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posted: 5/9/2014 5:30 AM

Stage events: Join the knights of 'Spamalot'

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'Spamalot' in Palatine
Theatre Nebula concludes its 15th season with a musical comedy gem. Chuck Sisson, 2012's non-equity, Jeff Award-winning best actor, stars as King Arthur in the company's production of "Spamalot." Adapted by Eric Idle and John Du Prez from the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," this show skewers musicals and the Arthurian legends. Kevin Wiczer directs.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine. $12-$18. (847) 202-5222 or theatrenebula.org or cuttinghall.org.

Modern love
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre revives "The Last Five Years," the chamber musical by Jason Robert Brown that premiered at Northlight Theatre in Skokie in 2001. The musical chronicles the relationship between Jamie, a writer, and his girlfriend Cathy, an aspiring actress. Jamie tells the tale from the beginning of their relationship to the end, while Cathy recalls their romance in reverse, from the end to the beginning. Lauren Rawitz directs Matt Edmonds and Elissa Newcorn.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. The show opens May 18. $28-$44. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

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Osborne revived
Jonathan Berry, associate artistic director for Griffin Theatre, helms redtwist theatre's revival of John Osborne's classic, postwar British drama "Look Back in Anger." The drama centers around working-class guy Jimmy Porter, a prototypical "angry young man," who takes out his frustration with his inferior socio-economic position on his wife and best friend.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. The show opens May 17. $15-$35. (773) 728-7529 or redtwist.org.

What's new


• The conflict between art and athletics takes center stage in "Charles Ives Take Me Home," a comedy by Jessica Dickey in which the late composer plays referee between a music-loving father and a daughter with a passion for basketball. Director Mike Przygoda's production featuring original compositions by Jeff Award-winner Christopher Kriz marks the final show in Strawdog Theatre's 2013-2014 season. Previews begin Friday, May 9, at 3829 N. Broadway St., Chicago. The show opens May 19. (866) 811-4111 or strawdog.org.

"One Hit Wonders" is a new musical revue by Rueben D. Echoles and Dawn Bless featuring hit tunes from the 1960s to the 1990s. Black Ensemble Theater's world premiere begins previews Friday, May 9, at 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show, directed by Daryl D. Brooks, opens May 18. (773) 769-4451 or blackensemble.org.

• The Free Street Theater, an ensemble devoted to creating socially conscious performances, works with young performers to create original productions on select days this summer. Opening Friday, May 9, at Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk St., Chicago, is "Nerds, Sluts, Commies, and Jocks," a comedy about the history of social labels. "Mayflower," about the tension between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, opens May 30 at Pulaski Park. See freestreet.org for a schedule and ticket information.

• Pride Films and Plays hosts its Gay Play Weekend, Friday through Sunday, May 9-11, at The Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theater, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Featured shows include "The View Upstairs," Max Vernon's musical about a 1973 arson attack; James Rosenfield's "Michelangelo and Tommaso," about a reported affair between the artist and a Roman nobleman; John Nasca's "Who Killed Joan Crawford?," about five men who dress as their favorite Crawford characters for a surprise party where one of them winds up dead. Also featured is Michael J. Mejia's "The Book of Andy," about a man who visits his exes to find out what went wrong with his relationships, and "Gentle Passage," Paul Elliott's examination of his husband's childhood. (773) 250-3112 or pridefilms andplays.com.

• Beginning Friday, May 9, Chicago Children's Theater launches its new Later Stages series for children 8 and older. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, following the performances of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," Chicago companies perform new works for young audiences. First up is Theatre Unspeakable's take on the Superman tale, "Superman 2050," on May 9 and 23. Manual Cinema presents "Lula del Rey" about a young girl who runs away from home to find a country music duo on May 16 and 30. Performances take place at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (872) 222-9555 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• Cold Basement Dramatics presents Secret Stash III, its third annual short play festival running Friday through Sunday, May 9-11, at The Frontier Theatre, 1106 W. Thorndale, Chicago. Chicago-area directors helm eight plays for this combination festival/fundraiser, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. See coldbasement.org or secretstash.brownpapertickets.com.

