home in an attempt to uncover who is trying to murder him. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $23-$28. (630) 587-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com.
A Broadway tale
Paramount Theatre stages the musical "42nd Street," about a small town chorus girl named Peggy who gets the break of a lifetime when she fills in for an ailing leading lady. Rachel Rockwell directs and Tammy Mader choreographs this tap-centered show with musical direction by Doug Peck and featuring Laura Savage as plucky Peggy. Previews begin 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. The show opens Jan. 18. $36.90-$49.90. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com.
A small town tale
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's season continues with "Greater Tuna," a spoof of small town life by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, in which two actors play all the quirky residents of the third smallest town in Texas. Brian Rabinowitz directs Mathias Austin of Carol Stream and Andrew Pond of Libertyville. Previews begin 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. The show opens Jan. 19. $28-$44. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
After their cook accidentally poisons 52 of the Sisters of Hoboken, the five remaining members of the order stage a variety show to raise money to bury their fellow nuns in Dan Goggin's popular musical, "Nunsense." Brigitte Ditmars directs and choreographs Fox Valley Repertory's revival. Previews begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. The show opens Jan. 25. $32, $42. (630) 584-6342 or foxvalleyrep.org.
• Performances continue through Jan. 26, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, for Cold Basement Dramatics' premiere of "At His Best," by the company's artistic director Cassandra Rose. The play centers on a woman and her daughter living in the same apartment during different times. The mother, Ann, awakes on her wedding day next to a man who is not her fiance. Twenty five years later, Ann's daughter Caroline, herself a bride-to-be, encounters a mysterious man who claims to know her mother. See coldbasement.org or athisbest.brownpapertickets.com.
• Chicago's Cock and Bull Theatre presents its latest work of experimental theater, "Voolf," which asks whether the iconic fairy tale character is a villain or a victim. Performances continue through Feb. 1, at the Berger Cultural Center Ballroom, 6205 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. See voolf.org.
• Ten, The Gift Theatre's annual showcase of 10-minute plays, continues through Jan. 19, at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The lineup includes David Rabe's "Good for Otto;" "Despacito" by J.C. Chandor, screenwriter of "All is Lost;" "The Corn Queen of Lakeford Falls" by Melissa Ross whose first play "Thinner Than Water" opens in March at The Gift; "Winsor McCoy" by Laura Marks, whose play "Bethany" opens in September at The Gift. Also featured is "Body & Blood" by Gift co-founder Will Nedved. (773) 283-7071 or thegifttheatre.org.
• The residents of a small Illinois town participate in a quirky contest hoping to change their lives in "Standing in Mattoon," by Tim Clue and Spike Manton ("Leaving Iowa"). Jedlicka Performing Arts Center presents a new production of the comedy which debuted in Chicago six years ago. Performances begin Friday, Jan. 10, at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. (708) 656-1800 or jpactheatre.com.
• Previews begin Friday, Jan. 10, at the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, for MadKap Productions' "Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood." Mark Saltzman's insider comedy is a fictionalized account of a lunch between playwright George Bernard Shaw and film stars and media moguls including Clark Gable, John Barrymore, Louis B. Mayer and William Randolph Hearst. The show opens Jan. 16. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater or madkapproductions.com.
• Vicki Quade, of "Late Nite Catechism" fame, brings the interactive show "Bible Bingo" to the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago, for an open run beginning Friday, Jan. 10. Quade, Kathleen Puls Andrade and Michelle Renee Thompson take turns playing the role of Mrs. Mary Margaret O'Brien, a former nun turned archdiocese fundraiser who raises money through bible trivia, bingo and other contests. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (312) 988-9000 or biblebingo.info.
• Ten years of raising their severely disabled daughter puts a strain on the marriage of Brian and Sheila which playwright Peter Nichols chronicles in his 1967 play, "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg." Stage Left Theatre revives the drama as part of its 32nd season. Previews begin Saturday, Jan. 11, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show, directed by ensemble member Greg Werstler, opens Jan. 14. (773) 975-8150 or stagelefttheatre.com or theaterwit.org.
