'Les Mis' returns
Ivan Rutherford, who played Jean Valjean in more than 2,000 performances of "Les Miserables" on Broadway and during the 20th anniversary revival and tour, stars in Drury Lane Theatre's production helmed by Joseph Jefferson Award winner Rachel Rockwell. Co-starring as the relentless Inspector Javert is Jeff Award-winner Quentin Earl Darrington (Drury Lane's "Ragtime," also directed by Rockwell). Fellow "Ragtime" alum Mark David Kaplan plays Thenardier in Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's epic tale of love, redemption, humanity and morality.
Previews begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. The show opens April 8. $45-$60. (630) 745-3000 or drurylane.com.
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre presents "The Diary of Anne Frank" as part of its Stories in Action! series for young audiences. Adapted for the stage from her famous diary, the play chronicles the 25 months Anne (Jaclyn Holtzman), her family and others spent hiding from the Nazis in a cramped Amsterdam attic. Kevin Wiczer directs this show suitable for grades 5 to 12.
Opens at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 31, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $14, $12. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
Writers Theatre stages Irish playwright Conor McPherson's adaptation of Swedish dramatist August Strindberg's "Dance of Death." Writers' tapped Goodman Theatre's Henry Wishcamper for the U.S. premiere, which stars Shannon Cochran and Larry Yando as a couple engaged in a ferocious battle of wills as their marriage implodes.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, at 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe. The show opens April 9. $35-$70. (847) 242-6000 or writerstheatre.org.
Other theater events:
• Lifeline Theatre's world premiere musical adaptation of "Lyle Finds His Mother," from the children's book by Bernard Waber, opened this week at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. Part of Lifeline's KidSeries, the musical is about a devious showman who offers to take Lyle to the land of crocodiles to find his mother. Jessica Wright Buha adapted the story and Michael James Brooks wrote the lyrics and composed the music. Performances continue through April 27. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.
• The New Colony debuts a new second stage series titled Okay Cupid, a bimonthly examination of online dating curated by Sarah Gitenstein and comedian Shawn Bowers. Bowers collected material for the multimedia showcase, which re-creates actual conversations from an online dating site, by pretending to be a woman online. Performances are on Friday and Saturday, March 28-29, at Dank Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave., Chicago. Tickets are free and available online at thenewcolony.org.
• Emily Goldberg stars as Eva Peron in Jedlicka Performing Arts Center's revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's bio-musical, "Evita," about Argentina's controversial first lady who went from the slums to the presidential palace. Performances begin Friday, March 28, at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. (708) 656-1800 or jpactheatre.com.
• Dining, dancing, cocktails and an auction are on the agenda for Steppenwolf Theatre's Auxiliary Council's Red or White Ball, beginning with a VIP reception at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 28, at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Proceeds benefit the young adults theater series. Tickets are $125, $250 for VIP tickets. (312) 654-5623 or steppenwolf.org/rowb.
• "Songs From an Unmade Bed," a song cycle by lyricist Mark Campbell exploring the romantic experiences of gay men, opens on Saturday, March 29, at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Derek Van Barham directs the Pride Films and Plays production whose last preview is Friday, March 28. See pridefilmsandplays.com.
• Barrel of Monkeys hosts its 12th annual fundraiser The Big Prom from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at The Drucker Center, 1535 N. Dayton Ave., Chicago. The theme of this year's fundraiser -- "Space Horses in Space" -- comes from a student story that will be performed during the event, which includes live music, appetizers, beverages and a DJ. Tickets are $50 and $75. See barrelofmonkeys.org/bigprom.
• Filament Theatre Ensemble hosts the next in its Crossing Six Corners series at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Created to celebrate the company's new home, the series dramatizes the history of the Portage Park/Six Corners neighborhood through drama, dance and music. Donations will fund construction on Filament's new space. (773) 270-1660 or filamenttheatre.org.
• The Chicago-area tour of Blair Thomas & Company's new music and puppet production "A Piano With 3 Tales" continues at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St., Chicago. The free performances are suitable for ages 4 to 12. (312) 742-7529 or chicagoparkdistrict.com.
• First Folio Theatre hosts post-show talk-backs following select performances of its world premiere of Joseph Zettelmaier's new drama, "Salvage." Zettelmaier discuss his play on Sunday, March 30, following the 3 p.m. performance at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. The discussion continues, with director Alison C. Vesely and stars Melanie Keller and Tyler Rich, Wednesdays in April following the 8 p.m. performances. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.
• Clockwise Theatre's new play reading series resumes at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30, with a staged reading of "Sehnsucht in September in Sunset Park" by Alex Landers. The reading begins at 6:30 p.m. at 221 N. Genesee St., Waukegan. (847) 775-1500 or clockwisetheatre.org.