• About Face Theatre hosts its annual Wonka Ball fundraiser beginning with a VIP cocktail reception at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9, at Macy's on State Street, 111 N. State St., Chicago. Titled "The Gayme Show," the salute to iconic TV game shows includes various challenges, entertainment, music, dancing, refreshments and an open bar. Tickets are $150, $200 for the VIP reception. Proceeds benefit the company's main stage programs addressing gender and sexual identity. (773) 784-8565 or aboutfacetheatre.com.

• Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones discusses his new book, "Bigger, Brighter, Louder: 150 Years of Chicago Theater as Seen by Chicago Tribune Critics" Saturday, May 10, at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 W. Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. The lecture/discussion begins at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

• Bailiwick Chicago hosts a staged concert of "Parade," the musical that premiered 10 years ago at Bailiwick Repertory, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 12. Original director David Zak, music director Alan Bukowiecki and leads Nicholas Foster and Amy Arbizzani return for the one-night-only performance at The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $40 in advance. They're available at bailiwickchicago.com.

"The Passions of Emma Goldman," a solo piece written and performed by Roslyn Alexander, has its world premiere beginning Tuesday, May 13, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 327-5252 or stage773.com. Dennis Zacek, longtime Victory Gardens Theater artistic director, directs the piece about the famed anarchist and champion for women's and worker's rights. Presented by ShPieL Performing Identity, an ensemble that examines Jewish culture and identity through theater, the show moves to the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie on June 4. (847) 677-7761 or skokietheatre.com.

• Performances begin Tuesday, May 13, for the latest tour of "Mamma Mia!!" the jukebox musical inspired by the music of ABBA. Performances continue through May 18 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• Goodman Theatre celebrates the life and legacy of longtime resident lighting director Robert Christen from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the Albert Theatre at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Christen died in March after 42 years at Goodman where he designed more than 100 productions including premieres by David Mamet, Rebecca Gillman, Scott Mcpherson and Goodman's original production of "A Christmas Carol." Call (312) 443-3811, ext. 220 for information on the memorial.

• Redmoon hosts its spring spectacle "Bellboys, Bears and Baggage" beginning previews on Thursday, May 15, at 2120 S. Jefferson St., Chicago. Conceived by Redmoon artistic director Jim Lasko and Blake Montgomery, "Bellboys" is the largest indoor show to date loosely based on Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" in which characters fall in and out of love in this nonlinear show where audience members choose for themselves the order of the scenes. The show opens May 18. (312) 850-8440, ext. 123 or redmoon.org.

• Rivendell Theatre Ensemble hosts its annual salon and benefit titled Causing a Stir on Thursday, May 15, at the Swedish American Museum 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago. The event begins with a 6 p.m. VIP reception and includes cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, silent auction and performances. Tickets are $75 in advance, $100 at the door. (773) 334-7728 or rivendelltheatre.org.

• MadKap Productions hosts Cabaret Thursdays at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15. Scott Gryder performs the music of Kander and Ebb. That's followed on May 22 by Deborah Darr's semi-autobiographical show about auditioning for Broadway. Laura Freeman honors Doris Day on May 29, and Kat Victoria concludes the series on June 26 with her show about a waitress who triumphs in the entertainment business. (847) 677-7761 or skokietheatre.org.