• Kokandy Productions inaugurates its all-musical season with a revival of "The Sweet Smell of Success," the 1998 show by Marvin Hamlisch (music), Craig Carnelia (lyrics) and John Guare (book) inspired by the 1957 film about a ruthless gossip columnist and the desperate press agent he recruits to do his dirty work. Artistic director John D. Glover directs the production which opens Saturday, Jan. 11, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago and stars Brian Rooney as columnist JJ Hunsecker and David Schlumpf as the eager Sidney. (773) 975-8150 or kokandyproductions.com or theaterwit.org.
• Commedia Beauregard continues its season devoted to sex and sorcery with a new translation of Machiavelli's comedy "The Mandrake," opening Saturday, Jan. 11, at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. Directed by Lisa Cantwell, the play is about a wealthy playboy who pursues the world's most beautiful and virtuous woman. The 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, matinee is a food drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Theatergoers receive a $10 discount with the donation of a nonperishable food item. (800) 838-3006 or cbtheatre.org.
• Lifeline Theatre presents as part of its KidSeries, "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs," a musical based on the children's book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, with book and lyrics by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric and music by Paul Gilvary and William Rush. Performances begin Saturday, Jan. 11, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.
• OnEdge, a new performance series sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, begins Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago and at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St., Chicago. The experimental series featuring dance, theater and "genre-defying performance" incorporates sexual and adult themes in addressing identity, family and philosophy. Artists scheduled to perform include Keith Hennessy, Miguel Gutierrez and Peter Trosztmer among others. See cityofchicago.org/dcase.
• Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 16, for 16th Street Theater's world premiere of "Do-Gooder," Laura Jacqmin's drama about an African American couple who purchase and renovate a Chicago greystone with the intention of renting the second apartment to a low-income black family, displacing their white tenants. Artistic director Ann Filmer directs the show, which marks the beginning of 16th Street's 2014 season titled "How to be Good." The show opens Jan. 23, at 6420 16th St., Berwyn. (708) 795-6704 or 16thstreettheater.org.
• The world premiere of "Breach," by Egan Reich, inaugurates Dog & Pony Theatre's 10th anniversary season. The play, about five grieving woman butchering a whale, begins previews Thursday, Jan. 16, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Directed by founder and co-artistic director Krissy Vanderwarker, the show opens Jan. 18. See dogandponychicago.org.
• The friendship between two artists -- a straight female and a gay male -- animates "Out Loud," a new play by Olivia Dawson and Ray Proctor, which previews Thursday, Jan. 16, at Eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago. Over the course of a year, Benny and Eva discuss everything from race to hair to gender identity in the play which asks whether people with opposing viewpoints can remain friends. It opens Jan. 17. (773) 752-3955 or etacreativearts.org.
• The Phebe Project announces the world premiere of Dusty Wilson's "Ephebophilia," about a young couple about to lose their home to foreclosure, who attempt to save it by extorting money online from sexual predators. Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 16, at Collaboraction Theatre Company, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 18. See brownpapertickets.com or facebook.com/thephebeproject
• Seanachai Theatre Company has extended its acclaimed production of Conor McPherson's dark comedy "The Seafarer," about a stranger who arrives on Christmas Eve to collect a debt from a pair of Irish brothers and their pals. Performances continue through Feb. 1, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (866) 811-4111 or seanachai.org.
• Writers Theatre received a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts' Art Works grant recently to offset the costs of developing the new musical "Days Like Today," inspired by the plays of Charles L. Mee. The show, which begins previews May 6, centers on Tessa, a young woman who announces she is through with love -- to the chagrin of her parents and their lovers -- until a handsome young stranger shows up. The musical marks the second developed through Writers' Literary Development Initiative. See writerstheatre.org.
• Pride Films and Plays has named 17 works as finalists in its 2014 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest. Among them is "All Around the Mulberry Bush," about two gay couples navigating an affair, by Chicago writer Tate A. Gerborkoff. Finalists also include "Eye of the Storm" an operetta inspired by Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin, by McKinley Johnson, David Taylor and Marshall Titus, of Chicago. See pridefilmsandplays.com.
• Lookingglass Theatre Company recently announced a new accessibility initiative that includes audio-described performances, open captioning, Braille program books and touch tours for all its productions. Opening performances to people with visual and hearing disabilities furthers the company's mission statement of redefining theatrical experiences and making them accessible to all people, said artistic director Andrew White in a prepared statement. Accessible performance dates for "The Little Prince" includes a 1 p.m. touch tour and a 3 p.m. audio-described performance on Jan. 19; and an open captioned performance at 3 p.m. Jan. 26. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.