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posted: 4/18/2014 8:00 AM

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  • Chicago's Theater Wit has extended its production of "Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England" through May 17.

      Chicago's Theater Wit has extended its production of "Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England" through May 17.

 

• A precocious, wealthy young woman plays matchmaker for members of her social circle in 19th-century England in "Emma," Jane Austen's comedy of manners adapted for the stage by Michael Bloom. Dead Writers Theatre Collective presents director Jim Schneider's production beginning previews Friday, April 18, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show opens April 23. (773) 327-5252 or deadwriters.net.

• Previews begin Friday, April 18, for Factory Theater's new show "Hey! Dancin'! Hey! Musical!" at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. The musical, which features original music inspired by Heart, The Pointer Sisters and Glenn Fry, is set in 1986 and centers around teenagers Halle and Trish who try to "finagle their way into the final taping of the hippest cable access dance show in Chicagoland." The show runs April 25 through May 31. That's followed by Stacie Barra's "Take the Cake" (Aug. 1-Sept. 6), a twisted tale about girlfriends that's darker than it appears. The season concludes with "Hotel Aphrodite" (Nov. 14-Dec. 20), Angelina Martinez's farce about a doctor who runs a hotel for people who want to add spark to their love lives. (866) 811-4111 or thefactorytheater.com.

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• "Natural Gas," The Gift Theatre's improv team, adds Friday performances at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, beginning Friday, April 18. Titled "You & Me," the two-person improv set features Gift artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and a special guest from the Chicago-area arts community. After the 10:30 p.m. show April 18 (featuring noted improvisor TJ Jagodowski), the show returns May 2 through June 27 and July 18 and Aug. 1. (773) 283-7071 or thegifttheatre.org.

• Daniella Pinnock performs her one-woman show, "The Body Image Project," at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, beginning Friday, April 18. Also at Gorilla Tango, EEK! Theatre Company performs their show "Marijuanarama!" -- a celebration of the "earthly herb" -- at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 20. (773) 598-4549 or gorillatango.com.

• Members of Artemisia Theatre perform a staged reading of artistic director Julie Proudfoot's "The Lake," an examination of domestic violence, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness at Northwest University in Evanston. The performance is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 21, in Harris Hall, room 107, on the Evanston campus. See artemisiatheatre.org.

• The International Voices Project's fifth season showcasing playwrights from around the world continues with a staged reading of German writer Dea Loher's "At Black Lake" at 7 p.m. Monday, April 21. That's followed on Tuesday, April 22, by a reading of Canadian writer Carole Frechette's "Helen's Necklace," translated by John Murrell. Performances, presented in cooperation with Chicago consulates and cultural institutions, take place at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 250-7055 or ivpchicago.com.

• Chicago natives Allison Semmes and Clifton Oliver star as Diana Ross and Berry Gordy in Broadway in Chicago's national tour of "Motown The Musical," beginning Tuesday, April 22, at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. The jukebox show tells the story of Gordy and the founding of the Detroit record company that defined soul music during the 1960s and features such hits as "ABC," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Love Child" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours." (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• The Chicago Commercial Collective remounts The Inconvenience's hit 2013 show "Hit the Wall," about the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City's Greenwich Village and helped spark the gay rights movement. Previews begin Tuesday, April 22, at the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The show, written by Inconvenience co-founder and resident writer Ike Holter and directed by Eric Hoff, opens April 30. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org or chicagocommercialcollective.com.

• In celebration of William Shakespeare's 450th birthday on Tuesday, April 23, The Newberry has partnered with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Shakespeare Project of Chicago for an exhibition titled "The Bard is Born." It focuses on "Henry V," CST's first production, which took place on the roof of the Red Lion Pub. Chicago Shakespeare Theater artistic director Barbara Gaines and Folger Shakespeare Library director emerita Gail Kern Paster discuss Shakespeare's work at 6 p.m. Monday, April 21, as part of the "Conversations at the Newberry" series. Lastly, The Newberry hosts a Shakespeare Project of Chicago staged reading of "All's Well That Ends Well" at 11 a.m. April 26 at the library. See newberry.org for details.

• In the 1960s, Delaney's Traveling Roadshow tours Ireland inviting small-town residents to step into the boxing ring with the company's heavyweight, until the owner's daughter returns, upending the entire operation, in Billy Roche's "Lay Me Down Softly." Seanachai Theatre Company presents the U.S. premiere of the Irish drama, which begins previews Wednesday, April 23, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox, opens Thursday, April 24. (866) 811-4111 or seanachai.org.

• Chicago-area cabaret artists perform some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hits as part of Kevin Moore's "Score-By-Score: An Evening of Andrew Lloyd Webber." The performance, hosted by Moore, is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

• Performances begin Thursday, April 24, for First Floor Theater's world premiere of the all-ages theater piece "Tollbooth: A Clown Show." Devised and directed by Will Bishop and Scott Merchant, the show is based loosely on Norton Juster's 1961 fairy tale "The Phantom Tollbooth." It unfolds at a birthday party that is interrupted by a group of clowns who take the characters and audience members into an enchanted land. Performances run through May 18 at the Humboldt Park Field House West Gym, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago. See firstfloortheater.com.

• Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, announced the final selection of its 40th anniversary season. It's John Patrick Shanley's romantic comedy "Outside Mullingar" (March 13-April 19, 2015). Set in rural Ireland, it centers on Anthony, a cattle rancher who's oblivious to Rosemary, a neighbor pining for him. Making things worse is a threat of disinheritance and a feud between Anthony's family and Rosemary's family. Northlight's other 2014-2015 selections include: Amanda Peet's "The Commons of Pensacola"; Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap"; Bruce Graham's "White Guy on the Bus"; and Jessica Thebus, Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert's "Shining Lives: A Musical." Season subscriptions are available at the box office, by phone (847) 673-6300 or online at northlight.org.

• Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of "Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England," Madeline George's comedy about a college dean whose small history museum is going to be converted into a dorm and whose former girlfriend has returned, upsetting her new relationship. Performances continue through May 17. (773) 975-8150 or theaterwit.org.

• The fifth play in Steppenwolf's 2014-2015 season will be "Grand Concourse," Heidi Schreck's drama about compassion and forgiveness in which college dropout Emma volunteers at a Bronx soup kitchen presided over by the unsentimental Shelly. Ensemble member Yasen Peyankov directs the show, which runs July 8 to Aug. 30 at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. See steppenwolf.org.

• Pride Films and Plays seeks plays and screenplays written by women and featuring lesbian characters and themes for inclusion in its Women's Words Fest, scheduled for Sept. 19-21 at the Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theater. Submissions are due May 1. See pridefilmsandplays.com for details.

• Waltzing Mechanics has tapped directors AJ Wright, a Hell in a Handbag ensemble member, and freelancer Tara Branham to direct upcoming editions of its "El Stories" series, which runs at 11 p.m. Saturdays at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.

"Lookingglass Alice" and "Rick Bayless in Cascabel" are among the Lookingglass Theatre Companys signature shows set to be revived as part of the 2014-15 season, which begins Sept. 2 with the Chicago premiere of "Death Tax." Lucas Hnath's dark comedy is about an ailing woman who concocts her own scheme after she comes to believe her daughter is paying Nurse Tina to "nudge her into the grave" before a new estate tax becomes law. That's followed on Nov. 12 by a remount of "Lookingglass Alice," an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's tale produced in cooperation with the Actors Gymnasium of Evanston. March 18, 2015, marks the Midwest premiere of Will Eno's new theatrical travelogue "Title and Deed." The season concludes with the world premiere of "Moby Dick" (June 10, 2015), adapted from Herman Melville by ensemble member David Catlin. Season subscriptions start at $139 and are available at the Lookingglass box office at 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

• Raven Theatre devotes its 2014-15 season to the theme of family business. To that end, the company opens its season with a revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" (Sept. 16-Nov. 15). The drama is about the ripple effects of the actions of a businessman who, knowingly or not, sold faulty fighter jet parts to the U.S. Air Force and allowed his partner to take the blame. That's followed by Horton Foote's dramedy "Dividing the Estate" (Jan. 27-March 28, 2015), about the members of a wealthy Texas family who debate whether to divide the estate of their octogenarian matriarch while she is still very much alive. That's followed by Todd Bauer's examination of family obligations, "The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know" (March 31-May 16, 2015), about aging parents Ingrid and Herman whose declining health requires assistance from their son Everett as his career is just taking off in a city several hours away. The season concludes with "Beast on the Moon" (April 21-June 6, 2015), Richard Kalinoski's tale of an Armenian immigrant who survived the Turkish massacre of 1915 and is making a fresh start in Milwaukee with a mail-order bride. Performances take place at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. Subscription packages start at $56, with flexible packages available for $88. Tickets are available at the box office, by phone at (773) 338-2177 or online at raventheatre.com.

• Heroes and villains is the subject of Next Theatre Company's 34th season, which begins Sept. 27, with J.C. Lee's "Luce." It's about a young boy adopted from a war-torn African nation by an American couple who discover their idealized son may not be everything they imagined. That's followed by William Shakespeare's "Richard III" (Jan. 3-Feb. 15, 2015), starring The Gift Theatre's Michael Patrick Thornton as the villainous prince who lies and seduces his way to England's throne. The world premiere of Jake Jeppson's "Turtle" begins previews March 20, 2015. Damon Kiely directs the dark comedy about a sea turtle who "waddles its way into the lives of two suburban couples, exposing the cracks in their relationships." The season concludes next summer (dates TBA) with "Kiladelphia," written and performed by Sean Christopher Lewis. Inspired by the murder epidemic that gripped Philadelphia in 2008, it's about prison inmates serving life sentences who work to beautify the city. Performances take place at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Season subscriptions are available at (847) 475-1875, ext. 2 or nexttheatre.org.

• Idle Muse Theatre begins its 2014-15 season with "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Sept. 18-Oct. 19), Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel about a good doctor who seeks to excise his darker impulses by periodically transforming himself into Mr. Hyde, a creature without a conscience. That is, until he begins to succumb to Hyde's immorality. Performances begin Feb. 19, 2015, for Idle Muse's second show, "The Talking Cure," Christopher Hampton's psychiatric love story about Carl Jung and his relationship with his patient, turned lover, turned psychiatrist Sabina Spielrein, a relationship that ruptured his friendship with mentor Sigmund Freud. Performances take place at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. Tickets are available at (773) 340-9438 or idlemuse.org.

-- Barbara Vitello

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