• Chicago Children's Theatre will produce two world premiere musicals as part of its 10th anniversary season which begins Oct. 15 with the world premiere of "Frederick," a musical by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs based Leo Lionnni's tale about a mouse who spends the summer daydreaming instead of preparing for the winter. "The Selfish Giant," based on Oscar Wilde's story and created and directed by Blair Thomas and featuring his puppets, begins Jan. 23, 2015. The show is about a giant who forbids children from entering his garden. Folk musicians Michael Smith ("The Snow Queen") composed the score. The season concludes with the company's second world premiere musical, "Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure" (April 22-May 24, 2015). Based on Lewis Carroll's books, the music is by Michael Mahler, lyrics by Mahler and Rachel Rockwell and directed by Rockwell. Performances are at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Subscriptions are available at discounted prices through June 15. Season tickets are available beginning August 15. (872) 222-9555 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway St., Chicago, has dubbed its 2014-2015 main stage season -- the ensemble's 27th -- "Deniable Truths/Undeniable Lies." It begins Aug. 15 with Max Frisch's political farce "The Arsonists." Adapted by Alistair Beaton, it's about a city on fire and a man who unknowingly takes in the people who ignited the blaze. That's followed by Gale Childs Daly's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" (Oct. 31-Dec. 20), a remount of Strawdog's 2013 show in which six cast members play dozens of characters in this tale about an orphan "plucked from poverty" and placed in the upper class. The new year brings the world premiere of ensemble member John Henry Roberts' dark comedy, "The Sweeter Option" (Feb. 13-March 28, 2015). Set in Chicago in 1971, it's about an investigator searching for a stolen car who stumbles upon an embezzlement scheme. The main stage season concludes with the U.S. premiere of Rob Drummond's "Quiz Show" (May 1-June 13, 2015), about a woman competing on a popular TV game show that becomes increasingly strange. Oracle Theatre's Max Truax directs. Strawdog's second stage productions in Hugen Hall include "Fail/Safe" (Sept. 14-Oct. 14), based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler and adapted from the 1964 film about a system failure that threatens World War III. That's followed by Darren Callahan's "Desperate Dolls" (Nov. 23-Dec. 23), about three women desperate to succeed in 1968 Hollywood, along with two productions to be announced. Season subscriptions are available. Single tickets go on sale July 1. (773) 528-9696 or strawdog.org.

• The Neo-Futurists recently announced the company's main stage season begins Oct. 16 with Sean Benjamin's "Pseudo-Chum" juxtaposing the play's three parts: creation ("The Rehearsal" in which actors fight to be in the play), performance ("The Performance" in which the members of a shark-loving family face the impending death of their patriarch) and destruction of the playwright ("The Interview" which asks whether the playwright is an activist or opportunist). Previews begin Feb. 19, 2015, for "Redletter," Lisa Buscani's examination of the evolution of the press in a digital age. The season concludes with "Trust Us/Screw You" (May 7-June 13, 2015), in which creators Dan Kerr-Hobert and Phil Ridarelli examine cons, chicanery and games of chance. Also on tap is "Infiltration" (Aug. 8-Sept. 26), a Friday evening showcase of underground Chicago artists produced in cooperation with Salonathon, and the company's long-running 30-plays-in-60-minutes showcase "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind." Performances take place at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. Tickets are available by phone at (773) 275-5255 or online at neofuturists.org. Lastly, ensemble member Kurt Chiang has taken on the role of artistic director alongside Bilal Dardai.

• Polarity Ensemble Theatre begins its 2014-2015 season with the world premiere of "Miracles in the Fall" (Sept. 4-Oct. 5) by Chicago area playwright Chuck O'Connor. Developed through Polarity's new play festival, it centers on a family destroyed by internal betrayals. That's followed in 2015 by the world premiere of "Anna in the Afterlife" (April 23-May 24, 2015), part of a trilogy by Polarity artistic director Richard Engling. The play is about a novelist who finds himself not quite alive, but not quite dead in an afterlife also inhabited by his friend and fellow novelist Anna Toyesky, who has split into three different beings. In a related matter, on Oct. 7, Polarity Ensemble Theatre Books will release two novels in the Afterlife trilogy: Engling's "Visions of Anna" and Fern Chertkow's "She Plays in Darkness." Lastly, the season concludes in July 2015 with Polarity's Dionysus Cup Festival of New Plays. Performances take place at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See petheatre.com for ticket information.

• Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. announced the fourth production in its 2014-2015 season will be Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes" (May 2-June 7, 2015). Goodman artistic associate Henry Wishcamper will direct the 1939 drama about a turn-of-the-century southern family and their "ruthless pursuit of wealth." Limited $90 season subscriptions are available by phone (312) 443-3800 or online at goodmantheatre.org. Single tickets go on sale beginning in August.

• Red Theater announced the addition of five new ensemble members. Among them are actors Jeff Kurysz, Victoria Alvarez-Chacon, Erin Haddock and Sarah Liken and spoken word artist and director J.W. Basilo.

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