• Performances begin Sunday, March 30, for British theater company Kneehigh's production of "Tristan & Yseult," part of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's World's Stage series, and set to a series of original songs. Director Emma Rice adapted the tale about a British king who falls in love with an Irish princess. It runs through April 13 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.
• Remy Bumppo Theatre concludes its 17th season with Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek's "Our Class," a fictionalized account of the 1941 massacre of more than 300 Polish Jews in the town of Jedwabne, originally thought to be a Nazi atrocity, but which was likely perpetrated by non-Jewish Poles. Previews begin Wednesday, April 2, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The show, directed by Nick Sandys, opens April 7. (773) 404-7336 or remybumppo.org.
• "Peter and the Starcatcher," subtitled "A Grownup's Prequel to Peter Pan," comes to the Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, for a brief run beginning Wednesday, April 2. The musical is inspired by the Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson novel examining how Peter became The Boy Who Never Grew Up. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.
• Director Kimberly Senior and playwright Amy Herzog -- who worked together on Herzog's "After the Revolution" for Next Theatre and "4000 Miles" for Northlight Theatre -- reunite for the Midwest premiere of Herzog's "The Great God Pan" at Next Theatre. It's about a budding journalist whose career and relationships are threatened when an apparent childhood trauma makes him question his past and present. Previews begin Thursday, April 3, at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. The show opens April 7. (847) 475-1875, ext. 2 or nexttheatre.org.
• Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member and Tony Award nominee Amy Morton directs the world premiere of Mona Mansour's "The Way West," about a mother living in a dying town in California who shares pioneer tales with her squabbling adult daughters. Previews begin Thursday, April 3, at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
• 16th Street Theater artistic director Ann Filmer helms the company's local premiere of Andrea Thome's "Pinkolandia." Produced in cooperation with New York's Lark Play Development Center, the play is about two young Chilean sisters who create imaginary worlds to explain their family's past. Previews begin Thursday, April 3, at the North Berwyn Park District, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. The show opens April 10. (708) 795-6704 or 16thstreettheater.org.
• Northlight Theatre has extended its world premiere of "Chapatti," by Irish playwright Christian O'Reilly. Northlight's production stars John Mahoney and Penny Slusher as a pair of lonely, middle-aged animal lovers who discover the joys of human companionship. It runs through April 19 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.
• Lifeline Theatre has extended Christopher M. Walsh's hit adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" directed by Elise Kauzlaric. Performances continue through April 13 at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.
• Victory Gardens Theater artistic director Chay Yew recently called for submissions from emerging and established playwrights of new plays to be part of this year's IGNITION Festival of New Plays running July 21-27 at 2438 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Six finalists will be selected for staged readings this summer. Two will be selected for workshops during the 2014-2015 season, with VGT producing one of the final scripts during an upcoming season. Submission deadline is May 15. Playwrights can submit scripts electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60614. See victorygardens.org.
• Mona Mansour, whose play "The Way West" premieres this month at Steppenwolf Theatre, will receive the 2014 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award. Part of a new plays initiative to encourage and support emerging Middle Eastern American playwrights, the award is sponsored by Chicago's Silk Road Rising, San Francisco's Golden Thread Productions and New York's Lark Play Development Center. It's accompanied by a $10,000 fellowship, three years of artistic development support and possible productions at Silk Road and Golden Thread.
• Eta Creative Arts Foundation board of directors has named Kemati Janice Porter interim director of eta. Producing director since 2007, Porter has an MFA from The Theatre School of DePaul University and has served as artistic director of The Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural and Performing Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio.
• Steppenwolf Theatre's 2014-2015 season will be comprised of world, U.S. and Chicago premieres, artistic director Martha Lavey announced recently. Among the four shows announced (with another title to be named later) is the Chicago premiere of Conor McPherson's "The Night Alive" (Sept. 18-Nov. 16), about an aimless Dublin man living in his uncle's rundown house who defends a woman against an attack and then cares for her in his home. Next up is the world premiere of Lisa D'Amour's "Airline Highway" (Dec. 4-Feb. 8, 2015), about a ragtag group of strippers, hustlers and philosophers who gather in a faded New Orleans motel to celebrate the life of Miss Ruby, who requested her funeral before she dies. The Chicago premiere of David Adjmi's contemporary take on "Marie Antoinette" (Feb. 5-May 10, 2015) follows; it's about the young queen who rules over an extravagant aristocracy. The last announced play is the U.S. premiere of Rory Kinnear's "The Herd" (April 2-June 7, 2015), about a British family gathering for a 21st birthday party, which is attended by two unexpected guests. Season subscriptions starting at $100 are available now at the box office at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.